Sometimes, the situation simply calls for a portable monitor. You might be traveling for a few days with only an Ultrabook, but still need all the screen real estate you can get. Or your daily duties might require you to spread out, but you just don’t have enough desk space for a regular monitor. Whatever the reason, an extra 13-inch, 15-inch or 17-inch display can be a time (and life) saver.
A portable monitor may not offer as much screen space as its desktop counterparts. However, these compact displays definitely give you that additional room you need, whether you’re creating content, gaming, or simply multi-tasking at work, without taking up a whole lot of desk space. And, with a few excellent options now on hand, including ones with a built-in battery and a handful touting 4K resolution, it’s more compelling than ever to invest in one. Take a look at our picks of the best portable monitors below.
TL;DR – These are the best portable monitors
1. Asus ROG Strix XG16AHPE
Best portable gaming monitor
Finding a portable gaming monitor that’s just as good as the traditional full-sized options out there isn’t going to be easy. Luckily, the Asus ROG Strix XG16AHPE comes pretty close. On top of its IPS panel and 1080p resolution, it boasts a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility for much smoother, tear-free gameplay. And, while Asus doesn’t specify its exact color support, it is plenty vibrant with cooler hues great for viewing.
There are other things to love here as well. It’s fully portable with a built-in battery for up to three hours of playtime, and it charges decently fast. This screen also sports a thin yet solid kickstand that’s easy to stow away for storage. Finally, there are two input ports – a USB-C and a micro HDMI – as well as a USB-C charging port on hand, making it a bit more versatile than other portable monitors out there.
Best budget portable monitor
You’ll benefit from Vissles-M2’s massive 15.8-inch screen, 1080p resolution, narrow bezels, HDR capability, two input ports (USB-C and mini HDMI), and FreeSync support. Plus, it retains its settings between uses. But, really the best thing about this non-touch offering from Vissles is its price. For a budget portable monitor, it’s a compelling buy that also boasts built-in speakers, a stand that moonlights as a cover, and features a decent screen brightness of 220 cd/m2.
Of course, being affordable, some sacrifices were made. Don’t expect those 1W speakers to be powerful enough, for example. And, you might wish they built a more stable stand – although magnetic, it tends to slip off after a couple of hours. And, its noticeably matte screen might not be to everyone’s liking. Still, it’s certainly a much better qualiity display than other affordable monitors we’ve tested from lesser-known brands.
3. Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV
Best 15-inch portable monitor
The thin and lightweight Asus ZenScreen MB16ACV has a few things going for it besides being robust and sharp. It has a kickstand that is pretty cool: thin, stable, and beautifully snaps back in place for easy transport. It has clicky buttons that are incredible to use, beautifully thin bezels, flicker-free technology, and an antibacterial surface that’s helpful when reducing the spread of harmful bacteria. Its 178-degree viewing angles, anti-glare surface, and blue light filter make your viewing experience much more pleasant. Finally, thanks to the Asus Display Widget software, it also senses its position and automatically adjusts its orientation from landscape to portrait and vice versa.
That’s all without costing you a whole lot more than its cheaper rivals, making it the best 15-inch option out there. We only wish that it was brighter and more vibrant than it is, had a refresh rate faster than 60Hz, and had speakers built-in. However, there’s already more than enough here to love.
4. Lepow Lite H1
Best 14-inch portable monitor
If a 15.6-inch portable monitor is still too big for you, then a 14-inch one might just be the ideal alternative. The Lepow Lite H1 is a bite-sized 1080p monitor that’s incredibly thin and compact. It’s also surprisingly feature-packed with a pair of 2W speakers, an HDR mode that’s actually well-implemented, and USB-C ports for something so small. And, unlike displays from lesser-known brands, it’s able to keep its settings even when unplugged from its source. Rounding those features out are a stable stand that acts as a cover, and a screen protector.
Sadly, those speakers just aren’t powerful enough – you’ll want to connect to a set of external speakers – and the bezels are thicker than we would like. But, if you’re looking for a 14-inch option, whether for gaming or work, you’d be wise to pick this one.
5. Desklab 4K Touchscreen
Best portable 4K monitor
UHD portable monitors are a bit of a rare breed at the moment, let alone affordable, which makes Desklab’s 4K Touchscreen extra special. To be clear, there’s room for improvement here – it doesn’t remember its settings, the display could be a little more vibrant, and its stand a bit more stable.
However, there’s also more to love. Beyond its 4K resolution, it boasts touchscreen functionality that’s surprisingly responsive and HDR support, adding more to its value. Because it is 4K and has thin bezels, there’s a whole lot of screen space here – ideal for the ultimate multi-tasking. More to its credit, it has an on-screen menu that gives quick access to the different image profiles and a set of controls that are incredibly easy to use.
6. ViewSonic VG1655
Best 1080p portable monitor
The ViewSonic has surprised us with the VG1655, an impressive contender that has plenty of things going for it and not many disadvantages – though considering its price, it shouldn’t. This portable monitor’s list of pros seems endless. It all starts with its form factor, which is both premium and robust, while also incredibly lightweight. It has an OSM joystick that’s a pleasure to use, a cover that doubles as a mat to keep it scratch-free from hard surfaces and sharp debris, and a speaker that’s decently loud. For its touchscreen functionality, there’s a pen included in the box, and for minimalism’s sake, it has a USB-C power that boasts two-way 60W power delivery. And, its kickstand is among the best we’ve seen.
Just bear in mind though that this is best for Windows users, especially if you’re looking to utilize that touchscreen capability to its full potential – you’d have to download a finicky app in order to use it on macOS. Other than that, its somewhat dull image quality, and the fact that it could be slimmer, there’s not much you won’t love about this monitor.
7. HP E14 G4
Brightest portable monitor
We cannot decide what we love most about the HP E14 G4. Is it the premium, sophisticated design? Its astoundingly thin and compact frame? Its simple yet very effective stand? Its 5ms GtG response time? Or is it its unrivaled brightness? There’s a lot to love here, and together, they make this small yet mighty portable monitor more than worth its steep price. For now, we’ll go with its 400 nits of brightness, which – if you’ve tested your share of portable monitors – is something to behold. While most of the competition couldn’t even muster 250 nits, this one goes beyond what most laptop displays are capable of, which makes it a personal favorite of ours.
Of course, there are honorable mentions as well, starting with its 65W USB-C port with passthrough charging, gorgeous colors, and nice controls. Though you’ve been warned; it’ll set you back as much as many full-sized desktop monitors out there.
8. Asus ROG Strix XG16AHPE
Best portable monitors for creators
Photographers, videographers and graphic designers need monitors with high color accuracy, and that needs apply to their portable monitors as well. That’s why Asus’ ProArt Display PA148CTV is your best bet if you plan on using one for your creative workflow while on the go. This premium display boasts 100% sRGB and 100% Rec. 709 color gamut to deliver true to life color reproduction that’s ideal for your editing and color grading needs. But, it doesn’t stop there.
The Asus ProArt Palette, accessible via the nifty Asus Dial, is on hand to let you customize numerous display settings like color hue, temperature and gamma adjustments. Finally, thanks to its Control Panel feature and 10-point touchscreen capability, you can even use it as the main controls for your editing software, which will make your creative workflow less tedious and a lot more seamless. Input ports include two USB-Cs and one micro HDMI – just take care to use a 10W USB-C port if you’re skipping the power adapter.
9. SideTrak Swivel
Best mountable portable monitor
What’s better than a portable monitor you can take with you anywhere? A mountable one. The thing about working on the go is that you won’t always have enough space to work with, especially when you’re on a plane or a train. The beauty of a mountable one is that you don’t need to have that desk space – because it’s already suspended from the back of your laptop display.
The SideTrak Swivel has gone through many iterations, but the newest model has a simple sleek design with decently thin bezels. It’s incredibly versatile as well, thanks to its 360-degree swiveling hinge. You can use it as a side monitor or flip it back to present whatever you’re looking at. Its mount also moonlight as a kickstand so you can set the monitor up on its own in either landscape or portrait orientation. There are a few opportunities for improvement here – a thinner form factor and a more stable hinge would be appreciated. Plus, the screen, although beautifully bright at 300 nits, could be bigger. Still, it’s already a fantastic option the way it is now.
Choosing the best portable monitor
Despite their generally simpler setup and small size, choosing the best portable monitor for you is more complicated than going for the cheapest or the best-looking one. Just like their full-sized desktop counterparts, there are several important factors to consider here, especially when you have specific needs.
Display resolution is one obvious consideration here. Many portable monitors are currently at 1080p resolution, which is the current standard for most monitors and laptops anyway. And, it will more than meet your needs. However, if you want to future-proof your setup or simply want to maximize that 15-inch or 14-inch screen real estate, there are some 4K options as well. Just bear in mind that a 3840 x 2160 resolution on a smaller screen will have tiny icons and text, so you might need to adjust your display magnification levels.
Speaking of size, 15.6 inches seems to be the more common screen size for portable monitors, although as you can see on this list, there are 14-inch and 17.3-inch contenders as well. These 15.6-inch options seem to hit the sweet spot, not too small yet light and portable enough for daily commuting and long-distance travel.
Some, not all, monitors have touchscreen capability, and it might be a nice addition to have. However, bear in mind that touchscreen monitors tend to cost more, so if you don’t think you’ll utilize that feature to its full advantage, you might want to skip it. It’ll save you some money.
One great thing about portable monitors is that you can use them anytime, anywhere, alongside your laptop, which is why a lot of them use the capability and speed of USB-C ports for input and power. However, many also come with HDMI or microHDMI ports, slightly expanding your port selection. Some, the more powerful ones, require a higher 10W USB-C port so you might have to plug them into a 10W wall charger. A handful still will come with a built-in battery so you can charge at home and use battery power when you’re at a cafe or working on a train. Just remember that the battery life on these tends to last for only a couple of hours.
Finally, consider things like brightness, color reproduction, contrast, refresh rate, and response time. These are just as important on a portable monitor as they are on a regular-sized monitor for your viewing experience.
Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and a full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae.