Whether you’re gaming or working, having the best computer monitor on your desk can make a huge difference. So we went out and found the top computer monitors for you, researching key features and customer sentiment to give you the big picture. Then we bought the top 10 and tested them in real time in our own company and home offices to see which monitor is the best of them all.
During our testing, we measured features like adjustable stands, image quality and response times, among others. As we did our work, played games and watched Netflix on each of these monitors, a winner became clearly apparent in the LG 34UM69G-B 34″ Ultra Wide Monitor. This ultra-wide monitor has everything you for the most versatile monitor experience. With ultra-low response rates, an ultra-high resolution and sleek design, this monitor LG beat out everything else we tested. Keep reading to learn more about this display and our other top picks.
- 1 Top 5 Best Computer Monitors Compared
- 2 Key Features of a Top Rated Monitor
- 3 Mistakes to Avoid
Top 5 Best Computer Monitors Compared
#1 LG 34UM69G-B 34″ Monitor – Top Pick/Best GamingWHY WE LIKE IT: The LG 34UM69G-B gives you an ultra-wide viewing experience that’s perfect for gaming and work. You’ll also get a super fast response rate and AMD Free Sync functionality for an even smoother experience.
If you’re interested in jumping on the widescreen monitor train, the LG 34UM69G-B is a computer monitor you won’t want to pass up. Measuring in at a whopping 34 inches of total display, the LG offers a 21:9 aspect ratio that is perfect for gaming. And while this isn’t a full 4K monitor – which is the ultimate best for gaming monitors – you still get a 2560 x 1080 resolution. You also get a 1ms response time and AMD Free Sync, both of which enhance gameplay by eliminating stuttering and motion blur.
Unfortunately, the 34UM69G-B only offers a 75 Hz refresh rate, which isn’t as fast as we’d like to see when on a monitor for gaming. This means you might see some blurring during, particularly fast-action moments. The Free-Sync monitor is fully adjustable, allowing you to tilt the monitor side to side and front to back, as well as adjust the height. You’ll only get a single HDMI port and a single Display Port, though, so you won’t be able to hook up many devices. Many ultra-wide monitors are curved gaming monitors, and this one isn’t, but we actually liked this more than the curved gaming monitors we tested. The curve is definitely “in” right now, but we were more than happy with the traditional approach the LG takes.
#2 HP VH240a 24″ Monitor – Honorable Mention/Best HPWHY WE LIKE IT: With nearly nonexistent bevels and impressive picture quality at a budget price, the HP VH240a is a stellar option for anyone looking to improve their desk set up in their home office.
For starters, this HP computer monitor looks great with its edge-to-edge display and sleek black design. It’s subtle and understated, making it an excellent choice for your home office. The best part is that it’s also got the performance to back up its excellent design. When you get working, you’ll immediately notice the crisp image and vibrant color reproduction you should come to expect on full HD IPS monitors like this. Unfortunately, if you try to watch movies or play games with this LED-lit monitor, you might notice more motion blur than you’re used to due to its 60 Hz refresh rate.
However, wide viewing angles and accurate colors more than make up for the low refresh rate. It’s also nice to be able to adjust the monitor in the way you want. You can tilt it forward and back or flip it 90 degrees. Just be aware that the monitor doesn’t feature any DisplayPorts, so you’ll have to stick with HDMI cables, which we didn’t find to be too inconvenient.
#3 Acer R240HY 24″ Monitor – Best Full HD IPSWHY WE LIKE IT: The Acer R240HY is an excellent and versatile computer monitor that performs well in home office, business office or gaming applications. With its impressive color accuracy and evocative design at an extra-affordable price, the Acer is hard to beat.
The Acer R240HY is a monitor full HD 1080p display that performs really well when it comes to color accuracy, viewing angles and design quality…all at an affordable price under $200. It also features a matte-finished screen, which does really well in eliminating glare from background lighting, making it an excellent choice for home and business office applications.
The overall design of the Acer is sturdy and durable. This is due in part to the fact that you can only tilt the screen forward or back a minimal amount. We consider this a win when you think about overall stability, but the lack of adjustability can make it difficult for some to find a comfortable viewing angle that works with their personal preferences. All in all, the Acer R240HY is one of the best 1080p monitors we’ve tested, which is why it made our list of top picks. And if you’re looking for gaming on Acer, you might want to check out the R240HY’s cousin, the Acer Predator XB1.
#4 Dell E2318Hx 23″ Monitor – Best Value/Best for Work OfficesWHY WE LIKE IT: The Dell E318Hx might be the most common computer monitor you see in office spaces, and for good reason. It offers performance on a budget with low response times, wide viewing angles and low energy consumption when compared to other models.
When you’re buying monitors for work, you want reliability, durability and performance…without having to pay a million bucks for it. That’s where the Dell E2318Hx comes in. There’s a reason this computer monitor is one of the most popular choices for businesses. It features a simple design that’s super easy to use and set up. Unfortunately, the display can’t be adjusted too much, but its image quality makes up for this oversight.
The Dell monitor is a full HD IPS panel that looks good for most applications. However, it doesn’t always offer the most accurate color representation, so if you’re using this for color-critical projects like photo editing, you might want to look elsewhere for a new monitor. For the average user, though, this monitor performs just fine, especially when you consider its low input lag. There’s no hesitation between a user’s action and that action being carried out on the screen. If you’re looking for budget monitors for your office, this is the one for you.
#5 Sceptre E205W-16003R 20″ Monitor – Best Budget/Best 20 InchWHY WE LIKE IT: Are you looking for the best monitor you can buy for the absolutely lowest price? Then the Sceptre E205W-1600 is the monitor for you with its decent overall performance and versatile connection options.
When you buy a monitor that is priced as low as the Sceptre E205W-1600, you can always expect to win some and lose some. Sure, you might not get a gaming-quality display here, but it still provides decent response rates (5ms) and plenty of connectivity options (2x HDMI ports, 1x DVI port, 1x VGA port). The Sceptre offers a surprisingly stylish design without being too flashy and it looks good on any desk.
Unfortunately, you won’t get full HD with this display. The Sceptre only provides a resolution of 1600×900, which sits somewhere between 720p and 1080p. However, you’ll still get fairly decent color accuracy and a good picture, especially considering the price. If you’re on a extra-tight budget that absolutely cannot be broken, the Sceptre E205W-1600 is an excellent choice.
Key Features of a Top Rated Monitor
- Widescreen Format: A wide screen is not necessary for a great computer experience…but it is a really big help, especially in a world now dominated by mobile devices with much of the same capability as a PC. What makes a desktop computer unique today? One of the answers is the desktop monitor, which can display your content bigger and better than any tablet or phone. Screens around 24 to 34 inches are optimal for the best experience – as long as you have the space to accommodate!
- Accessory and Connection Compatibility: Accessories are mildly important to TV screens (most computers favor HDMI these days), but should be a main priority when considering which computer monitor is right for you. Do you need HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI? If you are buying a monitor and computer combo like the iMac, you should also make sure that the monitor has enough USB ports (including USB-C ports) and other connection options for your accessories.
- Ergonomics: No, we’re not talking about your keyboard. Specifically, we’re talking about the way the monitor moves. A good monitor will come with extensive ergonomic options in terms of viewing angles, swiveling, and tilting, all depending on where you set up your computer and what your overall desk layout will look like by the time you’re done.
- Speedy Response Times: This feature is particularly important for anyone who fancies themselves a PC gamer. Obviously, you need a computer screen that knows what it’s doing when it comes to response times and refresh rates, and the higher the number, the better. Today’s games demand the absolute fastest times possible in this department, so if you plan on doing a lot of online battling, be sure you get a screen that has adaptive sync (Nvidia’s G-Sync compatible or AMD’s FreeSync compatible) capabilities, along with response times under 4ms and maximum refresh rates 60Hz or higher (144Hz max).
- A Solid Warranty: There are plenty of warranty schemes out there that basically come down to getting more money out of you. Look instead for manufacturer warranties that cover at least a couple months of operation for your computer monitor, if not at least a year or longer.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Buying Too Much Screen: We know, our first piece of advice was to get a widescreen. But monitors can get expensive, especially if you really don’t need the screen size or resolution. Keep your needs in mind, and aim for lower prices rather than higher prices.
- Caring About Black Levels and Contrast Ratios: Yes, black levels really exist, but there’s no good way to measure them except to stare at the screen with your own eyeballs. Contrast ratios and similar claims are easily fabricated and mean very little to anyone outside of the marketing team. Just note which screens have “grayer” blacks, and try to stay away from those the best you can.
- Ignoring Your Graphics Card: The monitor is only half the story. You need a good graphics card for any sort of demanding monitor activity, so don’t buy a great monitor and forget about your GPU in the process.
- Most Important Features
- Several different types of panels exist for the best computer monitors, each a little different.
- Twisted nematic or TN panels have excellent response times for a budget gaming experience.
- Vertical alignment panels are known for their color and clarity, but they are also significantly more costly than many other types of panels.
- In-Plane Switching panels (IPS monitors) are a step above vertical alignment panels with their color accuracy, viewing angles, and brightness. However, they tend to be the most expensive and the least useful for action with their low response time and lag issues.
- Plane-line switching panels are made by Samsung, and are a new effort to create wide viewing angles and brightness with better affordability than other options.
- Due to some odd aspect ratio specs, the resolution on monitors can be a bit…different. Many 4K gaming monitors exist, but unlike TVs the resolution numbers can vary based on the screen shape.
- Optimally, anything above 1920 x 1080 is solid for 2019 models, including 2560 x 1440, 3440 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160 (4K)
- Remember that higher resolutions will create smaller text and images (the size of the screen remaining equal) so you may have to enlarge certain content on 4K displays.
- Response times refer to how quickly the monitor can update the image based on the input it receives.
- A great response time these days is anywhere from 5ms – 1ms, but will rarely go above that.
- Fast response times can indicate a robust screen for the average user, but they are most important to gamers interested in “twitch” games, or those who need a monitor that can double as an entertainment station.
- Look for HDMI connections and, if necessary, DisplayPort ports. HDMI has become the new standard for most of the best computer monitors, but alternatives like DisplayPort are popular in some circles. As always, look at the ports and cables you currently want before buying the monitor.
- If you want to use a feature like Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, you’ll need a PC that has a DisplayPort 1.2 slot.
- Try to avoid monitors with only a DVI connection unless that’s all your PC supports.
- Yes, monitors have refresh rates, too. Choices are typically divided between 60Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz. A higher refresh rate is associated with smoother action on-screen with less juttering between frames.
- Opinions on refresh rate vary, but overall it’s thought that 144Hz monitors really do provide better pictures than lowly 60Hz options.
- Please keep in mind that consoles (PS4, Xbox One, etc.) only support 60Hz video, so if you want a monitor for your console, don’t pay more for a 144Hz version.