The 5 best portable monitors in 2021

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Portable monitors can be useful for people who love working on their laptops, but just want a little more screen space without sacrificing portability. They come in many sizes, though most are available in dimensions that match popular laptops screens.

For those who are entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem, your iPad can also serve as a portable monitor thanks to Apple’s Sidecar feature. But you’ll want to make sure your iPad and Mac are compatible with the feature before deciding if this is the right option for your setup.

If you’re looking for a portable monitor with more features, Windows compatibility, or that comes in a larger size than an iPad, our team has researched and tested dozens of options.

Here are the best portable monitors you can buy:

The best portable monitor overall

Asus Portable monitor

Versatility, a sleek design, and an affordable price with great features make the Asus ZenScreen MB16AC our top pick.

Pros: Support for USB-C and USB-A connections, vibrant color reproduction, super slim body, nice feature set

Cons: Brightness at only 220 cd/㎡, non-touchscreen panel

Asus touts the Asus ZenScreen MB16AC as a super slim and light portable monitor, which it is. It’s almost half the thinness and weight of the new MacBook Pro 13-inch at 8 millimeters and 0.78 kilograms, making it a glorious companion when you’re traveling or working on-the-go. But, it’s also so much more than that.

This portable monitor claims to be the world’s first portable monitor with a hybrid-signal solution, meaning that not only does it have native USB-C support, but it also offers USB-A connectivity support via the DisplayLink driver. So, whether you’re entirely dependent on USB-C or you find yourself needing to use a USB-A connection every now and then, this offers that versatility you need.

Its vibrant 15.6-inch IPS screen with a 1080p (1,920 x 1,080-pixel) resolution also allows automatic screen orientation with the DisplayWidget software. That means you can switch from landscape mode for productivity to portrait mode for presentations and reading. 

Besides the automatic screen orientation, it also has its own foldable smart case to protect the screen from scratches and dust, a smart pen hole so you won’t lose another stylus pen, and the Asus blue light filter so it’s easy on the eyes. And, it comes with its own ZenScreen pen.

The best budget portable monitor

Auzai monitor

At less than $200, the Auzai Portable Monitor offers a helpful set of features and impressive picture quality.

Pros: Wide port selection, cheap price, built-in speakers, gaming console compatibility, super thin and light

Cons: Not a lot of bells and whistles, stand solution isn’t great, speakers are subpar

The Auzai Portable Monitor costs less than $200 without compromising on quality and features, making it well-deserving of its best budget portable monitor title. 

Among its features are compatibility with PlayStation and Xbox game consoles — which should apply to the previous and current generation models — its own built-in speakers, and a settings menu so you can adjust brightness, contrast and  audio based on your personal preferences. It may only have a 60Hz refresh rate, but that’s certainly enough for casual gaming.

This 15.6-inch 1080p IPS portable monitor is also incredibly sleek, beating the Asus ZenScreen MB16AC at 3.56 millimeters thin and 0.62 kilograms. The sound quality isn’t the best, understandably due to its thinness, but the picture quality is excellent with deep contrast, vibrant colors, and decent brightness at 250 cd/m².

It’s certainly a great portable viewing solution for gaming and entertainment. And, thanks to the case and screen protector that come with it, you know it’ll stay safe in your bag while you’re on-the-go.

The best portable monitor for 4K HDR

Eviciv monitor

The Eviciv 4K Portable Monitor comes at a solid price for a 4K portable monitor and has many features to offer.

Pros: Really affordable for everything it offers, excellent 4K picture quality, 178-degree viewing angle, great feature set, nice port selection

Cons: There are cheaper alternatives if you don’t need 4K resolution

While 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) is all the rage in computer monitors these days, portable 4K monitors are rare. There’s a good reason why: These monitors are small enough that having 1080p resolution is actually much better, especially for productivity. 

However, if 4K is necessary for your workflow,the 15.6-inch Eviciv 4K Portable Monitor is the most cost-effective option.

It offers 300cd/m² brightness, 16.7 million display colors, and 100% sRGB colour gamut, giving photographers and video editors vibrant images with accurate colors.

The monitor also has a 178-degree viewing angle, HDR support, AMD FreeSync for gamers, portrait and landscape modes for presentations, and built-in speakers for entertainment. It also includes a nice selection of connections, including one HDMI and 2 USB-C ports that offer both power and signal support. 

And, if those features aren’t enough, it also comes with a nifty magnetic stand cover. Not bad for a portable monitor that’s less than $350? We’d say it’s a bargain.

The best portable monitor for gaming

Asus Rog Monitor

For esports and fast-paced gaming, you cannot go wrong with the Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE, as long as you can put up with its massive size.

Pros: Incredibly fast refresh rate, not too expensive, up to three hours of battery life, nice port selection

Cons: Big, heavier than most portable monitors

The Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE is the most advanced portable monitor you’ll find, especially if you’re all about fast-paced gaming and esports. 

With its 240Hz refresh rate and 3-millisecond response time, it delivers the smoothest picture quality you’ll find in a portable display. That’s on top of its adaptive-sync technology, which enables tear-free gaming for a more immersive experience, and a 17.3-inch IPS panel for more space.

Even better, this screen offers up to three hours of battery life when gaming at 240Hz. It also offers a wide 178-degree viewing angle that’s ideal for esports players gaming in front of an audience. 

It also includes other perks like 100% sRGB color gamut for a rich and vibrant display quality, quick charging capabilities, built-in stereo speakers, and a decent selection of ports that include USB-C, micro HDMI and a 3.5mm audio jack. And of course, it comes with Asus’ ROG Smart Cover for protection.

It’s somehow even cheaper than the MSI Optix MAG161V, though not by much. Just know that this is a 17-inch display weighing 1.06 kilograms, which makes it too bulky for light travel.

The best touchscreen portable monitor

Asus MOnitor 2

Windows and Android users will love the immersive touchscreen experience on the Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT.

Pros: Touchscreen capability is impeccable, decent battery life, nice feature set, fairly lightweight, great picture quality

Cons: Single port, a bit pricey, touchscreen support for macOS limited

Touchscreen support is pretty much standard on today’s laptops, even those that aren’t meant to be laptop-tablet hybrids. So it was only a matter of time before touchscreens became available on portable monitors as well. 

The best one we’ve seen so far is the Asus Zenscreen MB16AMT, which comes with gesture-based, multi-touch controls that are simply fantastic.

Smooth, accurate, and responsive, especially on Windows and Android, this 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen portable monitor is the one to get, especially if you’re using it for design.

The monitor also has a 7,800mAh battery that can last for up to four hours, and it’s fairly lightweight as well at 0.91 kilograms. We would have liked it to be a little brighter, but at 250 cd/㎡, it’s luminous enough. Plus, the vibrant picture quality and superb contrast should make up for that.

Other notable features worth mentioning include its hybrid signal solution, so you can use both USB-C and USB Type A connections, a smart cover and smart pen hole, a wide 178° viewing angle, and automatic screen orientation.

How to choose a portable monitor

Portable monitors come in a variety of sizes, prices, and connectivity types, so there’s something out there for everyone. Still, there are a few key factors to consider.

  • Size: Just like laptops, portable monitors are typically available in 13.3-, 15.6-, and 17.3- inch sizes. Consider what it is you’ll be using it for before you decide. Larger displays offer a better viewing experience so they’re best for games and entertainment. However, they also tend to be heavier. If portability and traveling light are your main concerns, then a smaller screen might be a better choice.
  • Resolution: The resolution of a portable monitor determines how sharp and detailed the image will look. Portable monitors are available in 4K, Full HD 1080p, and lower resolutions – though 1080p is the standard. 
  • Connectivity: A USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connection is the best available. It’s more powerful, has faster transfer speeds, and is becoming the standard on many laptops. However, some portable displays also include common video connections like HDMI, allowing you to easily connect them to game consoles and media players. Others still have USB ports, some of which can also be used to power the monitor directly from a connected device.
  • Refresh rate and response time: If you’re buying a portable monitor for gaming, you should be mindful of the display’s refresh rate and response time. Refresh rates higher than 60Hz can provide a smoother experience when gaming at higher frame rates. Some portable gaming monitors come with 240Hz refresh rates, which is pretty impressive considering it outpaces frame rates in most PC games.
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How to change the refresh rate on your monitor for smoother-looking videos and gameplay

gaming on computer
A high refresh rate on a monitor is especially important for gaming, which requires an on-screen image to rapidly refresh.

  • A monitor’s refresh rate measures how frequently the on-screen image is updated.
  • You can change the refresh rate on your monitor through your display settings, though it may be limited by the monitor, graphics card, and screen resolution.
  • A typical refresh rate is 60Hz; slower refresh rates can look jittery, while higher refresh rates are desirable for gaming.
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Your display’s refresh rate is a measure of how frequently the on-screen image is updated. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), which indicates the number of times per second something occurs. So a 60Hz display is one that has a refresh rate of 60 times per second.

Understanding monitor refresh rates

Most people don’t need to worry much about refresh rate, especially when using a computer for ordinary productivity applications. That’s because computer displays typically have a refresh rate of 60Hz – that’s the default for many monitors – and that value is perfectly adequate almost all the time. It’s fast enough that there’s no obvious blurring or “image tearing” when there’s on-screen motion. Below this value – 30 Hz, for example – you might see some stuttering or jitteriness when things are moving on the screen.

Higher refresh rates are of interest to gamers, though. Because many video games rely on fast-moving visuals, many computer displays are optimized for gaming with very high refresh rates – 144Hz, 240Hz, and even 360Hz. For gaming, the higher the refresh rate the better.

There’s also a relationship between screen resolution and refresh rate. Because a computer only has so much bandwidth for the display, you might find that at higher resolutions, your display can’t run at its maximum refresh rate. If you are adjusting these settings, you might need to make a choice between, for example, an HD (1920×1080) display at 144Hz or a 4K (3840×2160) resolution at 60Hz.

Depending on your monitor or laptop display, you might be able to adjust the refresh rate. Some displays aren’t running at their highest refresh rate by default, for example, and it’s adjustable in the system settings. If you try to increase the refresh rate but it won’t go as high as you think the monitor is designed to go, you might need to lower the resolution to make a higher value become available.

How to change your screen resolution in Windows 10 to customize your display8 ways to optimize a Windows PC for better gaming performanceHow to install a graphics card into your Windows PC and upgrade its performanceHow to set up dual monitors in Windows 10 and boost your productivity

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