Whether you're looking for a replacement or second screen for your computer, or a top-spec 4K monitor for design work, gaming and entertainment, we've tested display options that range from cheap, compact panels to monster screens with monster prices.
Before we get into the buying advice and your options, here's a top tip: display technology does not move on at the same pace as some consumer tech and, as you'll discover in our round-up, you'll often find better value with slightly older monitors.
1. BenQ BL2780T - Best Overall
If you're looking for an affordable but still decent monitor for business or home office then the 27-inch, 4K BenQ BL2780T is a great option.
These types of monitors tend to be extremely dull but BenQ provides a good pinch of style in the mix here. There's a good level of adjustment here, including portrait mode, and the power supply is neatly built-in avoiding an annoying brick.
If you don't need a resolution higher than Full HD then the BL2780T offers excellent performance with various bits of eye comfort technology, good brightness and even 99% sRGB gamut.
Read our full BenQ BL2780T review
2. Philips Brilliance 346P1CRH - Best for Work and Play
Philips has managed to offer a rare combination here which means you can get a 34in ultrawide quad-HD curved monitor that's good for both work and gaming without breaking the bank.
The stand could be a little better but that's a minor point for a wide monitor, which can handle two machines thanks to its inbuilt KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch. A particularly handy feature if you do have separate work and gaming devices and it even has a webcam.
The panel itself is high quality, offering an excellent combination of resolution, refresh rate, response time, contrast and colour gamut. If you're looking for a wide-angle curved monitor that can do a bit of everything then look no further than the Brilliance 346P1CRH.
Read our full Philips Brilliance 346P1CR review
3. Samsung Space Monitor - Best for Small Spaces
There are pros and cons to the 27in Space Monitor.
If your desk is short of space this is one of the only monitors on the market that really solves the problem. However, it does so without offering a large amount of adjustment - there's only tilt here and no USB hub either which doesn't make sense.
If you're using wireless peripherals and the adjustment is ok for your desk, then the Space Monitor is excellent and is available at a decent amount below the RRP.
The panel itself is top-notch with the 4K VA technology providing a crisp and vivid image that will be suited to a wide range of tasks. Namely creative work but you could also use it for gaming.
Read our full Samsung Space Monitor review
4. Lenovo ThinkVision M14 - Best Portability
Those looking for a portable monitor should seriously consider the ThinkVision M14.
Lenovo has made sure this 14-inch display does exactly what it's supposed to and is a versatile second screen for wherever you are - at home or on-the-go. It offers a compact and lightweight design that's surprisingly stylish with a high-quality Full HD IPS screen including a handy low blue light mode.
The buttons are fiddly but this is a minor point as you won't need them very often anyway. You really just need to make sure USB-C connectivity is suitable for you.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkVision M14 review
5. AOC U2790PQU - Best 4K
If you're looking for an affordable 27in 4K monitor that's also stylish then the AOC U2790PQU is a solid option.
It's well-made and looks good and offers solid colour accuracy to go with its crisp resolution. The majority of tasks will look great on it but it's not perfect.
For those needing it for higher-end, demanding tasks, the contrast and uniformity being a little off might cause you to look elsewhere.
Read our full AOC U2790PQU review
6. BenQ EL2780U - Best for Consoles
As an affordable 4K 27-in screen with a high refresh rate, the EL2780U is good enough, even if the HDR part of this equation doesn’t entirely add up.
This monitor might be better utilised by PS4 and Xbox One S owners than by the PC fraternity, until the GPU market regains some sanity and HDR becomes better supported.
If you’ve got a GPU that can handle the resolution and want to spend less than premium prices, then the BenQ EL2780U is a solid purchase.
Read our full BenQ EL2780U review
7. Asus Designo MZ27AQ - Best Sound
Asus has put some attractive options in the 27in, Quad HD MZ27AQ that would work well for occasional gamers and weekend photographers alike.
The Harman Kardon tweaked speakers are especially impressive, given how abysmal monitor audio can often be.
The asking price is a little on the high side. But as we’d expect from Asus, this is a high-quality device.
Read our full ASUS Designo MZ27AQ review
8. BenQ EW2770QZ - Best for Work
Easy on the eye but not the wallet, the 27in, Quad HD EW2770QZ won’t be attracting many home users.
Where it excels is in a working environment, like an open-plan office, where depending on the time of day and weather, viewing the screen can be an ophthalmic nightmare.
In that precise scenario, the EW2770QZ has no equal.
Read our full BenQ EW2770QZ review
9. Dell UltraSharp U3419W - Best Widescreen
Ultrawide displays can replace two smaller monitors and give you an uninterrupted desktop.
Dell's curved 34in offering is very expensive, but offers top-notch quality, accurate colours, a Quad HD resolution and a USB-C port for connecting the latest laptops.
If you don't need USB-C, the U3417W has the same screen, but is cheaper.
Read our full Dell UltraSharp U3419W review
How to choose a monitor
Size is probably going to be your first concern. It used to be the case that small meant cheap, but these days even 24in panels can be considered affordable. Our general rule is go small only when space is at a premium.
The majority of modern monitors feature slim designs, with virtually bezel-less frames and decent backlighting technology. This makes it easier than ever to experiment with a multiple-monitor setup, keeping that gap between each display to a minimum - ideal if you're working from home and battling with large spreadsheets and multiple open windows.
We'd advise looking for a fully adjustable stand so you are able to easily position the display at a comfortable height. If you're going to spend hours staring at the thing, your body will thank you for maintaining a decent posture.
There is no comparison between 4K and Ultra-HD, they are the same thing - two different fancy marketing terms for the same measurement of resolution.
Screen images are made up of thousands of little dots, known as pixels, and resolution is simply a measurement of how many dots make up the picture. Resolution is therefore associated with the clarity of text and images on the screen.
The cheapest monitors will have Full-HD resolutions of 1920x1080 pixels. Ultra-HD or 4K displays quadruple this resolution to 3840x2160 pixels and thus are able to provide a much clearer image.
While 4K TVs have become significantly cheaper over recent years, 4K computer monitors can still be expensive. But if there's room in your budget to go all out on the resolution you won't be disappointed: you'll be able to see more detail in photos, stream super-high-quality 4K video, and get more realistic graphics in games. (We've rounded up some dedicated gaming monitors too.)
If you are looking at older monitors, you may still come across some TN (twisted-nematic) rather than the more modern IPS (in-plane switching), PLS (plane-line switching) and AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) options.
TN panels tend to be cheaper and can offer the very fast response times demanded by gamers, but they may also come with restricted viewing angles, reduced brightness and less vibrant colours.
Creatives will much prefer the greatly improved colour accuracy of IPS and PLS, while AMOLED is a great choice for entertainment with its rich contrast and punchy colour palette.
Brightness, Contrast & Colour
Display manufacturers tend to over-exaggerate some specifications, thus brightness and contrast measurements are often more believable when obtained from independent reviews and paired with analysis on real-world performance.
Low brightness (anything below 200 nits) is mostly a problem in overly bright or dark rooms, and when contrast is also very poor. As long as contrast is above 500:1 you should be able to easily differentiate between the very brightest and darkest images a screen can display.
Colour gamut, the spectral spread of reproduced colour within our perceptual limits, is typically expressed in terms of how complete is a monitor's coverage of standards known as sRGB and Adobe RGB. Both are good indicators of performance, but the latter a slightly more challenging spec that gets closer to the vast range of colour the human eye can appreciate.
Colour accuracy is concerned with reproducing the exact hue as intended. Deviation from true colour fidelity is represented by a Delta E figure, with lower numbers better. Close to or below 1.0 is a good achievement.
Gamers are most likely to require a fast response time, measured in milliseconds (ms).
All the monitors we've reviewed have at least two inputs, which determine which and how many peripherals you can connect. Some monitors still feature aging VGA connectors, but we'd advise concentrating on digital inputs such as DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. The latest models may also feature USB-C or Thunderbolt connections for power/charging and data transfer.
Chief among your priorities should be HDMI and DisplayPort, which are able to carry both digital image and audio information over a single cable. DisplayPort is a better choice for 4K monitors or those with high refresh rates, and is increasingly common on Macs and Windows PCs, but less so on home AV equipment. HDMI with MHL support will enable you to mirror the screen of a connected Android phone or tablet, but today you also have wireless options for achieving this.
DVI is a high-quality digital video input and popular with gamers for its lower latency, but it doesn’t carry sound. Some monitors offer ‘dual-link DVI’, which allow two DVI streams through a single connector.