An external monitor is one of the few tech accessories that’s both practical and very fun to use. The ability to spread your work out on a bigger screen can make it easier to see, and improves your chances of multitasking effectively.
Like TVs, external computer monitors have started moving from full HD (1920 x 1080) to 4K (3840 x 2160). The result is a clearer picture whether you’re streaming videos, editing pictures, or working with spreadsheets. We already have guides for the best external monitors overall and the best curved monitors, but this one focuses exclusively on the best 4K options available right now.
More from Rolling Stone
What Are The Best 4K Computer Monitors?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best 4k computer monitor for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Screen size: The first thing to think about when buying an external monitor is deciding how large you’d like it to be. Most 4K computer monitors are around 27 inches, but we made sure to find options that were a little smaller and larger. Our guide has monitors between 23.8 and 32 inches, so you can find one that fits your personal preference and size restraints.
Resolution: All of the computer monitors we’re recommending have a resolution of 4K, which means they have twice as many pixels as a 1080P full HD display. That means you’ll be able to see more information with increased fidelity. Photos, text, and video will look a lot clearer, and you’ll notice the different immediately.
Ports: These are a monitor’s inputs, which allow you to connect your computer to them. Our picks generally have a DisplayPort and one or more HDMI ports on them, so you should be able to plug your computer into them without an adapter. MacBook users will need to use an adapter, and I recommend getting Belkin’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini dock, which features two HDMI ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and an Ethernet port.
Ergonomics: You’re going to be looking at your 4k computer monitor for several hours a day, so it’s important that it’s comfortable to use. Our minimum requirement for this guide was the ability to tilt the monitor forward and backward, some are designed to be lifted, lowered, or even rotated. Consider a monitor stand if you need a little more lift (or to clear some room on your desk).
1. BenQ EL2870U
BenQ’s EL2870U earned a place in our general monitor guide, and it reappears here because it’s still one of the best all-around options around.
Its 28 inch screen may be the standard size for 4K displays, but having such a big canvas will make it a lot easier to work with multiple apps at once. It supports HDR (high dynamic range), a video technology that improves color accuracy, and AMD Free Sync, which allows it to keep up with fast-paced action in games without stuttering. Working for long stretches of time can be hard on your eyes, but the EL2870U features Eye Care, a technology BenQ developed that reduces the amount of blue light the monitor emits. Prolonged exposure to blue light has been linked to eye strain and trouble sleeping (though not definitively).
The EL2870U has two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort, which is more than enough for you to connect your computer and other 4K compatible tech like game consoles and Blu-Ray players. The only place this 4K monitor falls short is ergonomics. You can tilt it forward and backward, but can’t lift it up and down. It is possible to attach the EL2870U to a VESA mount, an articulating arm that would give you total control over its placement, but that’s an optional extra.
If you’re looking for a great 4K monitor for casual and professional use, BenQ’s EL2870U is the right pick.
2. Acer CB241HYK
If you need a 4K monitor, but don’t have a lot of space, Acer’s CB241HYK has you covered.
The 23.8 inch screen may be the smallest option in our guide, but Acer didn’t skimp out on any important features. This external monitor doesn’t support HDR, but it can display 100% of the sRGB color spectrum, so it’s still a good pick for serious photo editors. Acer says its 4K monitor has an anti-glare screen, which you should definitely consider if you work in a room with a lot of natural light.
The CB241HYK has one DisplayPort, one HDMI port, and one DVI port, which is a fairly generous selection for a 4K monitor this small. The company also includes both an HDMI and DisplayPort cable, so you can hook it up to your computer right out of the box. This monitor also features a pair of speakers, so you don’t have to hook up an external pair of you don’t want to.
Acer says the CB241HYK has, and 178-degree viewing angles, so you don’t have to look straight ahead at it to get a clear image. That makes sense because this monitor can be tilted forward and backward, or rotated by up to 90 degrees. Portrait orientation is great for writers who want to replicate the experience of working with paper, video editors who work with vertical video, or designers who work with magazine layouts.
There’s nothing quite like having a large display in front of you, but if you don’t have the room, Acer’s CB241HYK is a no-compromise solution.
3. Philips 328E1CA
Curved displays have started becoming more common over the past few years, and Philips’ 328E1CA is a good example why.
The 32 inch display is the largest offering in our guide, and will provide the most immersive experience. The big draw for using a curved display is that it takes up more of your peripheral vision, so you can focus on your work with fewer distractions. Philips 328E1CA doesn’t support HDR, but can display 120% of the sRGB color spectrum, and 97.8% of the NTSC color gamut. It also features a technology called Mega Infinity Dynamic Contrast Ratio to improve the accuracy of color levels.
Gamers will appreciate the fact that the 328E1CA features Adaptive-Sync, a technology that helps the monitor keep up with fast-paced action. Everyone can appreciate this monitor’s low Blue light mode, which is designed to reduce eye strain during long work sessions.
In terms of connectivity, Philips did a good job. The 328E1CA has a pair of HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, and a headphone jack. The monitor also features a pair of built in speakers, which can clear some space on your desk (you’ll need it with a 4K monitor this large). This monitor’s large size made building in a lot of ergonomic features tough, so it can only be tilted backward and forward. That said, the 328E1CA is VESA compatible, so you can attach it to an articulating arm for far more placement options.
If you’ve been curious about curved displays, and have enough space on your desk, there’s no reason not to go for Philips’ 328E1CA.
4. Dell UltraSharp U2720Q
Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q is the best choice if you want a high-end monitor for professional work.
The 27 inch display only has one real downside: It doesn’t support HDR, and instead can display 95% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, 99% of the sRGB spectrum, and 99% of the REC 709 color range. It has ultra thin bezels, so it takes up less room, and an anti-glare display, which comes in handy if you’re in a bright room. While its display features are top-notch, this monitor’s standout feature is its abundance of ports.
The U2720Q has one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, two USB-C ports, three USB ports, and a headphone jack. The USB-C ports support 90W pass-through charging, so you can connect your computer to it with a single cable to fill its battery, show video, and use its USB ports for your accessories. The monitor is an all-in-one display if your computer has USB-C ports like Apple’s latest MacBooks.
Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q matches the ergonomic features of Acer’s CB241HYK: it can be tilted frontward and backward, raised and lowered, or rotated 90 degrees. You can also attach it to a VESA mount if you’d like additional positioning options. This flexibility, combined with the U2720Q’s large size, port selection, and display fidelity, makes it a very compelling choice for non-gamers.
See where your favorite artists and songs rank on the Rolling Stone Charts.