What are the best monitors in 2020?
More people than ever have been working from home this year, making it a very good time to set up a home office and buy a monitor. But finding the best monitors for your needs isn’t as simple as it sounds.
The monitor industry is crammed with jargon, and it may not be immediately obvious how important the nits and refresh rate is to your search for a new display. Don’t worry though, as we’ve rounded up monitors with all sorts of different case uses, including those that excel at professional creative work to budget buys that cover the the basics at a reasonable price.
Check out our quick-fire summary of our rankings below, and scroll down further for in-depth analysis of each monitor option.
- Best 4K monitor: Philips Brilliance 328P
- Best widescreen monitor: Samsung Odyssey G9
- Best monitor for content creation: Acer ConceptD CP7
- Best 1080p monitor for the office: AOC 24P2C
- Best budget monitor: Acer ET241Y
And if you’re looking for a display for gaming purposes, we recommend checking out our Best Gaming Monitor round-up instead. It may also be worth checking out our Best Laptop guide if you fancy a more portable computing setup.
Related: Best gaming monitors
1. Philips Brilliance 328P
An affordable 4K monitor for the office
- Fantastic contrast levels
- Mid-range HDR protocol supported
- Loads of versatility
- Good colours
- Not the best HDR available
- Not great for gaming
- Uniformity is disappointing
- Occasionally clumsy to use
For buyers after a large 4K monitor for office work, the 32-inch Philips Brilliance 328P is a fantastic option thanks to its affordable price
The panel is a 10-bit LCD, which means the Philips Brilliance 328P can display over a billion colours, a far greater range than the 16.7 million colours produced by 8-bit monitors. Plus, it uses vertical alignment (VA) tech, which is cheaper to roll out than an LCD with in-plane switching (IPS) technology.
Its colour accuracy is generally good enough for content creation, but the lower than optimal Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage means that digital photographers working in this space should look elsewhere. The low 60Hz refresh rate also makes it a poor choice for gamers.
But these are relatively small issues. If you just want a basic 4K monitor for your home office, then you should be more than happy with the Philips Brilliance 328P.
- Read our full Philips Brilliance 328P review
2. Samsung Odyssey G9
The best wide-screen monitor is also superb for gaming
- Fantastic widescreen design
- Superb 240Hz AMD FreeSync
- Great image quality in SDR and HDR modes
- Super-wide design won’t suit everyone
- Needs some more ports
- Underwhelming lighting
The best wide-screen monitor we’ve tested also happens to be one of the very best gaming monitors you can currently buy. The Samsung Odyssey G9 has a whopping big diagonal 49-inch screen that’s stretched out in order to make multitasking significantly easier.
While the Odyssey G9 will come in very handy for fitting lots of documents and spreadsheets on screen, it’s also superb for gaming with a 5120 x 1440 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate and certified syncing technology. It’s also great for content creation with DisplayHDR 1000 support and super-accurate colour accuracy, making it a versatile monitor for the entire family.
The biggest issue with the Odyssey G9 is that it may be difficult to find a place in your home for it, although it could do with more port options with the lack of USB Type-C a strange omission.
- Read our full Samsung Odyssey G9 review
3. Acer ConceptD CP7
Best monitor for content creation
- Superb sRGB and Adobe RGB image quality
- Good features for work and play
- Bold, great-looking physical design
- Not brilliant in HDR mode
- No USB Type-C or card reader
- Extremely expensive
The Acer Concept CP7 is the best monitor we’ve reviewed for content creation, boasting seriously impressive professional-grade colour accuracy, so photographs and artwork will look just like they should. A 4K resolution and support for DisplayHDR 1000 also ensure you’re getting one of the most impressive displays possible, whether you’re watching films, editing video or even playing games.
That’s right, while the Acer Concept CP7 isn’t technically a gaming monitor, it features Nvidia G-Sync and a 144Hz refresh rate for an impressive visual performance for fast-paced action games.
The biggest issue with the Acer Concept CP7 is its price, costing an eye-watering £1999. This means that it’s only really worthwhile if you absolutely must have professional-grade colour accuracy, as there are far cheaper alternatives otherwise.
- Read our full Acer ConceptD CP7 review
4. AOC 24P2C
A basic but affordable 1080p monitor for your home office
- Loads of helpful office features
- Solid mainstream image quality
- Decent looks and a low price
- Colours are over-saturated
- A slow OSD with soft buttons
- Tinny speakers
When buying an office monitor, you probably don’t need fancy features such as 4K, a wide-screen panel and hyper-accurate colour accuracy. The AOC 24P2C is a monitor that nails the basics and is available at a very affordable price.
The Full HD resolution and respectable contrast ensure that video content looks sharp, while the IPS panel also provides a colour-rich presentation. The display does appear a little over saturated due to a warm colour temperature, but only picture perfectionists will likely find this problematic.
The inclusion of a USB-C port also means you can use just one cable to charge your laptop and turn the AOC 24P2C into a secondary display simultaneously. This is a great all-rounded office monitor then, but you’ll want to look elsewhere for content creation and gaming.
- Read our full AOC 24P2C review
5. Acer ET241Y
Budget-buy monitor for the home office
- Extremely cheap
- A 1080p IPS with acceptable image quality
- Decent design with slim bezels
- Contrast and colour accuracy are mediocre
- Not many ports or features
- Few adjustment options
The Acer ET241Y only saw a three-star score in our review, but we’ve still included it in our best monitor rankings since it has such a super-affordable price. Costing just £89 at the time of writing, this it’s several hundred quid cheaper than most of the other displays on show here.
Despite its low price, you still get a reasonable Full HD picture quality. It’s certainly not accurate enough for any sort of content creation, but the contrast is adequate enough for decent viewings of Netflix and YouTube content.
It’s also lacking modern connectivity options such as USB-C, but that won’t be a problem if you’re content with HDMI or plan on hooking it up to a desktop PC. If you want a monitor with a cheap-as-possible price for day-to-day office use, then the Acer ET241Y is well worth considering.
Read our full Acer ET241Y review
Those are our top picks of the best monitors. If you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a monitor then read on.
Best Monitors 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 0.3 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 concerning.
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.
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 – 1920 x 1080 – Best for 24-inch monitors and below
Quad HD – 2560 x 1440 – Best for 27-inch monitors and below
4K / Ultra HD – 3840 x 2160 – Best for 27-inch monitors and above
We have lots of extra information on monitor technology and how to choose what’s best for you. If you’re looking for a gaming screen, check out our guide to refresh rates. Want to know more about how colour coverage is measured, check our guide to colour spaces. Finally, if you’re curious about the differences between IPS, VA and TN screen panels, take a look at our screen technology explainer.