Seeking advice on decision for a second monitor to a MBP

I am curious about current recommendations for 4k monitors as second monitors to an MBP 16in. The monitor is to replace a 24in AOC at 1920x1080 in my home office (and perhaps eventually at 25in AOC at 2k in my work office). I use the MBP extensively as workspace even as I use the larger space on the second monitor for most work. IOW, I don’t ever close down the MBP as a clamshell and use only the second monitor.

I could fill in here with extensive background but defer that I’ve done the reading at all appropriate reference sites. I am looking for a professional level monitor to do document preparation and editing, not a gaming monitor and not a photography-level monitor. My top price range is around $600, and a 27in seems to fit the size perfectly, especially for added screen real estate while not overpowering the physical desktop space at home or work. I don’t need (the typically tiny-sounding) built-in speakers.

One concern where I would appreciate feedback is that I should be able to drive the monitor with all its features using either HDMI through an Anker-thunderbolt dongle or directly through USB-C interface. IOW, when the monitor says that it supports Free-Sync or PiP/PbP modes, it often does not include the caveat “only through the display port hub” or “only with Windows OS”.

A second concern where I would appreciate feedback is that I do not want to limit my options to expand by being required to buy yet another replacement shortly down the road. The purchase should give me room to grow my hardware for the next three to five years. By specific example, newer monitors are now being driven by USB-C inputs, can power the MBP, and have built-in USB-3 ports to act as hubs.

My final question where I would appreciate feedback is whether any monitors provide limited clarity with respect to my use-case. Even as my eyesight is reasonable, I do find that spending significant time at the monitor is straining of late, especially working in the evenings with less natural light in the room.

My top contenders are in order of decreasing price are: Dell UtraSharp U2720Q, LG 27UN850-W, Sceptre IPS27 LED, Phillips 276E8VJSB, AOC U2790VQ. The first two have USB-C inputs, the others do not. By reference, I could spring for two of the AOC monitors at the price of the Dell. Is the spending really worth the investment?

I know that the Dell and LG have been oft-recommended here. Do they still stand as the best options? Any thoughts on the trade-offs?


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I bought one of the Dell U27279Q monitors and liked it so much that I got a 2nd one. My work machine is a MacBook escape model with 2 USB C ports, I connect them to the Monroe’s and I use the ports on the monitors to connect everything else. I eliminated the need for a USB-C Hub this way. Power feeds through the monitor.

I have not tried any of the other monitors on your list but I can say that the Dell for me was the best choice I could find and I’m very happy with it.

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2020 13" MacBook Pro?

“MacBook Escape” generally refers to either the MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports) or the MacBook Pro (13-inch 2017 , Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports). These are the lower end MacBook Pro models that had a row of physical function keys (including the escape key) instead of the touch bar.

@DrJJWMac I’m somewhat in the same predicament, except looking for a 32"4K. Curious what you decided on.

I ended up with an LG 27in in two flavors.

LG 27UK500-B (May 30, 2021) - This is my monitor at work. I run this through an HDMI port on an Anker hub (same as below).

LG 27UN850-W (Dec 1, 2020) - This is my monitor at home. I run this through a USB-C cable. I use the same cable to power my MBP. I used to a USB-A hub with keyboard+trackball plugged into the back on the monitor, and they would run through the same USB-C. I have since moved the hub to run instead through an Anker hub in a second USB-C port on my MBP (along with ethernet + a USB-C external drive). It may have been because at one point the USB-A inputs on the monitor seemed to be giving problems (I did not dig deeper, just switched the cables to fix the problem).

I do not recognize any differences in picture quality using the two monitors. I can generally toggle between about the same “picture modes” in either case. Examples include custom, vivid, HDR effect, reader, cinema …

I personally do not have any reason to go larger than 27in. I cannot scan across the entire monitor that I have now. A 27in is just the right size to put two apps in split view side-by-side while doing focused work. Example are using OmniFocus + a Kanban board to track project status, running a document processing editor (e.g. Word) + a programming IDE to develop answer keys for homework assignments, or opening a citation manager + a Web browser to pull journal articles for research documents.

Given what you mention in your profile (artist), you may be more discriminating than me (engineer) about the color gamut, saturation, and intensity on the monitor. You may want to focus on these metrics independently from what the 32in quotes for input/output ports. In this case, you may expect to have to dig more deeply about what input ports and cables to use to assure that the monitor runs at its highest, high-quality specification. I had serious issues trying to run the monitor at home through the HDMI port on the same Anker hub that I am also using for the monitor at work. I can’t say why.

Finally, I would not recommend the speaker quality for either monitor (or probably for any monitor in general). I run a separate set of wired speakers from the audio-output jack on the office monitor and play my music on the speakers going through the monitor (over HDMI). I play music through the monitor speakers at home, but I anticipate some day that this arrangement will change.

Hope this helps (even over a year later).


Thank you! Interestingly, I have been looking a couple LG monitors lately. I’ve used them before and found them reliable. They seem to hit a sweet spot of quality for price. It’s good to hear they are working out for you.

I was getting too ready to add an additional screen to my Dell 2721Q but decided to wait until tomorrows event. Who knows? Maybe they’ll announce a new screen that won’t need a mortgage?

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I’m definitely biding my time on a final decision till after Tuesday. :wink:

Looks promising

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