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Best Monitors 2017: 11 best 1080p, QHD and 4K panels


LG monitors

What's the best monitor to buy? Of course, it depends on your budget and what you're going to use it for. In this guide we'll explain how to pick a monitor and then give you our humble picks of which is best.

Looking for a gaming monitor? Check out our dedicated best gaming monitor guide.

How we test:

For our reviews we use a combination of our own intuition and experience along with more quantitative tools. These include the X-Rite i1 Display Pro for getting brightness, contrast and accuracy figures. We also use this tool to calibrate screens to see what they're capable of at their absolute best. We also use a Leo Bodnar input lag tester to see how suitable each panel is for gaming.

Video: We try out Samung's brand-new Quantum Dot gaming monitors

This week's Best Monitor Deals

Asus PB287Q at Amazon.com | Was $439 | Now $349

AOC U3477PQU at Amazon.com | Was $700 | Now $499

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.

Riri S

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


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 ....


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 :-)


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/wi... 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.


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. =(

Jean-François Gagnon

March 1, 2016, 5:03 pm

I share this view 100%.


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.


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.


April 15, 2016, 2:45 pm

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


May 9, 2016, 9:55 pm

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


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.


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 "



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.


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.


September 26, 2016, 3:50 am

That's why most pro image producers use Macs, they handle colour better than PCs. If your a kid who like games , get a PC, if you're an image pro, get a Mac.


September 27, 2016, 5:01 pm

Really? Scaling on 10 is horrendous, when I tested a 4k display recently I tried the scaling option and text looked utterly horrid. It's even worse on the tablets and 10 got panned for it in every review I saw. So, unless you know something I don't...how are you scaling because Luke is right, the DPI scaling in 10 sucks.


September 27, 2016, 5:06 pm

But IPS has a poor contrast ratio, typically 1,000:1. For desktop work that's not really a problem but there's nothing I like less than grey blacks in games.


October 19, 2016, 5:18 am

I hope it is allowed to totally disagree with you. You are saying what the Mac believers are always saying: 'the dull office slaves have Windows, and we, the socalled 'talentful' 'creative' ones, have a socalled 'perfect' expansive Mac.

But until sofar the socalled 'talentful' 'creative' ones with their socalled 'perfect' expansive Macs are of course never saying that the ones who are slave of one or the other socalled 'exiting' 'game' are kids who like those socalled 'exciting' 'games'.

Of course are most socalled 'talentful' 'creative' pro image producers using their socalled 'perfect' expansive Macs because they believe of course that those socalled 'perfect' expansive Macs 'handle' for instance 'colours' better than those dull PCs for the office slaves.

But most people are not worried of the expansive name of the things they buy, they buy something with any name on it that works for hopefully a long time, so that most people will not be so crazy to run to shops where they can buy the latest version of the socalled 'perfect' expansive Macs!


December 27, 2016, 8:40 am

Most pro image producers don't use Macs because they handle color better. Most pro image producers use Macs because they're stupid and let some shmuck tell them that "it will be better if you have an apple logo on the front".

If you use a poor quality program with a poor quality monitor that is not color matched, you will get poor quality results regardless of the logo.

Based on your posts it's not hard to see that you must be one of those highly uninformed individual who goes by the logo without knowing any technical details. Of course people get highly offended if at this day and age they call them "technologically illiterate".

Point is, if you are a pro, you should be able to get the same results regardless of platform. If you can't, you just blowing smoke into thin air.


January 27, 2017, 8:44 pm

Every review has the same number of stars.


February 4, 2017, 12:37 pm

A 60Hz refresh rate does not cause screen tearing, as presented in your example. That's caused by the graphics card not being able to draw frames fast enough, and having to abandon one frame to start the next, when driving a monitor with a fixed refresh rate (i.e. all monitors, except ones with G-Sync / Freesync). Enabling V-Sync in the game eliminates tearing, though whenever the card can't meet the required 60fps it has to drop to 30fps instead and frame-double.

120/144Hz simply provides the opportunity to display frames at a faster rate. As long as the graphics card can keep up, motion will feel more fluid. This is likely to be most noticeable when the camera is swinging around wildly, as is typical in FPS games etc.

Also: bit of an odd choice of image for the Dell UP2715K...

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