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Best Computer Monitors 2021

Best Computer Monitors
Now's a great time to get the best computer monitor for your rig. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With working from home becoming a permanent staple for many, finding the best computer monitor is more important than ever. Meanwhile, many PC components are still suffering depressing shortages, making a screen upgrade one of the easiest and most impactful changes you can make to your gaming rig right now too. 

Below, we list the best computer monitors across various categories, from gaming to budget 4K and HDR

But in order to pick the best computer monitor, these are a few basic things you should consider first. 

  • What’s your monitor’s purpose? Generally speaking, if it’s gaming, you’ll want something with a high refresh rate (ideally 100Hz or greater), low response time and AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync for fighting screen tears at low framerates. For general use, look for high contrast, and for creative work prioritize color accuracy.
  • What resolution do you want? More pixels means a sharper image. No one should be buying anything under 1080p/FHD (1920 x 1080), but if your budget can handle it, 4K is as sharp as it gets at a reasonable price. Many gamers find 1440p/QHD (2560 x 1440) is a good compromise between price and high-refresh rate performance.
  • Contrast and color. We consider contrast the most important factor in image quality, with 1,000:1 being solid. Color errors are particularly important for creatives, and anything with a Delta E (dE) greater than 3 may show visible errors.
  • Panel tech: When it comes to image quality, TN < IPS < VA. VA monitors typically still have better contrast than even the best IPS panels; although IPS panels are also known to be very colorful.
  • What size do you want? These days, 24-inches is on the small side and 27 inches is mainstream while 32-inches is a good large size for those on a budget. Anything bigger than 43 inches probably won’t fit on a regular desktop. For portable monitors , stay in the 17-inch range or under.
  • sRGB or DCI-P3? for the most part, you’ll either be getting a monitor made in the sRGB color space or the more colorful DCI-P3 one. Technically, Windows, the web and non-HDR games and video use sRGB, but if you want an extra colorful screen, an accurate DCI-P3 monitor is more appropriate.

Earning a perfect score, the Samsung Odyssey G7 is one of the best computer monitors you can buy.  (Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Odyssey G7 32-Inch

Best Computer Monitor Overall

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 32 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Refresh Rate: 240Hz | Panel Type: VA | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync Premium Pro

Size and shape ideal for gaming or work
Low input lag
Accurate color without calibration
No speakers

The Samsung Odyssey G7 32-inch is the best computer monitor and boasts a perfect 5-star rating from us. As a gaming monitor, it stands out with the strongest curve currently available, 1000R, for amazing immersion, along with speedy gaming numbers. The 240Hz monitor has a 1ms (GTG) response time and put up a 5ms response time score in our testing, beating some 165Hz screens by 2ms. Benchmarking showed input lag at 20ms, a full 6-10ms faster than some 165Hz screens we’ve tested, including the Dell S3220DGF also on this page.

This is also a strong work monitor. Its 32-inch panel offers plenty of height for productivity, like working on long spreadsheets in a way that’s easier than on a 32-inch ultrawide. And at 2-3 foot viewing distance we don't have any distortion issues with that dramatic curve. Just be sure to bring your own audio because, despite the price, there are no speakers here.

No matter what you use the G7 for, you can expect strong image quality backed by 2,201:1 contrast out of the box, as well as accurate DCI-P3 color.

More: Samsung Odyssey G7 32-Inch review

With good performance and value, the Dell S3220DGF is the best computer monitor for most gamers.  (Image credit: Dell)

2. Dell S3220DGF

Best Computer Monitor for Gaming

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 32 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Refresh Rate: 165Hz | Panel Type: VA | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync Premium Pro

High contrast
Color-accurate
No sRGB mode
No gamma presets

Balancing speed and resolution while delivering fantastic contrast and accurate color, the Dell S3220DGF is the best computer monitor for gaming for the typical player, and the 32-inch size is also great for productivity. The S3220DGF’s 165Hz refresh rate and 4ms (GTG) response time helped it compete well with other 165Hz screens in response time and input lag.

Since this isn’t the fastest or largest monitor with the highest resolution, it ends up being a good value, typically going for under $450. But you still get FreeSync Premium Pro for fighting screen tears (we also got it to run G-Sync Compatibility, although it’s not certified), an 1800R curve to add to the immersion and HDR support that stands above the vast majority of gaming monitors that throw in HDR these days, thanks to a more premium edge-lit backlight.

As expected of a VA panel, contrast is impressive (3,783:1 before calibration, based on our testing), and you get accurate DCI-P3 color too. But without an sRGB mode, color purists may wish for less saturated color.

For more gaming recommendations, see our Best Gaming Monitors list.

More: Dell S3220DGF review

A 144 Hz panel with high contrast makes the LG 27GN950-B excellent for 4K gaming.  (Image credit: LG)

3. LG 27GN950-B

Best Computer Monitor for 4K Gaming

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 27 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Adaptive-Sync: G-Sync Compatible, FreeSync Premium Pro

Local dimming produces VA-like contrast
Wide and accurate color gamut
Fast and responsive
Oversaturated sRGB mode

With a 1ms (GTG) response time and 144Hz refresh rate, the LG 27GN950-B is the best computer monitor for 4K gaming. If you’ve got the graphics card, ideally one of the best graphics cards, you need to handle 144 frames per second (fps) at 4K, this monitor will make sure that power doesn’t go to waste. In our testing, the monitor showed a 7ms response time, keeping up with pricier 4K, 144Hz screens, like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and even beating some when it came to input lag. Plus, FreeSync Premium Pro and G-Sync Compatibility will fight screen tears for those times when framerates drop below 48 fps.

Although VA panels are known for their high contrast, this IPS monitor can hold its own, hitting 1,034.7 before calibration and 8,475.3:1 with HDR, based on our benchmarks. Those who want the most accurate color may find the sRGB mode too saturated, but the 27GN950-B proved accurate when it came to the more colorful DCI-P3 space.

For more top-of-the-line 4K gaming screens, visit our Best 4K Gaming Monitors page.

More: LG 27GN950-B review

You get quality, curved 4K for cheap with the Samsung UR59C.  (Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung UR59C

Best Budget 4K Computer Monitor

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 32 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh Rate: 60Hz | Panel Type: VA | Adaptive-Sync: None

Quality build
Effective curvature
No USB ports
Needs calibration

If you want an affordable screen with a lot of pixels, the Samsung UR59C is the best budget 4K monitor for you. The VA panel delivers contrast (2590.5:1 after calibration) that made everything from photos to videos to games look better. With a 60 Hz refresh rate, 4ms (GTG) response and no FreeSync or G-Sync, this is clearly not a high-end gaming monitor. But casual gamers can make do, thanks to the combination of high pixel density and high contrast keeping games looking realistic.

Curves are generally more effective on ultrawide screens, but the UR59C’s 1500R curvature was effective and beneficial for this 32-incher, such when multitasking with multiple windows. And if you don’t mind calibrating, you can get rid of the UR59C pesky color errors, which, unfortunately, were visible out of the box. Our calibration settings reduced the error from 4.3dE to 0.9dE.

Interested in more high-res, low-price displays? Check out our Best Budget 4K Monitors round-up.

More: Samsung UR59C review

Mini-LED takes the cake if you're looking for one of the best computer monitors for HDR.  (Image credit: Asus, Tom's Hardware)

5. Asus ProArt PA32UCX

Best Computer Monitor for HDR

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 32 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh Rate: 60Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync

Accurate color in all gamuts from sRGB to Rec.2020
HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
1,400-nit, 1,152-zone backlight
No flaws of consequence

With a Mini-LED backlight that only very expensive OLED monitors can top, the Asus ProArt PA32UCX is the best HDR monitor we’ve tested, delivering better HDR quality than any standard LED monitor can muster while still offering an attainable 32-inch size that could fit on a desk. With 4K resolution, accurate color and support for the major HDR categories, there’s nothing else you can ask for. In fact, we had nary a con to share about this monitor when we did our initial testing.

You can get better HDR contrast from Alienware’s OLED monitor (theoretically infinite versus the Asus’ 569,629:1). And at over $4,000 this is a pricey monitor that is marketed more toward professional users.

But until Mini-LED or OLED become cheaper in more desk-ready sizes, this is the ultimate PC monitor for HDR. For more options, check out our article on how to choose the best HDR monitor.

More: Asus ProArt PA32UCX review

Alienware's OLED gaming monitor is as premium as it is big.  (Image credit: Alienware)

6. Alienware AW5520QF 55 OLED

Best Computer Monitor for HDR Gaming

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 55 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Refresh Rate: 120Hz | Panel Type: OLED | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync

Unmatched contrast, color and image quality
Phenomenal game performance
No sRGB color option
Not very bright

This is a big, expensive monitor that’ll be out of reach for many, but if you have the space and budget for it, it offers a superior HDR image, thanks to a high-contrast OLED panel that beats the impressive full-array local dimming (FALD) backlights of the Acer Predator X27 and Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ. In addition to helping HDR shine with sharp 4K resolution, the Alienware’s OLED panel delivers deep blacks that result in virtually infinite contrast. The Acer and Asus’ FALD backlight offer stellar HDR as well (and are easier to fit in a gaming den or desktop), but in addition to those being hard to find at MSRP online, they’re a step behind the Alienware when it comes to the rich contrast that makes HDR miles above SDR.

The HDR version of Call of Duty: WWII felt like an interactive movie on the AW5520QF. We’d prefer FreeSync Premium Pro for optimized tone mapping, however. For non-HDR gaming, meanwhile, the monitor looks extra colorful but not overdone. Additionally, shadows and dark areas were impactful and highlights looked bright. Still, we’d prefer natural colors, like skintones, to look less rich.

The downside is this is not a bright screen. Our testing shows it delivers just 127 nits brightness with SDR. So for a premium HDR monitor that’s also bright, consider the Asus PA32UCX on this page. 

But for gamers, it sports a respectable 120 Hz refresh rate, along with an impressive 0.5ms (GTG) response time, resulting in an 8ms response time that can compete with some slower 144 Hz monitors and better input lag than some pricey 144Hz screens, including the Acer Predator X27 and Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ (32ms versus 39ms and 36ms, respectively).

For more on ensuring your HDR upgrade is noticeable, read our story on how to choose the best HDR monitor.

More: Alienware AW5520QF 55 OLED Gaming Monitor review

With reliable, built-in stands, the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is ready to be set up anywhere.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Lenovo ThinkVision M14

Best Portable Monitor

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 14 inches / 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 60Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Adaptive-Sync: None

Sturdy kickstand and flip-out foot with good resistance
Slim and lights
Flimsy sleeve
USB-C (DisplayPort 1.2 Alt Mode) only

A lot of us are finding ourselves working in tight spaces these days. If you’re looking to add another screen to your space, the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is the best portable monitor. Its most standout feature is a critical one: a reliable, strong kickstand that’s easy to use, thanks to two flip-out feet. While many portable monitors are stuck with flimsy sleeves that double as stands, you can intuitively prop up the ThinkVision M14 at -5 to 90 degree tilt or even in portrait mode. Unfortunately, its travel case isn’t as tough.

With 244 nits max brightness and 98% coverage of the sRGB color space, according to our benchmarks, the ThinkVision M14 is perfect for surfing the web or watching a movie in SDR. USB-C connectivity, meanwhile, means it won’t run out of battery when plugged into a laptop. It can also deliver as much as 65W of power to a device if plugged into a wall adapter too. But those whose PC or device, such as a Raspberry Pi, doesn’t have a USB-C port with DisplayPort 1.2 Alt Mode and USB PD 2.0 or better will be out of luck.

If you prefer a touchscreen portable monitor, check out the touch version of the M14 via our Lenovo ThinkVision M14t review.

More: Lenovo ThinkVision M14 review

When it comes to portable gaming, the Asus ROG Strix XG17AHPE has no equal.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. Asus ROG XG17AHPE

Best Portable Gaming Monitor

Screen Size / Aspect Ratio: 17.3 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 240Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync

HDMI, USB-C and USB-A connectivity
Easy-to-access OSD with many options
More expensive than a good 240 Hz desktop monitor
Questionable origami stand

With a 240Hz refresh rate, 3ms (GTG) response time and even FreeSync, the Asus ROG XG17AHPE stands high above the competition and easily snags the best portable gaming monitor crown. Nothing available can match that speed.

However, the XG17AHPE is as expensive as it is unique. In fact, you can buy a much larger desktop-sized monitor with the same amount of speed for cheaper than this over-$400 17.3-incher. And the origami-style cover Asus includes isn’t sufficient for protecting this expensive piece of hardware or providing a reliable stand.

But the XG17AHPE also delivers strong side viewing angles, a lot of brightness (285.6 nits) and a surprising amount of color (109.5% sRGB). There are also a lot of connectivity options, making it easy to tether it to everything from your laptop to your Raspberry Pi.

More: Asus ROG XG17AHPE review

  • Sergei Tachenov
    What, no 24" monitors or 1080p (except compact ones)? Not even in the “best monitor for competitive gaming” category?
    Reply
  • Endre
    Admin said:
    We break down the best computer monitors for upgrading your setup in 2021.

    Best Computer Monitors 2021 : Read more

    I really like that list (especially the Asus ProArt 32” monitor).

    I own a ViewSonic VP2768-4K, which is a very good monitor too.
    Reply
  • Soaptrail
    Sergei Tachenov said:
    What, no 24" monitors or 1080p (except compact ones)? Not even in the “best monitor for competitive gaming” category?

    Also missing a best Ultra Wide choice.
    Reply
  • AZRainman
    You need to have separate categories for Freesync and G-Sync monitors.
    Reply
  • Soaptrail
    AZRainman said:
    You need to have separate categories for Freesync and G-Sync monitors.

    Unless they do just Freesync since Nvidia supports both.
    Reply