Best USB-C and Thunderbolt displays for Mac [October]


USB-C/Thunderbolt display options have really grown over the last couple of years. While Apple is making its own monitor again with the Pro Display XDR, it’s not the best fit for the majority of Mac users with a starting price of $5,000 (without a stand). Let’s take a look at some of the best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays available in the $400-$1,500 range.


Update October 20: 
We haven’t seen anything notable in the 4K+ resolution space with USB-C recently. But LG’s high-end UltraFine OLED Pro display launched in August. We also saw some affordable new options from LG and Samsung earlier this year. Check out all the details below.

Meanwhile, Apple has launched its new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro notebooks which come with native support for two (M1 Pro) or four external displays (M1 Max). Apple is also testing a new external monitor that will feature a dedicated A13 chip, but there’s no expected timeline on a release for that at this point.

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

Related:
Best portable USB-C displays for MacBooks: iPad, ASUS, AOC, more

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.

Notably, one trend we’re seeing — that Apple adopted with the Pro Display XDR — is a 32-inch screen size. 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-$600 range.

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

LG 32UL950-W

LG 32UL950 UltraFine 4K Display Review 01

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.

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


LG 34BK95U-W

LG 32UL950 UltraFine 4K Display Review 01

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.

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.

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

Dell UltraSharp U4021QW – New for 2021

This is Dell’s latest 4K USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 display and it features a 40-inch curved screen. This is technically a 5K2K resolution but for those looking for a large screen size, it may be a good fit. 

Dell also makes the UltraSharp in 32-inch and 27-inch versions.

LG UltraFine OLED Pro – New for August

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 this fall.

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 starting on August 12. The initial stock sold out fast and at the time of writing will, it will be available again from early October.

Apple-endorsed LG UltraFine displays

LG UltraFine OLED Pro display launch date

LG UltraFine 24- & 27-inch Displays

While the 27-inch UltraFine display (reviewed) is 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, especially since it hasn’t changed since 2016.

Another trade-off here is chunkier bezels for a built-in webcam, although these displays do offer a solid I/O setup. Another aspect that sets these displays apart is P3 wide color gamut and 85W power delivery.

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. The 24-inch version replaced the 21.5-inch 4K model last May and retails around $700. Check out our full review here.

If you’re tempted by these displays, you can also keep an eye out on 9to5Toys, where we’ve seen certified refurbished models of the $1,300 5K display go for as low as $550.

Best USB-C/Thunderbolt displays 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 $600 or less.

LG 32-inch 32UP550-W – New for June

  • LG UltraFine OLED Pro display launch date
  • LG UltraFine OLED Pro display launch date

This new 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.

This 32-inch affordable 4K USB-C display from LG is available to order on Amazon now with deliveries shipping out starting in July.

LG 27UK850

  • best 4K USB-C displays
  • best 4K USB-C displays

This 4K USB-C display is the successor to LG’s older 27UD88 model that we reviewed a few years back. 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 87W power delivery for full-speed 15-inch MacBook Pro charging, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most users.

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

Samsung 32- and 43-inch Smart Monitor M7 – New for May

  • Samsung Smart M7 USB-C display
  • Samsung Smart M7 USB-C display

New for May 2021, Samsung has launched a 43-inch version of the Smart Monitor M7 with the same overall specs as its smaller 32-inch brother that will come in at $600.

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.

You can learn more about the 32- and 43-inch Samsung M7 on the company’s website and find it for sale at Best Buy (43-inch not showing up just yet).


ASUS Designo

  • best 4K USB-C displays
  • best 4K USB-C displays

 

This display offers almost all of the same features as LG’s UK850 with a little different aesthetic. The LED-backlit IPS panel doesn’t feature HDR10 support and AMD FreeSync, but otherwise, its specs stack up almost identically.

Holding Out?

Thinking of waiting a while longer to see what other manufacturers offer over the coming months? 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.

Also, Apple is reportedly working on a more affordable self-branded display more akin to its retired $999 Thunderbolt Display. And there’s also a new external monitor Apple is testing that comes with an A13 chip.

Another option if you want to wait a bit longer on picking up a new external display, make use of the great macOS Sidecar feature that lets you use an iPad as a secondary display.

About the Author


Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.