Apple’s Studio Display may be significantly more affordable than the Pro Display XDR, but it’s still pricey (at least the $1,599 starting price includes a stand). And there aren’t third-party alternatives at the same size and resolution as the Studio Display available; the only other 5K 27-inch display on sale before the Studio Display was the LG’s 5K 27-inch UltraFine display, and it was discontinued.
Of course, you could settle for a 4K display, which is easy to find (and a lot easier on the wallet), but if you really want the pixel density that a 5K 27-inch display offers, you can do what YouTuber Luke Miani did and take matters into your own hands. Miani bought a 2014 Intel-based 27-inch iMac with a 5K screen, modified its hardware, and created what he calls a DIY Studio Display.
In his video, Miani covers the process of creating the DIY Studio Display, starting with his reason for the project, his research for parts and assembly, the labor involved, and the final product. In the end, the DIY Studio Display isn’t quite up to par with the real Studio Display in terms of picture quality, but the differences are hard to spot. Miani believes that a more recent iMac would close the picture quality gap even more.
Miani used iFixit’s iMac repair guides to take apart a 2014 iMac that he bough for $620. He also purchased an HDMI adapter for $179, a USB-C-to-DisplayPort cable for $12, a USB camera for $30, a USB-A-to-C extension for $9, and display adhesive strips for $19, bringing the total cost for his DIY Studio Display to about $870.
That’s at least a $700 savings. If you want to make your own DIY Studio Display, your mileage will vary somewhat. You could spend extra on a more recent iMac or a little less on an older iMac that doesn’t start up. You could also opt to leave the camera off or choose a cheaper one to save a few bucks, because it wouldn’t be a studio display if people weren’t questioning the quality of your Zoom calls.