Apple Pro Display XDR: compatible Macs with non-integer framerates

I have previously covered Apple’s announcement of its new Pro Display XDR, with both integer and non-integer television rate support. I have also covered the new MacBook Pro 16” (2019) with both integer and non-integer television framerates. I also covered the announcement of the Mac Pro (2019) desktop workstation. Now, after months of awaiting the final information from Apple, I am ready to unveil which Apple Mac computers directly support the new Apple Pro Display XDR.

My prior coverage about this:

The Macs that officially support the new Apple Pro Display XDR 6K

The Macs that officially support the new Apple Pro Display XDR 6K (B&H link) are:

  • Mac Pro (late 2019, B&H link)
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (July 2018 or later, B&H link)
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (late 2019, B&H link)

Apparently, the GPU (and/or internal display panel in laptops) in other Mac models are not capable of handing non-integer framerates and therefore are not included among the supported Macs. I was hoping that the Mac Mini and some other MacBook laptops would be supported, but not yet.

Why should I care about non-integer framerates?

If you are new to this and haven’t read my many articles about this topic since 2008 here in ProVideo Coalition magazine, here’s an executive summary:

  • It’s important to monitor (visualize) video at the intended cadence of a project framerate, or 2X that framerate if it’s 30 or lower. Why 2X? Due to the way the human brain and persistence of vision, we can’t tolerate the flicker at viewed framerates lower than 48 fps. That’s why, even though theatrical films are generally produced at 24 fps, we always view them in theaters with each frame repeated via a special repeating shutter in the projector, so we actually see the equivalent of 48 fps, even though they are pairs of the original 24.
  • Despite a common myth that states that NTSC and ex-NTSC regions use 30 fps (frames per second), the reality has not been the case since 1953, when the US inserted color on top of the original monochrome television system. Since then, it has been 29.97 frames (or 59.94 fields, or even 59.94 frames with 720p stations). On the other hand, PAL and ex PAL countries have used 25/50.
  • Before adding this non-integer framerate capability, macOS video editors who had non-integer projects who owned and desired to connect a multi standard HDTV set, DreamColor or other high-end evaluation display were forced to purchase an interface from a company like AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox. Those interfaces exist both as PCI (PCIe) cards as well as boxes which have their own video clock, independent of the computer’s video clock.

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