Best Monitors 2020: awesome 4K, 1440p, 1080p and HDR panels
The Samsung U32E850R is the best all-round monitor we’ve tested, featuring wonderfully accurate colours, 4K resolution panel and insane maximum brightness. If you’re after something a little less expensive the Dell U2417H is the best value monitor around, though its low ppi will put off most creatives.
Similarly, our current joint Best Value winner, the ViewSonic XG3240C, offers a number of high-end features for a great price, but oversaturated colours may put off photographers, designer and digital painters – if you fall into this category, make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the list to check out our current picks of the best professional monitors.
We’ve also reviewed the Asus ROG PG27UQ, one of the first 4K HDR 144Hz gaming monitors to hit shelves, and it’s seriously impressive. More UHD high dynamic range-supporting monitors with high refresh rates — like Acer’s Predator X27 — have recently gone on sale, so expect a lot of activity in this section of the market.
Then there’s the Apple Pro Display XDR monitor, a 32-inch 6K display boasting 1600 nits of peak brightness, not to mention a hefty price tag.
We don’t just review static monitors either. Portable ‘mini’ monitors, like the AOC I1601FWUX, and the forthcoming Asus ROG Strix XG17 are a growing segment. These are aimed at hotdeskers, freelancers and students – anyone who uses a laptop but could do with a cheap second screen when they’re between appointments, meetings and lectures.
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 colorimeter for getting brightness, contrast and colour accuracy readings. 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.
Related: Best gaming monitors
1. ViewSonic XG3240C
32-inch 144Hz HDR10 monitor for under £500
- Large screen for a low price
- Good overall image quality
- Decent gaming performance
- Plenty of features for the money
- Over saturated colours
- Not as good for gaming as IPS or TN displays
The ViewSonic XG3240C monitor offers a lot of for a great price and at £450, and so is on equal footing with the Dell U2417H for our current Best Value pick.
For your money, you get a large 32-inch 2560 x 1440 screen, a very high contrast ratio (3000:1), 144Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support and a plethora of ports.
HDR10 support is also included on paper, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The XG3240C uses a VA-type LCD panel, which has a native contrast ratio of 2500:1, compared to the circa 1000:1 contrast ratio exhibited by most TN or IPS-type panels.
Standard definition content is mastered for use with 1000:1 contrast displays while HDR10 aims for 10,000:1. While 2500:1 is some way off, the XG3240C’s panel works together with a wide-gamut backlight that allows the display to reproduce a greater range of colours than standard displays – to the point where it can cover 90% of the DCI-P3 colour space used in the HDR10 standard. For this reason, we’re calling this “pseudo HDR”, not quite the real deal, but still pretty good – excellent, in fact, considering the ViewSonic XG3240C’s price.
The oversaturated colours mean that this monitor perhaps isn’t ideal for creative work, but gamers (and it’s gamers that this monitor is pitched at) will probably appreciate the high refresh rates, fast (if not fastest) response times and the low, low price. If you’re not yet ready to make the leap to 4K gaming, but want a step up from 1080p, the ViewSonic XG3240C could be just the ticket.
Read our full ViewSonic XG324OC review
2. AOC X24P1
Excellent value for money 1920 x 1200 work monitor
- Impressively affordable
- Flexible design
- Combats glare perfectly
- Crisp, accurately reproduced images
- Not suited to gaming or movies
The AOC X24P1 is one of the best value monitors we’ve tested in a while. For just over £200 you get a very crisp and vibrant 24-inch monitor which covers 99% of the sRGB, which is ideal for photo editing. The uncommon 16:10 aspect ratio means it’s slightly taller than most monitors, making it better suited for writing and document reading, but less so for watching movies and TV shows.
The 50-76Hz refresh rate and the lack of support for Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync means it’s less well suited to gaming and during our tests, we found that built in sound was pretty weak too. Unless you’ve got some separate speakers, it’s not that good for entertainment.
For work purposes however, it’s absolutely fine, and the low price, a little north of £200, represents a good alternative to our current Best Value winner, the excellent Dell U2417H.
Read our full AOC X24P1 review
3. Philips Brilliance 328P
A good budget 4K option
- Fantastic contrast levels
- Mid-range HDR protocol supported
- Loads of versatility
- Good colours
- Not the best HDR available
- Uniformity is disappointing
- Occasionally clumsy to use
The Philips Brilliance 328P is a 32-inch 4K monitor which offers excellent colour accuracy and contrast.
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.
For buyers after a large 4K monitor for office work, it’s attractively priced at just under £600 – an equivalent panel with IPS would cost you at least £100 more.
It’s not without its flaws, though, and lower than optimal Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage means that digital photographers working in this space should look elsewhere. The on-screen display is also not the most user-friendly and design-wise, it’s not the most attractive monitor out there.
These are relatively small issues, though and most workers will be more than happy with the Philips Brilliance 328P.
Read our full Philips Brilliance 328P review
4. AOC Q2790PQU
A very nicely priced 27-inch 60Hz 1440p monitor
- Stylish design
- Good image quality
- Plenty of useful features
- On-screen menu a bit clunky
- Not great for gaming
If you’re on the market for a stylish monitor that won’t break the bank, then the AOC Q2790PQU is a great choice.
The monitor is one of the prettiest around, featuring a dark, metallic paint job and an uber thin 2mm thick bezel round the edge of the screen. The 27-inch, 1440p monitor also offers excellent image quality. The IPS LCD panel has excellent viewing angles and colours are rich and vibrant, without being too hot or too cold.
The only slight downside is that its 60Hz refresh rate and complete lack of G-Sync or FreeSync make it a poor choice for gamers. However, with pricing starting at a very reasonable £339, these minor issues are more than forgivable.
Read our full AOC Q2790PQU review
5. Samsung C49J89
Great value 49-inch 3840 x 1080 monitor
- Huge screen
- Great for using two PCs at once
- Good overall image quality
- Good gaming performance
- Decent value
- Almost too big
- Almost too wide for gaming
- Low resolution for its size
If you’re after a super wide monitor then you’ll struggle to do better than the catchily named Samsung C49J89. It’s a giant 49-inch wide display with a custom 32:9 aspect ratio – that’s the same size as two 27-inch monitors sat side-by-side.
The addition of a KVM, which lets you connect a keyboard and monitor to two PCs and switch between them, or see them both in picture by picture modes at the same time make it the ultimate choice for multi-taskers and power users.
It’s 1080p resolution isn’t the highest around, but the monitor otherwise offers excellent image quality, with highlights including an insanely good 2974:1 contrast ratio and solid 6885K colour temperature.
Read our full Samsung C49J89 review
6. Samsung CHG90
An ultra-wide 4K monitor to give you the competitive edge
- Incredible widescreen experience
- Like having two monitors in one
- Great gaming performance
- Impressive HDR
- Resolution a bit low for its size
- The price
- Impractically massive
Super-wide monitors are nothing new, but Samsung takes things up a notch with the CHG90. This enormous 49-inch display has an aspect ratio of 32:9, which is the equivalent of two Full HD 27-inch monitors sitting side-by-side.
This is one mighty monitor, but it looks great, too. With a slight curve, a lit-up rear and a clean design it’s everything you’d want from a premium piece of design.
You can look at full colour performance information on the second page of our review, but the cliffnotes are as follows: It delivers colours with accuracy, although it won’t reach the extremes of the Adobe RGB gamut so it won’t be suitable for people working with physical media such as print.
For gaming, this monitor is fantastic. Not all games will support such a wide resolution, but most modern titles should give it a good go nonetheless. Race and flight sims will benefit particularly well. There’s AMD FreeSync, too, so if you have an AMD graphics card you’ll get even smoother gaming.
A hugely expensive monitor, but one we think is worth every penny.
Read our full Samsung CHG90 review
7. Philips BDM4037UW
This 40-inch 4K monitor can now be bought for less than £500
- Good overall image quality
- Incredible contrast level
- Screen size and resolution ideally matched
- Nice design
- Plenty of connectivity
- Colour accuracy not as good as IPS displays
- Clunky OSD
- Slow response time
Philips is known for its quality TVs and Ambilight tech, but its monitor brand (a completely separate business, licenced to another company) is looking to get in on the action with the TV-sized Philips BDM4037UW.
Standing at a mighty impressive 40 inches with a slight curve, this is the ultimate TV replacement for those who want big-screen computing with a side of 4K video streaming.
Covering almost 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and 85% of the Adobe RGB gamut, this is a high-quality panel that has no huge weaknesses. Our only real complaint is that its actual colour accuracy isn’t as good as IPS panels, which leads to some bright colours looking a bit overcooked.
If you’re going to be using this screen for console gaming, you’ll be pleased with the 12.5ms response time, which is faster than the vast majority of TVs. For mouse + keyboard PC gamers, that will feel a bit lethargic; this isn’t a panel for twitchy eSports games.
Budget for headphones or speakers, too, as the built in speakers here are very poor. Otherwise, this is one of the best big monitors you can buy.
Read our full Philips BDM4037UW review
8. Dell U2417H
An older, but bargainous, 24-inch Full HD monitor
- Best-in-class image quality
- Elegant design
- Versatile feature set
- Great value
- Maximum stand height quite low
- Only 92ppi
The Dell U2417H is the best mid-range monitor you can buy right now. Packing a 24-inch PLS panel with a Full HD resolution and a great design, there’s almost nothing not to like.
It looks great, with an ultra-thin bezel and stylish metallic stand, and that’s before you switch it on. It’s exceptionally practical, with DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI inputs alongside a DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining, and three USB 3.0 ports, two of which are easy to reach.
Image quality is exceptional. While it’s only a Full HD panel – some will prefer a slightly larger 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution on perhaps a 25-inch monitor – it covers 99.6% of the sRGB colour gamut and produced a 1065:1 contrast ratio for easy-to-read text and pretty images.
With its practical stand and excellent image quality, there’s not much better for the money.
Read our full Dell U2417H review
9. LG 23MP68VQ
An even cheaper Full HD monitor
- Stylish slim-bezel design
- Great image quality
- Better than average for gaming
- Has a VESA mount
- Great value
- Wobbly, non-height-adjustable stand
- Less than 90% sRGB coverage
The LG 23MP68VQ is our new top pick for a sub-£150 monitor. With a 23-inch Full HD, IPS panel, a stylish design and a smooth 75Hz refresh rate, it ticks all the boxes for a budget monitor. It even manages a few surprises, including FreeSync support and an easy-to-use onscreen menu. You get excellent contrast levels, decent colour coverage and excellent viewing angles as well.
It’s not perfect; it won’t deliver spectacular colour accuracy and is slightly wobbly on its stand, but at this price it’s hard to find anything better. With only one HDMI port, multi-device setups might be a little difficult to set up, but there is at least a VGA and DVI port as well.
Read our full LG 23MP68VQ review
10. Eizo ColorEdge CG277
One for photographers
- Unsurpassed colour accuracy
- Superb overall image quality
- Excellent stand and ergonomics
- Easy-to-use built-in colorimeter
- Connectivity is limited
- Contrast is a touch low
- A big ugly brute of a display
Eizo has long set the standard for professional monitors and the ColorEdge CG277 is one more reminder why. Not for Eizo things like 4K as this 27-inch monitor is QHD, but it has all the features required for outstanding colour accuracy.
It offers 99% coverage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 colour spaces and features a built-in colour calibration sensor. It also uses a 16-bit lookup table, which means it can display 1.097 billion colours from a palette of 278 trillion.
Basically, if you’re doing anything colour critical, get yourself one of these.
Read our full Eizo ColorEdge CG277 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.
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.
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.