The 5 Best Monitors for Graphic Design in 2018

You’ve spent a small fortune on your computer, don’t let it go to waste by using any old monitor.

Just like other tools of the designer’s trade, high quality is essential. If you’re going to be up all night trying to get a project finished on a deadline, you need your monitor to work just as hard as you do.

But what exactly does a hard-working monitor look like? We used these top four needs of professional graphic designers to evaluate the monitors on the market:

  • Color Accuracy
  • Resolution
  • Size
  • Price

For a full breakdown of what these factors mean, check out our “Criteria” section below. Otherwise, let’s jump into the goodies!

 

#1 – Dell UltraSharp UP3216Q (EDITOR’S PICK)

Dell Ultrasharp Graphic Desig Monitor

  • Color Accuracy – 99% Adobe RGB, 100% sRBG
  • Resolution – 4K
  • Size – 32 inches
  • Price – ~$1,100*

Coming in as our #1 Editor’s Pick is Dell’s offering to the Ultra HD market, and it’s a good one. The color accuracy on this 32-inch screen is top-notch, supporting 99% Adobe RGB spectrum and 100% sRBG, as is the picture quality.

And while the price is above some other options in the market, it’s actually well below comparable quality monitors. For this reason it hit’s a “sweet spot” of quality and price, which is why we chose it as our top pick this year.

Pros

  • Exceptional color accuracy
  • Tilt and swivel capability
  • Moderate price

Cons

  • No DVI port

#2 – AOC U3277PWQU (BEST VALUE)

AOC Graphic Design Monitor

  • Color Accuracy – 91% Adobe RBG
  • Resolution – 4k
  • Size – 32 inches
  • Price – ~$500*

Summary

Our next choice is the best value for those looking to avoid a hefty price tag. It comes with very good quality, but at a very low price point, so it’s a good choice for those looking to save money but not skimp too much on quality.

At 32 inches, this monitor is big but not bulky. The high pixel density of its 4K resolution, plus a decent color gamut make it a good choice for design work. The adjustable stand also swivels and tilts, an ergonomic benefit for working long hours. And at about $500*, it won’t necessarily break the bank.

Pros

  • Low cost + high resolution = a pretty good deal.

Cons

  • At 91% Adobe RBG, it doesn’t get the highest marks for color accuracy.

#3 – EIZO CG318-4K-BK ColorEdge (HIGHEST QUALITY)

EIZO CG318-4K-BK Graphic Design Monitor

  • Color Accuracy – 99% Adobe RBG
  • Resolution – 4k
  • Size – 32 inches
  • Price – ~$5,300*

The cadillac of design monitors, the Eizo CG318 is truly top of the line, with a price to match. This option is for those that want to spare no expense, so while it’s not a great fit for everyone, it is such a sweet monitor.

Along with 4K resolution, this pro-level 32-inch monitor boasts 10-bit color display and a built-in color calibration sensor to self-calibrate. Oh, it comes with a monitor hood, too.

Pros

  • Exceptional quality

Cons

  • Pretty much the only downside is the cost.

#4 – NEC MultiSync PA322UHD-BK-SV (HIGH QUALITY)

AOC-u3277PWQU Professional COmputer Monitor

  • Color Accuracy – 99% Adobe RGB
  • Resolution – 4K
  • Size – 32 inches
  • Price – ~$3,000*

If you’re looking to make an investment, but don’t want to go all in on the Eizo, this is the monitor for you. Not only does it offer 4K resolution and 99% Adobe RGB, the MultiSync 32-inch screen comes with color calibration software and uses less power than other LCD panels.

Pros

  • Over 99% Adobe RBG
  • Power-saving feature
  • Calibration software included

Cons

  • High price
  • Heavy

#5 – Samsung U28E590D (LOWEST PRICE)

Samsung U28E590D Graphic Design Monitor

  • Color Accuracy – 97% sRBG
  • Resolution – 4k
  • Size – 28 inches
  • Price – ~$300*

What makes this monitor so appealing? Aside from its price tag (just over $300) and Ultra HD resolution, you get over 8 million pixels to play with and a 1 ms refresh rate. This one runs a bit on the smaller side at 28 inches, which could be a plus depending on your work space.

Pros

  • Definitely the cost, which is about the lowest you’ll pay for 4K resolution.

Cons

  • Does not come with a USB port.

How to Pick the Best Monitor for Design (Our Criteria)

Wondering just want “color accuracy” or “gamut” means? Well we’ve broken this out for below. We used these 4 criteria for our annual rankings of the best monitors, feel free to read on if you want to learn more!

Color Accuracy

What’s the number one concern for designers? Color accuracy (and gray scale accuracy, too). Simply put, color accuracy is how closely the appearance of a color on screen are true to life, or match the images when printed (if you’ve ever ordered a can of paint online, only to discover it’s a vastly different shade than you thought, you know how important color accuracy is). Ensuring color accuracy in your monitor is also essential because you can’t always trust your eyes, especially if they are fatigued or if the light changes while you’re working. So how does a monitor reproduce accurate colors? First, you want to make sure your monitor has a wide color gamut. That means has the ability to show the widest number of colors possible, usually expressed as a percentage of one (or more) measurement systems. For our purpose, we focused on sRBG and Adobe RBG. Basically, the closer a monitor comes to 100% Adobe RBG or sRBG, the better the color gamut, and the more accurate the colors. Next, you want to make sure it’s calibrated. Some of the better monitors have built-in color calibration tools. Otherwise, you may want to spring for something like this DataColor Spyder kit.

Resolution

This is a big one, and really something you don’t want to skimp on. Your monitor is essentially the window that allows you to see your work, so you want the image that o be as clear and crisp as possible, which means you want the maximum number of pixels you can afford. 4K, or Ultra HD, is the gold standard. At 3840 x 2160 pixels, it’s a higher resolution than you’ll find even in an HD TV. Depending on your budget, you can get away with lower resolution — 2560 by 1440 is good. But nothing less than 1920 x 1200 pixels. Without a high resolution, you’re essentially hiding pieces of your design from yourself.

Size

Here’s where you get some wiggle room, as there are excellent monitors in a range of sizes. Bigger isn’t always better, as larger screens can be uncomfortable to use (not to mention take up more space). When it comes to size, you want to consider the size of your work space, how many windows you’ll need open at a time, and your budget. It’s somewhat of a Goldilocks problem, so we looked at screens between 28 inches and 32 inches, making sure they weren’t too small or too big.

Price

Last, but absolutely not least, is the cost. Monitor prices vary widely, and as you might expect, the top choices also cost the most. No worries, though. There are excellent monitors in the lower price ranges too, allowing you to save you money without sacrificing quality. The monitors we reviewed here run between the $300 range to the $5000 range.

Conclusion

When you work in a visual medium, you need to make sure things look good. By getting the best monitor you can afford, you’re one step closer to an amazing finished product. And with an abundance of excellent monitor options on the market at a range of prices and sizes, there’s really nothing standing in your way.

*Disclaimer: Prices listed were accurate at the time of publication but are not necessarily reflective of current prices on Amazon.com or other retailers..

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January 24, 2018