Finally. We are now entering the age in which 4K technology is becoming as commonplace as traditional HD. Sure, it’s still much more expensive, but there are now a ton of options when it comes to 4K monitors. Not only that, but 4K content is still rapidly on the rise. With all that said, now might be the perfect time to start looking at adding a 4K monitor to your setup. If you’re ready – let us help you find the best 4k monitor for you.
Not seeing what you would consider to be the best 4K monitor? Let us know about it in the comments below so we can check it out!
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What is the best 4K monitor?
Let’s jump in and take a look at what might be the best 4K monitor for you. Not sure what to look for? At the bottom of this guide are some tips to understanding 4K and what to look at when picking out a new 4K monitor.
LG 27UD68P-B (Best Overall)
Finding a 4K monitor that is well-rounded, checks most of the boxes, and also doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg is no small feat. However, the LG 27UD68P-B fills that role pretty well. It’s not outlandishly expensive, it performs pretty well and it would be a great addition to pretty much any setup.
Great price and value. At $459, this is certainly one of the more affordable 4K monitors you can get. And, at that price point, you’ll still find a decent spec sheet – a beautiful 27” display with HDMI support, VESA compatibility, FreeSync and all of the ergonomics you might require.
Color accuracy out of the box. The BenQ PD3200U took our spot for the best 4K design monitor, but LG’s 27UD68P-B also comes with factory calibration that does a great job of accurately representing colors. The aren’t perfect (which we will get to in a bit) but they are totally fine for everyday users who are browsing the web, and doing creative work as a hobby or semi-professionally.
Can double as a gaming monitor. As I mentioned above, LG’s 4K monitor has some pretty impressive specs to live at the price range that it does. The HDMI 2.0 support means that you can display 4K at 60Hz from devices such as an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro. Or, if you fancy yourself more of a PC gamer, there is the FreeSync compatibility. We get into a little more detail about what FreeSync actually is in our best gaming monitor article. But, put simply, if your computer is running an AMD GPU, FreeSync ensures that your monitor and GPU are displaying the same frame at the same time, so you don’t experience tearing.
No USB ports. Ok, the most obvious downside with this monitor is that there are no USB ports. None at all. This is pretty upsetting when you consider you are paying almost $500 for a monitor. If it actually had USB ports, it would be even more of a multi-function monitor, but without being able to plug in additional peripherals, charge up devices, etc. – it just is what it is. Not sure what the justification is here.
Color calibration needs work for pros. The color calibration out of the box is great for the everyday user. But, if you are a professional photographer or designer, there are likely going to be some tweaks that you need to make in order for this to meet your liking. However, with professional calibration tools, you can improve the color settings from what is delivered from the factory.
Takes up a lot of space. Finally, as you might tell from the pictures, this monitor is going to take up a lot of space on your desk. While the crescent-shaped monitor base gives off a nice aesthetic, it also contributes to the monitor’s excessive footprint. I am certainly one that appreciates good design, but in this scenario, I would opt for a flat, rectangular base.
Acer Predator XB321HK (Best 4K Gaming)
Acer is one of those brands that are known for their impressive gaming gear, and their monitors are absolutely nothing to scoff at. Their Predator XB321HK landed a spot on our list of the best gaming monitors in general. It looks mean and has the specs to back it up. If you’re able to find the cash to pick it up, we would consider this to be the best 4k gaming monitor.
Massive screen. The first thing you will notice about this monitor is the size. As large as a number of TVs, this 32″ screen will give you plenty of real estate for intricate games, but also provide an immersive experience for FPS. One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that with a screen this size, you’ll want some distance between the monitor and your eyeballs to maximize the viewing experience.
Beautiful colors and image reproduction. Not only is this display huge, it’s also beautiful. The 4K IPS panel offers outstanding colors that are sharp and vibrant. The contrast is also good enough for games that involve very low-light scenarios. Of course, since the panel is IPS, the viewing angles are great as well.
G-Sync. You aren’t going to find a super high refresh rate on this monitor since it is 4K, but with G-Sync compatibility, if you have an NVIDIA GPU (GTX 650 Ti or better) in your gaming rig, you won’t have to worry at all about tearing during your gaming experience. Even though the min-spec for G-Sync is a GTX 650 Ti or better, you might want to consider a much more powerful GPU to power this 4K display.
Lower refresh rate. As you will find with most 4K monitors, the Acer Predator XB321HK doesn’t have the highest frame rate ever. In fact, it’s only 60Hz which nowadays you can find in most TVs. However, the reality is that with a 4K display of this size, you wouldn’t be able to run most games at a much higher refresh even if it had the capability. Basically, what this means is that you might pick up on more motion blur in fast-paced games and might not be able to react quite as quickly in certain scenarios.
Price. Holy moly, this thing is expensive. To be fair, you are getting a massive 4K display with a handful of great features for gaming specifically, but $1,000 is a hard pill to swallow.
BenQ PD3200U (Best for Designers)
When you think of BenQ, your mind might automatically go to gaming, since they’ve made a name for themselves in that space with the likes of their BenQ XL2430 Zowie which landed a spot on our best budget gaming monitors article. However, they haven’t limited themselves to gaming-friendly monitors. In fact, BenQ has an entire line of monitors tailored to designers, and with the BenQ PD32000U 4K monitor, you can see why they might be something you would consider.
Color accuracy. For starters, the BenQ PD3200U comes factory calibrated to have very accurate color representation. Important to designers, the monitor boasts a 100% sRGB gamut in addition to the Rec. 709 spec which is something that professional video editors will find attractive. For photographers and designers who need a monitor that represents all colors, this is a solid choice.
HDMI 2.0 Support. If you’re going to be shelling out this amount of money, you’re going to want the latest and greatest. BenQ’s monitor delivers on that with built-in HDMI 2.0 support. What this means is that your 4K display can run at 60Hz through the HDMI port, allowing you to connect devices such as the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or a 4K enabled Roku.
Productivity machine. This monitor is really a jack of all trades – literally. It’s great for designers, video editors, and even animators or CAD professionals. Baked into the monitor are various picture modes that adjust contrast, brightness, and color temperature to bring out the most detail. There’s also a Hotkey puck that allows you to quickly switch between them (reminiscent of the Zowie) and the KVM Switch even allows you to control two computers with one mouse and keyboard. Dope.
Plain design. Personally, I am a fan of understated monitors when it comes to their aesthetic, but I can see how this might be a con for others. The bezels aren’t as thin as many monitors on the market, there aren’t any flashy features, and the base of the stand is a bit on the larger side. This might be a downside for you, but the screen is really what I’m worried about.
Not great for gamers. If you want a monitor that can serve as the best of both worlds, this isn’t going to be great for gaming. You won’t find FreeSync or G-Sync, and the refresh rate is a modest 60Hz. However, as I mentioned earlier, you can connect your Xbox One X or PS4 Pro to this, so that’s pretty cool.
Dell P2415Q (Best Budget)
It’s nearly impossible to write a best monitor article without including Dell at some point on the list. Making it on our list as the best budget 4K monitor is the Dell P2415Q. If you can’t stand looking at your 1080p monitor any longer and just have to get into the 4K market, this is a great entry-level option.
Great budget-friendly option. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another monitor of the same caliber at a price as low as $310. In fact, I might venture to say you just won’t. At that price, you are getting a reasonable 24” IPS display with a 60Hz refresh rate. You’re also getting a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and the full suite of ergonomics. Not a bad deal at all.
IPS produces good viewing angles and colors. I’m actually quite happy to see an IPS panel in this monitor as opposed to something a TN panel that traditionally produces less accurate colors and worse viewing angles. The Dell P2415Q actually has impressive color reproduction for a budget-friendly unit. Of course, it’s not quite what you will get out of the box from the BenQ PD3200U, but for everyday users, you’ll be pleased.
Simple design. Again, I know design is subjective. However, I would consider the fact that this monitor has a nice, simple design that isn’t trying too hard a pro. It fits well with any environment, be it at home or at work. It also has a matte screen as opposed to a glossy screen which is excellent if you’re working in a space with a lot of overhead light or direct natural light. The base is minimalistic and doesn’t take up too much space, and as I mentioned earlier it has all of the ergonomic adjustments that you might need, such as height, tilt, swivel, and pivot.
Lots of little trade-offs. Let’s not forget that this is a budget option. And, no budget monitor comes without its tradeoffs. For starters, you won’t find HDMI 2.0 here – just HDMI 1.4. So that means you won’t be connecting your Xbox One X or your PS4 Pro. There’s also a 6ms GTG response time which isn’t great for gaming and can lead to slight ghosting and motion blur. And finally, there are no built-in speakers. If you can get past some of these trade-offs, this is still an excellent monitor for the money.
LG Ultrafine 5k (Best for MacBook Pro)
Ok, off the bat this isn’t exactly a 4K monitor, but considering that what you are looking for in this post is the best monitors with incredible resolution, I felt it was appropriate – sue me. You might recall that the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor was first debuted back in 2016 alongside the new MacBook Pros and has since served as the replacement for Apple’s Cinema Display. As it turns out, this is still an incredible choice for MacBook Pro users, or really any macOS user who has a computer that supports Thunderbolt 3.
5K display. The obvious pro here is the stunning 5K display. LG’s Ultrafine monitor is arguably one of the best panels you can buy still to this day. It’s not often that you will find a monitor that will rival that of the MacBook’s built-in display, but this one actually stacks up. It’s very bright at 500 nits, it has an excellent contrast ratio at 1,100:1 and the colors are some of the most vivid you will ever see. Working in front of this thing is pure joy.
Excellent pairing for MacBook Pros. As I alluded to, this a great monitor to pair with your MacBook Pro. All of the new Pro models since 2016 support Thunderbolt 3 – even the non-Touchbar models. You won’t find Thunderbolt 3 on the non-Pro models, however. So what makes these two a great fit? Well for starters, the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor can actually charge your laptop, so you only need one cord to pull double duty.
A nice feature here is that there is a built-in webcam so you can close your laptop and still join video conferences. And finally, since we all like to scoff at the lack of ports with the new MacBook Pros, the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor also has 3 USB-C downstream ports that can act as a hub. To be fair, you’re likely still going to need some dongles.
Simplistic design and operation. The design of the monitor is nothing special. It’s wrapped in an all-black plastic case and it has pretty sizable bezels, but all-in-all it is very minimalistic and melds well into any environment. There aren’t any over-the-top design features here, and the complete lack of buttons on the monitor means that everything is handled through software. It’s honestly a refreshing experience, though some might disagree with me.
Not a good fit for Windows users. The downside to this monitor being designed hand-in-hand with Apple is that it’s not a seamless experience for Windows users. While for macOS users, as long as your software is all up to date, the monitor is really just plug-and-play – using it with Windows means that you will have to install LG’s drivers in order to manage the settings. That’s an extra step that you won’t find with most other monitors.
Not the best performance. If you can look past the monitor’s sheer beauty for a second (I know, it’s hard to do,) you might actually be surprised by the specs. For instance, where most IPS panels will produce gray-to-gray response times of around 4ms, you’re looking at a 14ms response time here. And when it comes to refresh rate, you will get between 48 and 60Hz. Nothing special there either, granted there are a lot of pixels to power.
Very expensive. Finally, and most obviously, this is a very expensive monitor at about $1,300. For that price, you can easily find a 4K monitor that has most of the same bells and whistles, though it might not be quite as sleek or intuitive for macOS users – and you know we like ourselves a sleek experience.
What to look for when picking out a 4K monitor
Before we dive straight into the best 4k monitors, let’s take a look at a few things you need to know upfront about 4K.
What is 4K? The term 4K refers to a pixel resolution of 3840×2160. That is – 3,840 pixels along the horizontal plane of the display and 2,160 pixels along the vertical plane. Basically, where the term 4K actually comes from is that a 4K display (TV, monitor, tablet, etc.) has four times the number of pixels as a normal HD (1080p) screen. The higher the resolution of your display, the more realistic an image looks, and the more enjoyable your experience is.
The term 4K refers to a pixel resolution of 3840x2160.
4K displays come in various sizes, ranging from relatively small 24″ monitors, on up to 60″+ TV screens. The same number of pixels dispersed across larger displays means that you’ll need to be seated further back from the display to appreciate the extra resolution. Having a 4K monitor means that images will be sharper, the colors will be more vivid and render much more smooth, and your overall experience will be more immersive.
4K monitors require more power. As you might imagine, as you increase the number of pixels, the more demand that puts on your computer or connected device to power all of those pixels. As pricey as the best 4K monitor can be, the hardware you need to pipe content to it is just as pricey.
4K monitors might not be the best for you. So, even though 4K is beautiful – I mean who doesn’t want the ability to fit four 1080p videos in full resolution on the monitor at one time – the technology might not be what’s right for your requirements, especially if you are planning on doing a lot of gaming. The demand that 4K monitors put on your PC, and the limitations with the monitors themselves, means that you are often times sacrificing other features for a better picture. Moreover, these features are arguably more important than the picture.
You are often times sacrificing other features for a better picture.
For instance, the standard refresh rate you will see with 4K gaming monitors is 60Hz. Compare that to monitors of a lower resolution that are getting 144Hz refresh rates on average, and there’s a chance you’ll notice more motion blur, and might not be able to act as quickly in response to what’s happening on the screen.
4K monitors are hard on the wallet. The first 4K monitors/TVs started popping up around 2012 – 2013. Ever since then, the technology is becoming more commonplace, and the appropriate type of content has become more widely accessible. With that, prices have come down substantially, but not far enough for many people yet. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see a 4K monitor priced above the $1,000 mark – like our best overall 4K gaming monitor, the Acer Predator XB321HK. In fact, you don’t have to look too hard to find 4K gaming monitors that cross the $2,000 mark. So when it comes time to pull the trigger on a monitor, you really have to consider what’s most important in your gaming setup – resolution or performance.
At this point, 4K technology is no longer super new. And, as the technology continues to mature, the number of monitors you can get your hands on will continue to rise and the prices will continue to fall. As you can see, there are a number of great options on the market today, and as usual, it comes down to preference and your anticipated use-case when you go to make a decision on which to buy.
What would you consider to be the best 4K monitor? Let us know about it in the comments below!