The best monitor for MacBook Pro in 2024

Best MacBook Pro Monitor: Quick Menu

The best MacBook Pro monitors can really improve your user experience once you boot up your high-end Apple laptop. I’m all about cutting edge display tech, and some of the screens below are absolute stunners. There’s also the added benefit that the majority of monitors on this list also work with Apple’s ultra portable MacBook Air lineup, including the latest MacBook Air 15-inch M3 model. 

Currently, the Apple Studio Display is my pick for the best MacBook Pro monitor. This jaw-dropping 4K screen not only looks gorgeous, it also sports a supreme six-speaker audio setup. 

Below, you’ll find a variety of the best MacBook Pro monitors, all of which have been tested by the experts here at Tom’s Guide. Whether you need a new display to game on (with Crew Cupertino finally starting to gaming more seriously than before), or a panel for complex video editing, you’ll find a monitor to suit your needs in this guide. 

The quick list

In a rush? Here's a short breakdown of the best MacBook Pro monitors on the list below, along with quick links that let you jump directly to the review of whichever display you're interested in. 

The best monitors for MacBook Pro you can buy

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The best overall MacBook Pro monitor

Apple Studio Display with MacBook Pro (2019) connected and playing music via Spotify

(Image credit: Future)
The best Apple monitor for MacBook Pro

Specifications

Dimensions: 24.5 x 18.8 x 6.6 inches (with stand, height tops out at 23 inches w/ optional height-adjustable stand)
Screen Size: 27 inches
Resolution: 5,120 x 2,880
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Ports: 3x USB-C, 1x Thunderbolt 3

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful, bright 5K display
+
Six-speaker array delivers remarkably good sound
+
12MP ultrawide camera captures great images/video
+
Elegant design

Reasons to avoid

-
No height adjustment by default
-
Center Stage not much use on a deskbound monitor

The 27-inch Studio Display ($1,599) is a great 5K monitor, one that delivers a lot of the value of Apple's $5,000 Pro Display XDR in a much more affordable (though hardly cheap) package. 

Like the Pro Display XDR, the Studio Display offers useful features for creative professionals, including a range of reference modes and P3 wide color gamut support. But it also has unique features that any Mac user can enjoy, like a killer (for a monitor) six-speaker sound system and a 12MP ultrawide camera that supports Apple's Center Stage feature, courtesy of an onboard A13 Bionic chip.  

With its ultrawide camera, fantastic speaker setup and gorgeous 27-inch 5K screen, this is easily one of the best monitors for MacBook Pro owners seeking an external display. 

Read our full Apple Studio Display review.

The best budget MacBook Pro monitor

Best gaming monitors: Asus TUF VG28UQL1A

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The best budget MacBook Pro monitor

Specifications

Screen Size: 28 inches
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Refresh Rate: 144 Hz
Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-A, USB-B, 3.5 mm audio

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful color palette
+
Sharp resolution and fast refresh rate
+
Ideal for both MacBooks and PCs

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly dark console HDR
-
No USB-C connectivity

Calling the Asus TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A a 'budget' monitor when it often ranges between $530 to $750 depending on sales might sound strange. Yet in our book, a top-tier 4K monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate and two HDMI 2.1 ports is damn good value for money.

Apart from its reasonable price, the VG28UQL1A is simply a gorgeous unit, with some of the richest and most accurate colors of any gaming display we've tested. The screen's HDR capabilities are almost unmatched, especially the way it handles reds, oranges and pinks. This panel even boasts good speakers, which not many gaming monitors can claim.

Read our full Asus TUF VG28UQL1A review.

The best 4K MacBook Pro monitor

Dell UltraSharp U2720Q monitor on a purple background

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q

Best 4K monitor for MacBook Pro overall

Specifications

Dimensions: 24.1 x 7.3 x 20.7 inches (with stand)
Screen Size: 27 inches
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Good color accuracy
+
Doubles as a USB hub
+
Thin bezels

Reasons to avoid

-
Underwhelming brightness
-
Meager 60Hz refresh rate

The Dell UltraSharp U2720Q is a workhorse of a 4K monitor that does everything pretty well, making it our overall pick for the best MacBook Pro monitor. This 27-inch display offers great color reproduction, and its 3840 x 2160 resolution lets you work and play on your MacBook at 4K. 

We also appreciate this monitor's thin-bezelled InfinityEdge display design, as thin bezels tend to help whatever you're looking at pop off the screen. This UltraSharp offers plenty of ports, too, and it has both USB-A and USB-C downstream ports, meaning you can plug USB accessories directly into the monitor and (as long as your laptop is connected via USB) use it as an impromptu USB hub for your MacBook.

With an MSRP of just over $500 it's reasonably priced, too — the only big downside is that the UltraSharp is neither as bright (advertised as maxing out at 350 nits) nor as fast (60Hz refresh rate) as the Liquid Retina XDR display built into the 2021 MacBook Pros. But if you just need a spacious 4K display to expand your MacBook's screen real estate and get more done, Dell's 27-inch UltraSharp is a great pick.

THe best gaming MacBook Pro monitor

Razer Raptor 27 monitor on white background

(Image credit: Razer)
The best overall gaming monitor for MacBook Pro

Specifications

Dimensions: 24.2 x 15.3 x 7.5 inches
Screen Size: 27 inches
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Refresh Rate: 144 Hz
Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous display
+
Smart design
+
Straightforward menus

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive compared to others on this list
-
Requires USB-C for customization

The Razer Raptor 27 is currently our pick for the best MacBook Pro gaming monitor. This 27-inch screen displays gorgeous colors with stunning accuracy, at crisp quad HD resolutions. You can run games at more than 120 frames per second and see every frame, thanks to the Raptor 27’s fast refresh rate.

The model we reviewed has a 144Hz refresh rate, but you can get an even faster 164HZ model for about $100 more. And though the 2560 x 1440 resolution delivers fewer pixels per inch than your MacBook Pro's Liquid Retina XDR display, it still displays more than enough detail to make games look great and run well. In other words, it’s a nearly perfect midpoint of performance and accessibility.

The only real downside to the Raptor 27 is that it’s expensive, especially compared to other gaming monitors with similar specs. But you’re also paying for the monitor’s excellent physical design, which makes the ports extremely easy to access, and the cables very simple to manage.

Read our full Razer Raptor 27 review.

The best portable MacBook Pro monitor

Lenovo ThinkVision M14t web browsing

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best portable monitor for MacBook Pro

Specifications

Dimensions: 8.44 x 12.73 x 0.55 inches (with stand)
Screen Size: 14 inches
Resolution: 1,920x1,080
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Inputs: USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive screen with good color, brightness
+
Easy to carry and configure to your specific needs
+
Comes with several useful accessories

Reasons to avoid

-
For this price you could get a bigger, better (but non-portable) monitor
-
Displayed some ghosting when playing fast video

The Lenovo ThinkVision M14t portable monitor is a straightforward way to add more screen real estate to MacBook, no matter where you go or what you need to do. A 14-inch, 1080p portable monitor that offers 10-point touch, it’s a good-looking, well-performing, and easy-to-transport addition to your tech arsenal that lives up to Lenovo’s long-standing reputation for function-forward and frill-free design.

But with an asking price of $500, you have to really want a great portable monitor with touch controls to invest in the M14t. Otherwise, a few of the other monitors on this list are cheaper, with higher resolutions and better refresh rates. But if you really need an excellent portable monitor for your MacBook, the Lenovo ThinkVision M14t is our top overall pick. If you want one without touch functionality, Lenovo sells a cheaper non-touch version for $249.

Read our full Lenovo ThinkVision M14t review.

The best professional MacBook Pro monitor

Apple Pro Display XDR hooked up to a macbook pro and sitting on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

6. Apple Pro Display XDR

The best monitor for pro photo/video work on a MacBook Pro

Specifications

Dimensions: 28.3 x 16.2 x 9.3 inches (with stand)
Screen Size: 32 inches
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Resolution: 6016 x 3384 pixels
Inputs: Thunderbolt 3/USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous display
+
Remarkably high resolution/brightness
+
Reference modes ideal for editors
+
Intuitive and easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Extremely high starting price makes this unreasonable for all but professionals and rich people

If you can afford it, Apple's Pro Display XDR is a top-tier monitor for MacBook Pro users looking to get some professional editing done. 

This 32-inch screen delivers remarkably accurate colors at brightness levels of up to 1,000 nits, or 1,600 with some HDR content. It's gorgeous to look at and easy to configure, and though it's not OLED the Pro Display XDR delivers sumptuous contrast that ensures blacks look infinitely inky next to blazing whites. 

You can even get a model with nano-textured glass that supposedly reduces glare without affecting contrast, but it will cost you an extra $1,000 on top of the already outrageous $4,999 starting price. It also doesn't come with a stand by default; you'll need to shell out another $999 to get one, though Apple's Pro Stand is at least a remarkably well-engineered stand.

Of course, Apple can get away with charging these high prices because the equipment is high-quality and aimed at photo/video professionals working for big organizations. If you need the best monitor for photo/video editing on your MacBook Pro and don't mind paying an arm and a leg, the Pro Display XDR will serve you well. 

Read our full report on what it's like to use Apple's Pro Display XDR.

How to choose the best MacBook Pro monitor for you

How to choose the best monitor for your MacBook

Finding the best monitor for your MacBook can be a confusing experience, especially if you're unsure what you need. There are a few key details to pay attention to for any monitor, and some specific advice for certain specialized uses.

Size: A larger monitor is generally better simply because it offers the most visual real estate, which is better for both full-screen media consumption and split-screen multitasking. Higher resolution is also better, since it allows you to see more detail and fit more information on the screen. The old phrase "bigger is better" applies to both here, and we recommend opting for larger screens and higher resolution whenever possible. However, keep in mind that you'll probably need to scale up the size of text (and macOS in general) on 4K monitors, as that resolution makes text hard to read on all but the largest monitors.

Shape: Most monitors are simple rectangles you stand up on a desk, but nowadays you also have the option of buying monitors that are curved, or even portable. A simple flat monitor will serve most uses quite well, but you might want to try a curved monitor if you want a more immersive experience (especially when gaming) since the curve keeps all areas of the monitor within easy viewing distance. Likewise, you might like to invest in a portable monitor instead of a traditional one if you want an external display that's easy to use with your MacBook Pro on the go. 

Response time: If you care about playing the latest games under optimal conditions, you'll want to look for a monitor with low response time. This measures how long it takes for the display to respond to what you're doing, and it's typically expressed as a measurement (in milliseconds) of how long it takes a pixel on the display to go from one color to another and back again. 

Unless you're planning to play games on your MacBook that demand quick reflexes or pinpoint accuracy, you really don't need to worry about response time. In general, anything under 10ms is good, though 5ms or less is better for gaming. Many gaming monitors promise response times as low as 1ms, which is about as good as you can hope for.

Refresh rate: Refresh rate measures how many times per second your monitor can draw a new image. It's measured in Hertz, and again if you're not planning on doing a lot of intense gaming you probably don't need to worry about this very much. Most monitor achieve refresh rates of 60Hz or less, and that's plenty for watching videos or getting work done. However, the new MacBook Pros have Liquid Retina XDR displays that can achieve variable refresh rates of up to 120Hz, so you'll need a monitor with at least a 120Hz refresh rate if you want it to be as good as your MacBook's display.

If you want to play games at higher than 120 frames per second, or you're planning on working with video at framerates higher than 120 fps, you'll want a monitor with even higher refresh rates. 120Hz is as high as most monitors go, but some gaming monitors can achieve refresh rates of 360Hz or higher. 

How we tested these monitors

How we test the best monitors for MacBook Pros

When seeking out the best monitors, we test every display we review with our Klein K 10-A colorimeter, paired with testing software. We use this high-quality scope to measure the display's brightness levels, color gamut and color accuracy.

Brightness is measured in nits, or candela per square metre (cd/m2). More nits means a higher brightness, which translates into clearer picture, brighter color and usually a more realistic looking image. For basic monitors, we expect a display backlight to produce between 2-300 nits of brightness, though HDR (high dynamic range) displays will often exceed that with a higher maximum brightness. However, brightness alone doesn't make for a great display, since some monitors will wash out colors or offer inconsistent backlight that varies in some portions of the display panel.

HDR also presents its own testing challenges, as new capabilities and standards allow a monitor to offer higher peak luminance than our standard tests will register. When in doubt, read an individual review for a discussion of these issues, and how an individual product will handle each.

Color is the other big concern for displays. Monitors that produce more colors have a larger color gamut, as measured under the sRGB or P3 color standards. This is presented as a percentage, with higher percentages indicating more colors.

Color accuracy is the other aspect of color, which lets us measure how closely a monitor can reproduce a given shade. This is presented as a Delta-E rating, which indicates the level of deviation from perfect. Zero is a perfect score, while higher numbers indicate lower accuracy.

We also test a display's response time, using a Leo Bodnar input lag tester. This device measures how long it takes a signal to travel from a source device to the monitor and show up on the display. Measured in milliseconds, this number is most useful for Mac gamers and anyone that needs immediate onscreen feedback from any input.

Finally, every monitor we test is also used for web browsing, streaming video and gaming, as well as the writing of the review itself. Our anecdotal testing will often allow us to note the quirks of a display that lab testing might miss, whether it's difficulty in scaling content or issues with backlight or color reproduction.

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.