Good grief, there are a lot of monitors out there. Choosing which one you want is a matter of juggling many variables: the size, the panel type, the refresh rate, the connection options, and of course, the price. It can feel like unlimited choices with very few correct ones.
If you’re struggling with a choice, we’d recommend checking out this guide, which covers the basics of computer monitor specifications and what features you generally want for what type of work or entertainment you plan on doing on your computer.
But if you want to skip all that and check out a shortlist, we have you covered, too. All of the monitors below have targeted features for general use, gamers, or creatives (sometimes more than one) and have been reviewed extremely well. They’re all pretty good deals in terms of their capabilities, but check the budget options if you want to save money, too.
Update, 9/12/21: Check picks for accuracy.
Dell makes some of the best monitors around, and its Ultrasharp line goes above and beyond even that. The latest 27-inch model combines absolutely gorgeous thin bezels, a high-quality IPS panel with a higher resolution than normal (2560×1440), excellent viewing angles, and plenty of input and output options. The screen can take two DisplayPort and one HDMI inputs at once, with a bonus USB 3.1 connection for up to four add-on devices. The focus on image quality makes this monitor less ideal for gaming, but that’s pretty much its only downside.
Dell Ultrasharp U2719DX 27-Inch WQHD 2560x1440 Resolution IPS Monitor with Infinity Edge Bezels, Black
If you need an external screen on a low budget, this Acer model is what you’re looking for. While it won’t show off the most accurate colors or enable superhuman game reflexes, its VA panel is a good middle ground between image quality and gaming speed. The 16:9 ratio is ideal for most videos. Between an older VGA input and HDMI, it can connect to both older desktops and new laptops (though it doesn’t come with an HDMI cable). It also looks surprisingly good with those thin bezels, and comes with a VESA mount—not always a given at this price point.
If you want the biggest screen possible, you can’t get any bigger than this AOC panel (unless you just plop an HDTV on your desk). Its massive 49-inch curved widescreen is essentially two 27-inch, 1440p panels right next to each other. Surprisingly, it can drive all of that space at 120Hz with just one millisecond of response time thanks to the VA panel, meaning it’s great for games … if you can find a graphics card that can actually handle more than 5,000 horizontal pixels that quickly. Its color accuracy isn’t the greatest, but frankly nothing else at this size is going to beat it. If the price tag on this one shocks you, consider the 34-inch Gigabyte G34QC as a similar but much less expensive alternative.
AOC AGON Curved Gaming Monitor 49" (AG493UCX), Dual QHD 5120x1440 @ 120Hz, VA Panel, 1ms 120Hz Adaptive-Sync, 121% sRGB, Height Adjustable, 4-Yr Zero Dead Pixels Manufacturer Guarantee
Gamers who refuse to compromise will find this monitor ticks all of their boxes. That huge 34-inch panel is curved for immersion, fast at 120Hz, and quick at 2ms of response time. On top of that, it’s a high-quality IPS panel, delivering more accurate colors than the typical VA gaming monitor. It’s compatible with NVIDIA’s G-SYNC system for smooth framerates, which is a big deal for a monitor pushing the high 3440×1440 resolution, and the stylish body has RGB lights in the rear and beneath the screen. Handy USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack will make connecting new gaming gadgets a breeze.
Alienware 120Hz UltraWide Gaming Monitor 34 Inch Curved Monitor with WQHD (3440 x 1440) Anti-Glare Display, 2ms Response Time, Nvidia G-Sync, Lunar Light - AW3420DW
It’s really hard to find a budget screen that supports G-SYNC to eliminate screen tearing, but this one does, along with a refresh rate that can go as high as 165Hz. While the VA panel isn’t the most color-accurate, the options for DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI inputs means even older gaming PCs are welcome to join the party. It also has a surprisingly good stand and VESA mounting options. If you want a bigger, sharper panel, check out the 27-inch version of the same model, which bumps it up to 1440p resolution for just a little more.
This 27-inch monitor from LG has a combination of features that make it outstanding for creative professionals working on photo or video editing, 3D modeling, digital painting, and all sorts of fine detail work. A 4K resolution with a color-accurate IPS panel makes this screen incredibly sharp and color-accurate, true 1000:1 contrast ratio is a big plus, and a USB-C video connection means getting your on-the-go work on the screen is super easy. But the biggest plus for content creators is an sRGB color gamut of over 99%, making it one of the most accurate displays you can get without going into quadruple-digit sticker prices. Mounting options mean that combining this screen into a multi-monitor setup, or an appealing wall mount, is easy.