Although you can use almost any monitor with your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, some offer a few advantages with macOS devices. Monitors with USB-C ports are easy to connect to, and while most support DisplayPort Alt Mode, some have the more powerful Thunderbolt, which the MacBook also supports. Getting a monitor with high-power delivery is beneficial as you won't need to worry about charging your laptop while you're working.
When looking for a monitor, you need to think about how you will use it. For example, it's important to have good color accuracy for photo or video editing. While macOS is optimized for use with high-pixel-density monitors, you can use your MacBook with any resolution and size you feel comfortable with. We test monitors' macOS compatibility with a 2021 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip via USB-C or a USB-C to DisplayPort cable. The results are also valid for any MacBook, including the MacBook Air, or even those with newer chips.
We've bought and tested more than 300 monitors, and below are our recommendations for the best displays for MacBook Pro, including if you're looking for the best MacBook Air monitor. Also, check out our recommendations for the best work monitors, the best monitors for photo editing, and the best monitors for Mac Mini.
The Apple Studio Display is the best monitor for MacBook Pro that we've tested. It's one of two monitors available from Apple, as it's the lower-end version of the Apple Pro Display XDR, which is meant for professional content creators. While the Studio Display has fewer features than the Pro Display XDR, like the lack of HDR, it's still a great monitor, especially for casual photo editing. It has exceptional accuracy before calibration thanks to its outstanding sRGB mode that you can only access with a macOS device. It also delivers high pixel density with its 5k, 27-inch screen, meaning text looks incredibly sharp.
It has an impressive selection of additional features, including a built-in webcam and microphone. It also includes four USB-C ports, but only one supports Thunderbolt 3 to connect your laptop. Lastly, you can get it in different variants, as you can get the standard fixed stand, a height-adjustable stand, or one without a stand if you want to mount it. You can also choose between a glossy or matte screen finish, and regardless of which screen finish you choose, it doesn't have issues in a well-lit room as it gets very bright.
If you like working with multiple windows opened simultaneously, an ultrawide display like the LG 40WP95C-W is a good alternative to the Apple Studio Display. It has fewer features than the Apple monitor, as it doesn't have a webcam or mic, and it has a lower 5120x2160 resolution, which means that its text clarity isn't as good, but it still delivers sharp text. It doesn't get as bright as the Apple monitor either, which means it isn't as good to use in a bright office space, but it's still fine if you have a few lights around.
However, it has a few advantages over the Apple monitor because it supports HDR, and its 40-inch screen has a wide 21:9 aspect ratio, so there's plenty of space to open multiple windows. Its impressive connectivity makes this great to use with the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, as it has two USB-C ports supporting Thunderbolt 4. They each deliver 96W of power, enough to keep MacBook Airs and most MacBook Pros fully charged while you're working. It also has a Picture-by-Picture mode, which is great if you want to connect multiple devices simultaneously.
If you don't like ultrawide displays or simply prefer something cheaper, check out the Dell U2723QE. With a much smaller screen than the LG 40WP95C-W, it isn't as good for multitasking, but you still get the same sharp text clarity thanks to its high pixel density. It doesn't support Thunderbolt 4 like the LG, but it supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, which has less bandwidth than Thunderbolt and still delivers 90W of power to charge your MacBook. It has a massive USB hub with five USB-C ports and three USB-A ports, and it has a KVM switch, allowing you to control two sources with the same keyboard and mouse, which is helpful for productivity.
It has a dedicated sRGB mode that makes it excellent for content creators who don't want to calibrate their monitor, and it displays a wide range of colors in both the sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces. If you find the 27-inch screen too small and want something bigger, the 32-inch Dell U3223QE is another alternative that performs similarly. Still, colors in HDR look undersaturated with that monitor, and it costs more for a minimal difference in performance.
If you want something simpler and don't want to spend a ton of money on the Dell U2723QE, the Dell S2722QC is a great choice to get as a lower mid-range monitor, and it often goes on sale. It's a lower-end model than the U2723QE, so it has a smaller USB hub with only one USB-C port supporting 65W of power delivery. While this isn't enough power for MacBook Pros, it can still charge your MacBook Air while you're using it, and it has two USB-A ports if you want to charge other devices.
Besides that, the high 4k resolution helps deliver crisp images, and even though it doesn't have a dedicated sRGB mode like the U2723QE, it still has decent accuracy before calibration if you want to use it for casual photo editing. It also gets bright and has even better reflection handling than the U2723QE, so it's a great choice if you want to use it in a well-lit room. It works well with macOS, but there are some reports online of people experiencing flicker with M1 Macs, which could get distracting if you experience this issue.
If you're looking for a budget monitor for your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, check out the ASUS ProArt Display PA278CV. Although there aren't many USB-C monitors available at a budget-friendly price, some good options like this are still available, but the main trade-off versus the Dell S2722QC is that it has a lower 1440p resolution, so text isn't as sharp. However, it's still great for productivity as it features a USB-C port with 65W of power delivery, which is enough to charge a MacBook Air but not most MacBook Pros.
This monitor has incredible ergonomics, making it very easy to adjust to an ideal position. It's designed with content creators in mind, as it has an extremely accurate sRGB mode, so you won't have to calibrate it if you work in that color space. However, it doesn't support HDR, which is disappointing if you're a video editor and need that. If you want a monitor that does support it, the Dell S2721QS is a great budget-friendly 4k monitor that does, but it doesn't have any USB ports, and there are some macOS compatibility issues with a DisplayPort to USB-C cable.
If you want something cheap and don't want to spend much money, consider an entry-level model like the ASUS VG246H, which has a lower 1080p resolution than the ASUS ProArt Display PA278CV. It has fewer features than the ASUS as it doesn't have a USB-C port, but that's what you must expect for a cheaper display. It means you need to connect to it over HDMI; if your MacBook doesn't have an HDMI port, you'll need to get an adapter. Despite that, it still works well with macOS computers.
It's well-built with an incredibly ergonomic stand, making it easy to adjust to an ideal viewing position. It also has wide viewing angles that keep the image consistent from the sides, meaning it's a great choice if you often need to share your screen with someone else. Although it's limited in extra features, it has an sRGB mode that results in great accuracy. Still, it locks most picture settings, including the brightness, so it's only beneficial for editing content with that color space in a dark environment.
Jun 19, 2023: Replaced the Gigabyte M27Q with the ASUS ProArt Display PA278CV because the ASUS has better macOS compatibility and text clarity; added the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best external monitors for MacBook Pro, and the best MacBook Air monitors that are currently available. They are adapted to be valid for most people, in each price range. Rating is based on our review, factoring in price, and feedback from our visitors.
If you would prefer to make your own decision, here is the list of all of our monitor reviews, except Dell monitors. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. Most monitors are good enough to please most people, and the things we fault monitors on are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.