Apple has its own first-party monitor specifically designed for the MacBook Pro, the new Pro Display XDR. However, you have to pay a hefty sum of money to get one. The starting price is $4,999 for the standard version, not including its $199 VESA mount and $999 stand. Thankfully, there’re various attractive third-party monitors that you don’t have to break the bank to buy. Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to choose the best monitors for MacBook Pro:
1. Screen sizes and Resolution
Size does matter when it comes to choosing the best monitors for MacBook Pro. One of the privileges of using an external display is that you can extend your desktop for more on-screen working space. Everything is better on a monitor that is larger than your 17 or 13-inch MacBook Pro display.
If you’re on a tight budget or have limited space, I recommend choosing a 21-inch monitor, which happens to be the same size as the smallest iMac. A resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) is ideal for 21-24 inches displays. This ViewSonic VP2458 offers everything we just listed and it’s suitable for the tight budget.
If you can afford it, our default recommendation is going for a 27-inches monitor. They bring just the right amount of screen space without taking up too much space. Some cheaper 27-inch models have 1080p resolution which we find can be a little unpleasing to use on a larger screen. You should choose a 27in screen with a resolution of 1440p (2560x1440), like this MSI Optix MAG272CQR.
If you're a creative professional or video editor, you may want to step up to a 32-inch screen with 4K resolution. 4K is now considered to be the gold standard for photography, graphics, and video work. You can easily find one for just $500 such as BenQ EW3270U. Another great option is ultrawide displays which offer viewing experience similar to that of dual-monitor setup with just one monitor. Check out this 35-inches BenQ EX3501R with a curved panel.
2. Panel type
When you shop around, you certainly have come across the terms “IPS” or “VA”. These refer to the panel types of the monitor. Different panel technologies are ideal for different activities. Here are the three major panel types:
TN: this type is ideal for gamers thanks to its high refresh rate and low response times. However, its color accuracy and viewing angle are the worst of the three.
IPS: it has vastly superior viewing angles and color reproduction capability compared to TN. However, IPS is prone to the “bleeding” and “glow” phenomenon.
VA: the middle ground of TN and IPS. It is often seen as the jack of all trades. VA offers the best contrast ratios. For general use, you can’t go wrong with an VA monitor.
Generally, IPS monitors the most sought-out type and is considered to be the best monitors for MacBook Pro. Thanks to their capability to show a wide gamut of colors, IPS monitors are favored by artists and video editors. Unless you’re a competitive gamer, IPS monitors such as BenQ PD3200U or Dell UltraSharp U3415W are the perfect choice.
3. Color accuracy
This is an essential factor to consider for designers and graphics editors. Color accuracy refers to how accurate a monitor is at reproducing colors and shades. With low color accuracy monitors, the colors you see are being displayed falsely (seeing orange for red, for example).
The default Retina display on the MacBook Pro has already great color reproduction, so you don’t want anything less. Generally, the best monitors for MacBook Pro are the ones that have a high sRGB rating. Look for those that have at least 90% sRGB or higher and you can do your graphics work just fine. For instance, this Dell UltraSharp U2720Q covers +99% of sRGB.
Before making any purchase, you need to make sure that the monitors can be attached to the MacBook Pro first. Make sure that it has the necessary ports that are supported by Apple's premium laptop. HDMI or DisplayPort are the two most common display inputs you can find on most monitors. However, the most recent MacBook Pro models don’t have these ports.
You’ll most likely find the Thunderbolt 3 connection on your MacBook Pro. You can connect to this port through Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C connectors. If your monitors have only HDMI or DisplayPort interface then you need to find an adapter to connect to your Mac. The safest bet is choosing USB-C monitors such as Acer H277HU or LG 27UK850. Some displays such as BenQ PD2720U come with Thunderbolt 3 port but they are more on the expensive side.
5. Design and Ergonomics
Apple’s products are well-known for their sleek and modern design. The best monitors for MacBook Pro must also be eye-catching to complement your whole setup. This is especially true for creative professionals who would love to draw inspiration from their working space. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of monitors with a gorgeous design like BenQ PD2720U or Dell U3818DW.
Since you’ll be sitting and staring at the screen for a long time, you need to keep ergonomics in mind. This refers to the adjustability of the stand and the screen. You need to make sure that you can tilt the display and adjust the screen height for a more comfortable viewing angle. For instance, HP VH240a comes with VESA mounting and allows you to tilt or rotate the screen in 4 ways. The best monitors for MacBook Pro are adjustable so your back and neck won’t ache while using them.
1. What’s the benefit of using the best monitors for MacBook Pro?
The Retina display on the MacBook Pro is really nice for a laptop screen. But if you want to boost your productivity, an external monitor is essential. You would often find professionals and artists favor a dual or even tri-screen setup, for good reasons. Here’s why most people would look for an additional display for their MacBook Pro:
Larger screen estate: More screen space means that you can run multiple apps at once. Thus, your multitasking will be improved. You can open the Zoom meeting on one screen while accessing the important documents at the same time. Therefore, your workflow becomes more fluid and streamlined.
Ease of arrangement: You can arrange the monitor in many ways to prevent distractions. You can rotate the external display in portrait mode to read long texts. You don’t have to scroll as much to read the same amount of information anymore.
Health benefits: You tend to bend toward seeing better on the small screen of a MacBook Pro. This habit could cause back pain, straight neck syndrome, etc. the best monitors for MacBook Pro are often adjustable so you can set it up for optimal viewing angles.
2. How many monitors can I connect to my MacBook Pro?
You can connect more than one external monitor to the MacBook Pro at the same time. Most people would go with a dual-monitor setup, but why stop there? The Apple’s laptop can actually support up to four 4K displays. The number of displays your MacBook Pro can handle depends on its specs and the display resolution. Here’s the reference of the multiple displays support of some MacBook Pro models:
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)
MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
Max number of displays supported simultaneously
2x 4K displays
1x 5K display
1x 6K display
4x 4K displays
2x 5K displays
2x 6K display
1x 5K and 3x 4K displays
3. How much do I have to spend to get the best monitors for MacBook Pro?
Unlike the pricey Pro Display XDR, third-party monitors are more diverse in terms of price and features. There are many displays that you can find across the price range, from sub-$100 to $1,000 and more price tag. What you need is to determine which monitor has the features you want. Here are the price ranges of the best monitors for MacBook Pro and what you can expect:
Budget monitors (sub-$200): Most monitors in this range are 1080p 24-inch models. They are great for office work and daily tasks.
Standard monitors ($200-800): This is where you can start to find many solid options. You can easily find many 1440p 27-inch offerings within this segment. a $200-300 monitor is the great starting point for any user.
Premium monitors ($800 and above): Most if not all options in this price range tend to offer 4K or even 5K resolution. These are ideal for creative professionals and video editors.
4. Are there any accessories for the best monitors for MacBook Pro?
The best monitors for MacBook Pro have included all the features for viewing please. However, there is more than one way to elevate your Mac experience. You can purchase some of the following accessories for some quality improvements:
Monitor calibrators: For a more accurate color calibration, you have to get one of these.
Monitor arm stands and VESA mounts: These allow greater flexibility for your workspace. Plus, you can save some space for leaving other gadgets or working tools on the desk.
Adapter: As mentioned in the buying guide, some monitors just don’t have the Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports. An adapter fixes that problem and lets you connect the monitor to the MacBook Pro.
Laptop stand: This is for putting the MacBook Pro on. This helps protect and elevate your Macbook Pro for ease of use and space-saving purpose.
5. Can I use a touchscreen monitor on a MacBook Pro?
Most monitors with compatible ports would work with a MacBook Pro. As for the touchscreen feature, you can use them on Mac machines. You just have to tinker a bit and download the correct drivers to use it. The problem here is that Mac OS is not touch-friendly as Windows computers. The interface on a Mac laptop is not as well-designed for touch gestures as on a PC.
Another option is using the iPad as an external display using the Sidecar feature. You can connect the iPad to MacBook Pro by either plugging in directly or through Bluetooth and Continuity. You can use the iPad’s Multi-Touch gestures when connecting it as an external monitor.