Computer monitors keep getting better and better. Just in the last year, new technologies like OLED Flex, QD-OLED, and built-in smart platforms have been added. On top of that, things like color accuracy, picture quality, size, and resolution have changed a lot for the better.
That means you have a lot of options when choosing the best monitor for you, but it can be hard to choose because each product has a different set of features. Buyers of computer monitors now have to think about things like HDR, brightness, color accuracy, type of display technology, input lag, and more. There are also the standard things to think about, such as size, adjustability, inputs, and so on.
To help you with all of this, we’ve looked into the newest models for all kinds of markets, whether you’re a business user, a content maker, a multitasker, or a competitive gamer. Read our buying guide to find out which computer monitor will work best for you and your cash.
Still, TN (twisted nematic) monitors, which are the cheapest, can only be used by players or in the office. VA (vertical alignment) panels are also pretty cheap, and they have a high contrast ratio and good brightness. But people who make content will find that IPS (in-plane switching) LCD screens have more accurate colors, better picture quality, and wider viewing angles.
If brightness is important, you should get a quantum dot LCD panel. These are usually found in bigger screens. There are now OLED monitors on the market. They have the best blacks and colors, but they aren’t as bright as LED or quantum dot screens. They also cost a lot. The QD-OLED monitor from Samsung is the newest type of OLED monitor. It came out in 2022. The biggest benefit is that it can get much brighter. Some TVs at CES 2022 had a peak brightness of 1,000 nits.
High-end screens now use miniLEDs more and more. They are similar to quantum dot technology, but as the name suggests, they use smaller LED bulbs that are only 0.2mm in diameter. As a result, makers can use up to three times as many LEDs and create more local dimming zones. This means that the blacks are deeper and the contrast is better.
Size, resolution, and style of the screen
Today, the size of the screen is what matters. Used to be the norm were 24-inch displays, which can still be useful for simple computing. Now, 27-, 32-, 34-, and even 42-inch displays are popular for entertainment, creating content, and even gaming.
Before, almost every monitor was 16:9, but now you can find 16:10 and other displays with more unusual forms. We’re also seeing curved and ultrawide monitors with aspect ratios like 21:9 in the game and entertainment world. If you do decide to buy an ultrawide display, though, 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 thought. As a general rule, add 25% to the size of a 21:9 monitor to get the vertical height of a 16:9 model.
Content writers almost have to have a 4K monitor, and some are even going for 5K or even 8K. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need a pretty powerful computer to drive all of those images. And if your screen is less than 27 inches, you won’t notice much difference between 1440p and 4K quality. Also, I wouldn’t get a model that’s bigger than 27 inches unless it’s 4K. If you work close to the screen, you’ll start to see pixels.
Portable monitors that can be carried and used with computers are a new category to think about. Most of these have 1080p screens and are 13 to 15 inches in size. Usually, they have a lightweight stand that looks like a frame and folds up to keep things small.
HDR: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the feature that everyone wants on their monitors right now, because it makes movies and games look more vivid. But be careful before you jump in. Some monitors that say they are HDR in their advertising don’t even meet a basic standard. Choose a display with a DisplayHDR rating, where each tier shows the highest brightness in nits, to make sure it meets at least the minimum HDR requirements.
But the DisplayHDR 400 and 500 tiers may let you down because they don’t have enough brightness, the blacks aren’t deep enough, and the colors aren’t very good. If you can afford it, the best monitor to get is one that has DisplayHDR 600, 1000, or True Black 400, 500, or 600. The True Black settings are mostly for OLED types, and the darkest black you can get is.0005 nits.
Most TVs have HDR10, Dolby Vision, or HDR10+, but most PC monitors only have HDR10. There are a few (very expensive) types that have HDR10+. It doesn’t make much of a difference for making content or playing games, but HDR watching on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other services won’t look as sharp. Aside from a few cases, most models that support HDR600 and above are gaming monitors, not monitors for making content.
Rate of newness
The refresh rate is one of the most important parts, especially for game monitors. Today, 60Hz is the bare minimum, and 80Hz and higher are much easier on the eyes. But most 4K displays can only go up to 60Hz, and HDMI 2.0 only allows 4K at 60Hz, so you would need at least DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 120Hz) or HDMI 2.1. Several monitors, especially game monitors, now have the second option. But it only works on the latest AMD RX 6000-series and NVIDIA RTX 3000-series GPUs.
There are three main types of monitor inputs in the modern world: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, and HDMI. Most monitors made for PCs have the last two, but a few (usually those made for Macs) have Thunderbolt. To make things even more confusing, USB-C ports may work with Thunderbolt 3 and, by extension, DisplayPort. Depending on your device, you may need a cable adapter that goes from USB-C to Thunderbolt or DisplayPort.
Color depth bit
Serious people who make material should think about getting a more expensive 10-bit monitor that can show billions of colors. If money is tight, you can choose an 8-bit panel that can fake billions of colors through dithering (often listed as “8-bit + FRC”). A regular 8-bit television that can show millions of colors will work well for both fun and business.
Range of color
The range is another part of color. That shows the range of colors that can be made, not just how many colors can be made. Most good monitors can now show both the sRGB and Rec.709 color spaces, which are made for pictures and videos, respectively. For more difficult work, you’ll need a printer that can print current gamuts like AdobeRGB, DCI-P3, and Rec.2020, which cover a wider range of colors. The last two are often used for film projection and High Dynamic Range, or HDR.
Both the Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 can handle 4K 120Hz HDR games, so if you care more about resolution than speed, you’ll need a monitor that can keep up. The bare minimum is 4K resolution, HDR, and at least 120Hz, but there are 27-inch screens with these specs that start at well under $1,000.
Pricing and a lack of parts
Even though the pandemic is over, the supply of monitors is still a bit lower than it was before the pandemic. This is because of supply and demand problems. So, you might not be able to find monitors at Amazon, B&H, or other places for the recommended retail price. For the list below, we chose products based on the MSRP, as long as the street price isn’t more than $25 higher.