Bundled graphics power may carry the load for laptops
Apple has offered an iMac with a staggering 5K-resolution display since 2014 and also has 4K iMacs available, yet its standalone Thunderbolt Display still sits at 1440p - plenty sharp, but certainly lesser by comparison.
However, a refresh seems imminent: 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. It's suggested to feature 5K resolution, pumping out 5120 x 2880 pixels of ultra-crisp sights, but there's another interesting element that's totally new to the line.
According to the report, Apple intends to integrate a GPU directly into the monitor itself, providing graphics-pumping power from within. What's the point? Well, 5K resolution requires a lot of graphics muscle to run at a steady clip, and Apple's slim MacBooks might have trouble powering that resolution when plugged into the monitor.
Reportedly, the graphics card within the monitor would overrule the one in your computer, as needed, with an update in the forthcoming OS X 10.12 (or MacOS, as is rumoured) allowing the seamless pairing. Whichever card is more powerful is the one used, with the other likely made inactive during use of the monitor.
While that may ultimately drive up the price of the new 5K monitor, it means that Apple can continue to sell compatible laptops without top-tier GPUs within - which could save 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.