Five Best Computer Monitors

Upgrading your computer's hardware isn't the only way to get that new machine experience. A new monitor can go a long way towards making your computer more fun to use and more functional. Here are five of the best to choose from, based on reader nominations.

Title photo by William Hook

We've quoted indicative pricing for each monitor, but it definitely pays to shop around. Pay special attention to shipping prices — display shipping costs can be significant.

Dell UltraSharp U3011 30-Inch Display ($1149)

Dell's flagship 30" U3011 display is a gorgeous IPS panel that leads Dell's UltraSharp performance line of monitors. It sports a 2560 by 1600 16:10 display, and comes packed with inputs. A lineup of 2 HDMI, 2 DVI-D (with HDCP), 1 DisplayPort, 1 VGA port plus component connectors makes it ideal for use with multiple devices. It also packs a USB hub and a 7-in-1 card reader mounted on the side. At the regular price of $1699 it's a pricey panel, but at the time of writing Dell is offering it for $50 off. Dell regularly runs sales and distributes coupons for its products, so search carefully if this is on your wishlist.

Yamakasi Catleap (around $400)

The Catleap range (from Korean company Yamakasi) excited monitor enthusiasts because it uses the same LG IPS panels deployed by Apple in its 27" iMac models but costs far less than most rivals. Yamakasi's displays don't come with bells and whistles, but they do come with stellar panels. The Catleap is a 2560 by 1440 16:9 display, and includes a single DVI-D (with HDCP) input (Some models have a VGA input as well.) It's not available through traditional retail channels, but it is available easily via eBay. Buyers who have made the switch generally sing their praises loudly. Other Korean models to look out for include the Achieva Shimian 27" and the Auria EQ276W 27". Both use similar panels and come at bargain prices.

Apple Thunderbolt 27-Inch Display (11999)

Apple's 27" Thunderbolt Display is a stellar TFT panel, boasting a 2560 by 1440 16:9 LED backlit display with excellent colours and calibration, a built-in FaceTime camera, and plenty of built-in ports (audio inputs and built-in speakers, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt, and 3 USB ports). The Thunderbolt port can also be daisy-chained to other Thunderbolt devices such as external hard drives and NAS enclosures. The display is clearly designed for use with Mac OS desktops and laptops, and even has a built-in MagSafe charging port to keep your laptop juiced up. The limiting factors? It's not cheap, and it's only fully compatible with Thunderbolt-enabled Mac desktops and laptops.

Dell UltraSharp U2410 24-Inch Display ($699)

The 24" Dell U2410 is a great IPS display for people looking for an extra screen but not needing a massive display. It sports a 1920 by 1200 16:10 display, and comes with a wealth of inputs for connecting multiple devices, including a DVI-D (with HDCP) input, a VGA input, a DisplayPort input, as well as component and composite inputs. It also has the UltraSharp line's trademark USB hub and card reader mounted into the side. It retails for $699, but Dell's display line is often on sale, so with some research you should be able to do better before pulling the trigger.

ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch Display ($689)

Even though the PB278Q is ASUS's flagship 27" panel, it's priced very competitively compared to most rivals (shop around and you'll easily get it for $50 or more off the listed price). It's a 2560 by 1440 16:9 PLS (a Samsung-developed update on IPS) display using Samsung glass. It has a pair of built-in speakers, and sports a dual-link DVI (with HDCP) input, a VGA input, a DisplayPort input, and an HDMI input, along with a pair of audio ports (headphone/microphone.) The display is a bit spartan in design, and less flashy than some other models, but it gets the job done. Overall, it's an affordable and highly functional 27" display.

This week's honorable mention goes out to Dell UltraSharp U2711 27" Display, which sells at $899 retail and sits nicely between the U2410 and the U3011, for people who want a 27" panel. It's a 2560 by 1440 IPS display that comes packed with inputs and a USB hub and card reader. Here's a secret: it also uses the same glass panels (a slightly later model, the LM270WQ2 compared to the LM270WQ1) that are used in the Korean displays we mentioned earlier.

Want to make the case for your own favourite monitor? Tell us (and tell us why) in the comments.


    Price check on the Apple Thunderbold screen?

      Spell check on the Apple Thunderbolt screen?

        Lol Nice. What is this Target, Can i get a price check on these items.

          I wouldn't be surprised if that price is correct and just missing the prepended '$'

            I was just about to say that! :-)

            Also that display probably doesn't include the Apple proprietry iDVI cable for $149, and you will need the iDVI to DVI adapter for $89. :-)

      Why don't you just google it or staticice it yourself? It'll take less than 2mins to find out.

      I've only a couple of times seen a journo reply to a comment so you'll be waiting awhile.

        I think he means that it's listed at just a tad under TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS in the above article....

    Also the Dell discount, is it $550 or a regular price of $1,199?

      Otherwise love the article, here I was thinking that Apple was the only way to go with large hi-res screens... Thanks

        In design, prepress & pro photography communities, Apple & Dell monitors have never really been considered as 'good' monitors; the likes of Eizo, NEC & Planar are the forerunners in those industries.

        However, for most people the units in the article are more than sufficient.

          Agreed. Most professionals in those industries wouldn't touch Apple or Dell Monitors. However, Dell's the best value for money for pretty much anyone else.

    I've got a Dell 24" IPS and it is a beautiful screen. But I'm getting into editing and it is a bit small, I'd love to try the 30" but it's too expensive. The catleap looks great! Especially for the price.

      A good deal for you might be the new dell UltraSharp U2913WM - has a good work space, and gaming is also not out of the question.

    I have a U2711 and I don't think it has glass? Feels like a plastic screen to me. It's a nice monitor but it has a lot of input lag which can be frustrating when you change resolutions (unless you have your GPU do the scaling) or change inputs.

      Are you using Displayport? I found the display lag to be terrible with displayport but is fine with DVI-D...

        Nope, DVI-D. I can't use DisplayPort because the monitor has a bug where you can't get it to wake up from sleep mode if you use display port and turn the monitor off and back on without also rebooting the PC it's connected to.

        The fix for the lag is to simply use your GPU to do any scaling instead of letting the monitor handle it. I was finding that even the screen-dimming effect that Windows does when a UAC prompt comes up was causing input lag without pushing the work to the GPU.

        As far as switching goes I'm mainly using HDMI and DVI, and I find getting it off HDMI and back to DVI and vice-versa is laggy, but maybe that's because you have to cycle through DisplayPort to get back to DVI from HDMI?

      How old is your U2711? There is 2 models out there - one has a lot of Anti glare coating on it and a newer/later model is the apparently the same but has slightly less anti glare coating on the screen. Id say that could be contributing to the look/feel.

        It'd be probably coming up a year and a half old now I think, possibly closer to two years. It's always felt like a plastic screen to me, doesn't have the feeling of rigidity I'd expect from glass. It gives a bit under my finger in the top corners too.

        Last edited 10/12/12 8:30 pm

    How about a round up for touch screen monitors now? I want to know what to get before I upgrade my desktop to Win 8.

      +1 I want a touchscreen too

        Same here. Last time I looked, there weren't too many around and the pricing was far more outrageous than the $12k Apple monitor.

        HP had a 24" touchscreen for $800 IIRC.

    There is a 30 inch Yamikasi screen also which is only a few hundred more than the 27 inch.

    I plan on getting myself one after the xmas bills are paid off.

    Just bought myself a Qnix QX2700 for $352.74 shipped to Australia with a perfect pixel guarantee so here's hoping all goes well. My first time purchasing one of the Korean monitors.

    I'm currently using a BenQ 27inch led it's amazing but I literally couldn't go higher then 27inch unless I was sitting much further back., the new higher res will be interesting to see if its actually noticeable or an expensive gimmick.. Also desktop touchscreens are fun for a very short time before your arms feel weird, basicly try holding you're arms out 90 degrees infront of you for 10 mins and see if your still comfortable :/ it's not my thing.

    i have 2 of the yamikasi's beautiful they are.

    How about "best in a certain price range"?
    I would have liked to see some sub-$300 screens here.

    Do the Catleap monitors have the same problems with glare as the Apple ones?

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