What are the best monitors in 2021?
With the majority of people unable to enter the office in 2021, it’s never been more important to have your own computer setup. But what are the best monitors for the job?
We’ve rounded up the best monitors you can currently buy, from budget-friendly panels to wide-screen monsters that gamers will adore. We’ve also made sure to cater for as many budgets as possible.
If you’re looking for a display for gaming purposes, we recommend checking out our Best Gaming Monitor round-up instead. It may also be worth checking out our Best Laptop guide if you fancy a more portable computing setup. But if you want a monitor that excels at day-t0-day tasks, check out our list below.
1. Philips Brilliance 328P
An affordable 4K monitor for the office
- Fantastic contrast levels
- Mid-range HDR protocol supported
- Loads of versatility
- Good colours
- Not the best HDR available
- Not great for gaming
- Uniformity is disappointing
- Occasionally clumsy to use
For those after a large 4K monitor for office work, the 32-inch Philips Brilliance 328P is a fantastic option thanks to its affordable price
Its colour accuracy is generally good enough for content creation, but the lower than optimal Adobe RGB colour gamut coverage means that digital photographers working in this space should look elsewhere. The low 60Hz refresh rate also makes it a poor choice for gamers.
But these are relatively small issues. If you just want a basic 4K monitor for your home office, then you should be more than happy with the Philips Brilliance 328P.
2. Samsung Odyssey G9
The best wide-screen monitor is also superb for gaming
- Fantastic widescreen design
- Superb 240Hz AMD FreeSync
- Great image quality in SDR and HDR modes
- Super-wide design won’t suit everyone
- Needs some more ports
- Underwhelming lighting
The best overall wide-screen monitor we’ve tested also happens to be one of the very best gaming monitors you can currently buy. The Samsung Odyssey G9 has a whopping big diagonal 49-inch screen that’s stretched out in order to make multitasking significantly easier.
While the Odyssey G9 will come in very handy for fitting lots of documents and spreadsheets on screen, it’s also superb for gaming with a 5120 x 1440 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate and certified syncing technology. It’s also great for content creation with super-accurate colour accuracy, making it a versatile monitor for the entire family.
The biggest issue with the Odyssey G9 is that it may be difficult to find a place in your home for it, although it could do with more port options with the lack of USB Type-C a strange omission.
3. Acer ConceptD CP7
Best monitor for content creation
- Superb sRGB and Adobe RGB image quality
- Good features for work and play
- Bold, great-looking physical design
- Not brilliant in HDR mode
- No USB Type-C or card reader
- Extremely expensive
The Acer Concept CP7 is the best monitor we’ve reviewed for content creation, boasting seriously impressive professional-grade colour accuracy, so photographs and artwork will look just like they should. A 4K resolution and support for DisplayHDR 1000 also ensure you’re getting one of the most impressive displays possible, whether you’re watching films, editing video or even playing games.
That’s right, while the Acer Concept CP7 isn’t technically a gaming monitor, it features Nvidia G-Sync and a 144Hz refresh rate for an impressive visual performance for fast-paced action games.
The biggest issue with the Acer Concept CP7 is its price, costing an eye-watering £1999. This means that it’s only really worthwhile if you absolutely must have professional-grade colour accuracy, as there are far cheaper alternatives otherwise.
4. HP S430c Curved Ultrawide Monitor
Best wide-screen office monitor
- Impressive screen-sharing options
- Great connectivity
- Solid mainstream image quality
- Robust build quality
- Not good enough for colour-sensitive work
- Higher resolutions available elsewhere
Looking for a wide-screen monitor for office duties? The HP S430c Curved Ultrawide Monitor is our top recommendation if you don’t want to splash the cash for the extra ‘game ready’ features of the Samsung Odyssey G9.
The wide-screen HP doesn’t have the spec credentials for gaming or the colour accuracy for media professionals, but it’s got everything your average office goer will need. There are plenty of connectivity options, a sharp 3840 x 1200 resolution and a huge 43.4-inch panel that’s ideal for having multiple windows open simultaneously.
This isn’t a cheap monitor, with more traditional shaped panels available at significantly lower prices, but it still represents good value if you make the most out of having a stretched-out screen.
5. AOC 24P2C
A basic but affordable 1080p monitor for your home office
- Loads of helpful office features
- Solid mainstream image quality
- Decent looks and a low price
- Colours are over-saturated
- A slow OSD with soft buttons
- Tinny speakers
When buying an office monitor, you probably don’t need fancy features. The AOC 24P2C is a monitor that nails the basics and is available at a very affordable price.
The Full HD resolution and respectable contrast ensure video content looks sharp, while the IPS panel provides a colour-rich presentation. The display does appear a little over saturated due to a warm colour temperature, but only picture perfectionists will likely find this problematic.
The inclusion of a USB-C port also means you can use just one cable to charge your laptop and turn the AOC 24P2C into a secondary display simultaneously. This is a great all-rounder office monitor then, but you’ll want to look elsewhere for content creation and gaming.
6. Acer ET241Y
Budget-buy monitor for the home office
- Extremely cheap
- A 1080p IPS with acceptable image quality
- Decent design with slim bezels
- Contrast and colour accuracy are mediocre
- Not many ports or features
- Few adjustment options
The Acer ET241Y only saw a three-star score in our review, but we’ve still included it in our best monitor rankings since it has such an affordable price. Costing just £89 at the time of writing, this is several hundred quid cheaper than most of the other displays on show here.
Despite its low price, you still get a reasonable Full HD picture quality. It’s certainly not accurate enough for any sort of content creation, but the contrast is adequate enough for decent viewings of Netflix and YouTube content.
It’s also lacking modern connectivity options such as USB-C, but that won’t be a problem if you’re content with HDMI or plan on hooking it up to a desktop PC. If you want a monitor with a cheap-as-possible price for day-to-day office use, then the Acer ET241Y is well worth considering.
Read our full Acer ET241Y review
Those are our top picks of the best monitors. Read on if you want to know more about what to look out for when buying a monitor.
Best Monitors Buying Guide – Jargon Buster
Brightness (luminance) – It’s worth knowing that brightness is measured in ‘nits’. Many monitors boast a maximum brightness of 300 nits or more, so you should aim for this figure or more.
Black level – This is also measured in nits, but refers to how ‘black’ a monitor can appear. The lower the number, normally around 0.3 nits or less, the better. A low black level is particularly important for enjoying high definition films and TV.
Contrast ratio – This is the difference between the darkest and brightest peak of a monitor and is expressed as a ratio. A contrast ratio of 1000:1 is considered good, but the higher the better. Anything less than 800:1 is concerning.
Input lag – This is something that mainly impacts gamers as it’s the difference in time between you moving your mouse and the action appearing on screen.
What’s the difference between Full HD, Quad HD and 4K?
Resolution is one of the most important things to consider. It refers to how many pixels make up the screen. For example, a Full HD monitor – which is the same resolution as most TVs – will have 1920 horizontal lines of pixels and 1080 vertical lines.
The higher the resolution the sharper your monitor will appear. A higher resolution also means you can fit more on a single screen, so you can view windows side-by-side at the same time.
Just remember that the bigger the screen the less sharp it will appear, so it’s better to have a higher resolution on larger screens of 27-inches and above.
There are three common monitor resolutions:
Full HD – 1920 x 1080
Quad HD – 2560 x 1440
4K / Ultra HD – 3840 x 2160
Wide-screen monitors will have more atypical resolutions, but the same rules of vertical and horizontal pixel counts still apply. Aim for the highest resolution possible, but bear in mind that smaller monitors can still look sharp with a Full HD display.
We have lots of extra information on monitor technology and how to choose what’s best for you. If you’re looking for a gaming screen, check out our guide to refresh rates. Want to know more about how colour coverage is measured, check our guide to colour spaces. Finally, if you’re curious about the differences between IPS, VA and TN screen panels, take a look at our screen technology explainer.