While our favorite monitor overall is an awesome choice for most people, we also have alternative options for budget shoppers, gamers, and those seeking the best HDR performance. After all, not everyone’s monitor needs are identical. (If you’re looking specifically for a 4K monitor or gaming monitor, we have separate roundups highlighting your best options for those particular needs.) You can find out more about how we evaluate monitors and what specs matter most below our list of recommendations.
Updated 09/28/2022 To include the Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC as our pick for best monitor for professionals. Read below for more details.
1. Dell U3223QE – Best monitor overall
- IPS Black panel fulfills its promise
- Accurate color with wide gamut
- High brightness in SDR
- USB-C hub with 90 watts of power
- Edges of display are noticeably bright
- HDR performance disappoints
- Only a 60Hz panel
Dell’s U3223QE is a premium monitor with 4K resolution and gobs of connectivity.
The U3223QE has a cutting-edge IPS Black panel that roughly doubles the contrast when compared to other 32-inch IPS monitors. It provides a richer experience with a better sense of depth that’s especially noticeable when viewing in a dark room. The monitor also excels in color performance, brightness, and sharpness.
Connectivity is a highlight. This monitor offers USB-C with up to 90 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet. The USB-C port can drive a hub with a total of five additional USB-A ports, ethernet, and even DisplayPort-out (meaning you can daisy-chain video to a second monitor).
This monitor has a smaller sibling, the Dell U2723QE, which is less expensive. We did not receive it for testing but expect it to perform similarly, as it uses the same IPS Black panel technology.
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2. Asus ProArt PA279CV – Best budget 4K monitor
- Accurate image
- High maximum brightness
- Menu settings allow calibration
- Has USB-C with 65 watts Power Delivery
- Competitive price
- Unimpressive design
- Luminance uniformity could be better
- HDR is bright but otherwise falls short
The Asus ProArt PA279CV is a solid choice if you want 4K for under $500.
The Asus ProArt PA279CV is a 4K professional monitor and, as a result, it has excellent color performance and brightness. Photos, video, and games look crisp, lifelike, and vivid on this monitor. The PA279CV has a modest color gamut but, at this price, it’s a sacrifice worth making. It also has a good contrast ratio for the price.
Connectivity includes a USB-C port with up to 65 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet. The monitor functions as a hub for several additional USB-A ports. It has adaptive sync for smooth gaming, though its maximum refresh rate is just 75Hz.
Shoppers should keep an eye on the PA279CV’s price. Though often sold just below $500, it has dipped as low as $455, and tends to fluctuate over time. Sales make it even more tempting.
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Asus ProArt PA279CVreview
3. Acer K242HYL – Best budget 1080p monitor
- Attractive color accuracy and gamut
- Acceptable sharpness for a 1080p display
- Avoids motion clarity pitfalls
- Menu system is easy to use
- Barebones design
- No height adjustment on stand
- Only one HDMI, no DisplayPort
- Power LED is very bright
Need a monitor that works well at an extremely low price? The Acer K242HYL is our go-to pick.
The Acer K242HYL’s specifications are good for a budget display. It has a 24-inch screen with 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 75Hz. Adaptive sync is supported, so the monitor will function with AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync. Video inputs include HDMI and VGA. Build quality is good thanks to robust plastic panels that feel thick and durable when handled.
This monitor has a bright image with reasonable contrast. Color performance stands out, as the monitor can cover most of the sRGB color gamut and has extremely good color accuracy overall. Photos, videos, and games look close to what their creator intended.
The K242HYL lacks a height-adjustable stand but offers a VESA mount that is compatible with most third-party monitor stands and arms.
That aside, the K242HYL is an outstanding budget monitor suited for everyday use, casual gaming, and amateur content creation. This is all the monitor most people will ever need.
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4. Alienware AW3423DW – Best gaming monitor
- Class-leading contrast and black levels
- Excellent color accuracy and wide color gamut
- High refresh rate with crisp motion
- Attractive and sturdy design
- Fantastic warranty
- Stand is too large
- Disappointing connectivity
- HDR performance is mixed
- Text clarity could be better
Alienware’s AW3423DW is an outstanding PC gaming monitor.
It stands out from the crowd thanks to its QD-OLED panel, which is similar to that used in top-tier OLED televisions. It has a nearly infinite contrast ratio, excellent color performance, and respectable brightness. The result is a punchy, vibrant image with an unparalleled sense of dimensionality. The monitor’s ultrawide aspect ratio only heightens the sense of immersion.
Motion clarity is superb. The monitor has a refresh up to 175Hz (though only over DisplayPort) and supports Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate. The OLED panel technology it uses has lower pixel response times than competitors, as well, so there’s minimal added blur and ghosting in motion.
The AW3423DW is expensive, but its performance justifies the price. In fact, it’s a surprisingly good value, as most large OLED monitors are sold for $2,000 to $3,000. Competing 34-inch and 38-inch ultrawides without QD-OLED technology are often just as expensive but have less-impressive image quality.
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5. Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC – Best monitor for professionals
- The best SDR image quality yet
- Good HDR performance
- Long list of image quality features
- Exceptionally sturdy
- Numerous inputs, plus USB hub
- HDR brightness could be better
- Glare can be an issue in bright rooms
- Only 60Hz, no adaptive sync
Do you need a monitor with exceptional color accuracy, contrast, and sharpness? The Asus ProArt Display OLED PA32DC delivers. It’s an impressive monitor that, in several respects, is the best we’ve ever reviewed.
The monitor’s key trait is its high-quality OLED display panel. It has excellent contrast, color accuracy, and a wide color gamut, all of which add up to a realistic and dramatic image. The monitor also has 4K resolution and a conventional RGB subpixel layout, which avoids the color fringing issues that are found in QD-OLED monitors like the Alienware AW3423DW.
Image quality is superb out of the box, but experienced owners can go a step further. The PA32DC has numerous image quality options in its on-screen menu system and includes a built-in calibration utility for ultra-accurate results. Professionals can use these options to achieve the exact results their work requires.
It’s a wonderfully robust monitor with chunky bezels, big menu buttons, and a sturdy chassis that includes a built-in handle. Asus supplies both a VESA stand for desktop use and flip-out legs for quick setup at a mobile studio or job site. The monitor has extensive connectivity including five video inputs.
The only downside? It’s expensive with a retail price of $3,000. Even that, however, is not so bad: Similar OLED and Mini-LED monitors, like the Apple Pro Display XDR and LG UltraFine 32EP950, are often even more expensive.
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Asus ProArt OLED PA32DCreview
6. Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX – Best HDR monitor
- Excellent gaming performance
- 4K resolution
- Dimmable mini-LED backlight
- Ergonomic adjustment options
- High power consumption
- Extremely expensive
Okay, folks. Hold onto your butts, because we’re about to take a trip out to the cutting-edge of PC monitors: the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX.
This monitor has a Mini-LED backlight with 1,152 zones that can adjust brightness independently. As a result, it can ramp up brightness to extremely high levels when required, or turn off zones entirely in dark scenes. This results in an excellent contrast ratio and superb brightness.
These traits make the PG32UQX a standout in HDR games and movies. Bright, high-contrast scenes look amazing. You can almost feel the heat of an explosion and the intense glare of sun reflecting off a window or mirror.
There’s more to the monitor than HDR, however. It scores extremely well in overall contrast, has class-leading color performance, and provides a crisp 4K image. The monitor supports G-Sync Ultimate for smooth gameplay with Nvidia hardware and has a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz.
The only problem? Price. This monitor sells for around $3,000. Shoppers may want to consider the slightly less exorbitant Viewsonic Elite XG321UG as an alternative. It has a similar Mini-LED backlight.
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Asus ROG Swift PG32UQXreview
7. AOC PD27 – Best 27-inch curved display
- Excellent gaming performance
- Maximum refresh rate of 240Hz
- Curved monitor with curvature of 1,000R
- Designed by Porsche
- High electricity use
The 27-inch curved AOC PD27 monitor designed by Porsche Design oozes class.
It offers buttery-smooth gameplay and near imperceptible input lag with a resolution of 1440p and a lightning-fast maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. While testing, we could find no onscreen issues with even the most fast-paced, graphics-intensive games. The display also comes with a ton of gaming settings to tweak and dial-in to your heart’s content.
The radius of the curved monitor is 1,000mm, which helps to support an immersive gaming experience. The display also comes with an excellent array of ports including two DisplayPort, two HDMI, and four USB ports.
The only downside to the AOC PD27 is that true to its designer’s name, it comes with a luxury price tag. But you get what you pay for and while it might not be for everyone, for those who can afford it, this is an outstanding monitor.
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What to look for in a monitor
There are literally hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of monitors to choose from. Choosing one from the crowd can be difficult, but knowing the key traits of a monitor will help you make your decision.
Most monitors are available in 4K (3,840×2,160), 1440p (2,560×1,440) and 1080p (1,920×1,080) resolution. A higher resolution provides a sharper, more attractive image and is generally preferable. There’s nothing wrong with 1080p, however. It remains the baseline and is by far the most popular resolution sold today.
Look for a monitor with a connection supported by your computer. HDMI and DisplayPort are the most common. USB-C is rising in popularity because it can charge connected devices, such as a laptop.
Most monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate, but a higher refresh rate (such as 144Hz) will make motion look smooth and crisp. This is most appealing to PC gamers, as improved motion performance is most noticeable when panning the camera in a 3D game.
This technology also improves motion performance. It does so by keeping a monitor’s refresh rate in sync with the video input from your computer. Our guide to FreeSync and G-Sync provides more detail.
Want to know more before you make a decision? Our monitor buying guide explains the nerdy details of monitor specifications.
How we test monitors
Our monitor guides are based on testing by freelance and staff contributors with decades of combined experience.
While we rely on our eyes for an initial impression, we thoroughly test each monitor with a SpyderXElite color calibration tool. This specialized hardware can objectively measure a monitor’s brightness, contrast, color gamut, color accuracy, luminance and color uniformity, gamma, and many other aspects of image quality.
Using this tool helps us detect strengths and weaknesses that don’t stand out at a glance and guarantees that a change in lighting conditions or monitor location won’t skew our impression.
What size of monitor should I buy?
Monitor size depends on personal preference and location.
A 24-inch monitor is fine for a desk that is around 24 inches deep, or less. Its small size will still be sufficient because the monitor is closer to you.
Most people, however, will want to go with a 27-inch monitor. The added size will make the monitor easy to see. This also opens up a wider range of 4K monitor options, as 4K is very rare on a 24-inch monitor.
Larger monitors, such as a 32-inch widescreen or 34-inch ultrawide, are great for deep desks and people who want an immersive experience. Monitors this large can serve as a TV replacement in a small room.
Displays of even larger size, such as 42-inch or 48-inch HDTVs, are best for home theater setups or an unusually large office. You’ll want to sit four to six feet away from a display of this size.
What display input is best? (HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. USB-C)
USB-C is the best display input for most people. It works by bundling DisplayPort into USB-C, so offers all the same features as DisplayPort. Yet it retains the features of USB-C including optional support for Power Delivery to charge external devices. This is why we recommend a USB-C monitor for most people.
DisplayPort is generally second-best. It supports higher resolutions and refresh rates than HDMI. This input is particularly common on desktop computers.
HDMI comes in third due to lower resolution and refresh rate support. This is improved by HDMI 2.1, but this feature remains hard to find and often adds to a monitor’s price.
All three of the options above handle 1080p at 60Hz, which is the most common resolution and refresh rate available today. It’s also important to buy a monitor that has an input compatible with your PC.
Are all monitors compatible with Windows and MacOS?
Modern monitors are compatible with all recent versions of Windows and MacOS. They’re plug-and-play, which means the monitor should display an image without the need to install driver software or mess with Windows or MacOS settings.