It doesn’t matter how much expensive hardware you pack into your PC, it all goes to waste without a great monitor to match. With more high-end features appearing in affordable models, choosing the best display for your needs isn’t as simple as it once was.

As 4K monitors increasingly become a popular choice among media professionals, content creators, and productivity fans, it’s the resolution of choice for our Best Overall pick, and we’ve also included an affordable 4K model. Other categories include an enthusiast pick that offers the best combination of price, performance, and features; a value monitor that gives you the best bang for your buck, and the best gaming monitor that (for now) a lot of money can buy.

Best Overall

ViewSonic VP3268-4K

Great | Differentiating Features
Factory calibrated for superb color performance and accuracy, excellent uniformity, great price for a professional monitor

Good | Most Have It
Slim bezels, flexible stand

Average | Competitors May Be Better
HDR may as well not be there, cumbersome OSD

Knocking last year’s winner—the still brilliant Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q—off the top spot in this category was no mean feat, but ViewSonic’s VP3268K-4K just manages it. This is a monitor for professionals; a fact reflected in the numerous features targeted toward pros and its lack of gamer focus—you’ll find no variable refresh rate tech here.

32 inches is generally regarded as the sweet spot for 4K monitors, and even though the VP3268-4K is aimed at the professional market, it still comes in well under $1,000. You can get it on offer from Amazon for about $820 right now.

So, what do you get for your money? There's the excellent IPS LCD panel with a 1300:1 contrast ratio, 350 nits peak brightness, excellent color uniformity, and a true 8-bit panel with support for a 14-bit Look Up Table (LUT).

ViewSonic’s monitor also supports the sRGB, Rec. 709, SMPTE-C, and EBU color spaces, all calibrated at the factory to DeltaE levels below 2.0. Each color space has its own display mode, which is selected through the OSD menu options, and comes with a calibration report.

The design is another area where the VP3268-4K excels. We get super slim bezels that create the illusion of extra screen space, as well as reducing the gap size in multi-monitor setups. There’s also a fully adjustable stand and plenty of display inputs.

There are couple of minor points: HDR support isn’t very good, partly due to the brightness not reaching high enough levels. The on-screen display can be awkward, and you’d be better off looking elsewhere if you want a monitor for gaming, though it still performs okay in this area—providing you’ve got rig that can handle all those pixels. But those caveats don’t detract from what is an excellent choice for professionals, especially at its competitive price. And it gets the seal of approval from two of our editors.

Other great 4K options

If you’re willing to pay around $400 more, there’s the Asus ProArt PA329Q, which as the name suggests, is aimed at professionals such as artists. Not only is the display bright and offers a clear image, but it is also pre-calibrated at the factory, ships with a dedicated hardware calibration app, and has a ton of features and connectivity options. Alternatively, the BenQ SW271 is another fantastic option for pros, priced at around $1,100.

Best Enthusiast Monitor

LG 34UC88

Great | Differentiating Features
Competitive price for a top-quality QHD ultrawide, great picture quality, excellent all-rounder

Good | Most Have It
FreeSync, includes USB 3.0 quick charge port

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Better ultrawides for gaming, more connectivity options would be welcome

There may be some excellent 4K monitors that don’t break the bank, but most curved ultrawide 21:9 QHD displays remain prohibitively expensive for many people. LG’s 34UC88, however, can now be found at around $600 and that's very tempting.

At 34 inches and with a resolution of 3440 x 1440, this IPS display hits the sweet spot of being sharper than 1080p without running into the GPU demands and scaling issues associated with 4K.

The monitor is a great option for both work and play. Ultrawides are fantastic for productivity, offering so much more screen real estate. The 34UC88-B has the added benefits of covering over 99 percent of the sRGB color space, supporting 10-bit color through dithering, and boasting features that include Split Screen and PIP mode. Color production is excellent, and there is no noticeable backlight bleeding.

Gamers aren’t neglected, either. Titles that support the ratio look amazing in 21:9, and the 34UC88-B comes with AMD’s FreeSync tech, a max 75Hz refresh rate, and a 5ms GTG response time. Nvidia’s G-Sync might have been a more welcome addition but that would have pushed the price up, and it’s still a great gaming display with several gamer-focused features.

Connectivity consists of two HDMI 2.0, a DisplayPort 1.2, and two downstream USB 3.0 ports — one with quick charging. As for its design; the glossy enclosure and stylish stand are two of its highlights.

There is a newer version of this monitor available, the LG 34UC98, which features two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports, but it’s a lot more expensive, and the color performance isn’t the best. Ultimately, the 34UC88-B is an excellent choice for productivity, gaming, and content consumption, all at a competitive price.

Non-ultrawide option

If you’re not keen on ultrawide screens, or perhaps simply don’t have the room, our previous favorite, Dell’s U2715H is a brilliant 1440p monitor with amazing out of the box image quality, tons of inputs (five USB 3.0s), and an excellent warranty that will see the monitor replaced if a single bright pixel is found.

Best Gaming Monitor

Dell Alienware AW3418DW

Gaming monitors is such a broad subject that we could write an entire buying guide dedicated to it... so we did just that. Check out TechSpot's Best Gaming Monitors feature which details a number of options whether you're going after a 1440p, ultrawide, 4K or simply are looking for the cheapest monitor you can buy but that is good for gaming. As for the best overall gaming monitor you can buy right now, we’ve selected Dell’s Alienware AW3418DW as the pick of the bunch.

Great | Differentiating Features
The best ultrawide for gaming available right now, G-Sync, maximum 120Hz refresh rate

Good | Most Have It
IPS, zero lag, impressive colors

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Stunningly expensive, could use more ports

If you’re not thinking of grabbing a 1440p high-refresh monitor, a high-end ultrawide should be in consideration. Like with 4K monitors, new HDR-capable ultrawides with a 3440 x 1440 resolution and a 200 Hz refresh rate have been announced but they aren’t available yet, so our recommendations at this stage are for monitors you can actually purchase. The top ultrawide panels right now are either 34- or 35-inches in size with a 3440x1440 resolution and a 100Hz refresh rate or higher.

The best ultrawide display currently available is the Dell Alienware AW3418DW, sporting a 34" curved IPS panel, good out of the box calibration, G-Sync (of course), and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate when overclocked (100Hz is the default). Reviewers tend to agree that Dell's high-end monitor is as good as it gets for ultrawide gaming with great response times and zero lag.

This 21:9 ultrawide has been carefully designed, so it will look good on your desk even if you're not a full-time gamer, with its large resolution, IPS-grade viewing angles and screen size, it's a productivity-ready monitor for use during the day as well. These features will cost you extra over the rest of the pack, but if you're after the very best, including Dell's excellent monitor support, the cost is worth it.

For a tad less, the value of the AOC AG352UCG is hard to ignore. It comes with a 35-inch VA panel, 3440x1440 resolution, a 100Hz maximum refresh, and G-Sync support, all for ~$1,000 (if you're lucky we've seen it on sale for less than $800). That’s almost FreeSync-level pricing for a G-Sync monitor, making it a steal for Nvidia GPU owners. Plus the VA panel used in this display is quite good and features an 1800R curve that works well for gaming with such a large, wide monitor.

FreeSync option

Those after a FreeSync monitor should grab the Samsung C34F791, which uses an SVA Quantum Dot panel and supports a 100Hz refresh along with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. It is slightly more expensive than the Asus MX34VQ but you get a better panel with a larger gamut.

Best Affordable 4K Monitor

Asus MG28UQ

Great | Differentiating Features
Incredible value for a 4K monitor with gaming features

Good | Most Have It
Excellent build quality

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Some viewing angle issues associated with TN panels, out of the box color accuracy could be better

There was a time when every 4K monitor out there came at a wallet-busting price, but those who love 3840 x 2160 resolutions no longer need to take out another credit card when making the jump to UHD. If you’re looking for a sensibly priced offering with great image quality, check out the $360 Asus MG28UQ.

This 28-inch monitor is a TN display which helps keep the price down. And while you might find the limited viewing angles associated with TNs, the picture is still vibrant and colorful, even with the anti-glare coating. It offers 97 percent sRGB coverage, 330 cd/m brightness, and 1000:1 contrast ratio.

Although gaming at anywhere near acceptable FPS levels requires a fairly beefy GPU, Asus does describe the MG28UQ as a gaming monitor. It features a 1ms response time, which can help eliminate ghosting in fast-paced games, and there’s also AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync tech, making this monitor an even more compelling buy for owners of AMD cards. Other gaming-focused features include crosshairs, timers, fps counters, and display modes for different genres of games (RTS, racing, etc.)

Connectivity is supplied via DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, HDMI 1.4, and two USB 3.0 ports, which can be used to charge mobile devices.

But the standout area for a 4K monitor this cheap is its build quality. The fully adjustable stand can swivel, pivot, tilt, and is height adjustable, while boasting the overall sturdiness we’ve come to expect from Asus’ monitors.

At close to $350, you’re unlikely to find another 4K monitor this cheap with so many features and such good image performance.

A more expensive option

If you’re willing to pay just over $100 extra, LG’s 27UD68-W offers phenomenal 4K performance at this price range. Like the MG28UQ, it comes with FreeSync and a range of gaming features. It also sports a stylish design and slim bezels.

Best Value Monitor

Asus VG245H

Great | Differentiating Features
A 75Hz FreeSync monitor for under $180

Good | Most Have It
Excellent design, several gaming features

Average | Competitors May Be Better
Few connectivity options

Finding an acceptable monitor under $200 isn’t an easy task. A comparatively low asking price usually equals more compromises than you might be comfortable with, but Asus’ VG245H has features and performance you wouldn’t normally see in a ‘budget’ display. Often sold closer to $200, this 24-inch 1080p monitor is our pick for the Best Value category.

While it is a TN panel, the VG245H offers good image quality and a maximum brightness of 250 nits. It also comes with Asus’ GameVisual technology, which brings six pre-set display modes for different game types. To aid weary eyes, there’s also a blue light filter setting and Asus’ flicker-free technology.

The monitor is an especially good choice for gamers who want a cheap, full HD display. In addition to the 1ms GTG response time, it also boasts a 75Hz refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync variable refresh rate tech.

Design is one area where cheaper monitors often look to save money however the VG245H copies many elements of Asus’ more expensive offerings, such as the excellent PG279Q. Thin bezels, solid construction, and stylish looks are the order of the day, and it even comes with a small hole for your cable management needs. It also boasts full height/tilt/swivel/pivot adjustments and can be fliped into portrait mode.

The weakest element of the VG245H is its connectivity options, featuring just two HDMI ports, D-Sub, and a headphone jack/line in. But this will likely be enough for those who want a cheap monitor. Ultimately, it’s hard to find real faults with the VG245H at this price point. For those interested in a multi-monitor setup that doesn’t break the bank, it’s ideal.

A bigger screen for a little more

For a little more, the ViewSonic VX2757-MHD offers similar features—75Hz refresh rate, FreeSync, game modes—in a 27-inch package. Two out of three times we'd pick the Viewsonic on top of the Asus because of the extra screen real estate but this being the budget choice, we tried to go as low as possible.