Jan 08
ben Q monitor

You can use any monitor with the new Mac mini 2018. (Except for an Apple one because they don’t make them any more!) The Mac mini has a HDMI port for a display, but you can also plug a monitor into any of the 4 USB-C ports. My strong advice it try to get a monitor that comes with a HDMI cable or a USB-C cable – don’t rely on Apple’s Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter.

If you have a choice go for a monitor with a HDMI cable so as to leave the 4 USB-C ports free. There are a wide variety of monitors available. I went down to the local computer shop and tried a few out and the ones that stood out to me were LG, BenQ, Samsung and Dell. I’ve also read good reviews on Acer and HP. But be aware that all of these brands make low quality monitors as well. So it’s more important to look at the quality of the monitor than the brand. e.g. Check out the contrast ratio, colour reproduction and resolution.

Don’t just look at the monitor in demo mode in the store. Make sure you plug it into a computer and have a look at some text on the screen. Take your own laptop in or ask the store for a demo plugged into a MAcintosh computer. The demo modes on the monitors are made to look crystal clear and sharp, but when you plug it into you computer and display plain text some monitors can be fuzzy or blurry or even look washed out. Read more to find out what monitor I ended up buying!

I ended up going with a BENQ BenQ PD2500Q 25″ 2K QHD 2560×1440 4ms 60Hz IPS HDMI DP mDP Designer Monitor and it is absolutely fantastic. I ordered mine from a local Windows PC shop and it set me back AU$452. Here’s why I’d recommend it the BenQ:

  • It’s well built. It has a solid mechanism to move it up and down.
  • Reasonably good colour reproduction. 100% sRGB which equates to 70% Adobe RGB. (My old Apple thunderbolt display had 76% Adobe RGB, 2017 Macbook Pro’s have 91%, the DELL mentioned below has 100%). This refers to how many colours the monitor can display. Did you know that there are some colours that a monitor cannot reproduce!
  • It feels great on my eyes. It has some easy to access modes that cut down blue light. Brightness levels are reasonably easy to adjust.
  • High resolution (2560×1440) for a 25 inch monitor.
  • It was far cheaper than other professional displays in its class.

I would have preferred a Dell UP2516D 25 inch which also has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 but has even better colour reproduction than the BenQ. I could not find a Dell for under $600. The BenQ was $450.

If you want great coloraturas and are happy wth a smaller display then Dell have some nice 24 inch displays in their ‘Ultrasharp’ range. They have these models with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 for around $450:

Dell Ultrasharp U2419H (displayport)
Dell Ultrasharp U2419HC (USB-C)
Dell Ultrasharp U2415 (mini display port)

Some things to be wary of when buying a display.

1. Resolution is more important than size.

When buying a monitor make sure you check the resolution. This is the amount of dots on the screen. Resolution is more important than monitor size. My BenQ 25 inch monitor has a resolution of 2560×1440.

You can buy displays as big as 27 inch that have a resolution as low as 1920 x 1080. They may be bigger, but they have less dots. They simply zoom everything out to fill the screen. This is good for a display in a large space where you are some distance from the screen, but not good for close up work or things will look dotty.

1920×1080 is a good minimum resolution for a 21 inch monitor, 2560×1440 will suit a 24 or 25 inch. If you go to 27 inch you should aim for a 4K display which is 3840 x 2160.

Most 24 inch displays are only 1920×1080 so you will need to search for a monitor with a good resolution. You generally need to go to 25 inch to get to 2560×1440 which makes 24 inch monitors a bit of a dud as they have the same resolution as a 21 inch. The lesson, make sure you check the resolution (how many dots) not just the display’s physical size.

A 4K display is very nice if you can afford it.

2. Beware of ‘different’ colour measurements.

BenQ specs tell you that their display covers 100% of sRGB colours.

sRGB is not as good as Adobe RGB and Adobe RGB is not as good as P3.

So be careful when you are comparing colors and don’t confuse sRGB with Adobe RGB or P3. 100% sRGB equates to approx 70% Adobe RGB which means a monitor that is 100% sRGB will only display 70% of the colours compared with a monitor that is 100% Adobe RGB.

3. Don’t by an LG Display from Apple

It used to be that Apple didn’t want you using other brand products with your computer. They had a nice ecosystem where everything just worked. Now it’s the case that Apple don’t even have their own display – they are forcing you to use a different brand. Apple do sell an LG display, but I had a very bad experience with an LG Ultrafine 4K display. It caused me no end of grief and I have sold it…

  • To plug it in I had to use a special Apple Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter. It would not recognise the display. It turned out there was a fault with the monitor but because of all the variables involved – cables, adapters – and the fact that the LG monitor would not even power up unless it had a signal from the computer (there is no power button on the LG display) it took a while to work this out – even at the Apple store!
  • I rang Apple support and they told me that the warranty was done through LG. So I was instructed to take the monitor to the local LG repairer. There was a fault with the monitor, so LG replaced my monitor under warranty, but it took eight weeks (yes 8 weeks) for LG to replace the display because there were no ‘replacement’ 4K Ultra displays in the country.

In comparison I’m very happy wth the BenQ! And if there’s a fault I can take it back to the shop I bought it from.

This is just a warning that buying a non-apple product from the Apple Store does not make it an Apple product.

When you shop for non-Apple products from the online Apple Store you are outside the Apple ecosystem, so you may as well get them elsewhere.

Happy monitor hunting!

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