The 8 Best Monitors for MacBook Pros in 2021

Find the perfect monitor for your workstation

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The Rundown
"The PD3200U 32-inch monitor from BenQ is the best Macbook-friendly monitor on the market."
"If you’re looking for a more affordable monitor to accompany your MacBook Pro, the ViewSonic VP2458 is a great option."
Best for Multitasking:
LG 34WL850-W at B&H Photo Video
"For all those multi-screen multitaskers out there, an ultrawide monitor might be your new best friend."
Best for Gamers:
LG 27UK850-W at Amazon
"The LG 27UK850-W 27-inch monitor offers a lot of great features at a surprisingly low price."
Best for Design Professionals:
Viewsonic VP3268 at Amazon
"If working with visual media is part of your job, color accuracy and uniformity across the screen are top priorities."
"The M27Q 27-inch monitor from Gigabyte boasts the highest refresh rate and response time of any device on this list."
"The 34-inch UltraSharp U3415W monitor from Dell is our top pick for a curved design."
"This monitor remains an affordably priced and versatile option for anyone that needs an external display for their Apple laptop."

Even if you have the largest MacBook Pro model out there, that still means you’re limited to a 16-inch screen. That can be pretty constraining if you’re working, going to school, or chronically multitasking on your laptop. A monitor can give you some much-needed workspace and better multi-tasking abilities (without the constant app-switching). It can also give you a more direct line of sight to your work. This can help with things like back pain and eye strain from looking down at your laptop screen all day. 

If you need screen space above all else, ultrawide monitors with features like picture-in-picture can maximize your productivity. If you’re mostly interested in gaming, monitors with high refresh rates are the way to go — this will prevent frustrating glitches like flickering and ghosting to keep your games running smoothly. If you work with visual media (graphic design, photo editing, etc.) then a wide color gamut and precise color accuracy are must-haves. We’ve researched MacBook-friendly monitors will all these different use cases and listed our favorites below.

If you’re still not quite sure where to start, you can always check out our hub for computer monitor how-tos and help pages. And if you’re well on your way to setting up a complete computer workstation, make sure to read over our lists of the best ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mice

What to Look for in Monitors for MacBook Pros

Screen size 

Your decision to add a monitor to your MacBook Pro is likely driven by a need for a larger screen. Most models come in a variety of sizes, often ranging from 23 inches to 34 inches and up (measured diagonally).

Picture quality 

A standard monitor will have a resolution of around 1920 x 1080 pixels. For an even more vivid viewing experience, look for a monitor with 4K Ultra HD resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels). Another factor that will contribute to stellar picture quality is color accuracy, which is especially important for designers. sRGB is the standard color space of ideal color reproduction, and the best monitors will have coverage over 99%.

Design 

The design of a monitor takes into account material, color, ergonomics, and build, among other things. Some have a wider footprint, while some are designed specifically to save space on your desk. Some designs are fixed, while others can tilt for a better viewing experience. Some even incorporate a curved screen. The best design is entirely based on your personal preference.

Best Overall: BenQ 709 PD3200U 32-inch 4K UHD Monitor

BenQ 709 PD3200U 32-inch 4K UHD Monitor
What We Like
  • 4K resolution

  • IPS display

  • Very adjustable

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky design

The PD3200U 32-inch monitor from BenQ is the best Macbook-friendly monitor on the market. If you’re a professional who needs extra screen space to complement your laptop, the BenQ PD3200U offers an unbeatable combination of adjustability and picture quality. The brilliant IPS display has excellent viewing angles and crisp 4K screen resolution. BenQ’s AQColor technology also covers RCB, sRCB, and Rec.709 color spaces accurately, making it a particularly good option for animators and visual media editors. The CAD/CAM, Animation, and Darkroom modes optimize the display for technical illustration, animation, and low-light work respectively. If you split the screen using Dual View mode, you can use different modes on each side. The 4ms pixel response time is plenty fast for most professional applications.

No matter your workspace orientation, the PD3200U can fit in. The screen’s height and angle can be carefully adjusted to maximize viewing comfort. It can also be rotated 90 degrees into portrait mode. If you don’t want to use the built-in stand, the display is VESA mount compatible.

“A really handy inclusion here is the SD card reader... Ports like this further cement this monitor as a professional display that’s great for photo or video editors.” — [MISSING ATTRIBUTION; Emmeline Kaser, Writer

Best Budget: ViewSonic VP2458 24” Monitor

What We Like
  • IPS display

  • Portrait orientation

  • VESA mount compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller screen

  • Not 4K

If you’re looking for a more affordable monitor to accompany your MacBook Pro, the ViewSonic VP2458 is a great option. It’s on the smaller side at 24 inches but has a crisp IPS display with super thin bezels and a variety of ports for easy connection to your laptop. The screen is full HD and features a 60Hz refresh rate for clear video.

If you plan to use this monitor for a full day’s work (or a marathon of your favorite TV show), the wide viewing angles and eye comfort features will be much appreciated. A flicker-free display and built-in blue light filter help to reduce eye strain while the ergonomic design — including height, tilt, and swivel adjustments — makes for comfortable viewing no matter where it is in your workstation. It can also be pivoted 90 degrees into portrait mode or attached to the wall using the VESA-compatible mount.

Best for Multitasking: LG 34WL850-W Ultrawide Monitor

LG 34WL850-W
What We Like
  • IPS display

  • Thunderbolt 3 port

  • Wide color gamut

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

For all those multi-screen multitaskers out there, an ultrawide monitor might be your new best friend. The LG 34LW850-W is a 34-inch monitor that allows for two additional windows open at standard laptop dimensions, effectively tripling your screen real estate. The Screen Split feature also includes picture-in-picture mode so you can have even more applications open simultaneously. If you’re putting in long hours, the super-thin bezels, anti-glare coating, and adjustable display angles allow you to get immersed in the screen without getting uncomfortable.

This monitor features Thunderbolt 3 input and output ports for speedy data transfer between the display and your laptop, up to 40Gb/s. If you work with visual media, the Nano IPS screen delivers excellent color accuracy and bold contrast, plus 10-but support for 1.07 billion colors on screen.

Best for Gamers: LG 27UK850-W Monitor

What We Like
  • USB-C port

  • 4K resolution

  • AMD Radeon FreeSync

What We Don't Like
  • Unimpressive speakers

If you’re looking for a good gaming monitor to accompany your MacBook Pro, the LG 27UK850-W 27-inch monitor offers a lot of great features at a surprisingly low price. It also has a USB Type-C port for streamlined connectivity to your laptop. The 4K Ultra-HD display delivers crisp visuals with a super wide color gamut. Gamers will especially appreciate the 5ms response time and a 60Hz refresh rate, plus built-in support for AMD FreeSync, which reduces tearing and image lag on LCD screens like this one. The 27UK850-W has a few other gaming-specific features including Black Stabilizer mode, which enhances detail in dark scenes, and Dynamic Action Sync. The super thin bezels on three sides of the monitor allow for immersive gameplay. 

The main downside of this monitor is the speaker quality. Most monitors like this bypass speakers entirely because they tend not to sound very good. This one includes them, but we would definitely recommend setting up your own set of speakers for better quality audio.

“Although there’s no official support for G-Sync, the other adaptive sync standard from NVIDIA’s line of graphics cards, it also works with this monitor. “ — [MISSING ATTRIBUTION; Emmeline Kaser, Writer]

Best for Design Professionals: Viewsonic VP3268-4K Frameless 4K Monitor

What We Like
  • 4K resolution

  • Excellent color accuracy

  • Fine-tuned color adjustments

What We Don't Like
  • Unintuitive button placement

If working with visual media is part of your job, color accuracy and uniformity across the screen are top priorities. The 32-inch VP3268-4K monitor from ViewSonic has a 4K Ultra-HD IPS display with color calibration settings designed for professionals. Whether you’re working with photos, videos, or graphics, the ViewSonic delivers excellent accuracy with a pallet of 4.39 trillion on-screen colors. It supports sRGB, EBU, SMPTE-C, Rec.709, and DICOM-SIM color spaces and includes calibration reports for each.

This monitor also supports six-axis color adjustment for precise customization and hardware calibration. Visuals are exceptionally crisp and immersive on the frameless display, and ViewSonic ensures uniform color across the entire screen. The VP3268-4K has several connectivity options including DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and five USBs. Tilt, pivot, swivel, and height adjustments are available for ergonomic comfort at any angle.

Best High-Refresh: Gigabyte M27Q 27" Monitor

What We Like
  • 170Hz refresh rate

  • 0.5ms response time

  • AMD FreeSync Premium

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K

  • Not very adjustable

The M27Q 27-inch monitor from Gigabyte boasts the highest refresh rate and response time of any device on this list. If you’re tired of screen flicker, blur, ghosting or tearing while gaming, the M27Q can deliver the ultra-smooth gameplay you’re looking for with a 170Hz refresh rate, 0.5ms response time, and AMD FreeSync Premium. An added bonus: less flicker is easier on your eyes.

The IPS display has 2560 x 1440 HD resolution, and while it’s a bit disappointing that this monitor isn’t 4K, it’s still a great value considering the other gaming-specific features. The Aim Stabilizer mode reduces motion blur so you can see in-game targets more easily. Black Equalizer also improves clarity by enhancing the visibility of dark scenes. If you want to switch settings between work and gameplay, OSD Sidekick allows you to easily make adjustments right on the monitor’s screen.

Best Curved: Dell UltraSharp U3415W

 Dell UltraSharp U3415W 34-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor
What We Like
  • Ultrawide dimensions

  • Advanced multitasking features

  • Curved screen

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Not 4K

The 34-inch UltraSharp U3415W monitor from Dell is our top pick for a curved design. The advantage of a curved monitor is two-fold: it makes for highly immersive visuals and reduces eye movement around the screen, which in turn reduces eye fatigue. This model has ultrawide 21:9 screen dimensions for panoramic views of your applications, and while it isn’t 4K, the 3440 x 1440 at 60Hz resolution and wide color gamut make your media look great on screen.  

The ultrawide design also makes this monitor a multitasker’s dream. The wide aspect ratio multiplies your screen real estate, plus it includes some advanced multitasking features like Picture-by-Picture and Picture-in-Picture for multi-app viewing. It can even display content from two different devices at once and daisy-chain with other monitors for a multi-screen experience.

If you need an external monitor for your Macbook, but don't have one of the best USB-C hubs to hook up an HDMI cable, the BenQ EW3270U is a quick and effective solution. This beautiful 32-inch panel from BenQ boasts remarkable color accuracy and 4K resolution to make the most out of your new screen real estate.

Besides providing optimal resolution and clarity, this monitor features AMD Freesync to reduce image tearing and HDR for an amazing depth of color. The monitor comes equipped with HDMI and DP connections as well as a somewhat awkwardly placed 3.5mm audio jack, but unfortunately lacks any kind of USB-A ports for connecting peripherals. While the EW3270U does have a pair of built-in speakers, they are a bit underwhelming, with listening best left to a pair of dedicated speakers or headphones.

While not necessarily a bargain, this monitor remains an affordably priced and versatile option for anyone that needs an external display for their Apple laptop.

Final Verdict

The 32-inch BenQ PD3200U monitor is our top pick for MacBook Pros based on its brilliant 4K IPS display and its versatility in both work and entertainment applications. If you’re looking for something more affordable, our favorite budget option is the 24-inch ViewSonic VP2458.

About Our Trusted Experts

Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire and comes with nearly a decade of experience in reviewing consumer electronics. He's reviewed hundred of products from laptops, tablets, phones, and monitors. He personally uses the Dell U3415W together with a MacBook Pro as his home workstation.

Emmeline Kaser is a former editor of Lifewire’s product round-ups and reviews. She has several years of experience researching and writing about consumer tech.

FAQ

How do I connect my monitor to my MacBook Pro? 

Chances are you will need to buy the appropriate adapter cable to connect your monitor to your MacBook. MacBooks have had their port options pared down in recent years and many of the newer models only have USB-C and Thunderbolt ports. If you have an older model, it may have a Mini DisplayPort connection instead. Many of the monitors on this list support Thunderbolt connections while nearly all of them support HDMI or VGA connections. You’ll need to get a cable that matches both the port(s) on your laptop and a connection on your monitor.


How do I adjust the display settings for my monitor?

If you want to adjust device-specific settings (color adjustments, switching between specialized modes, etc.) you will need to access that through the monitor’s settings menu. But if you want to adjust how your MacBook Pro interacts with the monitor — to change the desktop image, or adjust the orientation of the displays — you can change this through the System Preferences menu. With the monitor attached and turned on, go to System Preferences > Displays on your MacBook to see your options.


How many monitors can a MacBook Pro support?

The number of monitors your laptop can support depends on the resolution of those monitors. It can support up to four 4K monitors, two 6K displays, or a combination of 4K and 5K displays.

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