Monitors, televisions and other screens keep looking better and better. It is almost forever ago that color on a screen was the newest thing. And as we moved through time we hit a point that screens jumped from standard definition into high definition. That came with its own argument whether 720 was really high def or if we should just stick with 1080 as the true high def. But even that is an argument of the past as today we are looking at 4K screens coming out and are hearing reports of 8K for the future. But as for today, 4K really tops the pile and seeing as how much power it takes from your GPU it might stay that way for a bit. This really does beg the question, what is the best 4K monitor?
Best is a tricky thing to nail down, as everyone has a different set of criteria for it. But we are going to take on the challenge. We will start off by looking at our picks for the best model in a number of different criteria. After that we’ll add in a buyer’s guide to help you understand what some of the numbers and jargon that show up on product pages mean. So let’s dive in.
Our first offering is from LG, they offer this set up as both a 24 inch and a 27 inch, but we feel that the 27 inch is the better choice to go with. This monitor gives you a DisplayPort connection and 2 HDMI ports. If you utilize the DisplayPort connector it is also able to work with Freesync.
This is a basic monitor that can support 4K resolution. It might not win any awards with a 5 ms response time and a refresh rate of only 60 Hz, but its main draw is the price point. At approx. $350 this is a low cost option to get you a 4K monitor from a well known brand.
As we mentioned this monitor only has 3 connector ports, while that might not be a deal break an extra DP port would have been welcome. Additionally, there is an anti-glare coating on the screen. While this can be useful it does limit the viewing angles that are usable. Finally, it would be nice to get a little bit more brightness than this screen offers.
This 27 inch monitor from Dell is a great place to enter the 4K field. It not only claims near perfect color accuracy out the box, but comes with a contrast ratio of 1000:1. This monitor has a mini-DisplayPort connector, an HDMI connector, both a DisplayPort in and out, as well as 3 USB ports.
They really got the anti-glare right on this one as it is easy on the eyes, but not overly restrictive on the viewing angles. The base that is included is also extremely stable, so you don’t need to worry about any wobble, even if you bump into your desk. A DisplayPort cable is included with the set up.
There are some issues with this monitor getting up to 60 Hz while showing 4K images. There are some places that claim that it can take care of it with an HDMI cable and others state that it will only work with a DisplayPort connection.
This offering from Asus is clearly meant for the person that truly needs the power and beauty that a high end screen can earn you. At 32 inches this screen sports both a DisplayPort connector and a Mini DisplayPort connector as well as 4 HDMI connectors. This one sports a 6 ms response time.
One of the nice touches that you will notice with this before even turning it on is that the company actually sends all the cables that you’ll need with the monitor, so you don’t have to make sure you have some extra. Also, this monitor has fantastic viewing angles, so you are able to see what is happening from just about any angle that you might come across. Finally, the stand that is included is outstanding as it is nice and sturdy but doesn’t take up a lot of real estate.
There are a few downsides to this monitor though. For one the buttons are placed on the back, making them hard to access without moving the monitor. Also, it does not automatically recognize which input is sending a signal, so if you aren’t quick enough getting to the buttons during a switch the system will turn itself off.
This display from Acer is truly a set up with gaming in mind. It is a 17 inch screen that comes ready to work with G-Sync components and sports a 4 ms response time and a 60 Hz refresh rate. It has an HDMI input and a DisplayPort connector as well.
One thing that your sure to enjoy during a marathon gaming session is the stand for this monitor. It tilts from -5 degrees to 35 degrees, can add up to five inches of height and will allow the monitor to rotate 90 degrees so that you can set the monitor however is most comfortable to you. It also boasts 4 USB connection ports for ease of connection. They also include a DisplayPort cable so you will be ready to go right out of the box.
One thing that we’d like to see is more than just two connectors. It is nice to be able to have more than one device connected via a DisplayPort connector. Additionally, you will probably have to go through a color calibration on this display, which can be quite a pain to do properly.
This monitor from LG is a nicely sized 27 inch model. It is HDR 10 compatible and supports AMD FreeSync technology. This one sports a pair of HDMI ports as well as a single DisplayPort port.
One of the top things to note about this monitor is that it gets you a 4K HDR monitor that supports HDR for just over $500. This is a solid choice for anyone that wants HDR support, but it also is another good choice for anyone that has a console that they’d like to attach to a monitor.
One of the main issues with this monitor is that it just doesn’t seem as bright as it should. Some people have gotten around this by cranking the brightness to the highest setting and leaving the black enhancement low, but it still just doesn’t seem as bright as it should.
This monitor comes from Asus and is a 28 inch model. Not only does it support FreeSync, but it can boast a 1 ms response time as well. It supports both HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity. The company also stands behind it with a 3 year warranty.
As most people will be swapping from a TV to a monitor like this, you’ll notice an incredible boost when going from one to the other. The frames per second, response time will feel like someone put jet fuel into the system and going from a 1080p TV to this 4K resolution will take your breath away.
The first thing that you’ll notice on the negative side is that this monitor has no speakers, which would be nice when working with a gaming console. Additionally, the color shift on this monitor means that it looks great when you are directly in front of it, but if you are more to the side, like a multiplayer set up things will look a little bit off.
About the ASUS PG27UQ
The first 4K monitor that sports a blazing fast refresh rate of 144 Hz is the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ. This one will be a 27 inch monitor sporting an aspect ratio of 16:9. While it has been announced to be released in March 2018 there is still no word on pricing.
As mentioned about this is your first chance to have your AAA titles presented in 4K at 144 Hz, so long as your GPU can handle that load. This model will also support HDR (high dynamic range) meaning that any game that you start off with it should look absolutely fantastic. It also sports G Sync, which is nearly mandatory for viewing anything in 4K at a 60 fps frame rate.
Currently there is no word on how much this monitor will set you back, so we really can’t determine if it is worth the price tag. Additionally, there is a little concern over how the information will get from your computer to the monitor. Even with the DisplayPort 1.4, 4K at 144 Hz won’t have the optimum 4:4:4 sampling. While these are not game enders they are things to ponder.
This 28 inch monitor from Asus is quite the fast machine. It sports a 1 ms response time and up to a 60 Hz refresh rate. It sports 2 HDMI connectors as well as 2 DisplayPort connectors to give you a wide set up of options as far as how to connect your computer.
This monitor comes with Asus’s EyeCare Flicker-Free technology to combat the flicker that can sometimes come from a screen. The EyeCare set up can also filter out the blue light that can cause added strain on your eyes. Additionally, the stand allows this monitor to easy swap from a landscape orientation to a portrait one.
One of the main issues that comes up with this monitor is that it has a backlight bleeding issue. This can make the images on the screen appear more washed out and less crisp when it comes to getting a good visual.
Now that we’ve had a good look at some of the top picks in a 4K monitor, let’s dig deeper into what a 4K monitor is, what it does for you and what you should look for in one.
This is the top of line resolution for most systems at the moment. While there are some monitors that can hit an 8K resolution, they aren’t widespread as of yet. This is where the real eye candy can be found. 4K sports four times the resolution of a 1080 monitor. However, as you might expect, the drawback comes in the amount of power your system will need to deliver these stunning visuals. A higher end card should be able to get you to 30 FPS on 4K resolution while you are playing the latest AAA game to come out. If you want a faster frame rate….well, even the top GPUs on the market are struggling to come close to 60 FPS.
One problem that you may run into is just how this resolution is named. A lot of places will just use 4K as it is simple and easy to understand that it is a big number for resolution. However, you’ll find it listed other places as UHD (Ultra High Definition) or sometimes just as 3840 x 2160. Now, if you see the numbers, those are tied to an aspect ratio, in this case 16:9. Otherwise these are all somewhat interchangeable to mean a very high resolution for insanely sharp graphics.
Now that you know what a 4K monitor is, what good will it do you. This one depends on what you do on your computer. First the bad news, you need power. Without a high-end GPU to put out those graphics at at least a decent frame rate your 4K monitor will more correctly be an overpriced lower resolution monitor. You need to look at what you will be viewing via the screen.
If you have the GPU to match and are running some of the latest AAA titles you can quickly see how amazing a 4K monitor can look. Or let’s say that you are editing some of your photos in Photoshop, you’ll love the clarity of your new 4K display. On the other hand, if you are mostly surfing the web, using a word processor or watching Youtube, you might not see the benefits of a shiny new 4K monitor.
In gaming there ae 3 very popular resolutions for use in play. The first is 1080p, this is well known as it has become the standard high definition resolution for television and movies. It is a good choice for gaming as even lower end GPU cards can handle putting out graphics at this level, sometimes even at rather high frame rates. However, it is the lowest setting that most gamers will use.
In bumping up to 1440p you will find a noticeable improvement in graphic quality. The good news is that even most modest rigs can output this level of graphics even at frame rates between 30 and 60 fps. If you are looking to go with a higher frame rate than that, you might need to look at a higher end GPU.
At the top of the heap is 4K. These will be the best graphics, a hands down improvement over any other resolution. The problem here is that rendering these graphics is a heavy burden on the resources of your system. You are going to need a top of the line graphics card and even at that point you will be rather lucky to hit a rate of 60 fps.
When it comes to the right sized 4K monitor there are a few schools of thought that you could follow. The easiest is that bigger is better. Simply buy the largest size that you can afford and that will be the best one. However, this can actually lead you to getting a larger monitor than you might truly be able to use.
While there may be some tweaks between people, we can use some math to make a few determinations. If we plug in some numbers we can come up with a few answers. For our process we’ll consider the resolution of the monitor, the distance away from the viewer, the viewer’s eyesight and size of the monitor. Since the last one is what we are after we only need to come up with the other values.
We’ll save you from sitting through a number of formulas. We know the resolution that we are interested in (4K) and we know that most monitors are placed about 22 inches away from the user. The last variable is your eyesight. Putting everything together a person with 20/20 eyesight you want your 4K monitor to be at least 28 inches to really notice a difference in performance. Smaller than that is a waste of money. On the larger end you’ll need to look at some other factors such as how much desk space is available. For most cases you’ll find that 30 to 32 inches is able as big as can easily be used.
As we’ve mentioned 4K is the top of the line in terms of resolution for many of the monitors that are currently available. When you are looking at refresh rate 144 Hz is about as fast as most systems and screens will currently go. So it is natural that if you are looking for the best of the best you’d want a screen that can do 4K with a refresh rate of 144 Hz (and probably a 1 ms response time). The problem is that we are just getting companies that are announcing these style monitors at CES. Right now there have been some that have been promised, but currently there is only one with an announced release date, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ.
As with any big purchase it helps to know a few of the biggest names in the area. In this case you probably won’t be surprised that the names that you expect to see when you look into monitors are the ones that come up. While companies like LG and Dell put out some quality products, if you are looking for a really high quality monitor you might do better going through an Asus or an Acer product. They have been the ones that tend to be putting out the highest quality monitors.
And with that you should have all the information that you need to pick out the best 4K monitor for your needs. While everyone is going to have a slightly different set of desires and expectations, so the overall best might not be the same for everyone. We started off by going over our 4K picks for a number of different categories. After that we rolled into a buyer’s guide to help through some of the various questions when it comes to purchasing your next 4K monitor. Lastly, we’d love to hear from you! If you have a 4K monitor, let us know which one you went with and why in the comment section below.