Best Computer Monitors

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for computer monitors

A monitor is one of the most important components of any computer setup. Whether you’re a casual user, an at-home professional, or a hardcore gamer, you’ll probably use your monitor every day, so it’s worth it to spend time picking out just the right one. Selecting the right monitor is a careful balancing act between your ideal screen size, resolution, feature set, and cost.

At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own money, and we never accept products or financial incentives from product manufacturers. We’re passionate about providing our readers with clear, unbiased reviews so they can make informed purchase decisions. We’re here to help you find the best monitor to suit your needs. If you’re ready to buy, check out our five recommendations in the grid above. Or, if you’d like more information on contrasting the many different monitors available, read on for our full shopping guide.

When you purchase a new monitor, plug it in immediately to make sure there are no dead pixels. Dead pixels will appear as black dots where there should be a hue displayed. If you see any, exchange the monitor for a replacement immediately.

A wide variety of choices

While most computer monitors are built around the industry-standard 16 x 9 widescreen format (the same dimensions as most TVs), there’s also a new kid in town: “ultrawide” monitors. Ultrawide monitors, which feature 21 x 9 panels, were built with gamers and office workers in mind: with an especially wide desktop, gaming landscapes appear especially vast, and for business, multiple documents can be compared side by side. The choice you make should be based on how much screen real estate you need, and how you primarily use your computer.

"Most monitors can be easily mounted on the wall with a standard VESA television mount. Check your monitor’s instructions to determine what size VESA mount it requires."
STAFF
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Widescreen monitors are the most common, which also makes them the most affordable. A 16 x 9 screen is perfect for watching movies and TV, and in most cases, they don’t require the user to turn in either direction to see the whole screen. Widescreen monitors are also a huge step up in quality from the 4 x 3 (“fullscreen”) monitors of yesteryear.

Ultrawide monitors have more pixels than widescreen monitors, and are ideal for users who find themselves frequently running out of room on a standard monitor. Gamers often consider ultrawides an essential part of their gaming rigs, and it’s easy to see why: with room for more gaming backgrounds and artwork, any game becomes an immersive experience on an ultrawide. Professionals who spend time working with multiple documents, spreadsheets, or presentations love the room to be able to spread out their digital assets on ultrawide monitors, and see them all at once.

Did you know?
The first ultrawide monitor for consumers was released in 2012.
STAFF
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Finding a resolution

Computer monitors come in a variety of resolutions  —  that is, the number of pixels they can display, expressed as height by width  —  with a current maximum of 3840x2160, otherwise known as 4K. And while more pixels means more detail, picking the best screen resolution for yourself may be trickier than expected, because high-resolution screens can make text smaller and harder to read, depending on the size of the screen.

It’s also important to avoid confusing screen resolution with screen size: a 24” monitor with 4K resolution will make text seem tiny and hard to read, while a 32” monitor with only 1920x1080 resolution might make images and text seem painfully blurry. Thankfully, there are a variety of both screen resolutions and screen sizes, so there’s a perfect monitor for everyone.

The most common resolutions for computer monitors are 1920x1080 (also known as Full High Definition or UXGA), 2560x1440 (WQXGA), and 3840x2160 (also known as 4K, or UHD).

"Most computer monitors support multiple screen resolutions, but are intended to be run at the highest resolution available. For example, a 4K monitor is intended to display a 3840x2160 image, but can also be set to display at lower values, like 1920x1080."
STAFF
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Ports, ports, ports

When buying a new monitor, it’s important to be aware of what ports you need. There are three primary ways to connect a computer to a monitor, and not all monitors support every connection type. The three types are:

  • HDMI: High-Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI for short, is the standard of digital video connection ports and cables. HDMI cables are inexpensive and can transport both audio and video simultaneously. HDMI is such a ubiquitous standard, you can even use it to connect your gaming consoles or Blu-ray players to your monitor’s HDMI port, if it has one.

  • DisplayPort: DisplayPort, a video-only competitor to HDMI, connects digital video signals to monitors, and is most commonly found on Apple computers. DisplayPort cables can be used to daisy-chain monitors, giving it an advantage over HDMI in multi-monitor setups.

  • VGA: VGA is the analog video standard still required by older computers. While VGA lacks the crisp digital accuracy of HDMI or DisplayPort, it’s still a perfectly competent connection type.

Computer monitor pricing

Computer monitors typically cost anywhere between $150 and $800. High-end models feature larger screens, higher resolutions, and bonus features like USB or 3.5mm audio ports. Lower-end models tend to skimp on just about everything including, but not limited to, screen quality. If you’re not sure how much to spend, consider the following:

  • Cutting-edge models will get much cheaper, fast: much like cars, TVs, smartphones, or computers themselves, computer monitors are typically expensive when they are first released, and see a significant price dip after the first year. If you’re looking to save money and don’t need the absolute latest-and-greatest features, consider last year’s models.

  • Longevity is built into the price: some bargain-basement monitors may seem like a fantastic deal, but many low-quality monitors don’t last more than a few years. If you’re looking for a monitor that will last a while, don’t look for the cheapest one you can find. A mid-range monitor from a reputable manufacturer will cost more upfront, but will ultimately save you money in the long run, as it will last much longer.

Tips

As you’re deciding which computer monitor to buy, consider the following tips:

  • If you need extra USB ports in your computer set-up, look for a monitor with a built-in USB hub. Some monitors include as many as four additional USB ports tucked away out of sight.

  • If you’re not sure what screen size to buy, use a tape measure to estimate your available and ideal screen space on your desk. Remember that monitor screen measurements reflect the diagonal distance between opposite corners.

  • When first setting up a monitor, use the on-board calibration settings to adjust your screen image. Proper configuration based on the included instructions can significantly improve your monitor’s overall image quality.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a computer monitor as a TV?
A.
Yes, but it’s important to be aware of a few limitations. If your monitor includes an HDMI port, you can use a single HDMI cable to connect it to your cable box, Blu-ray player, or even your video game console. However, not all monitors include speakers, so if you’re planning on using your monitor as a TV, you’ll need a plan for audio. If your monitor includes built-in speakers, then it will act just like a TV  —  just be aware that most built-in speakers don’t sound amazing.

If you buy a 4K monitor, make sure that you use high-speed HDMI cables when connecting it. High-speed HDMI cables are specifically designed to handle the intense throughput of a 4K signal.

Q. Why are some monitors curved while others are flat?
A.
Curved monitors are an industry trend that has received mixed reviews from users. Curved screens are designed to match the curvature of the human eye, and can create a wider field of view by enlisting the help of your peripheral vision.

Q. What’s the difference between glossy monitors and matte monitors?
A.
Some monitors are manufactured with anti-reflective glossy screens, while others are made with non-reflective matte screens. Glossy screens produce images that are generally brighter, with better contrast and more vibrant colors. However, in some lighting, glossy screens reflect quite a bit of light, making them tough to see from every angle. Matte screens display a slightly duller image, but are easily seen in any lighting, and are generally easier to clean.

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