Top Thunderbolt Monitors for Mac: A Studio Display Alternative

In the realm of Mac computers, having an external monitor is a valuable asset, offering a larger workspace and enhanced productivity. While Apple‘s own Studio Display is an enticing choice, its price can be a significant barrier. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the best alternatives to Apple’s Studio Display.

Thunderbolt Monitors vs. USB-C Monitors: Unveiling the Difference

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The primary distinction between Thunderbolt 3/4 monitors and USB-C monitors lies in their connection capabilities. Thunderbolt technology boasts the capacity to connect up to six devices at speeds of up to 40 Gbps, a substantial advantage. In contrast, USB-C 3.1 and 3.2 monitors offer lower transfer speeds, with USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 supporting up to 10Gbps and USB-C 3.2 up to 20Gbps—approximately half the speed of Thunderbolt displays. With this crucial difference in mind, let’s explore some of the finest Thunderbolt monitors tailored for Mac users.

1. Samsung Viewfinity S9: A Competitive Contender

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  • Samsung’s Viewfinity S9 monitor emerges as a compelling alternative to the Studio Display, offering comparable features and, in some aspects, even surpassing it. This 27-inch 5K monitor boasts a metal structure, 99% DCI-P3 color coverage, Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, and a host of other attractions.
    • Slim metal design with aluminum stand
    • 27-inch 5K IPS panel (5120 x 2880)
    • 99% DCI-P3 color gamut
    • 600 nits brightness
    • 60Hz refresh rate
    • 5ms response time
    • 1000:1 contrast ratio
    • Built-in color calibration engine
    • USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity (1x Thunderbolt 4 port, 3x USB-C, 1x mini DisplayPort)
    • 90W power delivery
    • Integrated SlimFit 4K webcam
    • Adaptive Sound+ speakers
    • Samsung Smart Hub for TV functionality
    • Adjustable height, tilt, and swivel
  • The Viewfinity S9 is priced at €1599 but can often be found for around €1300 or even less, offering an attractive cost-saving option.

2. BenQ: A Powerful and Cost-Effective Choice


  • For users seeking a potent monitor with a larger screen and an affordable price tag, BenQ’s Thunderbolt monitor proves to be an excellent selection. Offering 4K resolution, 95% DCI-P3 color coverage, 85W power delivery for MacBooks, and various professional modes, this monitor caters to diverse needs.
    • 31.5-inch IPS panel
    • 4K resolution (3840 x 2160)
    • 16:9 aspect ratio
    • 60Hz refresh rate
    • Brightness: 250 typical, 300 nits HDR peak
    • 95% DCI-P3 color coverage
    • 100% sRGB
    • HDR10 support
    • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports (85W and 15W power delivery)
    • Daisy Chain with Thunderbolt
    • 2 HDMI 2.0 ports
    • 1 DisplayPort 1.4 port
    • 3 USB 3.1 ports
    • 1 USB-C port
    • 1 USB B port
    • Headphone jack
    • Thin bezels
    • Supports horizontal and vertical orientation
  • The BenQ monitor is priced at €1199, although it can often be found at a lower cost on platforms like Amazon.

3. LG Ultrafine 24 Inch: Compact and Capable

  • For users with limited workspace, the LG Ultrafine monitor offers a compact solution with its 24-inch screen. Despite its smaller size, it packs impressive specifications, making it ideal for those in need of a space-efficient 4K monitor.
    • 23.7-inch panel with nano IPS technology
    • 4K resolution (3840 x 2160)
    • 16:9 aspect ratio
    • Maximum brightness of 540 nits
    • 60Hz refresh rate
    • 98% DCI-P3 color coverage
    • 85W Power Delivery via Thunderbolt
    • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream up to 40 Gbps)
    • 3 USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
  • With a price of €699, the LG Ultrafine monitor offers a compact 4K display at a reasonable cost, and frequent deals on platforms like Amazon may lead to even greater savings.

Selecting the ideal external monitor for your Mac setup involves considering your specific requirements and budget. These alternatives to Apple’s Studio Display offer a range of features and pricing options, ensuring that you can enhance your workspace and productivity without breaking the bank.