The Best Monitor Buyer’s Guide – Summer 2021
Technology is always on the move, and there’s no area where you can see the benefits of upgrading more than by going with a modern display. From FreeSync to 4K to ultra-wide, there’s something new and better at every pricepoint! And for Summer 2021, our Monitor Buyer’s Guide continues to feature the latest and greatest offerings, a total of ten models in all, running the gamut from home office PC monitors under $150 to ultra-elite gaming models approaching the $1,500 pricepoint!
The models we profile in this guide cater to various users, including home users, office users, designers, and gamers. They include models ranging in size from 24″ to 49″, and just about every resolution you can think of, from 1920 x 1080 to four times that (3840 x 2160 or 4K). But there’s more to monitors than just size and resolution. Therefore, we’ve broken down our picks into two main categories:
- Home- and Small-Office Monitors: The first five monitors on our list fit into this category, offering prices, features, and designs for any office environment. They start at just over $100 and go up to around $1,000.
- Gaming Monitors: The last five monitors on our list are gaming-specific monitors, which at this point must feature both frame syncing technology (AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync) and high refresh rates (typically 144Hz, but our picks now go up to 240Hz). There’s no reason to buy a “gaming monitor” that doesn’t have both of these features today. While Acer and Asus used to dominate the gaming monitor market, there’s more competition than ever, including from big names like LG and Samsung, which is pushing innovation forward and bringing prices down. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer!
Now, before we move onto our product recommendations, we should explain the concept of frame syncing. This method of displaying images on screen matches a monitor’s refresh rate to frames rendered, rather than refreshing at a locked 60Hz. Sounds simple, but it’s actually revolutionary. By eliminating lag and screen tearing caused by too many or too few frames being displayed, frame syncing provides truly fluid images. There are two types: Nvidia’s G-Sync, which requires additional hardware in the monitor along with a licensing fee that drives up the price, as well as AMD’s FreeSync, which uses capabilities built into the DisplayPort standard. While this led to confusion among gamers for years, Nvidia finally relented in early 2020 and unlocked FreeSync compatibility in its modern GPUs via drivers. Today, any monitor marketed as “G-Sync Compatible” actually works on either Nvidia or AMD GPUs! With that said, “G-Sync” monitors still only work on Nvidia GPUs, and we typically only recommend those to gamers using ultra-high-end Nvidia GPUs. To see our recommend video cards, definitely check out our Video Card Buyer’s Guide.
As always, prices are shown from our preferred vendors in the U.S., and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with automatic substitutions made where necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the models we profile, please support this site by using the links we provide.
Monitors – Summer 2021
The 24-inch Small Office Monitor –
HP 24mh IPS Monitor$125
This stylish monitor from HP gives you everything you could want in a mainstream model at a great price. It has an IPS panel for great viewing angles, a 23.8″ screen size with an ample resolution of 1920 x 1080, a 75Hz refresh rate (making moving images look smoother than typical 60Hz models), plus height-tilt adjustment to provide an ergonomic position. In terms of connectivity, it has VGA, DisplayPort, and HDMI, and it even has built-in speakers!The Guru’s Tip
This model can accept DisplayPort, HDMI, or VGA (analog) inputs, but not the common DVI input.
The 25" Productivity Monitor –
Acer BW257 bmiprx$203This stylish 25″ model from Acer is ideal for home or small office use. It features an ultra-narrow bezel, along with an extended resolution of 1920 x 1200 (rather than 1920 x 1080), which is extremely rare nowadays, despite its usefulness when actually working on long documents (think Word and Excel here, not YouTube). In addition, this model offers up extensive tilt, swivel, and height adjustments, along with portrait mode, making it ideal for just about any office environment.
This monitor accept DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA cables, and actually includes the DisplayPort and VGA cables right in the box!
The 32-inch 4K Monitor –
LG 32UD60-B 4K$349Looking for the best productivity monitor for around $400? This is it! It gives you a great view of your desktop, thanks to its massive 32″ 4K panel! In its price range, it does battle against 27″ 1440p models that are no longer even worth considering.
This monitor includes a highly-adjustable stand for proper ergonomics.
The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor –
Samsung Business CH890$622
While 4K monitors have gotten all the press, the 21:9 screen format is making a name for itself among those who typically would run dual monitors side-by-side. With a breathtaking 3440 x 1440 curved VA panel with a 100Hz refresh rate, this model provides a wholly-different view on the PC experience. It’s ideal for anyone who needs to work on multiple documents at the same time. It even has a modern Type-C port with DisplayPort and Power Delivery for viewing from and charging the latest laptops simultaneously! Being a business-oriented monitor, this model is backed by a 3-year warranty.The Guru’s Tip
The 100Hz refresh rate, along with FreeSync, are typically features aimed at gamers, but they also make scrolling and moving windows much smoother.
The 38-inch Ultra-Wide Productivity Monitor –
Dell U3818DW @Newegg$1029For a high-end content creation experience, step up to this 38″ 3840×1600 beauty from Dell. With more vertical pixels than most ultra-wides, plus that huge 38″ panel, you’ll find plenty of space to work on this model.
Another cool feature of this monitor is its built-in KVM switch, so you can use it and any attached keyboard and mouse with two PCs without disconnecting any cables!
The 24-inch 165Hz Gaming Monitor –
Asus VG248QG @Newegg$200 The Guru’s Tip
This monitor has HDMI v 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, and dual-link DVI-D ports. Use DisplayPort to take advantage of its high refresh rate.
The 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor –
Gigabyte M27Q$320 The Guru’s Tip
Most competitors are stuck at 144Hz, but Gigabyte has punched up to 170Hz!
The 34-inch Gaming Monitor –
Acer Nitro XZ342CK$428 The Guru’s Tip
You can drive this monitor using either DisplayPort or HDMI 2.0, and both cables are included!
The 34-inch Gaming Monitor –
MSI Optix MPG341CQR @Newegg$650 The Guru’s Tip
Note that most gaming monitors have moved from 4K to ultra-wide resolutions, which is why we don't recommend true 4K monitors for gaming. Yes, "4K Gaming" is still a catch phrase, but no, most people aren't actually gaming in 4K, because ultra-wides have better gaming specs for the price plus better immersion.
The Ultimate Gaming Monitor –
Samsung Odyssey G9$1400 The Guru’s Tip
Be sure you have space for this monitor on your desk - it's about 17" deep!
Total Cost: $
- The 24-inch Small Office Monitor – HP 24mh IPS Monitor ($125)
- The 25" Productivity Monitor – Acer BW257 bmiprx ($203)
- The 32-inch 4K Monitor – LG 32UD60-B 4K ($349)
- The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor – Samsung Business CH890 ($622)
- The 38-inch Ultra-Wide Productivity Monitor – Dell U3818DW @Newegg ($1029)