The best monitors for MacBook Pro (or Air) laptops can be just what your setup needs. If you’re spending a lot of time working on your MacBook, a good monitor can help your productivity, giving you more screen room to work with, not to mention a more comfortable viewing experience. It’s just a matter of finding the right monitor!
Fortunately, at Creative Bloq we are well-positioned to help. We’re a team of MacBook enthusiasts – all of us own one, and all of us have paired them up with monitors to increase our screen real estate. We review monitors often on the site, and we’ve also spent time reading other reviews online to ensure our top picks really are the best monitors for MacBook Air and Pro machines.
Read on to find out which monitors we picked. You can see a quick summary of our top options just below before the full breakdown. You can also check out best 4K monitors and best monitors for video editing – just remember they need to be USB-C monitors to work with a MacBook Pro.
01. Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q
Delivering great performance and features at a fairly affordable price, this 4K screen offers high pixel density of 163ppi and an incredible adjustible ergonomic stand, making it excellent for creative workflows. Best of all – its colour coverage is incredible, and its built-in colourimeter should help achieve even better picture quality.
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For a more affordable route, this monitor is a great choice. Its 1440p display isn’t top-of-the-range, but it boasts excellent features, as well as great colour accuracy and colour coverage. It comes pre-calibrated, allows for easy colour adjustments, and has USB-C connectivity, a USB hub and an ergonomic stand.
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03. Apple Pro Display XDR
It’s eyewateringly expensive, but Apple’s Pro Display XDR is stunning, with resolution of 6016 x 3384, which is enough for many 6K formats. Add to its an incredible HDR peak brightness of up to 1,600 nits, broad colour coverage and optional nanotexture effect and you’ve got a real powerhouse.
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This cheaper option balances price and features, particularly in the connectivity department thanks to its huge 3 USB-C port hub, with one supporting KVM and another supporting DisplayPort Alt Mode and 90W of power delivery. Its sharp 4K resolution and dedicated sRGB mode only sweeten the deal.
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If you don’t need 6K resolution but want a premium screen with great colour accuracy for photo editing, this is for you. Designed with creatives in mind, it’s a 32-inch screen, 4K resolution and a wide colour gamut. Other features include the shade hood and Hotkey Puck G2.
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06. BenQ DesignVue PD3420Q
Don’t need 4K resolution? This ultrawide monitor is designed specifically for creatives – especially those needing an affordable, mid-range model with great colour coverage and accuracy. Its 21:9 aspect ratio grants plenty of space to spread out, and it comes with a KVM switch and a plethora of colour modes.
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The best monitor for MacBook Pro overall
The Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q is our top pick as the best external monitor for MacBook Pro because we’ve found it to offer great performance and features for a fairly reasonable price. It’s a 4K screen with a high pixel density of 163ppi for great detail, and its ergonomic stand can swivel, pivot, and tilt, as well as adjust vertically, making it excellent for creative workflows. We also found the connectivity options to be ideal for the MacBook users among us thanks to two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports and 90W power delivery.
At the centre of it all is excellent colour coverage. We got 99.8% of the sRGB gamut, 96.1% of the Adobe RGB space and 95% of the DCI-P3 gamut during testing, but its built-in colourimeter should help you calibrate for even better picture quality. The design may not turn heads, but the specs and performance provided make this our pick as the best monitor for MacBook Pro for most creatives. See our full Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q review for more.
The best budget monitor for MacBook Pro
The ASUS ProArt PA278CV is a more affordable option for creative professionals who don’t have the budget for an expensive piece of kit. This 1440p display may not reach the performance of the screen above, but it boasts some excellent features, including colour accuracy of Delta E < 2 and 100% sRGB and Rec.709 colour coverage.
It comes pre-calibrated out of the box – something you rarely see on cheaper displays. And it allows for easy colour adjustments, from switching between various colour gamut modes to fine-tuning all sorts of parameters to get the screen looking the way you want. There are compromises here, not least the lack of 4K resolution, but you get USB-C connectivity with 65W power delivery, a USB hub and an ergonomic stand.
The best premium monitor for MacBook Pro
For anyone looking to edit video on their MacBook Pro, Apple’s own Pro Display XDR is a stunning if eye-wateringly expensive option. At around $5,000 (not including the stand) you’d hope you’re getting a good, screen, and it certainly delivers, with resolution of 6016 x 3384, which is enough for many 6K formats (though not quite the 6K full-frame recording of a RED camera).
Added to that is an incredible HDR peak brightness of up to 1,600 nits, with a typical brightness of 1,000 nits – and there are 576 individual dimming zones for backlight control, so contrast is colossal. In terms of colours, there are specific reference modes for DCI P3, sRGB, NTSC, BT.709, and many more. That includes a reference mode for ‘Apple display’, which will make it match a MacBook Pro for brightness, so you get a consistent look if you have them side by side. There’s the option of a nanotexture effect on the screen to reduce reflectivity as low as it goes for monitors like this, too.
We’ve taken a first-look review at this monitor, and it’s a seriously impressive piece of kit. We put it side-by-side with a quote-unquote ‘normal’ monitor to compare brightness and colour reproduction, and the difference was stark to say the least – as well you’d expect, at this price. As we said at the time, ‘It’s pretty likely most creative professionals will want the Pro Display XDR, simply because it looks slick, has a clean sharpness to the screen and is brilliant at colour reproduction.’
It comes with one Thunderbolt 3 port (meaning it can go at the end of a Thunderbolt chain, but can’t be a Thunderbolt hub), plus three USB-C ports for connecting accessories. If you’re keen on an Apple monitor but at a cheaper price, see the Apple Studio Display further down on our list.
The best mid-range monitor for MacBook Pro
For a cheaper option that provides a great balance between price and features, the Dell U2723QE offers excellent connectivity thanks to its huge USB-C hub with 3 USB-C ports, one supporting KVM and another supporting DisplayPort Alt Mode and 90W of power delivery, which will keep most Macs in power. This monitor received an excellent review from our sister site TechRadar, with the sharp clarity of the 4K resolution being commended. Despite a superbly affordable mid-range price, the dedicated sRGB mode makes this a reasonable choice for creative work too, and great value for money.
The best monitor for photo editing on MacBook Pro
If you don’t need that 6K resolution for video but you want a premium screen with great colour accuracy for photo editing, we suggested the BenQ SW321C PhotoVue. After testing this gorgeous monitor in-depth, we can say that if you’re a photographer who works on a MacBook Pro, this is one of the best options you can buy right now.
It’s specifically designed with creatives in mind, with a 32-inch screen, 4K resolution letting and a wide colour gamut (we tested 99% Adobe RGB and 100% sRGB). Meanwhile, videographers working in the DCI-P3 colour will appreciate its 95% coverage and creative professionals of all types will appreciate the colour accuracy out of the box, giving us an impressive Delta E of 0.9 on average during testing. Other features are just icing on the cake, but it’s nice to have the shade hood and we find the Hotkey Puck G2 to be handy. See our full BenQ SW321C PhotoVue review for more details.
The best ultrawide monitor for MacBook Pro
Want an ultrawide monitor and don’t need 4K resolution? The BenQ DesignVue PD3420Q is a terrific monitor for MacBook Pro owners – and all Mac users, for that matter. And, it should be, as it’s designed by BenQ specifically for creative Mac users – especially those looking for an affordable, mid-range model with excellent colour coverage and accuracy.
Out of the box, the PD3420Q delivers, especially with its 100% Rec.709, 100% sRGB, and 98% P3 colour gamuts that come in handy for video editors and designers. Its aspect ratio of 21:9 means that this ultrawide display gives you plenty of space to spread out and multitask, streamlining your process as well as making up for the fact that it isn’t 4K. Not that 1440p is obsolete, mind you. Helping you really focus on your creative process better are its KVM switch and a plethora of colour modes that include CAD/CAM, Darkroom, DCI-P3, and HDR.
The best large monitor for MacBook Pro
Sometimes, the best workflows are those in which you can spread out, and that’s what this almost 40-inch 4K monitor offers: space. Regardless of whether you simply like to stream Netflix while working or you need all that screen real estate for a more seamless creative process when video editing, the Dell UltraSharp U4021QW delivers it for you. In 4K no less.
If you are a content creator, you’ll also be glad to know that this pick for the best monitors for MacBook Pro boasts 100% sRGB, 100% Rec. 709, and 98% DCI-P3 colour coverage. This display not only comes with gorgeous picture quality, but it does so with accurate and outstanding colours, which makes it even more ideal for photo editing, cinematic colour grading, and graphics design.
Of course, it’s a boon to multi-taskers as well, especially those dealing with massive spreadsheets or several different apps on a daily basis. And, its picture-in-picture, picture-by-picture, and KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) features will let such users connect two separate laptops or computers and view them on a single screen without switching peripherals. As for after-work entertainment, its 9W speakers should work nicely at a pinch.
Another mid-range monitor for MacBook Pro
BenQ stays true to its affordable yet solid nature with the BenQ DesignVue PD3220U. This 4K monitor from its professional design line may not be the cheapest of our roundup of best monitors for MacBook Pro. But considering its rivals, it’s certainly among the most affordable in its class. That’s while keeping things feature-rich and its picture quality looking fantastic.
Not content with USB-C, it offers not one but two Thunderbolt 3 ports to keep creatives happy, allowing daisy-chaining of multiple monitors and even connection of external GPUs. It also comes with different colour modes for different creative workflows.
Performance is excellent as well. The wide colour gamut of 100% Rec.709, 100% sRGB, and 95% P3 that BenQ promised is on point. In fact, during our testing, it even exceeded expectations in the DCI-P3 colour space, covering 98%. Our BenQ PD322OU review might show that its peak brightness didn’t quite meet the 250-nit on paper. However, we found that its colour accuracy measures up, giving us an average Delta E of 0.92, pre-calibration.
The best MacBook Pro monitor for accuracy
It turns out that if you want the best of the best monitors for MacBook Pro, you’ll need a big ol’ budget – who knew? Ah, but it’s so worth it. Who doesn’t love essential equipment that self-calibrates?
Our Eizo ColorEdge CG319X review reveals it to be a star performer for high-end colour accurate work. its main draw is its self-calibrating nature. It comes with a built-in sensor, which will run regular checks to ensure what you’re seeing is what you should be seeing. And, that’s with no extra effort required from you.
That’s not all; Eizo’s specialist software also helps you choose the colour profile you want to work with. The resolution is also DCI Cinema 4K (4096×2160) on a 31.1-inch screen. This means that you’re not just getting a lot of real estate to work in here, but you’re also getting that sweet spot in 4K viewing.
It also has HLG HDR support for video compositing and grading, with 10-bit colour support and 98% DCI-P3 and 99% Adobe RBG coverage. This would be at the top of our list if it weren’t for the price and specific features that are overkill for a lot of people.
The best smart monitor for MacBook Pro
It might seem strange to include a Samsung monitor in pick of the best monitors for MacBook Pro, but fans of the 24in iMac line will appreciate the Samsung M8 smart monitor. Looking at this display’s sleek, iMac-esque look, minimal port selection and several colour options, it’s obvious what Samsung is trying to do here – give consumers an affordable, non-all-in-one option that delivers on everything else.
This affordable 4K display is impressive in its own right, so much so most can look past the fact that it does feel flimsier than Apple’s offerings and its image quality isn’t as exceptional. Its USB-C connectivity with power delivery, magnetic clip-on SlimFit webcam, and IoT hub functionality make up for those, as do its 3,000:1 contrast ratio and its Smart TV functionality.
As we said in our review, the Samsung M8 is absolutely chock-full of features. Granted, it is missing a few things one might reasonably expect from a monitor at this price. most notably an articulating stand and high-quality speakers. But it’s a commendable effort nonetheless, and there are a lot of reasons to consider it.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich external monitor that works well with your MacBook Pro, the Samsung M8 is a terrific one to consider, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than any display that Apple currently offers. See our full Samsung M8 Smart monitor review for more details.
The best portable monitor for MacBook Pro
These days, portable monitors are becoming part of many MacBook Pro users’ arsenal. They’re small and travel-friendly, keeping you mobile while giving you that extra screen real estate wherever you go. For that, the ASUS ZenScreen MQ16AH is our current pick – an unflashy but dependable portable monitor that delivers good colours and decent brightness.
The manufacturers claim 400 nits of brightness, but this appears to be a bit of wishful thinking – in our testing, we only managed a maximum of 318 nits. This is still very decent however, and makes the ASUS ZenScreen MQ16AH useable in a range of lighting situations, which is exactly what you want from a portable monitor. The colour coverage is excellent, covering 95.5% of sRGB and 100% of DCI-P3. It may be portable, but this is a serious monitor suited to creative work.
The design is nicely refined, with plenty of ports for connection and buttons to adjust parameters. The monitor even has a standard socket for a photography tripod, which could be a novel way of keeping it free-standing – especially since the supplied stand is a foldy piece of leather and vinyl that’s unlikely to impress.
Read our ASUS ZenScreen MQ16AH review for the full picture.
Is the MacBook Pro compatible with all monitors?
The short answer is yes, mostly. While most MacBook Pros come with a pretty limited port selection, typically a couple of USB-C ports, there are Mac-compatible dongles for just about every type of connectivity. Unfortunately, that does mean you’ll have to invest in an adapter to use those Apple laptops with monitors that don’t have USB-C connectivity. Of course, owners of the most recent 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros won’t have to worry about that since they come with HDMI ports.
With that said, a few monitors have had issues connecting to M1 MacBook Pros sporting the latest macOS. If you’re considering a monitor that doesn’t natively support Thunderbolt / USB-C connectivity, you’ll want to see if others have had software-related issues and if the manufacturer has updated the firmware to address the issue. For full details see our post on how to connect a monitor to MacBook Pro.
How do I choose a monitor for a MacBook Pro?
Though you can use just about any monitor with your MacBook Pro, there are a couple of considerations to consider if you want to make the most of your new display. USB-C connectivity is ideal. Only the newest 14- and 16-inch Macbook Pros come with HDMI ports while all other models are limited to USB-C ports for connecting to external displays. And, while it’s not necessary, most USB-C capable monitors can deliver power via that USB-C cable. If you prefer a one-cable solution, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting enough power from the monitor.
If you’re hoping to do any kind of content creation on your Apple laptop, then having a wide colour gamut coverage is crucial. Look for 97% DCI-P3 or higher. You’ll also want a resolution to match your portable’s. Using a 4K monitor between 24 and 32 inches will provide a viewing experience similar to that of your MacBook Pro’s retina display.
Lastly, you may also want to consider other aspects of the monitor that aren’t to do with the screen. Do you want built-in speakers, or do you have another audio setup? Do you need a fully articulating stand to be able to position the monitor at any angle, or will something simpler fit the bill?
Can a MacBook Pro support a 4K monitor?
MacBook Pros are incredibly powerful for their thin and lightweight design. Not only are they more than capable of driving a 4K monitor, but more recent models can drive even higher resolution displays. The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro, for example, can drive a 6K display at 60Hz while the 14- and 16-inch M1 Pro models can drive two.
What’s the best monitor for MacBook Pro?
The best monitor for MacBook Pro depends on what your needs are. For more creative professional work, we’d recommend the Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q, number one on our list above. However, if you’re a professional photo editor, we’d point you towards the BenQ SW321C PhotoVue (number 4) and video editors may be tempted by Apple’s own stunning Pro Display XDR. That said, these monitors all cost over $1,000. If money is tight, the best monitor for MacBook Pro we can recommend on a budget is ASUS ProArt PA278CV (number 2 on our list).
We’ve chosen the devices on our list by using them for creative work, including image editing and video editing as well as carrying out our own lab tests to assess colour coverage, accuracy and uniformity across the displays.. We’ve also sought out options with good connectivity options for creatives working on MacBook Pros.
Can I use multiple monitors with my MacBook Pro?
Yes, you can use multiple monitors with some models of the MacBook Pro. For instance the MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2023) and MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2023) models with the M2 Pro chip support up to two external displays simultaneously, based on the resolution (up to 8K) and refresh rate (up to 240 Hz) of each external display. For older models, check the tech specs here to see how many connections are supported.
How we test the best monitors for MacBook Pro
Many of our regular contributors and reviewers have ben using MacBook Pros as their regular laptop with an external monitor setup for years, so they know what they’re looking for.
When we review monitors, we carry out lab tests to check their brightness, contrast and colour coverage and accuracy, but we also use them in practical situations over several weeks for our own everyday and also putting them though their paces for photo and video editing. We make sure we don’t just geek out over tech specs, but also take a realistic view of what a monitor is like to use, and what the average user is going to get out of it. We’ve also taken onboard reviews from our sister site TechRadar and from customers online.
You can read more about how we test and review at Creative Bloq.