One of the most important things to ask yourself before buying a 4K monitor is whether you actually need one. “4K isn’t really necessary unless you are doing content creation or you want to use your PC to watch 4K content,” says Miguel Melendez, a PC expert at B&H Photo Video. If you’re just working on some Google docs, looking at occasional spreadsheets, and taking Zoom calls, you could easily get away with a standard HD or Quad HD monitor. Still, if you want to play it safe and buy technology you can grow into, or if you plan on getting into gaming, Melendez points out that prices for 4K monitors have come down quite a bit and there are many options available for “a very reasonable price.”
In terms of size, he recommends at least a 24-inch display. Unlike lower-resolution screens, 4K can handle the extra visual real estate without getting blocky. 60Hz is the most common refresh rate, and it’s fine for most people, Melendez says. If you’re into gaming or video editing, however, he suggests a 120Hz monitor: “The overall effect is that the system feels a lot more responsive.” Melendez also suggests getting an IPS or VA panel, as opposed to TN, since “IPS offers the widest viewing angles and best color accuracy. There isn’t a drastic color shift like what you see on a TN panel, which looks good only if you are dead center.”
To help you find the best 4K monitor to fit your needs, we spoke with Melendez and eight other experts. Here are their suggestions.
Best 4K monitor
Two of our experts — Tyler Stalman, a photographer and tech podcaster, and Sam Byford, an editor at our sister site, the Verge — consider this the best 4K monitor. And Steven Acevedo, a buyer at Adorama, likes all of LGs monitors: “They’re a go-to brand for photographers, filmmakers, gamers, and any other type of content creator due to their high resolution and vivid color displays,” he says. Stalman praises the Ultrafine’s color accuracy out of the box, along with its “great pixel density and sharpness. It’s the best match for pairing with a Mac,” he says. Byford agrees, saying that the Ultrafine “works more seamlessly with macOS than any other monitor.” And although he finds the monitor “a little undersized” and the design “boring,” he says “the panel quality is excellent.” This monitor also connects via USB-C, which means it will charge your laptop when connected, leaving you with one less cable behind your desk.
Best (less expensive) 4K monitors
“This monitor boasts a fantastic 4K display that gives content creators a lot of flexibility,” Acevedo says. “It has remarkable pivot and tilting functions that allow for great ergonomics and control.” Melendez also praised this monitor for its reasonable price and features. It’s USB-C-compatible and has a refresh rate of 60Hz.
Alan Zilberman, PR manager at Laptop MD says the Dell P2721Q is “perfect.” This 27-inch 4K monitor “has lots of port options, such as HDMI, USBC, and Macbook/Chromebook external monitor connection capabilities. On top of that, you can charge USB-C compatible devices [by plugging them] into the monitor,” he says. It also has a 60hz refresh rate, and it can tilt and swivel, even allowing you to set it in a vertical position — all for less than $500.
Best large-screen 4K monitor
Scott D’Alessandro, a senior software engineer at Fullstack Academy, started using this 43-inch monitor almost two years ago. “I extensively researched my options since I wanted something that wouldn’t strain my eyes,” he says. “It offers a lot of real estate and allows me to condense a two-monitor setup to a single-monitor setup.” When he’s teaching classes, he also likes that “the large monitor allows you to easily split your screen so you can manage your video classroom on one half of the screen and your presentation on the other.” This option has built-in speakers along with four HDMI ports and USB-C.
Best refresh rate 4K monitor
I tested the Alienware 27-inch gaming monitor for six months. When I first turned it on, it was like the scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker gets handed a lightsaber and realizes he’s connected to the Force. The screen is wonderfully bright, making it especially good for colorful games like Overwatch and Apex Legends, with their various map designs and wide range of characters. It has a 240hz refresh rate, which is crucial for enthusiastic gamers who need to quickly adjust to the action happening onscreen. At four times the rate of the average 4K monitor, the Alienware monitor easily rendered character animations, textures and colors at an incredible pace. I also enjoyed the anti-glare coating, which reduced the reflection of the sunlight that always slips through my shades on bright days.
Best ergonomic 4K monitor
Seth Miranda, who manages Adorama’s Twitch and TV channels, says this monitor is an excellent value proposition. You get “resolution, color gamut to cover your sRGB needs, and P3 color space for your Apple needs when editing.” He also says that, even though the monitor tops out at 60hz, the other features more than make up for it. “You have AMD FreeSync to work with your graphics card, and you get built-in speakers, along with a killer stand that allows you to work standing or sitting. You can even spin it sideways.”
Best 5K monitor
Yes, this is a story on 4K monitors, but two of our experts recommended this 5K screen, which has a 5120 x 2880 resolution compared to 4K’s 3840 x 2160. That gives you more-vibrant images and is most useful for serious creative professionals. It has an IPS panel, USB-C compatibility, and a 60Hz refresh rate, plus speakers and a built-in camera. “If you’re into drawing, graphic/game design, autocat, or trading, this is the choice for you,” Zilberman says.
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