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The best 4K monitors: Not just for gamers

What is the best 4K monitor? Our top pick is the BenQ EW2780U 27-inch. We analyzed and tested screen size, panel type, refresh rate, and more below.
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Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

A 4K monitor is an easy, and affordable, way to step up your PC or Mac setup. 

With four times the resolution of a 1080p HD display, you'll get better detailing, contrast, and color that enhances movies, photos, and games. They're also great for typical office work and casual home use, since that enhanced detailing can make text easier to read; which is a godsend if you work with spreadsheets and word documents all day. 

Displays with native 4K resolution used to cost a fortune, but as the technology has become more mainstream, and cheaper to produce, you can find really great monitors for decent prices; though there are still a few expensive models out there. I've combed the web to find the best 4K monitors and have broken down their features to help you find the one that best fits your budget and your needs.

Also: Best monitor: Get more productivity out of remote work

BenQ EW2780U 27-inch
BenQ

Screen size: 27-inches | Panel type: IPS | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR: Yes | Response time: 5ms

This 4K monitor from BenQ is perfect for just about everything from typical office work, streaming, and even gaming. The 27-inch IPS display features HDR support for enhanced detailing as well as the ability to produce up to 99 percent of the sRGB gamut for more vivid colors. A blue light filter helps prevent eye strain during long days in front of your computer, and the integrated speakers mean you can listen to music, watch movies, and join virtual meetings without the need for a headset. It even has integrated ambient light sensors to automatically adjust brightness depending on your environment. It also has USB-C connectivity for faster file transfers between devices as well as the ability to charge your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Pros

  • Blue light filter
  • Integrated speakers
  • Ambient light sensors
  • USB-C connectivity

Cons 

  • Somewhat disappointing refresh rate
  • No VRR support
  • No Dolby Vision support
ASUS VP28UQG 28-inch
ASUS

Screen size: 28-inches | Panel type: LED | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: Up to 120Hz | HDR: No | Response time: 1ms

This monitor is marketed as a gaming display, but it's a great option for an everyday screen as well; and the price is perfect for anyone not looking to spend more than $300 on a new monitor. It has an ultra-fast 1ms response time for near real-time reactions to your inputs, which is great for gaming as well as creative work. It also supports Adaptive Sync and AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to help prevent annoying screen stuttering and tearing that can ruin movies or make virtual meetings difficult. It's native refresh rate is 60Hz, which is fine for casual or office use, but if you connect the monitor to your desktop via the DisplayPort, you can get that up to 120Hz for streaming movies or playing games. 

Pros

  • VRR support
  • 120Hz via DisplayPort
  • Great price
  • Ultra-fast response time

Cons

  • No HDR support
  • No integrated speakers
HP U27 wireless monitor
HP

Screen size: 27-inches | Panel type: IPS | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR: No | Response time: 5ms

The HP U27 is a middle-of-the-road option that's a good choice for anyone looking to upgrade their current setup or buy their first 4K display. It has a refresh rate of 60Hz that's serviceable for everyday tasks and office work, as well as support for AMD FreeSync Premium variable refresh rate technology to prevent screen stuttering. Along with HDMI and DisplayPort connections, it also has USB ports for connecting peripherals like keyboards and mice or external storage drives. And if you hate the idea of cables and cords cluttering your desk, you can connect your mobile devices or laptop to the display via Bluetooth for wireless multitasking. It even has integrated speakers so you don't have to be tethered to your monitor via a headset for video calls and presentations.

Pros

  • Integrated speakers
  • VRR support
  • USB ports
  • Wireless connectivity

Cons

  • No HDR support
Dell UltraSharp 43
Dell

Screen size: 43-inches | Panel type: IPS | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR: No | Response time: 5ms

If you prefer a large screen when working, the Dell UltraSharp 43 is the perfect option. This truly big-screen display measures 43-inches, giving you plenty of real estate to see every detail of videos, photos, and documents. And with the Display Manager feature, you can configure how the screen tiles windows and applications for easier multitasking. The UltraSharp 43 can even remember where you left off in programs, automatically restoring your sessions even after you've turned off the display. With USB-C ports directly on the monitor, you'll not only get more ways to connect peripherals and storage devices, but you can use these inputs to charge mobile devices and even daisy-chain secondary displays if (somehow) you need even more space to work.  

Pros

  • USB-C docking
  • Great picture quality
  • Can configure display options

Cons

  • No HDR
  • No integrated speakers
ASUS ProArt 27-inch
ASUS

Screen size: 27-inches | Panel type: IPS | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR: Yes | Response time: 5ms

This is the ultimate display for creative professionals. The 27-inch screen is capable of producing up to 100 percent of both sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts for richer, more lifelike images. And each monitor is Calman certified for Delta E<2 color accuracy, so you can be confident your on-screen work will look just as great in real life. Support for HDR10 ensures excellent detailing that is important for digital painting and photo editing, while display presets and 6-axis color adjustments let you customize your palette for a signature look. Other quality-of-life features include: picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes for easier referencing and multitasking, on-screen alignment grids and rulers for scale accuracy, an ergonomic stand, and blue light filter. Along with HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity, you can use the USB-C port to quickly transfer files, charge devices, and even daisy-chain displays for when you need more room to work. 

Pros

  • Calman certified color accuracy
  • 100% sRGB/DCI-PE
  • HDR10
  • Ergonomic stand

Cons

  • No Dolby support
  • No integrated speakers

How did we choose these 4K monitors?

Aside from pricing, I carefully considered best-use cases for each product. While all are capable of excellent 4K resolution, some are better suited for creative work like animation and digital art; with factory Delta E <2 color calibration and HDR support, artists, graphic designers, and animators can take full advantage of their advanced displays. The more everyday 4K displays are perfect for working from home or casual use by the family, making it easier to read text and providing better playback for video calls and virtual meetings or classes. 

Which 4K monitor is the right one for you?

You'll want to consider desk space when shopping for a new 4K monitor, especially if you plan on creating a multi-display setup. If you want to use two or more screens, it's best to choose displays on the smaller side (between 24 and 27-inches) so as to not overwhelm your desk. You can purchase mounting arms or wall mounts for some 4K monitors, which would allow you to free up space for other work, but make sure you take note of weight and size limitations before you buy. You don't want to have your fancy new monitor fall down and smash into a million pieces because your mounting option couldn't handle it. 

If you're a creative professional who works with audio or video, an ultrawide screen is best suited for your needs. The super wide displays allow you to see more of your editing timeline to reduce frustration and better see how cuts and transitions fit into your vision. Digital artists and 3D modelers may want to opt for a big screen, like a 32-inch option, so as to have more room to work. 

4K monitor

Price

Screen size

Refresh rate

BenQ EW2780U

$449.99

27-inches

60Hz

ASUS VP28UQG

$259.99

28-inches

Up to 120Hz

HP U27

$429.99

27-inches

60Hz

Dell UltraSharp 43

$914.99

43-inches

60Hz

ASUS ProArt 

$499.99

27-inches

60Hz


Is a 4K monitor better than a 4K TV?

When it comes to using one or the other for your PC display: yes, a 4K monitor is better than trying to use a TV. It may be tempting to opt for a cheaper, smaller 4K TV to use as a monitor, but it really isn't the best idea. A TV's refresh rate is locked at either 60 or 120Hz, meaning that if you work with video or animation, your playback can get sluggish and choppy. Actual monitors are also designed for you to view up-close, unlike a TV: they have built-in blue light filters to reduce eye strain, and their aspect ratio is meant for being pretty close to your face. If you tried to use even a 32-inch TV as a computer display, you'd likely get terrible headaches from the blurry text and images as well as the blue light output.

What is the best 4K monitor?

The best 4K monitor is the BenQ EW2780U 27-inch based on our analysis of screen size, panel type, refresh rate, and response time.

Can your eyes tell the difference between 1080p HD and 4K?

They can, actually. A screen capable of 4K has about four times the resolution of a 1080p HD display; this just means that there are more pixels per inch (PPI) of screen, allowing for better detailing. When you pair greater pixel density with the higher refresh rates that 4K displays are capable of, you get smoother playback that's great for action movies, sports, and games.

How do I know if my monitor is 4K?

When you're browsing inventory, you can check the product listing for a display's resolution: if it says FHD, full HD, or (1920x1080), the screen is in 1080p. If you see 4K, then, obviously, it's a 4K-capable display. Though, sometimes, retailers will put the actual resolution (3820x2160) in the product title or specification overview. The first number doesn't matter so much, since that is the horizontal pixel count, but the second number (2160) will always indicate 4K resolution. 

If you want to know if the monitor you're currently using is 4K, there is a way to check. For Windows users, you'll click the search bar and type in "display settings," then click "additional display settings" in the side bar. Under the "scale and layout" section, you'll see a drop-down menu of your display resolution which is defaulted to your monitor's native resolution. For Mac users, you'll open System Preferences and click on Display; the defaulted selection is your screen's native resolution.

Are there other 4K monitors worth considering?

There are tons of options out there for 4K monitors other than what I've included on my list. Here are some models that I liked while researching, but didn't quite make the cut:

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