The Best External Monitors For Laptops
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Laptops are great – they are ultra-mobile, easy to use, and often cheaper than their desktop equivalents. The thing is, once you are sat at a desk and get working you can often feel the need for a little more room when it comes to your displays.
There are loads of reasons why you might want an additional screen for your laptop, but the big question is what’s the best external monitor for a laptop? Well, don’t worry, we’re going to try and answer then as best we can whilst giving some options perfect for different uses and tasks that might be more important to you than others!
Why Do I Need An External Monitor?
When it comes to the question of ‘do I need an external monitor’ the easiest way to answer is by thinking about whether you routinely run applications that stack up on top of each other, that can become overwhelming and stressful the more you have to switch between them? If the answer is yes, then it could be time to invest in an external monitor.
Another reason that an external monitor could be something you need is if you are working on your laptop, and find yourself having to switch between applications often in order to continue your workflow – an external monitor smooths out that process altogether, with a second screen to seamlessly work from or use as a reference.
Or you could be using your laptop for gaming, and you might need another screen for walkthroughs, monitoring a Discord channel, or even for running a streaming client. These are all valid things to want to run whilst gaming, and can be made so much easier with the use of a second screen. You might even want to run your games on that second screen – there are monitor options out there that allow for higher refresh rates and better color recreation, so there is every chance you can improve your laptops gameplay with a different external monitor.
Whatever the reason you are looking for an external monitor is, rest assured that there is an easy solution – and probably one tailored to your exact needs.
How Do I use An External Monitor?
The answer to this is ‘incredibly easily’. Just hook your monitor up to your laptop via the HDMI port and then head to your laptops ‘display settings’ to set up your external monitor just te way that you like it.
If you are using an external GPU, you can even use a Thunderbolt 3 cable to hook your laptop up to an external monitor, meaning that you can take total advantage of the possible boost in frame rate and graphical output on a monitor that might be able to display it better.
Basically, if you are worried about not being ‘technical enough’ to connect your laptop to an external monitor, rest assured that it couldn’t be easier.
The Best External Monitors For Laptops
- 4K, HDR ready
- G-Sync compatible
- Impressive refresh rate and response time
- Hefty price tag
- Designed more so for gaming than anything else
The Acer Predator X27
If your looking for the best external monitor for gaming, then the Acer Predator X27 is definitely the one for you.
Before you buy this external monitor for your laptop though, you should be aware that this isn’t the kind of screen you can easily pack away and take with you if you are the sort to use a gaming laptop for LAN parties and tournaments. Instead, this is most likely going to be your at home, on a desk choice to plug into when you get the chance to sit down at the end of the day.
So, with that in mind lets talk about the Predator X27. It’s a HDR-ready monitor, which means you are going to be seeing some incredible color ranges on the screen itself, which, if you hadn’t guessed, is 27 inches wide.
Those 27 inches are going to be working hard though, as this is a fully 4K monitor, which coupled with the HDR capability means you are going to be enjoying crystal clear gaming – as long as your laptop can support it.
You can also expect this monitor to come equipped with G-Sync technology – similar to AMD’s Freesync, G-Sync works with Nvidia graphics cards in order to sync up refresh rates between the monitor and the games you are playing, so that you never experience screen tearing, and also (incredibly) never have to suffer at the hands of input lag – a very important feature if you are looking to game competitively online, lag can be the difference between first place and a loss.
Which brings me to the screens refresh rate. This monitor is capable of pulling 144hz, which is incredible as far as gaming competitively goes, if your laptop is capable of matching that then you can expect super smooth gameplay as long as you are attached to the Predator X27. Couple that with the 4ms response time and you have a screen on which to play that is going to give you a competitive edge in games.
Speaking of competitive gaming, this monitor seems to have been designed with that in mind. You will find a relatively thick panel surrounding the screen – which can put some people off design-wise, but really it’s great for eliminating screen glare and other annoying distractions as you play.
But if you are looking to enjoy single-player games on your laptop and want a great external monitor to enjoy them in a larger, higher-performing aspect ratio then this monitor is definitely for you thanks to its impressive display options.
Be aware though that the Predator X27’s ability to be the gaming monitor heavy lifter does come at quite a high price – but this section of the article is dedicated to the best external gaming monitor for laptops, and the best comes at a price.
- Incredible display
- Lots of different settings and profiles to play with
- Stellar color accuracy
- Not great for other forms of visual media like gaming
- Hefty price tag
If you are looking to use your laptop for video editing and want to make sure that your finished cut is looking as great as it can do, then you are going to need a screen that can reflect your vision – and the BenQ PD3200U does an excellent job at being that screen.
Let’s start by running through its main hardware points. Firstly: the screen is 32 inches wide, and its fully 4K. the color accuracy on that screen is magnificent too, you might not even need to use a monitor calibrator in order to get an accurate color recreation from this monitor at al l- it could be ready right out of the box.
You can also expect a refresh rate of 60hz – which is pretty great considering that for video editing your going to need at least that in order to fully appreciate and understand the nuances of what’s going on on-screen, frame by frame.
What you might not have expected though is that BenQ designed this monitor to be used almost exclusively by the likes of video editors, professional photographers and other graphic designers who need a screen that can offer stellar visual clarity, but not need all the added extras that might be packed into a gaming monitor. This means that all of the efforts from BenQ that went into this monitor got poured into its use as a tool for work, so you can expect things like different monitor profiles to be available, allowing you to switch between settings easily depending on what you are working on – you can have one setting for animation, one for photoshop, one for video editing and so on.
You can also expect to find a blue light filter built right into the monitor itself, which means if you are using it for work and you expect to be using your laptops, external monitor, for extended periods of time, then you don’t have to worry as much about eye strain. Handy stuff, and invaluable if this is going to be your everyday workstation attached to your laptop.
You can also split your monitor so that one side performs in one manner, and the other side in another – handy if you are going to be working on something that needs to be transformed into another media type, but otherwise this monitor might be a bit small for this mode.
Otherwise, this is a great external monitor to use with a laptop if your primary focus is going to be video editing – or any kind of graphic design work that necessitates high-quality screens. The price point is hefty, but good for what the monitor offers – but be aware that this monitor might not perform as well when it comes to tasks like gaming, just because it has been purpose-built for its creative design tasks rather than anything else.
- Great screen quality
- Easily portable
- Built in speakers
- Surprising connection options
- Smalll screen
- Battery life a little on the short side
AZMIOR 4K Portable Monitor
If you are looking to keep your laptop and all of its added extras as portable as possible, then there can be no beating the AZMIOR 4K portable monitor.
Let’s have a look at some of some of its technical details before we dive into why it impressed is so much as a portable monitor. It boasts a 4K IPS Display, which if you weren’t aware, is going to give off some seriously high caliber visuals (as long as your laptop allows it).
This 4K display is bolstered by Freesync – an adaptive display technology developed by AMD that helps images and displays contain their refresh rates to adapt to the monitor itself. Combine that with the thin bezels and the relatively widescreen (15.6 inches) and you have yourself an incredibly well-performing portable monitor that is capable of some seriously crisp images.
All of these different hardware components add up to the fact that this monitor performs incredibly well no matter if it is handling video, applications, games or even static images. That Freesync technology I mentioned before means that the risk of screen tearing or stuttering is totally minimized, so you can rely on the AZMIOR 4K Portable monitor to keep you supported with high-quality video output no matter what you are using it for, when you are using it or where.
And I mean those last two points because what makes this 4K monitor so impressive is that it was designed to be used on the go – it’s portable after all. So, you can forget bulky display stands and huge, thick HDMI wires poking out the back.
Instead expect a similar setup to a tablets display stand, coupled with a connectivity setup that is bound to make any cable management fanatics day. You can connect it through a mini-HDMI or through a USB connection (thunderbolt 3) – but either way, you are going to drastically cut down on your wires and overall screen space.
Did I mention it also supports HDR? And that it has built-in speakers? Basically, this monitor gives you all the capacity of a full 4K HDR-ready TV or monitor on the go, making it the perfect way to enjoy movies or games in high quality if you’re forced to leave the house.
Not bad at all, and for its price point its definitely a steal. You should be aware that there are bigger portable monitors out there – and for lower prices as well. But if your opting for quality and performance over just…being big, then the AZMIOR 4K Portable Monitor is definitely the way to go.
- Great cheap monitor
- Decent all rounder
- Surprising number of features for the price
- Not as well perfoming as other monitors on this list
- Not an amazing design
- Not specialized in one particular thing
ViewSonic XG2402 Gaming Monitor
When it comes to using an external monitor with a laptop, there are a lot of different things that you might have in mind to use that monitor for. The thing is, if you are trying to keep your costs down it can be hard to find a monitor that acts as a proficient jack of all trades that align with your cost goals.
Enter the ViewSonic XG2402 Gaming Monitor.
Now, I know what you are thinking – can a gaming monitor be a jack of all trades? The simple answer is: yes, it can – as long as it doesn’t try to overreach, and that’s exactly where the ViewSonic XG2402 excels.
Hardware-wise it packs a 24-inch screen that offers 1080p pictures with a refresh rate of 144hz and a response time of a millisecond. Not bad at all, and it will hold up well with games thanks to these settings giving this monitor a nice, low input lag and its Freesync capabilities.
You even get yourself some RGB lighting on the back panel – which every gamer knows boosts performance in ways that can’t be measured with traditional science. Outside of that though, you will experience some very accurate color reproduction on this monitor, so if you are looking to do some graphic design work or even just watch media on the monitor whilst you work on your laptop – you can be sure that you are going to be seeing some surprisingly well-implemented colors.
When it comes to the actual build quality of this monitor you will be pleasantly surprised as well. Sure its got some pretty unfortunate bezels, but that’s fine – for this price you can deal with some bezels, and you are going to see a lot in the way of adjustability on the monitor itself, which is great because if you are using in tandem with a laptop its good to be able to set your monitor up in a way which aligns with the laptop screen. That’s what I like anyway, so I’m mentioning it here.
This monitor is usually priced below $250, but for what it does and the performance it offers you have to give it to the ViewSonic because it really does offer a lot for a lower price.
- Wide screen
- Low cost for good quality
- HDR compatible
- Freesync aligned
- Not at all portable
- Takes up a lot of desk room
- Design of inputs can be frustrating
Have you ever seen those crazy setups on Reddit, where someone has positioned a monitor above an ultrawide screen? Well, it’s pretty easy to recreate that with a laptop, except the laptop is a much smaller monitor that sits underneath the ultrawide.
My point here (if there even is one) is that ultrawide monitors are a brilliant way of freeing up a lot of on-screen space to get going with all kinds of tasks – gaming, work, creative endeavors, they all look great on ultrawide monitors, and the best ultrawide monitor to use with your laptop is the BenQ EX3501R.
This is the second time BenQ has cropped up on this list, and it’s for a reason – they know how to build high-quality monitors. The EX3501R is a great curved monitor to use with laptops – its got a 35-inch screen that’s totally supportive of HDR colors, so you have that to look forward right when you turn it on.
Looking at some of the more nitty-gritty details though, and you can see that with its 100hz refresh rate and the freesync capability it has baked in, that this can function incredibly well as a gaming monitor if that’s your thing.
If it isn’t, then rest assured that the color reproduction and greyscale performance make this a brilliant screen on which to work with images or video, and thanks to its generous size its also ideal for music editing as well – you can drag tracks all the way across the screen!
Its price might be a little steep – but it’s less steep than a lot of the other ultrawide monitors on the market today, and you can also be sure that it will work together quite nicely with a laptop underneath it.
Sure, the monitor itself doesn’t have any built-in speakers or much in the way of adjustability (there is no swivel feature to speak of) but if you take these as sacrifices in the name of ultrawide usability, then you are going to be left with a fantastically versatile monitor that offers great performance and surprising usability, with ample connectivity options in the way of two HDMI 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, a USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports and a DisplayPort.
Quite a lot – so you can be sure that you can get your laptop AND other devices hooked up to this monitor if you need to. All in all a great ultrawide monitor to use with your laptop.
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And that just about rounds off our list of the best external monitors to use with your laptop. If you want me to give you the short of it, here you go: if you are looking for an external gaming monitor for your laptop, go for the Acer Predator X27. For a great video editing external monitor for your laptop, the BenQ PD3200U is the one to go for, and the BenQ EX3501R is the best ultrawide external monitor for your laptop. If you want portability, then the AZMIOR 4K Portable Monitor is the best portable external laptop monitor, and the ViewSonic XG2402 Gaming Monitor is the best external laptop monitor that saves on cash.
If you have any questions: leave them in the comments below. If you have any suggestions: leave them in the comments below. Any general thoughts, musings, or otherwise can also be put in the comments – and anything that grabs our attention and adds to this page, we will definitely stick into the article for other people benefit!