10 best computer monitors
Whether it’s for gaming, video editing or watching movies, it’s time to upgrade your setup
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Buying the right monitor for your PC is crucial, especially if you spend many hours in front of it either because you work from home or you’re an avid gamer. It’s not as simple as just spending more to get more, though. Different monitors are better suited to different tasks so knowing which one is right for you is just as important.
There are four main considerations: size, panel type, refresh rate and resolution.
Size is self-explanatory. If you only use your PC occasionally then you can get away with a modestly sized screen: say, 20-24 inches. If your PC is your multimedia hub, though, then the bigger the better – the latest 34in, super-wide and curved monitors are quite something to behold.
Panel type refers to the different types of LCD technology that are used to make the display. The two main ones are IPS and TN. TN panels are the most basic type and they suffer from poor viewing angles and colour accuracy.
IPS fixes the viewing angle issues of TN and offers better colour accuracy but they have a slower response time so aren’t quite as good for gaming.
Next up is refresh rate. For anything but gaming you don’t need more than 60Hz, but those that play fast-paced games such as first-person shooters will value the more rapid response of 144Hz or higher gaming displays.
As for resolution, your typical 20-27in monitor will have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is also called 1080p or Full HD. This is enough for more casual, occasional use but for those that work at their PCs, a few extra pixels can come in handy.
A good sweetspot is a 27in screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 (1440p) pixels. That’s enough to fit two full-size A4 Word documents side by side.
If you’re more into working with pictures and video then you may want to take the step up to a 4K screen, which is 3840 x 2160 pixels.
Also look out for extra features like speakers, USB hubs and adjustable stands that offer height, rotation, pivot and tilt adjustment – cheap monitors tend to only offer tilt.
Dell U2717D: £434.99, Scan.co.uk
Just as the Dell U2417H is the ideal high end 24in monitor, the U2717D is the ideal high end 27in monitor. Dell is a dab hand at making quality displays that have all the essentials but none of the frills.
The U2717D boasts a 1440p resolution, excellent overall image quality and a fantastic business-like but not staid stand design. It also offers height adjustment, a USB 3.0 hub and loads of connectivity options.
Also look out for good deals on its predecessor, the U2715H. It’s largely identical and can be had for under £400.
Acer R221Q: £108.97, Laptopsdirect
There are cheaper monitors than the Acer R221Q, but not by much. By spending the extra £25 or so over the cheapest alternatives you get an IPS panel that will produce better looking colours and have better viewing angles than cheap TN ones.
It’s also an impressively slim and surprisingly stylish monitor, with a useful 1080p resolution that’s an ideal match for its 22in size. You get nothing more than the basics – not even speakers – but it’s a good entry level monitor for getting the basics done.
LG 23MP68VQ: £116.65, PC World
For this price, you can’t do better than this 23in display from LG. It combines a decent quality IPS panel with a 1080p resolution and fetching overall design, and then adds several extras that set it above the most entry level alternatives.
The first is a 75Hz refresh rate. This is a modest boost over the 60Hz of most non-gaming monitors, but it makes this display just a little more responsive.
The second is the presence of FreeSync, a gaming technology that makes for smoother-looking, tear-free games. It’s a great all-rounder for a great price.
Dell U2417H: £221.95, Amazon
If you’re looking for a top quality monitor but can’t stretch to a larger display, the Dell U2417H is ideal. This 24in display only has a 1080p resolution but it has fantastic image quality.
What’s more the incredibly slim bezel round the edge of the screen and the simple stand design make for a premium looking device, even when it’s not powered on.
The stand also offers height, pivot and rotation adjustment, which you don’t get in cheaper displays, and it has a USB 3.0 hub so you can connect other devices through it.
LG 27UD58: £347.21, Ebuyer.com
The LG 27UD58 is one of the cheapest 4K screens you can buy that uses IPS technology. You can get cheaper TN models but 4K and TN is a pointless mix.
The low price here means you miss out on any extras such as an adjustable stand, USB hub or speakers but if all you want is that massive 4K resolution then this is the place to start.
It’s ideal for those that regularly edit pictures and video but can’t afford a professional-grade 4K display. It even has Freesync for smoother gaming too.
Acer BX340CK: £600, Laptopsdirect.co.uk
If you’re really looking to make an impression with your next monitor then a 34in, super-wide display is the way to go. The huge 3440 x 1440 pixel resolution makes it useful for work while the wide-screen aspect ratio is amazing for games and movies.
This Acer BX340CK is one of the cheapest displays of this type that you can buy – cheaper ones tend to drop to a 2560 x 1080 resolution – and yet gives up little in terms of style, image quality or features.
As well as a stylish height-adjustable stand, there’s a USB 3.0 hub, Freesync and you can boost the refresh rate to 75Hz.
Samsung C49J89: £875, Debenhams Plus
This huge, 49in monitor is the ultimate productivity upgrade. It’s the same size as two 27in displays sat side by side and has a 3840 x 1080 pixel resolution, making for a spacious desktop area.
Moreover, a built in KVM switch means you can use one keyboard, mouse and this monitor to control two PCs. You can switch between them at the touch of a button or have the two images sit side by side, enabling you to just flip control between the two.
A 144Hz refresh rate also means it can hold its own when gaming. A relatively low resolution for its size and middling image quality means it won’t be the top choice for everyone, though.
Asus PA329Q: £1163.48, Scan.co.uk
Professionals looking for a top quality 4K display should seek out the Asus PA329Q. This massive 32in monitor provides a large desktop space to work in as well as the sharpness boost of a high resolution. Plus, it boasts an enhanced colour range that means it can display even more colours than is typically required.
This is of niche benefit for home users but means this monitor is good enough for use in Hollywood movie and professional magazine image editing, and all that image quality prowess can still be applied to your day to day computing.
LG UltraFine 5K Display: £1179, Apple.com
Apple stopped making its own displays a few years ago and has instead recruited LG to produce two alternatives: a 27in 5K display and a 21.5in 4K display.
Both offer fantastic quality and an incredibly sharp image, with their resolutions essentially being double what you’d normally get for a screen of the same size.
What’s more, both displays enable you to connect your Macbook to the monitor and charge it from the same ThunderBolt cable. They also offer further USB connections to connect your other devices. They’re both very expensive but ideal for Mac users.
Dell UltraSharp UP3218K: £3,199.99, Scan.co.uk
As its name suggests, the Dell UP3218K’s big claim to fame is a ludicrous 8K resolution – that’s 7,680 x 4,320 pixels.
Even on a massive 32in screen this still makes for an incredibly sharp picture, making this display ideal for those who value both the productivity benefit of a large screen and the pin-sharp detail of a high resolution.
Colour accuracy is also exceptional so this monitor is well suited to professional image and video editing – an application that makes the most of that resolution too. A smart design and practical extras like a four port USB hub and fully adjustable stand complete the impressive package.
The Verdict: Best computer monitors
Apple’s 5K display is the natural choice for Mac users but not so much for PCs, and they’re pricey for what you get. Meanwhile the LG 23MP68VQ is a great budget option. However, the best all-rounder has to be the Dell U2717D. It’s the ultimate combination of style, image quality and practicality, for a great price.