Predator

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 IPS to G-Sync to FreeSync to 4K, there's something new and better at every pricepoint! Our Monitor Buyer's Guide for Fall 2018 provides you our top 15 picks starting at under $100 and going all the way up to $2,000!

The models we profile in this guide cater to various users, including home users, office users, designers, and gamers. These include models ranging in size from 21" to 35", 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 seven monitors on our list fit into this category, offering prices, features, and designs for any office environment. They start at under $100 and go up to $1,500. On the budget end, HP has really taken over the market with IPS-based models at fantastic prices, and Dell is back with a vengeance at the high-end.
  • Gaming Monitors: The last eight monitors on our list are gaming-specific monitors, which feature either frame syncing technology (AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync), much higher refresh rates (typically 144Hz), or both. Acer essentially owns the market at this point, with its crowning achievement being the Predator X27 shown above, but there are also models from Viewsonic and Samsung in the mix to keep things interesting!

Frame syncing deserves a bit of additional explanation. 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. Alas, since no monitor has both FreeSync and G-Sync, you might want to match your monitor to your video card. If you're a high-end gamer, you probably have an Nvidia card, and that's why this guide focuses on G-Sync models, but we've also listed several FreeSync models that offer exceptional value and unique features.

As always, prices are shown in real-time from our preferred vendors in the U.S., along with country-specific links for our readers in Canada, the UK, and Germany. If you decide to purchase any of the models we profile, please support this site by using the links we provide.

Monitors - Fall 2018

Home/Small Office

    The 21.5-inch Entry-Level Monitor:

    HP Pavilion 22cwa

    HP has upended the low-priced monitor market with this 21.5" screen, which offers a high-quality 1920 x 1080 IPS panel, something that's never before been available on a sub-$100 monitor. Being IPS-based, it has excellent colors and viewing angles, and no TN-based model can compare. Just note - it's not available in all markets, so we've provided substitute regional links where necessary.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model can accept HDMI or VGA inputs. To reduce costs, it does not include a DVI input.

    The 23-inch General-Purpose Monitor:

    HP VH240a IPS

    As impressive as HP's 21.5" model listed above is, its VH240a is even better. It packs in features that used to cost at least $100 more, including a 23.8" IPS panel with excellent viewing angles, a fully-adjustable stand, and even built-in speakers. Seriously, there's no reason to consider anything else under $200 at this point.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model can accept HDMI or VGA inputs, but not the common DVI input.

    The 24-inch Small Office Monitor:

    Dell UltraSharp U2415

    This stylish 24" model from Dell is ideal for home or small office use. It features an ultra-narrow bezel, zero flicker, and a refined anti-glare coating. But what makes it really special is that you get a resolution of 1920 x 1200, which is extremely rare nowadays, despite its usefulness when actually working on long documents (think Word and Excel here, not YouTube). In addition, the U2415 has extensive tilt, swivel, and height adjustments, along with portrait mode, making it ideal for just about any office environment. Plus, it's backed by Dell's unbeatable 3-year monitor warranty.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To us it's telling that multiple newer Dell models have come and gone, and yet the workhorse U2415 soldiers on. You can thank its 1920x1200 resolution, which newer 24" monitor can't match (they all come in at 1920x1080, and are usually 23.8" diagonal).

    The 32-inch 4K Monitor:

    Samsung U32J590

    With the release of its 32" UJ590, Samsung has turned the mid-range monitor market updside down! And it shouldn't be a surprise that Samsung was able to do that, given that it's by far the largest TV manufacturer in the world. Applying much of what it's learned in that arena, Samsung brings this 32" 4K VA-type monitor to do battle against 27" models that don't stand a chance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At this point, we simply can't recommend any 27" 2560 x 1440 monitors for productivity work, as they're almost all more expensive than this 32" 4K model!

    The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor:

    Dell U3417W

    Dell's follow-up to its class-defining U3415W, the U3417W boasts a panel with twice the curvature, providing an even more enveloping viewing experience. While 4K monitors have gotten all the press, the 21:9 screen format is making a name for itself. With a breathtaking 3440 x 1440 IPS panel, this model provides a wholly-different view on the PC experience. It's perfect for gamers who are over (or never jumped on) the multi-monitor craze, and it's also ideal for anyone who needs to work on multiple documents side-by-side.

    The Guru's Tip:

    There are two caveats to consider when choosing an ultra-wide monitor. First, the vertical viewing area is actually smaller than what you'll find on a 27" monitor like those recommended above, as so much of the 34" ends up being in the width. That makes it slightly less useful for scrolling through long documents. Second, ultra-wides require a tremendous amount of desk space. Due to their curvature, you have to sit further back from them than you would a flat screen, and due to their weight, they have large stands that tend to extend a bit further forward and backward than stands on smaller monitors. We recommend a desk no smaller than 3-feet from front-to-back to achieve a comfortable viewing distance.

    The 32-inch Professional 4K Monitor:

    BenQ PD3200U

    For a high-end content creation experience, step up to this 32" 4K beauty from BenQ. With its IPS 10-bit panel, it's able to achieve 100% of the sRGB and Rec. 709 color space, ideal for photo and video work.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We particularly like the PD3200U's stylish, highly-adjustable stand.

    The Ultimate 4K Monitor:

    Dell Ultrasharp 27" UP2718Q

    At 27", this monitor gives up a bit of screen real estate against the 32" and 34" options listed above, and it's also a lot more expensive. So what's the deal? Simple: true HDR10 capability, thanks to an incredible peak brightness of 1,000 nits (that's at least three times brighter than today's standard SDR displays), plus a contrast ratio of 20,000:1 and 384 local dimming zones. What about colors? How does a color depth of 1.07 billion colors sound? If you're a professional content creator, then this is the monitor for you.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This monitor in fact offers Dell's PremierColor rating, with 100% AdobeRGB, 100% sRGB, 100% Rec. 709, 97.7% DCI-P3 and 76.9% Rec. 2020. Good luck finding that anywhere else!
     

Gaming

    The 24-inch Mid-Range Gaming Monitor:

    ViewSonic VX2457-MHD

    A few things set this Viewsonic model apart from other monitors in its class. It doesn't offer higher resolution (just the standard 1920 x 1080), but it includes built-in speakers, making it particularly appropriate as a stand-alone monitor for watching streaming video or for gaming (including paired with a game console). As a bonus for gamers using AMD Radeon video cards, this model incorporates AMD's FreeSync technology to sync framerates to refresh rates within a specific range (Viewsonic doesn't specify, but it's likely 40-60fps). It includes VGA and HDMI cables, but if you'd like to use  AMD'sFreeSync, you'll need to buy a separate DisplayPort cable.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Many 24"-class monitors, including this one, are actually 23.6" diagonal.

    The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor:

    Acer XFA240

    Taking the reins from older 144Hz monitors like the Asus VG248QE (which is inexplicably still a top seller despite launching in January 2013!), the cutting-edge XFA240 from Acer is the one to beat when it comes to a serious gaming monitor at a bargain price. The most important feature this model has is an ultra-fast 144Hz refresh rate, and take our word for it... if you're a serious gamer, you want that feature. We'd put it right up there with doubling your video card power in terms of the effect it has on gaming. Being a TN-based display, this model doesn't have quite the same viewing angles or color accuracy as an IPS-based display, but it's close, and if you're a gamer, speed is what matters. Also note that unlike most inexpensive TN-based models, this one has a full range of tilt and height adjustments, which any gamer will appreciate.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You get another fantastic feature with this model: AMD's FreeSync. When using AMD Radeon video cards attached via the included DisplayPort cable, you'll have variable refresh rates, leading to ultra-smooth gaming even when framerates drop. Nvidia users need not fear, however, as this is still the best 144Hz 24" monitor in its price range!

    The 24-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor:

    Acer XB241H

    Nvidia fans looking to achieve gaming nirvana at a mid-range price, look no further than the Acer XB241H. It has the same 1080p resolution, 24" screen size, a 144Hz refresh rate as the model listed above, but adds a critical feature to the mix: G-Sync. Pairing this panel with an Nvidia-based graphics card will provide a gaming experience unlike any monitor that's come before it. By matching the video card's frame rate to the screen's refresh rate, you'l experience no more blur, no more tearing, and no more lag. Ever. What makes G-Sync so amazing is that you don't actually have to shoot for 144Hz to get smooth gaming. In fact, you'll have a better experience at 30-45 frames per second on this monitor than you would at 50-60 frames per second on a standard 60Hz monitor. That being said, we still recommend pairing this monitor with a serious video card, and being that it must be from Nvidia to run G-Sync, the best choice is the Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, which has plenty of grunt to push 1080p well above 60fps.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Have an AMD Radeon card and want to experience the same thing? Then go for the cheaper Acer model listed above, which includes AMD's FreeSync for "free"!

    The Gamer's Dream Monitor:

    Acer XB271HU

    The ability to run a high-quality IPS panel beyond 60Hz, let alone the 165Hz that this model runs at, was a long-standing dream for gamers. Now that dream has become reality. For an ultra-fast gaming experience without the typical TN compromises of poor color and off-angle viewing, this is the monitor you want - and it even has the added benefit of G-Sync, which provides amazing fluidity all the way down to 30fps. We consider this monitor the starting point for a true ultra-premium gaming experience. A lot of gamers may mistakenly end up ordering the Acer Predator XB271HU Abmiprz or Asus PG278Q - these are not equivalent due to their inferior TN panels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The monitor comes with a 1-meter DisplayPort cable. If you need a longer one, buy Accell's high-quality DisplayPort 2-meter cable. Lower-quality cables will cause this and all high-res/high-refresh rate screens to black out from time to time.

    The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor:

    Acer Predator Z35P

    Are you ready for the next big thing in gaming? Then feast your eyes on this 35" monitor from Acer. Representing the very best monitor for ultra-high-end gaming available today, this model uses a high-quality VA panel, has a subtle curve, as well as a big 35"-diagonal ultra-wide 3440 x 1440 resolution. But more importantly, it comes out of the box with a 100Hz refresh rate of 100Hz, overclockable to 120Hz. Of course, it carries the latest incarnation of Nvidia's game-changing G-Sync technology, which matches framerates to refresh rates. Just make sure that you have the video card to drive it, preferably an RTX 2080 model like the Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 8GB AMP.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the price on this monitor has dropped by about 33% over the course of just a few months!

    The 4K G-Sync Gaming Monitor:

    Acer Predator XB321HK

    If you're looking for a 32" 4K G-Sync monitor, this is the one for you. In fact, it's the only one of its kind ever released, and luckily, it's dropped $300 over the past few months. The XB321HK provides excellent image quality, a huge panel, and frame syncing between 30 and 60Hz. The only limitation it has results from existing Displayport technology, as it's impossible to achieve a refresh rate higher than 60Hz at 4K, and serious gaming rigs are now able to easily surpass that 60 frames per second, even at this extreme resolution. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you're looking for refresh rates higher that 60Hz at 4K, you're going to have to step down in size to 27", and step up in price by a lot! See the Acer Predator X27 entry at the end of this guide to learn more!

    The Super-Ultra-Wide:

    Samsung LC49HG90

    Samsung is serious about revolutionizing the gaming monitor market just as it has the 4K TV market, and with the LC49HG90, it offers something you simply won't find anywhere else: a monitor that's truly as wide as your desk, offering the ultimate in gaming immersion! Using a 49" diagonal 3840 x 1080 HDR panel capable of 144Hz refresh rates and AMD Freesync, this model is absolutely one-of-a-kind. Samsung realized something that no other company did: people had been putting two 1920 x 1080 screens side-by-side for years, so it made perfect sense to combine two into one chassis, add extreme refresh rates and HDR powered by Quantum Dots, and call it a day!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Yes, we know that serious gamers aren't using AMD GPUs and thus can't use Freesync. In fact, we also know that Samsung knows this, as we've talked to them at length about it. Luckily, the 144Hz refresh rate of the LC49HG90 works with any video card, and that's what really makes gaming feel smooth.

    The Ultimate Gaming Monitor:

    Acer Predator X27 bmiphzx

    Over a year and a half in the making (yes, we previewed it at CES in January 2017!), the X27 Predator finally arrived in the Summer of 2018, and boy, was it worth the wait! It offers the previously unheard of combination of 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rates, and adds Nvidia G-Sync and HDR capabilities as the cherries on top. It's simply a technological tour de force, and nothing can touch it. By the way, in case you're wondering, those "blinders" on the side aren't to stop others from seeing your screen, they're intended to block your own view of the desktop surroundings, for better gaming immersion.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Alas, this mind-blowing monitor still leaves a few things on the table for improvement: (1) an upgrade to a 32" panel, which we anticipate won't come any sooner than the year 2020, (2) lower power draw (as it currently requires an active cooling fan to run its HDR processor), and (3) true 4K 4:4:4 output at 144Hz; currently, 4:2:2 chroma subsampling is required to get beyond Displayport 1.4's inherent 120Hz refresh limit.

  1. The 21.5-inch Entry-Level Monitor HP Pavilion 22cwa ($90.00)
  2. The 23-inch General-Purpose Monitor HP VH240a IPS ($120.00)
  3. The 24-inch Small Office Monitor Dell UltraSharp U2415 ($231.00)
  4. The 32-inch 4K Monitor Samsung U32J590 ($395.00)
  5. The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor Dell U3417W ($699.00)
  6. The 32-inch Professional 4K Monitor BenQ PD3200U ($700.00)
  7. The Ultimate 4K Monitor Dell Ultrasharp 27" UP2718Q ($1300.00)
  8. The 24-inch Mid-Range Gaming Monitor ViewSonic VX2457-MHD ($139.00)
  9. The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor Acer XFA240 ($200.00)
  10. The 24-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor Acer XB241H ($346.00)
  11. The Gamer's Dream Monitor Acer XB271HU ($600.00)
  12. The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor Acer Predator Z35P ($860.00)
  13. The 4K G-Sync Gaming Monitor Acer Predator XB321HK ($878.00)
  14. The Super-Ultra-Wide Samsung LC49HG90 ($913.00)
  15. The Ultimate Gaming Monitor Acer Predator X27 bmiphzx ($2000.00)