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The best monitors for designers

Graphic designers need a no-compromise display. The best monitors for designers feature exceptional color accuracy, professional connectivity, and uniform lighting to ensure that your designs translate no matter what display they’re on.

We have several options below that do the trick for designers. Our favorite display is the Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q, though. It comes factory calibrated to deliver top-notch color accuracy out of the box, and it covers most professional color spaces. Plus, it’s around $300 cheaper than similar professional displays.

The best monitors for designers at a glance

Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Dell Ultrasharp U2720Q hits all the marks to be the best monitor for designers. It features a 4K IPS panel, which translates to excellent viewing angles and sharp text and images across the entire panel. It’s highly color accurate, too. Dell factory calibrates each display to achieve a Delta-E value of less than two, which is color accurate enough for professional work. With further tweaking, you can drop the Delta-E value to 0.5.

Additionally, the U2720Q comes with true 10-bit color and covers 95% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut. It’s also certified for DisplayHDR 400 and covers 99% of the sRGB and Rec 709 color spaces.

For connectivity, the U2720Q features a DisplayPort 1.4 connection, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a USB-C port. The USB-C port supports up to 90 watts of power delivery, so you can keep your laptop charged while it’s connected to the display.

All of that, and the Ultrasharp U2720Q is under $600. It’s a professional 4K monitor with all the fittings graphic designers need, and considering the features, the price looks great. It’s one of the best 4K monitors around.

HP DreamColor Z27x G2

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The HP DreamColor Z27x G2 lives up to its name. It’s a professional monitor built for the studio, featuring a built-in colorimeter for calibration, support for 10-bit color, and 100% coverage of the sRGB spectrum. It also covers 99% of the Adobe RGB and, impressively, DCI-P3 color spaces.

You trade color accuracy for resolution, though. The DreamColor Z27x G2 features a 1440p IPS panel, not a 4K one, but the screen space is smaller than most 27-inch monitors, so the pixel density shouldn’t be an issue.

Under the panel, you have access to a treasure trove of ports. For inputs, there are two DisplayPort 1.2 connections, two HDMI 2.0 connections, and a single USB-C connection. You also have access to four USB-A and a single USB-B connection, both of which support USB 3.1.

Additionally, the HP DreamColor Z27x G2 has a dedicated KVM switch for bouncing between computers, and it features a row of buttons on the front of the display for getting around the OSD. The DreamColor Z27x G2 is an expensive monitor, but it’s built to handle even the most intense design and color work.

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

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The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ is a gaming monitor, but it can play the role of a graphic design monitor, too. It features a 27-inch 4K IPS panel that boasts 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Although that’s less coverage than our top two picks, the XG27UQ also has a 144Hz refresh rate and a DisplayHDR 400 certification. It even supports G-Sync.

It may not have the same coverage as our top two picks, but the XG27UQ is just as color accurate. Out of the box, you can expect Delta-E values below two, and after calibration, you can drop them below one. It’s truly a monitor for work and play, fit with the features to accommodate both with little in the way of compromises.

In fact, the XG27UQ is built to accommodate work and play. The AppSync feature lets you assign different visual modes to applications, so you can bounce between a game, your web browser, and Adobe Illustrator without adjusting any of your display settings manually.

For connectivity, the XG27UQ comes with two HDMI 2.0 ports, two DisplayPort 1.4 connections, and a USB 3 port. The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ is a top-notch gaming display that’s capable enough to handle graphic design work. It’s the best of both worlds, but the XG27UQ has a price tag to match.

Dell S2721QS

Dell S2721QS
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Dell S2721QS is the best budget monitor for graphic designers. At just over $300, it’s not a budget display by traditional standards. Considering the specs, though, it’s a steal. The S2721QS features a 4K IPS panel that boasts 99% coverage of the sRGB spectrum with a 10-bit color depth. It doesn’t have great coverage of DCI-P3 (we measured 82% coverage), so keep that in mind if you work in that color space.

Out of the box, the S2721QS has decent color accuracy, though it definitely benefits from a calibration. After calibrating, it’s as color accurate as the Ultrasharp U2720Q. You can throw a professional workload at the S2721QS, and it won’t bat an eye.

Although it’s not the cheapest 4K monitor, the extra price isn’t going to waste. In true Dell fashion, the build quality and stand are excellent, giving you control over height, tilt, and rotate adjustments.

For connectivity, the S2721QS is slim with two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 connection, and a 3.5mm line-out jack. This display comes down to image quality. The Dell S2721QS features an excellent panel and professional build quality, more than justifying its price. It may be light on features, but that’s easy to overlook considering how inexpensive it is.

ViewSonic VP3881

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The ViewSonic VPN3881 is the best ultrawide monitor for graphic designers. It’s a massive 38-inch monitor with a WQHD+ resolution (3840 x 1600). Unlike a lot of the other displays on this list, it supports 14-bit color look-up tables, which translates to support for an astonishing 4.39 trillion colors.

Each panel is pre-calibrated, offering Delta-E values of less than two out of the box. ViewSonic even includes a report with each panel showing its coverage in sRGB, EBU, and Rec 709 color spaces. Although you can calibrate the monitor further, you don’t need to. Unless you’re working in a wide color gamut, you can start working on the VP3881 out of the box.

It comes with a wide array of connections, too. You have access to three USB-A, one USB-B, and one USB-C port, along with 3.5mm jacks for audio in and out, a DisplayPort connection, and dual HDMI 2.0 connections.

Although the ViewSonic VP3881 is the most expensive monitor on this list by far, it’s reasonable considering the features and size. Most 38-inch ultrawides are already around $1,000, and none of them are nearly as color accurate as the VP3881.

Apple Pro Display XDR

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Apple’s Pro Display XDR is the pinnacle of design monitors — if you can afford its absurdly high price. $5,000 is the price for the standard Pro Display XDR, with an additional $1,000 premium if you opt for Apple’s matte nano-texture coating. Regardless of the option you choose, you’re getting a 32-inch display with a max resolution of 6K (6144 x 3160).

The resolution is a perk, but that’s not why the Pro Display XDR is the price of a used car. The “XDR” tag is because the Pro Display goes “far beyond HDR.” It boasts 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and an insane 1,600-bit peak brightness, far outpacing even the best HDR monitors. Similarly, the Pro Display XDR includes a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and true 10-bit color depth.

Apple includes a variety of reference modes to quickly see how your design will look across displays, and the Pro Display XDR even includes ambient light sensors on the front and back to accurately adjust the picture to your environment. Furthermore, Apple individually calibrates each display and sends them through an algorithm to determine the brightness of each of the 576 LEDs.

The Apple Pro Display XDR is the best of the best. But at this price, you shouldn’t really expect any less.

LG 49WL95C-W

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If a standard ultrawide doesn’t do the trick for you, there’s always the LG 49WL95C-W. It’s a super ultrawide display with a 32:9 aspect ratio and a max resolution of 5120 x 1440. That’s the equivalent of two 1440p monitors next to each other, just without the annoying bezel in the middle.

32:9 monitors are niche products, but that means they benefit from niche features — the 49WL95C-W included. The 60Hz IPS panel covers 99% of the sRGB spectrum, allowing you to achieve Delta-E values of less than one after calibration. The panel also comes with 10-bit color depth, so it’s capable of producing over one billion colors.

It’s not the brightest monitor with a typical brightness of only 350 nits, but the 49WL95C-W still supports HDR10 for high-dynamic range content. The LG 49WL95C-W is color accurate enough, but the real draw is the size. It’s effectively two 1440p monitors stitched together and offers unmatched screen real estate for the most intense design projects.

BenQ PD2720U

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The BenQ PD2720U is a 4K monitor that earns its price tag. The IPS display covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum, and with true 10-bit color, 96% of the DCI-P3 color space, too. It’s not super bright with a peak brightness of 350 nits, but it still supports HDR10.

Each monitor comes factory calibrated with a calibration report. Unlike a lot of other factory-calibrated displays, though, the PD2720U comes with an out-of-the-box guarantee. BenQ says your panel will come with Delta-E values less than or equal to three, offering excellent color accuracy without further calibration.

Additionally, the monitor includes a KVM switch so you can quickly switch between computers, and it includes the Hotkey Puck G2 for free, which you can use to access difficult functions of the display without going through the OSD. For connectivity, you have access to dual HDMI 2.0 ports, a Display 1.4 connection, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The Thunderbolt port includes 65 watts of power delivery and gives you access to the dual USB 3.1 ports on the monitor.

The BenQ PD2720U is another 4K monitor in a market swimming with them, but it manages to stand out with excellent color accuracy and a useful bundled accessory.

Frequently asked questions

How do I choose a monitor for graphic design?

There are several factors that go into choosing a monitor for graphic design. Above all else, a good graphic design monitor comes with excellent color accuracy and uniformity. Look for a monitor with an IPS panel with support for 10-bit color that covers 99% or more of the Adobe RGB and sRGB color spaces.

Outside of that, resolution is important. Graphic designers are often working on highly detailed designs, so the more pixels you can get, the better. A 4K monitor is ideal for designers, but you can get by with 1440p if you’re not doing anything too detailed.

Do I need a 4K monitor for graphic design?

You don’t need a 4K monitor for graphic design, but it helps. The goal of a graphic design monitor is to give you an accurate representation of how your design will translate across screens. So, if you design on a lower resolution, you may miss some details that only become noticeable on a higher resolution display.

Are curved monitors good for designers?

Curved monitors aren’t inherently bad for designers, but flat panels are usually better. Curved monitors naturally distort whatever is on your screen. Although you may not notice the distortion when looking at your monitor alone, it becomes apparent when comparing a curved panel to a flat one. Flat panels give you the most accurate representation of your design.

Are gaming monitors good for designers?

There isn’t much overlap between a good gaming monitor and a good design monitor. Gaming monitors focus on refresh rate and input response, while design monitors focus on color accuracy, contrast, and uniformity. Some displays can do both, though.

There are gaming monitors, such as the Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ, that feature highly color-accurate panels while also delivering a high refresh rate and low input response. They’re few and far between, though.

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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