Best monitors for home office: The essential upgrade for your workstation

Here’s the big picture on a small investment that pays dividends in efficiency—the best monitors for a home office.

It used to be that staring at the same computer screen all day was something we could limit to office hours. But as remote work has increased, a computer monitor is also where we spend lunch hours and happy hours; it has become a conference room, not just a corner of the second bedroom. An interface for coworkers, teachers, friends, and family, the right monitor in a work from home setup can be central to improving both our outlook and using Outlook. So let’s, well, screen options for the best monitors for home office.

Features to consider when shopping for the best monitors for home office

Setting up a home office often calls for creative use of space, and when it comes to a desktop a makeshift solution can work … to an extent. The number of surfaces that can become a “desk” is pretty impressive and even potentially efficient. The same can’t be said for grabbing any old screen and trying to make it a computer monitor. From compatibility issues with a computer’s ports to the dynamic range of the source material being displayed, there are many factors to consider.

As home office essentials go, a properly calibrated PC monitor is integral to success. The ability to liberate windows from overlapping, the space to immediate access resources without having to cycle through tabs, is possibly the single biggest boost you can give your productivity. So when it comes time to pick your new screen, here are some base specs to, you know, monitor: get a minimum resolution of 1080p, consider a starting size of 27 inches, and for best image accuracy opt for an IPS panel if possible.

Ultimately, however, the tool needs to be tailored to the task. Whether a creative professional concerned with color gamut or an afterwork gamer obsessed with response rate, someone going for something ultrawide or ultra-portable, there’s a monitor for every use case. Here are our selections to help find the best monitor for your home office.

Can a 4K monitor improve my workflow?

In a word: Yes. Any monitor properly positioned at eye level will do wonders for your posture and efficiency compared to hunching over a laptop. But if you’re staring at something all day, go in for the rich color and sharpness that a 4K monitor delivers. The best monitors for home office offer the ability to display more simultaneously—cutting down on scrolling, clicking, and cursing as you cycle through buried documents—but more quantity needs to come with more clarity. At a resolution of 3840 by 2160, a 4K panel delivers four times the pixel count of HD (1920 by 1080) displays, which means more spreadsheet fields but also more pleasing video chats (you’ll see the pores on a nose before you’ll see the dots that make up the image).

Best 4K monitor for home office: Dell Ultrasharp U2720QM

The Sharper Image

Think of 4K the way you do a 401(k): It’s a smart investment. Amazon

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If you’ve got to crunch the numbers, you shouldn’t have to squint to see them, and the Dell Ultrasharp U2720QM monitor for home office offers 27 inches of crisp display space at a competitive price of about $600. The IPS (that’s In-Plane Switching) LED panel delivers a clearer picture from any angle, features 163 pixels per inch and a 1,300:1 contrast ratio (the more above 1,000 the left number goes the better) and offers 95 percent of the P3 gamut, which is the color space many of us have gotten used to watching video. The best Dell monitor for home office supports HDR, high dynamic range, which means more visible detail, especially in the darker areas of the screen. So, even if the folks from accounting aren’t good about lighting their Zoom calls, you can see more of their faces. And, with USB-C, DisplayPort, and HDMI inputs, the U2720QM is ready to connect to pretty much any standard computer (and it can be used to charge and/or daisy chain USB-C devices).

What if I want to game after work?

You know what they say: work hard, display hard. OK, maybe that’s not a common saying yet, but it could be as PC gaming continues to gain popularity. While recognizing there are people that build a custom gaming rig and select a monitor specifically paired to their GPU, this recommendation is for the best gaming monitor for a home office that can perform without dedicated NVIDIA or AMD hardware. You can really expect it to shine should you choose to invest in specialized components that can push its higher refresh rates and lower response times to the max.

Best 4K monitor for gamers: LG UltraGear 27GN950-B Monitor

Gaming the System

This is a monitor with features you can grow into. Best Buy

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If a monitor is the window to a game’s soul, you don’t want to shortchange all the passion put into these immersive worlds, do you? With the right hardware support, the LG 27GN950-B’s “Nano IPS” panel can achieve a 144Hz refresh rate (overclocked to 160Hz) and 1ms response time, which is ridiculous for a 4K monitor. It is both G-SYNC and FreeSync—offering flexibility if you do decide to purchase a top-shelf graphics card—but is a solid performer with low input lag right out of the box, offering multiple calibration presets and customizable parameters. It’s a very bright monitor, which is great to fight the glare of a workday with suboptimal lighting (though, conversely, it might not have the best contrast for dark-room gaming, where a VA panel is preferred). It’s not too terribly much more than an office-oriented 4K monitor, has all the standard ports (USB-C, HDMI, and DisplayPort), and is capable of delivering a clear, tearing-free experience whether shooting off emails or tearing through another campaign.

So what if more is more?

Want to reach new productivity heights? Then look to go to new lengths: up to 49 inches diagonal, depending on budget. The days of cobbling together several monitors with their disruptive bezels are over; it’s now possible to buy an ultrawide screen that is far more immersive than any patchwork of panels. A multitasker’s fantasy come to life, these panels can deliver a field of view that’s the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors without the need to move your head around too much, assuming you have the desk space.

Best ultrawide monitor: Samsung Odyssey G9 Monitor

Widening Your Horizons

If you constantly feed on feeds, this monitor is an all-you-can-eat buffet of crisply presented data. Amazon

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The best Samsung monitor for truly voracious content consumers and creators, the Odyssey G9 offers an astounding 32:9 aspect ratio, driven by a company known for its pin-sharp panel innovations. Using QLED technology, this DQHD monitor features 5,120 by 1,440 resolution, a 240Hz refresh rate, and HDR10. It’s got a curvature of 1000R, which matches the human eye and keeps the entire image at the same distance to minimize eye strain, with great peak brightness and reflection handling perfect for those well-lit office appointments. There’s no doubt this represents the pinnacle of side-by-side document comparison and a Picture-in-Picture feature lets multiple devices be displayed simultaneously, but it’s also a monitor optimized for G-SYNC/FreeSync and the motion handling of gaming.

What if I have a Mac in my home office?

So you’re deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and looking for a monitor. Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: If brand loyalty and/or uniform aesthetics are a priority to you, that classic Cupertino industrial design is costly. Apple’s own Pro Display XDR 32-inch Retina 6K monitor starts at $4,999. Now, the good news: If you’ve got a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini from the last few years, you have access to a USB-C port and therefore any monitor supporting that connection. That makes the best Apple monitor simply the best USB-C monitor with the looks and features you like (pretty much any of our previous recommendations, though the Samsung would require an adapter). So, because a lot of Mac users are creative professionals, this pick highlights a monitor that’s geared toward color accuracy and photo/video editing.

Best Mac-compatible monitor: BenQ PhotoVue SW321C

The Complete Picture

Perfectly manipulate your media thanks to this monitor’s unerring accuracy. Amazon

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No, it won’t match the Apple Pro Display’s brightness or contrast ratio, neither its light-shaping tech, nor its gleaming machined looks, but the BenQ PhotoVue SW321C also won’t match its price while delivering more than enough for professionals already spoiled by Retina displays. For $2,000, it offers a 32-inch 4K 16:9 display with 10-bit color depth and 99-percent Adobe RGB, 100-percent sRGB/Rec. 709 and 95-percent P3 color spaces, as well as HDR 10/HLG Support. The soft-matte IPS panel resists reflection and supports many software/hardware calibration tools.

On a side note: If you have both a compatible Mac running at least macOS Catalina (10.15) and a compatible iPad running at least iPadOS 13, you already have access to additional screen real estate. If you’re not editing professional images and all you need is somewhere to place a window or two, Apple offers a feature called Sidecar that allows an iPad (connected via wire or wireless) to either extend or Mirror a Mac’s desktop, and conversely give your computer access to the Apple Pencil for drawing, notation, and other activities.

Best monitor for home office on a budget: What you can get for under $200

If you want to reduce the price, the quick way is to reduce the size. This doesn’t mean you have to deduct all the features, however. Resolution, refresh rate, and brightness might be somewhat decreased, but when spending $200 instead of $2,000, what you do get is a jump in terms of value. There are still plenty of cheap monitors for home office that feature color accuracy and comfort features, zippy response times and gamer-friendly interfaces, flicker-less tech, and blue-light filters. Here’s the best monitor for home office we’ve found at an affordable price.

Best cheap monitor: AOC C24G1A Curved Frameless Monitor

A Viewpoint on Value

Proof that a small investment can be a big improvement. Amazon

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A FHD display with up to a 165Hz refresh rate, the AOC C24G1A monitor features a 1,500R curved VA (Vertical Alignment) panel and 3,000:1 contrast ratio, meaning it’s going to offer inky blacks and vivid colors. You won’t get the same color gamut as an IPS monitor, but you will get some added depth to the physical experience. The monitor’s frame is unobtrusive and the sturdy stand has height, swivel, and tilt adjustments, offering a well-rounded, responsive experience. You’re restricted to using HDMI or DisplayPort as your connection, but the monitor still offers a lot of upscale, cinematic features for a low price and will improve the general work environment.

If your work involves travel or devices in multiple locations, another cheap option is the 15.6-inch Lepow HD USB-C display—the best portable monitor for mobile presentations. It’s not a replacement, more an extension of your desktop—think an iPad, minus everything but the screen. For just under $200, you get a 1080p IPS Eye Care panel with Mini-HDMI and USB-C ports (and a built-in cover), so you can connect a laptop, smartphone, or gaming device while on the go.

Best monitor for home office FAQ

What should I look for in a home office monitor?

Start your search at 24-inch models, but seriously consider 27 inches as a best baseline. A Full HD (1080p) resolution is the bare minimum, but a 4K panel with more than 100 pixels per inch, flicker-free operation, more than 95 percent of color spaces, and low blue light will deliver the crisp, rich presentation that reduces frustration and fatigue. An adjustable, ergonomic stand will reduce slouching and straining. Having both an HDMI and a USB-C port will assure maximum compatibility. And if for some reason you want to mount a monitor to a wall, make sure to pick one that is VESA compatible for ease of attachment.

Do I need a 4K monitor for office work?

“Need” is a relative term. If you’re not doing photo or video editing, you probably don’t need a 4K monitor. But could even clerical work and conference calls benefit from the added resolution? Absolutely. And, as more and more streaming media sites upgrade their content to the standard, getting 4K is a way to partially future-proof your investment.

Which monitor is better for eyes?

Eye strain, like carpal tunnel syndrome, is a harsh reality of the modern work environment, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. To reduce the chance of fatigue, look for a monitor that promises flicker-free, low blue-light technology. Several brands, such as BenQ, ASUS, and ViewSonic, designate optimized monitors as “Eye Care.” An adjustable, ergonomic stand and fast response rate also help, because the best solution is a consistently stable image.

A final word on shopping for the best monitor for home office

Folks always talk about the benefits of investing in real estate. Well, the same goes for screen real estate. When it comes to a working from home setup, you may not always start with the optimal space, but if you approach selecting the best monitor for home office like the most cost-effective renovation, you’ll find one simple upgrade can substantially improve your property.