Best USBC and Thunderbolt 3 displays for MacBooks and iPad

If you’re just starting to work from home due to coronavirus, you might find that using just your laptop isn’t going to be a great fit for the coming weeks (or longer).

In 2020, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 display options are growing. It’s great to see Apple’s Pro Display XDR on the market but it’s likely not the best fit for the majority of users with a starting price of $5,000 without a stand. Let’s take a look at some of the best USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 displays available in the $400-$1,300 range.

Last week, my colleague Ben Lovejoy put together a great resource of tips from the 9to5Mac team for working from home effectively. One change you might have noticed quickly when making the shift out of the office is missing the larger monitor you might be used to.

While the displays below all work great for a single-cable setup with your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, and PCs, keep in mind the 2018 iPad Pro can be used with any of these USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 displays too (even Apple’s Pro Display XDR 😅).

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 owner’s needs, budget, or both.

Notably, one trend we’re seeing more lately — that Apple has adopted with the Pro Display XDR — is a 32-inch screen size. 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-inch 4K USB-C displays in the $400-$600 range.

Improve your work from home situation with a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C display

Best 32-inch or larger Thunderbolt 3 displays

LG 32UL950 UltraFine 4K Display Review 01

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)
  • Refresh rate 60Hz
  • Nano IPS with DCI-P3 98%
  • 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

The LG 32UL950-W can usually be found on Amazon for under $1,000 as well as from other retailers like B&H Photo.

LG 34WK95U-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

The LG 34WK95U-W lists for $1,500 but you can usually find it at Amazon and B&H Photo for less.

Dell offers its 4K 32-inch USB-C display at a relatively affordable price of $790 at the time of writing. It features slim bezels, decent I/O, an antiglare finish, and 95% DCI-P3.

Specs:

  • 31.5-inch IPS 4K display (3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz)
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Support for VESA HDR 400
  • 1x USB-C, 1x USB-B upstream, 4x USB-A downstream
  • 1x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI port
  • Brightness: 400 cd/m2
  • Antiglare finish
  • DCI-P3 at 95%

Dell also makes its UltraSharp display in a 27-inch model priced at $535.

Apple-endorsed LG UltraFine displays

LG Ultrafine 5K & 4K Displays

While the 27-inch UltraFine display (reviewed) is really the only option on the market to support USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 at a full 5K resolution, the $1,300 price likely makes this display a tough sell for many, especially since it hasn’t changed since 2016.

Another trade-off here is chunkier bezels for a built-in webcam, although these displays do offer a solid I/O setup. Another aspect that sets these displays apart is P3 wide color gamut and 85W power delivery.

The current models are the 5K 27-inch and the 4K 23-inch UltraFine displays. The 23-inch version replaced the 21.5-inch 4K model last May. Check out our full review here.

If you’re tempted by these displays, our recommendation is to keep an eye out on 9to5Toys, where we’ve seen certified refurbished models of the $1,300 5K display go for as low as $550 and the 21.5-inch 4K model go for as low as $190.

Best affordable 4K USB-C displays

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 two of the best USB-C displays that offer a 4K resolution in the $500 or less range.