MacBook Pro might be a very satisfying product but the need for a high-end screen is always there. A lot of people prefer using an external monitor with the MacBook Pro and there are a lot of advantages in using such a setup. First of all, the size of the screen is a major advantage, as you can use screens with more than twice the size of the screen of MacBook Pro. Secondly, the user can easily select the external screen as per the requirements.
The most important specifications of an external monitor for general masses are the size, resolution, and the refresh rate of the screen. For professional color-critical users, the color space support and uniformity of the screen are the most vital components. Apart from these specifications, things like contrast ratio, maximum brightness level, HDR support, and Adaptive Sync play a great role in the quality of an external monitor. Gamers might also be interested in response times, as that leads to the overall input lag of the monitor. In this article, we will look at some of the best monitors for MacBook Pro, which will lighten up your moods in unimaginable ways.
1. ASUS ProArt PA32UC
Our Rating: 9.8/10
- Top of the line color support
- Premium build quality
- 384-zone Local Dimming for HDR10
- Bad quality internal speakers
- Extremely pricey
Screen Size: 32 Inches | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Pixel Per Inch (PPI): 137 | Curvature: N/A | Panel: IPS | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, 1 x Display Port, 4 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Mini-Jack, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-B, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C | HDR: HDR10 | Static Contrast Ratio: 1000 :1 | Colors: 1.07 Billion | Color Space Support: 85% Rec. 2020 | Brightness: 1000 cd / mm² (Peak) | Response Time: 5 ms | Adaptive-Sync : Yes
Here we are, with ASUS ProArt PA32UC as the first product on our list. This screen is one of the latest screens of ASUS which is dedicated towards professional users. The design of the screen is fairly better than similarly priced professional monitors, as it provides thin bezels on three sides while the bottom of the screen has a slightly larger bezel and hosts the ASUS logo at the center. The monitor is not very thin but still looks very nice, thanks to the beautiful textured looks at the back. The stand of the monitor also feels quite premium, as it uses silver color and offers tilt, swivel, height adjustment, and pivot. The monitor supports ThunderBolt3 too, which is a huge plus point for MacBook Pro users and there are not a lot of screens that offer ThunderBolt3.
The panel of the screen is a 32-inch IPS panel with 3840 x 2160 resolution while having a refresh rate of 60 Hz. A unique feature of the screen is that it supports up to 85% of Rec. 2020 color space, which is why it provides much more vibrant colors than most of the screens. The professional users should stay relieved that it provides a lot of pre-calibrated profiles, such as sRGB and Adobe RGB, etc.
The monitor also supports HDR10 and provides 384-zone dynamically local dimming, with a peak brightness level of 1000 cd / mm², which results in jaw-dropping image quality. The response time of the monitor is also pretty good at around 5ms and one cannot feel any type of input lag when using this screen. There are two 3w speakers within the monitor, which are horrible and we will recommend not to use them at all.
Overall, this monitor is one of the best monitors to work on images and video editing and supports a lot of color spaces, which is why we will recommend you this monitor only if can pay for the price, as it is a lot more expensive than other 4K monitors in the market.
2. ViewSonic ColorPro VP2785-4K
Our Rating: 9.5/10
- 14-bit Look Up Table
- Little to no backlight bleeding
- Comes factory calibrated
- Does not provide variable refresh rate
- Slow response time
Screen Size: 27 Inches | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Pixel Per Inch (PPI): 163 | Curvature: N/A | Panel: IPS | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Ports: 1 x Mini Display Port, 1 x Display Port, 2 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Out, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-B, 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C | HDR: HDR10 | Static Contrast Ratio: 1000 :1 | Colors: 1.07 Billion | Color Space Support: 99% Adobe RGB | Brightness: 350 cd / mm² | Response Time: 7 ms | Adaptive-Sync : N/A
ViewSonic has improved a lot in recent years and it is currently one of the top most companies when it comes to high-quality professional screens or even high-end gaming screens. ViewSonic VP2785-4K is from the awarded VP series and is one of the finest models among the VP series. The monitor provides sleek looks on the front, with bezel-less design on three sides, however, the back of the monitor is not as good looking as the Asus PA32UC. The stand looks well enough and supports all the four basic functions i.e. tilt, pivot, height adjustment, and swivel.
The monitor features a 27-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and refresh rate of 60 Hz. The color capabilities of this monitor are quite close to the ASUS PA32UC, with 99% Adobe RGB color space support. The 14-bit Look Up Table results in smooth color transitioning and one cannot possibly notice color banding in this monitor. There are many color spaces available to choose, which provides ease of use to professional users.
The monitor does support HDR10 content but the contrast ratio of the monitor is not that high to provide spectacular results. The default response time of the monitor is fairly high, at around 14ms GTG but can be reduced to half i.e. 7ms through Overdrive. The overdrive introduces a bit of ghosting, which is why if you are not much of a gamer then we will advise you not to use Overdrive. In fact, this monitor should not be used as a gaming monitor as all, as it does not support any of the Adaptive Sync technologies.
Conclusively, we will say that this monitor is a great alternative to the Asus PA32UC if you are not interested in the HDR content, as this monitor provides similar color support at half the price, although features five inches smaller panel.
3. Samsung CF791
Our Rating: 9.3/10
- 1500R curvature feels out of the world
- Quantum dot technology provides lifelike colors
- 100Hz refresh rate feels ultra-smooth
- Does not provide HDR
- Requires adapter to work with MacBook Pro
Screen Size: 34 Inches | Resolution: 3440 x 1440 | Pixel Per Inch (PPI): 109 | Curvature: 1500R | Panel: VA | Refresh Rate: 100 Hz | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Ports: 1 x Display Port, 2 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-B, 2 x USB Type-A | HDR: N/A | Static Contrast Ratio: 3000 :1 | Colors: 16.7 Million | Color Space Support: 125% sRGB | Brightness: 300 cd / mm² | Response Time: 4 ms | Adaptive-Sync : AMD FreeSync
Samsung is no doubt a wonderful company, manufacturing tons of wonderful electronic devices that are used all over the world. Samsung CF791 is one beast of a monitor that can be used for a lot of applications. First of all, let’s talk about the physical appearance of the monitor. This monitor is one of the most beautiful monitors we have ever seen, offering professional looks while entertaining with a lot of features for home use. A disadvantage of using this monitor with MacBook Pro is that it requires a Type-C to DisplayPort adapter, which must be bought separately.
The panel of the monitor has a 1500R curvature, which is quite sharper than most of the other screens which use 1800R or higher curvature. This creates a lot of immersion in the display and due to ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio, the screen feels absolute beauty. The circular stand of the monitor uses a similar theme to that of the screen but does not provide height adjustment, which might be a deal-breaker for some people, although the monitor does support VESA standard, so you can use your own stand instead of the default one.
The monitor features a 34-inch VA panel with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and hosts a high refresh rate of 100 Hertz. This refresh rate is a huge improvement over the 60 Hz refresh rate of most of the 4K monitors and there is a noticeable difference in terms of smoothness. A particularly unique feature of the monitor is that it supports wide-gamut color space, thanks to the Quantum Dot technology and along with a high contrast ratio of 3000:1, the image quality is very sharp and vibrant.
This is one the only screens at this time which supports a higher refresh rate than 60 Hz while having wide-gamut color space. The viewing angles of this screen are definitely not as good as an IPS panel but one cannot notice the color-shift if sitting in front of the screen and that is where the curved panel plays a big role. The response time of the monitor is quite good at 4ms and no doubt this monitor can serve greatly as a gaming monitor due to having AMD FreeSync, especially if you intend to use it with both MacBook Pro and Windows-PC. The monitor does not support HDR, which is a bit disappointing for such a wonderful monitor and the default brightness of the monitor is also not very impressive at only 300 cd / mm².
We will say that this is a heavenly monitor for the price and should definitely be considered if you do not have extremely color-critical tasks, as the color uniformity of this monitor is not as good as professional monitors.
4. Acer ProDesigner PE320QK
Our Rating: 9.2/10
- HDR Xpert feels really vivid
- Comes with hoods to prevent glare
- The FreeSync range is wide
- Does not offer uniformity compensation
- Edge backlight limits contrast
Screen Size: 31.5 Inches | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Pixel Per Inch (PPI): 139 | Curvature: N/A | Panel: IPS | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Ports: 1 x Display Port, 2 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack, 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C | HDR: HDR Xpert | Static Contrast Ratio: N/A | Colors: 1.07 Billion | Color Space Support: 95% DCI-P3 | Brightness: 550 cd / mm² | Response Time: 4 ms | Adaptive-Sync : AMD FreeSync
Acer ProDesigner PE320QK is a great monitor, which is targeted towards designers, as the name suggests. This one of the latest monitors by Acer for professional users and provides amazing design, with extremely thin bezels on all four sides. Moreover, the sides and top of the monitor can be hooked up with hoods which will protect the screen from anti-glare and can also provide extra privacy. The stand of the monitor is not very stylish but does support all the four functions, however, the base could have been a bit bigger for a more stable setup.
The monitor features a 32-inch 4K IPS panel with a refresh rate of 60Hz and provides 1.07 Billion colors, thanks to the 10-bit color depth. The color support of this monitor matches that of the Asus ProArt and ViewSonic VP2785-4K, with covering 95% of DCI-P3 color space. The response time is better than most of the professional 4K monitors, at only 4ms and with the inclusion of FreeSync with LFC, this screen can be used as a gaming monitor too, if you use it with a high-end Windows PC, as the MacBook Pro will not be able to drive this monitor with smooth frame rates. Acer has implemented HDR Xpert technology in this monitor, which uses edge backlighting and is not as good as the 384-zone local dimming used in Asus PA32UC, although somewhat better than other HDR monitors.
We recommend this monitor if you are not very serious about professional image and video editing, as this monitor does not provide uniformity compensation, although the uniformity level of the screen does not feel bad in any way.
5. LG 27UD88-W
Our Rating: 9/10
- Provides great value for the price
- High PPI leads to sharper images
- Uses a firm stand
- Does not offer wide-gamut color space
- No built-in speakers
Screen Size: 27 Inches | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Pixel Per Inch (PPI): 163 | Curvature: N/A | Panel: IPS | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Ports: 1 x Display Port, 2 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack, 2 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C | HDR: N/A | Static Contrast Ratio: N/A | Colors: 1.07 Billion | Color Space Support: 99% sRGB | Brightness: 350 cd / mm² (Peak) | Response Time: 5 ms | Adaptive-Sync: AMD FreeSync
LG 27UD88-W is the last product on our list and we have included this product as a cheaper alternative to the other monitors we have mentioned. The design of the monitor does not feel cheap in any way and provides a bezel-less panel on three sides while using a beautifully crafted large stand which keeps the screen really firm. The back of the monitor provides smooth white-color cover, which looks pleasant. Since this monitor provides USB Type-C port, it can be natively connected with the MacBook Pro through a USB Type-C cable.
The monitor provides a 27-inch 2160p IPS panel with a PPI of 163, which leads to very sharp images. Unfortunately, this monitor does not support other color spaces than the sRGB color space, which is why if your workspace is out of the sRGB color space then this monitor should not be on your list, although the response time of 5ms and AMD FreeSync lets this monitor be used as a gaming monitor. There are no built-in speakers in this monitor, which was expected from a monitor at such a cheap price.
Overall, we recommend this monitor if you are not a professional image or video editor and want to buy a high-end monitor to enjoy movies and other content on your MacBook Pro.
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.