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Upgrade Your MacBook Air: The 5 Best Monitors for Productivity and Convenience

Connecting an external monitor to your MacBook Air opens up new possibilities for a streamlined workflow. Whether you‘re a student, business professional or creative, having a second (or even third!) screen can make you far more productive.

But with so many monitor options on the market, how do you choose the right one? In this guide, I‘ll recommend the top 5 monitors to pair with your MacBook Air based on your needs and budget. You‘ll learn:

  • Key factors in choosing the best monitor for you
  • In-depth profiles on monitors for every application and price point
  • Step-by-step guidance on setting up and using a dual monitor system
  • Answers to frequently asked questions

So if you‘re looking to upgrade your MacBook Air, read on for my monitor recommendations and advice!

How to Choose the Best Monitor for Your MacBook Air

While MacBook Airs are incredibly versatile laptops, even their gorgeous Retina displays eventually feel cramped when working on complex documents or managing lots of windows.

Adding an external monitor expands your workspace and allows you to truly multi-task. But with so many monitor options, it can be tricky to choose. Here are the key factors to consider:

Screen Size

Bigger isn‘t always better when it comes to external monitors. The ideal size depends on your needs and workspace:

  • 27-32 inches – Best for desks/office use. Provides ample real estate.
  • 24-27 inches – A versatile pick for home/office. Easy to mount.
  • 12-15 inches – Ultra portable. Fits in bags for on-the-go use.

Pay attention to bezels too. Thinner bezels give off a more seamless dual monitor effect.


You‘ll want a monitor with at least Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. But 4K and even 5K monitors offer incredibly sharp image quality:

  • 5K – Best for design work, video editing and photography.
  • 4K – Ideal balance of sharpness and affordability.
  • Full HD (1080p) – Excellent budget option for basic tasks.


Look for a monitor with USB-C connectivity to sync video and transfer data through one cable. Some monitors can even charge your MacBook Air via USB-C.

HDMI and DisplayPort are also options, but USB-C delivers the best performance and convenience.


External monitors span a wide range of prices to fit different budgets. Consider how heavily you‘ll use your monitor to find the right balance of value and performance:

  • $100-300 – Budget monitors for basic productivity
  • $300-600 – Mid-range monitors great for home/office use
  • $600+ – High-end pro displays for graphics work

With these factors in mind, let‘s dive into my top monitor recommendations!

1. Best Overall: Dell U2723QE 27" Monitor

If I could only recommend one monitor to pair with a MacBook Air, it would be the Dell U2723QE. This 27-inch 4K IPS panel checks all the boxes with gorgeous image quality, vibrant colors and Mac-friendly connectivity.

Some key features:

  • Sharp 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • USB-C port with 90W charging for MacBook Air
  • DCI-P3 98% color gamut with HDR support
  • Height/tilt/swivel/pivot adjustment options
  • Super thin bezels on all four sides

Whether you‘re editing photos for work, binging Netflix shows, or just want to boost your daily productivity, the color-accurate Dell U2723QE delivers. It‘s perfect for creative pros, business users, and anyone who wants the best overall Mac monitor experience.


  • Stunning and realistic image quality
  • Charges MacBook Air over USB-C
  • Plenty of adjustment flexibility
  • Great price for the performance


  • 5K would be nice for pro graphic artists
  • Speakers only get moderately loud

2. Best Portable: Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT

If you‘re frequently on the move with your MacBook Air, then you need an external monitor that‘s just as portable. And the Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT is the perfect travel companion.

Weighing just 1.7 pounds with an ultra slim 8mm profile, this 15.6-inch Full HD display tucks easily into any bag or sleeve. Despite its size, it doesn‘t sacrifice on image quality or usability:

  • 1080p resolution with IPS panel
  • USB-C connectivity and power delivery
  • Eye Care tech to reduce blue light
  • Built-in speakers and headphone jack
  • Protective sleeve included

Whether you‘re hunkering down at the coffee shop, hotel room or airport lounge, the Asus Zenscreen provides an excellent portable dual screen setup.


  • Incredibly lightweight and thin
  • Crisp 1080p resolution
  • USB-C connectivity charges MacBook Air
  • Speakers allow for multimedia enjoyment


  • No adjustability options beyond tilt
  • 15.6 inches can feel small coming from laptop

3. Best Ultrawide: LG 34WP65C-B 34"

If you have ample desk space, then an ultrawide monitor is a game changer for productivity. And the LG 34WP65C-B is specifically designed for Mac users with a stunning cinematic 34-inch IPS panel, 5K2K resolution and USB-C connectivity.

Other awesome features:

  • 21:9 aspect ratio great for video editing
  • 98% DCI-P3 color spectrum support
  • HDR 10 support for dynamic contrast
  • Division Split view to resize windows
  • Height/tilt adjustable stand

The expansive screen real estate lets you view multiple full-size windows side by side, reducing clutter and clicks. If you have the desk space, the LG 34WP65C-B immediatley upgrades your MacBook Air workflow.


  • Massive and immersive display
  • Great color accuracy for design work
  • On Screen Control dashboard
  • Minimalist design fits any space


  • Expensive
  • 5K2K resolution not true 5K
  • No speakers built-in

4. Best Budget: Sceptre E248W-1920 24"

You don‘t need to spend a fortune to give your MacBook Air a second screen boost. For just over $100, the Sceptre E248W-1920 24-inch monitor gets the job done on a budget with a slim bezel 1080p display and HDMI/VGA ports.

Sure, it lacks niceties like a USB-C port or adjustment options beyond tilt. But if you just want to affordably expand your screen real estate for basic home/office needs, it delivers excellent value:

  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution
  • 3000:1 contrast ratio
  • HDMI, VGA and headphone jack ports
  • Edgeless design on 3 sides
  • Blue Light Shift mode

The Sceptre E248W-1920 keeps costs down by focusing on the essentials. For the price, it enhances day-to-day productivity nicely.


  • Very affordable price
  • Slim side and top bezels
  • VGA/HDMI inputs work with MacBook Air
  • Tilt adjustment available


  • No USB-C port
  • 1080p resolution shows pixelation
  • No height/swivel options
  • only 3 year warranty

5. Best Portable Touchscreen: GeChic 3C1 15.6"

If you want ultra portability plus intuitive touch controls, the GeChic 3C1 monitor lets you tap, scroll and swipe its 1080p projected capacitive touchscreen. The super lightweight 15.6-inch display tucks away easily and connects via a single USB-C cable.

Other useful features:

  • IPS panel with 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Direct USB-C connectivity with 65W PD
  • Smart Cover & Screen Protector included
  • VESA mount compatible

For artists, designers and mobile presenters, the touchscreen capabilities make controlling your MacBook Air incredibly fluid. It‘s like having a dependable iPad built-into your monitor!


  • Touch controls for easy navigation
  • USB-C powers MacBook Air up to 65W
  • Super lightweight at 1.75 pounds
  • IPS screen has 178° viewing angles


  • No adjustment options beyond 100° tilt
  • Speakers only get moderately loud
  • Pen/stylus must be purchased separately

How to Set Up and Use Your Dual Monitor System

Once you‘ve selected the best monitor for your needs and budget, it‘s time to hook everything up and configure your new dual display workspace!

Here is a step-by-step guide to get up and running:

1. Physically Connect Your Monitor

Place your external monitor on your desk where you want it positioned, and connect the video cable from the monitor‘s input to your MacBook Air‘s USB-C, Thunderbolt or HDMI port.

Make sure both devices are powered on for the initial setup.

2. Configure Display Settings on Mac

Go to System Preferences > Displays and make sure "Mirror Displays" is unchecked for an extended desktop. You can rearrange the space order of the monitors on the mini diagram based on their physical position.

Select your desired scaling and color profile for each monitor for ideal image quality. Don‘t be afraid to test different resolutions to find the best experience.

3. Tweak Individual Monitor Settings

Using your monitor‘s onboard menu, you may need to complete initial setup steps:

  • Accept prompt to connect new video input
  • Adjust display resolution if necessary
  • Change refresh rate to highest option
  • Rotate display if positioning horizontally

Refer to your monitor‘s manual for exact steps to get the best picture quality.

4. Organize Your New Dual Monitor Workspace

Now the fun begins! With your mirrored desktop, move and arrange windows across the two displays for maximum efficiency:

  • Open your most used programs/apps and drag to secondary monitor
  • Dedicate secondary display for references like web pages and documents
  • Keep email, calendar and Slack on one monitor for easy visibility

Experiment to find your optimal workflow. The productivity gains will be massive!

FAQs About Connecting Monitors to a MacBook Air

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about using MacBook Airs with external monitors:

Does monitor resolution matter with MacBook Air?

Your monitor‘s resolution should match or exceed your MacBook Air‘s native resolution for a seamless experience. Retina display models have at least 1440×900 native resolution. A 1920×1080 or higher external monitor is recommended.

What cables connect a monitor to MacBook Air?

Look for a monitor with USB-C input for the most convenient single-cable connection and charging capabilities. HDMI and Thunderbolt ports also work. Mini DisplayPort requires an adapter.

Can I use MacBook Air closed with an external display?

Yes, you can "clam shell" close your MacBook Air while using an external display plugged into a power source. The Mac will route all video/input through the secondary monitor. This helps preserve laptop battery charge.

Does Mac adjust monitor resolution automatically?

macOS can auto-adjust resolution based on your displays‘ capabilities. But for ideal sharpness, manually select your preferred resolution in System Preferences > Displays based on each monitor‘s specs.

Can I use MacBook Air with monitor in clamshell mode?

Yes, you can close the MacBook Air into clamshell mode while using a connected monitor powered by the wall or battery to serve as your primary display surface. All of your Mac‘s activity will transfer to the external monitor automatically.

How do I choose extended vs mirrored desktops?

Use the "Mirror Displays" setting in System Preferences > Displays. Mirroring shows the same content on both displays, while extended spans your desktop across both for more real estate. Extended tends to be better for productivity.

Enhance Your MacBook Air with the Perfect Monitor

Adding an external monitor complements your MacBook Air incredibly well for extra desktop space. With the right display matched to your needs and budget, you can supercharge your productivity and experience.

I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of what to consider when shopping for monitors. Let me know if you have any other questions!