Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for MacBooks

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for MacBooks

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USB-C/Thunderbolt display options have really grown over the last couple of years. While Apple’s Pro Display XDR isn’t the best fit for most Mac users at $5,000+, it’s now launched the more affordable Studio Display. And there are also lots of solid choices from LG, Samsung, BenQ, and more. Let’s look at the best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays available in the $400-$1,600 range.


Update 6/2/22: Dell has launched its new UltraSharp 32 4K Conference Monitor with a range of features like a Sony 4K HDR webcam, built-in USB-C hub, 98% DCI-P3 support, and 90W power delivery. However, if you don’t want the webcam, Dell makes a version of this monitor for about $450 less. Head below for all the details.


All the displays below work with a single-cable setup with your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and even PCs. The iPad Pro and 2020 iPad Air can also be used with any of these USB-C/Thunderbolt displays but with limitations.

Even though Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDR is a fantastic product (full review), the reality is that at $5,000+, it’s overkill for many MacBook owners’ needs, budgets, or both.

Fortunately, there are some solid 32-inch+ options from other companies in the $1,000 ballpark that offer a compelling experience. And we’ll also look at some 27-32-inch 4K USB-C displays in the $400-$800 range.

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for Mac: 32-inch and larger

LG 32UL950-W

This is LG’s UltraFine 32-inch display that includes a solid feature set like two Thunderbolt 3 ports plus two USB-A ports, slim bezels, support for use in portrait orientation, and more.

In his full review, my colleague Jeff Benjamin found he liked the design better than LG’s other UltraFine models with many of the same features.

Specs:

  • 31.5-inch UHD 4K display (3840 x 2160)
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Nano IPS with DCI-P3 98%
  • 600 nits HDR peak brightness, 450 nits standard
  • VESA DisplayHDR™ 600
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports (in x 1 (PD 60W) / out x 1)
  • 4K Daisy Chain with Thunderbolt™ 3
  • 2 x USB-A
  • DisplayPort 1.4
  • HDMI 2.0
  • 3.5mm headphone output
  • MSRP: $1,300

The LG 32UL950-W can be found on Amazon as well as other retailers like B&H Photo.

LG 34BK95U-W

Moving up a couple of inches, LG’s 34-inch widescreen Thunderbolt 3/USB-C display offers a 5120 x 2160 resolution (in-between 4K and 5K). Jeff reviewed this display and found it to be a compelling option for creative pros.

But if you’re a creative professional who knows what you’re getting yourself into, this display is a significant real estate upgrade from 4K. Just make sure you understand that this is really a 4.5K display, and it doesn’t offer any resolution advantages over a true 5K display like the one found in the 5K iMac or iMac Pro.

Specs:

  • Nano IPS (In-Plane Switching) Panel
  • Thunderbolt 3 Interface
  • Power output: 85W
  • 5120 x 2160 Resolution
  • 21:9 Aspect Ratio
  • 60Hz Refresh Rate
  • Brightness: 450 (Typ), 360 (min) cd/m2
  • Support for VESA HDR 600
  • DCI-P3 98%
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 3.5mm headphone input
  • Speakers: 5W x 2
  • Slim bezel design on all four sides
  • MSRP: $1,649, but often available for less

The LG 34WK95U-W is usually in stock at Amazon and B&H Photo.

BenQ PD3220U

BenQ PD3220U 4K Thunderbolt Display

This is a nice alternative to the LG options above. The 32-inch BenQ PD3220U features Thunderbolt 3, 4K resolution, 95% DCI-P3 color, 85W power delivery for MacBooks, a variety of professional modes, hotkey puck, solid metal stand, and lots of I/O.

Specs:

  • 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Brightness: 250 typical, 300 nits HDR peak
  • 95% DCI-P3
  • HDR10
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3 – 85W power delivery
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3 – 15W power delivery
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
  • 3 x USB 3.1
  • 1 x USB C
  • 1 x USB B
  • Headphone jack
  • Slim bezels
  • MSRP: $1,199 but often available for less

You can usually find the BenQ PD3220U at Amazon and BH Photo.

BenQ also has two more 4K affordable models with the $800 PD3205U and $600 PD2705U.

Dell UltraSharp 32 4K Conference Monitor – New for June

Dell 32 4k UltraSharp Conference Monitor

The new Dell UltraSharp 32 4K Conference Monitor is actually the Dell 32 4K USB-C Hub Monitor below, but with the addition of a 4K Sony HDR webcam – and a more expensive price tag.

Specs:

  • 31.5-inch display
    • IPS Black technology
    • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 4K – 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 98% DCI-P3, 100% sRGB, and HDR 400 certified
  • Integrated and adjustable 4K webcam with HDR Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor
  • USB-C with 90W power delivery
  • USB-C hub with DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI multiple USB-A up to 10Gbps, USB-C 15W + 10Gbps), RJ45 Ethernet, audio port, and more
  • 400 nits typical brightness
  • Daisy chain support (with Display Stream Compression)
  • Support to source from 2 computers simultaneously
  • MSRP: $1,599.99

You can find the UltraSharp 32 4K Conference Monitor available directly from Dell. First deliveries are slated for late July. If you’d prefer to not have the webcam built-in, the UltraSharp 32 4K USB-C Hub Monitor below goes for $450 less.

Dell UltraSharp 32 4K USB-C Hub Monitor U3223QE

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for Mac - Dell UltraSharp 32 USB-C Hub Monitor

Highlights for this Dell UltraSharp include 98% DCI-P3 color, 90W charging via USB-C for MacBooks, and a convenient integrated hub with USB-C, USB-A, Ethernet, DP 1.4, and HDMI.

Specs:

  • 31.5-inch display with IPS Black technology
  • 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 8ms response time
  • Anti-glare finish with 3H hard coating
  • Brightness: 400 nits
  • USB 3.2 gen 2 hub
    • HDMI (HDCP 2.2)
    • DisplayPort 1.4
    • DisplayPort output
    • USB-C upstream/DisplayPort 1.4 Alt Mode with Power Delivery (power up to 90W, HDCP 2.2)
    • USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 upstream
    • USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 downstream (power up to 15W)
    • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 downstream
    • USB 3.2 Gen 2 downstream with Battery Charging 1.2
    • Audio line-out (mini-jack)
    • LAN (RJ-45 Ethernet)
  • MSRP: $1,150

The UltraSharp 32 4K USB-C Hub Monitor is available from Amazon and BH Photo.

Dell also makes more affordable UltraSharp models in 32-inch and 27-inch sizes.

LG UltraFine OLED Pro

After starting to sell the 32-inch model priced at $3,999 last year, BH Photo listed the 27-inch model at $2,999 just before Christmas 2021.

LG UltraFine OLED Pro display launch date

The new LG UltraFine OLED Pro Monitor is a 32-inch USB-C display with a 27-inch version coming later.

The move to OLED is interesting. While there are some benefits like blacker blacks, and more, there may be concerns about display burn-in.

BH Photo was the first retailer to sell the UltraFine OLED Pro with a $3,999 price tag.

Specs:

  • 27 and 31.5-inch OLED screen options (27-inch coming this fall, 32-inch now available)
  • 3840 x 2160 4K resolution
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • USB-C with 90W pass-thru power
  • up to 500 nits brightness
  • Dolby HDR 400 True Black
  • 1 ms response time
  • 10-bit color depth
  • 2 x DisplayPort
  • 3 x USB
  • 1 x HDMI
  • DCI P3 at 99%
  • Adobe RGB 99%

For a closer look, check out the first full review:

Apple Studio Display and LG UltraFine displays

Studio Display – New for March

Best displays for Mac - Apple Studio Display

Apple’s Studio Display arrives alongside the new Mac Studio and marks the return to prosumer monitors after letting LG’s UltraFine series serve as its official recommendation since 2016.

Starting at $300 above the LG UltraFine 5K the Studio Display is aimed at those who value Apple’s refined (and metal) build quality.

Specs:

  • 27-inch panel
  • 5K 5120 x 2880 resolution
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 218 PPI
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 600 nits brightness
  • P3 wide color support
  • True Tone support
  • 1 Thunderbolt 3 port with 96W power delivery plus 3 USB-C ports
  • Built-in 12 MP ultra wide camera with Center Stage support
  • 6-speaker system with Spatial Audio support
  • Studio-quality 3-mic array
  • Aluminum build
  • Supports most reference modes as Pro Display XDR except HDR
  • Price: $1599-$2,299 (depending on stand and screen finish)

Studio Display is available from Apple, Amazon, BH Photo, Best Buy, and more.

Check out our detailed comparison along with more perspective on the Studio Display:

LG UltraFine 24 & 27-inch Displays

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for Mac - Apple endorsed displays

While the 27-inch UltraFine display (reviewed) is was really the only option on the market to support USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 at a full 5K resolution, the $1,300 price may make this a tough sell for some.

Another trade-off here is chunkier bezels for a built-in webcam. The current models are the 5K 27-inch and the 4K 24-inch UltraFine displays.

At almost half the price, the 24-inch 4K UltraFine is a compelling option for an Apple-endorsed display for those okay with the smaller size. The 24-inch version replaced the 21.5-inch 4K model in May 2019 and retails around $700. Check out our full review here.

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays for Macs on a budget

While there are some solid displays on the market that include USB-C with less than 4K resolutions, spending several hundred dollars on a new display with a lower picture quality than what you’re used to on your MacBook won’t be a good fit for many.

Here are some of the best USB-C displays that offer a 4K resolution at around $600 or less.

Samsung 32-inch Smart Monitor M8

Best displays for Mac - Samsung Smart Monitor M8

The successor to last year’s M7, the Smart Monitor M8 offers a compelling package for those that want a 4K resolution, USB-C, and a large screen while spending under $1,000. It even features a very iMac-like design and four color choices too.

Specs:

  • USB-C with up to 65W charging
  • 4K 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 32-inch panel
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • HDR10 support
  • Included magnetic SlimFit webcam with face tracking
  • 400 nits brightness
  • 99% sRGB
  • 4ms response time
  • Built-in 2.2 channel speakers
  • Available in white, blue, green, and pink
  • Slim bezels and overall slim design
  • Doubles as a smart TV, with Apple TV+ built-in and AirPlay 2
  • Price: MSRP $699-$729

The Smart Monitor M8 is up for pre-order now direct from Samsung and Amazon with the white version going for $699.99 and the colored variants selling for $729.99. First deliveries are estimated for late April.

Meanwhile, Samsung still sells the Smart Monitor M7 priced around $400 (see below).

Samsung 32- and 43-inch Smart Monitor M7

You’re getting some great features at a budget price point like 4K resolution, USB-C, AirPlay 2, and more. However, it sounds like picture quality is not its strongest point.

You’re also not getting things like a 3.5mm audio jack, DisplayPort, and brightness is just 300 nits.

  • 1 x USB-C with 65W PD
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 300 nits brightness
  • 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • sRGB 99%
  • HDR10
  • Anti-glare finish
  • Smart TV features including AirPlay 2
  • MSRP at $400 for 32-inch, $600 for 43-inch

You can find the Smart Monitor M7 at Amazon, Best Buy, and more.

LG 32-inch 32UP550-W

This newer budget release from LG is a more compelling option than its older 27-inch 4K 27UK850. The 32UP550-W features a 32-inch screen, 4K resolution, USB-C, 96W power delivery, and more.

Specs:

  • 1 x USB-C with 96W power delivery
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x headphone jack
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Up to 350 nits brightness
  • 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • DCI-P3 at 90%
  • HDR10
  • Anti-glare finish
  • MSRP at $450

This 32-inch affordable 4K USB-C display from LG is available to order on Amazon.

LG 27UK850

This 4K USB-C display is the successor to LG’s older 27UD88 model that we reviewed some years ago. The 27UK850 27-inch model features an LED-backlit IPS panel with HDR10 support, AMD Freesync, and single-cable USB-C connectivity.

The 27UK850 offers two USB 3.1 ports, but like the previous model, when running 4K at 60Hz, you’re limited to USB 2.0 speeds. It would have been nice to see a greater power delivery for full-speed MacBook Pro charging, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most users.

  • 1 x USB-C v. 3.1 with 60W PD
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 1 x Display Port
  • 2 x USB v. 3.1 gen1
  • 3.5 mm audio port
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • sRGB 99%
  • AMD Freesync
  • Anti-glare finish
  • Usually available around $500-$600

For a more in-depth look at this display, check out our review here.

The LG 27UK850 is available on Amazon.

Holding Out?

Thinking of waiting a while longer? If you feel like you can’t compromise on a 4K resolution but are open to saving some cash by skipping the USB-C/Thunderbolt connectivity, Philips has a 27-inch 4K display for quite a bit less than the price of the other displays on this list. AOC also makes a comparable 27-inch 4K option.

Sidecar

Another option – make use of the great macOS Sidecar feature that lets you use an iPad as a secondary display.

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