A decent monitor can make a massive difference to your computing experience. A poor monitor not only looks horrible, but can cause eye strain and make it impossible to edit photos or video with any degree of accuracy. See all displays reviews
Conversely, a good display can increase enjoyment and boost productivity though reduced fatigue and sharper text and graphics thanks to increased screen resolutions.
Even if your display looked great when you bought it, chances are it doesn’t look quite as good now as the first time you switched it on. Monitors age, and as they do so their picture quality gradually decreases over time, growing dimmer as colours shift ever further away from their original hues. It’s likely that a monitor which is several years old will no-longer be able to display the full range of colours expected of a new display.
Other than price, your first consideration is likely to be size. This will be down to how much space you have available and personal preference. Linked to size is resolution: a monitor with more pixels will display a sharper image, but text and icons will reduce in size unless you configure your operating system to enlarge them. If your eyesight is poor, you may prefer to go for a large monitor with a medium resolution, such as a 27in with 1920 by 1080 pixels, but smaller 24in and 23in screens often offer the same number of pixels for less money.
There are several different types of panels used in modern displays. The least expensive is the twisted-nematic type, often called simply TN. These displays can respond very quickly to fast-moving graphics and are therefore great for action-based gaming, but suffer from narrow viewing angles and the worst colour reproduction. A narrow viewing angle means that, especially for larger screens, edges of the screen may show an apparent shift in brightness or colour, even before you move your head around.
Much wider viewing angles and improved colour reproduction can be had from In Plane Switching (IPS) displays, which have long cost a lot more. They are much better suited to any work involving photography, graphic art of video and are generally more relaxing to use than a TN display. The good news is that the price of IPS has fallen dramatically in the last two years.
Is your current monitor perched atop of a pile of books? If so, you should consider a replacement featuring a height-adjustable stand rather than the basic tilt. Swivel and pivot adjustments offer more options such as using your monitor vertically rather than horizontally.
A glossy screen coating can look impressive, but is also susceptible to unwanted reflections. Your choice will be a matter of personal preference. Look for a monitor with the highest contrast ratio you can find, to get a sharp, clear picture with deep blacks and punchy graphics. High brightness isn’t important unless you want to sit back and use your monitor like a TV in a brightly lit room.
If you have no speakers on your PC, you may want to go for a monitor with built-in speakers and perhaps a headphone socket. And fans of Windows 8.1 or Android may want to consider a touch-enabled display.
Be sure to check the inputs of your monitor match the connectors on your PC or laptop and also make sure your computer can provide output at a resolution high enough for your display. This is particularly important for monitors supporting better-than-HD resoltuions such as 2450 by 1440 pixels.
Most users should look for a monitor featuring as close as possible to 100% sRGB coverage. Lower than this will result in unimpressive “washed out” colour reproduction. Going above 100% is great for those working with print and professional equipment, but careful calibration and setup will also be required to avoid incorrect colours.
The best monitors between 23 and 29 inches
- Reviewed on: 22 August 13
- Price: £355 inc VAT
The AOC Q2963PM’s ultra-wide display could be well suited to cinematic film playback, side-by-side documents and immersive widescreen gaming. However, its unconventional 2560 by 1080 resolution may cause issues with titles that aren’t expecting the 21:9 aspect ratio. The display also sits quite low on the desk and is without any height adjustment.
- Reviewed on: 12 December 13
- Price: £299 inc. VAT
The Hazro HZ27WIE is noticeably imperfect, but offers enormous value for money. Its large size, combined with its high-resolution and IPS panel is unheard of at this price. However, its powerful blacklight can't be made dim enough and its power consumption is outrageously high. It also suffers from a somewhat hand-built feel and stiff control buttons.
- Reviewed on: 28 November 13
- Price: £370 inc VAT
The HP Envy 27 comes with stylish looks, a big glossy screen and speakers built in. It’s asymmetric design makes it seem to float in mid-air, and it delivers punchy-contrasty images. However, it doesn’t offer the pixel resolution of Hazro’s HZ27WIE and costs considerably more.
- Reviewed on: 24 September 13
- Price: £330 inc VAT
If you're itching to add some touch capability to a Windows 8 PC, then this is a simple and effective way of doing it. Picture quality is a step up from cheaper TN-based displays, but you'll be compromising on both style and picture quality when compared to regular non-touch IPS monitors.
- Reviewed on: 04 December 13
- Price: £449 inc VAT
Overall, we are impressed with the Philips 272P4. While it's not exactly the most stylish display for home use, it's aimed more at professional applications and its feature set reflects this. We have no complaints about picture quality and its ergonomic features are first-class. There are less-expensive 27in displays available with a similar level of image quality and pixel resolution, but much of the price of this display goes towards its extra features and adjustable stand.
- Reviewed on: 24 October 13
- Price: £170 inc VAT
The Samsung S24C650PL is a basic but high-performance PC monitor that's suited to the office or the home. It has notably good image quality and a simple unadorned aesthetic that should ensure it doesn't date or draw unnecessary attention from its principal task of showing your PC's graphical interface
AOC’s Q2963PM stands on its own as the only 21:9 ratio ultra-widescreen display in the group. It’s great for watching films, but not all games will support its unconventional screen dimensions.
The 23ET83 is the smallest display here, measuring just 23in, but offers the same 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution as many 27in displays. More importantly it’s the only display here to support touch input, so it’s a choice for fans of Windows 8 apps. It’s small size also helps keep the price down to an affordable £230
If you have rather more to spend, HP’s Envy 27 features a very modern, stylish design which should appeal to those who care about appearances in their home. It’s a good multimedia choice, featuring beat-in speakers and a bright, glossy display with plenty of contrast. It’s less convenient for work though, with zero stand adjustment and a glossy screen that will splash reflections all over your spreadsheets.
Most expensive of the bunch, the Philips P272P4 combines the higher resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels, with a fully-adjustable stand and excellent image quality. Built for performance rather than style, it’s looks won’t be a talking point, but it could be a great boost to productivity.
Hazro’s HZ27WIE is not without faults, but at only £250 offers tremendous value for money, offering a 27in IPS display with 2560 by 1440 pixels for at least £100 less than any other 27in screen in this round-up. It’s therefore Highly Recommended for all but the most exacting of users.
If either space or your budget is tight, the Samsung S24C650PL is a great choice. At £178, it’s by far the least expensive monitor here and comes with a high-quality PLS panel, an ergonomic stand and flexibly connectivity options. With built-in stereo speakers and a 3-year warranty, it qualifies as Best Buy for anyone who doesn’t need a bigger or higher-resolution display.