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Korean 27″ Apple IPS Displays and a Macbook Pro: Everything you need to know

Jan 14 2013

photoIf you haven’t heard, there are beautiful 27″ IPS monitors coming out of Korea that use the same panels as the Apple Thunderbolt display. Turns out that Apple buys its panels from LG and any panels that aren’t absolutely perfect get rejected. Enterprising companies in Korea are then buying these panels and putting them into their own monitor housing. You don’t get the apple looks, nor the docking ports at the back, but at $300-400, these monitors are attractive to many who just want a high quality panel without the $1000+tax price tag an Apple display. This isn’t a $300 best buy special with a 1080 resolution, its a serious monitor pushing out 2560×1440.

Before we go any further, if you are on team $1000 apple thunderbolt display. We get it, apple displays are perfect  and worth every penny to you. Pretty much everyone would kill for a thunderbolt display. This is my story how I got the exact same quality display for half the price.

There are tons and tons of articles that will catch you up to speed on these monitors, I suggest you read them if you want to know more. Here is the short and skinny:

  1. There are many different brands that package the same panel and the prices vary. Some have poor build quality (including the circuitry) and other have really nice stands. The three big names are Yamakasi Catleap, Achieva Shimian and  Crossover. Do your research by reading the forums – there are literally thousands of pages of  information on this.
  2. Most of these monitors are sold on ebay. Monoprice recenrly started to sell their own brand. I bought mine off a seller called ‘Dream Seller’ who shipped it free from Korea in a shocking 3 days.
  3. You run the risk of getting a few dead pixels or back light bleeding. I paid an extra ~$25 for a pixel perfect version and I have zero dead pixels and no backlight bleed. Many buyers risk the dead pixels and end up with perfect displays, others have a few dead pixels.
  4. These are barebones as it gets, DVI only and no on screen display.

I bought a Crossover Q27 LED because it has the best build quality with a metal bezel and stand. I replaced the stand with a monoprice arm because I found it less bulky. If you are considering the Crossover Q27 LED and have neck problems, go for the Crossover Q27 LED-P which has a stand that allows for pivoting and moving up/down.

photo_3

Running it on a Macbook Pro

Most of the forum posters are serious gamers so I found I had to do quite a bit of research about running it on my Macbook Pro. The biggest takeaway is that these monitors require a dual link dvi cable to hook it up. Those $10 mini display port / thunderbolt → DVI connectors won’t work here. Because the resolution is so high, we can’t simply just convert the signal from our macbook to DVI like we do with other monitors – this is what we call passive conversion. As I understand it, we need an Active converter that will take the output from the macbook pro and kick it up to  2560×1440.

DV019_Jpg_Regular_501043

The above is Apple’s version, and it doesn’t come cheap at around $150. There are other companies including StarTech and Monoprice that put out cheaper, and supposedly better, adaptors for around $100-120. No cheap, so keep this in mind when factoring in the price of the monitor. These adaptors require a USB port, which is purely for power. The apple one gives you a passthrough so you don’t lose a precious port. I plugged mine into a powered hub and it works fine.

I’m running this on a mid 2010 macbook pro. It’s important to note here that even if you have a newer model with thunderbolt, you still need to buy this adaptor. I found a cheap one on Craigslist.

Power

This is another thing to pay serious attention to. Most of the monitors come with Korean power bricks which operate at 110-240V. North America runs on 120v, so I was safely inside that voltage. The only thing I needed to do was swap the korean plug for a north american on. Its the same plug as printers/scanners/monitors use, so I could just unplug the korean wall plug version and swap it out with mine.

If you live in a european country that runs on 250V – you need to make sure you buy a proper power pick. Do not fry your monitor!

Calibration

Out of the box, the colour was almost bang on and I only had to do a little bit of calibration. These monitors only come with two buttons: brightness UP and brightness DOWN. No problem here though, OSX comes with a very nice colour calibration wizzard which allowed me to make everything look 1:1 to my macbook pro.

Warranty

There isn’t much of a warranty with these things past the initial delivery, this is one of the major downsides. There is no Apple store appointments for these monitors. Luckily, I was able to pop my ebay listing # into SquareTrade and they sold me a 3 year warranty for $50. Totally worth the peace of mind.

Overall Prices

Monitor $380

Display port to Dual link DVI Converter $60 (craigslist)

Monoprice Monitor Arm – $20 off craigslist

Duty – $60 (I was one of the only instances I could find online where poeple got nailed by customs. Oh well, oh Canada).

Total: $520 taxes in

Hope this was helpful and saves you hours of searching. In the picture above, I’m also using a USB to DVI converter from displaylink to run the third display.

 

photo_2photo_1

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51 Responses to Korean 27″ Apple IPS Displays and a Macbook Pro: Everything you need to know

  1. codequickly says:

    Thanks for the article. By the way, on ebay, it’s listed as crossover 27Q, not Q27, as it caused a little confusion for me during search. The rear-side is white, which looks kinda cool.

  2. Nico says:

    Nice work on the research Wes! I’ve been curious about this and haven’t put in the time to make sure it’s legit. I owe you a drink.

  3. Dave Ross says:

    Microcenter sells the Auria EQ276W for under $400, and it has HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort. I’m using a Mini DisplayPort -> DisplayPort cable from Monoprice and it’s great. The EQ276W also has an OSD giving you lots of control over how the screen looks.

    I do miss the overall looks of the 27″ Cinema Display I had at my last job, but the displays in these Korean monitors are just as beautiful as their Apple counterparts.

  4. Guy says:

    Will this work on Macbook Air 2012?

  5. ChrisBlah says:

    Seriously? An Apple cable costs half the price of a monitor?

  6. dywp says:

    Hi
    I got the crossover gold which has a display port. So Im running the screen from my mbp 13″ using the thunderbolt plug using a $5 display port mini -» displayport cable. The screen can tilt and the new version gold dp has a swivel head and height adjustment. I have been using this setup for 6 months without problems.

    • mitch says:

      I’ve been looking at a model with the display port option. Even the Ebay pages for THOSE monitors state they are not compatible with laptops and Apple products. Is that just leftover boilerplate from the non-displayport monitors?

      • wesbos says:

        Its because I’m sure they don’t want to deal with it not working out of the box – there is some research that needs to go into it. Same goes with my local computer shop – they won’t guarantee anything (memory, hard drive…) if its going into a mac.

      • wesbos says:

        No idea about the display port ones – I bought a DVI one which I then used the adaptor to get the resolution. So, display port on the mac probably doesn’t put out the resolution…

  7. mitch says:

    Thank you for this info. This is EXACTLY the display setup I want except my Mac is an early 2011. What has given me pause is that all the Ebay sellers of Korean monitors go OUT OF THEIR WAY to say these monitors will not work with laptops and Apple products. Any idea why that is?

  8. mac says:

    Well I’m baffled !

    I bought my 27Q (with tempered glass) last July – since then I have not been able to use it with my ’12 MBA. The problem seems to stem from OSX – specifically “Lion 10.7.x” and “Mountain Lion 10.8.x”.
    When I bought it I had an iMac running “Snow Leopard 10.6.x” – connected the Crossover using a mini displayport to dual link dvi adaptor (Apple) cable and all was good. I updated to Lion and the image on the Crossover now showed garbled text. I then sold the iMac and bought a Macbook Air which was running Lion – the image also showed garbled text (as seen in images on the link below). I hoped an update from Apple would fix it (on my Macbook Air). Several months later came Mountain Lion – same problem. Several more months later and a few more updates from Apple – the problem persists. I have two mini displayport to dual link dvi adaptors so I know its not a broken cable.

    http://www.overclock.net/t/1232496/crossover-27q-led-led-p-27m-led-2720mdp-gold-led-monitor-club/2920#post_18277853

    Can anyone confirm they are running 10.8.x and using a mini displayport to dual link dvi adaptor, with a 27Q – and does not get garbled text ?

    • wesbos says:

      I’m running exactly that – 10.8.2

      I do know that in 10.8.0 apple really goofed up the display drivers – you might want to try updating to 10.8.2?

      • mac says:

        Im running 10.8.2 actually – Ive tried every update since snow leopard.
        I just had a thought though – the pins in dvi cables – they can so easily be damaged and give unpredictable results. Im going to take a look at them now.

  9. mac says:

    had a look, nothing visibly wrong with the pins, all cables firmly attached. Its just the text is garbled. Makes it completely unusable 🙁 Such a shame, lovely monitor otherwise.

  10. Stephen Siu says:

    Hey Wes,

    Great blog! just discovered it through the jquery conference speakers profile. I also have a displaylink USB to DVI to run my 3rd monitor and I also have a mid 2010 MBP.

    Do you find that the monitor running through displaylink has a low FPS rate? It’s great for reading static documents but moving around windows and things is slightly choppy.

    • wesbos says:

      Thanks Stephen! The display link does have a low framerate but not as low as you are describing. I can’t really watch video on it, but dragging around windows is fairly smooth. I found that using a powered USB splitter and updating to the latest drivers helped a ton.

  11. donotbuythis says:

    Can anybody confirm whether the Gold version of the Crossover (which has display port) will connect to a mac book pro at full resolution without having to buy an expensive cables??

    • Robbie Tranch says:

      Agreed, can anybody here confirm if they got a mac to work a 2560 x 1440 with a CrossOver Gold (display port input version) with just a cheap mini displayport to displayport cable?

      As they are only slightly more expensive than the normal crossovers it would make sense for us mac users to buy this version as many others have had problems with the ‘regular’ crossover and expensive (and often faulty) cable.

      Anyone?

      • dywp says:

        Im running a crossover gold from my mbp 13 2011 with a dp to mini dp cable and I get full 2560×1440 res.

  12. Julius Taylor says:

    So glad I came across this post! like mitch said, I too was originally bummed when I was told by sellers that these displayswould not support a laptop/apple prod! Anyhow, I ordered one today..cant wait!!

    • Mac says:

      Mine turned out to be faulty so I have to pay to return it to Korea £100 and then back to the UK £60 and hope that its fixed and won’t break again. I’ve also read about people giving up trying to get theirs to work with osx/mdp-dvid adapter and selling theirs at a loss,
      The safest option is to get the gold (dp) version. No adapters involved, just a mdp-do cable – cheap as chips (unlike the £70 mdp-dvid).

  13. Tom says:

    Can anyone confirm if this monitor would work with my early 2008 MacBook Pro?

    Copied from Apple’s website:

    “Graphics and video support

    15-inch MacBook Pro

    NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor with dual-link DVI support; 256MB of GDDR3 memory on 2.4GHz configuration; 512MB of GDDR3 memory on 2.5GHz and 2.6GHz configurations”

    • wesbos says:

      As long as you have the active converter, it will work. Apple 27″ displays existed in 2008, which is why they have the converter.

  14. Benjamin Toole says:

    I just purchased a crossover 27q, no pivoting action. I’m connecting the same way, but through a MacBook Pro early 2011. When plugge in and powered on, the indicator light is blue, then the screen quickly flashes, then a solid red indicator light. Does it every time. The power cable is working properly too. Any ideas ?

    • wesbos says:

      Mine did this too when I first got it, it was because I wasn’t using the active converter to upscale the signal. You can’t just plug it into your macbook, you need the $100 converter.

      • Benjamin Toole says:

        Thanks for replying. I did have the active converter but since have found its not working on any monitors, which is great news because now its not the monitor thats broke. Returning the Apple adapter and getting a star tech. It is in rough shape as well…. I should have noticed.

        Btw, the power cable in the back to of the monitor; is the flat side facing the monitor? Or away from it? Just curious because the instructions that came with the monitor instructed to have the flat side facing but it dosnt fit that way lol.

  15. Mara says:

    Great article- I am in the same boat with a mid-2010 MBP (i7 etc, just non-thunderbolt) so I’ve been really reticent to spring for the apple given I know I’ll be on a thunderbolt-ed machine within a few years…

    Would this setup work with one of the hengedocks? (Provided i still use an active converter) http://hengedocks.com/ I like these really just aesthetically, but I’d also like to keep as much desk space as possible!

    Thanks so much!

    • wesbos says:

      Even if you have thunderbolt, you still need the converter. And yeah, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with the henge dock

      • Mara says:

        Awesome! And thanks for the speedy reply! I’ve been waivering about the Apple display for months- and a $500 decision versus a cool grand has me ready to roll… 15″ of space does not make for a happy web developer!

  16. Mara says:

    Ok, so I’ve got the display, the star tech active converter, power adapter and MBP, and I’m all plugged in and…Nothing 🙁 The indicator light on the power supply is solid green. When I first plugged the monitor in the monitor indicator light was briefly blue, then goes to red (does the same if I power it off and on). As far as the screen itself, nothing so far- no backlight or sound or anything to that effect.

    On the MBP side of the equation I can’t seem to get it to detect the monitor- I’m hoping it’s a DVI problem so that I don’t have to ship to Korea, but since this is my first and only display I’m not sure how to test the star tech cable…

    Any suggestions? What, if anything, should the screen do when powered on but disconnected from any video input source?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Mara says:

      Self update: solution ended up being that I had to login to my computer as a guest and ta-da everything worked… Now it’s working fine and I couldn’t be happier

      One question: does anyone else find that this makes their MBP run very hot? Would it help if I used an external USB power for the dual link DVI adapter, or is it important that the USB is hooked into the laptop for data transfer? (guess that was more than one question)

      Thanks- you saved me a happy $500!!

  17. Hi
    do you know if it works with a Mac Pro Desktop 8 core with snow leo ?
    And if so do i need the same cabel ?
    and what is an ” a proper power pick” ?
    And thank you for you re review

  18. Chiliboots says:

    Hi Mara,
    I am running into the same problem as you. However, when I switched to Guest User- still nothing.

    Is there anything else you did that would make this work?

    Thanks

    • Jeff K says:

      Same issue. I’m running the monoprice converter with the Crossover 27QD on a rMBP. I’ve had some flickering but No luck so far. Any suggestions?

  19. Stewart says:

    I’m getting ready to try and setup my mid 2010 MBP with two Crossover monitors. Is it possible to run one monitor off the active converter (at 2560×1440), and then run the second monitor (at 1920×1080 resolution) using a USB –> DVI converter?

  20. Thank you very much for the post. I see that you have a monitor sitting in portrait on the left side. What are you using to display the second monitor. MBs only have the one thunderbolt port. Can you advise?

  21. Steve says:

    Great blog!
    Just wondering mate will this work dual screening with a 2011 27″ iMac with display port, not the thunderbolt model?
    My GPU is a ATI Raedon HD 5750, and some places say that this gx card wont be able to run them both , thoughts?

  22. stu says:

    hi i just recieved my crossover 2720 with dp input and i bought a mini diplayport to displayport cable of ebay

    i cant get it to run off the displayport cable it just flickers the macbook screen and says no signal on the displayport input on the 2720

    my macbook is a late 2010 15 inch macbook pro , it should work

    ive got a regular mini dp to dvi that runs the monitor at 1080p but i want the full res

    anybody have some help for me

    • Mac says:

      I posted earlier in this thread about problems i had using the apple dual link dvi adapter with a brand new beautiful 27Q with tempered glass. I had to return the monitor to Korea from the UK (£100) because after 9 months of being unable to use it – no osx update or different cable helped. I then had to pay another £60 to get the seller to send me his used 2720mdp which had a bent and scratched (cheap looking plastic) case.
      After being switched on for 5 minutes the displayport input flickered (using a mini dp to fullsize dp cable.) At first i thought it must have been the macbook, so apple kindly changed the logic board (luckily within warranty), but it was to no avail. The displayport was faulty.
      The apple dual link adapter and the dvi input did work, however, so I at least have a functioning monitor.
      The cost of the monitor, apple adapter, various cables, both return shipping costs, import tax, my time and the inconvenience over the space of a year – mean that in the end – I wish I’d bought an Apple lightening display. I would have more ports available and access to apple’s outstanding customer support.
      My gamble did not pay off.

  23. eric says:

    Can anyone else confirm what @dywp has said about the 27Q Gold working with a thunderbolt -> displayport cable? I have an early 2011 15″ MBP which has an AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB VRAM, and the Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB VRAM. It also has a thunderbolt port. Would love to spring for this display, but am hoping for a straightforward (and not overly expensive) way to hook it up to my MBP.

    Thanks!

  24. buy says:

    I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s lovely worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the web will be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  25. Migsy says:

    Found this article doing a search for Mac Pro + 27″ IPS high res monitor. I bought a similar display from Monoprice. As basic as it is, it’s perfect. Except I have to go through some amazing hoops just to get this to display on my Mac Pro with a 1 gig video card.

    Initially, i was able to get a connection once i connected the VGA (yes. oddly DVI would not work) cable + DVI to VGA adapter. It wouldnt’ recognize the 2560 resolution at first but i got it to ‘stick’ once i connected a 2nd monitor using Minidisplay port. Then i simply disconnected the 2nd monitor and voila, the 27″ stayed in 2560 resolution.

    One day i was stupid and curious and i changed the resolution to something the display couldn’t handle. It never reverted back after sometime and i had to force restart. Since then I have NOT been able to get this display to function on my mac unless i have a 2nd display connected (and it doesn’t even matter if there is actually a 2nd display – as long as I have a mini display adapter sitting inside the display port, it ‘forces’ the 27″ panel to work properly.

    I want to side with user MAC who posted several months ago that this appears to be an issue with Mac OS X 10.7 and up. I’m currently running 10.8.4 and despite me getting this to work properly for a few days, i cannot get this display to function as the single, primary display once i tried to change the resolution that one time. I have tested this in 10.6.8 and this display functions fine on its own. Additionally, i read somewhere from a forum–where a user was experiencing very similar symptoms as I was– that:

    “Unfortunately, this issue is related to recent updates introduced to Lion/Mountain Lion since the introduction of Airplay as a built in option with release of the new Retina/and 2012 models. Those updates have subsequently found their way into older revisions of their OS ( Snow Leopard, etc. ) There are many threads on Apple Support Community forums speaking of this issue, however there are no “official” fixes.”

    So I wonder: 1) What about changing the resolution totally screwed up the ability to have this as my sole display? 2) I have a mini display to dual link adapter from a 3rd party company–does ONLY the apple version actually work. 3) is this isolated only to me? I could not the display to connect to my macbook pro 2011 either using said mini display to dual link adapter.

    anyone found a solid solution or work around aside from the one i’ve discovered? (having a 2nd display connected. Tx.

  26. Aaron says:

    Anything new on this front in the last year or so? I found this blog doing research for exactly this same thing. I see New Egg has a ton of these monitors and I’m wondering just how good they are. I’ve got a mid 2012 MBP w/Retina and 10.9.2 on it. Would I still need the dual link DVI even with the Retina MBP? I’m looking to get a new monitor, I’ve been looking at the 4k monitors but I don’t see a point in a 4k monitor if my eyes aren’t bionic enough to distinguish between 2k or 4k. I’m not a gamer, I’m a developer / web designer so I don’t need real high refresh rate. I just want something that is going to look exceptional and help me cut back from 4 screens to 2.

  27. Hi Wes,

    A couple questions about the current state of your Crossover Q27 to macbook pro setup.

    I am running mac os x 10.9.3 (recently updated this week) and keep having issues connecting my iMac (mid 2011) to the same monitor using the apple mini display port – dual link DVI adapter.

    Either just a black screen on both monitors or the iMac has a pulsing white circle in the center of the screen.

    System preferences > Displays is showing the connected Q27 but will not mirror or go into active dual monitor mode.

    Have you had any issues after updating to either 10.9.2 or 10.9.3?

    I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could provide regarding this matter.

    Thank you!

  28. D says:

    Hi – I am using a iMac (2014) / a Macbook Pro (2012) and trying to connect to the QNIX QX2710 Evolution II 27″ LED Monitor. I have the apple “mini DP to Dual link adapter”. I am using OS X 10.9.4 on both machines. And am in the US.

    Each time I connect (either of the macs) I immediately get flashing green / blue / red / white screens repeating over and over, no matter what I do.

    Any suggestions?

  29. Michal Hass says:

    I bought a new 15″ macbook pro which did not detect my 27″ Crossover monitor. I then bought and connected the Active converter as you recommended and it did work! Finally my monitor was detected by my new 15″ macbook pro.
    HOWEVER the resolution became terrible. What do I do now??? Should I throw my monitor and get one that supports the macbook pro? or is there a solution to the resolution problem?
    Please help!

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