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What are the features that make for the best Thunderbolt monitor? For starters, your Thunderbolt display model should provide seamless compatibility and connectivity to the Apple ecosystem of computers, as well as to the few Windows PCs that are starting to adopt Thunderbolt connectivity.
Thunderbolt monitors tend to be on the premium side of the price range of top-rated monitors. As such, you should expect them to offer good image quality with excellent color reproduction and fast response time. While you don’t necessarily need it, you’ll find that the best Thunderbolt displays offer 4K resolution and excellent color accuracy.
You should also expect your Thunderbolt monitor to feature daisy-chaining capabilities. This means you can create a multi-monitor setup by connecting monitors to each other with only one connection to your computer. This allows for better cable management and an easier setup process.
Keep reading to learn more about the best Thunderbolt monitors and how they can give you a more user-friendly and immersive visual experience with your computer or laptop.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Its large screen offers a lot of screen real estate, and it also has an impressive array of inputs for external connections. It offers excellent picture quality and is curved to provide an immersive viewing experience.
The Samsung J791 is a 34-inch UltraWide QHD display with a super high 100Hz refresh rate and a curved screen for immersive viewing. The monitor delivers super dark blacks thanks to a 3000:1 contrast ratio and has Quantum Dot Color technology for crisp and clear colors thanks to its 125% coverage of the sRGB color space. Gamers will be glad to hear that the monitor also comes with AMD FreeSync technology to synchronize its refresh rate with a connected GPU, which helps minimize image tearing and screen stutter. Unfortunately, it does not have G-Sync technology for Nvidia owners.
The display’s rapid 100Hz refresh rate keeps fast motion sequences super smooth, and its three-sided bezel-free design gives it a super modern look. The display’s port selection includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports and an HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB input. It also has a built-in 7-watt stereo speaker for good sound, and with features such as Picture-by-Picture and Picture-in-Picture, owners will be able to multitask effectively. If you’re new to Thunderbolt 3, check out our guide to explaining what Thunderbolt 3 is.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It has excellent picture quality thanks to its high resolution and impressive port selection. It also has great adjustability and a couple of gaming-oriented features that make it great for competitive players.
This 32-inch LG 32UL950-W offers pristine picture quality thanks to its 4K resolution, and with up to 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut, it provides great color accuracy. It also comes with support for HDR technology to deliver an ultra-realistic picture quality, and since its stand is height, pivot, and tilt adjustable, owners will be able to adjust it properly down to their requirements. The display also has a pretty wide port selection, as it includes two Thunderbolt ports, two USB ports, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI port. Still, some users have complained that it does not offer the best viewing angles.
With a super slim top and side bezels, this 32-inch LG screen will look immaculate in any office setting, and with easy-to-navigate on-screen control settings that allow for easy access to volume, brightness, and picture mode settings, owners will have a very easy time adapting the display to their preferred settings. It is also ideal for gaming thanks to features such as a Black Stabilizer that improves visibility in dark scenes, Radeon FreeSync technology to synchronize its frame rate with that of a connected GPU, and a Dynamic Action Sync mode to reduce input lag. The great visuals would be great for looking at images or videos in vibrant colors. Consider this guide, too, if you’re interested in using a monitor as a TV to watch videos, shows, and movies.
Award: BEST FOR COLOR-CRITICAL WORK
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is great for color-critical work and supports High Dynamic Range technology. It also has some eye-related technologies for comfortable viewing over long-term use.
The BenQ PD3220U is a premium 4K display that offers excellent picture quality and shows amazing color thanks to 100% coverage of the sRGB color gamut. The display’s support for 10-bit color and HDR10 content makes content vivid and ultra-realistic, and since it is Calmone/Pantone verified, it is perfect for color-critical work. It comes with a special Darkroom Mode for impressive brightness and contrast for working in dark environments and an Animation Mode that offers the ideal contrast balance for animators. Unfortunately, some users have reported a significant amount of flickering after extended use.
Users who work long hours will likely appreciate some of its eye-care technologies, including a low blue light mode to filter out harmful light. It also features a Thunderbolt 3 port for combined audiovisual and power transmission and a Keyboard Video Mouse switch for controlling content on two screens with one keyboard and one mouse.
Award: BEST FOR PICTURE QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The display has excellent picture quality. It also has exceptional color accuracy and a great port selection. It also has a very high contrast ratio.
This 32-inch Apple Pro Display XDR monitor offers mind-blowing picture quality thanks to its 6K resolution. The display’s color is also pretty accurate thanks to its ability to render up to 1.07 billion colors and is also pretty clear thanks to a brightness level that peaks at 1600. Its wide quad high-definition screen also delivers excellent picture quality. However, some have complained about its lack of a stand.
Adjustability on this Apple display is also pretty good since it is height, swivel, and tilt adjustable, and with support for HDR technology, the display relays exceptional color and contrast for vivid visuals. It comes with one HDMI port, one Thunderbolt port, and three USB-C ports for charging or syncing. The monitor also has an exceptional 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio for dark blacks and bright whites, and since it is an IPS display, owners get to enjoy wide viewing angles.
Award: BEST FOR WIDE PORT SELECTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a wide range of inputs for expanded connectivity and great ergonomics for easy adjustability. The display also renders super-accurate color and has an ok 250-nit brightness level.
This 32-inch SAMSUNG TU872 monitor is an excellent UHD display that supports HDR10 content and is capable of a 250-nit brightness level. The monitor happens to be factory calibrated for outstanding color quality, and since its stand is tilt, swivel, pivot, and height-adjustable, users will be able to adjust it to their exact preferences. The display’s 4-side frameless design gives it an ultramodern look, and since it covers 100% of the sRGB color scale, it renders exceptional picture quality.
The display offers a wide range of connectivity options since it comes with three USB ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one DisplayPort 1.2 port, one HDMI 2.0 port, and one HDMI 2.0 port. Its UHD resolution keeps pictures nice and clear, and with an eye saver mode that lowers blue light levels and uses Flicker-Free technology, the display is ideal for users who would like to put in long working hours and still avoid eye strain.
Award: BEST FOR ERGONOMICS
WHY WE LIKE IT: Its stand is height, tilt, pivot, and swivel adjustable, and since users will also be able to purchase a shading hood, they’ll be able to reduce glare and reflectivity.
Best fit for office use, the Dell UltraSharp UP2720Q is a super accurate 4K resolution display that is great for users who would appreciate its excellent ergonomics, as well as its ability to perform scheduled automatic color calibrations. Its 27-inch screen is good enough for compact spaces, and with a contrast ratio of 1300:1, black and white colors are accurately represented. Buyers can also purchase a quick and easy-to-attach hood, which will work well to reduce glare and reflections. Unfortunately, some users have complained that it has pretty low brightness levels for a professional monitor.
With a pixel density of 163 PPI, the Ultra 4K display offers unbridled picture clarity, and since it also comes with four USB ports and two Thunderbolt ports, it provides a wide range of connectivity options that owners can take advantage of.
A Thunderbolt monitor (such as a Thunderbolt 4 monitor), which is usually one of the top-rated monitors for Macbook Pro, is a type of extended display option for your computer or laptop that uses a specific type of display cable called a Thunderbolt cable, which offers both display and power delivery. This makes Thunderbolt monitors for Mac or PC one of the best monitors to connect to any of the leading WiFi picture frames.
If you use a desktop computer, you’ll need at least one monitor to see what you’re doing. If you use a laptop, you can use an external monitor as a second display or as a primary display when your laptop is closed. You can use a Thunderbolt display to achieve this functionality of an external display. However, a Thunderbolt 4 display is superior, as it can support two 4K displays or one 8K display.
If you were to compare a Thunderbolt monitor (even a top-tier Thunderbolt 4 monitor) and a traditional computer monitor side-by-side, you probably wouldn’t notice much difference, especially when it comes to their form factor and design. They also offer the same core functionality of displaying information from your computer. With regards to size, thunderbolt monitors are often larger, but you can check out the best portable gaming monitor if you want a smaller-sized monitor.
Alternatively, compare those gaming monitors to the top Thunderbolt 4 monitors of 2023 to see the benefits.
The main difference between Thunderbolt monitors and traditional monitors is in the type of connection they use, especially if you need to connect a monitor to a gaming PC. A monitor with a Thunderbolt port resembles a USB-C port in shape and size, but it offers a higher level of performance and faster speed. In fact, Thunderbolt is the fastest connection type available today, out-pacing USB-C monitors that use a USB-C cable.
Where USB-C hubs and cables offer a maximum throughput speed of around 20Gbps, Thunderbolt cables offer up to 40Gbps. This means you can run two 4K monitors simultaneously at a 60Hz refresh rate without data loss. If you think that’s fast, see how much faster monitors with a Thunderbolt 4 port are.
Thunderbolt cables can also provide power delivery on top of the display signals, meaning you can charge your laptop via your monitor. This dual functionality also enables daisy-chaining abilities, allowing you to connect multiple monitors with only a cable connected to your computer.
Thunderbolt monitors work much in the same way as other computer monitors. Using a Thunderbolt cable, you create a direct connection between the display and your computer. Once the two are connected, your computer sends visual signals to your monitor, which then displays information in a way you can see and understand.
There are two main types of Thunderbolt cable versions to consider:
Monitors with Thunderbolt create more user-friendliness, high performance, and image quality. If you’re willing to pay the more expensive price for a Thunderbolt monitor, you’ll definitely get a better product. That said, check out our list of the best Thunderbolt monitors of 2023.
Most Thunderbolt monitors are flatscreen options, with either LCD or LED panel technology. According to professionals at TechiExpert, an LCD monitor should last you anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 hours, and an LED monitor should last you anywhere between 80,000 to 120,000 hours.
To choose the best Thunderbolt monitor, you’ll need to identify and search for excellent features that will benefit your own personal needs. This section of the guide will help you identify those needs and features.
The following questions will help you identify exactly what kind of Thunderbolt monitor you should purchase. Ask yourself these questions and use the answers to narrow down your choices.
Most Thunderbolt monitors use LED display technology, which is a type of LCD technology. LED stands for light-emitting diode, and it refers to the type of backlighting the monitor uses. Where LCD monitors use fluorescent lamps, and LED monitors use small, individual lights.
We recommend purchasing an LED Thunderbolt monitor because it will typically offer a better contrast ratio, more accurate colors, and an overall thinner design. However, it’s important to note that an LED monitor is often more expensive than an LCD monitor.
You’ll also want to consider the panel type your monitor uses. There are three main panel types to consider:
You should expect a high level of picture quality on your Thunderbolt display, but these are the most important features to consider:
Because of its excellent image quality, a Thunderbolt monitor makes for an excellent gaming monitor. If you’re a gamer, look for these features:
Some Thunderbolt monitors offer ultrawide configurations or curved monitor configurations. If you purchase an ultrawide monitor, you’ll get a 21:9 aspect ratio. This allows you to multitask more efficiently because you can easily place windows side-by-side.
If you purchase a Thunderbolt monitor with a curved screen, you’ll get a more immersive visual experience. The curved monitor doesn’t require you to turn your head as much to see the entire screen.
Many Thunderbolt computer monitors offer additional input ports and functionality besides a Thunderbolt port. What you need here really depends on how you plan to use the monitor.
Some features to keep an eye on include built-in speakers, adjustability, USB ports, and a built-in webcam. You may also find a headphone jack to plug your headphones directly into the monitor. If you would like to not have to buy an additionally webcam, check out our guide on great monitors with a webcam.
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