This is an easy-to-follow guide aimed at folks who are in the market for an external display for their MacBook or MacBook Pro. These laptops feature USB-C ports exclusively, so if you want to hook them up to a display without the need for dongles, you’ll need to find one that supports the tech.
Since the USB-C port is relatively new, there aren’t a ton of monitors out there that are compatible with it just yet. But as usual we’ve taken the time to track down the best USB-C monitors for MacBook and MacBook Pro available, based on a variety of factors, including price, features, expert and user reviews, and of course our own experiences.
As aforementioned, Apple’s latest MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops feature USB-C ports—and only USB-C ports. The 12-inch Retina MacBook has one, the entry level 13-inch MacBook Pro has two, and all other MacBook Pro models have four. There are plenty of cables, dongles and adapters out there that will allow you to go, say from USB-C to HDMI or DisplayPort, but those wanting a simple, out-of-the-box connection will want to look at USB-C compatible displays.
And really, other than the fact that it’s a newer (and therefore, not yet widely available) bit of tech, USB-C isn’t a bad thing. The connectors are reversible, so you don’t have to worry about your cables being upside down, and it’s extremely versatile, capable of transferring everything from data, to video—even power. In fact, if you can find a USB-C display that meets your feature and price requirements, it’s easily the best way to go. One cable, great image and sound quality, no adapters.
What to look for in a USB-C display
The answer to this question is fairly straightforward. First, obviously, you’ll want to make sure the monitor meets all of your needs: is it the right size and price? Does it have the features you want like built-in speakers or USB 3.0 ports? Once you’ve determined these things, it should be easy to narrow down your options.
There is one other thing to look for: USB-C PD or Power Delivery. This means you can connect one USB-C cable, from your laptop to your monitor, for both external display and power. Without it you’ll need a USB-C cable from your laptop to the display, and a second USB-C cable connected to your power brick. That also means you’re taking up two of your laptops USB-C ports—which is all you have in some models. So if possible, look for the USB-C PD symbol and ensure it’s rated for your laptop’s power supply.
Hopefully we can help you answer a lot of these questions below. Here are some of the best USB-C displays/monitors available right now.
The best USB-C monitors
LG UltraFine 4K 21-inch
With a stunning 4096-by-2304 resolution, the 21.5-inch LG UltraFine 4K Display brings your favorite photos and videos to life. Features include 3 downstream USB-C ports, a pass-through charging USB-C port for charging your MacBook or MacBook Pro, and built-in speakers. This monitor is quite expensive for its size, but given its features and the fact that it was developed in partnership with Apple, it’s definitely worth checking out.
LG 27UD88 4K 27-inch
This 27-inch LG monitor has a standard 4K definition of 3840×2160 and is chock-full of features. It benefits from software like Color Calibration, on-screen controls, Split Screen 2.0 (customize your monitor layout with 14 options, including PiP) and FreeSync support. It also has USB 3.0 ports, with Quick Charge support, and has a pass-through USB-C port so you can connect it to your laptop for a one-cable charge/data/video solution.
Acer H277HU 27-inch
The Acer H7 Series 27-inch IPS display isn’t 4K (2560×1440), but it gets high praise for its wide viewing angles and nearly bezel-less display. It’s perfect for folks wanting to put multiple monitors side-by-side. It also has a sturdy, magnetic paperclip stand, built-in speakers, and a plethora of ports including HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.0 (2x), and a USB 3.1 Type-C port for ultra-fast transfer of power, data and hi-res video audio.
Lenovo ThinkVision X1 4K 27-inch
This ultra-slim 4K monitor from Lenovo has a sharp design to match its sharp 3840×2160 panel. And it has the features to back it all up, with a built-in camera, built-in microphone and built-in stereo speakers. Other features include an elegant metal stand, HDMI port, DisplayPort, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a fully functional USB-C 3.1 port.
HP Envy 4K 27-inch
The HP Envy’s 27-inch 4K panel with micro-bezels complements an elegant design that does more than look incredible – it powers your PC or mobile device. Features include ultra-wide 178-degree viewing angles, 10 million : 1 contrast ration, 5ms max response rate, dual HDMI ports, and a USB-C port that delivers video and power of up to 60w from your laptop.
LG Curved UltraWide 34-inch
The LG 34UC99 Ultra wide 21:9 (3440×1440) curved monitor is one of the best (and most expensive) USB-C monitors you can get. Like the other LG monitors mentioned above, it has on-screen controls, Split Screen 2.0 tech, and support for AMD’s FreeSync technology for better gaming. It also has USB 3.0 (with Quick Charge support) and USB Type-C ports, and HDMI port.
We’ll obviously continue to update this list as we discover more great USB-C monitors. If you see something we’ve missed, be sure to let us know down in the comments below!