(Pocket-lint) - Whether you have a monster PC, a MacBook, or just an everyday use-it-for-everything computer, there are many reasons why you'd need a monitor. That also means there are many things to consider when looking to buy one.
For some, only the biggest and sharpest panel will do. For others, it's fast refresh rates for smooth visuals. There are so many different monitors on the market ranging from relatively cheap to bewilderingly expensive. This makes it especially hard to narrow down the right model for you.
To help you decide, we've put together a handy guide at the bottom of this list explaining the jargon and some of the things to think about when buying a monitor, as well as rounding up and testing some of the best monitors for all purposes available right now.
If you're looking for something a little more specific for your games console or PC, also check out our guide to the best gaming monitors.
What are the best monitors?
Our Top Pick: Best Monitor
- Lovely 4K IPS panel with wide viewing angles
- Ultra-wide colour gamut
- Reasonably priced
- Limited height adjustability
- Only 60Hz
The Philips 278E1A offers a great balance between price and performance, and we think it's a fantastic choice for most people. For a very affordable mid-level price, you get a crisp 4K IPS display with modern-looking slim bezels and plenty of connectivity.
The display is very bright and able to output up to 350 cd/m², so it won't let you down when the sun beams through your windows. The wide colour gamut coverage means it's quite well suited for video and photo editing, too.
Monitors we also recommend
While the Philips 278E1A is at the peak of this list, it's not necessarily the right monitor for everyone, especially with such a wide range of use cases and price points on the market. That's why we've also selected the following devices for you to consider.
Samsung Odyssey G7
- Good balance of features and specs
- 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response
- G-Sync compatible
- A 4K panel would have been even better
- Curvature can eat up some desk space
A lovely big curved display for immersive gaming, the Samsung Odyssey G7 is packed with features to satisfy the most discerning of players. QLED technology ensures great brightness and colour accuracy and the 240Hz refresh rate means this is up to the task of serious competitive gaming.
G-Sync and Freesync compatibility eliminate screen-tearing and choppiness and the inclusion of a USB 3.0 hub adds convenience to your battle station. Whatever type of gaming you're into, the Odyssey G7 is an outstanding choice.
Dell Ultrasharp U3219Q
- DisplayHDR 400 certification
- 1.07 billion colours and high contrast ratio
- USB-C connectivity
- Fairly expensive
- 60Hz max refresh rate
This screen is all about colour accuracy and is an ideal choice for anyone working with colour sensitive projects like video editors, photographers and graphic designers. Dell says it provides 99% sRGB colour accuracy out of the box, as well as 95% DCI-P3 and 99% Rec.709 colour for videos.
In addition, it has handy USB-C connectivity for laptop users and a built-in USB hub for all of your peripherals. The stand is highly adjustable for all of your ergonomic needs, so it's a pleasure to use for the entirety of the workday.
- Windows Hello compatibility and Teams certified
- Built-in webcam and noise-cancelling microphone
- USB-C connectivity and fast charging hub
- Not the most accurate colours on default settings
- No FreeSync or G-Sync support
The Dell C2722DE is a dream home working companion built with video conferencing in mind. It has a built-in pop-up FHD webcam and noise-cancelling microphone, there are even dedicated buttons on the front for Microsoft Teams functions, such as muting your microphone or answering a call.
Aside from video conferencing, it's pretty great at everything else, too. The 27-inch IPS panel is sharp and covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum. There's USB-C connectivity, a built-in hub for connecting peripherals and even a 90-watt fast charging output.
- Near bezel-free modern design
- Great value for money
- AMD Freesync support
- No height adjustability
- No USB connectivity
The Lenovo L24q-30 is all about the screen, with the minimal bezels giving it a sleek modern look. There's not much in the way of features to distract you - this is just an exceptionally well priced, high quality, QHD IPS display. With a 75Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync support, as well, it's a great choice for casual gaming and general productivity.
It lacks adjustability, with the stand only offering tilt functionality and it might be on the small side for some people at 24 inches - but it makes up for it in affordability. Lenovo offers larger equivalents, too, albeit at a slightly higher price point, but we love this as an entry-level choice.
Other products we considered
When trying to figure out what we believe to be the best monitors currently available, we spent hours pouring over spec sheets and comparisons, as well as testing the devices in real-world scenarios. We consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and also when a new device enters our top five selections. We don't just factor in our own testing, either, but also consumer reviews, brand quality and value, too.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
- Dell Ultrathin S2719DM
- LG 27UK600
- BenQ EX3501R
- AOC U2790PQU
- BenQ PD3200U
- Sceptre E248W-19203R Series
How to choose a monitor
There's an ocean of monitors to choose from with perplexing model names and endless spec sheets, so it can quickly get quite overwhelming when trying to find the right screen for you.
To help cut through the marketing jargon, here are some of the important features to look out for, as well as things to think about before slapping down the cash.
There are numerous different panel technologies on the market, all with their own benefits and drawbacks. We won't get into the nitty-gritty details of how they work - instead, we'll just let you know which ones you should be interested in and why.
Unless you're on a really tight budget, we'd advise going with IPS at a minimum. TN and VA panels can be had cheaper but the advantages in colour representation and viewing angles outweigh the cost difference in most cases.
More exotic panels include OLED, QLED, MicroLED, and it won't be long before we start to see QD-OLED on monitors, too. To keep it simple, all of these panels offer benefits over IPS, mainly in the areas of colour accuracy, dynamic range and black levels. OLED is the current champ when it comes to image quality, but, unfortunately, these panels can suffer image burn-in and therefore aren't usually ideal for use as a PC monitor.
As of right now, QLED is probably the best choice on the premium end of the spectrum, with MicroLED technology still being prohibitively expensive.
The refresh rate is simply how many times the screen is capable of changing the image displayed per second. 60Hz is the standard speed that you will find across the majority of monitors, and, for most people, it's plenty fast enough. For gaming, however, especially for those who enjoy fast-paced first-person shooters, refresh rate starts to matter a lot more.
Many gaming monitors now offer 144Hz refresh rates and higher, all with the intent of buttery smooth gameplay and faster reactions in competitive titles.
There are also monitors available with variable refresh rates, these will be labelled as supporting AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync. These features are geared toward PC gaming. Both do the same thing but are compatible with either AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. It allows the monitor to talk to your gaming PC and match the refresh rate of the screen to the frames per second of the game that you are playing. This eliminates screen tearing and allows for a smoother overall gaming experience.
Having a beautiful display to look at is no good if you have crippling backache, so it's important to think about where your monitor will be placed and how you will need to adjust it to suit your desk setup.
Some monitors, especially on the cheaper side of things, only allow you to adjust the tilt. More expensive models will often have extensive height adjustability, as well as tilt and swivel, allowing you to position your monitor perfectly.
There are ways around this, of course. Almost all monitors support a standardised VESA mount, and can be attached to an adjustable monitor arm if required.
This one's pretty simple. If you know you'll need to connect via Display Port, you'd better check that the monitor you like has that connection. Luckily, it's pretty simple these days and most people will either need HDMI or Display Port. Most modern monitors offer both options.
If you'll need to connect to something older like VGA or DVI, then you'll have to be more careful with which monitor you select. There are still a host of options with these legacy connectors to choose from.
Some monitors allow USB-C connection for single cable hook up to laptop or MacBook, toom and this can be super handy and save a lot of hassle if you frequently switch between working at your desk and working on the go.
Of course, it always comes down to what fits into your budget. A new monitor can be a big investment, but it's one that will last you for a long time. Since it just sits on your desk, a monitor is subject to very little wear and tear over its lifespan - so we'd argue it's worth spending a little more to get a good one if you can.
We have focused on 4K and QHD options in this list, but you can save some more by going for a 1080p option, instead. While the extra resolution looks fantastic, a lot of people won't need it for their day to day tasks. If you're gaming, a lower resolution will be less taxing on your graphics card and is likely to result in higher frame rates, too.
It's all about finding the right balance for you and your computing needs. Hopefully, armed with this info, you'll be a lot closer to finding your perfect monitor.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been assessed thoroughly to ensure it will perform exactly as a recommended pick should.
We've thought about everything, factoring in how each model will perform when being used for gaming, work, web browsing and streaming. This meant diving into the key specs and features, like HDR compatibility, FreeSync, G-Sync, local dimming modes and more. From there, we've then crossed our judgements with each individual price tag to ensure they represent good value for money, too.
As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each monitor is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.
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