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Best monitor 2021: the top 10 monitors and displays we’ve reviewed

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Included in this guide:

Monitors against a gray background
We’ve compiled a list of our picks for the best monitor of 2021. (Image credit: Future)

The best monitors are an essential part of any PC setup, whether it’s for work, for gaming, or just to upgrade from your laptop’s small display. While a subpar option might get you by, an excellent monitor will enhance the way you interact with your computer, especially if you have a top-notch gaming PC or a powerful one for content creation.

These monitors bring a whole lot more to the table beyond giving you higher resolutions and better image quality. They have better features, a wider color gamut, and excellent viewing angles – not to mention, are kinder to your eyes. So, by choosing the best monitor for your setup, you’re doing yourself a favor.

No matter if you’re diving into the most graphically intense PC games, creating content, or just doing everyday productivity work from home, one of the best monitors will deliver a superior viewing experience.

3D designers particularly love the BenQ PD3200U.

(Image credit: BenQ)

Top for (some of) the gamers and pros

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+4K resolution on a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display+Great for 3D designers as well as gaming
Reasons to avoid
-Some features a bit niche

Now that the best PCs can handle 4K easier than ever before, the best 4K monitors are all over the place. That’s why BenQ released the PD3200U, a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display, as part of its Designer Monitor range. 3D designers particularly love this display, thanks to the factory-calibrated color accuracy and CAD/CAM mode. Marketed to creatives and professionals, BenQ has designed, seemingly by mistake, a panel that gamers will enjoy as well, making it one of the best monitors all-around – so long as they can find the space for it on their desks.

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

The LG UltraGear 38GN950 is the monitor for serious gamers.

(Image credit: LG)

A killer ultra-wide gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 38-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3840 x 1600
Brightness: 450 cd/m2
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Color support: DCI-P3 98%
Weight: 20.3 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Super-responsive and smooth with its 160Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time+Many great gaming-centric features makes it worth the price
Reasons to avoid
-HDR can’t compete with high-end TVs

It’s hard not to be impressed by the LG UltraGear 38GN950. If you’re looking for the ultimate gaming monitor, this is certainly the one to beat, with a 144Hz refresh rate that can be easily overclocked to 160Hz, 1ms response time, spectacular image quality, and many other gaming features like G-Sync, an ultra-wide aspect ratio and DisplayHDR 600. If you’re serious about gaming, then this is the gaming monitor to get – if you can afford it, that is.

Read the full review: LG UltraGear 38GN950

The 4K photo monitor, BenQ SW321C PhotoVue, is both for gaming and content creation.

(Image credit: BenQ)

Affordable pro-level 4K photo monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 32-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 250 cd/m2
Response time: 5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: 99% AdobeRGB, 95% P3, 100% sRGB
Weight: 25.6kg
Reasons to buy
+Improved brightness and color uniformity+USB-C connectivity is a boon to content creators
Reasons to avoid
-‘Paper Color Sync’ needs refining to be truly useful

Pro-level displays are no longer the premium priced, inaccessible purchase they started out to be. At least as far as the BenQ SW321C PhotoVue is concerned. This 32-inch 4K photo monitor is up a step or two in terms of both performance and usability, featuring an incredibly wide color gamut of 99% of the Adobe RGB color space and 95% of DCI-P3. If you’re in the cinematography or photography sphere, that’s exactly what you need. And, that’s on top of all the other features this monitor boasts. This is among the best monitors you’ll find for photo and video editors, and the best part is you’re getting it for cheaper than all others.

Read the full review: BenQ SW321C PhotoVue

The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ combines so many high-end features.

(Image credit: Asus)

Expensive, but beautiful

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+HDR 1000 is well implemented+Beautiful image quality great for gaming as well as other media consumption
Reasons to avoid
-Very steep price tag is not for the budget-minded

If you’ve been searching for one of the best monitors, and you’re ready to just give up and buy the most expensive monitor you can find, you’re in luck. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ combines so many high-end features that it almost seems like too much. It doesn’t just feature a 4K UHD display at 144Hz, but it also rocks Nvidia G-Sync and HDR. This is simply the best monitor on the market, but it will also cost an arm and a leg. If you’re playing games, doing photo and video editor work, or even just general desktop work, you can’t go wrong with this monitor, as long as you have the cash to shell out.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ 

The Dell 4K S3221QS Curved Monitor is gorgeous and excellent for both gaming and work.

(Image credit: Dell)

Best curved 4K monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 31.5-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Curve radius: 1800mm
Viewing angle: 178/178
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Response time: up to 4ms
Contrast ratio: 3000:1
Color support: 1.07 billion colors
Reasons to buy
+Picture-in-picture with two PCs is a nice touch+Built-in speakers deliver surprisingly decent sound quality
Reasons to avoid
-Small port selection might limit some users

The Dell S3221QS is a gorgeous monitor inside and out. Its simple yet elegant silver design gives it a unique look that sets it apart from all the gamer-centric or boring black office monitors you're most likely to find. It comes with a stunning 4K VA panel to match, making everything from movies to gaming a pleasure to watch. And, to make it an even better proposition, it’s got some great features as well – namely, decent-sounding speakers and an interesting picture-in-picture functionality that will let you display two different computers in the same display. That’s pretty nifty and a great way to make up for the fact that there’s no USB-C connectivity.

Read the full review: Dell 4K S3221QS Curved Monitor

The Acer Predator X34 is a fantastic example of what an ultra-wide monitor can do.

(Image credit: Acer)

A gaming monitor with attitude

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Aggressive gamer's aesthetic is appealing+Perfect color accuracy makes it great for more than just gaming
Reasons to avoid
-Limited port selection and underpowered speakers

When you’re growing tired of the same old 16:9 aspect ratio, nothing hits the spot like a cinematic 21:9 display. It’s not the best for watching Netflix or YouTube, but the Acer Predator X34 is a fantastic example of what an ultra-wide monitor can do. Boasting an eye-catching aluminum bezel and polygonal stand that looks like a bird’s foot, this massive 34-inch monitor is a marvel to behold. More significantly, armed with Nvidia’s G-Sync tech, you won’t require 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 can get, and one of the best monitors to buy this 2021.

Read the full review: Acer Predator X34

The Asus Designo Curve MX38VC has a massive 3,840 x 1,600 resolution.

(Image credit: Asus)

Whole wide world

Specifications
Screen size: 37.5-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 1,600
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Response time: 5ms G2G (grey-to-grey)
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: 1.07 million colors
Weight: 9.9kg
Reasons to buy
+Huge screen real estate for immersive gaming+Qi wireless charging is a nifty addition
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of HDR is disappointing especially for that price

Ultrawide monitors have been around for a while: they’ve constantly made it on folks’ the best monitors list for a few years now, in fact. These wide monitors are lifesavers when it comes to productivity, and they’re only increasing in popularity. The Asus Designo Curve MX38VC, however, takes it to the next level. Not only does this monitor have a massive 3,840 x 1,600 resolution, but with USB-C compatibility and a Qi wireless charger built into the base, it’s going to be a workplace companion you won’t want to live without. It’s a tad pricey, and doesn’t feature HDR, but that’s a worthy sacrifice, especially for professionals.

Read the full review: Asus Designo Curve MX38VC 

The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K's build quality and color reproduction are the best in the business as well.

(Image credit: Dell)

Back to the future

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Stunning 8K resolution future-proofs your rig+Nice design that fits right in your office
Reasons to avoid
-Limited 8K content means you won't take full advantage of that 8K resolution

We don’t usually run into technology that’s so far ahead of the curve that we’re left dumbfounded, which is why the Dell UltraSharp UP3218K has impressed us even more. Finding one of the best monitors that can reach the raw gorgeousness this one can should be next to impossible. It’s not just the resolution, either. Dell went so far as to ensure that the build quality and color reproduction are the best in the business as well. The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is aimed at professionals, obviously, so if that sounds like it’s made for you, it’s probably the best monitor you’ll ever find.

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 

The BenQ EX3203R offers a ton of high-end features in a product that is very reasonably priced.

(Image credit: BenQ)

High-res, low-cost

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Reasonably priced for something with many high-end features +1800R curvature makes gaming immersive
Reasons to avoid
-Sub-par HDR implementation 

If you’re looking for a first-rate 1440p monitor with HDR for multimedia and gaming, then the BenQ EX3203R might be the display for you. One of the best monitors this 2021, this one’s noteworthy as it offers a ton of high-end features in a product that is very reasonably priced. Sure, 32 inches might sound like a bit much for a monitor, but the 1800R curvature on this BenQ panel means that it’s easy to use, both for productivity, as well as 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  

The LG 32UN880 UltraFine Display Ergo has a versatile mount

(Image credit: LG)

A beautiful display at any angle

Specifications
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: 10.30 kg
Reasons to buy
+Versatile monitor stand that allows it to go in any direction+Beautiful picture quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not bright enough for true HDR

The LG 32UN880 UltraFine Display Ergo has done something cool. Instead of going for the same homogeneous mount and stand that all monitors have, it has opted for a C-Clamp, One Click Mount that allows it to extend, retract, go high, go low, tilt and pivot like no other. That’s versatility turned up to 11. It also boasts incredible color accuracy and beautiful picture quality. The best part is that you’re getting all that without burning a massive hole in your pocket. This is, without a doubt, among the best monitors out there.

Read the full review: LG 32UN880 UltraFine Display Ergo

The MSI Optix MPG341CQR has a super-wide resolution, incredibly fast response time and a viewing angle of 178 degrees.

(Image credit: MSI)

MSI’s hot new 34-inch gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 34-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: 400 nits
Refresh rate: 144Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 3000:1
Color support: sRGB 105%
Weight: 21.16 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Great gaming performance and punchy image quality+Really strong overall feature set
Reasons to avoid
-This class of monitor is expensive

If you’re searching for a gaming monitor with a super-wide 1440p resolution, incredibly fast response time of 1ms, a viewing angle of 178 degrees and a quick refresh rate, then the MSI Optix MPG341CQR is something you should consider. If not for those, then perhaps for the fact that MSI has decided to go with a VA panel, as opposed to IPS, giving it more contrast and punchier colors. A few bonuses are included, as well: snazzy “Mystic Light” RGD LEDs, USB-C connectivity, an integrated camera and a competitive price.

Read the full review: MSI Optix MPG341CQR

How we test monitors

Testing monitors is more involved than you think. We don’t just set one up and use it as our main monitor for a few days, taking down notes. Sure, we utilize it for our day-to-day workloads, watch movies and shows with it, and play our favorite AAA games on it so we can gauge its real world performance.

But, we also test very specific things like color reproduction, refresh rates and response times, and viewing angles. We check to see just how smooth, clean, and artifact-free its image quality is as well as how good its marquee features like HDR, adaptive sync technology, RGB lighting, and curvature. 

Of course, we note its design, aesthetic, and other physical features like how thin its bezels are, how good its port selection is, and how durable its build is.

Finally, we gather all that information and compare it to its price tag, to see if it’s a great value to consumers or if it’s worth the price, even if it is touting a steeper price tag.

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based editor, writer and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. She is a regular contributor for Thrillist, TravelAge West, HuffPo Travel, Paste Magazine, and Travel Pulse. She has written for publications like Nylon, Fodor's and SmarterTravel, and is also the contributing editor for MiniTime.com.