The Best Monitors for 2021: 4K, Ultrawide, Gaming, and More

If you’re shopping for an all-around display, we highly recommend the Dell P2720DC monitor. It looks fantastic, comes at an affordable price like many of the budget monitors out there, and has a handy USB-C connection. Our reviewers, who’ve tested and reviewed more than 100 monitors over the years, find little fault in it.

However, if you have something more specific in mind, like a great 4K display, or something more suited for gaming, we’ve got you covered below.

We’ve also found the best desktop monitor deals and plenty of cheap gaming monitors, if you’re working with a tight budget.

The best monitors for 2021 at a glance:

The best monitor: Dell P2720DC monitor

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Why you should buy this: It’s a gorgeous screen with thin bezels and an attractive price.

Who it’s for: Just about anyone. It is perfect in a home or work office.

Why we picked the Dell P2720DC:

There’s no perfect monitor for everyone, but this Dell monitor offers the best balance of resolution, design, features, and price. First off, it measures 27 inches diagonally, which is the ideal size for a standard office desk. It’s also 1440p (QHD), which is the perfect happy medium between affordable 1080p and super-sharp 4K.

It’s not as sleek as Dell’s UltraThin monitors, but the P-series look fairly modern as well. The P2720DC isn’t necessarily for enthusiast photo editors, as the color calibration isn’t quite up to snuff. However, it’ll work great for hobbyists and most other kinds of computing tasks, sporting solid image quality and convenient adjustability.

Our favorite feature, though, is the USB-C connection. If you’re planning to connect to a laptop with USB-C, this monitor can both power your laptop and display its video. It’s plug-and-play at its finest.

There are fancier, more feature-rich monitors out there (see below), but the Dell P2720DC monitor is the option we recommend to most people.

Read our in-depth Dell P2720DC review

The best gaming monitor: Acer Predator XB272

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Why you should buy this: If you want fantastic PC gaming at an affordable price.

Who it’s for: Gamers looking for smooth gameplay to match their powerful PC.

What we thought of the Acer Predator XB272:

Among the best gaming monitors, you can find many that aim for higher refresh rates and higher resolutions. However, as with our Dell pick above, the Predator XB272 represents an excellent combination of value, quality, and features.

Most PC gamers still play at 1080p, so not having a higher resolution isn’t overly important. Instead, features like G-Sync monitor support and a 240Hz refresh rate are far more important to avoid screen tearing and stuttering. That might sound like overkill, but it’s a must-have if you play a lot of competitive online games. The Acer Predator XB272 has all those essentials covered.

Read our in-depth Acer Predator XB272 review

The best budget monitor: Samsung 27″ SF354

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Why you should buy this: It’s a great, spacious monitor if you need a large screen but at a low price.

Who it’s for: Work-from-homers, families.

Why we picked the Samsung 27 SF354:

Most people looking for a new monitor don’t need anything fancy. No matter how cheap you’re going, though, 27 inches and 1080p are a couple of good standards to keep. The Samsung SF354 hits both of those at a fantastic price of $170. Beyond that, it has a slim design with relatively thin bezels around the frame.

The SF354 also uses PLS panel technology, which is Samsung’s version of IPS. In other words, you’ll get decent viewing angles and realistic-looking colors. It’s not for gaming or intense content creation, but this basic Samsung monitor is everything the average person needs in a work monitor.

If you’re looking for something even cheaper than the Samsung 27-inch SF354, check out our list of the best monitors under $100.

The best 4K monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q

dell ultrasharp 4k monitor

Why you should buy this: It’s a beautiful display in a lean frame, with an impressively sharp screen.

Who it’s for: Media viewers who want that 4K HDR pop and detail.

Why we picked the Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q:

One of the best 4K monitors out there, the Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q might not have the largest screen, but at 27 inches and 4K resolution, it packs an enormous range of pixels inside a compact frame, making for an exceptionally crisp picture.

When combined with great HDR support and a huge 1,300:1 contrast ratio, this monitor looks stunning no matter what you’re doing on it. Dell also offers a 32-inch model (the U3220Q), though it’s a few hundred dollars more expensive.

The U2720Q is not designed with gaming in mind. It lacks a high refresh-rate, but the 60Hz is enough for gamers playing slower games who want the added detail of 4K. You won’t need the world’s most powerful graphics card to run it maxed out either.

The strong features of the Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q are available at a price that’s not out of this world, so you needn’t break the bank just to get yourself a great 4K screen.

The best ultrawide monitor: LG 34WK95U

LG 34WK95U-W ultrawide monitor review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s expensive, but LG’s 34-inch ultrawide is stunning to look at and stands head and shoulders above most other big-screen displays.

Who it’s for: Those who want a huge multi-monitor experience without the bezels.

Why we picked the LG 34WK95U:

This 34-inch display is jam-packed full of pixels thanks to its 5K, 5120 x 2160 resolution and what LG describes as a “Nano-IPS” screen type. That means it can offer a wider color gamut than almost any monitor we’ve ever come across. Its color accuracy is second to none as well, and with HDR enhancement, few displays can even approach how good this one looks.

Although its contrast ratio is beaten by some of its ultrawide contemporaries, 770:1 in our testing is hardly bad and with a brightness of 409 nits, it gets plenty white and plenty dark as and when needed. Games and media of all sorts look fantastic on this display–even if you’re working on it, the crispness and clarity of everything on screen is a sight to behold. If you want a head-turning display, this is it.

Better yet, the LG 34WK95U is very easy to use. Its out-of-the-box calibration is excellent, and the menus are simple and intuitive. It’s an all-around pleasure to use. We do miss any sort of adaptive sync technologies and the 60Hz refresh rate might turn off high-end gamers, but for everyone else, if you can stomach the high price, it’s well worth it.

Read our in-depth LG 34WK95U review

The best 32-inch monitor: BenQ EX3203R


Why you should buy this: Thirty-two inches is a lot of screen space, but BenQ packs it with solid features and a beautiful panel. For what it offers, it’s pretty affordable.

Who it’s for: Gamers and anyone who wants masses of screen space for their next project.

Why we picked the BenQ EX3203R:

As the prices of high-resolution screens have come down, so have the prices of larger displays. A few years ago, 32 inches of screen space would have cost you a fortune, but today an excellent display like the BenQ EX3203R is exceedingly affordable. It offers a respectable resolution of 2,560 x 1,440p (the gaming sweet spot) and a high refresh rate of 144Hz.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also HDR support, an immersive, 1800R curvature, and FreeSync 2 for kicking screen tearing and stuttering to the curb. This is a monitor that ticks so many boxes we’re not entirely sure which category to put it in, but considering its impressive size and stature, best 32-incher seems like a great fit.

This monitor is fantastic for gaming and working, with excellent color support and popping blacks and whites thanks to its HDR support. You can even power it on a single USB-C cable if you want to keep your desk tidy.

Considering the price, the frame and stand look pretty great too. What’s not to like about the BenQ EX3203R?

Research and buying tips

What brand monitor is the best?

No one monitor brand makes all the best monitors in the world — that’s why this list is populated by a number of different manufacturers. That said, there are some that you can rely on more than most to produce great screens. Dell is a longstanding favorite of ours with years of fantastic displays under its belt. It also tends to cater well to the professional crowd just as much as gamers, so you know there will be something you like in its lineup.

Other noteworthy brands worth considering include Acer, which tends to produce some of the world’s best gaming screens; Samsung, which offers some of the best ultrawide screens and large-size monitors we’ve ever seen; and LG, which has a good all-around catalog of displays.

What size computer monitor is the best?

This very much depends on the resolution you’re targeting and how much desk space you have. While bigger does tend to look better, giving you more screen space for work and larger images for games and movies, they can stretch entry-level resolutions like 1080p to the limits of their clarity. Big screens also require more room on your desk, so we’d caution buying a massive ultrawide like the Samsung Odyssey G9 if you’re working or playing on a small desk.

As a quick rule of thumb, 1080p looks great up to about 24 inches, while 1440p looks good up to and beyond 30 inches. We wouldn’t recommend a 4K screen any smaller than 27 inches as you aren’t going to see the real benefit of those extra pixels in what is a relatively small space by that resolution.

Are 4K monitors good for gaming?

They can be. 4K offers the pinnacle of gaming detail and in atmospheric games can give you a whole new level of immersion, especially on larger displays that can fully display that mass of those pixels in all their glory. These high-res displays really excel in games where frame rates are not as important as visual clarity. That said, we feel that high refresh rate monitors can deliver a better experience (especially in fast-paced games like shooters), and unless you have the deep pockets to splash out on a powerful graphics card or two as well, you aren’t going to get those frame rates at 4K. A 27-inch, 1440p display still the sweet spot.

Also keep in mind monitor performance is now often linked to framerate management technologies like FreeSync and G-Sync, so watch for these technologies and compatible graphics cards when making gaming monitor decisions. FreeSync is for AMD graphics cards, while G-Sync only works with Nvidia’s GPUs.

Which is better: LCD or LED?

The short answer is they’re both the same. The longer answer is that this is a failure of company marketing in properly conveying what its products are. Today most monitors that use LCD technology are backlit with LEDs, so typically if you’re buying a monitor it’s both an LCD and LED display. For more of an explanation on LCD and LED technologies, we have a whole guide dedicated to it.

That said, there are OLED displays to consider, although these panels haven’t made an impact on the desktop market yet. OLED screens combine color and light into a single panel, famed for its vibrant colors and contrast ratio. While that technology has been making waves in televisions for a few years now, they’re only just starting to make a tentative step into the world of desktop monitors, like the massive Alienware 55-inch OLED display we got our hands on at CES 2019.

What kind of monitor is best for your eyes?

If you suffer from eye strain, look for monitors that have built-in light filter software, especially filters that are specifically designed for easing eye problems. These filters are designed to block more blue light, which is the part of the spectrum that affects our eyes the most and is responsible for most eye strain problems. However, you can also download eye filter software apps for any type of monitor you get.

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