Best USB-C and Thunderbolt displays for Mac

Best USB-C and Thunderbolt displays for Mac

August 5, 2022 0 By Michael Potuck

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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 now offers 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 8/5/22: We haven’t seen many notable new monitors lately but Dell did launch its UltraSharp 32 4K Conference Monitor earlier this summer with a range of features like a Sony 4K HDR webcam, built-in USB-C hub, 98% DCI-P3 support, and 90W power delivery. And if you don’t want the webcam, Dell makes a version of this monitor for about $450 less.

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 and later can also be used with any of these USB-C/Thunderbolt displays but with limitations.

Related: Best monitor arms to bring flexibility to your Mac’s external display

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, often available for less

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, often available for less

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

BenQ PD3220U

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 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 summer

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, often available for less

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

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 later listed the 27-inch model at $2,999.

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:

First LG UltraFine OLED Pro review calls the display ‘astonishing’ as launch appears imminent [Video]

Apple Studio Display and LG UltraFine displays

Studio Display

Apple’s Studio Display arrived 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
Software update promised to fix camera quality

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:

Here’s how the new Apple Studio Display compares to the Pro Display XDR and LG UltraFine
In defense of the (unnecessarily controversial) Apple Studio Display

LG UltraFine 24 & 27-inch 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

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, often available for less

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
Available around $600

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.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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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.

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