So much of your work happens with your eyes. Your workspace may have a powerhouse PC with a ton of storage, an excellent keyboard and mouse, and even a comfy chair, but if your monitor isn't any good, your work experience will suffer. For a better display that lets you get more done, you want a model that offers the specific features you need, along with the right size, resolution, and overall cost. And if you are an IT professional tasked with buying monitors for your business, basic functions and price are what matter most. You'll also have to determine what size panel works best for each employee, what features will help enhance productivity, and what kind of warranty you need. In this guide, we'll show you what to look for when shopping for a desktop monitor for work.
How Much Should You Spend?
Most businesses operate within a strict capital budget, so it's important to spend your money wisely. A basic 22-inch monitor can cost anywhere from $150 to $250, while a 24-inch model will be in the $200-to-$400 range. If you require more screen real estate, a basic 27-inch screen will run you between $300 and $500. If you want to replace a dual-monitor setup with a single monitor, consider going with an ultra-wide model. For around $600, you can get a 29-inch, ultra-wide panel that lets you easily view multiple windows using multiple input sources without having to sacrifice a lot of desktop space.
As always, be prepared to spend more for monitors with high-end, high-resolution panels and features such as height-adjustable stands, multiple digital inputs, USB ports, and webcams. For example, a 27-inch Wide, Quad High-Definition (WQHD) monitor will cost you upward of $500, while a high-end 30-inch 4K or Ultra High-Definition (UHD) display can go for around $2,000 to $3,000. Fortunately, you don't have to spend big dollars for a sizable midrange UHD monitor; plenty of 28-inch models based on Twisted Nematic (TN) panel technology can be had for around $500 or less if you shop wisely.
Size vs. Practicality
While it's always nice to work with a big screen, it's not always practical or cost-effective. A 22-inch widescreen model works for basic office tasks and will fit easily on most desktops. A 24-inch widescreen is a good fit for users who need to have more than one window open at any given time. If there's room (and budget), a 27-inch screen is ideal for multitasking, while a 34-inch, ultra-wide model offers a space-saving alternative to a dual-monitor setup.
Monitors that use TN panels are usually the most cost-effective displays because TN displays cost less to manufacture than In-Plane Switching (IPS), Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA), or Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (MVA) screens. You'll get wider viewing angles and more accurate color and grayscale performance from IPS, PVA, and MVA panels than you will from a TN display, but if you don't require a high degree of accuracy or numerous picture settings, most TN monitors should work for basic office use.
Resolving Your Resolution
These days, nearly every monitor is capable of displaying content in high definition. Models that are less than 22 inches will usually have a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768, which means they can only go as high as 720p. The most common resolution is 1,920 by 1,080 (1080p), which gives you full high definition and is ideal for watching video. For users who work with highly detailed images or are involved with graphics design, a WQHD monitor offers a 2,560-by-1,440 resolution and is typically a 27-inch model. An UHD monitor is at the top of the resolution food chain and comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 24 inches on up.
Ergonomics and Ports
As is usually the case with features, the more you get, the more you'll pay. A display with a highly adjustable ergonomic stand (height, tilt, swivel, and pivot) will cost a good deal more than a display that only has a tilt adjustment. The same goes for I/O ports; if you need DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA connectivity, you'll pay a premium. If your desktop PCs don't have DisplayPort outputs, there's no reason to pay extra for a monitor with DisplayPort inputs, but try to go with at least one HDMI port if possible, as it will connect to lots of different external devices. If you spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a screen, you may want to consider a model that offers a Low Blue Light setting that can help reduce eyestrain and fatigue.
If you or your employees are constantly plugging thumb drives and other USB peripherals into your PC, a monitor with a USB hub can be a big time-saver. Look for one with side-mounted ports, so you don't have to reach around the back of the display every time you plug or unplug a device. For users who require accurate colors, a screen with an extensive image settings menu is a must. Some models come with a bundled calibration tool, but there are several third-party solutions available as well.
Getting to the Extras
Built-in speakers can reclaim valuable desktop workspace, but they are typically underpowered and tinny sounding. If your management does not want employees listening to music or watching videos at their desks, look for a monitor without embedded speakers. The same goes for webcams; they can be useful for video conferencing, but can also be a distraction in the workplace if misused. If you plan on using wall-mounting kits to conserve desk space, make sure the monitors are equipped with VESA-compliant mounting holes. Lastly, look for a monitor that comes with a three-year warranty that covers parts, labor, and backlighting.
To get you started, we give you some of our top-rated monitors in a variety of sizes and price points. Be sure to also check out our top monitor picks, as well as our favorite displays for gaming and for photography.
%displayPrice% at %seller% The 24-inch NEC MultiSync EX241UN-BK is a well-equipped business monitor that offers some handy IT-friendly features and delivers excellent color and grayscale performance. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Dell P4317Q is a massive 43-inch Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) monitor that can display images from up to four different sources. It's loaded with video inputs and other goodies, including a USB hub, and a powerful set of speakers. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The HP Pavilion 32 Display is a very affordable 32-inch monitor that delivers inky blacks, vibrant colors, and wide viewing angles, all for less than $400. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The NEC MultiSync EA275WMi, a pricey 27-inch monitor designed for businesses that require a multi-display solution, is packed with features, and is a stellar performer. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The moderately priced ViewSonic VP2468 is a 24-inch monitor that delivers solid performance and offers a generous assortment of ports, settings, and ergonomic adjustment options. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Acer BE270U is a well-equipped 27-inch monitor that offers solid grayscale performance, advanced color settings, and support for multi-display setups. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The BenQ PD3200U is a well-equipped 32-inch display that delivers very good color, grayscale, and viewing-angle performance, as well as a highly detailed UHD picture. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q is a pricey 32-inch, professional-grade monitor that delivers precise colors, excellent grayscale reproduction, and stunning UHD imagery. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The 24-inch Acer R240HY is an In-Plane Switching (IPS) monitor that delivers good all-around performance for under $150, but you don't get many extras. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The 24-inch NEC MultiSync E241N-BK is a reasonably priced business monitor that, despite skewed greens, delivers good grayscale performance and wide viewing angles. Read the full review