Until Apple makes a stand-alone monitor option to replace the now-defunct Cinema Display monitor discontinued in 2014, finding an external monitor to increase the real estate of your MacBook Pro means heading out of the Apple universe.
Luckily, quite a few monitors are offering USB-C connectivity to make it easy to hook your MacBook Pro to an alternate monitor.
We’ve compiled a list of monitors that will work great with your MacBook Pro, maintaining color clarity and resolution while increasing your screen size. We’ve also answered a few questions about what you need to look for in a compatible monitor. Let’s take a look.
How to choose an Apple compatible monitor
If you’re a design pro and need fine detail for your job or serious hobby, a 4k display is your best bet. It faithfully reproduces the resolution of fancy DSLR and camcorders that support UHD resolution.
Gaming enthusiasts aren’t likely to be buying a MacBook Pro, but since some of you are out there, you may also want to consider monitors that reduce tearing and stuttering with faster response times of four milliseconds or less.
If you’re doing document work or watching movies, a native resolution of 4k isn’t necessary. Full HD spectrum monitor with 1080p support will work great.
Apple is pushing the new Thunderbolt 3, otherwise known as USB-C, connections. If you plan to run extra peripherals, then the standard HDMI hookups plus PC’s 4 and 5k reliant DisplayPorts are necessary.
It’s helpful to have a monitor that doesn’t draw power from your MacBook to reduce strain on the battery. Some monitors will have their own power supply cord, while others not only produce their own power supply but help power your MacBook while connected.
Few rival Mac’s design and resolution, but one complaint was always the lack of ergonomic adjustments. Mac’s stand tilts to help with viewing. If you want to swivel, pivot, or raise the height, you were out of luck.
Monitors from other companies frequently feature these adjustments, however. Some are also flat mount compatible with VESA holes, and some can rotate entirely for both portrait and landscape viewing.
The Best Monitors for MacBook Pro
LG offers a one cable USB-C connection to your MacBook Pro. You can power your MacBook, use it as a USB hub, and transfer video. You can also interface with any peripheral using the two 3.0 ports.
It allows you to calibrate colors with your MacBook so that the displays between both are in sync. There are 14 layout options.
The IPS monitor itself is a 4k display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. It has a color grade of 99% sRGB. It offers calibration hardware and software to assure accurate color. Color mode presets adapt to various projects.
It allows on-screen control for menu options, and you can view different inputs in split-screen mode. You can fully customize the monitor with 14 different layout options including PIP.
Gaming experience is excellent with 4k resolution. Freesync technology helps reduce tearing and stuttering during gameplay. It includes a black stabilizer for perfect clarity even in dark gaming conditions.
-powers your MacBook so that battery isn’t a concern
-Freesync technology for better gaming
-can’t control brightness and volume from your MacBook while attached.
The Acer is a 27 inch IPS monitor with 2560 x 1440 resolution. It offers a thin bezel design, and a 15 degree tilt for more comfortable viewing. The base is magnetic so you can store simple office tools like paperclips without cluttering up the screen.
It cannot power your MacBook, but it does come with its own power source, so it doesn’t drain your MacBook. It has WQHD resolution and a frameless design with a ratio of 100 million:1 contrast.
It’s an IPS panel with HDMI and display ports so you can run information through without losing resolution. It has a four millisecond response time making gaming faster and editing moving images easier.
It can’t interface with peripherals through your Macbook, and it isn’t VESA compatible. However, the entry price plus the graphics capability makes it a good mid-range monitor for someone needing to upgrade their real estate.
-comes with its own power source
-thin bezel, frameless design
-cannot interface with peripherals
LG’s Ultrafine 5k monitor was developed in conjunction with Apple for use with the Macbook pro. It features an incredible UHD resolution of 5120 x 2880 with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The 27-inch monitor is equipped with anti-glare coating and LED IPS technology display. You can customize your screen in many different ways including split-screen and four panels. It has 178 degrees of horizontal and vertical viewing angles.
It’s rated 100% for sRGB and carries the full-color gamut for industry standards, DCI-P3. It comes individually calibrated to match color standards with your Macbook pro, and if you prefer a different calibration, there are inset color adjusters.
It can power your computer while connected to its 85-watt charging port. It also has three five-Gbps Thunderbolt USB-C ports. It is VESA compatible, and the screen itself is adjustable. However, because of the power port inclusion, it doesn’t leave much bandwidth left for peripherals.
The design is very much LG although this is an Apple venture. It uses black plastic as the frame, and the screen falls more on the matte side of things. However, it does adjust up and down, something native Mac screens don’t do, and the stand is satisfyingly heavy.
Lenovo’s ThinkVision X1 is a 27-inch backlit screen with full 4k resolution. Native resolution is 3840×2160, plenty to view your photo editing and gaming in full definition. It features a minimalist design stand and frame with matte, anti-glare coating.
It features one of the world’s slimmest designs, plus 100% sRGB. It has a full HD camera, plus stereo speakers and a microphone. To connect to your media, it has a DisplayPort, an HDMI connection, and USB 3.0 ports. These can also act as a hub. To round things out, there’s a USB-C port.
It will charge and power your computer, plus native sound can be controlled from the computer itself. It takes a little bit for the image to come up after sleeping, but overall it runs seamlessly with low drag for gaming and displays nicely for photo editing.
Asus’s ZenScreen is an ultra-portable monitor weighing just under two pounds. The ISP monitor features Asus’s eye care technology. It has anti-flicker, so the eye won’t have to process light pulsing, and a range of blue light filters.
It’s an HD resolution of 1920X1080, with good color density and coverage. It’s factory calibrated to work right out of the box, but there are native controls if you want to adjust color variances yourself.
It uses a hybrid signal solution for USB-C and Type-A connections. You need a DisplayLink driver to pair with Type-A. It has a screen cover and a pen cutout, making portrait and landscape orientations seamless with autorotation. The screen cover doubles as a stand.
You can toggle through advanced display settings using the embedded widget. It doesn’t use external power, but lower settings decrease its energy footprint. It’s an excellent monitor for travel or to use as a second peripheral.
-not 4k compatible
Phillips offers a 25 inch ISP screen with HD resolution of 2560 x1440. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio and full-color gamut. It doesn’t provide industry standard color for design professionals, but the color clarity and accuracy is plenty for those doing regular work and gameplay.
It connects seamlessly with the mac through a USB-C connection, plus it has a host of other connective ports including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA. There are also three USB-3 ports. The USB ports will charge compatible devices like a USB hub.
You can tilt and swivel the screen in addition to adjusting its height. You can set up the screen in portrait or landscape mode, as well. It even includes an ethernet port for a dedicated internet connection for macs without ethernet ports.
This is a reasonable entry-level HD screen for someone doing light editing work, watching movies, or needs a basic workspace.
-excellent entry level monitor
-full range of connectivity ports
-doesn’t have 4k resolution
BenQ offers a full HD 4k monitor with a resolution of 3840×2160 with a 178 degree viewing angle horizontally and vertically. It supports a full gamut of color including 100% sRGB and Rec 709. It has a 10-bit color precision with well over a billion colors. It offers split screen mode so you can work in two different color spectrums without switching screens.
It supports Darkroom mode, CAD/CAM mode, and animation mode. All of these are available in a split-screen mode for better editing. You can format hotkeys to correspond to different settings and functions to reduce the time it takes you to adjust settings. It also features KVM, a plus for you gamers.
The base can be adjusted ergonomically by tilting, swiveling, and pivoting. You can also adjust the height of the monitor. It has BenQ’s eye care technology which includes anti-flicker technology and blue light filters to reduce eye strain over time.
It has built-in speakers and a response time of four milliseconds. It has DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort, HDMI ports, and three USB-3 ports.
-Rec 709 color gamut
-response time of four milliseconds
HP’s Envy monitor is a budget 4k monitor with a full HD resolution of 3840×2160. It has a micro-edge bezel for edge to edge viewing and 178-degree viewing angles. The aspect ratio is 16:9. It features a good color gamut of 99% for sRGB and HP’s Freestyle technology to prevent tearing, stuttering and input lag.
It has a slower response time, but if you aren’t gaming seriously, this might not be an issue considering the price. There’s a 10 million: 1 dynamic contrast ratio, making this a good monitor for a workspace in editing or other design projects.
It powers your computer while connected through a USB-C connection. Plus it has HDMI connection and DisplayPort. It is VESA compatible for wall or flat mounting, plus you can adjust height, tilt, and swivel for comfort.
It looks edgeless when powered down and offers suitable real estate for viewing images and video. It supports the graphics of your MacBook Pro well.
-Freestyle technology to prevent tearing, stuttering, and input lag
-slower response time
Which monitor has all your must-haves for your MacBook Pro extension? Let us know in the comments below.