It’s important you get it right when buying an external monitor for your Mac as not all are compatible with Mac hardware and macOS so we’ve looked at the best compatible displays for Mac Studio, MacBook Pros, Mac Minis and Apple Silicon M1 Macs.
Mac Minis also don’t come with a display included so all Mac Mini owners need to buy an external monitor to go with it. Although all of the external displays reviewed here work well with the Mac Mini, we reccommend checking out our guide to the best external monitors for Mac Mini which includes the latest M1 Mac Mini too.
The Mac Studio meanwhile has it’s own Apple Studio Display but it’s not cheap at $1,599 and here we’ve looked at some more economical alternatives to the Apple Studio Display for the Mac Studio.
In reality, the best monitor for you will depend on what you’re going to use it (such as gaming, graphic design, desktop publishing, video editing or music production), what kind of aspect ratio (e.g. 16:9, 21:9 ultrawide) you’re looking for, the refresh rate you require etc.
- Which Monitors Work Well With Macs?
- USB-C vs Thunderbolt
- Mac Studio Monitor Connectivity
- 4K vs 5K vs 6K
- Speakers & Webcams In External Monitors
- Using More Than 2 Monitors With M1 Macs
- 1. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR
- 2. Apple Studio Display
- 3. LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34”
- 4. LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27″
- 5. BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS
- 6. Samsung 34 inch CJ791 Curved
- Best Monitors For Mac Studio Compared
Which Monitors Work Well With Macs?
Most monitors will work when plugged into both Intel and M1 Macs including the Mac Studio but the problem you’ll find is the poor quality they deliver.
Cheap Full HD (FHD) and Quad HD (QHD) monitors for example produce terrible image quality compared to the MacBook Pro liquid Retina XDR screen and should definitely be avoided.
We’ve therefore excluded all FHD and QHD monitors as they simply do not provide good image quality when connected to Macs.
There are simply no non-Apple external monitors that can compare with the Apple’s MacBook liquid Retina display but there are some essentials we looked at when making our shortlist.
Note that there have been reported issues with some external monitors not working with macOS Monterey and these seem related to updates in macOS Monterey which are still being resolved.
When buying an external monitor for your Mac 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 MacBook Pro retina display has a stunning resolution of 227 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 users.
USB-C vs Thunderbolt
Another important feature to look for is whether the monitor supports Thunderbolt and USB-C connections with Macs.
There’s a lot of confusion between USB-C and Thunderbolt because the cable and ports are exactly the same.
The only difference is that Thunderbolt cables and ports support faster transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps which 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.
Thunderbolt and USB-C connections will also charge your MacBook Pro while they are connected to your monitor which is a useful bonus.
Thunderbolt 3 also supports 10-bit color representation for the best quality color reproduction.
Most new Macs and all M1 Macs have Thunderbolt ports but not all external displays have a Thunderbolt port.
Almost all monitors support the older HDMI and DisplayPort connections but most now support USB-C which delivers a much faster refresh rate which means a much better quality image for the naked eye.
The MacBook Pro has a refresh rate of 120Hz and you won’t find many external monitors that support a rate that high.
You should be looking for a refresh rate of at least 60Hz for the best quality images and you’ll definitely get this with either USB-C or Thunderbolt if the monitor supports it.
Most Mac 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.
USB-C and Thunderbolt ports can also transfer audio as well as images or video whereas HDMI and DisplayPort can’t. This means you can also connect webcams, microphones and USB hubs too.
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.
Mac Studio Monitor Connectivity
The latest 2022 Mac Studio has the best external monitor support of any Mac with 5 external displays in total.
The Mac Studio has 5 ports to connect monitors, 4 of which are Thunderbolt 4/USB-C and an HDMI port which you can connect any TV to.
However, note that the HDMI port in the Mac Studio doesn’t support the latest HDMI 2.1 standard so you can’t get 4K resolution at high refresh rates of 120Hz with the HDMI port in the Mac Studio.
The Mac Studio can support up to 4 external monitors via Thunderbolt including 4 Apple Pro XDR displays at 6K resolution plus one monitor via the HDMI port.
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 Mac and M1 Ultra chip but neither chip affects which monitors or displays it can support.
4K vs 5K vs 6K
Most other external displays only support 4K although there are some models like the LG UltraFine 34 which supports 5K resolution.
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 Mac Minis with both integrated speakers and a webcam is the Apple Studio Display.
Most brand monitors 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.
Using More Than 2 Monitors With M1 Macs
It’s important to be aware that you need to follow a workaround if you want to connect more than two monitors to the 2020 M1 MacBook Air and 2020 M1 MacBook Pro only as they only allow you to connect one external monitor.
However the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro allows you to connect up to 2 external monitors.
The M1 Mac Mini also allows you to connect 3 external monitors – one via the less optimal HDMI connection and two via a USB-C Thunderbolt port.
The 2021 M1 MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max chips can even support up to 4 external monitors via Thunderbolt but are a lot more expensive.
With this in mind, here then are the best external monitors for the MacBook Pro and Mac Studio including M1 Macs.
1. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR
Easily the best monitor for the MacBook Pro including the M1 Mac Mini M1 and M1 MacBook Pro is the amazing 6K Apple 32-inch 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.
Other highlights of the display include:
- Support for up to a billion colors
- Super-wide viewing angle
- 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
- P3 Wide Color Gamut
There’s nothing else on the market that can match the 6K resolution on the Apple Pro Display XDR.
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.
Of course, because it has 4 Thunderbolt ports, it will also fully charge a MacBook Pro when connected via Thunderbolt cable.
Note that the XDR display does not include a stand which you have to purchase separately for $999.
The Apple Pro XDR display also does not have any integrated speakers or a webcam.
- By far the best external monitor for Macs
- 6K resolution
- 4 Thunderbolt 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
2. Apple Studio Display
The Apple Studio Display was released on 13th March 2022 by Apple and offers much cheaper alternative to the Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR.
Although it can’t compare with the XDR display, the Apple Studio Display is easily the second best external monitor for Macs and starts at just $1,599 compared to $4,999 for the Pro XDR display.
Like the Pro XDR, the Apple Studio Display supports 218 PPI although it can only handle a maximum 5K 5120 x 2880 resolution compared to 6K in the XDR.
It also only supports 600 nits of brightness compared to 1600 in the XDR which although impressive, is not quite enough for professional video editors that need the added brightness to reach HDR during video playback.
It does however have the same True Tone Anti Reflective Coating and is available with nano-texture glass like the XDR.
There are also 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.
It also has a 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.
Finally, 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.
- Much cheaper alternative to the XDR Pro
- Supports 5K
- 3 Thunderbolt ports
- 12MP camera
- Three-way microphone
- No 6K support
- 600 nits brightness support compared to 1600 in Pro XDR
- Maximum size is 27 inch
3. LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34”
The 5K LG UltraFine 34 inch monitor is the best non-Apple monitor for the Mac Mini and features stunning 5K resolution.
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 LG34BK95 including on M1 Mac Minis.
When it was originally released, the LG UltraFine 34 inch did not scale resolution correctly on M1 Macs but that has now been fixed and it works fine at full 5K with M1 Macs.
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 LG34BK95U-W UltraFine than on a standard 4K monitor.
You can change the tilt and height on the stand that comes with the LG34BK95U-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.
The refresh rate of the LG34BK95U-W UltraFine is only 60Hz but that’s about as good as you’ll find in an external monitor that’s compatible with the Mac Mini
There are no speakers in the LG UltraFine 34 inch but there is a 3.5mm audio out jack that you can connect speakers to.
There is no integrated webcam in the LG UltraFine 34 inch either although you can connect one via USB-C.
- 5K resolution with 5K2K support
- 3 USB-C ports plus Thunderbolt port
- Huge screen estate
- 3 year LG guarantee
- Sound or brightness can’t be controlled from Mac keyboard
- Swivel requires mounting a stand
- No internal speakers
- No internal webcam
4. LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27″
The LG 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27 inch monitor is marketed at Apple Mac users as it offers excellent compatibility and quality compared to most when used with a Mac including M1 Mac Minis.
Highlights of the LG 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27 inch monitor include:
- 5K UHD 5120 x 2880 Resolution with 16:9 Aspect Ratio – 500nits Brightness
- 27 Inch Wide-Screen Flat-Panel IPS Monitor – DCI-P3 99% Color Gamut
- The monitor features both a built-in camera and a speaker
- Thunderbolt 3 Port with up to 94W Power Delivery – 3 x USB Type C Ports
The LG UltraFine 5K display is over 50% bigger than a 4K display with a maximum of 218 PPI which is the same as both the Apple Pro XDR display and Apple Studio display.
The LG UltraFine 5K display supports P3 gamut & 500 nits of brightness which is only 100 nits lower than the Apple Studio Display.
The Thunderbolt 3 connection can transmit 5K video, audio and data simultaneously to M1 Mac Minis.
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 on a Mac Mini
- 5K quality resolution
- Wide P3 gamut
- 218 PPI
- Built-in web camera
- Built-in speakers
- Internal speaker quality is poor
5. BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS
The BenQ has not only a Thunderbolt 3 port but also a USB-C port and a DisplayPort port for older Intel Mac Minis.
The BenQ PD3220U is an IPS monitor which means In-Plane Switching and uses liquid crystals in parallel to produce richer colors.
It supports P3 wide color gamut and HDR with a 60Hz refresh rate so it’s ideal 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 puck adjuster for controls, KVM switch, ability to hot-swap color profiles and display two profiles at once.
The BenQ PD3220U has recently upgraded the firmware to support 60Hz refresh rates on M1 Mac Minis and updates to macOS Monterey have also improved compatibility.
On the downside, the viewing angle is a little narrow although not bad for a 32 inch monitor. The glass finish also suffers from glare in bright sunlight although as long as you avoid this, it’s fine.
The BenQ PD3220U does have internal speakers but the quality is very poor and you’re much better off using external speakers.
Display Pilot also does not work on M1 Macs including the Mac Mini due to a lack of support for Rosetta in macOS.
- Wide P3 color gamut
- Easy to use, fast user interface
- Thunderbolt 3 port
- Lots of other ports
- Uses IPS for richer colors
- Internal speakers
- Viewing angle could be better
- Stand works nicely, no buttons or levels.
- Internal speaker quality is poor
6. Samsung 34 inch CJ791 Curved
The Samsung 34-Inch CJ791 Ultrawide Curved Monitor was the first curved monitor with Intel Thunderbolt 3 ports and is the best curved monitor for the Mac Mini.
It’s mainly designed for gaming with an incredibly high 100Hz refresh rate and for those that love gaming on curved screens, it’s easily the best curved monitor for Macs.
There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports which means you can not only connect and charge your MacBook Pro but also other Thunderbolt peripherals such as external storage drives and external graphics cards.
The Samsung 34-Inch CJ791 Ultrawide Curved Monitor also includes DP, HDMI and USB ports.
The speakers in the CJ791 are also better than most. It includes built-in 7-watt stereo speakers which are ideal for watching videos, films and gaming.
The curved 34 inch widescreen monitor is ultrawide which gives you the feel of two monitors in one in terms of screen estate.
It also has a contrast ratio of 3:1 compared to the 1:1 ratio of many monitors in this price range which gives crisp, clear contrast.
You can even enjoy Picture-in-Picture by displaying two sources of data on the display by resizing one of the sources up to 25% which you can place anywhere.
Initially you may find that text looks a little pixelated and jagged on the Samsung CJ791 Ultrawide Curved Monitor but if you switch Game Mode to “Always On”, it seems to fix the problem.
- 2 Thunderbolt ports
- Curved 34 inch display feels huge
- Good quality internal speakers
- Supports Picture-in-Picture
- 100Hz refresh rate ideal for gaming
- VESA mountable
- Picture in Picture tricky to configure
- Large text can look pixelated without Game Mode on
- No integrated webcam
Best Monitors For Mac Studio Compared
If you’re still not sure which monitor to get for your Mac Studio, Mac Mini or MacBook Pro, here’s a side-by-side comparison to help.