The best monitor 2018: the top 10 monitors and displays we’ve reviewed

Best monitor
With many types of monitor out there, which one is worth the cash?

The best monitors won’t necessarily make your computer any faster, but they can make things look a lot better – and can even boost your productivity. You don’t even need to worry about spending a fortune  – many of the best monitors you can buy in 2018 are affordable enough for anyone to get in on the action. They can also feature high resolutions and refresh rates, which can make your work smoother and less of a strain on your eyes.

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to pick up one of the best monitors. So, whether you’re looking for the best gaming monitor to keep up with your gaming PC or the best USB-C monitor for your brand new MacBook Air, TechRadar has you covered. And, you can trust our picks – we’ve tested and reviewed them ourselves.

Black Friday is on the way, and it will show up before you know it. There are going to be so many of the best monitors on sale this year, so you should keep an eye on your favorite retailers, along with manufacturers like Dell, HP and more. Even PC manufacturers like Apple will probably hold sales on some of the best monitors to support their own products. And, of course, keep it locked to TechRadar for all your holiday shopping needs. 

1. BenQ PD3200U

Top for (some of) the gamers and pros

Screen size: 32-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 8.5kg

4K resolution
Large screen
Design may seem dull to some
Some features a bit niche

Now that computers are equipped with the encoding technologies that can natively display at the intended resolution, 4K monitors are in increasingly high demand. That explains why BenQ has added the PD3200U, a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display, to its Designer Monitor range. Intended for worker bees, the company has, seemingly by mistake, crafted a screen that gamers can enjoy wholeheartedly as well, so long as they can fit it on their desks. Then again, given the comparatively sluggish 4ms response time, the PD3200U is best suited for creators. 3D designers, for instance, will be grateful for the inclusion of a CAD/CAM mode, while everyone else will revel in the factory-calibrated color accuracy and Rec. 709 adherence. 

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

2. AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition

Ultra-wide on steroids

Screen size: 35-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 2,500:1: | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 26 pounds

Phenomenal color performance 
120Hz refresh rate 
Clunky OSD menu 

The AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition is marketed as a gaming monitor, but if you need an ultra-wide monitor, you really can’t do much better. With its sublime color support, strong contrast ratio and lightning-fast 120Hz refresh rate – everything you do on your PC is going to feel quick, snappy and it’ll look good while doing it. It’s kind of expensive, but this ultra-wide monitor can significantly boost productivity, so it’s totally worth it – it’s one of the best monitors you can buy today, as long as you have the hardware to drive it. 

Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition 

3. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Expensive, but beautiful

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 600 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 50,000:1 | Color support: Adobe RGB 99% | Weight: 28 pounds

HDR 
Beautiful image quality 
Very expensive 

When it comes to the best monitors, sometimes we’ll come across something that manages to combine so many high-end features that it seems almost alien – the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is one such display. Not only does this gorgeous display feature an Ultra-HD 4K display, but it tops that off with HDR and Nvidia G-Sync tech – a trifecta of high-end features that makes this the best monitor you can buy today, if you have the cash. If you’re doing any kind of photo or video editing work, you really can’t go wrong with this display.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ 

Display

4. Acer Predator X34

A gaming monitor with attitude

Screen size: 34-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3440 x 1440 Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms G2G (grey-to-grey) | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 100 million:1 | Colour support: SRGB 100% | Weight: 9.9kg

Aggressive design
Perfect color accuracy
Limited port selection
Underpowered speakers

When you start to grow weary of the same old 16:9 aspect ratio, nothing hits the spot like a cinematic 21:9 display. It’s probably not the best for watching Netflix or YouTube, but the Acer Predator X34 is a great example of what an ultra-wide monitor can do. Boasting an attractive aluminum bezel and polygonal stand that resembles a bird’s foot, this massive 34-inch monitor is a wonder to look at. More importantly, armed with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech, you won’t need V-Sync stressing out your graphics card. The Acer Predator X34 does all the heavy lifting for you. This is about as immersive as a gaming monitor gets. 

Read the full review: Acer Predator X34

5. Dell UltraSharp UP3218K

Back to the future

Screen size: 32-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 7,680 x 4,320 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 6ms | Viewing angle: N/A | Contrast ratio: 1,300:1 | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 8.5kg

Stunning 8K resolution
Nice design
Very pricey
Limited 8K content

Rarely we run into the kind of technology that’s so far ahead of what everyone else is doing that we’re left dumbfounded. The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is the most recent example. Finding a monitor that can reach the raw beauty that the UltraSharp UP3218K does would simply be nearly impossible. It’s not just the resolution, either – Dell went a long way to make sure that the build quality and color reproduction were the best in the business, and it pulled it off. It’s a very expensive monitor, but it is aimed at professionals – it’s unlikely many consumers would have the horsepower to drive this thing anyway. So, if you’re a professional looking for the best monitor for your work, look no further. 

Read the full review: Dell UltraSharp UP3218K 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the BenQ PD3200U 

6. BenQ EX3203R

High-res, low-cost

Screen size: 31.5-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Color support: DCI-P3 90% | Weight: 13.4kg

Affordable 
Great for gaming 
Sub-par HDR implementation 

If you’re looking for a great 1440p monitor with HDR for multimedia and gaming, the BenQ EX3203R might be the best monitor for you. This monitor is notable because it manages to bring in a ton of high-end features into a monitor that is extremely affordable. And, while 32 inches might sound like a bit much for a monitor, the 1800R curvature on this BenQ panel means that it’s easy to use, both for productivity and for immersion in your games and media. 

Read the full review: BenQ EX203R 

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Acer S277HK  

7. Alienware 25

A ubiquitous solution to screen tearing

Screen size: 24.5-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: sRGB 119% | Weight: 11.7kg

Great design
High refresh rate
Expensive
Only 1080p

Depending on your budget, it might break the bank in classic Alienware style, but Dell’s 25-inch gaming monitor won’t let your screen tear. Whether you’re siding with Team Red or Team Green for your graphics needs, there’s a configuration designed with specifically you in mind. Taking away some of the heavy lifting away from the GPU that would otherwise be spent on VSync, the Alienware 25’s 120Hz refresh rate might actually be viable. So, as long as your graphics card can handle it, you can expect to reach 120 frames per second. The 1ms response time is just gravy.  

Read the full review: Alienware 25 

8. BenQ Zowie XL2540

A monitor tailored to the needs of professional gamers

Screen size: 24-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1000:1 | Color support: NTSC 72% | Weight: 7.5kg

High refresh rates
Easy setup
Expensive
Limited appeal beyond pro gamers

You might not believe it at first glance, but the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is every bit the gaming monitor that the Asus Predator X34 is. And though it may not seem it from the outside looking in, it does its job remarkably well too, sacrificing dazzling lighting effects for a zippy 240Hz refresh rate and nigh-instantaneous 1ms response time. There’s no G-Sync or FreeSync, as this monitor assumes you already have a rig that’s plenty capable of eliminating screen tears on its own. Instead, this monitor keeps it simple by supplying you with lots of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens.

Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540

9. LG 34UC79G-B

A reasonable entryway to ultra wide and FreeSync

Screen size: 34-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,080 | Brightness: 250 cd/m2 | Response time: 10.3ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1000:1 | Color support: sRGB 92.1% | Weight: 8.6kg

Curved 21:9 screen design
AMD FreeSync
Lesser resolution than rivals 
Ineffective gaming modes

If you’re running games using a weaker GPU and you’re looking to get into ultra-wide displays without spending a fortune, you might want to check the LG 34UC79G-B out. This monitor, measuring in at 34-inches diagonally, is equipped with AMD FreeSync for screen tear elimination and a 21:9 aspect ratio best suited for games and cinema. Despite its resolution being lower than other ultrawide displays out there, this LG monitor pulls off a crisp image nonetheless – and with stunning color accuracy at that. Plus, you can change the height, which is more than can be said for even some of the more expensive 4K monitors out there. 

Read the full review: LG 34UC79G-B

10. HP Omen X 35

Ultra-wide, ultra-colorful

Screen size: 35-inches | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 2,500:1: | Color support: sRGB 98.7% | Weight: 26.4 pounds

Color accurate 
G-sync enabled 
 Expensive 

If you’re planning on picking up a new Nvidia Turing graphics card on launch (we can’t blame you), you’re going to want a monitor that can take advantage of that powerful graphics card. The HP Omen X 35, then, might just be the best gaming monitor for you. Rocking a WQHD panel with 98.7% sRGB coverage, the best PC games are going to just pop on this display. And, it’s G-sync enabled, so you don’t even need to worry about screen tearing or artifacting. 

Read the full review: HP Omen X 35 

Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article