Best computer monitors in 2023

Best computer monitors in 2023

Evolution of Computer Monitors: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Computer monitors have come a long way in recent years, with rapid advancements in technology and a wide range of options to choose from. From OLED Flex to QD-OLED and built-in smart platforms, the monitor market has seen significant improvements in size, resolution, color accuracy, and image quality. With so many choices available, finding the best computer monitor can be overwhelming. To help you navigate through the sea of options, we’ve researched the latest models and created a comprehensive buying guide that caters to different markets and budgets.

The Basics: Panel Type and Display Technology

When it comes to panel types, there are several options to consider. TN (twisted nematic) panels are the most affordable but are primarily designed for gamers or office use. VA (vertical alignment) panels offer good brightness and high contrast ratios at a reasonable price. However, for content creators who prioritize color accuracy and picture quality, IPS (in-plane switching) LCD displays are the way to go. These displays deliver better color reproduction, wider viewing angles, and improved picture quality.

For those seeking maximum brightness, quantum dot LCD displays are recommended, especially for larger displays. OLED monitors, on the other hand, provide the best blacks and color reproduction but lack the brightness of LED or quantum dot displays. However, they come with a hefty price tag. The latest addition to the OLED family is QD-OLED from Samsung, which delivers significantly higher brightness, with some monitors reaching up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness.

Another technology worth mentioning is MiniLED. Similar to quantum dot tech, MiniLEDs use smaller LED diodes, allowing manufacturers to pack in more LEDs and create better contrast and deeper blacks.

Screen Size, Resolution, and Display Format

Screen size has become increasingly important, with larger displays gaining popularity among content creators, gamers, and entertainment enthusiasts. While 24-inch displays were once considered standard, 27-, 32-, 34-, and even 42-inch displays are now commonly preferred.

Display format is also a crucial factor. Most monitors used to adhere to the 16:9 aspect ratio, but now you can find more exotic shapes, including 16:10 and ultrawide 21:9 monitors. Ultrawide monitors are particularly popular in gaming and entertainment, offering a wider field of view. However, it’s important to note that the height of a 21:9 monitor is similar to that of a smaller 16:9 monitor. To ensure the desired vertical height, it’s recommended to add 25% to the size of a 21:9 monitor.

Resolution is another essential consideration. A 4K monitor is almost a must for content creators, although some opt for even higher resolutions like 5K or 8K. However, it’s important to note that driving higher resolutions requires a powerful computer. For 27-inch monitors and larger, a 4K resolution is recommended to notice a significant difference from 1440p. For sizes smaller than 27 inches, it’s preferable to stick with 1440p to avoid pixelation when sitting close to the screen.

It’s also worth mentioning the emergence of portable monitors designed to be carried and used with laptops. These monitors usually come in 1080p resolutions and sizes ranging from 13 to 15 inches, with a lightweight kickstand-like support to ensure portability.

HDR: The Buzzy Monitor Feature

HDR (High Dynamic Range) has become a sought-after feature in monitors as it enhances vibrancy in entertainment and gaming. However, not all monitors that claim HDR live up to the expectations. To ensure a display meets the minimum HDR standards, it’s recommended to choose a model with a DisplayHDR rating. DisplayHDR tiers represent the maximum brightness in nits, with higher tiers offering better brightness, black levels, and color reproduction.

When it comes to HDR format compatibility, most PC monitors only support HDR10, while televisions offer HDR10, Dolby Vision, or HDR10+. While this might not affect content creation and gaming, HDR streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video might look less vibrant on monitors limited to HDR10. Gaming monitors that support HDR600 and above are more common, while content creation monitors with similar HDR support are somewhat rare.

Refresh Rate and Inputs

Refresh rate is a crucial feature for gaming monitors. While the bare minimum nowadays is 60Hz, higher refresh rates like 80Hz and above are easier on the eyes. Most 4K displays are limited to 60Hz, with some exceptions supporting higher rates through DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.1 connections. However, HDMI 2.1 is only supported on the latest NVIDIA RTX 3000- and 4000-series and AMD RX 6000-series GPUs.

When it comes to inputs, there are three types to consider: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, and HDMI. Thunderbolt ports are typically used with Mac devices, while DisplayPort and HDMI are more commonly found in monitors designed for PCs. It’s important to note that some USB-C ports may be Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort compatible, requiring specific cable adapters depending on the display.

Color Bit Depth and Color Gamut

For serious content creators, a 10-bit monitor that can display billions of colors is highly recommended. However, if budget is a constraint, an 8-bit panel that can simulate billions of colors through dithering (often specified as “8-bit + FRC”) can be a more affordable option. For entertainment or business purposes, an 8-bit monitor capable of displaying millions of colors should suffice.

Color gamut is another essential aspect of color reproduction. While most good monitors cover the sRGB and Rec.709 gamuts, more demanding work requires monitors that can reproduce advanced gamuts like AdobeRGB, DCI-P3, and Rec.2020, which offer a wider range of colors. AdobeRGB and DCI-P3 are commonly used for photo editing and video editing, respectively, while Rec.2020 is ideal for HDR content.

Gaming on Consoles

For console gaming, both the Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5 support 4K 120Hz HDR gaming. To fully enjoy the resolution and high refresh rates, a monitor capable of handling these specifications is essential. Fortunately, there are 27-inch displays available at a reasonable price with the required specs.

Pricing and Parts Shortages

It’s worth mentioning that the monitor market has experienced some supply chain issues, which have caused parts shortages and impacted pricing. While the pandemic situation has improved, monitor supply is still slightly tighter than pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, availability and pricing may vary. For this guide, we’ve based our recommendations on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, with a tolerance of $25 above the MSRP for street prices.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the best monitors in different price ranges.

Best Monitors Under $200

  • Samsung T35F: This 27-inch 1080p monitor offers a balance of size, refresh rate, and color accuracy. It’s suitable for business use, light PC gaming, and content work. The IPS panel and 75Hz refresh rate make it a compelling option, although it only offers tilt adjustment and HDMI 1.4 connectivity.
  • LG 24GL600F: If you prefer a smaller display or have limited desk space, the LG 24GL600F is a solid option. This 24-inch monitor features a high refresh rate of 144Hz, AMD FreeSync support, and low input lag, making it ideal for gaming. It offers HDMI and DisplayPort inputs but lacks height adjustment.

Best Monitors Under $400

  • HP U28 4K HDR Monitor: This 28-inch monitor is a great choice for content creators, thanks to its 60Hz IPS panel and factory calibration for excellent color accuracy. It offers DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB ports, along with height, swivel, and pivot adjustment options.
  • Gigabyte G27QC: For gamers, the Gigabyte G27QC is a top pick. This 27-inch 1440p curved monitor offers a 165Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and HDR support. It provides HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 connections, but lacks DisplayHDR certification.
  • BenQ 27-inch QHD HDR Monitor: Ideal for creative work, this 27-inch 2K QHD HDR monitor covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut with excellent color accuracy. It offers height, pivot, and swivel adjustments, along with HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, and USB-C connectivity.

Best Monitors Under $500

  • LG 32UN650-W: This 32-inch 4K monitor is perfect for entertainment, creative work, and gaming. Its IPS panel covers 95% of the DCI-P3 gamut with 10-bit color support, offering a visually immersive experience. It also includes HDR, tilt and height adjustments, and built-in speakers.
  • ASUS ROG Swift PG259QN: With a 24.5-inch 1080p display, this monitor focuses on speed with a 360Hz refresh rate and 1ms GtG response time. It offers 1.07 billion colors, HDR support, and a fully adjustable stand, making it an excellent choice for gaming.
  • Gigabyte M28U: This 28-inch 144Hz 4K gaming monitor packs an IPS panel with a 2ms response time, DisplayHDR 400 certification, and FreeSync Premium Pro support. It’s slightly above the $500 mark but often goes on sale.

Best Monitors Under $1,000

  • ViewSonic ColorPro VP2786-4K: In this price range, ViewSonic’s ColorPro VP2786 is the top choice for color accuracy. This 27-inch 4K HDR monitor features a true 10-bit IPS panel that covers 98% of the DCI-P3 color palette, making it ideal for photo editing and graphic design.
  • Dell G3223Q: This 32-inch 4K HDR gaming monitor excels in speed, brightness, and compatibility. It offers an IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms GtG response time, and compatibility with FreeSync and G-Sync technologies.
  • Dell P3223QE: Aimed at productivity, the Dell P3223QE is a 4K USB-C hub monitor that offers convenience and connectivity. Its IPS panel provides a 178-degree viewing angle, 350 nits of brightness, and support for a billion colors. The monitor includes DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB-C inputs, along with height, pivot, swivel, and tilt adjustments.

Best Monitor for Mac Users

  • Apple Studio Display: For those looking to stay within the Apple ecosystem, the 27-inch Apple Studio Display is a cost-effective option. It supports 5K resolution with up to 600 nits of brightness and includes a 12-megapixel UltraWide camera and a three-mic array.
  • LG UltraFine 4K and 5K: The LG UltraFine 4 display is a third-party option for Mac users. With a 24-inch 4K panel offering high resolution and color accuracy, it’s great for video and photo editing work. The monitor supports Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, daisy chaining, and power delivery.

Best Ultrawide Monitor

  • LG 34GP950G-B: Ultrawide 21:9 monitors are perfect for content creation, gaming, and productivity. The LG 34GP950G-B is a 34-inch curved monitor with a 3,440 x 1,440 resolution. It supports HDR10, offers a 180Hz refresh rate, and is G-Sync and FreeSync compatible.

Best Portable Monitor

  • LePow C2S: The LePow C2S offers functionality, performance, and affordability. It features a 15.6-inch display with decent brightness, contrast, and color gamut coverage. It comes with mini-DisplayPort, mini-HDMI, USB-C, and headphone jack ports, along with built-in speakers.

Best Luxury Monitor

  • ASUS ProArt PA32UCG-K: Priced at $5,000, the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG-K is the epitome of luxury monitors. It features mini-LED technology, delivering exceptional brightness and contrast. The monitor supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG, making it ideal for professional colorists and content creation.

With this comprehensive buying guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the evolving world of computer monitors and be able to make an informed decision based on your needs, preferences, and budget. Remember to consider factors such as panel type, display technology, screen size, resolution, HDR support, refresh rate, inputs, color depth, color gamut, and gaming compatibility when exploring the wide range of options available. Happy shopping!