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14 Best Monitors in 2016: Best 4K Monitor & Gaming Monitors

Whatever you need a monitor for, it pays to do a little research. Our best monitor round-up includes options for every need and budget, including cheap monitors to professional-grade monitors for colour critical work.

Our latest new entry is our second ultra-wide panel, the AOC U3477PQU. This monitor represents the great thing about the world of monitors that's worth knowing: prices drop significantly after a product has been around for a while, more than most other tech products you can buy. When it first came out it cost upwards of £600, but it now represents exceptional value at just £500.

This will be true of many of the monitors on this list; their initial cost will be a distant memory and many will be available with discounts of £100 or more, so it pays to do some research.

How we test:

We've tested every single monitor in the list and chosen them from the dozens of other models we've tested. We use an X-rite i1Display Pro colourimeter to measure brightness, black level, colour accuracy and range of colours. We also use the Leo Bodnar lag tester to measure input lag – an important factor when choosing a gaming monitor.

Use the dropdown to select from the list and if you can't find the info you need in any of our summary verdicts, click the links for the full, in-depth reviews.

And if you feel like you need a little more advice, read on for some simple, jargon-busting buying advice.

Samsung Curved HD monitor

Monitor Buying Guide – Jargon Buster

Brightness (luminance) – This is simple enough, but it's worth knowing that brightness is measured in 'nits'. Many monitors boast a maximum brightness of 300 nits or more, but it's normally recommended to use a monitor at about half that much to avoid eye strain.

Black level – This is also measured in nits, but refers to how 'black' a monitor can appear. The lower the number, normally around 0.5 nits or less, the better. A low black level is particularly important for enjoying high definition films and TV.

Contrast ratio – This is the difference between the darkest and brightest peak of a monitor and is expressed as a ratio. A contrast ratio of 1,000:1 is considered good, but the higher the better. Anything less than 800:1 is average.

Input lag – This is something that mainly impacts gamers as it's the difference in time between you moving your mouse and the action appearing on screen. We test this on all monitors, but it's only a concern if you play fast games like first person shooters.

LG monitors

Resolution – What's the difference between Full HD, Quad HD and 4K?

Resolution is one of the most important things to consider. It refers to how many pixels make up the screen. For example, a Full HD monitor – which is the same resolution as most TVs – will have 1,920 horizontal lines of pixels and 1,080 vertical lines.

The higher the resolution the sharper your monitor will appear. A higher resolution also means you can fit more on a single screen, so you can view windows side-by-side at the same time.

Just remember that the bigger the screen the less sharp it will appear, so it's better to have a higher resolution on larger screens of 27-inches and above.

There are three common monitor resolutions:

Full HD – 1,920 x 1,080 – Best for 24-inch monitors and below

Quad HD – 2,560 x 1,440 – Best for 27-inch monitors and below

4K / Ultra HD – 3,840 x 2,160 – Best for 27-inch monitors and above

Refresh Rate – What is it and does it matter?

Refresh rate refers to how many times per second a monitor updates what's on screen. Most have a 60Hz refresh rate, which means the monitor refreshes the screen 60 times every second.

This is fine for most use, but gamers may see occasional issues in games such as vertical tears and stutters. For gaming, it's often worth investing in a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor. They refresh more often, resulting in smoother motion.

AMD FreeSync Tearing

It's also worth considering a monitor with Nvidia G-Sync or AMD Freesync. Both technologies aim to prevent graphical glitches when playing games by matching the frame rate of the game to the refresh rate of the monitor.

Our AMD FreeSync review explains how the tech works and the benefits of using it.

Panel Type – TN vs VA vs IPS

Almost all monitors use LCD technology, but there are different types of LCD technology with different characteristics. There are three basic types, though some manufacturers have their own varieties of each. Here's a quick summary of what you need to know.

TN – This is the most common LCD panel type. They're cheap to make, so most cheaper monitors use this technology. Good ones can produce accurate colours with reasonable contrast, but often with a poorer viewing angle where viewing off-centre distorts the colours somewhat.

VA – This panel type offers the best contrast of the three. This means blacks appear darker and more realistic, which is great when watching films and video. But VA panels aren't the best for gaming as they tend to be less responsive, which can lead to issues.

IPS – This is the most common type of panel on more expensive monitors. IPS offers excellent colour accuracy, viewing angle and fast response times for games. It can't match VA panels for contrast, but IPS is still better than TN in this regard.

Colour Space and Colour Gamut

There are many standards for colour that ensure what you see on your screen matches what was intended. A colour space is a specific standard for colour, while the colour gamut is the percentage of a colour space a monitor can display. For example, you'll often hear that a monitor has a 99% sRGB colour gamut, which means it can display 99% of the colours defined in that space.

Colour space

There are a few different colour spaces. Here's what you need to know:

sRGB / Rec.709 – This is the most common colour space and it's what's used on the internet. Unless you're a professional photographer or film editor, it's the only colour space you need to worry about. It's the same as Rec.709, a colour space used for films and TV.

Adobe RGB – This is wider colour space used by photographers. If you're editing photos for professional use then you need a monitor than can display most of this colour space. Amateur photopraphers may find it useful, too, but remember that anyone viewing photos on a website will see it in sRGB, not Adobe RGB.

DCI P3 – This is a new standard mainly used for modern films and TV. Unless you're a professional video editor, though, it's not something you need.

Rick N

November 28, 2014, 10:31 pm

Great review thanks, everyone should get IPS panel because it's very affordable now, LG 22MP55HQ is great value option, it's IPS and HDMI ready

vectorious

December 15, 2014, 9:54 pm

What about best 1920 x 1200 monitor, for those of us who liked it? Maybe Dell U2415?

Prem Desai

December 16, 2014, 9:09 am

Good roundup with different sorts of monitors. Thanks Andy ....

LgKiholmen

July 29, 2015, 10:11 pm

Running 4k 60hz on the 32 Dell IPS panel from my MBPR 15 for 6 months now and never looked back. The only issue is that 32 is to smal for 4k. Had the Phillips 40 for 3 weeks. Fantastic desktop area, 40 is perfekt for 4k, but the coulors where unacceptable compared to the 32 Dell. The first company comming up with 40 inch with the same crisp screen as the Dell will at least have one customer :-)

GeeTee

January 19, 2016, 12:32 pm

One thing that never seems to get mentioned in these articles, but in my view is really important is to pick a screen with international standard VESA mountings so you can buy and fit one of the many monitor arms on the market. A monitor arm gives you easy height, swivel, angle and tilt adjustment as well as saving the space on your desk that the bog standard monitor stand supplied with the screen would take up. All monitor arms have “VESA heads” i.e. the plate where the monitor screen attaches by screws to the monitor arm. VESA is an international standard https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... to enable monitor arms and brackets to be....well.... standard!

Most screens up to 27" are either 75mm or 100mm VESA spacing- all standard monitor arms accommodate both these. Bigger TV’s have various other standard spacings designed for larger wall mounted brackets.

Most monitor screens do have it but there has been a bit of a spate of screens from Samsung, Asus and others without them recently so it pays to check.

Since I started using an arm I would never go back - they last for ever and are a fairly small investment - particularly important if you are a twin screen guy like me to get their relative positions nice.

agooddecision

February 15, 2016, 6:17 am

"The first company coming up with 40 inch with the same crisp screen as the Dell will at least have one customer :-)"

They will have at least two customers =)
But seven months later, we are still waiting. =(

SixSixSix

February 29, 2016, 8:50 am

It's weird. Instead we have these brain dead 21:9 monitor with 1080p. I figure it is an intelligence test. Anybody leaving the store with one should be put on the Darwin Express..

Jean-François Gagnon

March 1, 2016, 5:03 pm

I share this view 100%.

pillybilly

March 12, 2016, 1:20 pm

"Windows users should probably avoid it – 5K doesn't work so nicely on Windows – but it's a great option as a second screen for any iMac."
A very thrusted review...
You are on my black list of stupid advertising sites...
Don't waste time on approving this, i will write how much stupid this site is on other sites.

Mark Stanbrook

April 6, 2016, 11:07 pm

I run 4k on a 28" screen. It's perfect, perhaps even a little large, for across-the-desk gaming. 32 or 40 inches would be far too large an angle subtended at that distance and conversely on a 28" screen the pixel density is higher making the image appear better. For CAD/CAM or something I can see more screen space being useful - though you can always use multiple monitors - I find a side monitor great for editing in Lightroom. But for your primary Gaming screen too big is a real thing, moving your eyes across to large an angle rapidly as one does becomes painful.

JRoyal

April 12, 2016, 11:32 am

Look at what NEC has, at least if color accuracy and contrast are important to you. Their H-IPS panels are pretty much the best out there.

LgKiholmen

April 15, 2016, 2:45 pm

Se are takling about two different things, I want desktop real estate, while you are not

Slam

May 9, 2016, 9:55 pm

Agreed, Macs are miles behind even mid range gaming pc's for graphics.

Luke

May 17, 2016, 9:39 am

It's talking about DPI scaling (known to be very bad in Windows - though may be better in 10, I am not sure)... it is not saying Windows can't handle rendering it.

polysix

June 6, 2016, 8:50 pm

"Since I started using an arm I would never go back - they last for ever and are a fairly small investment "

Agreed!

andyvan

June 6, 2016, 9:39 pm

Very handy they are, though a bit annoying in some offices when other people jog the table!

Henk Janssens

June 19, 2016, 12:23 pm

You don't know Windows 10 but still have something to say? Windows 10 is where it is best. Windows 10 does proper scaling. apple just multiplies.

Jordan

August 1, 2016, 11:08 am

This list is sorely missing the Dell U2515H. I picked up 2 for under £500 to use for hobbyist photo editing and general purpose. They offer amazing value; a real sweet spot for performance vs cost. Great ergonomics and 2560x1440 on a 25" monitor gives fantastic DPI without running into text size issues.

Tim Coleman

August 9, 2016, 11:08 pm

Thanks for the roundup. I'm looking for a 24in approx monitor, 4k not necessary. Primary use for editing so respectable colour accuracy desired. What are your recommendations for under 350GBP - cheaper the better! I've heard the ASUS PA248Q is good and the BenQ RL2460HT. Thanks.

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