Computer monitors keep evolving rapidly, with new technology like OLED Flex, QD-OLED and built-in smart platforms just in the last year alone. That’s on top of big improvements in things like color accuracy, image quality, size and resolution.
The choice is nice but overwhelming, as there are a lot of products in this market and a lot of features. Buyers looking for computer monitors now have to consider things like HDR, brightness, color accuracy, type of display technology, input lag and more. And then there are the usual considerations like size, adjustability, inputs and so on.
To help you with all that, we’ve researched the latest models for all kinds of markets, whether you’re a gamer, business user or content creator. Read on to find out which is the best computer monitor for you and, especially, your budget.
The cheapest monitors are still TN (twisted nematic), which are strictly for gaming or office use. VA (vertical alignment) monitors are also relatively cheap, while offering good brightness and a high contrast ratio. However, content creators will probably want an IPS (in-plane switching) LCD display that delivers better color accuracy, image quality and viewing angles.
If maximum brightness is important, a quantum dot LCD display is the way to go — those are typically found in larger displays. OLED monitors are now available and offer the best blacks and color reproduction, but they lack the brightness of LED or quantum dot displays. Plus, they cost a lot. The latest type of OLED monitor, called QD-OLED from Samsung, just came out in 2022. The most notable advantage is that it can get a lot brighter, with monitors shown at CES 2022 hitting up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness.
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MiniLEDs are now widely used in high-end displays. They’re similar to quantum dot tech, but as the name suggests, it uses smaller LED diodes that are just 0.2mm in diameter. As such, manufacturers can pack in up to three times more LEDs with more local dimming zones, delivering deeper blacks and better contrast.
Screen size, resolution and display format
In this day and age, screen size rules. Where 24-inch displays used to be more or less standard (and can still be useful for basic computing), 27-, 32-, 34- and even 42-inch displays have become popular for entertainment, content creation and even gaming these days.
Nearly every monitor used to be 16:9, but it’s now possible to find 16:10 and other more exotic display shapes. On the gaming and entertainment side, we’re also seeing curved and ultrawide monitors with aspect ratios like 21:9. If you do decide to buy an ultrawide display, however, keep in mind that a 30-inch 21:9 model is the same height as a 24-inch monitor, so you might end up with a smaller display than you expected. As a rule of thumb, add 25 percent to the size of a 21:9 monitor to get the vertical height you’d expect from a model with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
A 4K monitor is nearly a must for content creators, and some folks are even going for 5K or all the way up to 8K. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need a pretty powerful computer to drive all those pixels. And 4K resolution should be paired with a screen size of 27 inches and up, or you won’t notice much difference between 1440p. At the same time, I wouldn’t get a model larger than 27 inches unless it’s 4K, as you’ll start to see pixelation if you’re working up close to the display.
One new category to consider is portable monitors designed to be carried and used with laptops. Those typically come in 1080p resolutions and sizes from 13-15 inches. They usually have a lightweight kickstand-type support that folds up to keep things compact.
HDR is the buzzy monitor feature to have these days, as it adds vibrancy to entertainment and gaming – but be careful before jumping in. Some monitors that claim HDR on the marketing materials don’t even conform to a base standard. To be sure that a display at least meets minimum HDR specs, you’ll want to choose one with a DisplayHDR rating with each tier representing maximum brightness in nits.
However, the lowest DisplayHDR 400 and 500 tiers may disappoint you with a lack of brightness, washed out blacks and mediocre color reproduction. If you can afford it, the best monitor to choose is a model with DisplayHDR 600, 1000 or True Black 400, True Black 500 and True Black 600. The True Black settings are designed primarily for OLED models, with maximum black levels at .0005 nits.
Where televisions typically offer HDR10 and Dolby Vision or HDR10+, most PC monitors only support the HDR10 standard, other than a few (very expensive) models. That doesn’t matter much for content creation or gaming, but HDR streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other services won’t look quite as punchy. In addition, most models supporting HDR600 (and up) are gaming monitors, rather than content creation monitors – with a few exceptions.
Refresh rate is a key feature, particularly on gaming monitors. A bare minimum nowadays is 60Hz, and 80Hz refresh rates and up are much easier on the eyes. However, most 4K displays top out at 60Hz with some rare exceptions and the HDMI 2.0 spec only supports 4K at 60Hz, so you’d need at least DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 120Hz) or HDMI 2.1. The latter is now available on a number of monitors, particularly gaming displays. However, it’s only supported on the latest NVIDIA RTX 3000- and 4000-series, AMD RX 6000-series GPUs.
There are essentially three types of modern display inputs: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and HDMI. Most monitors built for PCs come with the latter two, while a select few (typically built for Macs) will use Thunderbolt. To add to the confusion, USB-C ports may be Thunderbolt 3 and by extension, DisplayPort compatible, so you may need a USB-C to Thunderbolt or DisplayPort cable adapter depending on your display.
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Color bit depth
Serious content creators should consider a more costly 10-bit monitor that can display billions of colors. If budget is an issue, you can go for an 8-bit panel that can fake billions of colors via dithering (often spec’d as “8-bit + FRC”). For entertainment or business purposes, a regular 8-bit monitor that can display millions of colors will be fine.
The other aspect of color is the gamut. That expresses the range of colors that can be reproduced and not just the number of colors. Most good monitors these days can cover the sRGB and Rec.709 gamuts (designed for photos and video respectively). For more demanding work, though, you’ll want one that can reproduce more demanding modern gamuts like AdobeRGB, DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 gamuts, which encompass a wider range of colors. The latter two are often used for film projection and HDR, respectively.
Both the Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 can handle 4K 120Hz HDR gaming, so if you’re into resolution over pure speed, you’ll want a monitor that can keep up. 4K resolution, HDR and at least 120Hz is the minimum starting point, but fortunately there are 27-inch displays with those specs starting at well under $1,000.
Pricing and parts shortages
Though the pandemic has eased, monitor supply is still a bit tighter than pre-pandemic levels due to supply and demand issues. To that end, you may have trouble finding monitors at Amazon, B&H or elsewhere for the suggested retail price. For our guide below, we’re basing our picks on the MSRP, as long as the street price doesn’t exceed that by more than $25.
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Best monitors under $200
The monitor with the best balance of size, refresh rate and color accuracy is Samsung’s 27-inch 1080p T35F. It’s good for business or light gaming and content work, thanks to the IPS panel and 75Hz refresh rate. Plus, it’s fairly attractive and modern looking. There are some things you don’t get at that price, of course – it can only tilt and has an HDMI 1.4 connection.
If you’re fine with a smaller display and are more into gaming, another solid option is LG’s 24-inch 24GL600F. It offers a high 144Hz refresh rate with AMD FreeSync support, a 1ms response time and low input lag. You also get HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, but like the T35F, there’s no height adjustment.
Buy LG 24GL600F at Amazon – $200
Best monitors under $400
HP U28 4K HDR Monitor
The 28-inch HP U28 4K HDR monitor is a great all around choice, especially for content creators. The 60Hz IPS panel and factory calibration delivers excellent color accuracy and it’s a nice size for creative or business work. It comes with DisplayPort, HDMI and three USB 3.0 ports, along with a USB-C port with 65W of charging for a laptop or tablet. And it’s easy to set just right, thanks to height, swivel and pivot adjustment.
If gaming is more your thing, the $300 Gigabyte G27QC is a top pick. The 27-inch, 1440p curved monitor has an ideal size and resolution for gaming, and it has a quick 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. You can connect via HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connections and get HDR support – albeit, without DisplayHDR certification.
Buy Gigabyte G27QC at Amazon – $300
BenQ 27-inch QHD HDR Monitor
The $400 BenQ 27-inch 2K QHD HDR model is ideal for creative work, particularly photo editing and graphic design. While resolution is limited to 1440p, it covers 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut with a “Delta E” accuracy value of less than 3 for consistent color performance. You also get height, pivot and swivel adjustment (a full 90 degrees), with HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 and USB-C daisy chaining and 65W power delivery.
Buy 27-inch BenQ QHD monitor at Amazon – $400
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Best monitors under $500
ASUS ROG Swift PG259QN
Sometimes speed rules over size and resolution, and the 24.5-inch 1080p ASUS ROG Swift PG256QN is fast. It maxes out at a 360Hz refresh rate (with NVIDIA G-Sync support) and 1ms GtG response time. At the same time, you get 1.07 billion colors with HDR support (up to 400 nits brightness) so you can see your enemies quickly and clearly. Other niceties of this best monitor pick include a fully adjustable stand, ASUS’s GamePlus Hotkey Enhancements and a large heatsink.
Buy ASUS ROG Swift monitor at Amazon – $499
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Gigabyte’s M28U 28-inch 144Hz 4K gaming monitor sure does a lot. It has an IPS panel with a 2ms (MPRT) response time, 94 percent DCI-P3 coverage, DisplayHDR 400 certification, 2 HDMI 2.1 ports and FreeSync Premium Pro support. It comes in a little bit more expensive than $500, but we’ve often seen it on sale for less.