A lot has changed in the world of computer monitors, so finding the perfect one for your computer can be pretty tricky. Whether you spend half the day working from your computer or just use it to browse the web every now and then, finding a great monitor to complement your setup is never a bad idea. We made this guide to simplify your search for an amazing computer monitor that will take your computer to the next level.
Buying Guide for Computer Monitors
Why buy a new computer monitor?
Due to recent innovations, high-quality computer monitors are more visually impressive and affordable than ever. They’re also incredibly useful for anyone who uses their computer for design-based work (such as graphic or web design) or for gaming. This is because you’ll want to see the truest rendition of what’s meant to be on the computer monitor, from colors to images and fast-moving visual scenes. If your current monitor is dated, it’s also important to remember that modern, budget-friendly monitors usually outperform high-end monitors from 5 to 10 years ago due to how fast computer monitor technology has changed over the years.
What should you look for in a computer monitor?
- Primary Purpose: The first step to shopping for a computer monitor is to closely consider what you typically use your computer for. This is because a monitor that’s great for casual web browsing and computing won’t excel at displaying modern computer games, and a great gaming monitor won’t be an ideal choice for those who need a portable monitor to afford a dual-screen display on the go. Therefore, honestly assess how you use your computer and select a new monitor that’s specifically geared toward your computer habits.
- Resolution: A monitor’s resolution (measured using a width x height format) will inform you of how many pixels it’s able to squeeze onto the screen. This is important because the higher your monitor’s resolution is, the better the picture quality will be. 1920 x 1080 (or 1080p) is the old standard, but nowadays, QHD and 4K monitors offer a better resolution for stunning displays. Additionally, keep in mind that pixel density is another key factor to consider. So, if you’re shopping for a larger display, make sure that it has an impressive resolution to complement it. Otherwise, the end product can look quite sloppy.
- Size: Whether you’re seeking a new monitor for work or for play, an extra-wide display can be a real game-changer in terms of productivity and immersion. However, for extremely wide displays, many prefer a curved design, as these tend to limit eye strain when used for prolonged periods. Curved monitors do tend to have issues with glaring, however (although this will depend on your room’s lighting), so be sure to do your research. Additionally, if you’re looking for a portable option, keep in mind that less tends to be more and that lugging around a portable monitor that’s larger than 15 inches can be a challenge.
What other key tech specs should you keep an eye out for?
A monitor’s refresh rate (measured in Hz) is an important consideration, as this determines how many times your monitor gets updated with fresh information per second. Higher refresh rates are always preferable to lower ones, as this will lead to crisper displays with less choppiness. This will be especially important for gamers and for those who frequently watch videos or movies on their computer monitor. Response time is another key metric to keep an eye out for, although this one will primarily apply to PC gamers. This determines how long individual pixels take to change colors, and a poor response time is a key culprit behind motion blur, the bane of gamers with poor-quality monitors.
Our Picks for the Best Computer Monitors
Pros: This budget-friendly monitor sports a clean, bright 1080p display that’s perfect for modern (or home) office use. Its 5-ms response time is great for the price and even rivals lower-end gaming PCs in terms of displaying fast-moving scenes. This monitor also scores points for its ability to rotate, tilt, raise, and lower without the need for a mount.
Cons: While this monitor’s display is overall above-average, it does suffer from brightness drop-off when observed from less ideal angles. This can make it more difficult to use in dual-monitor displays, although it’s less of an issue if your workstation is set up well. Additionally, the built-in speakers won’t wow anybody, but should suffice for basic work tasks.
Bottom Line: For its price, this monitor definitely packs enough in terms of tech and functionality to make it a great choice for those who will be primarily using their computer for work. However, for those who require crisp sound, utilizing a high-quality pair of Bluetooth speakers or headphones is a must, as this monitor’s speakers seem more like an afterthought than a genuine feature.
Pros: This portable monitor’s slim, lightweight design makes it ideal for taking to work or the coffee shop for an instant dual-screen display wherever you might be. For a portable option, its 1080p display also impresses, especially in regards to its rich colors. However, it also makes it easy to modify display settings for those who don’t care for the out-of-the-box experience. Finally, this product’s USB-C support is the perfect solution for a mobile dual-monitor display, and its auto-orientation functionality is a must-have for those who frequently venture between landscape and portrait mode.
Cons: While the USB-C connection works like a charm, the cable that this monitor actually comes with might need to be replaced sooner rather than later. (Luckily, this is a quick and inexpensive fix.) Additionally, some of the nicer features that this monitor sports will require drivers to be downloaded, making this portable monitor less appealing to those who want everything ready to go right out of the box.
Bottom Line: While this monitor is a bit on the pricier side given its specs, it really makes up for it based on its unique functionality and ultra-portable design. With more mobile professionals than ever these days, the need for this kind of laptop has really skyrocketed. However, if you do a vast majority of your work in an office setting, you can find a less expensive monitor with better specs that will be a better fit for your needs.
Pros: Sporting a gnarly 240-Hz refresh rate and a 1-ms GTG response time, this monitor is made with the rigors of modern gaming in mind. Combine that with a quad high-definition display, and you have a monitor that offers a wider field of view as well as crisp visuals that maintain blur-free clarity in the heat of a frenetic gaming session. This monitor also possesses the most vivid colors of any product featured in this guide, and by quite a wide margin.
Cons: While this monitor gives the best bang for your buck for PC gamers, it’s not a great choice for next-gen console gamers due to its inability to scale 4K via HDMI. It also suffers from minor backlight bleed, which probably won’t be visible in most gaming applications, but might rear its head when you’re enjoying a particularly dark scene in your favorite horror movie.
Bottom Line: Alienware is known for innovative gaming monitors, and this one provides an experience that’s as close as you can get to a high-end 4K gaming monitor without paying an arm and a leg. Although this monitor sports specs (and a price tag) that most casual PC users would find extravagant, PC gamers will find a lot of value in this product.
Pros: This ultrawide LG monitor sports both HDMI and USB-C connections, making it ideal for a wide variety of computers without needing to buy pricey adapters. It features vivid colors and a beautiful display that looks great from a wide variety of viewing angles. The wide screen makes it easy to multitask and is amazing for running editing software, as it affords you a greater view of your audio or video project’s timeline. This product also scores bonus points for its speakers, which are surprisingly nice for a monitor at this price point.
Cons: Considering the size of the screen, this monitor’s resolution is a bit low, which is especially noticeable when playing modern video games. The response time is also slightly slow, leading to motion blur when onscreen action pushes the monitor’s limits.
Bottom Line: As a work monitor used to boost productivity by virtue of its wide display, this product scores top marks. When experiencing this monitor for gaming, it does (perhaps) leave something to be desired, but still sports specs that are impressive enough to make it a major upgrade for a majority of PC gamers. Given how low this monitor is priced despite its performance and versatility, it’s hard to deny that this is one of the most attractive wide-screen monitor deals on the market.
Pros: Featuring an excellent refresh rate and response time for the price, this monitor is tailor-made for next-gen and PC gaming. The 1800R does well to immerse you into the action without feeling unnatural or distracting, even when using the monitor for casual web browsing. This monitor’s DisplayPort connectivity really takes it over the edge for those with the hardware to match, ensuring that this monitor is capable of displaying stunningly smooth graphics for those who are serious about PC gaming.
Cons: As tends to be the case with budget-friendly monitors that come with built-in speakers, this monitor’s speakers are pretty poor and will have most gamers opting to use their headset. Additionally, when not used for gaming, this monitor showcases some weak points, as the clarity of onscreen text and minute visual elements can be a little fuzzy.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a budget-friendly gaming monitor with some seriously impressive specs, this is one of the most cost-effective products around. However, some of its selling points won’t be available to those without next-gen consoles or DisplayPort functionality. For those seeking a monitor for work or for casual browsing, the monitor’s weak points outweigh its strengths.
Compared to a decade ago, when prices were high and monitor specs were abysmal (at least by today’s standards), it’s an exciting time to shop for a new monitor for your PC. If you’re like most people and you’ve put off replacing your monitor for quite a while, you should be able to find a massive upgrade at a fraction of the price that you paid for your old monitor. However, monitor shopping is more about considering your needs (and your PC/console’s capabilities) than it is about hunting for a monitor with the best specs, so making an educated choice is imperative here.