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The 10 Best Monitors for MacBook Pro in 2023

As a MacBook Pro user, you already have one of the most powerful and well-designed laptops on the market. But even with its gorgeous Retina display, you may find yourself wanting more screen real estate for productivity, creative work, or entertainment. That‘s where an external monitor comes in.

Hooking up your MacBook Pro to a larger, higher-resolution display can greatly improve your experience, whether you‘re coding, editing photos and videos, gaming, or simply want to spread out your workspace. But with so many monitors available, how do you choose the right one?

As a computer expert passionate about digital technology, I‘ve researched and tested numerous monitors to find the very best ones to pair with a MacBook Pro. Here are my top recommendations across several categories, along with a detailed buying guide to help you make the optimal choice for your needs and budget.

How an External Monitor Enhances Your MacBook Pro Experience

First, let‘s talk about the benefits of using an external monitor with your MacBook Pro:

  1. More screen space for multitasking and productivity. With a second display, you can have multiple windows and applications open side-by-side without constantly switching between them. This is a game-changer for developers, designers, data analysts, and other professionals who need to reference information from various sources simultaneously.

  2. Superior viewing experience for creative work. While the MacBook Pro‘s built-in display is excellent, a larger external monitor with a higher resolution, broader color gamut, and HDR support can make a big difference when editing photos, color grading videos, or working on graphic design projects. You‘ll be able to see more of your canvas and appreciate finer details.

  3. Immersive gaming and entertainment. Connecting your MacBook Pro to a big-screen, high refresh rate monitor transforms it into a capable gaming machine or home theater setup. Sit back and enjoy your favorite games and movies on a roomier, more fluid display.

  4. Improved ergonomics and reduced eye strain. Hunching over a laptop for extended periods can cause neck and back discomfort, while squinting at a small screen can fatigue your eyes. Using an external monitor allows you to position the display at a proper height and distance for better posture and viewing comfort.

  5. Convenient docking solution. With a single cable, you can turn your MacBook Pro into a desktop workstation by connecting it to a monitor along with a keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals. This makes it easy to transition between a portable and stationary setup without the hassle of plugging and unplugging multiple devices.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Monitor for Your MacBook Pro

Now that we‘ve established why you might want an external monitor, let‘s go over the main factors to look for when shopping for one:

  1. Screen size and resolution. A larger screen gives you more real estate to work with, but you also need to consider the pixel density or resolution. For a MacBook Pro, I recommend getting a monitor that‘s at least 24 inches with a QHD (2560 x 1440) or 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution for sharp text and graphics. Ultra-wide 21:9 displays are another option if you want an expansive, cinematic view.

  2. Panel type and color accuracy. There are three main types of display panels: IPS (in-plane switching), VA (vertical alignment), and TN (twisted nematic). IPS monitors generally offer the best color accuracy, viewing angles, and overall image quality, making them ideal for creative professionals. If color-critical work is a priority, also look for displays with a wide color gamut (e.g., DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB) and hardware calibration support.

  3. Brightness and HDR. A monitor with high peak brightness (400+ nits) and HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities can produce stunningly vibrant images with greater contrast and detail. This is especially beneficial for video editing, photo retouching, and enjoying HDR content. Mini-LED and OLED displays offer the best HDR performance but come at a premium.

  4. Ports and connectivity. Think about how you plan to connect the monitor to your MacBook Pro and what other devices you need to plug in. Thunderbolt 3/USB-C and HDMI are the most common inputs, but some monitors also include DisplayPort and legacy options like DVI or VGA. Additional USB ports, an Ethernet jack, and audio pass-through are handy for docking your laptop with fewer cables.

  5. Ergonomics and adjustability. A monitor with good ergonomics allows you to adjust its height, tilt, swivel, and pivot to find the most comfortable viewing position. This is crucial for maintaining proper posture and reducing strain over long work sessions. Some displays also have blue light filtering and flicker-free technologies to minimize eye fatigue.

  6. Style and aesthetics. Since your monitor will be a prominent part of your desk setup, you might as well get one that looks good. Many modern displays have slim bezels, sleek stands, and understated designs that complement the MacBook Pro‘s aesthetic. Some even feature built-in cable management and RGB lighting for a clean, personalized workspace.

Top Monitor Recommendations for MacBook Pro Users

With those key features in mind, here are my top picks for the best monitors to pair with your MacBook Pro, broken down by category:

Best Overall: LG 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 5K

If you want the ultimate MacBook Pro companion display, look no further than the LG Ultrafine 5K. This 27-inch monitor boasts a stunning 5120 x 2880 resolution, which matches the pixel density of Apple‘s 5K iMac for super-sharp text and images. It covers 99% of the DCI-P3 color space, making it excellent for photo and video editing.

With a sleek design and high-quality speakers, webcam, and mic built-in, the LG Ultrafine 5K is like a mini-iMac that pairs perfectly with your MacBook Pro. Thunderbolt 3 connectivity provides power, data, and video over a single cable, and 3 additional USB-C ports offer convenient hub functionality. While pricey at around $1300, this monitor is the cream of the crop for Mac users.

Best for Creative Pros: BenQ PD3200U

For a color-accurate, feature-rich display ideal for creative work, the BenQ PD3200U is an excellent value. This 32-inch, 4K IPS monitor covers 100% of the sRGB and Rec. 709 color spaces and supports hardware calibration for precise reproduction. It‘s also factory-calibrated for accurate Delta E < 3 colors out of the box.

Unique features like an integrated KVM switch, dual-view PIP/PBP mode, and specialized display modes for CAD/CAM and animation work make the PD3200U a versatile tool for professionals. With a sturdy, fully adjustable stand, this BenQ display delivers strong performance and ergonomics for around $700.

Best Gaming Monitor: Gigabyte M27Q

Transform your MacBook Pro into a full-fledged gaming station with the Gigabyte M27Q. This 27-inch, 2560×1440 IPS display features a lightning-fast 170Hz refresh rate, 0.5ms response time, and FreeSync Premium support for ultra-smooth, tear-free gaming. It‘s also G-SYNC compatible for pairing with Nvidia graphics cards.

For superior in-game color and contrast, the M27Q touts a wide 92% DCI-P3 gamut, VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification, and 8-bit color depth. A unique KVM feature lets you control multiple devices with one set of peripherals. Priced around $300, the Gigabyte M27Q is a steal for a fast, well-rounded gaming monitor that also works great for general use.

Best Ultrawide: LG 38WN95C-W

If you want an immersive, panoramic display for productivity and entertainment, the LG 38WN95C-W is a standout ultrawide choice. This expansive 38-inch monitor features a 21:9 aspect ratio and generous 3840×1600 resolution, giving you ample room for side-by-side windows or cinematic gaming and movie-watching.

With a Nano IPS panel boasting 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut, HDR 600 support, and a 144Hz refresh rate with Adaptive-Sync, this LG ultrawide delivers a vibrant, fluid viewing experience. Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, USB-C hub functionality, and a height-adjustable stand round out its premium feature set. At nearly $1500, it‘s an investment, but one that can significantly boost your enjoyment and efficiency.

Best Budget: ASUS ProArt PA27AC

Getting a great monitor for your MacBook Pro doesn‘t have to break the bank. The ASUS ProArt PA27AC offers an impressive set of features for around $500. This 27-inch WQHD (2560×1440) IPS display covers 100% of the sRGB gamut and comes pre-calibrated for accurate Delta E < 2 colors.

Notable additions like USB-C connectivity with 65W power delivery, a triple-port USB 3.0 hub, and ASUS‘ ProArt Palette software for hardware calibration make this a versatile, professional-grade monitor at a reasonable price point. With a frameless design and ergonomic stand, the PA27AC fits right in next to a MacBook Pro.

Tips for Setting Up and Configuring Your External Monitor

Once you‘ve chosen the perfect monitor for your MacBook Pro, it‘s time to set it up. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Connect your monitor to your laptop using the appropriate cable (e.g., Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, HDMI). If needed, use an adapter or dock.

  2. Adjust your display settings in System Preferences > Displays. Here you can configure screen resolution, scaling, arrangement, and color profiles.

  3. Use your monitor‘s built-in controls or included software to adjust brightness, contrast, color temperature, and other visual settings to your liking.

  4. If using your MacBook Pro with the lid closed in "clamshell mode," be sure to connect a keyboard and mouse, as well as sufficient power.

  5. Take advantage of macOS‘ built-in window management tools like Mission Control and Split View to organize your desktop and boost productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use any monitor with my MacBook Pro?

A: Pretty much, as long as your laptop and the monitor share a compatible connection (e.g., Thunderbolt, HDMI, DisplayPort). Some MacBook Pro models may require an adapter, hub, or dock. For the best plug-and-play experience, look for displays with USB-C or Thunderbolt connectivity.

Q: How many external monitors can I connect to my MacBook Pro?

A: It depends on your specific model and graphics card, but most modern MacBook Pros can support up to two 4K displays or one 5K/6K display. Some 16-inch models with high-end GPUs may support up to four 4K monitors or two 6K displays. Check your MacBook Pro‘s technical specifications for details.

Q: Is it better to use my MacBook Pro with the lid open or closed when connected to an external monitor?

A: It‘s mostly a matter of preference, but using your MacBook Pro in clamshell mode (with the lid closed) can free up desk space and create a cleaner look. Just remember to plug in peripherals and adequate power. If you prefer to use both displays, you can extend your desktop across the built-in and external screens.

Q: How do I calibrate my external monitor for accurate colors?

A: Many higher-end monitors come with built-in color calibration tools or support hardware colorimeters like the X-Rite i1Display Pro or Datacolor SpyderX. You can also visually calibrate your display using the built-in Color LCD calibrator in MacOS‘ System Preferences. For the most accurate results, consider investing in a hardware colorimeter and calibrating regularly.

The Bottom Line

An external monitor is a worthwhile investment for any MacBook Pro user looking to boost their productivity, creativity, or entertainment experience. By considering your specific needs and budget, and weighing key features like resolution, color accuracy, and connectivity, you can find the perfect display to suit your workflow.

Whether you opt for a professional-grade 5K monitor, an ultrawide for immersive gaming, or a budget-friendly option for basic productivity, adding a second screen to your MacBook Pro setup can make a world of difference. With the right monitor and a bit of configuration, you‘ll be able to take full advantage of your laptop‘s capabilities and enjoy a more comfortable, efficient workspace.