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If you’re wondering which is the best Mac compatible monitor for a Mac Mini, here we look at the best external displays for both the Intel Mac Mini and the M1 Mac Mini.

The Mac Mini is a favorite with many graphic designers, video editors and music producers on a budget because it costs a lot less than a MacBook Pro.

However, since the Mac Mini doesn’t come with a display included, you need to buy an external display separately.

The best quality external displays for the Mac Mini are easily the 6K Apple 32-inch Pro XDR display and the 5K Apple Studio Display but they aren’t cheap, particularly the Pro XDR display at around $6,000 and the Apple Studio Display at $1,599.

Here we look at both of those plus the best 4K and 5K alternatives that work best with both with the Intel Mac Mini and M1 Mac Mini.

Which Monitors Work Well With The Mac Mini?

Most monitors will work when plugged into both Intel and M1 Mac Minis 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 when connected to a Mac Mini 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 Mac Minis.

There are simply no non-Apple external monitors that can compare with the Apple’s Mac Studio display or Pro XDR 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.

M1 Mac Mini vs Intel Mac Mini

The latest M1 Mac Mini processes graphics up to 6 times faster and can process data 3 times quicker than the older Intel Mac Mini.

The M1 Mac Mini can also support the 6K resolution of the Apple Pro Display XDR whereas the Intel Mac Mini doesn’t support 6K resolution.

In terms of connectivity, Intel chip Mac Minis actually have more Thunderbolt ports than the M1 Mac Mini.

Mac Minis with an Intel chip have a total of four Thunderbolt ports which can officially support either three 4K monitors or one 5K monitor and one 4K monitor.

external monitor mac mini - intel mac mini ports

The M1 Mac Mini released in 2020 can support three monitors in total: one 6K monitor via Thunderbolt and two 4K monitors – one via an extra Thunderbolt/USB-C port and one via the HDMI port.

best monitor m1 mac mini - ports

There are ways of making M1 Mac Minis support more monitors than this but it depends on the resolution you need and they require using either a Thunderbolt Hub or Docking Station.

Note that there have been reported issues with some external monitors not working with macOS Monterey on all Macs and these seem related to updates in macOS Monterey which are still being resolved.

USB-C vs Thunderbolt

best monitor mac - thunderbolt ports

Another important feature to look for is whether the monitor supports Thunderbolt and USB-C connections with your Mac Mini.

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 extremely high quality images from your Mac to the display such as the 6K resolution of the Apple Pro Display XDR.

Thunderbolt 3 also supports 10-bit color representation for the best quality color reproduction.

Almost all monitors support the older HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connections but most now support Thunderbolt/USB-C which delivers a much faster refresh rate which means a much better quality image for the naked eye.

Most TVs will only connect to a Mac Mini via HDMI but for external monitors we strongly recommend using a Thunderbolt connection.

The least preferable connection is a DisplayPort and if the monitor you want to connect your Mac Mini to only has a DisplayPort port, you’ll need to use a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

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 Mini 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.

The more Thunderbolt ports your monitor has, the more other external devices you can also connect to it too such as hubs, external storage drives and eGPUs.

DPI/PPI

When buying an external monitor for your Mac Mini 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 for example has a stunning resolution of 227 ppi which can handle 8K video and the only external monitor for the Mac Mini that comes close to that is the Apple Pro XDR display.

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 Mini users.

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.

With this in mind, here are the best external monitors for the Mac Mini of 2022:

1. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR

best monitor for mac mini

Easily the best monitor for any Mac including the Intel Mac Mini and M1 Mac Mini 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 Mini 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, you can connect your Mac Mini to it 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.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • By far the best external monitor for Mac Minis
  • 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

Cons:

  • Stand is sold separately
  • No integrated speakers
  • No integrated camera
  • Price

2. Apple Studio Display

best monitor m1 mac - mac 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 the Mac Mini 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.

Unlike 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, there are three Thunderbolt ports which you can connect and charge a MacBook Pro with. It also comes with a tilt and height adjustable stand with a VESA mount adapter if you want to add swivel to it.

Pros:

  • Much cheaper alternative to the XDR Pro
  • Supports 5K
  • 3 Thunderbolt ports
  • 12MP ultra-wide camera
  • Three-way microphone
  • 6 internal speakers

Cons:

  • No 6K support
  • 600 nits brightness support compared to 1600 in Pro XDR
  • Maximum size is 27 inch

3. LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34”

best monitor for m1 mac mini

The 5K LG UltraFine 34 inch monitor is the best non-Apple monitor for Macs 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 Macs. 

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 Macs.

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.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • 5K resolution with 5K2K support
  • 3 USB-C ports plus Thunderbolt port
  • Huge screen estate
  • 3 year LG guarantee

Cons:

  • Sound or brightness can’t be controlled from Mac keyboard
  • Swivel requires mounting a stand
  • No integrated speakers
  • No integrated webcam

4. LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27″

external monitor mac mini

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 Macs and will also charge a MacBook Pro or iPad Pro with up to 94W.

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.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • 5K quality resolution
  • Wide P3 gamut
  • Charges MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt
  • 218 PPI
  • Built-in web camera
  • Built-in speakers

Cons:

  • Internal speaker quality is poor

5. BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS

mac mini monitor

The BenQ has not only a Thunderbolt 3 port but also a USB-C port and a DisplayPort port. The fact that it has a Thunderbolt port means that it will also charge your MacBook Pro while connected to it.

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 Macs 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 due to a lack of support for Rosetta in macOS.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Wide P3 color gamut
  • Easy to use, fast user interface
  • Thunderbolt 3 port
  • Lots of other ports
  • Uses IPS for richer colors
  • Integrated speakers

Cons:

  • Viewing angle could be better
  • Slow charging of MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt
  • Stand works nicely, no buttons or levels.
  • Internal speakers poor quality

6. Samsung 34 inch CJ791 Curved

best curved monitor for mac mini

The Samsung 34-Inch CJ791 Ultrawide Curved Monitor was the first curved monitor with Intel Thunderbolt 3 ports.

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.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Picture in Picture tricky to configure
  • Large text can look pixelated without Game Mode on
  • No integrated webcam

Best Monitors For Mac Mini Compared

If you’re still not sure which monitor to get for your Mac Mini, here’s a side-by-side comparison to help.

Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR with Retina 6K Display - Nano-Texture Glass
LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34" 21:9 5K 2K (5120 x 2160) Nano IPS LED UltraWide Monitor, 600 cd/m² HDR, Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C Inputs Black
LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27" IPS LCD 5K UHD Monitor for Apple Mac
BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS | HDR | AQCOLOR | Display P3 | DCI-P3 | sRGB|Rec.709 | Hotkey Puck G2 | Eye-Care | ICC sync | Thunderbolt 3 for Mac | Grey
SAMSUNG J791 Series 34-Inch Ultrawide QHD (3440x1440) Computer Monitor, 100Hz, Thunderbolt 3 Daisy Chain, QLED, HDMI, USB Hub, Height Adjustable Stand (LC34J791WTNXZA), White
Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR with Retina 6K Display - Nano-Texture Glass
LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34" 21:9 5K 2K (5120 x 2160) Nano IPS LED UltraWide Monitor, 600 cd/m² HDR, Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C Inputs Black
LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27" IPS LCD 5K UHD Monitor for Apple Mac
BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS | HDR | AQCOLOR | Display P3 | DCI-P3 | sRGB|Rec.709 | Hotkey Puck G2 | Eye-Care | ICC sync | Thunderbolt 3 for Mac | Grey
SAMSUNG J791 Series 34-Inch Ultrawide QHD (3440x1440) Computer Monitor, 100Hz, Thunderbolt 3 Daisy Chain, QLED, HDMI, USB Hub, Height Adjustable Stand (LC34J791WTNXZA), White
$5,999.00
$1,149.95
$1,465.99
$1,199.99
$719.85
-
-
Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR with Retina 6K Display - Nano-Texture Glass
Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR with Retina 6K Display - Nano-Texture Glass
$5,999.00
LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34" 21:9 5K 2K (5120 x 2160) Nano IPS LED UltraWide Monitor, 600 cd/m² HDR, Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C Inputs Black
LG 34BK95U-W UltraFine 34" 21:9 5K 2K (5120 x 2160) Nano IPS LED UltraWide Monitor, 600 cd/m² HDR, Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C Inputs Black
$1,149.95
LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27" IPS LCD 5K UHD Monitor for Apple Mac
LG Monitor 27MD5KL-B Ultrafine 27" IPS LCD 5K UHD Monitor for Apple Mac
$1,465.99
-
BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS | HDR | AQCOLOR | Display P3 | DCI-P3 | sRGB|Rec.709 | Hotkey Puck G2 | Eye-Care | ICC sync | Thunderbolt 3 for Mac | Grey
BenQ PD3220U 32 inch 4K Monitor IPS | HDR | AQCOLOR | Display P3 | DCI-P3 | sRGB|Rec.709 | Hotkey Puck G2 | Eye-Care | ICC sync | Thunderbolt 3 for Mac | Grey
$1,199.99
SAMSUNG J791 Series 34-Inch Ultrawide QHD (3440x1440) Computer Monitor, 100Hz, Thunderbolt 3 Daisy Chain, QLED, HDMI, USB Hub, Height Adjustable Stand (LC34J791WTNXZA), White
SAMSUNG J791 Series 34-Inch Ultrawide QHD (3440x1440) Computer Monitor, 100Hz, Thunderbolt 3 Daisy Chain, QLED, HDMI, USB Hub, Height Adjustable Stand (LC34J791WTNXZA), White
$719.85
-

About The Author

Author

MacHow2 is devoted to helping you get the most of of your Mac. We're passionate about all things Mac whether it's helping users with software recommendations or solving technical problems. If you've got any comments about this article, get involved by leaving a comment below. You can also contact us directly using the contact form at the top of the site. Please note that in the interests of transparency, MacHow2 may sometimes receive compensation from link clicks or vendors.

2 Responses

  1. JOHN BAKER

    How about mentioning speakers and a camera in your reviews. Those are absolute necessities, IMO.

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      The best external monitor for Mac Minis with both integrated speakers and a webcam is easily the Apple Studio Display. Most brand monitors have very poor integrated speakers and most don’t have a camera. You’re much better off using external speakers and even a digital camera as a webcam in most cases.

      Reply

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