The M1 series from Apple has been a huge hit. The devices are incredibly powerful and do good entertainment and functionality. However, the Mac mini does not come with a monitor, and the smaller screens of the M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air aren’t the best for gaming, video editing, or other intensive tasks. Hence, a new monitor can be a good investment.
This is why I’ve curated a list of the best external monitors for M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, according to varied budgets and needs. Let’s take a look!
1. Apple 32-inch Pro Display XDR – Editor’s choice
If you’re looking for a monitor to suffice your office and entertainment needs and want to stay within the Apple ecosystem, there’s no better monitor than Apple’s 32-inch Pro Display XDR monitor.
Think about every facet that makes a monitor great. Apple has taken all of these facets and pushed them to their extremes. Apart from the sleek looks of the monitor, it comes with a 6K Retina Display to produce some of the sharpest images that you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Further, instead of the usual High Dynamic Range (HDR) that you get in most monitors, Apple’s monitor provides you with Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR). This provides accurate color reproduction.
The monitor’s brightness is up to 1600 nits, with 1000 nits of sustained brightness. Despite this brightness level, you won’t notice any inaccuracies or problems with the contrast and saturation.
If you add the Pro Stand, you can change the monitor’s height, rotation, and tilt. It not only saves you space but also helps you adjust the viewing angles.
The Pro Stand is overpriced, however. While the monitor itself is good enough, you will have to shell out for the stand if you want to use this monitor in different environments.
- 6K Retina Display
- Best color reproduction
- 1600 nits of brightness doesn’t disrupt picture quality
- Build quality is decent
- Pro Stand is sold separately
2. Samsung M5 – Best overall FHD monitor
While 4K might be all the rage now, FHD monitors still do the trick. Moreover, they don’t cost a fortune. SAMSUNG M5 may be one of the best FHD monitors that you can buy right now.
Apart from the sleek look that would fit in with any Apple-centric setup, it’s also got AirPlay 2 built-in. This means that you can cast your MacBook’s screen directly onto the TV wirelessly. The monitor can also function as an external display.
For your entertainment needs, the Samsung Smart Hub also offers streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, and HBO. The 21:9 aspect ratio is a boon for gamers who want a higher field of view for their shooting games. The in-built speakers also do a decent job for most entertainment purposes.
I wish that the manufacturers worked more on the build quality, though. Clearly, they’ve cut corners here to make the monitor affordable.
- Sleek looks adjust well with Apple setups
- AirPlay 2 provided
- Streaming services provided through Smart Hub
- 21:9 aspect ratio
- Build quality not satisfactory
3. LG 27UN850-W – Best overall 4K monitor
This LG monitor is the best UHD monitor that you can buy for your M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook mini, or MacBook Air. Here’s why:
The Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160) delivers mighty accurate colors, and the viewing angles are great. The build quality of the monitor is satisfactory as well. Moreover, the stand provided with the monitor can be used for adjusting the height and tilt of the monitor to suit your liking,
For gamers, there are advanced settings such as Radeon’s FreeSync, Dynamic Action Sync, and a proper Game Mode. Gamers won’t find any complaints, especially when playing the most demanding racing games or action games.
There are multiple ports for the monitor, including an HDMI port and the USB-C port for connecting your Mac.
The in-built speakers leave a lot to be desired, however. While we can’t expect the best performance from a monitor’s speakers, LG could’ve done better here. You’re much better off connecting to external speakers.
- Accurate color reproduction
- Good viewing angles
- Great for gaming
- Multiple ports provided
- Low quality speakers
4. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q – Best for power users
As a 4K monitor, this offering from Dell is a great alternative to other, more expensive 4K monitors. It may not be Thunderbolt-issued, but it’s still got plenty of features.
The USB-C port provided with the monitor can also power delivery up to 90watts. This means that once you plug in your Mac, it not only works as an external monitor but also as a charger.
The monitor also comes with three USB-A ports and an HDMI port for your docking and entertainment needs. The supported refresh rate of 60Hz may not be the best in business, but it’s more than enough for most purposes.
The stand provided with the monitor is satisfactory and can change the monitor’s orientation both horizontally and vertically. The monitor’s bezel and overall build quality aren’t great, though, especially at this price segment.
- USB-C port provides 90W power supply
- 3 USB-A ports and HDMI port
- Provided monitor stand is satisfactory
- Build quality isn’t good for the price
- Doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port
5. BenQ PD3220U – Best for editing and gaming
The BenQ PD3220U is one of the most underrated 4K monitors in the market right now. If you’re into video editing or gaming, give this one a try.
Not only is the monitor Thunderbolt 3 capable, but it also uses AQCOLOR technology to produce some of the sharpest and most color-accurate images. The screen size is 32-inch, and the bezels are made thin to increase the screen’s area.
Since many spend hours gaming, the monitor also comes with blue light and ZeroFlicker to eliminate screen tearing and the strain on the eyes. You can use this monitor for extended periods without facing any issues.
However, many users have faced firmware issues with this monitor. So you should be wary of this before purchasing.
- Thunderbolt 3 capable
- Plenty of software to remove screen tearing and flickering
- Thin bezels for greater screen availability
- Users have faced a few firmware issues
6. Dell S3222HN – Curved FHD monitor
4K monitors are turning into the norm, but good FHD monitors can still provide a bang for their buck. This Dell monitor is an elegant offering for those who don’t want to spend exorbitantly on a monitor.
The screen size is 31.5-inch, and the frame is elegantly curved to eliminate distractions. The 3000:1 contrast ratio produces true blacks and accurate colors. Moreover, the screen’s refresh rate of 75Hz is brought by AMD’s FreeSync technology.
Don’t worry about your eye fatigue either – the monitor is stacked with ComfortView technology that eliminates blue light emissions.
The 1920 x 1080 resolution turns slightly grainy with the 75Hz refresh rate. That’s why I’d recommend you to stick to video editing or official works with this monitor. You may not have a satisfying gaming experience on this screen.
- Elegant design
- Color reproduction is superior to competitors
- 75Hz refresh rate
- Ideal for office work
- The resolution quality decreases at the highest refresh rate
7. BenQ MOBIUZ EX2710S – FHD gaming monitor
Gaming monitors with 4K resolutions can be terribly expensive. Thankfully, a good HD gaming monitor won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The BenQ MOBIUZ EX2710S is an option you could check out.
Not only is this monitor powered by AMD’s FreeSync technology, but it also comes with a monstrous 165Hz resolution for crisp and fast display, especially when you’re playing the latest games.
Other technological facets such as BenQ HDRi, Black eQualizer, and Light Tuner combine to provide you with a superior gaming experience. The stand allows you to adjust the height and angle of the monitor as well.
I didn’t like the attached speakers, however. The 2.5 Watt output isn’t good enough for gaming. You will have to use external speakers with this monitor to have a better gaming experience.
- High refresh rate at 165Hz
- Very accurate color reproduction
- Included monitor stand is sturdy and adjusts well
- Poor quality speakers
8. SAMSUNG J791 – Best looking monitor
Curved monitors have become popular over the past few years. The SAMSUNG J791 is a curved monitor that has been making waves recently.
The screen stands large at 34 inches, and the curved display helps increase the immersion for your work. It also supports Thunderbolt 3, and this means that data transfer from your Mac to the monitor will be 4x faster than using a standard USB.
With this monitor, you can open as many tabs as you want without the fear of running out of screen space. Moreover, the QLED screen provides superior color reproduction.
The build quality could’ve been better, though – the monitor’s frame feels slightly cheap and flimsy.
- Beautiful design
- Curved screen
- Thunderbolt 3 supported
- QLED screen
- Build quality should’ve been better at this price
9. LG Ultragear 27GN95B-B – Best 4K gaming monitor
This monitor from LG is a beast for gaming at 4K. If you’ve got the money to spare, this is definitely worth checking out.
The UHD display provides crisp colors at the highest of resolutions, especially with the latest games in the market. Moreover, the 144Hz refresh rate combines with Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync technology to eliminate all forms of screen tearing.
The bezels of the monitor are so thin that they’re virtually non-existent. Thus, providing you with the maximum screen estate possible.
It can be slightly difficult to set up, though, especially since you’ll have to enable the 144Hz refresh rate through Nvidia’s G-Sync options.
- 144Hz refresh rate
- Crisp Display and accurate colors
- Thin bezels
- Difficult to set up
10. Lenovo L27M-28 – Best budget monitor
This Lenovo monitor is up for serious consideration if you’re low on budget. For the price, it’s power-packed with features.
The screen is a 27-inch IPS panel that produces good colors and has excellent viewing angles. The screen isn’t marred with huge bezels either – three sides of the screen have extremely thin bezels for more viewing pleasure.
The monitor has VGA, USB-C, and HDMI ports available. The USB-C port can also be used for charging your devices.
Finally, if you plan to play games with this monitor, you shouldn’t be facing too many issues as it comes with AMD’s FreeSync technology and a 75Hz refresh rate for the optimum gaming experience.
The size of the monitor is pretty big, however. If you plan to use another monitor in the future for a dual setup, this monitor may not be for you.
- Superb viewing angles
- Thin bezels
- Multiple ports provided
- USB-C port can charge devices
- 75Hz refresh rate
- Bulky frame
- Not ideal for dual monitor setups
We like the idea of bigger screens for both entertainment and workspaces now. Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or work on multiple tabs, I’ve tried to cover all bases in this list of the best monitors for M1 MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, and MacBook Air.
Do you use any FHD, 4K, or 6K monitors for your work or entertainment? How has your experience been using external monitors for your Mac? Let me know in the comment section below.
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Anirban is a literature post-grad who delves in philosophy and postmodern novels when not writing on tech and gaming. His love for research is only trumped by his love for chai and heavy metal.