It’s time to upgrade your display.
Justin JaffeApril 20, 2020 6:51 a.m. PT
- 31.5-inch AOC CQ32G1Jump to details$269 AT TARGET
- 32-inch Acer ET322QK 4K monitorJump to details$380 AT B&H PHOTO
- 34-inch LG 34UM69G-BJump to details$380 AT BEST BUY
- 32-inch HP Pavilion LED monitorJump to details$400 AT HP
- 27-inch BenQ EX2780QJump to details$792 AT WALMART
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Among the must-haves for working from home, a decent external monitor may be the most important. If your work involves looking at two or more documents simultaneously, referring to multiple browser windows or scrolling through spreadsheets, you’re going to get a lot more done gazing at an LCD with a decent screen size than squinting at your 13-inch (or even 15-inch) laptop display.
For the 99% of you who don’t care about monitor technology, here’s the TL;DR: All things being equal, bigger is better. Nearly all built-in speakers are lousy. Unless you’re a hardcore gamer or creative professional, many of the most technical specs — color gamut and latency, for example — won’t really matter to you (and you should always take them with with a grain of salt, anyway). Curved monitors, which can make a wide display fit into your field of view without requiring you to sit too far back, aren’t worth paying more for with any monitor that’s 27 inches or smaller. Want to dive deeper? Check out CNET’s monitor buying guide.
Note that not every monitor has an integrated height-adjustable stand. Frankly, those are sometimes more trouble than they’re worth — and eye-level height can be easily achieved with a monitor stand or thick book. Also, though all of the monitors listed below can be connected via HDMI, some are VGA-compatible and a few support USB-C. But not every laptop has all of those connections built in. If you’re working on a MacBook Air, for example, you’ll need to buy an adapter to connect via HDMI. So, make sure you know how you’ll connect everything before clicking “buy.”31.5-inch AOC CQ32G1
We haven’t tested this AOC monitor firsthand, but the specs are solid for the price and the customer feedback, on Amazon and elsewhere, is generally positive. You get a 31.5-inch curved display with a respectable 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync technology, which automatically adjusts for different games’ frame rates. It’s in stock now at Target. $269 AT TARGET32-inch Acer ET322QK 4K monitor
If you’re accustomed to working on multiple monitors at the office, this single 34-inch display will simulate (or perhaps even improve on) the experience. We reviewed the LG 34UC89G-B, back in 2017 when it cost $1,000, and found it to be worth the price for gamers looking for G-Sync support over DisplayPort. (G-Sync is basically Nvidia’s take on FreeSync.) If that doesn’t mean anything to you, you’re better off paying less for the LG 34UM69G-B. Read our LG 34UC89G-B review.$380 AT BEST BUY32-inch HP Pavilion LED monitor
I’ve been using an older version of this monitor for five years — and it’s stood the test of time, but it’s no longer available. This newer model is more expensive but also bigger and equipped with better specs, including a 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution, all of the brightness that comes with LED backlighting and a super-slim bezel. There are two HDMI inputs, a DisplayPort 1.2 connection (and cable) and three USB 2.0 ports.$400 AT HP27-inch BenQ EX2780Q
We’re fans of this great general-purpose monitor that doubles as a solid display for a gaming monitor. Though it’s not 4K, the resolution is legit — 2,560×1,440 pixels — and it simulates optimized HDR brightness curves so you can get better-than-average results in Windows without paying for real HDR. It has a high refresh rate of 144Hz. And it has the best built-in-speakers of any monitor we’ve tested recently — or maybe ever. Read more.$792 AT WALMART$600 AT BEST BUY$500 AT B&H PHOTO-VIDEO15.6-inch Lepow portable monitor
There are a number of reasons to consider the Lepow USB-C monitor. It’s a good option if you’re working on a laptop without a VGA or HDMI output, like the port-impoverished MacBook Air. It’s handy if you have limited space. And weighing less than 2 pounds, it’s light enough to come along when you need to move your setup. The Lepow connects to your laptop via USB — so you don’t need a VGA or HDMI port. And there’s no need for an external power supply, so you can use it even when there’s no socket nearby.$190 AT AMAZON