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 lists a dozen of the very best best monitors on the market, starting at $100 and going all the way up to $5,000!

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 six 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 BenQ rules at the high-end.
  • Gaming Monitors: The last seven 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 dominates the market at this point, with its crowning achievement being the Predator X27 shown above, but there are also models from AOC and Viewsonic in the mix to keep things interesting, and with the release of HP's amazing 65" Omen X, gamers with unlimited budgets now have the option of picking up a monitor that truly defies reality!

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 - Winter 2018

Home/Small Office

    The 23-inch General-Purpose Monitor:

    HP VH240a IPS

    HP's VH240a has reset expectations for the what your money buys you in the budget monitor segment. 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

    It used to be that you had to make a lot of choices when shopping for an office monitor in the $400 price range. Now there's only one choice: Samsung's amazing 32" 4K VA-type monitor, featuring sleek styling and a fully-adjustable stand. In its price range, it does battle against 27" 1440p models that are no longer even worth considering.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At this point, we simply can't recommend any 27" 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:

    BenQ SW271

    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 HDR capability for amazing brightness. What about colors? How does 99% Adobe RGB, and 100% sRGB, Rec.709, and DCI-P3 sound?

    The Guru's Tip:

    This monitor also features a USB Type-C port for cutting-edge connectivity.
     

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 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor:

    Acer Predator XB271HU Abmiprz

    For an ultra-fast, big-screen gaming experience, look no further than this monitor, which offers a 27" screen with 2560 x 1440 resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate, along with Nvidia' G-Sync technology. And thanks to its TN panel, it still lands in the realm of affordability!

    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 32-inch 1440p G-Sync Monitor:

    Acer Predator Z321QU bmiphzx

    It turns out that 27" panels are on their way out of production, but have no fear - you can now get a 32" gaming monitor for the same price as last year's 27" models! And there's no better pick than the new Predator Z321QU from Acer. It offers an amazing 32" curved 2560x1440 panel that's capable of refresh rates up to 144Hz, along with G-Sync technology to keep those frames sync'd with your GeForce video card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Have an AMD GPU in your gaming PC? No problem - just go for the Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ, which packs in the same tech but runs AMD's FreeSync rather than Nvidia's G-Sync.

    The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor:

    AOC Agon AG352UCG6

    Are you ready for the next big thing in gaming? Then feast your eyes on this 35" monitor from AOC. 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 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.

    The Guru's Tip:

    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 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.

    The Mythical Nvidia BFGD:

    OMEN X by HP Emperium 65 inch 4K BFGD

    In a world where vaporware releases are becoming more and more common, Nvidia has actually delivered on its mind-blowing Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) just a year after it was first teased at CES 2018. HP, Nvidia's premier partner in this moonshot endeavor, is shipping its over-the-top OMEN X with every feature you could possibly want. Here's the spec list: a 65" 4K panel, HDR-1000 certification, a 144Hz refresh rate over DisplayPort, Nvidia G-Sync, included soundbar, and a built-in Nvidia Shield for streaming. Simply put, it is the ultimate gaming display, bar none.

    The Guru's Tip:

    See our preview of the OMEN X from the showfloor at CES 2019!

  1. The 23-inch General-Purpose Monitor HP VH240a IPS ($110.00)
  2. The 24-inch Small Office Monitor Dell UltraSharp U2415 ($220.00)
  3. The 32-inch 4K Monitor Samsung U32J590 ($370.00)
  4. The 34-inch Widescreen Monitor Dell U3417W ($650.00)
  5. The 32-inch Professional 4K Monitor BenQ PD3200U ($818.00)
  6. The Ultimate 4K Monitor BenQ SW271 ($1100.00)
  7. The 24-inch Mid-Range Gaming Monitor ViewSonic VX2457-MHD ($130.00)
  8. The 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor Acer XFA240 ($200.00)
  9. The 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor Acer Predator XB271HU Abmiprz ($450.00)
  10. The 32-inch 1440p G-Sync Monitor Acer Predator Z321QU bmiphzx ($700.00)
  11. The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor AOC Agon AG352UCG6 ($780.00)
  12. The Ultimate Gaming Monitor Acer Predator X27 bmiphzx ($1800.00)
  13. The Mythical Nvidia BFGD OMEN X by HP Emperium 65 inch 4K BFGD ($5000.00)