The best monitors for MacBook Pro in 2024

Here are the pros for getting a new display for a "Pro" laptop.

Best Overall

Apple Studio Display is the best overall monitor for music production.

Apple Studio Display

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Best 4K monitor

Best Monitors for Macbook Pro

Dell UltraSharp U2720Q

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Best budget

Best Monitors for Macbook Pro

ViewSonic VP2756-2K

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The best monitors for MacBook Pros are already built into the machines themselves, but sometimes you just need more room to work. Adding an external monitor can create a more productive work environment. For some of us, the extra real estate for windows and applications that pop up over each workday feels necessary. With a high-end laptop, it’s important to choose a monitor that matches your computer’s capabilities and, in this case, specific requirements. It can drive some really high resolutions (especially the higher-end models), so you’ll want a monitor that can take advantage of its power. As a result, the best monitors for MacBook Pro tend to be a fairly particular breed of high-end display.

How we chose the best monitors for MacBook Pro

As a freelance technology critic who works from home full-time and is responsible for buying all of my own gear, I put a lot of time into researching my purchases and determining the best setup for my needs. To pick the monitors for this list, I relied on my experience as a writer who has covered technology and hardware extensively for sites like Reviewed, Popular Mechanics, and Engadget. I also turned to expert reviews from a variety of trusted publications and consumer reviews from online retailers to get a good sense of the best options currently on the market.

The best monitors for MacBook Pro: Reviews & Recommendations

Our recommendations for the best monitors for MacBook Pro cover a wide range of options, from budget-minded models to high-end, premium displays. The common thread is that they all allow for a simple grab-and-go work setup, offer USB-C charging, and at least a few spare USB ports for your peripherals. We also focused on features that complement the work the MacBook Pro does best, including color accuracy for photo editing.

Best overall: Apple Studio Display

Best monitor with a webcam for Mac

All Apple Everything

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Specs

  • Size: 27-inch
  • Resolution: 5120 x 2880
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3/USB-C (96W), USB-C (3)
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • 5K display with fantastic color accuracy
  • Rich sound from built-in speakers
  • 12-megapixel webcam with Center Stage support

Cons

  • Expensive
  • So-so webcam picture quality

Apple’s Apple Studio Display finally delivers on the promise of a high-end monitor made by Apple for its desktop fans and MacBook aficionados that doesn’t cost $5,000. While it isn’t as performant as Apple’s premium Pro Display XDR, you do get an excellent 27-inch, 5K display for the money. This monitor has pro-level features MacBook Pro users need, including a Thunderbolt 3 port that delivers 96W of power, three USB-C ports, and one of the best speaker systems you’ll find in a monitor. 

The main reason to pair a computer and monitor designed by Apple is both were designed to work with one another perfectly. The MacBook Pro we used during our tests instantly connected to the monitor each time we plugged it in, with no flickering or other graphical abnormalities in sight. Also—and this is unnecessary but nice—its glass and aluminum body match the MacBook Pro’s. Surprisingly, the Studio Display’s speakers delivered punchy bass, while there was still a lot of detail in the mids and highs. Again, this isn’t a necessary feature, but you’ll appreciate it if you want a clean desk—the best desktop speakers sound better but require space.

This monitor’s only weak point is its 12MP webcam, which is subpar given its hefty price tag. The issue is that the company decided to sacrifice camera fidelity to support a feature called Center Stage. The Studio Display’s webcam will zoom in and crop its image to keep you in the middle of the frame. It’ll also pan around as you move around. This is a neat feature, but we’d have preferred a better-looking webcam.

Still, if you have a MacBook Pro and want a monitor that was literally made to be its companion, you won’t beat Apple’s Studio Display.

Best 4K monitor: Dell UltraSharp U2720Q

Feature-packed 4K

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Why it made the cut: Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q offers a step up with 4K resolution and 90W of charging power via USB-C, which better suits the larger MacBook Pros.

Specs

  • Size: 27-inch
  • Resolution: 3840 × 2160
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: USB-C, DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0 (3)
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 90W
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • 4K resolution
  • 90W power delivery
  • Fully-adjustable stand 

Cons

  • 60Hz refresh rate

Dell’s monitors have maintained one of the best reputations around for decades now and generally make for a solid choice across the board whether you’re looking for a budget or high-end display. The UltraSharp U2720Q is a particularly strong choice: It’s the best 4K monitor at a reasonable price, with relatively few compromises. While you will have to settle for a 60Hz refresh rate, which may hurt for gamers and content creators, its great color accuracy, large host of ports, and fully adjustable stand make the U2720Q a strong productivity pick.

Best 5K monitor: LG UltraFine 5K Display

Retina-level clarity

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Why it made the cut: While it’s been around the block, LG’s Apple-approved Ultrafine 5K display offers solid specs across the board, making it an ideal (albeit pricey) companion for any MacBook Pro.

Specs

  • Size: 27-inch
  • Resolution: 5120 x 2880 
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C (3)
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 94W
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • Incredibly sharp image
  • P3 wide color gamut
  • 500 cd/m² brightness

Cons

  • Expensive

The LG UltraFine 5K Display has been the best 5k monitor for high-end Mac users for some time. There’s a reason for that: It’s the only third-party monitor line endorsed by Apple and sold at the Apple Store.

That endorsement has extended the display’s lifespan, even as they become harder to find, but it’s easy to understand why Apple picked it. The 27-inch, 5120 x 2880 resolution display features incredible pixel density—218 pixels per inch—plus P3 wide color gamut, making it an exceptional resource for artists and content creators. It also offers a rare all-in-one A/V package, including a built-in 1080p webcam, microphone, and speakers, which are convenient whether or not you wind up using them.

Best 32-inch monitor: LG UltraFine 32UL950-W

A bigger canvas

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Why it made the cut: If you want a big, big screen, LG’s UltraFine 32UL950-W offers an excellent set of specs as the best 32-inch monitor, with only a couple of drawbacks.

Specs

  • Size: 31.5-inch
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3 (2), DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0 (2)
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 60W
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • 4K resolution
  • Thin bezels
  • Ample ports

Cons

  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 65W power delivery

A 32-inch monitor is basically a TV sitting on your desk and, thus, may be too big for some folks with limited desk space. It’s a bit glamorous, though, and helpful for multi-taskers and creative professionals who just want a big canvas for their work. Technically measuring out to 31.5 inches, the LG UltraFine 32UL950-W packs 4K resolution and plenty of amenities that make it a great fit for a MacBook Pro. That includes a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports and two standard USB ports, plus HDMI and 3.5mm audio out. The monitor’s thin bezels also ensure the display doesn’t take up any more space than it has to. It does only provide 65W of power via the USB-C cable, however, which isn’t a problem for 13-inch MacBook Pro users, but it will charge 14- and 16-inch models more slowly than with their standard charger.

Best ultrawide monitor: Samsung CJ791

Immerse yourself

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Why it made the cut: The Samsung Cj791 comes with a few compromises to keep its price reasonable but offers an immersive experience not possible with standard displays, making it our pick for the best ultrawide monitor.

Specs

  • Size: 34-inch
  • Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
  • Refresh rate: 100Hz
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3 (2), DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0 (2)
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 85W
  • Panel type: VA

Pros

  • Immersive, 34-inch curved display
  • 85W power delivery
  • 100MHz refresh rate

Cons

  • Poor contrast and viewing angles

Ultrawide Samsung’s curved CJ791 monitor is a particularly good option for MacBook Pro users, providing 85W of power over Thunderbolt 3, along with a 3,440 x 1,440 resolution, a fairly low 4 ms response time, fast 100MHz refresh rate (plus support for AMD FreeSync), and some built-in 7-watt stereo speakers. Reviews of the monitor have consistently noted that both contrast and viewing angles are a bit lackluster compared to some other non-ultrawide options, so there are a few trade-offs to keep in mind.   

Best budget monitor: ViewSonic VP2756-2K

More than just the basics

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Why it made the cut: The best budget monitor by monitor standards, ViewSonic’s VP2756-2K offers comparable specs to our top pick in a no-nonsense package.

Specs

  • Size: 27-inch
  • Resolution: 2560 x 1440
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: USB-C, Displayport, HDMI, USB 3.0 (2), USB Type-B
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 60W
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • Affordable but still includes USB-C
  • Fully-adjustable stand
  • Good color accuracy
  • Built-in stereo speakers

Cons

  • Only 60W of power over USB-C
  • Somewhat bland appearance

You can always get a cheaper monitor if you’re willing to compromise on size and specs. Still, the ViewSonic VG2756-2K is a very reasonable price-conscious mid-tier monitor that delivers what we’d recommend maximizing everyday work and play with a MacBook Pro. The VG2756-2K is a 27-inch, 1440p monitor you can connect to your laptop via USB-C. It also features a solid 5ms response time, 350 cd/m² brightness, built-in stereo speakers, a fully adjustable stand, and a three-year warranty. One small caveat: The USB-C connection only offers 60W of charging power, so the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros may charge slowly. Aside from that, it’s an enticing mid-range productivity monitor.

Plus, it offers surprisingly accurate color performance right out of the box, which makes it a reasonable option for creative work. That’s usually outside the purview of monitors in this price range.

Best Apple monitor: Apple Pro Display XDR

When money is no object

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Why it made the cut: Expensive but one of a kind, Apple’s Pro Display XDR is tailored to those who want the best of the best.

Specs

  • Size: 32-inch
  • Resolution: 6016 x 3384 
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C (3)
  • USB-C Power Delivery: 96W
  • Panel type: IPS

Pros

  • 6K resolution
  • 1600 nits of brightness
  • Exceptional color accuracy

Cons 

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Stand costs an extra $1,000

Apple’s own Pro Display XDR is not for most people. It costs nearly $5,000 ($6,000 if you also want the stand). Unlike many products, the word “pro” in the name is literal: It is meant for artists and professionals who need the widest color gamut and the best pixel density you can get. If you can afford it, though, it is the absolute best image quality you can get in a monitor right now. The 6K resolution offers incredibly sharp images, and the monitor far outperforms any other on this list when it comes to brightness, contrast, or color accuracy. 

As expensive as it is, however, you’ll still have to factor in the cost of either a stand or VESA mount adapter. You can also inflate the price even further with an upgraded Nano-texture glass panel, which offers a more matte finish. It’s … a lot. And I’m not just talking about how much it costs.

There’s a little hope on the horizon if you’re interested in getting a display direct from Apple. Rumor has it the company may reveal a new, somewhat less expensive monitor in 2023. I personally wouldn’t factor the prospect of an unannounced future project into my monitor purchasing decision just yet, but it’s good to keep in mind.

What to consider before buying the best MacBook Pro monitor

You likely chose a MacBook Pro because it was the laptop that best fit your needs, and you’ll want to do the same with your monitor. For this list, we’re assuming the primary concerns for most MacBook Pro users will be general productivity and creative work rather than, say, gaming. It’s not as if you can’t use these monitors for games; of course, but if that’s your top priority, we have you covered elsewhere. 

Also, certain features of the MacBook Pro create special needs that you’ll want to look for in your monitor or at least give you a few extra ways to optimize your home office setup. Monitors that connect via USB-C for easy charging are a major plus. Still, you also don’t want to overlook the added importance of additional ports that can expand your connectivity options. We also emphasized technical features like color accuracy, which are especially important since you’ll be looking back and forth between your monitor and the MacBook Pro’s extraordinarily vivid display.

Connections

It’s easier than ever to use a laptop—and a MacBook Pro, specifically—with an external monitor. Apple’s recent laptops, including the current MacBook Pros, rely heavily on USB-C ports, which can charge a laptop and transmit data, including video, over a single cable. This means, in many cases, that connecting your laptop to a monitor also charges it. With the right USB hub, you can plug in a monitor and many peripherals all in one cable.

For a time, USB-C was the only way you could plug a monitor directly into an Apple laptop. However, Apple’s most recent 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros also feature a built-in HDMI port, giving you a simple way to connect your laptop to an external monitor without dongles or adapters. HDMI will not charge your laptop but does open the door for a wider range of display options, as it is the primary connection used by TVs and modern PC monitors. For the purposes of this list, we’re leaning towards the convenience of using USB-C for both connecting a monitor and charging, as it reduces cable clutter with little downside for people.

What makes a good monitor?

Apart from USB-C, the specs to consider with a new monitor these days are largely the same ones that we’ve all had to consider for quite some time now. Size and resolution go hand-in-hand. A sprawling 32-inch (or larger) monitor may look impressive on your desk, but if the resolution isn’t high enough, you may find the picture isn’t as clear as you expected because the pixel density is too low. It’s also important to keep in mind that resolution doesn’t just translate to sharpness—a higher resolution gives you more actual workspace to spread out windows and applications. 

A 2560 x 1440 (or 1440p) resolution on a 27-inch display is a good minimum to look for, in general. Keep in mind, however, 1440p falls well short of your MacBook Pro’s Retina display. A 4K (or higher) display will give you sharper text and crisper images. When it comes to movement on the screen, like video, you’ll want to pay attention to the monitor’s refresh rate, which dictates how many times a screen adjusts to reflect movement per second. A 60Hz refresh rate has long been the standard for non-gaming monitors, and will still be adequate for general web browsing and work. That said, a higher refresh rate can make on-screen movements look smoother and allow for more nuanced controls, especially in games and video editing.

Another important consideration is the actual type of display panel used in the monitor. Nowadays, there are three main types used in monitors: IPS (in-plane switching), TN (twisted nematic), and VA (vertical alignment). In general, IPS monitors offer the best balance of features, while TN monitors can have an edge in response time and are usually more affordable. VA monitors are a bit less common but can offer better contrast and deeper black levels, albeit often at the expense of response time.

Consider using multiple monitors

While your inclination with a TV may be to simply buy the biggest one that can fit in your space, that isn’t always a good idea with a computer monitor. You may get more bang for your buck using two monitors. A dual monitor setup allows you to position your screens to best suit the task at hand—even use one or both vertically—and you’ll likely have a larger working area than a single monitor of a comparable cost would offer. That said, there are areas like gaming and movies where a large, single monitor is certainly preferable.

Apple’s 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1 Pro and M1 Max processors both offer native support for multi-display setups. It is technically possible to use two monitors with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it requires a workaround

FAQs

Q: What monitors does Apple recommend?

Apple doesn’t provide a ton of direct guidance on what monitor to buy. All things being equal, it would love to sell you its own display, the Pro Display XDR. Even it knows, however, that a $5,000+ monitor is a tough sell for most people. To fill that rather significant gap, Apple singles out two LG displays that are ideal for use with any Mac: the 27-inch LG UltraFine 5K Display we included above and a smaller 24-inch LG UltraFine 4K Display. Both are sold directly by Apple through its online store and some of its retail stores and are also available elsewhere.

That said, the LG Ultrafine monitors are also quite pricey and, recently, have become a tad hard to find. Realistically speaking, there are a ton of great monitors out there, though, so don’t let the lack of an Apple seal of approval stop you from buying an otherwise great monitor.

Q: Do all monitors work with MacBook Pro?

Any monitor will “work” with a MacBook Pro, but some will work more seamlessly than others. 

On a 13-inch MacBook Pro, a monitor must be connected to one of the two Thunderbolt ports, which can directly support monitors using the USB-C or DisplayPort standards (with the appropriate cable). The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros also feature an HDMI port, greatly expanding the number of displays you can plug in without a hub. If you’re using an older monitor that requires a lesser-used port like VGA or DVI, you’ll need an adapter to connect it to your MacBook, and you won’t be able to take advantage of display technologies like HDR. (That said, if you have to use DVI or VGA, chances are that isn’t a big concern. Also … you probably need a new monitor.)

Q: Is a 27-inch monitor too big?

It wasn’t all that long ago that a 27-inch monitor was considered something of a luxury, but it is now far from the biggest monitor you can buy. As we mentioned at the top, size and resolution are intertwined, but a 27-inch monitor is a good size monitor for most people. It’s big enough to get serious work (or play) done but not overwhelming. 

Whatever monitor you choose, you will want to take note of its measurements to ensure it will fit in your space. Some 27-inch monitors can take up less space than others thanks to smaller bezels and streamlined stands, and you can always reduce your monitor’s desk footprint by using a monitor arm or mount.

Final thoughts on the best monitors for MacBook Pro

Using a monitor makes a huge difference in your work, especially if you’re trying to make your home office feel like an office. You want one that makes your computer look great while making your space feel both comfortable and functional. With a bit of research, you can pick a fantastic monitor that will help you enjoy your computer to the fullest. Though there’s always a shiny new display around the corner—like that rumored Apple monitor—the best monitors for MacBook Pro have the specs you need, so they can be a fixture that follows you from computer to computer.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.