Apple's new Pro Display XDR is the first own-brand monitor that the company has produced since it discontinued the 27in Thunderbolt Display back in 2016. Intended as a companion for the super-powerful new Mac Pro, the Pro Display is a dazzling piece of kit, with a 32in screen that supports 6K video. But it's also seriously expensive, starting at £4,599/$4,999 - which doesn't even include a stand - so it's far too expensive for most of us.
But a new monitor can come in really handy for any Mac user, both at home and at work. It's nice to lean back and watch Netflix on a large screen, or do a bit of photo editing or web browsing. Plenty of professional users in design, graphics and video editing will need a larger screen when using their MacBook in the office. And, of course, neither the low-cost Mac mini nor the super-expensive Mac Pro include a screen at all.
Fortunately, there are plenty of companies that make very attractive - and attractively priced - displays that you can use with your Mac, without having to take out a second mortgage. If you're looking for something under £80, for example, AOC's 22B22H is a good choice.
To hook these displays up to your MacBook, you will probably need a docking station or hub/adapter as today's laptops don't come with built-in DisplayPort or HDMI ports, so see our roundup of the best Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docks for Macbooks and best USB-C hubs and adapters for Macs. These will also give you an array of extra ports, such as old-school USB-A, Gigabit Ethernet, and card readers for inexpensive extra storage.
We've extensively tested, reviewed and ranked the six best options right now... but for broader recommendations on what to look for, skip ahead to our Mac monitors buying advice.
Best Mac monitors 2020
1. HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot Display - Best For Home Or Small Office
Not everyone needs a monitor with high-end 4K resolution. For many people, a 'quad-HD' (or QHD) resolution of 2560x1440 is a good mid-range option that combines a sharp, detailed image with text and graphics that are large and easy on the eye when you're staring at the screen all day long (in fact, the default 'looks like' resolution for the 5K iMac is 2560x1440, as Apple recognises that as a comfortable viewing resolution for most people).
If you don't need - or can't afford - a 4K display then a 2560x1440 monitor such as HP's Pavilion 27 is a good alternative for entertainment at home and working in the office. If you're on a really tight budget there's also a version with 1920x1080 resolution for still less.
The Pavilion 27 is nicely designed, with a super-slimline screen panel that measures just 6.5mm thick, and a very thin border around the edges that really emphasises the size of the screen. HP claims its 'quantum dot' technology is very power-efficient, and the screen supports HDR (high dynamic range) for richer colours, and an anti-glare coating for enhanced visibility. It's not intended as a high-end monitor for professional graphics and video work, but it does support 90% of the DCI-P3 colour standard, so you can use it for the occasional spot of video editing for business presentations, or your Instagram vlogging.
It's up to date with the latest connectivity options too, including HDMI, DisplayPort and USB-C , which makes it a good companion for the latest Mac mini and MacBook models. There's also a pair of USB 3.0 ports for connecting other accessories. The one disappointment is the lack of audio support - no built-in speakers or even a headphone socket, so you'll have to rely on your Mac's internal speakers and headphone socket, or simply use a set of external speakers.
2. Acer H277HK - Best For 4K On A Budget
Acer's H7 range is always good value for money, and we've recommended its 27in H277HU display in the past. Acer has now stepped up to full 4K resolution for the H277HK. (Watch out for those model numbers.)
The basic design of this new model remains the same, with that distinctive 'hoop' design on the base of the stand, and a slimline 27in screen with only the narrowest of borders running around the edges. But the resolution now rises to 3840x2160, with support for HDR - high dynamic range - so you can immerse yourself in bright, colourful 4K video on Netflix. The H277HK also has a built-in set of stereo speakers, with support for DTS sound, so it's a good option for watching films if you don't have room for a larger set of speakers.
The price is a little higher for this year's model, but remains good value for a 4K display. You've got a choice of HDMI and DisplayPort for video cables, and there's a USB-C port for charging your laptop and other devices. The USB-C can handle video too, but only at 2560x1440 resolution.
3. BenQ DesignVue PD2720U - Best Mid-Range Option For Graphics & Design
BenQ is known for its affordable monitors that are primarily aimed at home and office use, but it's moved a little more in the Mac direction with its recently introduced PD2720U 'designer monitor'. It's not the cheapest 4K monitor around, but it provides a number of high-end features aimed at professional designers and graphics work - while still being considerably cheaper than Apple's Pro Display.
As you'd expect, the 27in display provides 3840x2160 resolution, with support for HDR (high dynamic range). It supports 100% of the Adobe RGB and sRGB colour standards, so it'll be a good option for graphics and design work for both print and web. It also supports 96% of the DCI-P3 standard for professional-level video editing - which will be perfectly adequate for many users, who don't need Apple's super-expensive Pro Display.
BenQ pays good attention to detail too, with special 'darkroom' and 'animation' modes that allow you to quickly adjust brightness and contrast to enhance visibility for video and animation work. You can rotate the screen into the upright 'portrait' mode if you need to, and BenQ also includes a special little 'puck' device that allows you to adjust the display settings without pressing all those fiddly little buttons that normally control the onscreen menu system on most monitors.
It's well connected too, with both HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports for Mac users. There's a small set of speakers built in - just 2W output - but there's a headphone port as well, so you can leave your headphones plugged into the monitor when you need to grab your MacBook and hit the road.
4. Philips Brilliance 329P9H - Large-Screen Luxury
Philips has really gone to town with its range of 'docking monitors', and if you want to step up to an impressive 32in display without spending thousands then its Brilliance 329P9H is just the ticket.
To be precise, the 329P9H actually measures 31.5in diagonally, but it's still an imposing bit of kit, with its bright, sharp 4K resolution (3840x2160) emphasised by the almost borderless screen panel and welcome anti-glare coating. The screen sits elegantly on its adjustable pedestal stand, which allows you to tilt, swivel and adjust the height - and you can even rotate the screen into upright (portrait) mode too.
The image quality is great, and having all that screen space to play with feels indulgently luxurious. However, the 329P9H is more than just a pretty face, as this 'docking monitor' is also packed with useful features.
There are two HDMI inputs, one Display Port and one USB-C port - which can also be used to charge a laptop while it's connected to the display. There are also four USB-A (3.1) ports, which allow you to use the display as a USB hub for your printer, Time Machine hard drive and other accessories. It's got a set of built-in stereo speakers, along with a headphone socket, and there's even an Ethernet port so you can connect your Mac to a wired office network if you want to.
Throw in fancy features, such as a split-screen mode that allows you to connect and view two computers at the same time, and you've got a versatile, high-quality monitor that's hard to beat. If you don't need a full 4K monitor, there's a less expensive 27in model with 2560x1440 resolution and similar connectivity features.
5. AOC 22B22H - Best Bargain Option
AOC is best known for its eye-catching - and expensive - gaming monitors, but it also makes a range of 'basic' monitors for home and office use, including its brand new B2 range.
The 22B22H comes in at a bargain-basement price, and only has a fairly modest 1920x1080 resolution. It's neatly designed, though, with 'borderless' edges running around three sides of the screen, and its VA panel (vertical alignment) provides good contrast and bold colours for watching video or browsing the web.
Its colour reproduction may not be as precise as that of more expensive monitors that are aimed at design and graphics work, but the 22B22H will be fine if you just want an affordable monitor that you can connect to your MacBook or Mac mini. It also includes 'FlickerFree' and 'LowBlue' features that are designed to reduce eyestrain.
The AOC is definitely a bit basic when it comes to connectivity, though - with just HDMI and ye olde VGA connectors - so you'll need an HDMI adapter for current Macs that now use Thunderbolt or USB-C. There are no USB ports or built-in speakers either, but that's a lot to ask from a monitor at this price.
If you want something a little larger then there are 24in and 27in models too. All three have the same 1920x1080 resolution, but that'll be fine for basic office work and web browsing, or watching some streaming video at home.
6. Philips LCD Monitor 245E1S - Best Compact Office Monitor
Philips' 32in docking monitor is seriously tempting, but it is a little over-the-top for most people. If you're just looking for an affordable, high-quality display that you can use with a MacBook or Mac mini, the company's LCD Monitor 245E1S is a good, basic option.
This 24in display (23.8in, to be precise), provides 2560x1440 resolution, which is above average for a screen of this size, so it'll work well for streaming video, or editing some photos or videos for Instagram. There's also a less expensive version that only has standard HD resolution (1920x1080).
If you're working on the monitor all day long then there are 'flicker-free' and blue-light filters that help to ease eye strain. But there's a special gaming mode for home users too, with features designed for enhanced visibility in shoot-em-up games, and a 'racing' mode that adjusts response time for high-speed racing games.
It's not as well connected as its 32in big brother, though. It does have HDMI, DisplayPort and VGA interface, but there's no USB-C or Thunderbolt, so owners of most MacBooks will probably need to buy an adapter (and it's only the current Mac mini that still has HDMI built in). It doesn't have any built-in speakers either - although there is an audio output connector, which will allow you to connect a set of headphones or external speakers to the monitor if you want to.
Display technology is a bit of a movable feast, with a lot of confusing jargon and technical features to wade through, as well as a variety of different interfaces and cables that are used by Apple itself and the various monitor manufacturers. So it's worth taking a closer look at some of the factors that you need to think about when buying a monitor for your Mac.
Size isn't everything, as the saying goes - but it's a good place to start. If you're tight for space or money then the smallest monitor size that we'd recommend is 21in - which also happens to be the size of the smallest iMac models that Apple currently sells (21.5in, to be precise).
The 21.5in AOC 22B22H that we review here costs just £79.99, and has a resolution of 1920x1080, which is fine for watching high-def video on Netflix or the BBC iPlayer. There are plenty of 22in monitors available in the sub-£100/$100 price range too, while a basic 24in screen will push the price up towards £150/$150. Most of these low-cost monitors will stick with 1920x1080 resolution as well, although additional features such as built-in speakers and USB ports can get you nearer to the £400/$400 mark.
But, if you can afford it, we'd always recommend a larger, 27in screen. This is where things start to get a bit more complicated, as 27in screens can offer a wide range of different features. The cheaper 27in screens tend to have the same 1920x1080 resolution as their smaller counterparts. However, we reckon it's a bit of a waste to have a large screen with such a low resolution. The next step up is to opt for a 27in screen with a resolution of 2560x1440, which is about half the resolution of the latest 4K displays (at 3840x2160).
I've always found 2560x1440 to be very comfortable on the eyes - I used a 27in iMac with that resolution in the office for many years - so we'd be happy to stick with that size and resolution both for watching Netflix at home, and working in the office. A good 27in monitor with will cost £250-£400, with HP's Pavilion 27 sitting roughly in the middle of that price range.
If you want to watch Game Of Thrones in all its gory glory, however, you might prefer to step up to a more modern 4K display - and many professional and creative users now consider 4K to be essential for graphics, photography and video work. The first 4K screens cost £1,000/$1,000 or more, but prices now start at around half that, with Acer's H277HK being one of the cheapest we've come across.
If you're feeling flush, or you need a really large screen for graphics and video-editing work, then you might want to step all the way up to 32in. This is very much professional territory - and that includes professional, competitive gaming as well as graphics and design - but you don't have to spend £4,600/$5,000 on Apple's Pro Display: you can get an attractive 27in screen with 4K resolution, such as Acer's H277HK, for around a tenth of that.
If you do want to step right up to a 32in screen, there are plenty of alternatives to Apple's Pro Display, including Philip's 32in Brilliance 329P9H, which costs just under £800/$800 and includes a terrifically useful set of USB ports and connectors, along with its terrific 4K image quality.
Inputs and outputs
And that brings us to the often confusing issue of ports of connectors. The situation is particularly confusing right now as the traditional HDMI and DisplayPort connectors used by many monitors are now starting to be replaced - or complemented - by newer USB-C and Thunderbolt ports. And remember that although USB-C and Thunderbolt cables may look the same, there are actually some important technical differences between them, so it's important to check which ports your new monitor uses and make sure you buy the correct cables and adapters.
Most recent MacBook and iMac models only have Thunderbolt 3 ports - in fact, it's only the Mac mini that still includes HDMI - so if you buy a monitor that has HDMI or DisplayPort interfaces then you'll need an adapter to connect your Mac. This can get a bit confusing, but Apple does provide a list of the ports included on most recent Mac models so that you can figure out what you need.
Apple also provides a guide to HDMI and DisplayPort technology, which covers Mac models going right back to 2008, so that should provide all the info you need for all the Macs you use at home or at work.
Less expensive monitors still tend to use HDMI and DisplayPort, and while it's not too costly to buy adapters that will allow you to connect your Mac, we reckon it's worth future-proofing your new monitor by getting one that includes at least one USB-C or Thunderbolt port. As well as providing video connections, USB-C and Thunderbolt can be used to transfer data, and also to charge up your laptop and other devices, which mans that these modern monitors - like the Philips Brilliance - can also act as a versatile docking station for your Macs and iOS devices as well.
Read our article on how to connect a second screen to a Mac which explains everything you need to know about how to identify which ports you have, the adapters you will require, and how to set things up.
There's one last factor that you should think about as well - and it's one that Apple has traditionally ignored with its own monitors. If you're going to spend a lot of time sitting at a desk looking at your lovely new display then you need to keep ergonomics in mind - the ability to tilt the angle of the monitor back and forth, swivel it around for easy viewing, and adjust the height of the monitor in order to avoid an aching back or neck.
As a rough guide, there is a point at about 2 to 3in from the top of the screen that should be at eye level. Obviously, 'eye level' will vary from one person to another, so it's important that you can adjust the screen for your own personal comfort. You may also prefer a monitor that doesn't suffer from glare, or you will be forever repositioning the monitor (or your head) to compensate for that.