8 Factors to Consider to Find the Best Monitor for Your Mac

Macs are high-quality computers, and using them with a low-quality monitor just doesn’t cut it. You should make sure you get an external monitor that either matches or exceeds Apple’s Retina Display. But, with the overwhelming number of monitors out there, it sure is a tiring job finding the right one.

We’ve simplified matters for you. In this guide, we’ve listed all the different factors you need to consider before purchasing a monitor for your Mac. From panel type to design, we’ll talk about everything.

8. Use Case

Your use case will set the tone for the exact type of monitor you need. There are three main types of computer users: casual users, professionals, and gamers.

  • Casual Users: These users tend to use their Macs for everyday tasks such as browsing the web, checking email, and writing documents. For these users, the most important factors in choosing a monitor are likely to be the price and screen size.
  • Professionals: These people use their Macs for more demanding tasks, such as photo and video editing. For these users, performance is critical, and they are likely to be willing to pay more for a high-end monitor, with features such as a high resolution and support for multiple input formats.
  • Gamers: Gamers also place a premium on performance, but they also need a monitor with low input lag and support for high refresh rates. In addition, many gamers prefer monitors with large screen sizes or ultra-wide aspect ratios.

Ultimately, the best monitor for your Mac will depend on how you plan to use it.

7. Screen Size

Most monitors in the market today are in the 16:9 (width-to-height) ratio. So, if a monitor is 16 inches wide, it’s going to be 9 inches tall. It will measure 18.4 inches diagonally, and since monitors are named after their diagonal measurement, it will be called an 18-inch monitor.

What’s important here is that if you increase the diagonal size by, let’s say, three inches, you’ll be getting a monitor that’s approximately 19 inches wide and 11 inches tall. Be careful when picking the right size for your Mac. If you feel that a 22-inch monitor will be too small for you, rethink it and measure your desk setup size first.

6. Resolution

The display quality depends largely on the screen resolution—which refers to the number of pixels that can be displayed on a screen. In other words, the screen resolution determines how clear and sharp the images will be.

  • If you’re using a monitor for general tasks, a resolution of 1920×1080 should be plenty.
  • For photo or video editing, you’ll want a higher resolution like 2560×1440 or 4096×2160.
  • You’ll want the highest resolution a monitor for gaming can support.

Other than your use case, factors like your distance from the monitor and the screen size also determine what screen resolution will be good for you. Note that a higher screen resolution will result in better image quality, but it will also require a higher-powered GPU to run properly.

5. Panel Type

The most important reason to pick the right type of panel when choosing an external monitor is image quality. Different types of panels offer different levels of image quality, and picking the right one is essential for getting the most out of your monitor. There are many types of panels, but TN, IPS, and VA are the most common.

  • TN panels: These offer the fastest response time, but the poorest color accuracy.
  • IPS panels: You’ll get better color accuracy than TN panels, but have slower response times.
  • VA panels: These give you the best overall color accuracy, but have the slowest response times.

Apple’s Retina Display uses an IPS panel, so the panel type of your MacBook’s external monitor should probabky also be a backlit IPS to match it. This will give you the best image quality, as well as the widest viewing angles. LG 38WN95C-W and BenQ PD3220U are some of the best monitors for a Mac.

4. Refresh Rate

The monitor refresh rate describes how frequently the image on the screen changes. For videos on your screen to appear smoother, you’ll need a higher refresh rate. Although higher refresh rates are generally better, different users still have different needs.

For example, gamers and video editors often prefer monitors with high refresh rates (between 60 and 144Hz) to achieve a smooth, responsive experience. But, if you don’t need the monitor for gaming or professional use, then resolution and connectivity are perhaps more important than refresh rate.

3. Connectivity Options

There are two important points here. First, how does the monitor connect to your Mac, and second, what connectivity options does it give you?

Some monitors are HDMI-to-HDMI only, and you may have to invest in a USB-C hub to use it. However, some are USB-C-to-USB-C, which should be your priority if your Mac only has USB-C ports. This can ensure your experience is seamless and that you don’t have to invest in dongles or hubs.

Interestingly, some monitors act as a dock. They charge your Mac and allow you to connect more devices to your Mac with the ports they have. This is a great option if you’ll need multiple monitors.

2. Curved vs. Flat Screen

The debate on curved versus flat monitors is a long one, but put simply, flat monitors are less expensive than curved ones, but often cause eye strain after long periods of use. Curved monitors, on the other hand, are more immersive, reduce eye strain, and also tend to produce truer-to-life images, since the curve helps fill your field of vision. However, they’re more expensive and require more space.

If you’re a casual user who doesn’t spend long hours in front of the screen, a flat monitor should suffice. Professionals and gamers, on the other hand, may want to invest in a curved model for its added benefits.

For accessories to use with a Mac mini, Mac Studio, or Mac Pro, you may want a monitor with a webcam, speakers, and microphone built in. If you do find such a monitor, you’ll be saving yourself from tons of clutter and extra purchases—and the headache of choosing those accessories as well.

However, if you want the best possible audio and video experience from your Mac, you’ll still need to invest in an external setup. While built-in speakers and webcams are becoming increasingly common in external monitors, they’re still not as good as dedicated accessories.

While neither speakers nor webcams are strictly necessary for an external monitor, they’re both worth considering if quality isn’t too important and you want to save money or space.

Got the Monitor? Time to Connect It

Your major takeaway from this guide should be to start by assessing your needs and deciding what it is exactly you need. Think about what you’re going to use the monitor for. Then, figure out what options are most important for you. Make your monitor choices based on these assessments.

The problem doesn’t end with buying the right monitor, though. You also have to know how to connect the monitor. And guess what? There’s a ton of information you need to know to do that.

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