24" or 27" monitor for text/documents?

Hello all,

I can get discounted offers on Dell monitors through my work, and am currently considering a Dell P2717H monitor, and would like to hear some thoughts from those who have 27" screens connected to their laptops.

The primary reason for the upgrade, is a long & convoluted story regarding ports, and my desk. The short of it, is that a new monitor with a HDMI out, as well as DVI/DisplayPort etc., will make my life easier.

I can either get another 24", or spend $190 and go for the 27"…

I am primarily text focused, in other words, Scrivener/Word/PDFs (lots of PDFs)/emails/browsing etc.
Not much photos/videos. No gaming.

I currently make plenty of use of Spaces, and have my 15" MBP up on a stand, as a secondary screen to my 24".


1.) Considering I have plenty of windows/applications open at any given time, is the step up in size from the 24" to 27" noticeable?
Will it make it more likely/possible to have two full-screenish-sized application windows side-by-side on the 27"?

2.) Considering my usage – is it advisable to rather look at the next line up? Something like the U2715H?

Some reviews seem to suggest the Ultra option might be better for text/documents, others say the one I am interested in will be fine.
But that’s ignoring the several reviews I have seen that suggest that for 1080p, the ideal size remains a 24", and anything bigger, is going to see text looking less than ideal on a 27" monitor…

So I’m understandably betwixt and between!
Any thoughts?

I would strongly encourage you to get a 4K monitor.
I deal with text a lot (writing, reading PDFs), as well as some graphics work (Keynote, sciencey graphs and plots, omnigraffle, mind maps).
I recently ditched my dual-24” HD monitor setups (home and school/lab) for a single 27” 4K monitor (one at home, one at the lab), and it is so much better, and easier on my eyes. Having one screen is also less distracting, and helps me focus. My laptop is always clamshelled when I’m working.


The P2717H is 1920x1080, which may well be the same resolution as your 24" monitor. If that’s the case, while the image will be physically larger, you won’t be able to fit any more on your screen. It’ll just be the same image stretched out over a larger physical space.

The U2715H is 2560x1440, which will allow you to fit noticeably more on your screen. With just straight text documents, the extra space isn’t that useful. Where it does come in handy is when you’re trying to run side by side apps with text plus a sidebar (Scrivener, Word when using track changes, a PDF with chapters, etc.).

Ah. Thanks for putting that in language even I can understand!

This does give me pause, will have to check the prices on the UH version!

The space benefit is really what I am after. And since it will be held on a monitor arm, I will be able to get it quite close, since - assuming I understand things correctly - that resolution will see things ‘appear’ smaller?

I spend hours daily writing with my 2017 27" Retina iMac, which I upgraded to from a Mac mini with 24" or 25" screen. I cannot imagine going back. Much of the time I have two pages up (or a page and a browser window) side-by-side.

Do you need it? Not necessarily. I know two professional writers who make their livings with years-old 13" Macbook Airs. It’s a matter of convenience, not necessity, as with most tech things for most people

Yes. Assuming you’re running at native resolution individual items on a 27" 2560x1440 monitor will appear smaller than a 27" 1920x1080 (and even a bit smaller than a 24" 1920x1080).

I have a late 2013 MBP. I bought a 25" at quad resolution. I did some in-store reviews of 25" and larger monitors at lower resolution. I realized that, for a screen size above about 24", a screen resolution below quad would be an eyesore sitting next to to a Retina display. So, my in-store reviews agree with your readings …

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my MBP could drive the quad directly from the HDMI output. I also use Spaces on the 25" rather nicely.

AFAIK, you can always scale the sizes of screens by software to mimic lower resolution, thereby making items on them appear larger. You cannot however scale a low resolution monitor by software to make it the same as one with higher resolution.


This is also dependent on the scaling you have selected. I have mine set to look like 2560x1440, the trade off more towards larger text than more space. This gives me a bit more space than an HD monitor, but also higher DPI (more pixels on the monitor to represent one pixel from the computer, so to speak) so that text and graphics look much smoother.

For the older people in here I’ll toss in another consideration- bifocals. My 27” Thunderbolt Display is hard to look at with my progressive bifocals. I use a full sized pair of readers when My neck won’t take the up and down motion. When I used a 24” Cinema Display it was much less of a problem. I do like the real estate of the large display. It’s running at 2560x1440, not as nice as my wife’s 5k iMac but still better than the 15” display.

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I use a 27” monitor with 2560x1440 resolution, both at work and at home. The 27” is perfect for two documents side-by-side. The resolution seems fine to me, but I’m sure if I used a better quality (retina or 4K) display, I’d find what I have now less than ideal.

I also deal with text. I bought a 32” and am really happy I did. I previously had dual 27” screens and found the neck-swiveling annoying.

Get a pair of computer glasses. Lifesavers!


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Thank you all the replies.

I’ve asked for a quote on the U2715H, and will then make a call.
Found this article from 2015, that also provided some clarity, courtesy of plenty of pictures.

Bottom line, is I will need to think a bit about things.
I used SwitchResX to play around with things on my 15" MBP.

2560 x 1440 is just a tad too small for me to see easily, with the MBP on a stand, a little bit further back than the 24".
2048 x 1280 however, hits the sweetspot.

That said, time for the early morning/before coffee/silly question of the day (just to confirm how any talk about screen size/resolution/scaling etc., has always done my head in!):

The ‘size’ of text on the 15" MBP screen, with it being set to either 2048 x 1280/2560 x 1440 – will that size remain the same, when it is being displayed on the 27" screen? Or will it be slightly bigger?