Best External Monitor for MacBook Pro and Air in 2017 – 2018 By Paul Dobell Last updated on December 26, 2017 It is common knowledge that Apple sells a lot more portable MacBooks rather than desktops, but the one problem that is common to all the MacBooks is that most of them have a display size of less than 15 inches.
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- Best Overall: LG 27UK850-W at Amazon, “Checks all the boxes for a top-of-the-line multipurpose display.'
- Runner-Up, Best Overall: Dell Professional 27-inch Monitor at Amazon, “Offering a ton of features perfect for someone looking for a work-friendly unit.”
- Best Budget: Acer SB220Q bi at Amazon, “Its full HD 1080p IPS panel provides better viewing angles and overall picture quality than typically found in this price range.'
- Runner-Up, Best Budget: Samsung SD300 Series S24D300HL at Amazon, 'Bright visuals and images remain crisp and clear no matter how fast the action is happening.'
- Best for Gaming:ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ at Amazon, 'Can hit a 144-hertz refresh rate with a 4ms response time.'
- Runner-Up, Best for Gaming:BenQ Zowie XL2740 at Amazon, 'A powerful weapon for the most competitive gamers.'
- Best Ultra-Wide:Samsung CHG90 at Amazon, 'Measures 49 inches with an aspect ratio of 32:9 — that’s like two 27-inch 16:9 monitors put together.'
- Best for Movies: AOC U3277PWQU 32-Inch 4K LED Monitor at Amazon, “Delivering richer color accuracy with over 1.07 billion colors in total.”
- Best Design: BenQ Ultra HD 4K Design Monitor at Amazon, “This display delivers vivid and accurate color that will satisfy graphic design pros.”
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: LG 27UK850-W
Choosing the “best” monitor can very much depend on your needs, but the LG 27UK850-W checks all the boxes for a top-of-the-line multipurpose display. With its 4K Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels), you’ll enjoy dazzling picture quality across a 27-inch screen with sleek, functional design.
The LG 27UK850’s in-plane switching (IPS) panel allows for 178-degree viewing angles and accurate, vibrant colors. It also supports high dynamic range (HDR) technology, and though it may not hit the peak brightness and color range some HDR-mode enthusiasts look for, the monitor delivers an excellent experience for both media watching and professional photo or video editing.
Those looking to the LG 27UK850 for gaming needs won’t be disappointed, either. Even without exceeding a 60-hertz refresh rate like speedier gaming monitors do, support for variable refresh rate through AMD’s FreeSync eliminates screen tearing while Dynamic Action Sync reduces input lag.
The LG 27UK850 includes a couple features that the similar 27UK650 model doesn’t: built-in speakers and a USB-C port. The USB-C input gives it extra versatility for connecting to and charging today’s laptops and other devices. Added all up, you’ll get the premium features and performance you pay for with the LG 27UK850.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Dell Professional 27-inch Monitor
This 27-inch monitor from Dell’s Professional line offers a ton of features perfect for someone looking for a work-friendly unit. With a 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate, it isn’t going to be good for gaming, but it will be perfectly crisp for business and general media consumption. The wide 16:9 aspect ratio is ideal for wielding multiple windows for increased productivity. And speaking of productivity, the fully adjustable stand will allow for your preferred viewing angle and arrangement — even if you’re looking for a vertical portrait orientation.
Dell’s Complete Clarity setting provides a 4,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, giving some amazing viewability from a color, sharpness, and shadow/highlight perspective. Dell has also baked in a tech they’re calling ComfortView that filters out excess blue light to dull the harsh effects of staring at your monitor for extended periods of time, allowing you to work longer and more comfortably. There’s one Display Port, one HDMI input, one VGA input, 3 USB ports (1 upstream and 2 inputs), and USB connectivity that supports the super-fast 3.0 protocol. Overall, it’s a great monitor that’ll factor in seamlessly to your work setup, whether it’s your only monitor or it’s part of a multi-screen system.
Best Budget: Acer SB220Q bi
If you’re shopping on a limited monitor budget, the Acer SB220Q bi can help you squeeze the most pixel power out of each dollar. Given its low price tag, a surprising collection of features are packed into this quarter-inch-thin, nearly bezel-free frame. The 21.5-inch screen isn’t the biggest around, but its full High-Definition 1080p IPS panel provides better viewing angles and overall picture quality than the TN panels typical of this price range.
This versatile monitor throws in extra features for gamers as well. Its 75-hertz refresh rate is a slight bump up from the standard 60-hertz rate, and support for AMD FreeSync can dynamically create a smoother gaming experience when paired with compatible graphics cards. Its 4ms response time isn’t as fast as what modern TN panels can achieve, but still great for most cases.
The design of the Acer SB220Q bi, while sleek and solid enough, doesn’t offer much in the way of adjustability beyond a limited range of tilt. It also lacks USB inputs, with only one HDMI and one VGA port. Minor concessions like these keep it affordable, though, and still offers quite a few extra features for the price.
Looking for a gaming monitor that won't break your bank? Check out our roundup of the best budget gaming monitors.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Samsung SD300 Series S24D300HL
Though the Samsung SD300 might sub out an IPS for a TN panel to lower costs, the monitor welcomes in one of the best displays you’ll find at a reasonable price tag. Stylish and glossy, the monitor has a 23.6-inch screen and 1920 x 1080 resolution. Samsung’s Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio technology covers 114 percent of the sRGB color space, resulting in bright visuals and images that remain crisp and clear no matter how fast the action is happening — perfect for gamers or binge-watchers. Want to connect another device? Onboard HDMI lets you link a variety of devices, like laptops, satellite boxes, and HD gaming systems, while Magic Upscale technology keeps images sharp and reduces degradation when transferred.
The monitor has three energy-saving modes, allowing you to conserve either 25-, 50-, or 100-percent energy (fully powered off). Users can also set a timer to activate one of these modes when the monitor hasn’t been used after a certain period of time.
Best for Gaming: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ
If you have a killer gaming setup and need a powerful gaming monitor to match, it doesn’t get much better than the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ. As a premium 27-inch 4K IPS monitor in the Asus “Republic of Gamers” (ROG) hardware line, it brings all the latest display technologies together in one impressive package.
Combining HDR support with 384 individual zones of LED backlight, you’ll get stunning contrast between darks and lights, with brightness peaking at 1000 cd/m2 (or “nits”). It also supports the cinema-standard DCI-P3 color gamut, wider than the standard sRGB range, producing rich and accurate colors for media work as well as gaming.
Gamers will want speed along with their image quality, of course, and the ROG Swift PG27UQ can hit a 144-hertz refresh rate with a 4ms response time. Gameplay gets even smoother for those with compatible Nvidia graphics cards, thanks to the monitor’s G-Sync support. It also helps keep gamers’ eyes comfortable during long sessions with flicker reduction and low blue light technology. As a bonus, the machine shoots a red-light projection onto your wall or desktop—either the ROG logo or a custom design to suit your style.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best high-end gaming monitors.
Runner-Up, Best for Gaming: BenQ Zowie XL2740
Other gaming monitors might boast 4K resolution and more advanced picture quality, but the BenQ Zowie XL2740 e-Sports Monitor goes beyond that — it’s a powerful weapon for the most competitive gamers. Instead of a newer IPS panel for wider viewing angles and improved color reproduction, the 27-inch XL2740 sticks to a 1080p twisted-nematic (TN) display to optimize refresh rates and response times. The result is maximum responsiveness with a 240-hertz refresh rate and truly minimal response rate and input lag — provided the rest of your gaming hardware can keep pace. These specs won’t make a big difference to everyday consumers, but they’re crucial for e-sports and fast-twitch gaming, where any frame can mean the difference between virtual life and death.
The Zowie XL2740’s other included features all keep serious gamers in mind. Adjustable shields on either side help block out unwanted light and other distractions. Specialized tools let you brighten dark areas, adjust color tones, and more. These settings can be fine-tuned based on your preferences and mapped to swappable custom profiles to get every edge possible in any gaming scenario.
Best Ultra-Wide: Samsung CHG90
There are ultra-wide monitors — and then there’s the Samsung CHG90. The standard widescreen aspect ratio is 16:9, while the typical ultra-wide monitor might have a 34-inch screen with a 21:9 aspect ratio. Samsung’s “super ultrawide” measures 49 inches with an aspect ratio of 32:9. That’s like two 27-inch 16:9 monitors put together!
The screen has a tight 1800R curve that helps you see the edges of its vast real estate in your peripheral vision. It’s not the sharpest display available, though, with only 1080p vertical resolution and an 81.4 pixels-per-inch pixel density. It does, however, sport a QLED vertical alignment (VA) panel with local dimming. When combined with HDR mode, the monitor produces vivid colors and excellent picture quality.
The Samsung CHG90 also markets itself as gaming monitor, and its 144-hertz refresh rate and 1ms response time will certainly serve gamers well. It also features AMD’s FreeSync 2, the latest version of AMD’s variable refresh rate technology, which is designed to pair nicely with HDR. The monitor’s performance, size, and other extra gamer-centric features come together to provide a one-of-a-kind immersive gaming experience, provided you have the budget and desktop space to make it work.
Check out our guide to the best ultra-wide monitors you can buy today.
Best for Movies: AOC U3277PWQU 32-Inch 4K LED Monitor
If you want to watch movies from your computer, the 32-inch AOC 4K LED monitor strikes a good balance between size and features. The 3840 x 2160 4K Ultra HD screen has four times the resolution of an HD display, delivering richer color accuracy with over 1.07 billion colors in total. This monitor adds 178-degree viewing angles with consistent image quality across the board and two three-watt speakers on each side of the monitor for enhanced audio. Additionally, AOC opted for a TN panel instead of the more traditional IPS panel. This results in a superior contrast ratio — more brilliant colors and deeper blacks — for a vibrant movie-watching experience.
With 31.5 inches of viewable screen, there’s enough space for multiple windows (if you want to multitask while you watch). And AOC's flicker-free technology reduces the number of flickers that can be seen with each screen refresh on the LED, eliminating long-term discomfort or eye fatigue.
Looking specifically for 4K? Check out our list of the best 4K monitors on the market this year.
Best Design: BenQ Ultra HD 4K Design Monitor
In order to be a successful designer (or photographer, or video editor), you need your monitor to render color faithfully to natural light. Apple’s monitors have long been the top choice, but the latest Thunderstruck is not coming out until later this year. Until then, the BenQ Ultra HD 4K Design Monitor does everything an artist needs it to do. Using premier color technology, this display delivers vivid and accurate color that will satisfy graphic design pros.
The monitor comes with a commanding 10-bit 100 percent sRGB color palette, accurately recreating over one billion colors with optimal precision and unrivaled contrast. In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology lets you see the color of an image from any angle, extraordinarily helpful for attention to detail. The full gamut of colors comes to you on a 27” or 32” screen in 3840x2160 Ultra HD 4K resolution, an astounding 8,294,400 pixels.
Designers will also appreciate CAD/CAM mode, which delivers unparalleled contrast on 3D lines to help amplify model’s wireframes. The monitor also comes equipped with an animation mode that manipulates brightness and shadow to add depth to your creations and a picture-in-picture mode for video editing projects.
A monitor made for designers should be well-designed. BenQ outfitted the 4K Design Monitor with a responsive and easy-to-rotate swivel so you can see your creation from any angle. The bevel itself is slim and free of any unnecessary lights, allowing two monitors to be seamlessly integrated in dual-screen mode. It is rounded off with anti-glare screen coating and a low blue light to take counteract eye fatigue.
For more monitor options, read the reviews in our guide to the best 27-inch LCD monitors.
How We Tested
We bought a top-rated computer monitor and our reviewers tested it for 30 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this monitor, from its resolution to its refresh rate. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Computer Monitor
Refresh rate - The refresh rate of a monitor refers to how many times per second the screen can update with new image data. This is most important for playing games, and you’ll want to look for a monitor with a refresh rate of at least 144Hz if you’re really serious. Most gamers will be satisfied with a refresh rate of 75Hz or more, but if you don’t use your computer for gaming, you can opt for lower.
Display type - Monitor display types can be hard to understand because there are several different types of LED displays. IPS monitors have great color reproduction and viewing angles, so they’re good for watching video content, any work that requires accurate colors, and most general use scenarios. TN monitors have worse viewing angles, but fast refresh rates make them perfectly suited for gaming.
Resolution - Resolution refers to the number of pixels that the monitor can display, which impacts the sharpness and clarity of the image. The lowest resolution you should settle for is 1920 x 1080, which is referred to as full HD. If you want to take it to the next level—and your video card can handle it—go for a 4K monitor with a 3840 x 2160 resolution.
Test Results: LG 27UK850-W 27-inch 4K (Best Overall)
What We Like
Clear, vibrant image quality
AMD Radeon FreeSync support
What We Don't Like
Speakers could be better
60Hz maximum refresh rate
“The look of this monitor is unique and aesthetically pleasing,” raved our tester. He also felt that its various features made it very versatile: “Its native Freesync support (and unofficial support for G-Sync) makes it a great gaming monitor,” he said, “and its HDR10 support and professional color calibration options make it appealing for home theater enthusiasts or Photoshop pros.” In terms of negatives, he pointed out its low maximum refresh rate. He also thought its audio quality was subpar: “The built-in speakers have a relatively low wattage and feature poor stereo separation,” he said.
Improve Your View: The Right LCD Monitor
The monitor you're using right now might have come bundled with your desktop PC, or maybe you bought it back when 1,024 by 768 was considered 'high resolution.' Since you spend a huge part of every day looking at your screen, it pays to be picky when buying a new one—this is tech you buy that you'll stay with for years to come. And nowadays, you get a lot for your monitor money. Even many low-end panels utterly blow away models from a decade ago.
Gaming screens, business monitors, pro-content displays: The prices for panels even of the same size vary widely, as does the quality of the screen itself. Let's take a walk through the latest trends in display technology, as well as the specific features to look for when shopping for your next desktop monitor. We'll top off the discussion with our 10 current tested favorites.
The Basics: Pricing, Panel Types, and More
Regardless of the type of monitor you're in the market for, some general factors are worth considering. Here's a rundown of the key areas to keep in mind.
Monitor prices depend on the target audience, size, and features of the display. For around $100 to $150, you can pick up a no-frills 22-inch or 23-inch model, but don't expect niceties such as a wide variety of portsand a height-adjustable stand at this price. But these panels do use LED backlighting, require little power, and are often bright. Performance is adequate for most entertainment or basic business and productivity purposes, but not well suited to tasks where color and grayscale accuracy are key.
At the other end of the spectrum are your high-end models that are geared toward graphic design professionals and photographers. Most of these are 27-inch to 38-inch high-end panels that support 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels), capable of displaying four times the resolution of a typical full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel, or '1080p') monitor. Moreover, they offer such features as a highly adjustable stand, a range of ports including HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB (often including USB-C), and a wealth of advanced image settings, including calibration hardware and software. Expect to pay $1,000 and up for a fully loaded, high-performance 4K or Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) monitor like this.
Bottom line: Be prepared to pay for extras, but don't overspend on features you will never use.
Desktop monitors generally fall between 14 and 38 inches, although for those with wide desks, the past year has brought the first 49-inch displays. (The smallest ones will be USB-connected panels meant for mobile use.) The size of the panel is measured diagonally.
While it's always nice to have as big a viewing area as possible, it may not be practical, given your desktop space constraints. Plus, the bigger the screen, the more you can expect to pay. A 24-inch monitor is a good choice if you wish to view multipage documents or watch movies but have limited desk space. But there's nothing like watching a movie or playing a game on a large screen, so if you have room on your desktop, a 27-inch or larger display delivers a big-screen experience for a reasonable price. If space is not an issue, consider a massive, curved-screen model to bring a true movie-theater experience to your desktop. If you're looking to replace a dual-monitor setup with a single display, check out one of the ultra-wide, big-screen models. They are available in sizes ranging from 29 to 49 inches with curved and non-curved panels, have a 21:9 (or wider) aspect ratio, and come in a variety of resolutions, including Wide Quad High-Definition (WQHD) and UHD.
Pixel Response Rate
Measured in milliseconds (ms), this is the time it takes for a pixel to change from black to white (black-to-white) or to transition from one shade of gray to another (gray-to-gray). The faster the pixel response rate, the better the monitor is at displaying video without also displaying artifacts, such as ghosting or blurring of moving images. Monitors with a fast 1ms (gray-to-gray) pixel response are very good for gaming, but even monitors with a higher 6ms (gray-to-gray) pixel response can display games without much blurring or ghosting.
Most users won't notice input lag, which is the time it takes for the display to react to a command, but hard-core gamers consider this a key factor when choosing a monitor and typically seek out the fastest models available. The fastest monitor we've seen has a lag time of less than a millisecond, but for everyday use, you can get by with up to around 25ms before lag becomes a problem.
Monitors For Mac Mini
This is the maximum number of pixels a monitor can display, both horizontally and vertically. For example, a monitor with a 1,920-by-1,080 native resolution can display 1,920 pixels across the width of the screen, and 1,080 pixels from top to bottom. The higher the resolution, the more information can be displayed on the screen.
These days, most monitors in the 22-to-27-inch range have a native resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 and are referred to as full HD or 1080p monitors. You'll also see plenty of displays from 24 to 32 inches that offer a WQHD (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) native resolution. Stepping up to a UHD or 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) monitor usually means a 27-inch or larger screen, although we have seen a few 24-inch UHD models. UHD monitors are ideal for viewing highly detailed images or looking at multiple pages in a tiled or side-by-side format.
If you have to share a monitor with a co-worker or family members, consider a model with an ergonomic stand that lets you position the screen for your most comfortable viewing angle. A fully adjustable stand offers tilt, swivel, and height adjustments, and you can rotate the panel for portrait-mode viewing. If you tend to attach and detach USB devices often, look for a monitor with built-in USB ports. Ideally, at least two of these ports will be mounted on the side of the cabinet, making it easy to plug in thumb drives and other USB peripherals.
Most monitors come with built-in speakers that are adequate for everyday use but lack the volume and bass response that music aficionados and gamers crave. If audio output is important, look for speakers with a minimum rating of 2 watts per speaker. As a general rule, the higher the power rating, the more volume you can expect, so if you want a monitor with a little extra audio pop, check the specs. Some monitors lack speakers altogether, but you can add external speakers that may give you better sound than typical monitor speakers. A display with a built-in card reader makes it easy to view photos and play music without having to reach under your desk to plug in a media card.
Finally, glossy-surfaced screens can provide very bright, crisp colors, but they may also be too reflective for some users. If possible, compare a glossy screen to a matte screen before you buy to decide which works best for you.
The key panel types used in desktop displays are twisted nematic (TN), in-plane switching (IPS), vertical alignment (VA), patterned vertical alignment (PVA), Super PVA (S-PVA), and multi-domain vertical alignment (MVA).
Up until the last few years, most desktop displays used TN technology. It is the least-expensive panel type to manufacture, and it offers superior motion-handling performance. But affordable IPS monitors are out in force; plenty of 27-inch IPS models cost well under $250 and offer very good color quality and wide viewing angles. VA monitors also offer robust colors, but viewing-angle performance, while better than on a typical TN panel, is not quite as sharp as what you get from an IPS panel.
Here in 2019, you'd be hard-pressed to find a desktop monitor that does not deliver a full HD image, at the minimum. To achieve this minimal mark, the panel must have a native resolution of at least 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, in a 16:9 aspect ratio to do it without stretching or cropping the picture. Graphic-design professionals who require a high degree of image detail should be looking further up the resolution stack, for a WQHD or UHD monitor.
In the not-too-distant past, most LCD monitors used cold-cathode florescent lamp (CCFL) technology for backlighting, but nowadays LED-backlit monitors are ubiquitous, and with good reason. LED backlight arrangements offer a brighter image than CCFLs do, are smaller and require less power, and allow for extremely thin cabinet designs. CCFL displays are generally less expensive than their LED counterparts, but they are few and far between these days.
Beyond that, we're now seeing monitors that make use of quantum dot technology to offer superior color accuracy, an increased color gamut, and a higher peak brightness than what you get with current panel technologies. Another new wave of monitors features organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology, which promises ultra-high contrast ratios, true blacks, and a super-fast pixel response. OLEDs have been slow to take hold in the market, largely due to their hefty price.
For laptop users who require dual-screen capabilities, a portable USB monitor might be a better fit than a full-size desktop panel. These lightweight devices use your PC's USB port as their source for power and to receive video, usually with the help of DisplayLink software. They are ideal for small office presentations and for extending your laptop's screen real estate, and their slim profile makes them easy to travel with. For around $200, you can get a 15-inch model that will let you double your viewing area while on the road.
See How We Test Monitors
Types of Monitors
You can classify most monitors in one of five categories, all of which target different audiences: Budget, Business/Professional, Touch-Screen, General-Use/Multimedia, and Gaming. Prices vary within each category, depending on the panel technology used, the size of the display, and features.
Best Led Monitors For Computers
If you're looking for a basic monitor for viewing emails, surfing the web, and displaying office applications, there's no reason to overspend on one with features you'll never use. Budget displays are usually no-frills models that lack niceties such as USB ports, card readers, and built-in webcams. Some cheaper models use TN panel technology and are not known for their performance attributes, particularly when it comes to motion handling and grayscale accuracy. That said, more and more, IPS panels have been infiltrating the budget zone at each screen size.
Don't expect much in the way of flexibility. Most budget displays are supported by a rigid stand that may provide tilt adjustability but probably won't offer height and pivot adjustments. As with nearly all displays, costs will rise along with panel size. You can buy a simple 24-inch TN panel for between $130 and $150, while budget 27-inch TN screens are available for well under $200.
This category includes a wide variety of monitor types, from small-screen, energy-conscious 'green' models for everyday office use to high-end, high-priced, 32-inch-and-up professional-grade displays that use indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) or advanced high-performance in-plane switching (AH-IPS) panel technology and cater to graphics professionals who require a high degree of color and grayscale accuracy. Business monitors usually offer ergonomic stands that can be adjusted for maximum comfort. Very often, they will offer pivot adjustability, which lets you rotate the screen 90 degrees for viewing in portrait mode. Look for a monitor with an auto-rotate feature that flips the image for you when you change the orientation. Other business-centric features include a generous (three-year) warranty with an overnight exchange service, built-in USB ports, and an aggressive recycling program.
A fully loaded model with a high-end panel is going to cost plenty, but for photographers and other graphics pros, it is money well spent. At the other end of the price spectrum are the no-frills, energy-efficient monitors; they don't offer much in the way of features, but their low-power characteristics can help businesses save money through reduced energy costs.
For more, check out the Best Business Monitors.
These are still uncommon, but with the advent of Windows 10, touch-screen desktop displays have gained some traction in vertical markets. You'll pay a bit more for touch-screen technology, but it's worth it if you care about the Windows touch experience. Look for a model equipped with a stand that lets you position the panel so that it is almost parallel with your desktop, if you need that kind of interaction. (Some touch models are designed without a stand, meant to be integrated into a specific environment with a custom stand or arm.)
Multimedia displays typically offer a nice selection of features to help you create and view home photo and video projects. A good panel of this kind will usually provide a variety of connectivity options, primary among them HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI; robust entertainment-class models will also include audio connections. At least two USB ports should be available, preferably mounted on the side of the cabinet for easy access; a USB Type-C port that lets you charge, say, a laptop from your monitor while permitting two-way data transfer is another big plus.
The monitor may also have built-in speakers. On a good multimedia panel, they should be a cut above the typical low-powered versions found on most monitors. If audio output is a deciding factor, look for displays with speakers rated at 2 watts or better. Other multimedia bells and whistles include a built-in card reader, which makes it easy to view photos and video directly from your camera's media, and a webcam for video chats and for taking quick stills and videos that are easy to email. (If you're a serious photographer, check out our picks for photography-friendly displays.)
Displays for gaming require fast response times in order to display moving images without producing motion errors or artifacts. Panels with slower response times may produce blurring of fast-moving images, which can be distracting during gameplay. On smaller displays, the flaw may not be so noticeable, but when you're gaming on a screen that's 27 inches or larger, you'll want to keep blurring to a minimum. Look for a panel with a response time of 5ms (black-to-white) or 2ms (gray-to-gray) or less. Recent gaming monitors offer G-Sync (Nvidia) or FreeSync/FreeSync 2 (AMD) display technologies that reduce screen-tearing artifacts and provide an ultra-smooth gaming experience, but your computer will need a compatible dedicated graphics card to take advantage of that functionality.
A fast-emerging subcategory of gaming displays is the so-called 'high-refresh' panel. Some gaming-monitor makers offer displays that feature refresh rates above the 60Hz norm. They are geared toward esports aficionados or serious competitive gamers, who will use the panels in games that run above 60 frames per second for enhanced smoothness. (Depending on the games you play, you may need a high-end video card to see the benefits of a high-refresh display; see our guide to the best graphics cards.) These high-refresh monitors are offered in various refresh intervals ranging from 75Hz to 240Hz, with 144Hz being the most common flavor. These monitors often support FreeSync or G-Sync, as well. The ultimate gaming monitors are the 65-inch BFGD ('Big-Format Gaming Displays') whose development Nvidia has helped spearhead. These 4K giants are HDR-capable, have a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, support frame rates of 120Hz or more, and support G-Sync adaptive sync technology. The first BFGD to market is the HP Omen X Emperium 65 Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD).
Because audio is a big part of the immersive gaming experience, if you don't have a desktop speaker set already, consider a model with a decent speaker system. (Most in-monitor speakers are middling at best, though.) Alternately, a jack mounted on the side or the front of the cabinet for plugging in a gaming headset is practical if you tend to go the contained-sound route. A monitor with a USB hub to plug in several controllers is also desirable. For more, check out the Best Gaming Monitors.
How to Find the Best 4K Monitor
4K or UHD monitors aren't just for gamers. In fact, many prospective owners of 4K monitors are video editors or users who like to have multiple windows open side-by-side without adding a second monitor. If that's you, you don't need to look for a panel with lightning-quick response times, but you should pay attention to color gamut, contrast ratios, and size.
A 27-inch 4K monitor (these start around $350) will generally allow you to fit three full-size browser windows side by side. Go any smaller than that, and the monitor won't be as useful for multitasking. Gamers, on the other hand, will want to look for a larger-screen 4K display compatible with fast response times and FreeSync or G-Sync compliance if their PC uses a video card that supports one or the other, since a higher resolution makes tearing even more distracting. 4K gaming displays also start around $350, but they can range well north of $1,000 for 32-inch models with GPU syncing and IPS.
Ready for Our Recommendations?
Whatever your needs or budget, there's a monitor out there that's right for you. Below, check out the current best displays we've tested across the various usage cases we've discussed, at various price levels. We update this story constantly, but for the very latest monitor reviews we've posted, also see our monitor product guide.
Best Computer Monitors Featured in This Roundup:
Acer Predator XB3 (XB273K) Review
Pros: Great color reproduction. Low input lag. Good price for the features you get. Gaming-friendly design.
Cons: Limited number of ports. Black levels could be better. Moderate light bleed.
Bottom Line: The Acer Predator XB3 is a nearly perfect compromise between the lowest and highest ends of the 4K 144Hz monitor market.Read Review
Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ Review
Pros: Nicely curved screen. Support for Adaptive Sync (FreeSync). 144Hz refresh rate. Joystick control for OSD menus. Gaming modes and features galore. Smooth performance and good contrast.
Cons: VA panel's pixel response can't match that of TN monitors. No built-in speakers.
Bottom Line: The Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ gaming monitor combines a 32-inch curved screen, a zippy 144Hz refresh rate, FreeSync compatibility, and a raft of gaming features to nab our Editors' Choice.Read Review
BenQ PD2710QC Review
Pros: Solid color and grayscale performance. Plenty of I/O ports. USB-C connectivity. Docking station base. Stylish design.
Cons: Lacks advanced color settings. No swivel adjustment.
Bottom Line: The BenQ PD2710QC is a stylish, versatile 27-inch monitor that delivers accurate colors and solid grayscale performance. It's a top pick for big-screen displays.Read Review
Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin Monitor (S2719DC) Review
Pros: USB-C port can charge devices, including laptops. QHD (ultra-high-definition) resolution. Good color accuracy and wide color gamut. Very bright HDR image. AMD FreeSync support. Smooth gameplay.
Cons: Stand only supports tilt adjustment. Tiny, awkward control buttons.
Bottom Line: The Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin Monitor (S2719DC) is a good entertainment panel for video-watching or gaming, with a bright HDR image, accurate color, and a USB-C port that can charge a laptop and/or stream video or data from a computer.Read Review
Dell UltraSharp 32 4K USB-C Monitor (U3219Q) Review
Pros: Crisp, clear images. HDR color profiles fit well to their tasks. Solid color results in most tests. Exceeded brightness specs. Low input lag.
Cons: Low DCI-P3 color accuracy.
Bottom Line: Dell's UltraSharp 32 U3219Q is a big, beautiful 4K display aimed squarely at the business set, but it could still find a home on any gamer's desk with, we suspect, no complaints.Read Review
LG 49WL95C-W Review
Pros: Spacious 49-inch screen. USB-C port can charge devices, including laptops. Good color accuracy. Can handle HDR content. Powerful speakers.
Cons: Skimpy one-year warranty. On the pricey side.
Bottom Line: The LG 49WL95C-W, a business-centered 49-inch monitor, is a multitasker's dream panel, letting you manage and view several full-size windows on your screen at once.Read Review
Samsung CHG70 27-Inch Curved Monitor Review
Pros: Good HDR performance in videos and games alike. Blistering refresh rate. Support for AMD FreeSync 2. Sturdy and ergonomic mount. Good color quality and image sharpness. Strong value for money.
Cons: Viewing-angle range could be better.
Bottom Line: Gamers and video hounds alike will thrill to the Samsung CHG70 27-Inch Curved Monitor's winning combination: its fine standard-definition and HDR image quality, wide color gamut, high refresh rate, and superior stand.Read Review
ViewSonic VP2785-4K Review
Pros: 4K UHD resolution. Good selection of ports, including USB-C. Covers 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color palette and 95 percent of DCI-P3. Highly adjustable stand.
Cons: No built-in speakers. HDR effect is relatively modest. No adaptive sync support.
Bottom Line: ViewSonic's VP2785-4K is a prime-pick monitor for video editors, photographers, and other graphics pros, packing great color accuracy and factory calibration for a host of color spaces.Read Review
HP EliteDisplay S14 USB Portable Monitor Review
Pros: Slim, compact, and light. One-cable setup. OSD is easy to learn. Clean design that matches up well with thin laptop bezels.
Cons: Stand affords only one angle. Can't rotate screen to vertical orientation. OSD buttons are tricky to reach. Cover doesn't protect the back of the monitor.
Bottom Line: HP's lightweight EliteDisplay S14 delivers surprising specs and sleek lines for a business-minded travel monitor. It's a nifty second-screen complement for a midsize laptop that has USB Type-C.Read Review
HP Omen X Emperium 65 Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) Review
Pros: Astounding image quality. Size and refresh rate combo is unique for a 4K gaming monitor. Nvidia Shield streaming built in. Matching, bundled soundbar. Nifty proximity lighting on ports.
Cons: Wildly expensive. Shield UI can be obtuse in places. Soundbar audio is ho-hum considering display cost. Meager default warranty.
Bottom Line: The HP Omen X Emperium 65, the first Nvidia Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD), is an epic, extravagant high-refresh mega-monitor. It's impossibly pricey and far from flawless, but play on it is unmatched, if you have the monster PC to support it.Read Review