What are the best screens for Mac? What connections do I need to connect a Mac to an external monitor (VGA? HDMI?), and how much should I spend on a Mac display? Where's the best place to buy a new Mac screen in the UK?
Looking for the best external screens, monitors and displays for Mac? You've come to the right place.
The MacBook is an amazing feat of laptop engineering, but sometimes, we all just need that little bit more space. External monitors are an excellent way to boost the screen size of your MacBook so that when you're at your desk or maybe at work, you can increase your productivity alongside the size of your display.
Here we've picked out some of the best, most popular and cheapest screens, displays and monitors available in the UK in 2016 for all your Mac expansion needs. You could of course also consider these monitors if you own a Mac mini and (obviously) need to invest in a screen. You should also check out the best keyboards for Mac.
There are a couple of important things to consider before you take a look at the screens, displays and monitors we'd recommend, so here's a brief breakdown of the differences and options to look out for.
Before we start, though, it's worth knowing that Apple produces its own monitor, called the Thunderbolt Display. It's essentially a 27-inch iMac without the computer part - you have to plug in a Mac and use it as an external display. At £899, it's rather expensive, and in fact as of June 2016 Apple announced that it will be discontinuing it. If you want to get one though, stock permitting, they are still available here. Elsewhere we discuss rumours of Apple launching a new 5K monitor.
Best screens for Mac 2016: Size and design
Probably the most obvious thing to consider is how big a monitor to get. As a rough guide, Apple's iMacs are currently 21.5in and 27in, and many affordable monitors are around 24in (all measurements are diagonal). If you've got a MacBook and you want to hook it up to a screen, you will currently have a screen size between 11 and 17in.
Many monitors are highly affordable, and the most popular ones generally are cheaper (surprise, surprise). Sometimes you might have to sacrifice the best looks for a good price, but in actual fact most modern displays are sleek and good-looking unlike cheaper alternatives in the past. Consider the size of the bezel around the screen's edges - a thinner one can make a monitor look sleeker (and more expensive!) than it actually is.
Most of the monitors here have basic tilting mechanisms to adjust the viewing angle, while most will sacrifice having card readers or even in some cases additional USB ports. However, chances are you'll be hooking up a laptop or Mac that already has USB ports (most MacBook Airs and Pros will also have SD card readers too). If you're after a speaker, you might have to settle for using ones you already have or routing the sound through your MacBook - many bestselling monitors do not have speakers.
Best screens for Mac 2016: Inputs and outputs
Monitors are traditionally connected to computers via a VGA connection or, latterly, HDMI. HDMI is the newer and preferable form of connection, but not all Macs have this. The Macs that include an HDMI port are:
- Mac mini (Mid 2010) and later models
- MacBook Pro with Retina display (Mid 2012) and later models
- Mac Pro (Late 2013)
If you're using a MacBook Air, then you won't have an HDMI port. However, you will likely have a Thunderbolt port, which supports HDMI output with a cheap but useful Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor.
Here's Apple's official rundown of which of its Macs support HDMI and how they handle audio and video output.
And here's the company's list of the ports on its latest Macs.
BenQ GL2460HM LED TN 24 inch
- RRP: £123.08
This BenQ monitor is the perfect companion to a Mac with HDMI connection and, for example, would work easily with a MacBook Pro. It also comes with built-in speakers, so you won't have to worry about hooking up a complicated speaker set up - just one HDMI cable to connect monitor to Mac.
It’s a 24in full HD display and promises a flicker-free backlight for comfortable long shifts at the screen. Hook up a decent keyboard and mouse and your Mac will power an excellent little workspace.
Asus VS248HR 24 inch
- RRP: £131.04
One of the most popular monitors out there is this model from Asus. It's actually designed for gaming, but works perfectly well for all activities - gaming monitors have an excellent frame rate, so watching videos and films on this monitor will be a delight.
The Asus comes with a DVI cable and a VGA cable - you could connect via either of these connections with the right adapter, though HDMI is also supported, you'll just need to have a spare cable. Just be aware that it doesn't have speakers, so you'll have to output to an audio source for sound. (Or use headphones!)
Samsung S24D300HS 24 inch
- RRP: £126.32
Samsung is a trusted brand, and its chips are probably in the iPhone you use every day! The company doesn't disappoint with this monitor, which is an excellent, affordable option. It also comes in at 24 inches, and has full 1080p HD video support with a standard HDMI connection.
Unfortunately, no HDMI cable is supplied! This is generally a given at this price point, annoyingly. However, these are readily and cheaply available on Amazon: here's an example for under a fiver.
Dell UltraSharp U2414H 23.8 inch
- RRP: £213.99
Just to mix things up, here's another reasonably priced 24in monitor, this time from Dell. Dell has a great track record of sturdy, quality displays for its home PCs and this example is cut from the same cloth. It's a tad more expensive than some on this list, but you're paying for the brand and the solid build quality.
Also part of what you pay for is handy fast-charge technology. Often plugging USB devices such as iPhones into monitors charges them agonisingly slowly. Not so here, with USB 3.0 supporting twice the power for charging phones and tablets and everything in between. (See also: How to charge an iPhone faster.)
The bezel is pleasingly thin for an excellent front-on view, and it even has 2 HDMI ports for great adaptability to your preferred set up.
LG 22M37A 22 inch
- RRP: £95.99
The cheapest monitor we've seen (that remains excellent!) is this 22in monitor from LG. It's the usual setup except it's VGA only. VGA is a slightly older technology standard than HDMI, but works perfectly well with a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter such as this one from Apple. It also comes bundled with a VGA cable, so no need for more expense.
The LG has a useful reader mode that actively reduces blue light from the LED backlight of the screen. If you're reading small text for long periods this is a very welcome addition.