It wasn’t long ago that a computer monitor was as essential a purchase as a smartphone is today. Without one, you would be strapped for a means of accessing your files and emails to carry out daily tasks. In the blink of an eye, purchasing the best monitor has gone from necessity to luxury, with even 35-inch ultra-wides making their rounds.
That’s why, this year, we’ve seen a rise in more extravagant displays constructed with power users in mind. Technologies prevalent in the TV market, such as 4K high-dynamic range (HDR), are flocking to monitors, too. Whether you’re interested in pushing the most pixels or packing the highest curvature into your screen, now is the time to buy only the best monitor in the biz.
Deciphering terms like color gamut and response time, however, is by no means self-explanatory. For that reason, we’ve gone ahead and taken care of the hard part for you, narrowing down the best monitors money can buy to a slender 10. Ahead, we’ve determined the optimal culmination of specs for your needs without breaking the bank.
The LG 34UC79G features a sharp, black matte design with ominous red lighting that will match your RGB-backlight peripherals. Rather than packing the 34UC79G with unnecessary pixels and going all the way up to 1440p, LG has kept the resolution to a more sensible 2,540 x 1,080, which gives you 33% more pixels on the screen compared to 16:9, while allowing games to run smoothly at high frame rates without requiring a crazy powerful graphics card. And when we say high, we mean high. With a 144Hz refresh rate, the 34UC79G makes just about any game feel smoother.
Philips's Brilliance BDM3490UC should be your top pick if you're looking to watch movies or work from home. Its IPS display is bright and inviting, effectively replicating the experience of going to the cinema (just make sure you bring the popcorn and close the curtains). The 21:9 curved display can be a bit disorienting, sure, if you're accustomed to standard flat screen displays. Still, this one takes the cake for gaming. Notably absent, though, are both G-Sync and FreeSync, so don't forget to tick the vertical sync box in all your games. Plus, as long as you're set on a 21:9 cinematic panel, the Brilliance is competitively priced as well.
Read the full review: Philips Brilliance BDM3490UC
If you care more about frame rate more than graphics or resolution, this one's for you. Because of its mind-blowing 180Hz refresh rate capabilities, the Asus ROG Swift PG248Q takes the 60fps gold standard for gaming and triples it – provided you're equipped with a rig that can handle the extra stress. While you're unlikely to enjoy Forza Horizon 3 at 180fps on Ultra settings given its high demand, a higher refresh rate is more than welcome in fast-paced, competitive games that don't necessarily depend on a wealth of resources. Plus, as one of the most affordable G-Sync displays on the market, it helps that you can rely on the monitor to prevent screen tearing, too.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG248Q
Cinematic monitors are a great alternative to their 4K counterparts when it comes to gaming. In fact, you might say they're even better due to their ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio. The Acer Predator X34 certainly looks the part, featuring an eye-catching aluminum bezel and angular, crow's foot-shape stand. It comes with a number of gaming mod cons in tow, including Nvidia's G-Sync frame-smoothing tech, an immersion-boosting curved shape and fantastic color reproduction that brings games to life. Short of strapping on a virtual reality headset, the Predator X34 is about as immersive as gaming gets – save for the lackluster speakers and missing ports.
Read the full review: Acer Predator X34
If your PC can't afford 1440p or 4K gaming, the Asus MG248Q is the next best thing. Despite exhibiting a mere 1080p twisted-nematic, or TN, panel rather than IPS, the Asus MG248Q makes up for any shortcomings with lightning fast response times and Adaptive Sync. The latter reduces screen tearing if you have an AMD graphics card, a clear demonstration that the MG248Q tailors to the budget gamer. On the other hand, even Nvidia fans can rejoice at the 144Hz refresh rate. But, without the right GPU equipped, you might be better off saving for the G-Sync equivalent Asus ROG Swift PG248Q.
Read the full review: Asus MG248Q
A 4K display that's factory-calibrated for great color accuracy and image quality, the Samsung UD970 is ideal for digital designers, CAD/CAM engineers and videographers who aren't put off by the high-price tag. The matte finish only adds to the appeal of the Samsung UD970 by giving it a smudge-reducing, glare-reducing face for the absolute best work environment possible. Samsung also includes Picture By Picture (PBP) support on the UD970, which makes for the ultimate multi-tasking scenario if you have multiple inputs connected to your display at the same time. Just make sure it’s worth the high cost of entry if you aren’t using it for 4K production.
Read the full review: Samsung UD970
With the UltraWide 34UC97, LG has added not only a curved design to its impressive lineup of cinematic monitors, but an Ultra HD resolution as well. A hulking goliath of a monitor, LG’s best UltraWide melds a commendable sense of fashion with the specs you need to effortlessly get through your day to day tasks. Though it takes some extra effort to assemble, LG makes it well worth your time with vivid color accuracy, radiant backlighting and contrast that keeps shades dark enough to tell them apart from everything else onscreen. It’s pricey, but with all its posh characteristics, we can’t complain.
Read the full review: LG UltraWide 34UC97
You’ll normally shell out an arm and a leg for a 4K display, but that’s not the case with Acer’s S277HK. In terms of pricing, this bezel-less beauty hits the sweet spot. With a 1,000,000,000:1 contrast ratio, a color gamut of 1.07 billion and a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, the Acer S277HK is better seen than heard about. Unfortunately, because of the way Acer designed it, there’s no way to mount it onto a wall for everyone to appreciate, nor is the height adjustable. But, and this is a huge but, if you prioritize high pixel density, reasonable cost and “zero frame” over malleability, this is a monitor to shoot for.
Read the full review: Acer S277HK
Though it won’t win any fashion shows any time soon, the Viewsonic VP2772 is the perfect match for beyond-HD gaming or high-end photo editing. With a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, it won’t dazzle as much as some of the more lavish 4K screens on our list, but what it lacks in pixels, it excels in color accuracy. Featuring a palette of 1.07 billion colors and gray scales, covering 99% of the Adobe RGB space, the Viewsonic VP2772 is both sharp and vibrant. On the downside, it’s not the best choice for those switching back and forth between Windows and Mac, no thanks to the distortion produced when used with macOS.
Read the full review: Viewsonic VP2772
If you’re a CAD/CAM professional who occasionally dabbles in gaming, congratulations, this monitor was made for you. Featuring a 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 panel, the BL2710PT should be forgiven for looking a little “boring.” Sure, a 109 ppi may not seem like a lot when compared to the latest in 4K, or even 5K, offerings, but it’s also intended to be paired with powerful hardware that can render high quality 3D models in real-time. What’s more, this IPS screen boasts viewing angles of 178 degrees, a 100% coverage of the sRGB color space and a wealth of ports that make it the perfect pairing for any computer.
Read the full review: BenQ BL2710PT
- Find a monitor? Consider pairing it with a Surface Pro 4
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article