If you’re looking for an external monitor for your Mac Studio, with M1 Max or M1 Ultra chip, here we’ve taken a look at the best monitors for the Mac Studio of 2023.
Like the Mac Mini, the Mac Studio doesn’t come with an external display included so you have to buy one separately.
The Mac Studio was released at the same time as the amazing new Apple Studio Display which is designed to perfectly complement the Mac Studio.
However, the Apple Studio Display is not cheap at $1,599 so here we’ve looked at it along with the rest of the best Mac Studio compatible displays of 2023.
- Which Monitors Work Well With The Mac Studio?
- Mac Studio Monitor Connectivity & HDMI 2.1
- Can You Use An iMac As A Monitor For The Mac Studio?
- Best Monitors For Mac Studio Compared
- 1. LG 34BK95U-W 5K UltraFine 34”
- 2. Apple Studio Display
- 3. LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27″
- 4. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR
- 5. BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS
- 6. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q 27 Inch 4K UHD
- What To Look For In The Best Mac Studio Displays
- USB-C vs Thunderbolt
- 4K vs 5K vs 6K
- Speakers & Webcams In External Monitors
Which Monitors Work Well With The Mac Studio?
Most monitors will work when plugged into Apple Silicon M1 Macs such as the Mac Studio but some produce better quality than others.
Cheap Full HD (FHD) and even some Quad HD (QHD) monitors for example produce terrible image quality compared when connected to a Mac Studio screen and should definitely be avoided.
We’ve therefore excluded all FHD monitors as they simply do not provide good image quality when connected to a Mac Studio.
Some other key things to look for in the best Mac Studio compatible displays are:
- Thunderbolt/USB-C or HDMI ports as the Mac Studio has 4 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports to connect displays to
- A resolution of at least 1080p as this is the Mac Studio’s native resolution
- A refresh rate of at least 60Hz
One problematic issue for Mac users have been updates to macOS which sometimes break compatibility with external monitors on all Macs.
For example, there have been issues with some external monitors not working with macOS Ventura and Monterey although these are usually resolved via updates from Apple or firmware updates by monitor manufacturers.
These problems often occur when a new version of macOS is released and Apple usually fixes them eventually when it pushes out minor updates to macOS.
However, there have also been some issues with resolution scaling issues on external displays when connected to M1 & M2 Macs.
This is due to 5K scaling issues on non Apple displays when connected to a Mac but can be fixed simply by scaling down the resolution.
Most displays work well when connected to Apple Silicon Macs but you can find some ways to fix resolution issues on external displays here.
For more on connecting displays to a Mac Studio, check our guide on how to connect a monitor to a Mac Studio.
Mac Studio Monitor Connectivity & HDMI 2.1
The latest 2022 Mac Studio has the best external monitor support of any Mac with 5 external displays possible in total.
The Mac Studio with M1 Max chip has 5 ports to connect monitors, 4 of which are Thunderbolt 4/USB-C and an HDMI port which you can connect to any TV as it supports both image and audio output.
In the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra chip, there are 6 Thunderbolt ports as the two USB-C ports on the front are also Thunderbolt 4 compatible plus an HDMI port.
However, unfortunately the HDMI port in the Mac Studio doesn’t support the latest HDMI 2.1 standard as it uses the older HDMI 2.0 standard instead.
This means that although you can get 4K resolution via the Mac Studio’s HDMI port, you can’t get high refresh rates of 120Hz via HDMI.
HDMI 2.0 only supports a maximum display resolution of 3840 x 2160 with a 60Hz refresh rate.
HDMI 2.1 supports the same 3840 x 2160 resolution but at up to a 120Hz refresh rate and can also support resolutions of 7680 x 4320 at 60Hz.
Currently, HDMI 2.1 is only available in the latest M2 Mac Mini and M2 MacBook Pros but will surely be added to the next generation of Mac Studios when they are released.
The good news is that the Mac Studio can can support up to 4 external monitors via Thunderbolt (or 5 via Thunderbolt if you have the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra chip) including 4 Apple Pro XDR displays at 6K resolution which should be more than enough for most professionals.
The Mac Studio can also handle Ultrawide monitors including 34-inch, 38-inch and the biggest 49-inch displays.
The Mac Studio is available with both the M1 Max and M1 Ultra chip but neither chip affects which monitors or displays it can support.
Can You Use An iMac As A Monitor For The Mac Studio?
If you’ve for an old iMac lying around, you can use an iMac as an external display for the Mac Studio but it’s not as straightforward as it should be.
The latest iMacs support up to 5K resolution which is the same as the Apple Studio Display so in theory, it would make perfect sense to use an old iMac with the Mac Studio.
However, Apple dropped what’s known as Target Display Mode for retina Macs like the iMac back in 2014 which previously allowed you to use an iMac as an external monitor with another Mac.
There are still ways to use an iMac as a monitor but there are very few that support 5K resolution reliably and our advice is you’re much better off getting a dedicated external monitor.
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Best Monitors For Mac Studio Compared
To help see how these displays compare with each other, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the specs and pricing of the best monitors for the Mac Studio of 2023.
With this in mind here then are the best monitors for the Mac Studio of 2023.
1. LG 34BK95U-W 5K UltraFine 34”
The 5K LG UltraFine 34 inch monitor is our pìck as the best overall monitor for the Mac Studio and features stunning 5K resolution on an ultrawide 34 inch screen.
The 5K LG UltraFine 34 inch is easily the best 5K monitor for the Mac Studio outside of the Apple Studio Display.
LG monitors are some of the best displays you can get for Macs and Apple even helped LG develop the UltraFine display as it contains a very similar panel to the 27 inch 5K iMac display.
We think the 5K UltraFine is the best alternative to the Apple Studio Display and although it can’t come close to the Apple XDR Display, it’s a very economical alternative.
You can get full 5K 5120 x 2160 resolution (also known as 5K2K) with the LG 34BK95-W including on M1/M2 Macs with support for 163 pixels per inch (ppi).
This is great for video editing although for reading text, you might want to scale down the resolution as it does make everything look much smaller at its maximum resolution.
The display supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) which, like Dolby Vision, makes bright and dark parts of an image incredibly intense and contrasted.
It can of course also easily handle 4K video and the wide viewing angles make it an excellent choice for those in desktop publishing or video editing.
But because its a 34 inch 5K screen, you get over 30% more screen estate on the LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine than on a standard 4K monitor of the same size.
You can change the tilt and height on the stand that comes with the LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine but you add swivel with a VESA stand mount connection.
In terms of ports, apart from the standard HDMI there’s a dedicated Thunderbolt 3 port with 85W of power which offers DisplayPort Alt Mode.
There are also an additional 3 USB-C ports so there’s no shortage of connection options to connect it to a Mac Studio.
The refresh rate of the LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine is 60hz which that’s about as good as you’ll find in an external monitor that’s compatible with the Mac Studio and good enough for gaming.
There are speakers in the LG UltraFine 34 inch 5K but the sound is poor and it’s best to connect some external speakers to it.
There is no integrated webcam in the LG UltraFine 34 inch either although you can connect one via USB-C or use a digital camera as a webcam.
You can read our full LG 34BK95U-W 34 inch 5K monitor review for more.
- 5K resolution with 5K2K support
- 163 ppi
- 3 USB-C ports plus Thunderbolt port
- Huge screen estate
- 3 year LG guarantee
- Supports HDR
- Sound or brightness can’t be controlled from Mac keyboard
- Swivel requires mounting a stand
- No internal webcam
2. Apple Studio Display
It’s hard to argue against the Apple Studio Display being the best monitor for the Mac Studio as it’s designed to complement it although the price undoubtedly puts many people off.
The Apple Studio Display was released on 13th March 2022 by Apple to go with the Mac Studio and is easily the best Apple monitor for the Mac Studio outside of the Apple Pro XDR display.
Although it can’t compare with the far more expensive Apple Pro XDR display (see below), the Apple Studio Display is far better value starting at $1,599 compared to $4,999 for the Pro XDR.
The Apple Studio Display supports 218 Pixel Per Inch (PPI) although and can handle a maximum 5K 5120 x 2880 resolution compared to 6K in the XDR.
This makes it easily the best 5K monitor for Macs outside of the cheaper 34 inch 5K LG UltraFine.
However unlike the LG UltraFine the Apple Studio Display has features only Macs can use too such as an automatic sRGB mode which calibrates color perfectly for your applications.
The Apple Studio Display supports 600 nits of brightness compared to 1600 in the XDR which is more than enough for most although may not be quite enough for professional video editors that need added brightness.
It does however support HDR which is an important feature for video editors and high quality video playback in general.
The Apple Studio Display has the same True Tone Anti Reflective Coating as the XDR and is also available with nano-texture glass.
There are even some advantages to the Studio Display over the Pro XDR.
The Apple Studio Display also has a 12 MegaPixel Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage which is great for video conferencing.
It also has a professional music studio quality three-mic array which makes it definitely the best monitor for music production on a Mac. This includes a six speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
The Apple Studio Display also comes with a tilt and height adjustable stand with a VESA mount adapter if you want to add swivel to it.
For more about this amazing monitor you can check out our full Apple Studio Display review.
You might also be interested in our look at the best Apple Studio Display alternatives too.
- Supports 5K
- Supports HDR
- Automatic sRGB color calibration
- High quality six speaker surround system
- 3 Thunderbolt ports
- 12MP face tracking camera
- Three-way microphone
- No 6K support
- 600 nits brightness support compared to 1600 in Pro XDR
- Maximum size is 27 inch
3. LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27″
If you want a budget alternative to the Apple Studio Display for the Mac Studio then look no further than the 27 inch 5K LG 27MD5KL-B UltraFine.
The LG 27MD5KL-B UltraFine 27 inch monitor is one of the few 5K 27 inch monitors on the market outside of the Apple Studio Display and is a great alternative to it.
The LG 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27 inch is a 5K Ultra High Definition (UHD) monitor with 5120 x 2880 Resolution and a 16:9 Aspect Ratio.
The 27 inch LG UltraFine 5K display supports up to 218 pixels per inch (PPI) which is the same as the Apple Studio display although only has 500 nits of brightness which is 100 less than the Apple Studio Display.
The LG Ultrafine is a flat-Panel IPS monitor with support for DCI-P3 99% color gamut.
The monitor also features both a built-in camera and a speaker.
There are also three Thunderbolt 3 ports which can display 5K video, audio and data simultaneously from a Mac Studio and will also charge a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
On the downside, the LG 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27 inch monitor only has a 60Hz refresh rate but it still performs very well fine for gaming and fast moving media such as when video editing.
You can read our full LG 27MD5KL-B 5K UltraFine 27″ monitor review for more.
- 5K quality resolution
- Wide P3 gamut
- 218 PPI
- Built-in web camera
- Built-in speakers
- Supports volume and brightness control from Mac
- Excellent alternative to the Apple Studio Display
- Internal speaker quality is poor
- Webcam quality isn’t great
- Doesn’t support High Dynamic Range (HDR)
4. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR
Easily the best professional monitor for Macs including the Mac Studio is the amazing 6K Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR.
If you’ve got a $4,999 budget, there’s nothing else on the market that can match the 6K 6016 x 3384 resolution on the Apple Pro Display XDR.
The XDR stands for Extreme Dynamic Range and goes way beyond the usual High Dynamic Range (HDR) you get in most monitors.
The stunning XDR is the first 32-inch Retina display to support up to 1600 nits of brightness and 218 pixels per inch (PPI which is the same as DPI).
This makes it easily the best external Mac display for professional video and photo editors the XDR can adjust its brightness to reach HDR during playback.
In terms of connectivity, naturally Apple has included 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports (although note not Thunderbolt 4) plus two USB-C ports.
The XDR display is available in Standard Glass and Nanotexure and Standard Glass, the latter offering a sharper picture.
Nanotexture has a more textured looks but is designed to reduce loss of quality due to reflections.
The Standard Glass offers the same sharp look that you get on a Macbook Pro or an iPhone.
The Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR automatically adjusts picture quality based on what you’re watching or doing on it so it’s optimized whether you’re doing video editing or music production.
The Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR also adjusts brightness automatically depending on lighting up to a maximum of 1600 nits.
Other highlights of the Apple Pro XDR display include:
- Support for up to a billion colors
- Super-wide viewing angle
- 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
- P3 Wide Color Gamut
Note that the XDR display does not include a stand which you have to purchase separately for around $999.
The Apple Pro XDR display also does not have any integrated speakers or a webcam like the Apple Studio Display does.
- By far the best external monitor for all Macs including Mac Studio
- 6K resolution
- 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Available with both glass and nanotexture
- 1600 nits of brightness
- Automatically optimizes picture depending on what you’re doing
- Support for one billion colors
- Stand is sold separately
- No integrated speakers
- No integrated camera
5. BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS
The BenQ PD3220U is aimed at creative professionals and is easily one of the best alternatives to the Apple Studio Display we’ve seen.
The BenQ is packed with ports and among them are a generous two Thunderbolt 3 ports, USB-C ports, HDMI and DisplayPort.
This means it’s easy to daisy chain other monitors to the BenQ PD3220U and one of the ports will also charge your MacBook.
The BenQ PD3220U also has a special Mac mode to automatically optimize it for use with Macs.
The BenQ PD3220U is an IPS monitor which means In-Plane Switching and uses liquid crystals in parallel to produce richer colors than most displays.
It supports P3 wide color gamut and HDR with a 60Hz refresh rate so it’s suitable for digital work including Adobe’s RGB profile.
The wide P3 gamut of the BenQ PD3220U is ideal for working with Adobe RGB profiled images and RAW photos which covers Rec BT 709 (although not up to Rec BT2020).
Other highlights of the BenQ PD3220U include a convenient HotKey puck adjuster for controls, KVM switch, ability to hot-swap color profiles and even display two profiles at once.
The BenQ PD3220U has recently upgraded the firmware to support 60Hz refresh rates on M1 Macs and updates to macOS Ventura and Monterey have also improved compatibility.
On the downside, the maximum brightness of 350 nits means it may not be bright enough for some considering the Apple Studio Display is capable of 600 nits.
The BenQ PD3220U also has internal speakers but the quality is very poor and you’re much better off using external speakers or sound bar.
You can check out our full BenQ PD3220U review for more.
- Mac mode designed for connecting to Macs
- Fast user interface access via Hotkey Puck
- Amazing color depth thanks to wide P3 color gamut
- Thunderbolt 3 ports for daisy chaining other monitors
- Lots of other port connections
- Lack of brightness
- Internal speaker quality is poor
- No integrated webcam
6. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q 27 Inch 4K UHD
The 27 inch Dell UltraSharp U2720Q is a great all round external display and the best budget external monitor for the Mac Studio.
The 4K display looks great connected to a Mac Studio and makes it ideal for editing photos, watching films, designing and more.
Unusually for a monitor in this price range, it supports HDR (High Dynamic Range) which features enhanced contrast and makes video look more realistic.
HDR makes bright and dark parts of an image incredibly intense and contrasted with whiter whites and blacker blacks and is an important feature for video editors.
The Dell UltraSharp U2720Q has two USB-C ports and one HDMI port so you can connect it easily to any Mac Studio via the Thunderbolt ports.
However, the lack of Thunderbolt port means it won’t support the maximum transfer speeds of 40Gb/s that Mac Studios are capable of.
At around $500, you won’t find many better quality external displays for the Mac Studio in this price range.
If you need an Ethernet connection for your monitor, you should also check out the newer Dell UltraSharp U2723QE which is an upgraded version of this model and allows you to connect the display directly via Ethernet.
You can read our full Dell UltraSharp U22720Q review for more.
- Lots of ports for connectivity
- Great crisp 4K quality images
- Excellent color gamut
- Excellent value for money
- Supports HDR
- Brightness controls are poor
- No internal speakers
- No internal webcam
- No Thunderbolt port
What To Look For In The Best Mac Studio Displays
If you’re still in doubt about what to look for in the best Mac Studio compatible monitors, here’s a more detailed look at what to consider.
When buying an external monitor for the Mac Studio one of the most important things to look out for is the Dots Per Inch (DPI) or Pixels Per Inch (PPI).
Technically, printed material resolution is measured in DPI and digital screen resolution in PPI but pixels and dots are virtually interchangeable.
A 300 PPI image on a screen will still be a 300 DPI image when printed.
The Apple Studio Display has a stunning resolution of 218 ppi which can handle 8K video and you simply won’t find an external monitor that can come close to that.
Even the very best non-Apple displays have a DPI of less than 200 dpi but we looked at monitors that offered the highest possible DPI/PPI for Mac Studio users.
USB-C vs Thunderbolt
Another important feature to look for is whether the monitor supports Thunderbolt and USB-C connections with the Macs Studio.
The Mac Studio has four Thunderbolt 4 ports which is the most number of Thunderbolt ports you’ll find on any Mac and great for those that want to connect multiple external monitors.
Thunderbolt and USB-C are interchangeable and you can connect Thunderbolt to USB-C and vice versa.
There’s often confusion between USB-C and Thunderbolt though because even though the cable and ports are exactly the same, there are different USB 3, 3.1, 3.2 and 4.0 designations within USB-C which perform differently.
The main difference is that Thunderbolt cables and ports are Apple specific and support faster transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps.
This is important when it comes to transmitting high quality images from your Mac to the display such as the 6K resolution of the Apple Pro Display XDR.
If you’ve also got a MacBook, Thunderbolt monitors will also charge your MacBook while connected which is a useful bonus.
Thunderbolt also supports 10-bit color representation for the best quality color reproduction.
Most monitors also support the older HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connections but we strongly recommend choosing one with a USB-C or Thunderbolt port for the best performance.
USB-C and Thunderbolt also support higher refresh rates than HDMI 2.0 of at least 60Hz for the best quality images.
Most Mac Studio compatible Thunderbolt monitors support a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz although the Samsung 34-Inch CJ791 Ultrawide Curved Monitor has a refresh rate of 100Hz which is only really necessary for the demands of gaming.
If a monitor has more than one Thunderbolt or USB-C port, you can also connect them together which is known as “daisy chaining” your monitors.
The more Thunderbolt ports your monitor has, the more other external devices you can also connect to it too such as hubs, microphones, speakers, external storage drives and eGPUs.
4K vs 5K vs 6K
Apple is already way ahead of the game when it comes to monitors as it already supports 5K in the Apple Studio Display and 6K in the Apple Pro XDR display.
Most other external displays only support 4K although there are some models like the LG UltraFine 34 inch which support 5K resolution.
You can check out our guide the best 5K monitors for more on this.
Speakers & Webcams In External Monitors
If you need integrated speakers and a webcam with your external monitor then by far the best external monitor for the Mac Studio with both integrated speakers and a webcam is the Apple Studio Display.
However, many users have found that there have been issues with the Apple Studio Display audio failing intermittently although it’s likely Apple will address this in a software update for the monitor.
The problem is that most alternative monitors also have very poor integrated speakers and most don’t have a camera.
Our advice is to use external speakers with an external monitor and for the best quality webcam images, use a digital camera as a webcam with your Mac Studio.
Thank you for this article. I have ordered a Mac Studio for music production, so ultra high resolution isn’t a priority for me. However, clearly seeing text and timelines is important for long hours of editing. I will try to make this brief, but there are a lot variables. Because I have a degenerative eye disease that limits my peripheral vision, wide screens are wasted on me. My vision is limited to what’s right in front of me. For this reason, my plan was to use two or three smaller monitors (20″ to 22″) in an array that I could reconfigure as needed (Think close distance, laptop type viewing). I have no problems using a laptop with full HD display, but the article mentioned that full HD was a “no go” on the Mac Studio.
So, could you recommend some smaller – but budget friendly – monitors that play nice with the Mac Studio? Or, failing that, some recommendations on a larger monitor (and software) that works well with the Studio for making multiple “laptop sized” screens would be nice. This require a little more neck and head movement, but I could make that work if need be.
I realize that this is beyond the intended scope of this article, but I would appreciate any advice you could give.
You might want to try a few of the 17.5 inch EVICIV monitors together. For a larger budget screen, try the Asus Pro Art Display.