The best 4K monitors for desktops | PCWorld

2022-08-08 09:15:44 By : Mr. Myron Shen

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4K resolution is going mainstream—even among PC monitors. Delivering a pixel count four times higher than a 1080p display, 4K provides a massive and obvious improvement to image quality. It’s useful not only in games and movies but also when editing documents or browsing web pages. The extra pixels make text look clear and crisp.

Here are the best 4K monitors available today. If you’re looking for additional options, we also have roundups of the best monitors overall and the best gaming monitors. 

Updated 08/05/2022 Check out our latest review of the LG DualUp 28MQ780-B. A one of a kind 16:18 aspect ratio monitor. It isn’t 4K, but for content creators looking to get a secondary display, the unique size just might be what you’re after.

The Dell U3223QE, which also tops our list of the best monitors overall, is an excellent 4K monitor for professionals and everyday users who want excellent image quality. 

Technology is what sets this monitor apart. It has a new IPS Black panel that offers roughly twice the contrast of computer monitors with older IPS panels. This provides a richer image with a better sense of depth and darker black levels in dark scenes. The U3223QE also has a high maximum brightness and excellent color performance with high color accuracy. Images are vibrant and true to life. 

Yet there’s more to the Dell U3223QE than image quality. It’s also a versatile USB-C hub monitor with up to 90 watts of Power Delivery. The built-in hub has multiple USB-A ports, Ethernet, and even DisplayPort out. 

This is a 32-inch 4K monitor, which may be too large for some desks. Dell also has a 27-inch model, the U2723QE, which offers 4K resolution and the same IPS Black panel. We haven’t reviewed that model but expect it will deliver similar performance.

Want a great 4K monitor, but need to spend less than $500? The Asus ProArt PA279CV is an excellent choice.

The ProArt PA279CV is a 27-inch 4K monitor that targets entry-level professional use. It has excellent color accuracy, high maximum brightness, and a good contrast ratio for an IPS monitor. 

This monitor also throws in USB-C connectivity. It’s not a great USB-C hub, as it has only a couple USB-A ports, but it offers 65 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet.

Asus throws in adaptive sync support compatible with AMD and Nvidia video cards. This prevents screen tearing and provides smooth motion in 3D games. The monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. 

The ProArt PA279CV carries an MSRP of about $500, but that price can swing significantly lower when retailers run a sale. We recommend waiting for a discount if possible.

Want a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate for smooth gaming? The Dell G3223Q is an excellent option. 

The G3223Q is a 32-inch, 4K monitor with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz and support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro (Nvidia G-Sync also works, unofficially). You can play games at high refresh rates with no screen tearing and smooth frame pacing. 

You’ll find two HDMI 2.1 ports on the rear. They’re great for connecting a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X game console, since you can play at each console’s maximum resolution and refresh rate. There’s also a DisplayPort input for connecting your PC. 

None of this would matter if the G3223Q’s image quality wasn’t excellent—but it is. The monitor has great color performance, high brightness, good contrast, and a razor-sharp image thanks to its 4K resolution. 

It’s a good value, too. The G3223Q is towards the low end of pricing for a 32-inch, 4K 144Hz monitor but doesn’t sacrifice features or build quality to achieve it.

Want the last word in high-resolution, high-definition gaming and entertainment? You need a fantastic HDR monitor like the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX.

This monitor has a Mini-LED backlight with 1,152 independent backlight zones. The backlight greatly improves the monitor’s contrast ratio and achieves eye-searing levels of brightness in small areas of the display. The monitor’s maximum sustained brightness is exceptionally high, as well. 

As a result, the PG32UQX delivers excellent detail in bright areas of the screen while maintaining good contrast and black levels in darker scenes. It also has exceptional color, which further contributes to a great HDR experience. Overall HDR performance rivals the best HDTVs and blows away most HDR monitors.

This is also a 4K 144Hz monitor with support for Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate. HDMI 2.1 is missing, but Xbox Series X|S consoles can achieve 4K 120Hz over HDMI 2.0 through a chroma subsampling mode. 

The only problem? You can expect to pay up to $3,000 for this monitor. Viewsonic’s XG321UG is a less expensive alternative that performs similarly, though it lacks 4K 120Hz support on Xbox Series X|S.

A 32-inch 4K monitor is great for everyday PC tasks like web browsing and document editing, but it can be more than that. Monitors in this category are an ideal substitute for a television in a small mixed-used space like a studio apartment, rented room, or dormitory. 

Samsung’s M8 Smart Monitor leans into this by fusing the features of a Smart TV with a traditional 32-inch 4K monitor. The monitor comes with a remote and runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system. You can access streaming content, like Netflix or Hulu, directly from the monitor.

Yet this is still a great PC monitor. A connected PC or other external device can be used by flipping the input source, as you would on a television. Image quality is solid with excellent sharpness, top-tier contrast, high brightness, and attractive color performance. 

The monitor also comes in a variety of attractive stand and bezel color options, with a detachable webcam, and has a USB-C port with up to 65 watts of Power Delivery. It supports Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 5, too.

4K monitors are more expensive than other monitors, so they pack numerous features and a quality display panel. A typical 4K monitor will have features that are optional on a 1080p monitor. Still, there are a few details you should know before buying a 4K monitor.

USB-C is an excellent choice for connecting a 4K monitor to a modern laptop with USB-C or Thunderbolt. USB-C can bundle Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode, which means the monitor can charge a connected device while it outputs video to the monitor. Some monitors, like the Dell U3223QE, are USB-C hubs that expand connectivity for the connected device.

Most 4K monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate. Those that go beyond 60Hz may only support an enhanced refresh rate over a specific port, so be sure to check the specifications. A monitor will need to support HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.4 to handle 4K at up to 144Hz. 

Many 4K monitors support HDR, but most offer lackluster HDR performance. HDR will function, and may look better than SDR, but won’t approach the quality of a good HDTV. If you want quality HDR, look for a minimum of VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification (or VESA DisplayHDR True Black).

We test 4K monitors with a DataColor SpyderXElite color calibration tool. It provides objective measurements for contrast, brightness, black levels, color gamut, color accuracy, and gamma, among other metrics. These objective results can be compared with other monitors to see how each performs against the competition.

These objective image results are supplemented with our subjective evaluation of a monitor. We evaluate out-of-box image quality, sampling all types of content from gaming to movies. We look at the feature set. We closely consider details like a monitor’s on-screen menu, ergonomic stand (or lack thereof), and overall build quality.