Currently* there’s no home-grown Apple monitor available for ‘headless’ Mac models, such as the Mac mini and the Mac Pro. And, of course, many MacBook owners also like to have a larger monitor in their office that will provide a bit more screen real estate for tasks such as video-editing or photography, or for working on some big spreadsheets in Excel.
A larger screen can come in handy for iPads and other mobile devices too. There are plenty of professional-level graphics and design apps available for the iPad that can benefit from a larger display. Or maybe you just want to put your feet up and binge-watch House Of Cards on a larger screen.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on 4K or 5K displays either. If you just want to watch streaming video on Netflix or YouTube then there are plenty of affordable HD displays with standard 1920×1080 resolution that will fit the bill nicely.
A simple 21-inch display may cost £100 or less, but many of us are used to working on larger screens these days, so we’ve tended to focus on 25-inch models and larger here. Even so, there’s plenty of choice, ranging from less than £200, right up to £1,200 for LG’s amazing new 38-inch curved display.
(*Apple discontinued its range of displays in 2016, leading most to assume that the company was pulling out of that market. However, in April 2017 Apple announced its plans to produce an Apple monitor to sit alongside the also promised Mac Pro when it launches at some point in 2018 or 2019. We have an article that discusses what new features the new Apple monitor may bring with it here).
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.
Inputs and outputs
Monitors are traditionally connected to computers via a VGA or DVI connection, Apple’s favoured Thunderbolt 2 (which is backwards compatible with Mini DisplayPort) 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.
There’s also a new port in town – some new Macs are now shipping with Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C ports (it’s the same port and it supports both standards). So you can expect to see lots of new displays that plug into this new port.
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.
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 adaptors you will require, and how to set things up on your Mac.
This is the other important factor to bear in mind when choosing your monitor. If you are going to spend a lot of time sat at a desk looking at your new display then you need to keep ergonomics in mind, or you might end up with neck or back ache.
Ideally, look for monitors that are adjustable – you’ll want to make sure that the monitor is positioned so that you can comfortably look at the screen. There is a point at about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the screen that should be at eye level.
You also want to look for monitors that won’t suffer from glare, or you will be forever repositioning the monitor (or your head) to compensate for it.
With all that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best monitor for your Mac in 2017.
You should also check out the best keyboards for Mac. We also have: How to rotate the screen on a Mac.