Best External Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air – 5 Fantastic Picks For All Budgets

Fact checked by Chris Smith

Apple MacBooks, be it Pro or Air, are usually available in 13″, 14″, or 16″ screen sizes which, of course, is not a lot of screen real estate. You’d agree if you frequently use your Mac for multitasking, gaming, video/image editing, or simply designing.

Key Takeaways

  • Look for monitors with the USB-C power delivery (PD) feature to simultaneously charge your MacBook Air & MacBook Pro while using the monitor.
  • If you want an Apple-only monitor, Apple Display is an ideal pick, primarily due to its 5K display.
  • An anti-glare and flicker-free screen delivers a clear viewing experience without troubling your eyes.

This is where adding an external monitor to the Mac makes sense. 

Available in numerous screen sizes (24″, 27″, 32″, 40″, etc.), these monitors not only increase the available screen space but also deliver a better viewing experience (say, while gaming or watching movies.)

Not to forget how some external monitors can also charge your Mac simultaneously. 

Thus, it’s imperative to have an excellent external monitor along with your MacBook. 

But which is the best external monitor for MacBook Pro & MacBook Air? Continue reading as I discuss five such monitors and give you a quick buying guide. 

5 Best External Monitors For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air Summary

  1. Best Overall: Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 27″ 4K UHD
  2. Best Budget: Acer 21.5 Inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame 
  3. Best Premium: Apple Studio Display
  4. Best Small & Portable: ASUS ProArt Display 14” 1080P Portable Touchscreen Monitor 
  5. Best Ultrawide: LG 40WP95C-W 40” UltraWide Curved Monitor 

Can You Use Any Monitor With MacBook Air?

Can I use a non-Apple monitor with my MacBook? If you’re thinking about this, the answer is “yes.”

You can use any monitor with MacBook Air, provided it features built-in USB-C or Thunderbolt ports for the connection. 

Tip: Refer to this page to learn about your MacBook Pro & MacBook Airports. 

How Do I Choose An External Monitor For Mac – Crucial Features To Consider

With so many options accessible across various categories regarding screen size, resolution, ports, etc., choosing the best external monitor for MacBook Pro & MacBook Air is no longer easy. 

But don’t fret, as the following pointers will narrow down your research and save time. 

  • Screen Size 

Talking about the screen size, you have so many sizes to choose from. For example, 24″, 27″, 30″, 32″, 40″, etc. While most of you may prefer a “bigger” screen size, it’s not a good practice. 

While determining what screen size is suitable for you, consider parameters like available desk space, the display’s comfort, purpose, etc.  

Generally, anything between 27″ to 30″ is suitable for everyone, whether a casual user or a proficient gamer. 

Note: Go for a MacBook curved display if you opt for a bigger screen size (say, 40″). These ultrawide monitors lend a more immersive viewing experience from all sides. 

  • Resolution 

What resolution should my external monitor have? This is another time-consuming thing to decide. After all, 1080p, 1440p, 4K, 5K, and 6k monitors are familiar sights these days. 

Below are my suggestions. 

  • For general use, for example, browsing, media viewing, video projects, etc., go with 1080p or 1440p resolution
  • For an enhanced viewing experience and content creation, I suggest a 4K display.
  • Connecting Ports 

How will your MacBook Pro & MacBook Air connect to the monitor? For this, you need a monitor with either USB-C or Thunderbolt ports. 

Most Macs have at least one of these ports for adapter-less connectivity with your monitor. You’ll need an adapter if you buy a monitor with an HDMI or DisplayPort ONLY. 

Thus, be mindful of the available ports to avoid confusion or multiple cables. 

  • Ergonomics

You can’t overlook the ergonomics of the monitor, either. If not much, you should be at least able to tilt the angle of your monitor back and forth, adjust its height for utmost comfort, and swivel around for easy viewing. 

If you’ve got the cash to burn, check if the selected monitor can pivot or rotate in portrait or landscape mode. 

  • Additional Features 

The additional features include a high-quality webcam (for video calling), built-in speakers (for best audio), a decent refresh rate (for gaming), etc. 

These features are standard in most monitors. But specific monitors may skip one or two. So, be sure about what you’re getting. 

Be it your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, connect it to these external monitors and boost your productivity. 

Related: MacBook Screen Replacement Cost – With & Without AppleCare+

Best Overall 4k Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 27″ 4K UHD WLED LCD Monitor 

Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 27 4K UHD WLED LCD Monitor - 16-9buyonamazon

Specifications 

  • Screen Size: 27 inches 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Screen Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K)
  • Ports: USB-C, RJ45 (Ethernet), DP1.4, and HDMI
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Special Features: IPS Black technology, mini-joystick controller

The first and probably the best external monitor for MacBook Air & MacBook Pro is this Dell UltrasSharp 4K LCD monitor. And here’s why.

This display from Dell measures 27 inches (diagonally) and sports a fantastic 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution for an “UltraSharp” image quality. In terms of pixel density, it’s around 168 pixels per inch. You can’t ask for more if you’re a graphic designer or editor.

Add to this 2x the contrast ratio of the standard IPS panels and 35% deeper black levels, with this monitor being the first ever display utilizing LG’s IPS Black technology

Talking about the connecting ports, you get a wide variety to choose from. Besides an HDMI port, there’s also one DisplayPort (In and Out, respectively). You can use the DisplayPort-out to connect another 4K monitor for a dual-display setup. 

If you’re wondering about the USB-C ports, you get one premium port to connect your MacBook Air or Pro. One notable feature of this port is its 90W fast charging power that simultaneously charges your MacBook while working. 

The other USB ports include a downstream port (14W PD) and USB 3.2 Type-A, which can add other peripherals to your MacBook-monitor setups. I usually connect my mouse, keyboard, external solid-state drive, etc. 

Note: Don’t worry about the cable clutter, courtesy of the elegant cable management system. 

Apart from the IPS Black technology, if another thing justifies its selection, it’s the mini-joystick controller at the bottom rear corner. It streamlines the monitor’s OSD navigation. 

Regarding the setup and monitor movements, you can either mount it on the wall or keep it on the stand. Once set up, you can tilt the display top up to 5° toward you or 21° away, swivel 60° in either direction and pivot the panel between portrait and landscape modes. 

Pros 

  • Premium finish with a compact design  
  • Deeper black levels and better contrast 
  • 75Hz refresh rate makes it suitable for gaming 
  • Suitable for two 4k monitors setup

Cons 

  • Lacks a webcam 
  • No ThunderBolts

Check the Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 27″ 4K UHD’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Budget Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

Acer 21.5 Inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame 

Acer 21.5 Inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame Computer Monitor (HDMI & VGA Port)

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Specifications 

  • Screen Size: 21.5 inches 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Ports: HDMI & VGA
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Special Features: Ultra-thin + zero-frame design, AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technology, 75Hz refresh rate

Are you looking for the cheapest external monitor for MacBook Air & MacBook Pro? If so, this Acer 21.5 Inch Full HD IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame Computer Monitor is a steal deal you can’t avoid. 

Priced under $100 (thanks to year-round discounts), it’s a general-purpose monitor with limited yet valuable features. 

The screen measures 21.5 inches and is packed with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. And since the pixel density is 102 PPI, the monitor is suitable for day-to-day applications, such as image or video viewing. 

Note: Smaller screen size of 21.5 inches and a high pixel density of 102 PPI ensure sufficiently sharp images. 

Being an ultra-thin zero-frame computer monitor, it’s incredibly lightweight and compact. For your information, the bottom of this monitor is just over an inch thick, and the top’s thickness is way under 1 inch. Thus, no extra space is required for its setup.

And the setup is also pretty straightforward, comprising a circular base and a vertical shaft connecting to the monitor’s base. Unfortunately, there is no wall mount possible. You can only tilt the display 5° toward you or 15° away. No swivel or height adjustments, sorry. 

Did you know about this monitor’s compatibility with casual gaming? Yes, AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technology and 75Hz refresh rate ensure a smooth gaming experience without image tearing or stuttering. However, you’d need good external speakers as no built-ins exist.  

Coming to the ports, there’s no such variety. You only get an HDMI port for MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and other compatible peripherals. But on the positive side, if any of your devices lack support for HDMI, you can use the built-in VGA port instead, particularly for analog video. 

All these ports are in the back, facing outwards for convenience. 

Pros 

  • Suitable for casual gaming 
  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to move 
  • Decent pixel density with high color accuracy 
  • Extremely reasonably priced

Cons 

  • Small screen size 
  • No variety in the ports

Check the Acer 21.5 Inch Full HD IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Premium Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

Apple Studio Display 

Apple Studio Display - Standard glass - Tilt- and height-adjustable stand

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Specifications 

  • Screen Size: 27 inches 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Screen Resolution: 5120 x 2880 pixels (5K)
  • Ports: USB-C, Thunderbolt
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Special Features: 5K retina display, True Tone technology, Spatial audio, 96W PD

For those in favor of an Apple-only display for their MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, here’s my next recommendation – Apple Studio Display. As Apple says, it’s more than your regular display! Continue reading to know why. 

Loaded with an eye-catching 5120 x 2880 or 5K retina display, Apple Studio supports over 1 billion colors and delivers an unmatched image quality, courtesy of 14.7 million pixels. In addition, Apple’s True Tone technology ensures a natural viewing experience, despite 600 nits of brightness. 

All these display qualities make this Apple Studio a must-buy monitor for professional artists, filmmakers, designers, photographers (editing & viewing), etc. 

While you may start experiencing eye strain with other displays after a long screen session, this Apple Display keeps the eye strain at bay with an anti-reflecting screen coating. 

Tip: Opt for the optional nano-textured glass to minimize screen glare further. 

To indulge in high-quality video calling with your business colleagues or friends, you get 6 built-in speakers with Spatial Audio and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage. Thus, no matter how much you move around, stay at the center of the camera frame. 

In terms of ports, you can utilize both – quick-connect & fast-charging USB-C (3x) & Thunderbolt. I recommend the latter for your MacBook Air & MacBook Pro as it’ll also charge the Mac simultaneously. For other non-Apple devices, use USB-C ports. 

Being slim and lightweight, this Apple Studio doesn’t require too much space on your desk and can easily be tilted as you wish. Plus, height adjustments are also possible.

Pros 

  • Superior picture quality due to the 5K retina display 
  • Anti-glare screen coating to prevent eye strain 
  • Top-notch speaker and mic system 
  • 96W power charging for all connected peripherals

Cons 

  • Not suitable for gaming 
  • Camera quality is lacking at night

Check the Apple Studio Display’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Portable Monitor For Macbook Pro (Light And Easy To Move)

ASUS ProArt Display 14” 1080P Portable Touchscreen Monitor 

ASUS ProArt Display 14 1080P Portable Touchscreen Monitor PA148CTV Full HD IPS 100 sRGBRec.709 Color Accuracy ΔE 2 Calman Verified

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Specifications 

  • Screen Size: 14 inches 
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Ports: USB-C, micro-HDMI
  • Panel: IPS
  • Special Features: Calman verified certification, 3-months Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, anti-glare & flicker-free screen

Today’s best touchscreen monitor to pair with your MacBook Air & MacBook Pro is this 14-inches ProArt display from ASUS. 

Don’t underestimate this product due to its small size. Despite a screen size of 14 inches, you won’t feel any lack in color quality, with the comprehensive 100% sRGB and 100% Rec. 709 color gamut taking charge. Thus, you get more vivid colors, higher contrast, and more. 

If you’re an artist, photo/video editor, or professional designer, get the colors you see on the screen as true-to-life as possible, as this ASUS ProArt monitor achieves ∆E < 2. The monitor’s factory calibration and Calman verification are also chief reasons for the high color accuracy. 

That’s not all. You can personalize the screen’s color settings, e.g., hue and temperature, through the on-screen menus. 

Talking about portability and storage, thanks to the 8.05 x 12.84 x 0.47 inches dimensions and 1.63 pounds weight, this ASUS ProArt monitor easily fits in your travel bag. Thus, it’s travel-friendly.

When you wish to use it, open the adjustable metal kickstand, attach the monitor, and use it at different viewing angles. 

You need not worry about how long you’ve been in front of the screen anymore. The display’s flicker-free and ultra-low blue light technology work together to care for any eye strain, headaches, or eye fatigue. 

Lastly, there are 2 USB Type-C ports and 1 micro-HDMI port for various device connections, including your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, etc. 

Pros 

  • 10-point multitouch screen for smooth movements 
  • Travel-friendly 
  • Vivid color quality and custom display settings 
  • Good for casual gaming

Cons

  • The screen resolution could have been  better 
  • Average tripod stand

Check the ASUS ProArt Display 14” 1080P Portable Touchscreen Monitor on Amazon

Best Ultrawide Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

LG 40WP95C-W 40” UltraWide Curved Monitor 

LG 40WP95C-W 40” UltraWide Curved WUHD (5120 x 2160) 5K2K Nano IPS Display, DCI-P3 98% (Typ.) with HDR10, Thunderbolt 4 with 96W PD, 3-Side Virtually

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Specifications 

  • Screen Size: 40 inches 
  • Aspect Ratio: 21:9
  • Screen Resolution: 5120 x 2160 pixels
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 4
  • Panel: IPS 
  • Special Features: Dynamic action sync, dual controller, HDR10, AMD FreeSync, wide color gamut, smart energy saving

Lastly, here’s an ultrawide external monitor for MacBook Pro & MacBook Air, the LG 40WP95C-W. You can get this beast for video editing, picture editing, audio editing, gaming, programming, etc. 

With a gigantic screen measuring 40″, it has the best-in-class resolution, second next to the Apple Studio at 5120 x 2160 pixels or 5K2K. In terms of pixels per inch (PPI), it’s approximately 139.97 pixels. Hence, you’ll never complain about the image quality.  

Furthermore, it has a brightness of 300 nits and supports over 1 billion colors, something we often relate to with Apple displays. This monitor covers 98% of the P3 wide color gamut regarding color gamut, thus ensuring a greater range of colors at a more vibrant and saturated level. 

Thankfully, LG has packed a built-in ambient light sensor in the display that automatically adjusts depending on the room’s brightness levels. Still, you can choose otherwise and use the on-screen menu for this purpose. Use the physical joystick at the bottom of the display to access it. 

Coming to the ports, you can see some variety in superfast Thunderbolt 4 ports, DisplayPort, and HDMI. 

Note: With a bandwidth of 40Gbps, the Thunderbolt 4 ports are known for quick data transfer, power delivery (up to 96W), etc. 

Turn to your monitor’s rear side, and you’ll find the above ports.

Overall, LG 40WP95C-W is an excellent pick if you have the cash to burn, want an aspect ratio of 21:9, and, most importantly, occasionally indulge in high-end gaming. 

Pros 

  • Robust all-metal stand with multiple adjustments.
  • Suitable for multi-monitor setups.
  • Decent HDR support.
  • Ultrawide display to work on multiple things simultaneously.

Cons 

  • The speakers could have been better. 
  • HDMI ports work at a lower resolution.

Check the LG 40WP95C-W 40” UltraWide Curved Monitor’s latest prices on Amazon

Time to Make a Choice!

So, here you go. That’s everything you’d know about the best external monitors for MacBook Pro & MacBook Air. 

Be it gaming, editing, designing, programming, or binging movies, adding an external monitor to your Mac gives you more working space, freedom to multitask simultaneously, etc.

If you’re confused about which external monitor to choose, I’ve reviewed my top 5 recommendations, including a buying guide to make the best purchase. 

Best External Monitor For MacBook Pro & MacBook Air FAQs

  • Do Macs Require Special Monitors?

Ans: No, Macs don’t require special monitors. The primary prerequisite is a built-in USB-C or Thunderbolt port to connect the two devices. 

  • Does Apple Sell Just A Monitor?

Ans: Yes, Apple sells just a monitor. You can get two monitors, the Studio Display and Pro Display XDR

  • What Monitor Is Closest To Apple?

Ans: The LG 40WP95C-W is the closest monitor to Apple regarding resolution, connectivity ports, and applications, among others. 

Go through the above reviews of LG 40WP95C-W and Apple Studio Display to understand each MacBook Pro & MacBook Air external monitor in detail. 

  • Which External Monitor Is Best For MacBook Pro?

Ans: Apple Studio Display is the best monitor for MacBook Pro. It has a 5K resolution, supports over 1 billion colors, gives plenty of screen real estate, and more. 

  • Why Is Apple Pro Display So Expensive?

Ans: The Apple Pro Display is expensive primarily due to the top-notch 6K screen resolution with an impressive 218 PPI. Besides, it comes packed with everything you’d desire at a high price of $4,999.  

  • Can MacBook Air With Intel And M1 Use The Same Types Of Monitor?

Ans: MacBook Air with Intel and M1 use the same monitor types.

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