MacBook Air monitors
When it comes time to purchase an external monitor for your MacBook Air, there are several things to consider, including display performance, size, and price. Each year at iMore, we look at the latest MacBook Air monitors and put them through the paces. Based on this, we consider the LG 27UN850-W to be one of the best monitors for MacBook Air that you can currently buy. In addition, we’ve gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
Best overall: LG 27UN850-W
Great computer monitors must offer full color, brightness, and sharpness. On these three points, the LG 27UN850-W blew us away, which is why it’s considered the best MacBook Air monitor on the market. The color is spot on and didn’t require additional fine-tuning during setup.
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. As a MacBook Air owner, you will stick with USB-C primarily. However, with two USB-A and two HDMI ports also available, you have the flexibility to use the monitor elsewhere. (The USB-C port also supports a 60W power transfer so that you can charge your laptop during use.)
Not everything about this monitor is positive. For one, the monitor’s 5W speakers are lackluster. Of course, we live in a world where external speakers or headphones reign, so this probably won’t matter. However, given the price point for this monitor, we were expecting more. However, this is the best MacBook Air monitor you can buy.
- Multiple ports, not just a USB-C 4K display
- Great performance
- Easy setup
- Poor speakers
- Weird onboard controls
Best curved: Dell UltraSharp 38 (U3818DW)
This 38-inch ultrawide is our favorite curved monitor for Mac and has plenty of features that will make connecting with and using your computer an incredibly productive and enjoyable experience. The monitor has a special flicker-free screen that won’t irritate your eyes as other screens can. This allows you to spend hours using your monitor to edit pictures happily, videos, create slideshows, or other work. If you tend to get migraines or discomfort from eye strain, you’ll be happy to know that this monitor allows you to rearrange and align your open documents to reduce your eye movements while viewing your screen.
One of the downsides users report about this monitor is that the built-in volume and brightness control on Mac keyboards won’t work with the monitor if you’re a Mac user. Mac users also may lose access to the display manager. However, you can control the basic settings directly from the monitor.
The picture quality of this ultrawide monitor is elevated through the perfectly curved screen. It offers a 21:9 aspect ratio, which allows you to create elegant designs for work, watch movies, or game-out with excellent image quality. This monitor is great for individuals who frequently engage in photography, videography, or design.
- 21:9 aspect ratio
- Curved 38-inch screen
- Flicker-free screen
- Certain functions don’t work with a Mac
Best premium : LG UltraFine 5K Display
Ideally, Apple would be making 5K monitors itself to go with its lineup of laptops. But, unfortunately, that isn’t the case. So instead, the iPhone maker wants you to purchase a 5K monitor from LG. With a breathtaking 5120×2880 resolution and P3 wide color gamut, this 27-inch LG UltraFine 5K Display is an excellent choice — if you can afford it.
Featuring a Thunderbolt 3 cable and USB-C cable, the 27MD5KL contains one Thunderbolt 3 (input) port and three USB-C (USB 3.1, 5Gbps) ports.
This monitor is more than double the price of our overall pick, and that by itself shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 2021, 5K monitors still aren’t mainstream. Our biggest beef about the monitor isn’t the price, but instead that it looks bland and boxy like dozens of other displays available. All you have to do is look at LG’s OLED televisions to see that the company has design skills. Unfortunately, it’s missing here. There’s also the question of whether spending this amount of cash for only a 27-inch monitor is worth it. That’s up to you to decide.
- DCI-P3 wide color gamut
- Single cable for display and charge
- Lots of ports
- Pricey, obviously
- Doesn’t offer an Apple experience
- Boring design
Best portable : Gechic 1503H Portable Monitor
Portable monitors get the job done for folks on the go, especially business travelers who might sometimes appreciate a larger display than the MacBook Air can provide. In addition, these types of monitors offer a good, but not great, display appearance.
The 15.6-inch Gechic portable monitor weighs less than two pounds and is only 1.1cm 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 portrait or landscape orientation.
We love this monitor solely for its portability and price. The stand isn’t the strongest, however.
- Includes speakers
- Great price
- Weighs just 1.75 pounds
- 1080p resolution only
- Somewhat wobbly stand
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 excellent 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 sometimes associated with external monitors. However, there are some drawbacks, starting with 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% of Rec. 709 and 95% 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 challenging to use
If you’re in the market for an external monitor for your MacBook Air, you’ll quickly notice there’s a wide selection from which to choose. Our favorite MacBook Air monitor, the LG 27UN850-W 27″ 4K Ultrafine UHD IPS Monitor, 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.
Besides offering superb features, this monitor is also reasonably priced, suitable for students and the budget-conscious alike. So look around and find the best deal for you!
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
Mark Goldschmitt is the father of three boys and loves anything Apple. Born and raised in Queens, NY, and currently residing on Long Island, Mark is a lifelong New York Mets fan.
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