Which LED monitors are best?
You’d think choosing an LED screen would be easy, but they come in a bewildering range of sizes and resolutions, offering all kinds of compatibility and visual enhancements. We’ve been looking at the latest models to help you separate the features you need from the marketing hype. We’ve also made a few recommendations at the end.
Our favorite, the Samsung 850 Series, has the stunning picture quality that 4K resolution provides, supporting over a billion colors. It’s a superb choice for business or leisure use. Continue reading this buying guide to learn how to find just the right LED monitor for your needs.
What to know before you buy an LED monitor
Physical size and resolution
It’s always tempting to go for a big screen, because bigger screens are clearer and brighter, right? Not necessarily. For example, if you compare 24” and 32” screens, both of which have 1080p, Full HD resolution (which is 1920 x 1080 pixels), then the pixels on the 32” model have more space to cover, so they’re bigger. Technically, the 24” has a sharper image.
However, you’ll likely use the 24” much closer to you. On an office desk, for example. A 32” LED monitor in that situation is a bit of overkill. Because you’ll often look at a monitor of that size from farther away, the difference in pixel size has virtually no impact. Jump down to an HD screen at 720p or up to a 4K monitor and, yes, you’ll definitely notice. Few people choose the former for that reason, and while the latter undoubtedly look great, they are quite expensive.
1080P LED monitors up to 28” are very popular for desktop use, and offer the best combination of price and performance. Larger models are frequently used for display purposes, often wall mounted. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s worth thinking about your intended use rather than just going for the highest spec.
Curved screens are claimed to reduce eye strain and provide a better user experience. Those who have used one seem to largely agree. Choice is limited, particularly at 4K, but they are worth thinking about if you spend extended periods working with detailed images.
What to look for in a quality LED monitor
Every manufacturer claims their LED monitor is super bright and has brilliant color. Frankly, it can be difficult to tell without seeing them live, but customer feedback is worth checking, because it comes from unbiased users who have them in their home or office. HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a system that enhances luminosity and image detail and can make a major difference to image quality.
HDMI is common, having become something of a standard with modern devices. MHL (Mobile High-definition Link) is increasingly popular. DisplayPort is another relatively new connection type, as is USB-C. Fortunately many LED monitors also offer VGA to cater for older technology, and DVI.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll want fast refresh rates (anything over 100Hz is pretty impressive) and rapid response times (2ms — milliseconds — or better). Some screens incorporate software specifically aimed at improving gameplay.
Energy Star certified LED monitors have significantly lower power requirements. Some claim to be Energy Star compliant, and they may be, but “compliant” just means the maker says so, rather than being independently tested.
How much you can expect to spend on an LED monitor
Cheap LED monitors start at around $60 for a 19” or 20” model, though that won’t get you Full HD. Those start at around $90. Monitors measuring 24” and 27”, popular for computer use, generally range from $120-$230, and up to $350 for 32” models. Not surprisingly you’ll pay a premium for an LED monitor with 4K resolution, which are anywhere from $300-$900.
LED monitor FAQ
How long can I expect an LED monitor to last?
A. They have no moving parts and, unlike some kinds of monitors, produce very little heat. Manufacturers state anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 hours (roughly 4.5 to 7 years), although anecdotal evidence suggests 10 years is not unusual.
How do I clean my monitor?
A. You should avoid using liquids or sprays designed for glass. Use sleep mode or turn it off, then wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth. Spot stains can be cleaned with a weak solution of water and isopropyl alcohol.
What’s the best LED monitor to buy?
Top LED monitor
Our take: 4K Ultra High Definition provides vibrant pictures and super-sharp detail.
What we like: 3840 x 2160 resolution and accurate color are ideal for image professionals. 1m millisecond response and AMD Freesync are excellent for gamers. Wide-ranging connectivity. Flips from landscape to portrait.
What we dislike: One or two have had problems with faulty USBs.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top LED monitor for the money
Our take: Inexpensive, no-frills widescreen device for DVI-D, VGA and HDMI inputs.
What we like: Basic but functional for those on a tight budget. Unusual 1600 x 900 resolution is slightly better than standard HD. VESA mount ready.
What we dislike: Audio jack has been reported to have some quality issues when it comes to sound.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: Slim, lightweight panel fits standard VESA wall and arm mounts.
What we like: Takes HDMI, DVI-D, and VGA inputs. Multiple presets for better display performance in differing light conditions. Fast 2ms response rate. Very affordable. Energy Star certified.
What we dislike: Problems are few, but ASUS customer support is heavily criticized.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Bob Beacham writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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