The Best Monitor Buyer’s Guide – Fall 2021

By Ari Altman | Published September 19, 2021 | Updated September 19, 2021

Samsung Odyssey G9 NeoA New Monitor Is Your Best PC Upgrade!

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.  And for Fall 2021, our Monitor Buyer’s Guide continues to feature the latest and greatest offerings, a total of ten models in all, half of them brand-new for 2021. This just goes to show just how fast the industry is moving.

From mainstream to 4K to ultra-wide, there’s something new and better at every pricepoint! And a quick shoutout to gamers: yeah, the video card market has been hugely disappointing for far too long, but rather than holding your breath for that to change anytime soon, use the money you’ve saved up on a new gaming monitor and get the most from your current PC right now!

It’s the Golden Age of the PC Monitor!

There’s a monitor in our guide for everyone, from home and small office users, content creators, traders, 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 (at minimum we recommend 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 the big names in TV, LG and Samsung, plus the elite gaming brand Gigabyte. This is pushing innovation forward and bringing prices down. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer!

A Quick Primer on Frame Syncing Technology

Gamers who have been out of the market for a while may want to learn more about 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.

Final Thoughts

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 – Fall 2021

Home/Small Office

  • The 24-inch Small Office Monitor

    Sceptre E248W-19203R

    $148

    This monitor offers a 24″ 1920 x 1080 panel, a 75Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling, a slim bezel for sleek looks, as well as dual HDMI inputs and a VGA input. It even has built-in speakers!

    The Guru’s Tip

    To use the built-in speakers, we recommend connecting this monitor to your PC using an HDMI cable.

  • The 27" Productivity Monitor

    Acer KA272U

    $230

    As is typical of an Acer monitor, this one packs in a tremendous amount of features for the price. It offers a big 27″ 2560 x 1440 IPS panel, a 75Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling than typical 60Hz monitors, a Displayport and dual HDMI 1.4 ports, plus an included HDMI cable.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This model competes in price with many 24" 1080p monitors!

  • The 32-inch 4K Monitor

    LG 32UD60-B 4K

    $290
    Looking for the best high-end content creation monitor available at a bargain price? This is it! It gives you a great view of your desktop, thanks to its massive 32″ 4K panel! It also includes a highly-adjustable stand for proper ergonomics.
    The Guru’s Tip

    LG is offering this at a price so close to typical 27" 1440p monitors that it's practically a must-buy if you have the space for it!

  • The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor

    Acer EI342CKR

    $440

    It wasn’t long ago that monitors with the specs of the Acer EI342CKR would cost twice as much, so there’s no doubt that Acer is offering tremendous value in a high-end model here. You get a huge 34″ curved VA panel with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 , a refresh rate of up to 144Hz for smooth motion, HDR 400 certification, and 93% of the DCI-P3 color space. It’s equipped with dual Displayport and dual HDMI inputs for the ultimate in flexibility, and an HDMI cable is included.

    The Guru’s Tip

    While marketed as a gaming monitor, this professionally-styled and high-performance monitor would be at home in any small office (as long as you have the desk space for it!).

  • The 38-inch Ultra-Wide Productivity Monitor

    Acer XR382CQK 37.5″ Ultra Wide Curved

    $900

    With a massive resolution of 3840×1600 and a highly-curved 38″ panel, this ultra-wide from Acer is the perfect professional monitor. It can easily support viewing three standard-sized windows side-by-side. We prefer this monitor to 4K models for serious productivity work, as running a typical 32″ 4K (3840×2160) monitor at native resolution will make charts and documents unreadable. You’re much better off going with an ultra-wide model with slightly lower resolution, as it will actually provide more usable space on screen.

    The Guru’s Tip

    Remember, this isn't just bigger than 34"-class ultra-wides, it's also higher resolution, allowing you to make use of that extra space!

Gaming

  • The 24-inch 165Hz Gaming Monitor

    Asus VG248QG

    $200

    Asus pioneered the high-refresh rate gaming monitor years ago, and has returned to the mid-range market with the VG248QG, which boasts amazing specs for the price. It gives you a 24″ 1920×1080 TN panel with a refresh rate overclockable to 165Hz (144Hz is standard), plus a 0.5ms (GTG) response time. It boasts adaptive-sync technology compatible with both Nvidia and AMD to provide stutter and screen tearing, plus a highly-adjustable stand to dial in just the right ergonomics.

    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

    $297
    Offering up a 27″ 2560×1440 IPS panel capable of a 170Hz refresh rate, and enhanced with FreeSync frame-syncing technology, this is a true high-end monitor that won’t break the bank! Gigabyte may be new to the monitor market, but it’s making a huge splash, offering up tremendous quality at low prices. Previously, you couldn’t get anything but an inferior TN panel for this price!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Most competitors are stuck at 144Hz, but Gigabyte has punched it up to 170Hz!

  • The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor

    LG 34GP83A-B

    $799

    LG has leapfrogged the competition in the gaming monitor space thanks to its clearly-superior tech. It’s definitely learned a thing or two from making the best TVs in the world! The 83A offers the very best specs you’ll find in its class, namely a 34” 3440 x 1440 curved Nano IPS panel with an amazing 1ms response time, an amazing 160 Hz refresh rate, DCI-P3 98% Color Gamut, and VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification. It’s of course equipped with AMD FreeSync Premium, which works with both AMD and Nvidia GPUs.

    The Guru’s Tip

    While 4K is most definitely a thing, ultra-wide gaming may in fact be superior, despite the lower resolution, due to the enhanced immersion you get from the wider viewport. If this model is too rich for your blood, check out the 34" ultra-wide listed in the Small Office section above, which comes in around half the price.

  • The 32" 4K 144Hz Gamer's Dream Monitor

    Gigabyte AORUS FI32U @Newegg

    $1000

    It took seemingly forever for the elusive 32″ 4K 144Hz panels that gamers had dreamed of for years to finally hit the market, and surprisingly Gigabyte was first out of the gate with one widely available at retail. Known for its high-end video cards and motherboards, Gigabyte has quickly made a name for itself in the gaming monitor market, and the AORUS FI32U (AORUS being Gigabyte’s gaming brand) simply astounds with its features. Get a load of these specs: a 31.5″ 3840 x 2160 4K IPS panel, 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms (GTG) response time, FreeSync Premium Pro, 10-bit color, 95% DCI-P3 color space, and VESA DisplayHDR 400. Folks, this is a heck of a monitor for the price!

    The Guru’s Tip

    For years, 4K gaming monitors were stuck at 27", which is simply too small to take advantage of the immense resolution.

  • The Ultimate Gaming Monitor

    Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

    $2500
    Samsung has changed the gaming monitor market… again! As if the original G9 wasn’t enough, now Samsung has gone and added a mini-LED backlight with over 2000 dimming zones, allowing for insane HDR 2000 performance. And like the previous G9, it still sports a massive 49″ panel with a 240Hz refresh rate, a super-ultra-wide resolution of 5120 x 1440, full G-Sync capability, and a massive 1000R curvature. For gaming, there is nothing else!
    The Guru’s Tip

    Be sure you have space for this monitor on your desk - it's about 17" deep!

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