I’ve had a 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display since they were announced in October of 2012. Most days, i’d sit at my desk and stare at my LG 27" LCD display, doing most of my work on the larger display while the MacBook was either sitting next to me with it’s lid closed, or i’d mostly ignore it’s display because of it’s vastly different pixel density. After a few months of working with this setup, I decided to explore my options to best make use of my laptops dual thunderbolt ports.

My initial thought was to look at Apple’s Thunderbolt Cinema Displays, but at $999 per display ( and then $117 in additional hardware ) pre tax, I wanted to make sure I explored all of my options. For information sake, I (and all fellow Nova Scotians) pay 15% tax on all of these purchases.

After some quick googling, I found some very useful information at both CodingHorror.com and my current personal bible, The Wirecutter. Both of these sites sent me to ebay to search for Crossover 27Q IPS displays. These displays are phenomenal at 2560x1440 resolution on an IPS panel that is apparently the same panel that shows up in the afforementioned Apple displays. At ~$300 a display, these seemed like the best deal I was going to find, so I quickly pulled the trigger and ordered two. My purchase price for two displays was roughly $720, which included express shipping from Korea for both displays. I made the purchase on a Wednesday afternoon, and had the packages delivered the following Monday morning.

This solution wasn’t plug and play, of course, but I was already $1250 ahead of the previous plan so spending some extra money to finish the setup was fine by me. Here’s what I had to purchase, and why, to make everything work:

Now that i’ve factored in all of my extra hardware, let’s take a look at a cost breakdown of the Apple option and the Korean option:

Apple Crossover 27Q
Price of Displays $1998 $740
Display Adapters $0 $138
Extra Cables/Ports $39 $29
Mounting Hardware $78 $0
Extra shipping/customs $0 $260
Additional Taxes $317 $0
Total $2432 $1167

It’s easy to see how much money you save switching to the Crossover displays, if you don’t mind a few extra cables on your desk. I’ve been running both displays without issue for several days now, and my MacBook handles it just fine. If you’re in the market for an external display, I don’t think you can go wrong with the 27" Crossover 27Q.