How to choose a monitor

If you’re a programmer, you know that a good monitor is essential. You need one that can render tiny code with clarity and display numerous windows at once. Prolific multi-taskers, many programmers also go all-in on multiple displays and use two or three monitors at once.

But what kind of monitor should you buy? Here are the top five things to look for:

Pixels per inch (PPI) is the measure of pixel density. The higher the number, the better your image will look. Most monitors offer between 80 and 120 PPI. However, some high-end models can go as high as 240 PPI.

The color gamut is how wide your monitor can display various colors—from reds to blues to greens. A wider color gamut means more colors can be displayed on screen at once, which makes images look more vibrant and clear. Most monitors have a range from 60% to 90% of sRGB color space; however, some high-end models can reach up to 99% of sRGB (and beyond).

Response time determines how quickly your screen updates when moving from one window to another or scrolling through documents and web pages. Most monitors offer an average response time of 5 seconds.

1. Asus ProArt PA348CGV – Best monitor overall for programming

Asus Programming Monitor

Pros

  • Excellent SDR image quality 
  • Sturdy, hefty design 
  • Wide range of customization
  • 120Hz refresh rate

Cons

  • USB-C hub lacks video-out or ethernet
  • HDR is merely p

The Asus ProArt PG348CGV is a great monitor for programming, and it excels in many other tasks.

This 34-inch ultrawide monitor with a resolution of 3440×1440 provides plenty of display space and pixel density for viewing multiple windows or large amounts of code. It also has a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and 90 watts of Power Delivery. That’s great for easily docking a USB-C-compatible laptop.

Though ideal for programming, the ProArt PG348CGV excels in any task thrown at it. It has accurate color and a wide color gamut, so it’s great for a photo, video, and graphics editing. The monitor also has a 120Hz refresh rate and supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, which makes it a solid choice for gaming.

Its price seals the deal: Available for $749.99, the ProArt PG348CGV is less expensive than similar competitors—and very few monitors have all three features!

2. Dell U3223QE – Best 4K monitor for programming

Dell 4K Monitor

Pros

  • IPS Black panel fulfills its promise 
  • Accurate color with wide gamut 
  • High brightness in SDR  
  • USB-C hub with 90 watts of power 

Cons

  • Edges of display are noticeably bright 
  • HDR performance disappoints 
  • Only a 60Hz panel

If you want a standard widescreen monitor for programming, or prefer the pixel density of 4K resolution, the Dell U3223QE is a great choice.

The U3223QE is a 32-inch widescreen monitor with a 4K resolution. It offers a large, pixel-dense display that’s great for using four windows in a grid arrangement. The monitor’s high pixel density and strong brightness make code easy to read even when individual windows are small.

Its size and resolution are supported by the excellent image quality. This is among the few monitors with an IPS Black panel, which roughly doubles the contrast ratio of a standard IPS panel. The result is a richer, more pleasant image. It also has excellent color accuracy, so it’s great for a photo, video, and graphics editing.

The U3223QE is also among the best USB-C monitors available. When connected over USB-C it acts as a feature-rich USB-C hub with multiple USB-A ports, ethernet, audio-out, and DisplayPort-out. It’s perfect for programmers who need to dock a laptop over USB-C.

Need a slightly smaller monitor? Dell also offers.

3. Asus ProArt PA279CV – Best mid-range monitor for programming

Asus mid-range coding Desktop

Pros

  • Accurate image
  • High maximum brightness
  • Menu settings allow calibration
  • Has USB-C with 65 watts Power Delivery
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Unimpressive design
  • Luminance uniformity could be better
  • HDR is bright but otherwise falls short

Have you ever been in a situation where you need to multitask like crazy? Maybe you’re working on a project at home and need to look up some information about it on the web during dinner. Or maybe you’re just eating dinner, but you want to watch a video of how you made your latest dish so that you can recreate it at home later.

If so, then this monitor might be right for you!

The Asus ProArt PA279CV is an affordable way to snag the benefits of high-end monitors with few sacrifices. This screen is a 27-inch widescreen with 4K resolution, offering a reasonably sized and pixel-dense space for viewing multiple windows at once. Its pixel density, which works out to 163 pixels per inch, is as high as you’ll find without upgrading to a more extravagant (and much more expensive) option such as a 5K or 8K display. Image quality is excellent, too, with top-notch color accuracy.

This monitor also has 65 watts of Power Delivery and four USB-A ports—which means that it can be used as a secondary workstation or media player throughout your home office space or dorm room study nook.

4. AOC CU34G2X – Best budget monitor for programming

Long Display for Larger Programming Coder/Developer

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Curved monitor
  • Special gaming settings
  • Quite inexpensive

Cons

  • No height adjustability
  • Only medium brightness
  • High power consumption

You’ve been looking for a monitor that’s ideal for programming on a tight budget, and we think we’ve got just the thing.

The AOC CU34G2X is a 34-inch curved ultrawide monitor with a resolution of 3440×1440. It’s just as useful for programming and multitasking as our top pick, the Asus ProArt PA348CGV—just check out those specs!

This monitor uses a VA panel that provides an advantage in contrast ratio and black levels. It also has an excellent color accuracy and color gamut, which might be important if you do a lot of professional work or play games after the workday is done. And if you want something even more affordable than our top pick, you can’t go wrong with this AOC model. At only $399.99 (and often available for less), it’s tough to beat the value of this monitor if you’re on a budget!

However, this does result in some sacrifices: like its lack of brightness compared to other options in its price range, so it’s best used in a room with some light control; it doesn’t have a wide color gamut or great color accuracy either like our top pick does, and it lacks both inputs.

5. LG DualUp 28MQ780-B – Best second monitor for programming

LG Monitor

Pros

  • Unique aspect ratio is useful for photo, video editing
  • Makes an awesome second monitor 
  • Highly adjustable stand 
  • Vivid, accurate color

Cons

  • Difficult to fit in a small home office 
  • USB-C port offers limited downstream connectivity 
  • Can lack immersion in some content

If you’re a programmer and you want to get the most out of your workflow, having two monitors is key. That’s why the LG DualUp 28MQ780-B is so great for programmers.

The LG DualUp 28MQ780-B is a 28-inch monitor with an unusual 16:18 aspect ratio that’s a bit taller than it is wide. It can also rotate 90 degrees, if you’d prefer, to become a bit wider than it is tall. Either way, the monitor is close to the square and about as tall as a 32-inch monitor. It also ships with a monitor arm, instead of a desktop stand, which is handy for positioning the monitor next to another display.

Programmers will be pleased with the monitor’s 2560×2880 resolution—higher than a 1440p monitor but slightly less than a 4K display. The monitor has great image quality with high color accuracy and a wide color gamut. It’s also USB-C compatible, providing up to 90 watts of Power Delivery for charging connected laptops.

What to look for in a monitor for programming

  • Size Matter
  • More pixels mean more usable space
  • Great connectivity, including USB-C, is useful
  • Great image quality is always a plus
  • sound include
  • best Resolution

How we test monitors

When you’re looking for a new monitor, you want to be sure that it’s going to give you everything you need from the moment you open your box. That’s why we test each monitor carefully before recommending it.

We use a SpyderXElite color calibration tool to measure brightness, contrast, color gamut, and accuracy of each monitor. This tool lets us directly compare hundreds of monitors, making sure we only recommend the best ones.

Our tests also consider whether a monitor supports any special features that give it an advantage. We like to see USB-C hubs that include ethernet connectivity and at least 90 watts of Power Delivery. An ergonomic stand, multiple video inputs, and a useful on-screen menu are desirable as well.