While money is still tight for many people, the days of desperately searching for a $200 monitor for every member of a family that suddenly starts working and studying at home are long gone. The good news is that prices seem to be coming down across the board and better technologies – especially OLED and HDR with local dimming thanks to Mini LED backlights – are becoming more widely available for desktop displays.
Now you have time to think about whether that emergency purchase you made a few years ago still meets your needs. (Did your isolation-induced interest in gaming or design change your priorities?) And you have time to budget for that widescreen display you’ve been eyeing.
Which is the best monitor?
As with many tech product categories, “best” can be quite subjective, no matter how objective your testing is. For example, I prioritize color accuracy over thin bezels and sleek curves. So I tend to refer to my top picks as “favorites” (or “top picks”) rather than “best”. And while expensive monitors aren’t necessarily better than cheaper ones, you usually have to spend more or make compromises, especially for more specialized displays for color work or gaming.
With that in mind, my favorite overall monitor from the pool I’ve tested this year is. It’s expensive at $1,100, but it has great image quality, excellent color, and class-leading gaming performance. It’s also widescreen, which is an advantage for work.
It’s a bigger screen, but for a lot lessat $600. It’s not that good, but it’s good enough anywhere – especially if you can find it when the price drops.
I want you to know that between working remotely and moving to new offices, this year has been a slow increase in testing and monitor reviews, but you can start to expect a more consistent schedule of reviews and updates to this list.
If you need advice on whether a certain type of monitor is right for you, there are some answers to frequently asked questions at the bottom of the list and much more guidance available on ourand buying guides.
The combination of OLED with Samsung’s Quantum Dot color technology makes this 34-inch Alienware stand out. With great gaming performance and quality, great color and tonal accuracy (especially in dark shadow areas where OLED is weak), true HDR support, a USB hub, a solid set of controls and an above-average three-year warranty against burn-in, it really is hard to beat. It’s not perfect: There are no speakers, although built-in monitors are usually pretty lame, and I’m not thrilled with the design of the connector layout and cable management, to mention a few gripes. But it’s certainly the best all-around choice.
In September, Alienware announced a follow-up model, the AW3423DWF, which will be cheaper at $1,100. As far as I can tell, it’s essentially the same panel, but instead of G-Sync, it supports FreeSync Pro and the new VESA Adaptive-Sync, two DP connectors and one HDMI versus the older model, and 120Hz VRR when connected to console. There may be some other adjustments as it loses the added stress of the G-Sync silicon (for example, it’s supposed to be able to mount closer to a wall with a VESA mount). It is expected to go on sale in the US in early November.
Read our Alienware 34 QD-OLED (AW3423DW) review.
The Innocn 40-inch flat screen trades some excellence for value, making it a solid general-purpose monitor if you need a big device for less and are fine with above-average, but not best-in-class, gaming or color-critical accuracy. Plus, it comes with VESA mounting hardware in the box, which is handy if you want to mount it on a wall or arm, and unlike many “value” competitors, it has a USB-C connection with 90-watt power delivery .
Like many large for smaller displays, the Innocn has a somewhat low resolution for its size – 3440×1440 pixels – but if you usually scale your view then it should suit you. The games are solid, but if you play games with really fast-moving action, the motion artifacts might bother you. However, it supports 144Hz (DP) and 100Hz (HDMI) refresh rates. And there are many features that are either minimally effective or undocumented.
Read our Innocn 40C1R review.
One of my pet peeves with most monitors is the placement of all the connectors in a hard-to-reach recess. That’s not a problem if you never have to reach for USB ports or change video cables. But if you do, then this HP stands out with its diamond-cornered back, which basically puts all the connectors on the side. It’s no slouch as a monitor either. My unit required a bit of tweaking to get better color accuracy, but after that it was pretty good. And it’s great for both PC and console gaming, with support for 4K at 144Hz via DisplayPort and 4K/120Hz VRR compatible with consoles. Plus it has a USB hub.
Don’t get it if you want true HDR or are drawn to the lure of speakers – the latter are fine for boop and beep notifications, for example, but can’t replace a real speaker or headphone system. And my only gripe with the design is the stand’s inability to rotate.
Read our HP Omen 27U review.
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Dell’s black IPS panel in this 32-inch monitor (plus webcam, microphone and speakers) delivers the wide color gamut of IPS plus deeper blacks, which means higher contrast than usual. And that means easier on the eyes for long days in front of the screen.
“Video conferencing” refers to a tiltable 4K webcam, 12-watt speakers, a microphone array, touch panel video conferencing controls, and added performance benefits like power and monitor daisy-chaining, multiple USB docking connections, and more . If you want your desk to look like a stock photo, this is a neat solution. And some of the USB ports are even easily accessible. Since most of the features are controlled by software, it is not a good choice for Mac users.
It’s expensive, but it includes the equivalent of a webcam, a conference phone, and a hub. So, if you need them, that softens the sticker shock somewhat. If and when it goes on sale, it will also be well priced.
Dell has released a firmware that it says addresses at least some of the gripes I had when I reviewed it — mostly about audio and image quality for the microphone and camera — but I haven’t been able to go back and retest.
Read our review of the Dell UltraSharp 32 Video Conferencing Monitor (U3223QZ).
Get Price Alerts for Dell UltraSharp 32 Video Conferencing Monitor (U3223QZ)
Expensive but beautiful — with excellent color accuracy and reference profiles plus a good six-speaker audio system — the Apple Studio Display gives fans of the Mac ecosystem exactly what Apple has come to expect.
This also includes some of the downsides, such as no physical controls, no HDR, an extra cost for a stand that lets you adjust the height (no swivel or swivel), a single-input connection, and the three USB-C ports upside down, not easily accessible.
Read our Apple Studio Display review.
Other notable monitors
($450): HyperX’s first foray into gaming monitors looks a bit like a test bubble. Parent company HP already sells the Omen line of gaming monitors, and it looks like the arm-plus monitor is just an attempt to differentiate. The is a good 165Hz, 1440p gaming display and the arm comes with parts for multiple mounts, but I wasn’t a big fan of the arm design and there are better 27″ 1440p monitors for the money.
($798): This PlayStation-optimized monitor—even though it’s not from Sony’s PlayStation division—is a great HDR experience ( with 96-zone local dimming) and works as advertised with the PS5. If you’re planning to mount it on an arm or a VESA-compatible stand, bump my opinion up a few notches; over time I started to dislike the stand design more and more. Furthermore, takes forever to cycle through inputs in multi monitor/input system auto input selection mode.
Watch the FAQ
What screen size do I need?
All things being equal, and if you have the space and budget, bigger is almost always better. Screen size labeling is based on diagonal length: This makes comparison easier when almost every screen has the same aspect ratio (the ratio of the number of horizontal pixels to vertical pixels). But wide and ultra-wide desktop screens and newer laptop aspect ratios (like 3:2 or 16:10) make it a bit more difficult.
If you remember geometry and algebra, you can calculate the width and height of the display if you also know the aspect ratio (because width/height = aspect ratio and width² + height² = diagonal²). The further away from 1:1 the aspect ratio is, the wider the screen is and the more the sides will be off center of your vision if you’re up close. The calculation will also allow you to know the physical dimensions of the screen, most notably the width, to ensure that it will fit in the designated space. The DPI calculator can do the math for you.
Should I get two screens or one ultrawide?
It really depends on what you’re doing. For example, if you want a really fast gaming monitor for gaming and a high-resolution display for work, it’s much cheaper to get two than one that does both. Or if you need a color-accurate monitor for design but want a high-brightness one for gaming, it’s also much cheaper to get two smaller ones — which is why I have two 27-inch models. But if you just need a ton of screen real estate, an ultrawide might be simpler.
Need more guidance? We have more detailed information aboutand more specifically .
All measurements are made using Calman Ultimate 2021 R4 software on Portrait Display using Calibrite ColorChecker Display Plus (formerly X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus) and Murideo Six-G Pattern Generator for HDR testing where needed or Client3 HDR templates in Calman where possible. How extensive our testing is depends on the capabilities of the monitor, the screen and backlight technology used, and the discretion of the reviewer.
On the most basic models we can only stick to brightness, contrast and color gamut, while on more powerful displays we can run tests on most user-selectable gaming modes or color-critical usage, uniformity, etc. For color work, we may also run tests to see how white point accuracy varies with brightness.
Color accuracy results, reported in Delta E 2000 units, are based on Calman’s standard set of Pantone corrections, plus grayscale and skin tone patches. White point results are based on both the actual white value plus the correlated color temperature for the entire grayscale (21 spots, 0 to 100%), rounded down to the nearest 50K as long as there is no large variation. We also use the Blur Busters motion tests to assess motion artifacts (such as ghosting) or refresh rate issues that may affect gameplay.
See more details on how we test monitors.