Whether you’re in school, working from home or unwinding with some video games, here are questions to ask when shopping for a monitor, some suggestions of popular monitors on the market and various price points.
Monitor information to consider
Monitors come in a range of different resolutions. What’s different about these resolutions is how many pixels there are per square inch of your monitor.
- 720p monitors are often referred to as standard HD. They are usually 1280 x 720 pixels and are resolution you’d most often see on an inexpensive television screen today.
- 1080p resolution is called Full HD or FHD. Monitors of this resolution are often 1920 x 1080 pixels and are suitable for things like editing documents, spreadsheets, writing emails, browsing the web, or watching videos.
- 1440p resolution monitors are known as 2K, WQHD or QHD. These are great for people who do light to medium graphics editing or other creative work and need a screen that’s 27” or larger.
- 4K monitors* have a resolution four times greater than the 1080p monitors. They’re often 3840 x 2160 pixels. These are generally used by people doing intensive professional-level photography, videography editing or avid video gamers.
*Note: Not all computers and laptops have graphics processors that will support 4K resolution, so be sure to check that yours does before purchasing.
Flat or curved screen
There are two model types to purchase — flat or curved monitors:
- Flat monitors are a tried and true industry standard and tend to be less expensive than a curved model.
- Curved monitors provide the user with a broader field of view, giving you an improved depth of field while making images seem larger. Curved monitors have found particular favor among gamers and those doing intensive graphics editing.
Refresh rate refers to how many times per second the image on your screen is updated.
- Most monitors have a refresh rate of 60 Hz or 60 times per second.
- Newer, high-end monitors might have 100 Hz or 144 Hz refresh rates.
Having a higher refresh rate is more important for gamers and precision video editing than for people web browsing and editing documents & spreadsheets. 60 Hz is suitable for most users, shoot for at least 100 Hz if you're a video gamer.
Our favorite monitors
Good budget choice for general use
24" HP VH240a: This 23.8" monitor is full 1080p HD with built-in speakers. It can rotate, tilt and can be connected to a computer using common VGA or HDMI cables.
- Affordable 1080p option
- Ergonomic viewing
Next-level choice for general use
27" Dell S2719DM: This 27" monitor offers a higher 2K resolution of 1560 x 1440. It connects via an included HDMI 2.0 cable and has extremely thin edges for a sleek look.
- Anti-glare treatment
- 5.5 mm at thinnest point
Budget choice for graphics
27" Acer KG271U: This 27" Widescreen QHD monitor includes two built-in speakers, and you can connect it to your computer via an included display port cable or HDMI cable.
- 27” screen
- Two speakers
Top-tier choice for graphics
49" Samsung CRG9: This 49" 32:9 ratio Super Ultra-Wide is what Samsung calls a Dual QHD monitor. With a resolution of 5120 x 1440, it's like having two curved 27" monitors with no bezel between them. It offers a 120 Hz refresh rate and has a peak brightness rating of 1,000 nits. It also supports AMD FreeSync for smoother gameplay.
- 49” curved monitor
- 120 Hz refresh rate
Budget choice for gaming
32" Acer Predator Z1: This 31.5" widescreen monitor has a QHD resolution of 2560 X 1440. It features NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology, as well as a display port, HDMI port and 4 USB ports with included display port, HDMI and USB cables. With a refresh rate of 144 Hz and the ability to overclock to 165 Hz, it's a great entry-level option for gamers.
- Curved screen
- 144 Hz refresh rate
Next-level choice for gaming
34" Alienware AW3418DW: This 21:9 ratio ultrawide curved monitor offers a QHD 3440 x 1440 resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate. It's just over 34" across, has HDMI and display ports, 3 USB ports and supports NVIDIA G-SYNC for smoother gameplay.
- 3440 x 1440 resolution
- NVIDIA G-SYNC technology