There are hundreds of monitors on the market and choosing the right one can be a difficult chore. We’ve rounded up the best monitors to pair with your M1-based Mac.
Best all-around monitor
The Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q 27-inch monitor offers multiple display input options and great specs for a reasonable price. The monitor isn’t Thunderbolt capable, but the included USB-C port supports DisplayPort alt mode for connecting to your M1-based Mac.
This USB-C monitor will connect to your laptop via a single cable to provide display out, 90W of power, and three additional USB-A ports. The biggest difference between this monitor and the more expensive ones from LG is the lack of the Thunderbolt spec.
Data carried over the USB-C connection will be 10GB/s, which is suitable for peripherals and external drives. For the fastest data transfer speeds, you’ll want to connect your devices directly to the Mac.
The Dell Ultrasharp also has a DisplayPort and HDMI connection for multiple inputs. The M1-based Mac will only be able to connect to one external monitor so connecting over USB-C is ideal.
This monitor has 4K resolution at 3840×2160, HDR 400, 95% P3 color gamut, and 60Hz refresh rate. The included stand allows for vertical or horizontal rotation.
Best budget monitor
Choosing a budget-conscious monitor shouldn’t mean buying something you’ll dislike. The Lenovo Q24i-10 24-inch HD monitor has a unique design and slim form factor.
It is 1920×1080 full HD with up to a 75Hz refresh rate. Users can connect over HDMI or VGA depending on the use case.
It has built-in 3W speakers and a headphone jack for headphone or speaker use.
This simple monitor will blend in with your desktop setup and its aluminum foot is the perfect place for a Mac mini or closed MacBook Air.
Best Thunderbolt monitor
The LG UltraFine Thunderbolt monitors remain the best third-party monitor options for Mac users. The 27-inch 5K model is designed with macOS in mind with Thunderbolt 3, integrated brightness and volume control, and a built-in camera.
Thunderbolt 3 means users can connect one Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB Type-C connector to their Mac and have access to the monitor, 94W power pass through, and the USB-C hub in the back. Data is passed through at 40GB/s and passes data from the three USB 3.1 Type-C ports at full 10GB/s each.
When using an M1-based Mac you’ll be able to take advantage of Thunderbolt 3, but cannot chain monitors together or connect external GPUs. Thunderbolt hubs and storage devices will work, however.
At 5120×2880 5K resolution, 99% P3 color gamut, and 500 nits of brightness you’ll have the most Apple-like experience possible on a third-party display.
Best performance monitor
Gaming monitors often come with bright LED backlights, aggressive design, and expensive price tags. The LG UltraGear 27-inch gaming monitor is a performance powerhouse with all the specs you’d want when connecting a Mac.
The monitor is comparable to the LG UltraFine 5K mentioned before, but this display comes in about $450 cheaper. You won’t find Thunderbolt 3 but it does have HDR10 and 98% P3 color gamut.
The 3840×2160 4K display has a 144Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time. When using compatible PCs it has AMD FeeSync and Nvidia G-Sync capabilities.
While you may not take advantage of the gaming features, the bright display with wide color accuracy is as close as you can get to UltraFine without spending the extra cash.
The rear of the monitor has an RGB LED ring that will shine colors depending on settings made with proprietary software or via in-monitor settings. This can be turned off entirely or show static colors as desired.
You can connect via HDMI or DisplayPort, and it has a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type B input for access to two Type-A ports.
The LG UltraGear 27GN95B-B can be ordered from B&H for $844.99.
Best UltraWide monitor
Ultrawide monitors have become popular as an alternative to multiple display setups. This will be especially important for M1-based Mac users since you can only connect one external display. The Acer El342CKR Pbmiippx 34-inch monitor is a 21:9 ultrawide QHD display.
QHD is the “2K” or 1440p resolution that fits between HD and 4K. The ultrawide monitor has 3440×1440 resolution and a 93% P3 color gamut with HDR 400 and up to 144Hz refresh rate.
It has a curved display for easier viewing when looking straight ahead. It has AMD FreeSync for PCs that are compatible with the spec.
There are two DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports. The 144Hz refresh rate is limited to the DisplayPort connection and HDMI will support up to 100Hz.
You can buy the Acer 32-inch ultrawide monitor for $429.99 on B&H.
The Apple monitor
Of course, the best display you can buy is the one sold by Apple itself. The Pro Display XDR is a monster of a monitor with reference-grade specs and giant price tag.
We cannot seriously recommend the Pro Display XDR since the people who need it will have already purchased it. If you have a few thousand dollars to spend, however, this will complement any M1-based Mac with its 32-inch display and beautiful design.
Apple compares its Pro Display XDR to professional reference monitors that cost at least $40,000. The 6016×3384 6K display has a 1 million to 1 contrast and 10-bit color depth.
M1-based Macs can run the display without issue but it was originally designed to be used with Apple’s Mac Pro.
Apple’s M1-based Macs do not support external GPU (eGPU) technology. But, if you have an Intel-based Mac you can consider the use of an eGPU to increase performance, provide power to your portable Mac, and in some cases provide legacy ports and networking.
The DIY enclosures generally can’t accelerate a monitor that connects over USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, so look for HDMI or DisplayPort monitors if you’re going that route.
But, the latest eGPU Breakaway Pucks from Sonnet are capable of increasing the performance of USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 displays.