Here are some of the best options currently available, from small second screens to large high-end monitors that can handle pretty much anything.
A 24-inch monitor will hit the sweet spot of being big enough but not too big for most people, and a 16:10 monitor like Dell’s Ultrasharp U2415 will give you a bit of added screen space compared to one with a 16:9 aspect ratio (which are often less expensive). Dell’s Ultrasharp line has also long been considered to offer some of the best performance for the money, something that remains true for the U241—a favorite of many—as well as for the company’s 27-inch U2717D if you’re looking for something a little bit bigger.
If you’re looking for a sizable monitor with pro-level color accuracy but aren’t looking to spend too much on it, HP’s Z27n is one that’s worth a look. It’s The Wirecutter’s pick for their favorite 27-inch monitor overall, getting high marks for its ergonomic-minded adjustable stand and ample array of ports in addition to its great image quality. The monitor’s ultra thin bezel also makes it ideal for using two of them side-by-side in a multi-monitor setup.
If you have a USB-C laptop (or are planning to get one in the near future), a USB-C-equipped monitor is an obvious consideration. Something like LG’s 27UD88 will let you use a single cable to both display video and charge your laptop, and also act as a hub to connect other USB 3.0 devices (complete with Quick Charge capabilities). It’s also no slouch as a monitor, with an IPS panel offering a full 3840 x 2160 resolution and a 5ms response time, along with FreeSync and a dedicated gaming mode catering to gamers’ needs.
Second screens don’t have to be something that’s always tied to your desk. If you’re traveling frequently and have to get some serious work done, a portable monitor like ASUS’ ZenScreen might be a better option. At 1.7 pounds and just 0.3-inches thick, it should easily fit in most laptop bags alongside your laptop without weighing it down too much, and its versatile design means you should be able to set it up just about anywhere with minimal effort (you can even use a pen to prop it up in place of its folding smart cover).
If you do most of your work on a laptop and only occasionally need a second screen, you may not necessarily need to spend a bundle on a monitor. Samsung’s 23.6-inch SD300 monitor uses a lower quality TN panel than you’ll find in pricier monitors, but Laptop Mag still found it to be plenty bright with better than average color accuracy, and also appreciated the inclusion of built-in speakers and a headphone jack.
Curved monitors were something of a pricey novelty just a few years ago, but they’ve now become considerably more affordable and commonplace. Dell’s 34-inch Ultrasharp U3417W is one standout for anyone looking to replace two monitors with one big one instead. It’s an Editor’s Choice pickfrom PCMag, which praised the monitor’s color and grayscale performance, as well as its wide range of features, including dual 9-watt speakers and plenty of inputs. But gamers may find the monitor a bit lacking for their needs.
If even the likes of the Samsung SD300 are more than you’re looking to spend on a monitor, there are still plenty of decent options available for well under the $100 mark. HP’s 21.5-inch 22cwa monitor is one of the better-selling and better-reviewed bargain options on Amazon, getting a four-and-a-half star out of five rating after more than 3,000 customer reviews. Despite its low price, the monitor uses an IPS panel that promises great viewing angles, though its 7ms response time may be a bit slow for more demanding users.