The best monitors for your new MacBook Air
When it comes time to purchase an external monitor for your MacBook Air, there are several things to keep in mind, 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 27UK850-W 27-inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10 with USB Type-C Connectivity and FreeSync, White to be one of the best monitors for MacBook Air that you can currently buy for the Apple laptop. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
Best Overall: LG 27UK850-W 27-inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor
Great computer monitors must offer robust color, brightness, and sharpness. On these three points, the LG 27UK850-W blew us away and is considered the best MacBook Air monitor on the market. It's also a great USB-C monitor for Mac this year. We found the color spot on and didn't require any additional fine-tuning during setup. In doing so, the monitor provides a natural extension to any workspace.
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're going to 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 supports a 60W power transfer so you can charge your laptop during use.)
Not everything about this monitor is positive. For one, the monitor's 5W speakers are lackluster, at least. We live in a world where external speakers or headphones reign, so this probably won't matter. Given the price point for this monitor, however, we were expecting more. We're also unimpressed with the display's flimsy control stick next to the LG logo on the bottom bezel. The Pixel density on this monitor also uninspires, as it's just 163 PPI versus the MacBook Air's 227 PPI Creatives should probably look elsewhere.
Overall, 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
- Weak pixel density
LG 27UK850-W 27-inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor
A great-looking monitor with a stunning display
Your Macbook Air will love this monitor on nearly every crucial point. Look for discounts to bring the price down.
Best Alternative: HP E27d G4 QHD Advanced Docking Monitor
The HP E27d G4 QHD Advanced Docking Monitor is the perfect productivity hub for anyone looking to connect to various peripherals using USB Type-C. It also includes a port for RJ-45 and four for USB 3.1. With a native resolution of 2560 by 1440, this monitor is designed to please.
With a single button (SPO), you can turn on the display and your laptop simultaneously — even when the laptop lid is closed. Connect, charge, and power your computer up to 100W through the included USB-C cable.
- Includes a webcam
- Single-button for display/laptop on/off
- Good in networking environments
HP E27d G4 QHD Advanced Docking Monitor
A beautiful option that looks as great as it performs
The HP E27d G4 QHD is a quality model monitor for this price. You're getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Best Premium : LG UltraFine 5K Display
Ideally, Apple would be making 5K monitors itself to go with its lineup of laptops. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Instead, the iPhone maker wants you to purchase a 5K monitor from LG. With a breathtaking 5120x2880 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 (2 m) and USB-C cable (1.5 m), the 27MD5KL contains one Thunderbolt 3 (input) port and three USB-C (USB 3.1 gen 1, 5 Gbps) 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 any of 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
- Is 27-inches too small?
LG UltraFine 5K Display
Gorgeous display for a price
If a 27-inch display is your sweet spot and you want 5K, by all means, get this monitor. Otherwise, it's okay to keep looking!
Best Portable : Gechic 1503H 15.6 inch IPS 1080p Portable Monitor with HDMI
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. These types of monitors offer a good, 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 both 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
Gechic 1503H 15.6 inch IPS 1080p Portable Monitor with HDMI
Travelers, take note
Offering a bright display for less, this portable monitor is great in a pinch when a lightweight, larger screen is needed.
Best Curved : LG 38WK95C-W 38-Inch Class 21:9 Curved UltraWide WQHD+ Monitor with HDR 10
The 38-inch LG 38WK95C-W UltraWide curved monitor is ideal for mirroring what's happening on your MacBook Air or acting as a secondary display. The result is a highly functional device that can also support other Apple MacBooks, plus the iPad Pro.
Offering a resolution of 3480x1600, the wide-screen monitor includes data transfer and 60W charging using USB-C. It also has two USB-A ports, two HDMI ports, and a DisplayPort. The 38WK95C-W also has a relatively decent set of speakers, a setup that's a breeze, and a joystick-style button at the bottom edge of the screen for monitor control that's a surprising joy to use!
Less impressive is the monitor's plastic backside that LG, for some reason, elected to make white. Luckily this odd design choice is only a problem if the monitor is sitting in the middle of a room. Also: The wide display isn't Retina. Sometimes, those extra pixels-per-inch are missed.
Should you get a curved monitor? We have some answers.
- Plenty of ports
- Well-designed base
- Screen resolution isn't as good as Retina
- White plastic backside
LG 38WK95C-W 38-Inch Class 21:9 Curved UltraWide WQHD+ Monitor with HDR 10
Here's a tremendous curved display that enhances the MacBook Air experience. You'll miss the Retina, however.
Best Gaming : BenQ EW3270U 32-inch 4K Monitor | With Eye-care Technology
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 an excellent choice 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 the 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 percent of Rec. 709 and 95 percent 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 difficult to use
BenQ EW3270U 32-inch 4K Monitor | With Eye-care Technology
Look at that color!
This 4K monitor provides a nice balance between features and price. Though limitations remain, for most gamers, this one will work very nicely.
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 27UK850-W 27" 4K 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 lots of great features, this monitor is also reasonably priced, suitable for students and the budget-conscious alike. 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