MBP 16" plus Ultrawide Monitor vs. new 27" iMac

Before starting a new video editing project later this year I plan to buy a new iMac to replace my 2014 5K 27" iMac. I’m waiting patiently for a new 27” iMac to be released. However, the new 16" i9-equipped MacBook Pro looks interesting … perhaps combined with a widescreen monitor such as the LG 49”.

My current setup:

Proposed replacement:

(from Sara Dietschy’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo6ELT7R628&t=290s)

Is this a crazy idea? My current dual-screen setup: 2014 27" 5K iMac plus a “portrait”-mode 25" Dell monitor, typically with 4 or 5 open windows spread over the two screens. I anticipate that replacing this setup with a new MBP 16” and 49" LG monitor would allow working with multiple windows open simultaneously. Plus, I would have the capability to take the MacBook to other rooms in the house to work on less-demanding projects.

I’m not too concerned with bleeding-edge performance … other reviewers indicate that Final Cut Pro X works well on a highly-spec’d new 16" MacBook Pro. I’m more concerned about:

  1. resolution of the LG 49” monitor - appearance of text and images, and
  2. compatibility of the monitor with the MBP 16” - wish to avoid sleep/wake drama, constant fiddling with resolution settings, heat issues or fan noise from MBP, etc.

Any opinions or comments? Is the resolution/picture quality of the LG LG 49WL95C-W good enough? Will it “play nice” with the MBP 16”? Or would I be disappointed after being used to the outstanding iMac 5k image quality?


I have no idea whether you’ll be disappointed in the image quality from the lower pixel density. It’s a personal decision. For me, after using a 27" Retina iMac I’m always a bit shocked at the difference when I sit at someone’s desk and they have a typical PC monitor. (At home I’ve got a 3-year-old 25" Dell monitor gathering dust, in part because it is so obviously inferior to my iMac’s screen that I couldn’t bring myself to attaching it as a 2nd monitor.)

The MPB should be able to drive that monitor but be aware that users report that if you use both displays, as the dGPU eats 20w even when you’re not doing anything, your fan will always be running (low volume at idle, louder with regular to heavy use).

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In the past year I upgraded my iMac and my MacBook Pro. So I’ve got the 2019 27" iMac which has a 27" 4k LG monitor in portrait orientation on the side (looks like your setup but external is on the left rather than on the right). This has been fantastic. I think it is a lot more versatile than an ultrawide would be, and it takes less desk space. The portrait mode has been advantageous as I split it for an upper window and lower window, so to me it’s like having three monitors.

I also have a 16" MBP, bought before COVID-19. My intent was mainly to use it for travel and my photography. But now that’s on hold so it gets little use. I really don’t like notebook computers other than their portability. My guess that with that ultrawide you would really want to run it in clamshell mode using your existing keyboard and mouse from your old iMac.

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If you don’t need a laptop for travel, stick with an iMac. You always get more computer for your money with a desktop. Alos read other treads about MB Pro getting hot with external display etc.


I use a 16" MBP as my main computer and dock it at work (ha!) and at home through a Thunderbolt 3 dock where it drives 2 4K displays in either location (plus its own 16" display). I love this arrangement and unless my computing needs were to demand a tremendous amount of local computing resources (and there are jobs for which this is the case), I would never get a desktop in place of it. I’ve been pushing the move to notebooks at work for a couple of reasons, including the fact that for many (but not all) types of work, the computer that you’re using is really not much more than a window into the network, and because if and when you have to pick up and move, having a portable computer makes moving your workplace much, much easier. (I live in an area prone to fires and part of my job is to plan for business continuity, so I’m biased toward mobility.)

That’s me though.I’m only answering your question by describing what works well for me; I’m not recommending that you do the same thing or go with a desktop instead. There are some types of work that just plain work much better on a desktop class computer, but the advantages of mobility should not be discounted without some good consideration.

As bowline pointed out, there is at least one person (in the MPU Discourse (what do we call it, forum? group?) who is having overheating issues when running an external display with their 16" MBP. I can’t speak for them, but we have four people at my workplace doing that and none of them have the same problems. If you do decide to go with the MBP, I advise you to put it through its paces before the return period is up and return it if it’s giving you that kind of grief.

Whatever you decide, I hope you’ll let us know :slight_smile:


I was not referring to anyone in this forum (I don’t remember seeing anyone post about it here, actually), but I’d remembered a few threads in the Macrumors forums. I just did a quick googling and found this recent thread pretty quickly. Apparently the MBP draws more power if you utilize the MBP screen alongside an external monitor than if you use two identically configured external monitors (with the MBP lid closed).

As someone who cannot abide fan noise (as I’ve noted before I chose a 2017 i5 iMac over i7 because the i7 chips were prone to getting the iMac fans going when doing nothing more than scrolling) I’d never go for a laptop setup in which the fan would always be going when in desktop use as described by the OP.

Returns of a 49" 46-lb monitor might be a little more problematic.

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I thought you were referring to this: 16" Macbook Pro gets excessively hot when using external display which I’d been reading only a few moments before.

If fan noise is a really big issue for the OP then it’s definitely worth pointing out that a notebook will always have more of that than a desktop. That being said, unless I’m doing something moderately computationally intensive, I don’t hear my fans, they certainly don’t spin up in any way that I can detect just by virtue of having the computer on, lid open, and external displays connected. That being said, that being said, fan noise sensitivity is a really individual thing and your point is well taken.

That’s a very good point and the OP would have to make sure that that would be an option. Obviously the way to proceed here is to buy Apple’s Pro XDR display at the same time and return both if necessary :wink:

If you do go the route of using the laptop to drive multiple displays or an ultra wide, then an eGPU would help a lot. I use the Blackmagic Vega 56 and this means my whole setup is completely silent, even under load. It has the performance of a desktop workstation, and is noticeably faster across all productivity apps.

I own a LG 38” Ultrawide which is pretty awesome. It connects to my MacBook Air via USB-C. That one cable charges the MacBook and is also powering the display and sound into the monitor. It’s a very convenient setup and I would highly recommend it. My regret is that the work-issue Air fan is always blowing due to the higher resolution it has to drive. It is also slower as I can see the CPU utilization increase - again, I suspect it’s the higher resolution that’s causing the fan to go crazy. I also wish it had more memory (currently at 8GB only).

So, I’d think the MBP 16” with a better GPU should be able to do this easily but do invest in more memory, better CPU and GPU if you want to go this route.

I’m very tempted by an Ultrawide but I don’t want to compromise on Retina resolution – does you screen appear Retina despite the size?

I’ve just bought a 32" 4k display to go with my 2017 15" MBP which is plugged in via a Caldigit TS3plus. I currently also have a small 1080p screen plugged in too though that’s borrowed so I’m considering buying another screen to replace that when it goes back (not sure what yet).

With the extra screens on there’s definitely an increase in fan noise / activity. At rest or light activity you can only hear it if you’re in a quiet room, if there’s music playing or other background noise then it’s not noticeable. On the other hand, opening Lightroom and skipping rapidly through images makes the fans absolutely scream.

For me having more monitors seemed better than adding a wider monitor as being able to compartmentalise things worked better for me.

When I was looking at the options I bookmarked these videos which discuss ultra-wide vs dual screen, they may give you some food for thought:

No it does not appear to look like Retina.

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You can have both :slight_smile:
I have the ultra wide and an old Dell 23” which I made into portrait mode.

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Aaaah too bad. Thanks!

Good idea! :slight_smile:

To be fair, particularly in that first video, it’s always amused me that he’d discussing it in terms of choosing between two options, when the setup he has with one of each looks excellent.

Something else worth mentioning as far as noise goes is that connecting any external display device makes the MBP switch to using its discrete/dedicated GPU for everything (if it has one, which is the case for all 16" MBPs), which does cause heat, so the fans are more prone to spinning up.

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Interesting discussion. I have one of the new MacBook Pro 16 (base model). I also have a ViewSonic 22" (1080p) display, which I initially tried alongside the MBP as an extra screen. Ugh! It was really jarring for me, moving my vision across from the fantastic screen on the MBP to the, comparatively, awful screen of the ViewSonic.

My intention is to try the iPad Pro 12.9 (2020) alongside, in Sidecar mode, and see how that works. Not a cheap solution but gives me the benefit (excuse to purchase) of having the iPad. :grinning:

How about a portable display?

G-STORY 15.6 Inch UHD 4K IPS Eye-Care Portable Gaming Monitor with FreeSync/HDR/2160P/HDMI/Built-in Speaker/Vesa Compatible(Black) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HF6TLPC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_WvbREbYQBEYN9