Computer monitors are so important. It doesn’t matter how good your PC is without a high quality display, you’ll never unlock its true potential. Therefore buying the right display is essential and through months of rigorous testing, we’ve compiled a list of the best pc monitor 2021 you can buy right now, all mentioned below.
Table of Contents
Comparison Table: The 10 Best PC Monitor 2021
Budget Gaming Monitor
High-End 4K Monitor
Climate 4K HDR Gaming
High-End Nvidia Gaming Ultrawide
High-End Nvidia Gaming Ultrawide
Ultimate Ultrawide Monitor
We start with a quick breakdown of everything you need to know and the first thing on our list is resolution. This is the name for the number of pixels that are displayed on your monitor at any one time. The more pixels the sharper and better-looking the image will be. We measure the resolution by counting the number of horizontal lines and then multiplying it by the number of vertical lines. For example, Full HD has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, giving us a total of just over two million pixels.
While it’s always best to find the full resolution numbers, you often see shorthand names in their place. 2560 x 1440 for instance is also known as QHD or 1440p. The most common resolution you’ll discover while shopping are 1080p full-HD, 1440p QHD, and 2160p UHD 4k. These are all standard 16:9 widescreen resolutions like a normal television, and you can get something that’s a little wider and your end up looking at a 21:9 ultra wide display.
But of course when we’re talking about overall sharpness of the image quality, resolution is actually only half the story, as the size of the display will have a huge impact on how sharp and crisp the overall image will be. As you increase the size of the monitor, the pixels will actually increase in size assuming the resolution stays the same. The more of the story here is that if you’re sitting at a desk, you’re going to want to make sure that the size of monitor you get is actually going to have a decent enough resolution that you’re not compromising on image quality.
The next thing to consider is the panel type. The panel type will dictate how good the overall image quality will be, how far you can view the monitor off axis, and how quickly the image can be updated without having any blurriness.
There are three main types of panel that you need to be aware of and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. First up is TN or twisted nematic. These panels are usually the cheapest of the three and they’re by far the fastest which makes them perfect for gaming. People would normally choose a TN panel, if they have a lot of fast moving motion on-screen which is pretty much what a game is. Or they simply want to save a few quid. The downsides are that the viewing angles are often very poor and while image quality can actually be very good these days, they don’t really get very close to the best IPS and VA panels and as such a poor choices for image editors and colorists.
Moving on, we have IPS or in-plane switching which is probably our favorite type of panel and arguably the most common one that’s used today. The big story here is all about image quality, as more times than not they offer the most accurate and colourful display of the three panels. The quality will of course vary depending on how much you spend and the model you choose but even at the budget end of the market the displays look excellent. They offer a great overall experience. The issue with IPS is that they’re not quite as fast as TN panels and they can introduce a little ghosting in the more faster paced games. But that’s not the only downside as IPS can struggle to create true inky blacks and they often fall victim to something known as the dreaded IPS glow.
To get around these issues you could look at the third option VA (vertical alignment). These displays have the best blacks of the bunch. They consistently deliver great contrast. As such they’re great for movies and they’re perfect for the sort of gamer that wants to play in dimly lit environments. The most common problem with VA though is that they can be quite slow and even on certain gaming monitors we’ve known them to leave trailing images behind on the screen which in games like PUBG can prove to be a big problem.
No display is perfect then and you will experience some compromise regardless of your choice. But as long as you do your research carefully and you make sure you’re getting the appropriate panel for you then you’re gonna be very happy with the results.
After you’ve picked a display type, you’ll then want to consider the refresh rate that your monitor will run at. The refresh rate is the measure of how many times the image will change on-screen per second. Now we’ll explain how smooth the display feels.
Most monitors will refresh at 60 fps and this is likely to feel very normal to you. Faster screens are available though that will refresh up to 240 fps for much smoother gameplay. This will be fabulous for gamers playing competitively that is really not essential for all.
If you are specifically after a gaming monitor, then you may have heard of the term ‘variable refresh rates’. Both Nvidia and AMD gamers can then use this technology to reduce the stutter and tearing in your game and it works by allowing the monitors refresh rate to directly match the outputted game framerate. The end result is a much smoother experience especially when you’re running between 40 and 60 fps and once you’ve tried it it is very hard to go back from.
The real downside to all of this is that it can add a great expense to the display. And unfortunately if you’re on team green (Nvidia card), then you have to buy a g-sync monitor to get it to work. And if you’re on team red (AMD card), then you’re going to need to pick up a free sync display because the two are not interchangeable.
There is a new buzz word on the monitor scene though and that is HDR (high dynamic range). HDR allows a display to show a wider amount of color and contrast on the screen at the same time and it can be used to have bright skies while having dark forests without washing out or crushing blacks.
To get it to work, you simply need an HDR compatible game or movie and then a screen that can run it. Unfortunately though, the monitors vary wildly in quality and if you want the absolute best experience you’re going to want to get something that has a backlight dimming system. Regardless, look for these as DisplayHDR™ badge and don’t buy something just because it says HDR in the title because to be honest, you’re likely to be disappointed.
So think that that’s everything you need to know about buying a monitor at a glance but as we promised, here’s a list of our favorite monitors that we plan to deliver.
1080p, IPS, 60Hz, Freesync
The first is our budget monitor of choice and it’s still the LG MP68. This 23 inch monitor isn’t the largest out there but it’s IPS panel delivers a great image for the money. It is perfect for general use and even a bit of light image work.
Gaming is also handled with extreme grace and this was actually the monitor we used for a bit of Gears of War 4 and Mass Effect Andromeda. It’s massively helped by the fact that it can be unlocked to 75 Hertz when you enable the free sync technology for smoother gameplay. It’s not going to hit the headlines with ‘crazy specs’ but it’s a fantastic all-rounder and it’s great for beginners.
1080p, TN, 144Hz, Freesync
If you want something that’s specifically made for games and you want an even faster refresh rate, then you should check out the AOC G2590PX. It does use a TN panel for clear motion which as we know isn’t ideal for image work but we were really surprised with just how good the image quality is for a TN panel. It is absolutely fantastic and ideal for fast-paced games like Smite and Counter-Strike.
AMD gamers will also appreciate their freesync tech that backed right in as well as the red color scheme. But even if you’re on team green, it’s a fantastic 144 Hertz monitor that offers high-end features for a very fair price.
UHD, IPS, 60Hz, Freesync
Moving on to the mid-range, we have a few different options for you depending on the form factor that you wish to go for. If you’re wanting to get in on the 4k action then have a look at the LG 27UK850. This is a smaller version of LG ultra-wide. Its got an IPS panel and it provides rich vibrant colors and then thanks to that you HD resolution it is of course all pin sharp.
Here’s a detailed review on the monitor by The Tech Chap:
1440p, IPS, 144Hz, Freesync
move across to the gaming side of things and we have the incredibly priced Acer XF270HUA hua which is an updated model of the monitor we love dearly a couple of years ago. For intents and purposes, it is actually essentially the same as the outgoing model but that’s no bad thing with 144Hz refresh rate on an IPS display.
The colors truly are stunning for a gaming screen and it doesn’t matter what you’re gonna throw at it, its going to look fantastic. There’s also freesync onboard too which is going to help reduce the stutter and tearing in your game.
If you are a Nvidia gamer, the we would highly recommend Predator G-sync version 2 (Acer XB127HU), despite the little bit of extra cost.
Asus Rog PG27UQ
UHD, IPS, 144Hz, G-Sync
So all of this leads us nicely to the final monitor in the list, that is the ASUS PG27UQ and it’s fair to say that technically this is the best gaming monitor you can buy as it’s 4k 144Hz, G-sync compatible and has a fully zoned 1000 nits HDR.
As it expects, the games look better than anything you can really experience. It’s quite the achievement but realistically while it may well be the best of the best, it’s got a price tag exceeding two 2 grand which means it’s just a little bit pricey. Factor in the limited 27-inch screen size and the lack of any real HDR PC game library and it’s only worthwhile for a very specific customer.
I’m sure many of you at this stage are probably cursing me for not mentioning any ultra-wide yet but fear not as they’re very popular and we do have our own list. We’ve actually only tested the largest sized Ultra-wides.
There’s a very budget-friendly HD screen from LG that’s known as the 29UM69G and it’s got a 75Hz refresh rate with an IPS panel. It’s available at a very friendly price and is probably worth checking out.
3840 x 1600, IPS, 75Hz, Freesync
The ultra-wide we use on a daily basis however, is the LG 38UC99. A behemoth 38 inch display with resolution of 3840×1600. Now it’s not ideal for gaming as there’s a fair bit of input lag but it’s perfect for workflow and it offers up the most immersive experience we’ve encountered.
3440 x 1440, IPS, 100Hz, Freesync
Since the price of UC99 is going to be quite off-pursing, many of you will probably rather look at the Asus MX34VQ, which is substantially cheaper. It’s quite the jack of all trades. As well the IPS panel doesn’t match the you UC99 for color accuracy and performance it’s still pretty awesome and isn’t really far off.
Unlike the LG it’s responsive helped massively by the 100 Hertz refresh rate. Our main issue with it is the lack of any high adjustment and unfortunately there is no visa mount to get past it. But if you don’t mind this, it is a wicked high-end display that actually represents decent value for money.
As with the Acer, if you’re an Nvidia gamer and you want to go all out, there is a g-sync version available that is Asus PG348Q (3440 x 1440p, IPS, 100Hz, G-Sync).
3440 x 1440, IPS, 120Hz, G-Sync
Finishing our list with what we feel is currently the best G-sync gaming monitor of the year, the Alienware AW3418DW. We purchased it for $1000 but be sure to shop around as the price does fluctuate. This ultra wide 34 inch monitor has a $1,900 curve and is currently the only 3440 x 1440 resolution display with 120Hz refresh rate.
Its also the fastest in terms of responsiveness and input lag with a 4 millisecond response time. Both the physical and pixel height along with the pixel density are nearly identical to a 27-inch 1440p monitor at a 110 pixels per inch. Just with a few added inches on either side for increased immersion and productivity.
It has a native 8-bit IPS panel with 99% SRGB coverage. Surprisingly, our unit had no noticeable backlight bleed dead pixels or distracting glow. The colors are super accurate and really pop which makes games come to life along with fantastic viewing angles that are far better than VA and especially TN panels.
Brightness is rated at a typical 300 nits and is flicker free with no headache inducing pulse width modulation (PWM) at any setting. There’s a very pleasant anti-glare coating as well, that’s light enough to where it doesn’t produce a grainy or dirty image. The bezels are also super thin and much thinner than others on the market.
Overall we truly believe that, Alienware AW3418DW has all the features of a perfect gaming monitor. It’s ultra fast for millisecond response time and buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate with G-sync, provides surreal motion clarity and when combined with the massive 34 inches curved 3440 x 1440 resolution IPS panel, it makes for one of the most immersive gaming experiences available today.