The best HDR monitors for 2019

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

The best HDR monitor is the BenQ EX3501R, a gorgeous ultrawide monitor with a 1440p resolution and 100Hz refresh rate. It’s what we point people to first, but we’ve included several alternatives that are also a great buy.

Computer monitors are starting to support high dynamic range (HDR), which means they can handle more detail in the brightest and darkest parts of an image, along with a wide color gamut. We’ve reviewed hundreds of computer monitors in our time, so we know what to look for in this new crop of HDR options. HDR has proven a revolution among HDTVs, and every high-end television now supports it. While it still has issues with Windows, it’s definitely a feature people are looking for in high-end monitors today.

BenQ EX3501R

best hdr monitors ben q ex3501r monitor mainfull2 800x534 c

Why you should buy this: BenQ’s HDR monitor has something for everything, including ultra HD and a 100Hz refresh rate.

Who’s it for: Just about everyone, although gamers may want something a little more tailored to their needs (read on for better gaming picks).

Why we picked the BenQ EX3501R:

It’s rare to find a monitor that ticks all of the boxes for almost any user, let alone one that does all that and has an affordable price tag. In BenQ’s EX3501R though, we may have found such a unicorn. At 35-inches of beautifully curved VA paneling with an ultrawide resolution of 3,440 x 1,440, it is stunning to look at. It also supports a 100Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, support for 100 percent of the sRGB color gamut, and most importantly for this buying guide, an HDR mode.

Like some of the other top-tier entries in this list, the collection of high-end features BenQ has packed into the EX3501R makes it great for editing photos, watching movies, and gaming. It’s fast and responsive and thanks to the combination of a great contrast ratio (2,500:1), a brightness that hits 300 nits, and that HDR support, it looks fantastic no matter what you’re doing. FreeSync support keeps screen tearing at bay without a performance hit and the monitor even helps your desk stay tidy too, thanks to a USB-C connection for power and data transfer.

You can get all that for an excellent price, which puts some of the other entries in this list to shame. If the additional screen real estate gained from an ultrawide monitor entices you, our best ultrawide monitor roundup could provide some additional options for your desk setup.

Read our full BenQ EX3501R review

Samsung CHG90

Samsung CHG90 Ultrawide Monitor review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Samsung’s quantum dot technology works wonderfully well with HDR, and this monitor has all the screen you’ll ever need.

Who’s it for: Those who really the ultra in their ultrawide monitor.

Why we picked the Samsung CHG90:

Samsung CHG90 is a real monster at 49 inches diagonally, with a 32:9 aspect ratio and 3,840 x 1,080 resolution. It’s akin to placing two 27-inch, 1080p monitors side-by-side, but without the bezel.

The technology inside the CHG90 uses quantum dots to deliver great contrast, a wide color gamut, and solid color accuracy. Its image quality isn’t as sharp as others, which is the CHG90’s main weakness. However, its quoted brightness is 350cd/m2. VESA recently certified it as the first DisplayHDR 600 monitor. The panel even has FreeSync support, and refreshes at 144Hz, so its good for fast-paced games.

Though its price is rather high, recent sales have dropped the CHG90 to a much lower price point. It’s still a lot of money, but given its incredible size, it’s actually not as much as you might expect. If you want a huge, HDR-compatible screen, this is the one to buy. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far but you still want the Samsung quality for your HDR display, there’s also the equally great CHG70 that’s worth considering.

Read our full Samsung CHG90 review here.

LG 32UD99-W

LG 32UD99-W review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s a more traditionally sized monitor that’s comfortable at home in the office or spare room.

Who’s it for: People ready to upgrade their old monitor to a 4K powerhouse.

Why we picked the LG 32UD99:

The top monitor we recommended is an ultrawide – great for gaming and movies, but not everyone’s first choice. If you want a more traditional, 16:9 screen, the LG 32UD99-W is a good pick. It offers a 31.5-inch, 4K panel, along with HDR10 support and a wide color gamut.

Our testing found it offered decent contrast, a wide color gamut, and good color accuracy straight out of the box. Yet the LG 32UD99-W seems best for people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with technical details. It offers a wide range of settings, and its color accuracy goes from good to outstanding after calibration.

LG also promises a maximum luminance of 550 nits. In our testing, we saw up to 360 nits. That’s better than average and it means the LG can handle detail in HDR content better than most HDR displays. It’s a 4K screen too, so you can view 4K HDR films just as you would on a television. The downside is the price, which can approach a grand, depending on the retailer.

Read our full LG 32UD99-W review here.

Acer ET322QK

Why you should buy this: The Acer ET322QK is a more affordable option for those who’d also like to save some money.

Who’s it for: Savvy buyers looking for HDR on a budget–and those who need a good FreeSync monitor.

Why we picked the Acer ET322QK:

Most of the great monitors on this list are expensive. Most people can’t justify spending as much on a monitor as they might on a television. Luckily, the new Acer ET322QK offers an affordable choice. With a delightfully low price at most retailers, you might expect compromise on size and pixel count. Not with this monitor. This Acer is a 32-inch, 4K display with AMD FreeSync support for gamers, though the panel refreshes at the usual 60Hz.

So, what’s the catch? We haven’t tested the ET322QK in our office, so we can’t say whether its color accuracy or gamut match its contemporaries in this list. What we can say, though, is that Acer only quotes a brightness of 300 nits. That’s lower than some, but comparable to our top-entry, so it’s perfectly passable. Still, it’s hard to ignore this monitor’s feature set and bargain price. This might be the compromise budget-minded buyers are looking for.

Acer Predator XB3

Acer Predator XB3 Gaming Monitor review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: Acer has given this Predator some excellent gaming features, including an overclocked refresh rate and G-Sync.

Who’s it for: Gamers who are ready for an important upgrade, and don’t need an ultrawide.

Why we picked the Acer Predator XB3:

The 27-inch Predator XB3 offers an excellent gaming experience complete with 4k resolution and HDR support. If you’re a gamer looking for a top-notch display–and a 27-inch screen sounds like the ideal size for you–we recommend taking a closer look at this particular Predator.

Acer’s model comes with G-Sync and a refresh rate that’s overclockable to 144Hz over the DisplayPort (otherwise 60Hz to 120Hz, depending on your connections). While the color accuracy is solid, we were particularly impressed by the high brightness levels this monitor can reach. Gamers may end up dimming the screen more than you think.

However, if you do choose this Predator model, keep in mind that the design itself has some flaws. Yes, you get some RGB strips to play with if you like colors, but the menu buttons are poorly placed and difficult to work. The speakers are also nothing impressive, so by all means prepare your headset of choice.

Read our full Predator XB3 review

Wait! Before you buy!

All the monitors above are good picks, but don’t expect them to match today’s HDR-compatible HDTVs. PC displays aren’t bright enough to make the most of HDR. You’ll see more detail than you would in a non-HDR monitor, but extremely bright scenes will still look washed out, and colors won’t pop as they do on a quality television. We’ve mused more on the subject already, but in the end, we suggest you pick the monitor that’s best for you overall, and treat HDR as a nice but unnecessary bonus – for now, at least.

If you’re looking for other options to take over the battlefield in your next firefight, be sure to check out our best gaming monitors and best monitors with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology.

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