Whether you’re buying a first or second monitor for your desktop computer or buying a big screen to use with your laptop at home, a good monitor is a wise investment. There’s no single monitor that will work best for everyone, but our monitor guides cover all kinds of different sizes, uses, and prices, from basic 24-inch budget models to big 4K screens to high-refresh-rate gaming monitors. Here are the best ones we can find, and what kinds of things they’re good for.
Best picture quality: 4K monitor
Who this is often for: Anyone who has bought a replacement computer within the past three or four years and does tons of photo or video editing work. Great 4K monitors make text sharper and show more detail in images, and that they can offer you more usable desktop space so you’ll fit more stuff on your screen directly .
Why we like it: The Dell UltraSharp U2720Q is that the best 4K monitor for many people due to its color accuracy, thin bezels, adjustable stand, and excellent port selection, also as Dell’s three-year warranty and dead-pixel policy. additionally to the standard HDMI and DisplayPort connections and USB 3.0 hub, it’s a USB-C port which will receive a display and data signal and supply up to 90 W of power to your laptop over one cable, reducing the number of cables on your desk and providing enough power to charge a 15- or 16-inch MacBook Pro. On its sRGB color preset, its color accuracy is almost perfect out of the box.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The U2720Q may be a little costlier than competitors like the HP Z27 (our runner-up pick), LG 27BL85U-W, or Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q (our budget pick). But the HP and LG monitors can’t provide the maximum amount power to a connected laptop, and therefore the Asus VG289Q doesn’t have a USB-C port or USB hub in the least. The U2720Q’s features are worth paying a touch extra for.
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A big screen for less money: 27-inch monitor
Who this is for: Anyone with a computer (or graphics card) that is more than three years old and can’t push a 4K display, or anyone who relies on apps that don’t scale well. But now that our 4K monitor picks regularly cost around the same (or even less) than a 2560×1440 monitor of the same size, most people are better off with the higher-resolution option.
Why we like it: The HP Z27n G2 has a 27-inch 2560×1440-resolution display with pretty good color accuracy—though you should change its color preset to the Neutral setting, since the default sRGB setting has serious image-quality issues. It has an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, a DVI port, three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and two USB-C ports. Its stand tilts, swivels, pivots, and adjusts in height. The Z27n G2 has the same great three-year warranty and dead-pixel policy as the Z27.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The default sRGB color preset on our test unit had visible graininess and significant image-retention issues—faint afterimages would seem on the screen if we left a window open for quite a few of minutes. The effect seemed like burn-in, though the afterimages disappeared, and that they didn’t seem to try to any permanent damage. Rearranging to the Neutral preset takes this difficulty away.
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The most affordable option: 24-inch budget monitor
Who this is for: Anyone who has limited desk space, prefers a smaller screen, or has less than $150 to spend, and who doesn’t mind giving up nice-to-have features such as a USB hub or an adjustable stand. A 24-inch monitor is a lot bigger than even the largest laptop screen but takes up much less room on your desk than a 27-inch monitor.
Why we like it: The ViewSonic VA2456-MHD is a 24-inch 1080p monitor that isn’t fancy, but it’s a big step up from anything that costs less than $100 or the cheap monitor that you may have bought with your desktop computer. It offers fairly accurate color that will be just fine when you’re looking at photos and watching movies, as well as a good contrast ratio with deeper blacks than you can find on other monitors in this price range. It has a stable stand that doesn’t wobble as much as those of some other cheap monitors we tested. It also has both HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, okay-sounding internal speakers, and a three-year warranty.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The problems with the VA2456-MHD are the same problems that most budget monitors have. It has neither a USB hub nor a USB-C port for newer laptops. The stand can only tilt the monitor up and down, whereas the stands of our more expensive picks also allow swiveling from side to side, pivoting the display 90 degrees, and adjusting its height. And this monitor doesn’t support refresh rates higher than 60 Hz or offer FreeSync support for smoother gaming. It’s the best all-around package for most people, but we have other picks in our guide to budget monitors that provide some of these features in exchange for other trade-offs.
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A very big screen: 32-inch 4K monitor
Who this is for: Anyone who wants a ginormous 4K screen that can display apps without scaling and doesn’t mind paying more to get it.
Why we like it: If a 27-inch monitor isn’t big enough for you, consider the 32-inch Dell UltraSharp U3219Q 4K monitor. It combines good color and grayscale measurements, a few display inputs (including USB-C), and a USB hub that more than one computer can use at the same time. The U3219Q’s USB-C port delivers up to 90 W of power, which is enough to charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full power, and it also transmits data, video, and audio. Its menu buttons are easy to access and use, too.
This monitor is big enough that you may be able to use it without needing to scale up text or UI elements to make them readable. Like the Dell U2718Q, the U3219Q comes with a three-year warranty and a Premium Panel Guarantee, which helps make it easier to spend $800 on a bigger monitor. However, it still costs several hundred dollars more than the 27-inch monitors we recommend, and it requires a lot more physical space.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: At around $800 (as of the time of writing), the Dell UltraSharp U3219Q costs nearly twice as much as our 27-inch 4K monitor pick, the LG 27UD68P-B.
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Good for multitaskers: An ultrawide monitor
Who this is for: A dual-monitor setup is usually the best option if you want to have a bunch of app windows open at once, but an ultrawide model might be a better choice if you need a ton of unbroken horizontal space or if you don’t want monitor bezels in between windows.
Why we like it: The Acer XR342CK Pbmiiqphuzx has a good adjustable stand, lots of ports (including a USB-C port that can handle power, display, and data over a single cable), a three-year warranty, and a reasonable price. And although no ultrawide we’ve tested has offered particularly good color accuracy, the XR342CK was more accurate than anything else we tried. And it supports a few nice-to-have features such as a faster-than-normal 100 Hz refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync (it also works with Nvidia cards in our testing), which makes it an excellent choice for gaming.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Acer’s three-year warranty doesn’t include a dead-pixel guarantee, so be sure to check your monitor for dead or stuck pixels right after you take it out of the box so you can exchange it where you bought it if necessary. Its backlight also bleeds quite a bit at the corners, which might wash out dark images—though this was a problem with all of the ultrawide models we tested.
Most ultrawide monitors are also curved. This design helps minimize viewing-angle problems—when you’re sitting centered, things on the far edges of the screen won’t look as washed out as they would on a flat display of a similar width—but it also makes ultrawide monitors inaccurate for precision tasks that require straight lines, such as drawing, photo editing, or similar design work.
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For gamers: FreeSync gaming monitor
Who this is for: People who have an AMD graphics card, play lots of competitive multiplayer games or first-person shooters that can benefit from a high refresh rate and adaptive sync and don’t mind a less color-accurate monitor. But the 60 Hz refresh rate of our other monitor picks is fine for most games, and depending on the types of games you play, you may have a better experience with a more color-accurate monitor.
Why we like it: The Samsung CHG70 is the best 27-inch gaming monitor that supports AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technology. It also works with Nvidia cards if you don’t mind putting up with some mild quirks such as manually toggling some settings or losing options like response-time settings when FreeSync is enabled. Costing about $100 less than the PG279QZ, it’s an excellent option for anyone who wants to have the option to buy a new graphics card from either Nvidia or AMD without throwing out their monitor.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Nvidia card owners do lose some features, though, like a wider refresh rate range and on-by-default adaptive sync. The CHG70 is a curved VA display panel with a 144 Hz refresh rate. Like the Asus ROG Swift PG279QZ, it’s highly adjustable, but the stand is oddly large and cumbersome to adjust. Its color accuracy is better than that of the PG279QZ, though it struggles with ghosting, and some people may notice motion blur in certain games. It also doesn’t have built-in speakers—not even bad ones—so you’ll need to use headphones or computer speakers.
Learn more in our full review of the best gaming monitors.