What should I buy instead of the Thunderbolt Display?

Apple has discontinued the Thunderbolt Display, but in its place come worthy alternatives, and Apple's even had a hand in one of them!

But if you're in the market for a lightning-quick (you see what I did there) display, fear not. Even an Apple spokesperson said, "There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users."

If you're using the latest MacBook Pro, then you'll also want to check out our favorite USB-C monitors

Check out our favorites.

Compatibility check

Before you jump on any of the options in our roundup, you first need to double-check your Thunderbolt port. Unless you have Thunderbolt 2.0 or 3.0 ports on your Mac, then there's no sense in you buying a 4K display, since the Thunderbolt 1.0 standard doesn't support it. It just doesn't have the bandwidth for all those pixels.

Not all Macs with Thunderbolt 2.0 will support 4K. Here are the ones that do:

  • MacBook Pro: Retina, 13-inch, 15-inch, mid-2014 and later
  • Mac Pro: late 2013 and later
  • iMac: 27-inch, late 2013 and later
  • MacBook Air: Early 2015 and later

If you have anything earlier than any of the above devices, you can still find an awesome display; just don't buy 4K.

LG UltraFine 5K display

LG UltraFine 5K

Connections:

  • Thunderbolt 3
  • USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1, 5gbps) (x3)

UltraFine is really the best way to describe this beauty, with its P3 color gamut and great features, like stereo speakers, a camera and microphone, an adjustable stand, and more. If you have the latest MacBook Pro, you can even use this monitor as a charging station, powering your MacBook while accepting audio and video (isn't USB-C amazing?!).

Yes, you'll likely have to live the #donglelife, since so many devices have yet to adopt USB-C, but it's more than worth it, with over 14.7 million pixels in just a 27-inch screen. A Thunderbolt 3 cable is included, so all you have to do is plug in and go. Yup, it's pricy as hell (around $1000), but if resolution and picture are most important to you, then there's no question that this is the display for you.

Be sure to check out Rene Ritchie's first impressions!

See at Apple

Dell UltraSharp InfinityEdge (U2717D)

Dell UltraSharp 27-inch InfinityEdge (U2717D)

Connections:

  • DisplayPort (1.2a)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI/MHL
  • DisplayPort out
  • USB 3.0 (including a port for charging devices)(x5)
  • Audio-out (3.5mm)

Dell's UltraSharp line is a standout through and through, and the 27-inch InfinityEdge monitor is easily top dog. InfinityEdge denotes the fact that there is barely any bezel, making it seem like the monitor is floating before you, which is not only gorgeous at 2560x1440, but helps you focus more on the task at hand.

Rather unlike Apple's Thunderbolt Display, Dell's UltraSharp InfinityEdge is covered in an anti-glare coating, which means you can go ahead and crack a window while you work, as it's not going to turn into a mirror in bright conditions.

Also refreshingly unlike Apple's Thunderbolt Display is the UltraSharp's ability to swivel, tilt, and adjust its height. Any orientation your heart desires and be achieved by the U2715H

The U2717D's IPS panel should also be noted. These panels arrange the liquid crystal molecules horizontally, which makes for excellent viewing at side angles and fantastic color depth.

At 27 inches, Dell's UltraSharp matches the Thunderbolt Display and is an excellent alternative to (and upgrade from) it. If you're looking for a powerful all-day monitor, the UltraSharp 27-inch InfinityEdge monitor is the one to go with.

See at Dell

Dell UltraSharp (U2715H)

Dell UltraSharp 27-inch InfinityEdge (U2717D)

Connections:

  • DisplayPort (1.2a)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • HDMI/MHL (x2)
  • DisplayPort-out
  • USB 3.0 (including a port for charging devices)(x5)
  • Audio-out (3.5mm)

The U2715H is the U2717D's predecessor and is just about on par with this year's model. It features all the connections you could want and its 2560x1440 resolution will render images and video beautifully and accurately.

This monitor is also quick as a bunny, with its 8ms response time. Response time is how long it takes for you to perform a physical action and then see it on the display. Can you count 8ms? Me neither.

There's no need for cumbersome AC adapters, since the U2715H has an internal power supply, leaving your desk and the floor around it uncluttered. This display doesn't sport an infinity edge, but the minor bezel shouldn't be a distraction, especially thanks to its black matte finish.

At the moment, the biggest thing separating the U2715H from the U2717D is price – It's around $90 cheaper before sales and protection plans. You could spend that money on any number of peripheral devices, so if you don't have to have the latest model, you can still have the greatest in the U2715H.

See at Amazon

Ben Q GW Series GW2765HT

Ben Q GW Series GW2765HT 27-Inch

Connections:

  • D-sub
  • DVI-DL
  • DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • Audio-out (3.5mm)
  • Audio-in

If you're on a budget, then Ben Q is the way to go with its 27-inch LED-lit monitor, starting around $350. It features a 2560x1440 resolution, which competes with any of the top monitors in its class and its IPS panel gives it excellent viewing angles. If you're jumping back and forth between desks and need to be constantly referencing the screen, you'll have a much better time without having to look at it head-on.

A quirkier feature, as is often seen in less expensive monitors, is the inclusion of speakers in this display. No headphones? No problem; the built-in 1W speakers can offer decent audio when you're in a jam (though I wouldn't use them for much else).

If you're after a beautiful display that goes hard on functionality but light on your wallet, then BenQ is your brand and the GW2765HT is your monitor.

See at Amazon

ASUS PB278Q

ASUS PB278Q

Connections:

  • HDMI
  • D-Sub
  • DisplayPort (1.2a)
  • Dual-link DVI-D
  • PC audio-in (3.5mm)
  • AV audio-in 1.4
  • Audio-out (3.5mm)

What's a monitor roundup without an entry from ASUS? The PB278Q is a powerhouse with its 2560x1440 display, which boasts a 178-degree viewing angle, thanks to its powerful IPS panel.

If you're into audio, then this is the monitor for you, featuring two audio-in ports (3.5mm and 1.4mm), a headphone jack, and two 3W speakers. The speakers, of course, shouldn't be your go-to for audio editing and won't cut it at all for audiophiles, but if you're taking a break with a YouTube video or simply watching back a video project, they'll more than do the trick.

Like any great monitor, you can adjust the PB278Q's height, as well as swivel it, tilt it, and enjoy it in just about any orientation.

If you're doing any video editing, animating, or light gaming of any kind, then the ASUS PB278Q is powerful, more-than-capable monitor.

See at Amazon

Dell Ultra HD 4K P2715Q

Dell Ultra HD 4K P2715Q 27-Inch

Connections:

  • USB 3.0 Type A (x4)
  • USB 3.0 Type B
  • HDMI/MHL
  • DisplayPort
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • DisplayPort-out
  • Audio-out (3.5mm)

This list may seem a little Dell-heavy, but if you're after the best, then we're gonna give it to you. It made it on our list of the best 4K monitors for Mac, so it easily makes this one.

The Dell P2715Q is the 27-inch monitor that you've lusted after in catalogues and online. This is a powerhouse monitor that can be oriented in just about any way you like, thanks to its ability to tilt and swivel and its adjustable height. You can even switch from portrait to landscape orientation and anything in between (if, for some reason, you like to work at a Dutch tilt. We won't judge.).

Extremely quick for 4K, the P2715Q has a 9ms response time, so you won't notice any mouse lag or space between clicks. In-plane switching (IPS) saves the day again, giving this monitor excellent viewing from the sides with little-to-no degradation in color (depending on how steep your angle is).

If you're into 4K and you like a plethora of connection options, then the Dell P2715Q is a solid a reliable option.

See at Dell

What do you use?

What are you using in lieu of the Thunderbolt Display? Are you just hoping for a 4K or 5K successor? Sound off in the comments below!