Best Monitor for Older MacBook Pros iMore 2020
MacBook Pros stand the test of time and typically last a lot longer than other laptops on the market. If you're looking for a monitor for your older machine, we recommend the LG 27UK850-W, which offers all the bells and whistles you need for a home environment. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
- Best Overall: LG 27UK850-W
- Best Value: Acer H277HU smidx
- Best Portable: AOC I1601FWUX (USB 3.0)
- Best Curved: LG 38WK95C-W
- Best Gaming: BenQ EW3270U
Best Overall: LG 27UK850-W
Great computer monitors offer robust color, brightness, and sharpness. On these three points, the LG 27UK850-W blew us away. We found the color spot-on and didn't require any additional fine-tuning during setup. In doing so, the monitor provides a natural extension to any workspace.
Speaking of setup, the entire process for the 27-inch monitor takes less than 10 minutes. The same speediness can't be said about other monitors on the market. We're also impressed with LG's decision to add multiple ports on this monitor. If your computer supports USB-C, stick with it. Otherwise, use the monitor's USB-A or HDMI ports. (The USB-C port supports 60W power transfer so you can charge your laptop during use.)
Not everything about this monitor is positive. For one, the monitor's 5W speakers are lackluster, at least. We live in a world where external speakers or headphones reign, so this probably won't matter. Given the price point for this monitor, however, we were expecting more. We're also unimpressed with the display's flimsy control stick next to the LG logo on the bottom bezel. The Pixel density on this monitor also uninspires, so creatives might want to look elsewhere.
- Multiple connectors
- Great performance
- Easy setup
- Poor speakers
- Weird onboard controls
- Weak pixel density
A great-looking monitor with a stunning display
Your Macbook Pro will love this monitor on nearly every crucial point. Look for discounts to bring the price down.
Best Value: Acer H277HU smidx
Not all 27-inch monitors are expensive. Case in point is this HD IPS model from Acer. With one of the thinnest bezels around, this monitor is ideal for students or anyone who expects to need an external monitor for their laptop on only an occasional basis. It gets the job done. It offers multiple ports, including HDMI, VGA, and DVI.
First, you'll need to purchase a USB-C to HDMI cable for the monitor to work with the newer MacBook Pros, however. The lower price means no power passthrough for your laptop, so reserve two power plugs for this arrangement. There's also the stand's limited adjustability that measures -5 to 15 degrees.
If you can get past these limitations, don't be shy about checking out this monitor. It looks great and should provide you with years of service.
- Beautiful monitor
- Amazing price
- Thin bezel
- No power passthrough
- Offers limited adjustability
- Must purchase an adapter to connect with USB-C
Great choice for students
You don't have to spend a fortune on an external monitor for your laptop.
Best Portable : AOC I1601FWUX (USB 3.0)
Portable monitors get the job done for folks on the go, especially business travelers who might sometimes appreciate a larger display than the MacBook Pro can provide. These types of monitors offer a good, not great, display appearance.
The 15.6-inch AOC portable monitor weighs less than two pounds and is only 8.5mm thick. It offers an IPS screen and full HD 1080p resolution and features a smart cover that protects it when not in use. You can use the cover as a screen holder in both portrait or landscape orientation. Also note the USB 3.0 cable offers both power and signal, which saves you from carrying more than one cable!
We love this monitor solely for its portability and price. Though it's one of the brightness portable monitors around (212.6 nits) and offers excellent color accuracy, it's color gamut lacks. And the stand isn't the sturdiest around. Regardless, for what it is, the monitor shines.
- Power and signal delivery via a single USB 3.0 cable
- Weighs just 1.81 pounds
- 1080p resolution only
- Wobbly stand
- Weak color gamut
Travelers, take note
Offering a bright display for less, this portable monitor is great in a pinch when a lightweight, larger screen is needed.
Best Curved : LG 38WK95C-W
The 38-inch LG 38WK95C-W UltraWide curved monitor is ideally suited for mirroring what's happening on your laptop or act as a secondary display. The result is a highly functional device that can also support the rest of Apple's lineup of laptops, plus the iPad Pro.
Offering a resolution of 3480-by-1600, the wide-screen monitor includes data transfer and 60W charging using USB-C. It also has two USB-A ports, two HDMI ports, and a DisplayPort. The 38WK95C-W also has a relatively decent set of speakers, a setup that's a breeze, and a joystick-style button at the bottom edge of the screen for monitor control that's a surprising joy to use!
Less impressive is the monitor's plastic backside that LG for some reason elected to make white. Luckily this odd design choice is only a problem if the monitor is sitting in the middle of a room. Also: the wide display isn't Retina; sometimes those extra pixels-per-inch are missed.
- Plenty of ports
- Well-designed base
- Screen resolution isn't as good as Retina
- White plastic backside
Here's a tremendous curved display that enhances the MacBook Pro experience. You'll miss the Retina, however.
Best Gaming : BenQ EW3270U
Finally, there's this 32-inch 4K HDR monitor from BenQ. Featuring low blue light and flicker-free technology to reduce eye strain, this monitor is an excellent choice for Mac gamers who need a bigger screen. Besides a USB-C port, the monitor offers two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.2, and a 3.5mm audio out.
With AMD Freesync technology, this monitor has done a great job of removing broken frames, image tearing, and choppy gameplay often associated with external monitors. However, this is still a sub-$400, so you should expect some drawbacks starting with the poorly designed speakers. We're also shaking our heads over the confusing control panel and missing power passthrough.
Despite these limitations, we like this monitor immensely. The EW3270U covers 100 percent of Rec. 709 and 95 percent of DCI-P3 standards. Yes, the colors are accurate, and the 4K content is wonderfully rendered.
- Offers USB-C, HDMI 2.0, and DP1.4
- AMD FreeSync
- 95% DCI-P3
- No power supply passthrough
- Poor built-in speakers
- Onboard controls difficult to use
Look at that color!
This 4K monitor provides a nice balance between features and price. Though limitations remain, for most gamers, this one will work very nicely.
If you're in the market for an external monitor for your MacBook Pro, you'll quickly notice there's a wide selection from which to choose. Our favorite model, the LG 27UK850-W, is a terrific choice for anyone looking for a great performance monitor at a fair price. Yes, it has weird onboard controls and lackluster speakers. Most external monitors do, unfortunately. I appreciate the beautiful colors, brightness, and sharpness instead.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe
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