Apple Just Killed The VESA Mount And We Couldn’t Be Happier

After the immense failure of the 2013-era Apple Pro trash can Mac, Apple has been hard at work at the next generation of workstation desktops. This week, the new Mac Pro has been announced, and the specs are amazing: We finally can buy a professional, desktop Mac with half the storage of an iPhone. The big story isn’t the next generation of cheese-grater Macs, though: the new display, the Pro Display XDR, has killed the venerable VESA mount and we couldn’t be happier.

The VESA mount, or more correctly, the VESA Mounting Interface Standard, was created in 1997 as a mounting standard for flat panel monitors and televisions. Look on the back of your monitor, and you’ll probably find a pattern of M4 threaded inserts laid out on a 75mm or 100mm square. Larger sizes, with respectively larger thread sizes, are used for gigantic wall-mounted televisions. For the last two decades, this has been the standard for mounting monitors to stands. Now this standard faces a challenger thanks to the brave designers at Apple.

The new Pro Display XDR connects to the Pro Stand with a ‘puck-shaped magnetic connector’. This connector is designed to attach to the back of the Pro Display XDR and locks the Pro Stand and display together. This is a magnetic display mount, a game-changing advance in monitor mounting technology.

The new Pro Display mount allows for something not many VESA mounts are designed for: The Pro Display XDR can rotate into either portrait or landscape mode. While details are still forthcoming if this display will automatically change the display orientation in MacOS, this is something that has been possible for thirty years, the patent is absolutely expired, and anyone could build a dongle that switches between portrait and landscape mode automatically in relation to the direction of gravity.

The Apple Pro Stand goes on sale this fall, with a retail price of $999. You can tell that’s the punchline because that’s where we’re ending the article.

We’ll be waiting for the release of the Pro Display this fall, but in the meantime, get your pitchforks ready. There’s no way this display has any sort of sensor to detect which direction ‘down’ is, and you’re going to end up going into your computer’s settings to change between landscape and portrait.

113 thoughts on “Apple Just Killed The VESA Mount And We Couldn’t Be Happier

  1. I have no idea what’s going on in this article. Was it satire? Because Apple has never done convenient things like adhere to industry standards. Mocking them for not having a VESA mount is like mocking them for not using USB-C. It’s just how they do things.

    Was it genuine? Because I don’t see the need being filled by magnetic mounting technology. I like it when my monitor can’t fall on my desk if a cable gets snagged behind it. Also, most decent VESA mounts can absolutely rotate at least 90 degrees.

    1. I got some ancient HP monitor foot for Vesa mounting that spins all the way around, but has “bumps” for every 90 degrees.
      It doesn’t account for the cables though, but neither does the equivalent product from a certain fruity company specializing in unwarranted self importance, user inconvenience and idiot taxes.

      1. Yup, mine can rotate. What it can’t do is tell the OS it’s vertical. Not that Windows seems able to do vertical anyway. The 6K thing seems to be a bigger deal when most cards struggle with 4K.

        1. Windows can do vertical but it’s up to the display driver to rotate the desktop.
          If you used a computer with integrated Intel video ten or fifteen years ago you would have seen it happen every now and then when you accidentally hit the hotkeys for desktop rotation. I think it was Ctrl+Arrow keys or something like that. There were plenty of monitors with rotation sensors too but not many users chose to install the software to enable that functionality. After all it didn’t make a very big difference on a monitor with a 1280×1024 resolution.

          1. Turning a monitor sideways had a point when the screen was actually a close approximation of letter dimensions (or A4). With 16:9 monitors the aspect ratio is too long (1.78) versus letter (1.375) or A4 (1.414).

            A 4:3 aspect monitor (1.33) was actually perfect, because you can take a few pixels off the bottom, say for the taskbar, and the remaining space has an aspect ratio of about 1.4 which maximizes the use of your working area with documents.

          2. @Luke, that might have mattered more back when people worked with A4-sized documents. Even most documentation tends to be read on screen nowadays, so it seems silly to pay much attention to page size.

          3. @Luke I agree but your math for second paragraph is off. If you’re 3:4 in portrait, adding taskbar at the bottom will put it closer to square rather than 1:1.4

      2. I honestly don’t know why he is still at hack-a-day, he writes nothing but ill informed opinion. His occasional articles with any technical content are full of factual errors. I try to avoid his useless articles but as I often click a link from twitter sometimes I land on one unintentionally, like now.

    2. I have dual arm desk clamp monitor arm kit that can rotate 90 degrees left and right as well as tilt forward and back 90 degrees for less than 50 euro from ebay.

    3. If it was satire, it was very poorly done. It was like a half-ass article until it explicity said “here’s the punchline”. Punchline to what? Was the article a joke?

  2. Yeah, no. I have a monitor bolted to a cabinet door in my kitchen. The cabinet gets opened and closed several times a day. No way I’m trusting nothing but a bigass magnet to keep that thing secure.

    1. Plus it’s just a monitor… are you really moving it enough for magnetic mounting to be necessary?

      I have a tablet I use around the house, and I have 3d printed magnetic mountpoints for that all over the place. But just a monitor? No way.

  3. They didn’t kill the VESA mount. Just like with their older displays a VESA mount adapter is available as an extra-cost option. It’s less than $1000, which is niec.

  4. Brian,

    What makes you say there’s “no way this display has any sort of sensor to detect which direction ‘down’ is”? It connects with a Thunderbolt 3 port which has integrated USB-C. With the $5-6K price tag, there’s surely room for a cheap accelerometer. I’d say it’s technically feasible, but unlikely to be desirable for the bulk of the market. I’ve never had a desire to rotate my monitors on-the-fly, so I guess I don’t get the hype.

    1. I mean, putting an orientation sensor inside a monitor has been feasible since VGA got I2C connections. Every monitor I’ve owned since my last CRT has at least two of VGA, HDMI, DVI, and USB, all of which would allow a PC to read an orientation sensor of some kind within the monitor.

      The fact that the connection is there does not mean there’s a sensor.

      1. Woops, wrong button, sorry for reporting this post. That was not my intention

        That said, what are you talking about? It has standard PCI-E 16x slots. They have added basically another PCI-E connecter in line with it for extra functionality but you can use standard PCI-E cards as far as I understand from current reporting.

    1. Nope… Apple’s not going to sell you a PCI Express card.

      Well, ok, they are… just don’t call it a PCI Express card. Call it an MPX module. The Mac Pro has four double-wide PCIe slots, presumably with 8 o 16 lanes each. So in theory, you could plug in four GPU cards. Only, they don’t acutally seem to have a way to power them via the usual PCIe extra power cable.

      The MPX module adds a second connector in-line with the standard PCIe connector, and there is room for two of these. Presumably, that connector includes extra power pins, a Crossfire bus, and maybe another thing or two that’s Apple specific. But basically, by going Apple proprietary, you can save yourself the immense complexity of a few extra cables. Oh, but since the MPX modules are quad-wide, you only get two GPUs going Apple’s route. Or perhaps four,as I think they’re building a dual-GPU module. Of course, one could fit four dual-GPU cards using standard double-wide high-end GPU cards, so I don’t see much advantage to Apple’s approach.

      Except to Apple — any company that can convince you to buy a $1,000 monitor stand can sell you anything.

      1. When Disney/Pixar (remember who owns Disney now?) get their new hardware with the features they wanted, they will charge them off to the first producer they do a movie for. Price is not an issue.

  5. “We finally can buy a professional, desktop Mac with half the storage of an iPhone.”

    Insert image of crowd slowly rising to its feet for a standing ovation.

    1. Yeah, another part I just didn’t get. I have a 2006 Mac Pro (Dual Quad) I recently replaced the old 16G of RAM with 64G of RAM and a new SSD. Great machine. The new RAM is from old servers and was about $90 and added a USB3 card.

      So, what does the iPhone crack mean?

      1. I just did the same upgrade to my 2013 Mac Pro, which I love by the way, because I frequently took it to job sites. I was wondering if I should upgrade the cpu. After the announcement, yes. I’m waiting for the refurbs to start showing up. I really hoped for a 3-5k mini tower but love the new Mac Pro. Just a while before it’s affordable. The display though. Really hope it’s supportable via the thunderbolt 2-3 adapter for the 2013 Mac Pro.

          1. Yeah, I can bump the pair of CPUs to 3GHz for $50 and 3.49GHz for $125 and bump the RAM speed by over 40% in the process. An overall 50% increase in performance.

  6. “The new Pro Display mount allows for something not many VESA mounts are designed for: The Pro Display XDR can rotate into either portrait or landscape mode.”

    The heck you talking about?

    Every VESA stand I’ve come across, even ones that comes with monitors, is able to do that.

    Maybe you’re thinking pre-Gamer culture between 2000-2008 where stands were fixed in place and barely tilted.
    But these days you can’t swing a dead cat by its tail without hitting a fully pliable and rotatable monitor stand.

    1. The rest of this article is biting sarcasm so I’m going to put on my Captain Subtext Helmet of Truth here and interpret that sentence as “plenty of VESA mounts have been able to rotate 90 degrees for decades”

  7. The “cinema displays” didn’t have VESA mounts neither. But who cares, industry standards only matter when you’re in the professional tools industry. Which Apple ditched years ago as they moved into the pretty pricy toys market instead. Good riddance.

  8. While cheese greater is a very apt description of the new mac, the description above seems to imply that magnet is what is holding the monitor on. The text on the linked page suggests the magnet is just for an alignment guide, and that latches secure the display.

    “The magnetic connector on the Pro Stand makes it easy to attach and detach from its polar-opposite magnet on the back of Pro Display XDR. These magnets guide the connection while latches automatically engage and securely lock the stand to the display. Detaching it is as simple as unlocking the slider.”

    Look like dusting them may be a bother.

    Could have done a better job at making it clear that the article was intended as satire, it was not at all clear until got to the comments.

  9. Any chance the magnetic connector does anything more than just holding the screen in place? I would love it, if it would also connect power and the display connection through a standardized port. This would make changing displays an easy task (although I have to admit that this is nothing I do on a regular basis).

  10. What I never understood is that the VESA mount never incorporated a simple “Docking” connector.
    – 5V DC
    – DVI/HDMI/VGA (like DVI-I Dual Link)
    – Audio
    – maybe USB

    Then everyone could build thin clients, KVM receivers, small full Computers etc. that are sandwiched between Screen and mount, without hassle…

    Setting up control rooms with lots of screens per workplace is a major pain in the ass. This would make everything much easier.

    We got a glimpse of how life would be when we used Samsung TC242W Displays. But that isn’t desirable, too. Because whenever Samsung decides to drop the design and/or support, the clutter starts again.

    1. Because it’s only a mechanical mounting standard.
      It’ll be a mess every time there’s a new display connector electrical standard, not to mention slip-rings that’s capable of handling the power current and transferring the display signals without distortion of any kind WILL be stupid expensive.

      1. Are sliprings strictly necessary though? Can imagine a short <10cm "umbilical cord" which can handle 90 degree tilt both sides as the cheaper (but still standard complaint) option…
        Completely agreed on the rest, power standardization (5V DC sounds like a terrible option, given the voltages necessary to drive LCD panels), video signal standardization…

        1. You just described something that’s been around for 50+ years. It’s called a clockspring. Cars have used them forever for steering wheel electrical. Horn, air bags, an steering wheel radio/cruise control. Don’t tell apple or they will try to steal the patent. I had an old NEC crt that did the same rotation and it sent the orientation to the video card automatically… The stand was integrated into the monitor, not an additional $1000.

  11. Genius!!!!! Apple have found an incredible elegant way to watch vertical videos in Youtube without wasting two thirds of the screen!!!! And at a really affordable price!!!! Give me two!!!!

  12. It seems the average amount of essentially useless physical features of consumer tech oscillate between minimal and intricate. Looks like we’re heading back again. Yay. Of course no matter where we are right now, it is always hailed for being artistically brilliant, beautiful design. I wish they would just KISS and be done with it and of course nobody cares what I think and that’s fine.
    “More surface features means more surface area means more dust and more difficulty” — Captain Obvious

  13. Nice! I assume it’s VESA compliant. If you wanted to use that with the new $5000 6K Apple monitor, you’d just have to pay another $199 for Apple’s adapter from their proprietary mount to VESA.

  14. Brian is pulling our leg of course. But yes, I don’t see why Apple couldn’t have just put those 4 threaded holes on the back, straight out the box, especially as the new connector is recessed. They just don’t want us (well people who can afford the monitor) buying stands from third party manufacturers…

  15. Hmm, that was supposed to be in reply to [th4r4m]’s comment:
    “I have dual arm desk clamp monitor arm kit that can rotate 90 degrees left and right as well as tilt forward and back 90 degrees for less than 50 euro from ebay.”

  16. ahhh the wonders of rotating a display, so you can use it in a way for which it was never designed.
    Ever heard of cleartype fonts, the pixels on a normal monitor are aranged:
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….
    RGB RGB RGB RGB RGB ….

    and cleartype fonts make use of that to pull some tricks resulting in a “clear” looking font.
    When you tilt your monitor the screen is no longer RGB but:
    RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…
    GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG…
    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB…
    RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…
    GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG…
    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB…
    RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR…
    GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG…
    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB…
    Now at first this doesn’t seem to matter, but for some reason text looks odd… and that because the windows cleartype font has problems with it. A problem that perhaps is already solved, but some years ago I found this out the hard way and stopped working on tilted monitors for that reason.

    Just something to keep in mind…

    PS: the irony, a perfectly fine standard killed to be replaced by another standard and why so that we can mount our monitor to a new standard because the old standard no longer fits the new monitor which uses the new method for fixing things to standards.

  17. Welp, even an 18$ monitor arm with portrait rotation support was expensive to buy for me but apple’s 999$ mount is not that much of a bad thing. People that wouldn’t mind some thousand dollars are going to buy and use this monitor stand. Robustness and price accuracy aside it’s a decent monitor stand with a cool mechanism and some kind of (arguably good or bad, imo good) style; apple-ish slim, gray and minimal design.
    Thanks to this monitor stand, advantages of portrait oriented displays is going to be known more widely, more people are going to benefit from it. And probably there are going to be more affordable magnetic monitor stands in the market, i mean affordable ripoffs – replicas.

  18. There’s a lot that I could say (and others are saying) about this stand.

    But if you think Apple just killed the 22 year old VESA mounting standard with a $1000 magnet stand, all I can do is laugh in your face for such ignorance. I, and 99.999% of the population will continuing using my $19 VESA mount. Leaving me $980 to buy a new smartphone, current gen console+4 games, firestick, and a year of netflix. Enjoy your magnet stand.

  19. Subpixel hinting is a sad half measure and I hope it dies after everybody has 4k screens and cannot easily tell whether it was still on. This particular problem was just that MS never bothered to implement Cleartype for half the different subpixel layouts, namely VRGB/VBGR, the ones with vertical arrangement of horizontal color strips. That’s why that store brand TV from Worst Buy made such a crappy monitor in Win7. I had to disable Cleartype entirely (which I normally do anyway), and then tweak the registry to substitute something normal for that Segoe UI font. It appears all over dialogs and looks almost as horrible when Cleartype is off as when it was “working” on those broken assumptions. The freetype library in Linux can do all the common subpixel layouts (presumably the ones that actually get used in LCDs– seems green is always in the middle) but of course I keep it grayscale. Last I heard, Apple also does their antialiasing in grayscale, so it normally wouldn’t be a problem. IIUC the subpixel hack is in the renderer, not in the font; still, as in Segoe UI, fonts are designed around it / optimized for it so the results not being freeze-dried canine feces is rather dependent on the renderer (and your screen) supporting it. Word on the street is that MS likes to sacrifice accuracy of representation to improve readability and Apple likes the opposite.

  20. Definitely satire! I’m also having trouble taking the ad on the apple site seriously. 10-bit color? I assume they mean 30-bit color, which would be 10 bits for each of the R, G, and B. For all but professional photographers, who cares about more than 24 bit RGB? What hardware even supports it and why should anyone care? This will quickly deteriorate into a VHS vs Beta war. And I don’t think Beta will win this time either.

    1. This kit is designed for professional video editing where, as I understand it, the price Apple are asking is a steal. Unless you are very rich, or very stupid (or both) this isn’t the kind of kit you’d use for a home PC, but there is a define market for it.

  21. “The new Pro Display XDR connects to the Pro Stand with a ‘puck-shaped magnetic connector’. This connector…”

    Magnets? Oh, yeah, I can’t wait for the flood of users posts about how they knocked an overpriced display off the mount and broke it. This’ll be fun.

    Hang on, I gotta go nuke some popcorn for this one. BRB.

  22. For most of us, we’re just snarking about something we will never buy. And for those few of us who might, this price will not be an issue because we have a job to do and this is the tool that will help us best do our jobs. It’s kind of like snarking about a Ferrari requiring $2000 oil changes when you know it could be done for $100. If you can buy a Ferrari, it’s not going to be an issue.

        1. I totally get the sticker shock from developers and gamers, but from my vantage point in pro video, this thing is a steal even with that ridiculously priced stand. Probably the closest monitor is Sony’s BVM-HX310 which is about $30,000. Pro video prices have come down a lot, but anything from Sony’s reference line requires a second mortgage on your house.

  23. What I’m reading is that next time I buy a TV, I’ll also have to go through the hassle of installing a new piece of steel to hang my TV, because the standard arbitrarily changed. This makes me so happy.

  24. So……. Apple yet again devises a proprietary implementation that’s just another standard in a different shape that’s only compatible with other Apple products that only Apple sells? And this is touted as somehow visionary? It’s just another way Apple is fleecing their mindless fanbois.

    It has become, using the allegory of the 1984 commercial, that Apple products are no longer the Olympian with the sledgehammer, but the faceless goons trying to stop her from awakening the enthralled plebs.

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