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🔗 Niki Tonsky: Time to upgrade your monitor

Since we're all going to be working from home forever apparently, I decided it was time to properly furnish my home office. I purchased a Steelcase Gesture chair to park my butt but I still only have an ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q monitor that is really only good for gaming and doesn't render text very well.

I've been looking at "Retina" level monitors for my MacBook Pro and the obvious choice is the LG UltraFine 5K which Apple peddles on their website. Well let's be honest the obvious choice is the Pro Display XDR but since I'm not making San Francisco funny money I can't really justify that anymore.

If you search iOS Twitter you'll very quickly find a lot of positive things being said about the UltraFine 5K. One of the iOS developers I respect, Peter Steinberger, has written about how it is a great monitor. Yes I know that article is about the problems he's had with it but he still recommends it in the end!

Recently I was directed to this article by Niki Tonsky about the importance of Retina monitors and his recommendations. He put more emphasis on refresh rate than I ever have which opened my eyes. My PG279Q gaming monitor can hit 165 hz which is amazing when playing games but I never really considered it for daily work. My iPad Pro can already do 120 hz and for the limited amount of time I do use it, it really is buttery smooth. With the likely addition of a 120 hz display to this year's iPhone 12 maybe it does make sense for my development machine to also hit that refresh rate.

When I asked myself "what do I really want out of a monitor?" I came up with these four points:

  1. At least "Retina" level meaning 4K or higher resolution on a 27" inch monitor.
  2. The ability to charge my laptop through the cable connected to the monitor.
  3. Connect my keyboard and mouse to my laptop through the monitor. The one cable dream where you simply have to unplug/plug one cable whenever you leave/arrive at your desk is nirvana.
  4. 120 hz refresh rate.

Unfortunately it seems 2 & 3 never can get along with 4. The only valid options I've seen are the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ (the successor to my current monitor), Acer Predator X27 or maybe the LG 38WN95C-W (which isn't even out yet). Gaming monitors seem to assume you wouldn't want to pass power or input through the monitor down to your connected peripherals. After all who's stupid enough to attach a laptop to such a sick gaming monitor right?

At this point I started thinking that maybe I could get something to replace my current monitor and just have a single monitor for both work and fun. So I started down the path of looking at docks and KVM switches which lead me to the CalDigit TS3 Plus dock. It's now been over five hours since I started writing this article and I'm no closer to making a decision than when I started.

Maybe if I'm lucky Apple will announce a LG UltraFine 6K with 120 hz on Monday at WWDC and Tim Cook can just take all my money.