Apple Thunderbolt Displays get 5K res, own GPU?

thunderbolt displayIf you want super high res from Apple you have the choice of a 5K res iMac, which has been available since 2014, or even a 4K one. So, why would anyone spend £899 on a 1440p Thunderbolt Display? Well, it seems Apple is finally asking the same question.

That’s right Apple fans, it looks like the fruity ones are gearing up for a Thunderbolt Display refresh.

Retailers are starting to show limited stock of the five-year-old monitor, and 9to5Mac’s sources claim that a much-improved standalone option is coming soon. Furthermore, it is suggested that this new monitor will be packing 5K resolution, pumping out a mighty 5120 x 2880 pixels of ultra-crisp peeper-pleasure. That’s not all though – there could well be a twist.

According to the report, Apple intends to integrate a GPU directly into the monitor itself, which would provide the graphics-pumping power from within.

“But why?” I hear you ask. Well, 5K resolution requires quite a bit of GPU grunt for it to run smoothly and at a decent rate – something that Apple’s skinny MacBooks might have trouble in doing for any length of time if hooked up to a 27-inch monitor.

Some Apple cunning might make this work though. If they shoved a graphics card inside the monitor, this could overrule the one in the computer, as and when needed. This would also fall nicely with an update in the forthcoming OS X 10.12 (or MacOS, as is it’s rumoured to be dubbed) which would allow for this seamless pairing.

imacSo, whichever card is the more powerful will be the one used, with the other likely made inactive during use of the monitor. I guess, they could use the clevers and use the lesser one if it’s only displaying text such as your Twitter feed on your MacBook screen whilst something more major is happening on the Thunderbolt Display.

Now we all know Apple well enough to also know that this will more than likely mean a considerable price hike for the new 5K monitor. This also will mean that Apple can continue to sell compatible laptops without having to have them sport top-tier GPUs inside – which could save (them) some money on that end of things.

9to5Mac suggests that only new Macs may be able to run at the full 5K resolution, however, with older Macs displaying at lower resolution settings.

Given the thinning stock of the old Thunderbolt Display at retail stores, a WWDC reveal this month is suggested – so if you’re planning to buy a Mac monitor, maybe wait a couple weeks and see what happens.