Since its creation in 2014, USB-C’s ultimate goal is to revolutionize the interactions between devices by simplifying data and power solutions into one, universally compatible cable and receptacle type. This technology is capable of handling data transfers, supplying power, and video/audio input and outputs making a very flexible and powerful connection platform. Once fully implemented, this connector type is poised to replace most if not all of the cables we use in between devices such as TVs, PCs and laptops, external storage devices, and even monitors. Experts state that as more and more compatible devices enter production and slowly fill the retail shelves, eventually, the existing standards and connectors we use today will be replaced by this specification. In the future, we might even see wall sockets with receptacles for these cables instead of the regular two-prong or three-prong power plug.
One of the immediate beneficiaries of this technology’s capabilities is, of course, monitors. It’s applicable for an Apple monitor, an Apple cinema display, or a monitor for your MacBook Pro. Currently, we use a minimum of two to three cables on this peripheral while operating. These usually comprise of the power, the signal input (HDMI, DP, DVI, etc.), and a USB type A or type B cable for other accessories. These various wires make a lot of mess if not placed correctly, and they also affect size, power requirements and pricing of most devices since additional different cables mean more receptacles or ports which in turn, requires more raw materials for processing and manufacturing. Once fully integrated into display technology, we may see newer products with only one Type-C cable handling all the tasks these cables work on in a single, marginally thinner and cost-effective connection solution. Pretty exciting since the application of this concept will give way to thinner, energy efficient and affordable display products making the viewing experience universally convenient and user-friendly.
Since the technology is quite new, the digital world has only begun to witness the benefits. There are still limitations and compatibility issues, and technological advances such as Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C exclusive) is still under continuous development and limited application. But despite these hindrances, the future is inevitable. In the monitor market, manufacturers are now beginning to ship out products compatible with these technologies to give us a glimpse of the streamlined and convenient future we are about to experience. These products rely on USB Type-C for audio and video input, data transfers including device recognition and power delivery between devices to create a universal digital ecosystem between these new gadgets. So far, compatible host devices come in a mobile form such as Google’s 2016 Chromebook and Apple’s 2016 MacBook Air, which are laptops reliant on USB Type-C as an exclusive connection for power, data, and signal exchange. The technology is young, so there aren’t a lot of available devices that can take advantage of the benefits. But, considering the direction the current trends are taking, we may as well bear witness to phones, desktop computers and media boxes that can support Type-C tech. In this buyers guide, we have listed the pioneering monitors that are USB Type-C compatible. There are still existing limitations such as charging wattage, but since these products are early adopters, they are currently the best future-proof display solutions the market is offering.
Best USB Type C Monitors 2017: All Featured Monitors
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Acer H277HU Review
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LG 27UD88-W Review
LG Ultrafine 4K
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LG Ultra fine 4K Review
LG Ultrafine 5k
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LG Ultrafine 5k Review
Lenovo ThinkVision X1
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HP Envy 27 4K
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HP Envy 27 4K Review
1. Acer H277HU – 1440p USB-C Display
If you are an Apple fan, then this product is for you. While this product is not developed exclusively for Apple products, the Acer H277HU sports a physical design feature that matches with the company’s gold colored Macbooks. The themed bezels and stand are made of anodized metal, and they are magnetized so you can stick pins and other small metallic stuff. This selection is also the only 1440p product to make this list, but it does not fall short regarding image performance. By today’s standards, 2k is still widely accepted as a good choice for improved details and clarity over the current mainstream 1080p options. This model is still capable of good contrast levels and color accuracy, alongside its narrow “Zero thin” designed bezels and the diamond tip-cut build quality. Aside from the looks, The USB Type-C which sets this model apart from its Acer H277H
This model is still capable of good contrast levels and color accuracy, alongside its narrow “Zero thin” designed bezels and the diamond tip-cut build quality. Aside from the looks, the USB Type-C which sets this model apart from its Acer H277H cousin also enables compatibility with the Macbooks who only have USB-C as the single connector for charging, data transfer and audio/video output. It’s quite a match, but you pay a heavy premium for it at $450 compared to its lesser counterpart, the H277H which only goes for $250.
2. LG 27UD88-W – 27 Inch 4k Monitor with USB-C
Looking more like a centerpiece in a deluxe living room rather than a monitor the 27UD88-W offers a broad range of usage since the product includes specs for both productivity and gaming. The 4k 27-inch display comes factory-calibrated to have a 99% coverage of the sRGB color space for outstanding out of the box performance in color and contrast. LG also incorporates AMD’s Freesync tech into this sexy thing, even if the refresh rate is limited to only 60Hz and response times are only up to 5ms. This addition however still makes this product viable for gaming since 60Hz at 4k is quite difficult to reach for a lot of the computers we have today. The USB Type-C connector in this model also allows 4K at
This addition however still makes this product viable for gaming since 60Hz at 4k is quite difficult to reach for a lot of the computers we have today. The USB Type-C connector in this model also allows 4K at 60Hz input, but it reduces the other USB ports to 2.0 functions. LG also features an intuitive OSD menu called “On-Screen Control” which is navigated with the mouse and keyboards instead of standard buttons. All of these features make the 27UD88-W one of the highest rated products in this category and is also the reason why we included this beautiful device in this selection.
3. LG Ultrafine 4K – Best Monitor for MacBook 2017
This next product in our line up is a love child between two companies who previously never had collaborations on a scale like this. LG developed the LG Ultrafine 4K monitor with the close guidance of tech giant Apple, who until recently only offered their exclusive Retina displays for use with their computer products. These are the monitors that you will find if you visit the Apple Store. At first glance, the monitor is designed like any conventional, affordable product most users would buy for everyday use, but the rather small frame contains a 4k panel with a 4096×2304 resolution that packs 9.4 million pixels within the limited viewing real estate space. Images are stunningly brilliant at this pixel density, a feature popularly found on the more expensive Retina displays previously mentioned. Another similar feature to Apple’s proprietary tech is the wider coverage of the P3 color gamut and the 500-nit brightness. Color accuracy and contrast are hard to beat on these levels especially in a screen of this size. The IPS panel is also capable of 120Hz refresh rate, which translates to less tearing and blurring in games, even if the intended Macbook for this device isn’t fully capable of high-end gaming. But what makes this extraordinary is its exclusive use of USB-Type C ports for all input options, making this limited to their 2016 Macbooks who share the same restrictions. The USB-C port is capable Thunderbolt 3 specs and 60watts of charging juice, so as it is, you have enough power to dock your MacBook Air or Pro and have it always charging while in use. You won’t find the usual HDMI or DP ports, so you can’t use this gadget for your non-Apple devices as of the moment. Currently, more and more USB-C devices are in development, so in time this could be a viable option for other setups as well.
Color accuracy and contrast are hard to beat on these levels especially in a screen of this size. The IPS panel is also capable of 120Hz refresh rate, which translates to less tearing and blurring in games, even if the intended Macbook for this device isn’t fully capable of high-end gaming. But what makes this extraordinary is its exclusive use of USB-Type C ports for all input options, making this limited to their 2016 Macbooks who share the same restrictions. The USB-C port is capable Thunderbolt 3 specs and 60watts of charging juice, so as it is, you have enough power to dock your MacBook Air or Pro and have it always charging while in use. You won’t find the usual HDMI or DP ports, so you can’t use this gadget for your non-Apple devices as of the moment. Currently, more and more USB-C devices are in development, so in time this could be a viable option for other setups as well.
4. LG Ultrafine 5k – Best Monitor For MacBook Pro 2017
If the entry above is too small (which in my opinion, it is), then this is the bigger brother to fill the size gap. As the model name suggests, the LG Ultrafine 5k is a 27-inch beast which has similar features with the 4K 21.5 inch, but in a bigger body and resolution, a jaw-dropping 5120 x 2880. Pixel count is at 14.7 million, almost twice of what regular 4k monitors have, making the individual dots invisible to the human eye. This is the pinnacle achievement of Apple in their display tech, and also one of the biggest reasons professionals and critics highly acclaim the Retina technology. These two models also share remarkable physical attributes such as improved speakers with decent quality, a notable range of adjustments (despite a stiff-looking stand), a built-in camera and microphone, and of course, the USB Type-C I/O exclusivity. The difference between the Thunderbolt 3 ports of this model and the smaller sibling lies only in charging wattage, as this model offers up to 85 watts instead of the regular 60. So if you own a bigger Macbook, this monitor is the better option between the two. Another fact that sets this exclusive product apart from the competition is currently, this is the only 5k monitor that supports a single-cable requirement to be able to operate the 5k resolution at advertised specs since most usually require an additional adapter and a second Thunderbolt 3 cable.
The difference between the Thunderbolt 3 ports of this model and the smaller sibling lies only in charging wattage, as this model offers up to 85 watts instead of the regular 60. So if you own a bigger Macbook, this monitor is the better option between the two. Another fact that sets this exclusive product apart from the competition is currently, this is the only 5k monitor that supports a single-cable requirement to be able to operate the 5k resolution at advertised specs since most usually require an additional adapter and a second Thunderbolt 3 cable.
5. Lenovo ThinkVision X1 – 4K USB type-C Monitor
Sporting a look that suits industrial or business settings, the Lenovo ThinkVision X1 makes this list because of its quirky features, aside from having USB Type-C. The company is popular for making products with straight-up, no fuss designed exteriors such as their ThinkPad series of laptops, who look more like they belong in the military rather than your home office. The X1 is no stranger to this concept, even if at a glance, the borderless design exudes class and sophistication fit for your office or your chic home. Like the first entry in this line-up, this model has a 27-inch 4K panel with a pixel density of around 157PPI, 1300:1 contrast ratio, which ultimately results in stunning details and crisp images. There is also a 1080p webcam with led lights, dual array microphones and a privacy cover attached to an articulated arm on the back of the X1, allowing image capturing and presentation which will find its usefulness in business, industrial and institutional settings. The USB Type-C capability further amplifies consideration for this product in the mentioned fields, especially once the technology takes over industry standards and allows streamlined integration between devices such as laptops and desktops.
There is also a 1080p webcam with led lights, dual array microphones and a privacy cover attached to an articulated arm on the back of the X1, allowing image capturing and presentation which will find its usefulness in business, industrial and institutional settings. The USB Type-C capability further amplifies consideration for this product in the mentioned fields, especially once the technology takes over industry standards and allows streamlined integration between devices such as laptops and desktops.
6. HP Envy 27 4K – 4K USB C Monitor
Last year, HP released a new series of products which embodies elegance and beauty without sacrificing performance. This model, the HP Envy 27 4K, is a follow up to their previous Envy 32 model, which received mix reviews due to its massive size and 1440p resolution. In this second generation, the company decided to redesign this offering into a smaller cabinet with a higher native resolution resulting in more pixel density. Although, the largest update the company has given this device is the inclusion of USB Type-C and its accompanying benefits.
Buyers can use this product as a charging dock and an external display for devices such as the 2016 Macbook and most of the modern laptops built with the Type-C receptacle. Alongside the mentioned redesign of the physical features, HP has also included Freesync into this display, which I do believe is a good move on their part. Considering the pricing and the current applications and its accompanying limitations that the Envy 27 is bound to take on, Freesync will surely find its usefulness.
The BenQ PD2710QC is a stylish and modern display built for savvy home and office users who want excellent visuals. The product comes in a unique combination of black and silver with super slim bezels to create a product which appears twice as expensive as its asking price. The Ergonomics are superb and build quality is unquestionable, but what stands out is its USB-C slot with 61 Watts of power plus the base which doubles as a dock for your USB-C laptop. The big enough surface gently slants to cradle your device, plus it also includes USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack for maximum convenience.
This model is one of the few offerings available that can display perfect sRGB coverage with superb accuracy from out of the box, so users can enjoy using it right away. Combined with its 2560 x 1440 resolution, your work and games appear brilliantly clear and vibrant, pushing your experience past what vanilla monitors can offer. Also, if you dab in endeavors such as CAD/CAM design, the BenQ PD2710QC is well suited since it includes useful modes to advance its output to display wireframes or technical drawings with superior clarity. If that’s not enough, this model only clocks in at 10ms in input lag, providing a responsive and enjoyable casual gaming session after all the work has finished.
8. LG 43UD79-B
The LG 43UD79-B is gigantic by monitor standards, but it is one of the most useful 4K monitors due to the versatility it offers. Don’t let its TV-ish appearance fool you, this product is packed with features that can make your professional lives easier. To The massive 43-inch 4K IPS screen can split into several configurations using several signal inputs from different host devices, or you can use it as a single screen with a vast desktop space for maximum productivity. Its USB-C slot is just one of the connectors you can use, aside from its DisplayPort 1.2 and four HDMI ports.
Serious business aside, the LG 32UD79-B is also capable of entertainment thanks to its FreeSync compatibility and decent audio output via its pair of 10-watt Harman Kardon speakers. 100% sRGB is specified so perfectly lifelike and vibrant colors are guaranteed, and all though it isn’t as sharp as its Ultrafine cousins, the screen is still crisp and clear. But what makes the LG 43UD79-B one of the greatest is its reasonable price, which is the lowest in its class of TV-sized professional displays.
9. Dell U3818DW
The Dell U3818DW is another behemoth with an impressive 3840 x 1600 resolution which provides a huge virtual space for productivity or entertainment. This model comes with the brand’s signature aesthetic treatment, but having a screen that size with extra thin dual stage borders easily makes it one of the most attractive spectacles anyone can have on a desk. Keep in mind that this model is almost 3 feet wide and weighs almost 30lbs, but it is well handled by the included ergonomic stand that has the flexibility of a 16:9 variant.
The 38-inch IPS screen on the Dell U3818DW is equally engrossing, thanks to its 2300r curvature with fantastic vibrancy and accuracy which creates exciting visuals. The pre-calibrated screen is matched with functionalities that take advantage of its size and its rich I/O port which includes USB-C. The latter is one of the Dell U3818DW’s highlights since it can produce 100w of charging power which can charge even some of the more powerful mobile devices available, so your work and games while charging are secured.
10. Acer XR382CQK
the Acer XR382CQK is a similar product to the Dell U3818DW but is more refined for gaming more than professional applications. The 3840 x 1600 screen can go up to 75Hz for significant improvement in smoothness, plus you get to enjoy FreeSync for tear and stutter-free gaming. Gamut coverage is wide while accuracy is fantastic, so the product is ideal for design work up to some degree. This combination of characteristics makes this model a top pick for flexible users who want a sophisticated universal screen for both types of usage, without forgetting the “wow factor” massive ultrawides like this add to a game room or office.
Since this is a premium model, it comes with an extravagant stand with an architectural appeal and great flexibility. The I/O panel is equally impressive as well since it includes everything you will ever need plus a USB-C receptacle that adds a level of future proofing to this space-aged model. The Acer XR382CQK was designed to immerse it’s users in wonderful visuals and deeply engage them with its massive resolution, size, and curvature, but its USB-C compatibility brings the next generation of devices into play for an all-in-one experience as well.
Currently, the choices available to us for these type of monitors is severely limited, which is understandable since mainstream products still adhere to the conventional standards such as DisplayPort, HDMI and USB 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1. Manufacturers are still taking baby steps in offering USB Type-C since as it is, the consumer’s reaction may vary. You can’t just shock everyone into accepting newer devices without them having a use for it because of compatibility issues. But back in the 90’s, Apple started a gadget revolution by adopting USB 1.1 into their early Mac models which in turn revolutionized the digital world. Fast forward to today, you can see USB receptacles everywhere, even in wall sockets found in modern homes. This time, they are doing the same with highly aggressive marketing in their new products, plus involvement in competing companies to develop products such as the two listed above. This fact, however, is not just about Apple, even if they are a huge proponent of the movement.
Important limitations exist. Hindrances such as limited charging wattage, the need for adaptors and additional cables, etc. These products are the first generation, after all, and as with all early adopting technologies, there are glitches. The appearance of these monitors with Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 technology is a clear sign that the future is coming. In a few years time, we could see the pill-shaped Type-C on every digital device we buy and use. The start of the revolution in input technology for displays is a small glimpse of this so-called tomorrow, and we can only see the tip of the iceberg. Options are rather limited at the time of this writing, so we have only included the popular, highly rated and immediately compatible models these companies are offering. If you have the cash, the suitable hardware, and if you want to jump forward in time for a little, then these future-proof offerings are the best that your money can buy.
Wikipedia about USB.