Apple could release a new super high-resolution screen this month -- and it could play nicely with virtual reality

Apple may be preparing to update its Thunderbolt Display for the first time since 2011, 9to5Mac’s Benjamin Mayo reports.

The only Apple-branded external monitor may be updated as soon as later this month, and could be the only new hardware debuted at Apple’s annual developer conference.

The report suggests that the new “Thunderbolt Display” will have a pixel-dense 5K screen, as is currently found on the 27-inch Retina iMac.

But the most interesting part of the report is that Apple could integrate a graphics processing unit into the screen, taking advantage of a recent improvement to the Thunderbolt and USB protocols.

If true, this would mean that Mac laptops would be able to do more advanced graphics processing when it’s plugged into an Apple external display, which gamers and Mac users who do intensive tasks like video processing would certainly welcome. No external GPUs currently work with Macs.

It could also mean big things for virtual reality on Mac computers. Oculus dropped support for Mac computers a year ago, and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey explained why earlier this year:

It just boils down to the fact that Apple just doesn’t prioritise high-end GPUs [graphics processors]. You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top-of-the-line AMD Fire Pro D700s, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs. If they prioritise higher-end GPUs, like they used to, for a while back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine that supports it, so even if we can support it from the software side, there’s no audience that can run the vast majority of software out there.

If Apple’s packing a high-quality GPU in its external display, that could be a reason for Oculus and other virtual reality developers to take another look at Mac computers.

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