Despite how important computer programming is for keeping our desktops functioning properly, most commercial devices are built towards administration or recreational use over data-intensive programming. This means that many programmers need to shop around to get the right hardware for the job, and an often overlooked part of this equation is the monitor.
It’s through the monitor that our computers inform us of all the processes that are taking place, allowing us to see how our inputs affect the desktop. If you have a monitor lying around already, you can probably use that and program just fine. If you’re building out a programming desktop, however, then you’ll want to get the most compatible monitor that lies within your price range.
Take a look at our five monitor suggestions below. Each has different price points attached to them and they have been reviewed, so you know what you’re buying. If you’re relatively new to monitor specs, we have a “Things to Consider” section that covers all the basics and how they relate to programming.
Before we get into specifics and specs, let’s go through a brief rundown of how we chose the following products and how they have been ranked below. Fortunately, reviewing technology comes with specifications that make the process pretty cut and dry. Thanks to these specs, we can properly gauge how each monitor is friendly to consumers and stop our readers from making a costly mistake by getting the wrong one.
So, which features did we pay attention to? The size of the monitor is a little more important than usual since you want a monitor that shows more information at once. That size needs to have a higher resolution, of course, so we also kept that in mind along with other specs like refresh rates, response times, and the color quality that the monitor has.
Once again, if you’re unfamiliar with a particular one or all of these features, check out the bottom of this page to see a basic explanation and how they’re useful to you as an aspiring programmer. You should understand these terms because there are still some user-based concerns that need addressing. We can put the best monitor by specs in front of you but you’ll need to understand what those specs mean and whether they’re suitable for your desktop environment. Likewise, the experience of other users has been taken into account through customer ratings and reviews when we ranked these products.
Best Monitor for Programming in 2021
A 27” FHD monitor that has a 1920x1080 resolution.
Ships with Dell Easy Arrange, great for organizing multiple open apps and windows.
Uses an IPS panel that sends out incredibly consistent color displays.
AMD FreeSync technology ensures there are no tears while supporting a 75Hz refresh rate.
Built-in speakers aren’t great, we’d advise using external hardware if you need sound.
Our top monitor recommendation for programming is one that you’re guaranteed to have heard of, the Dell S2721H 27” Full HD Monitor. Dell offers all sorts of computer hardware, most notably their laptops, but it’s their S2721H monitor that we’re looking at today. It’s twenty-seven inches, as we already said, and the Full HD applies to a 1920×1080 resolution. Twenty-seven-inch models are always better priced due to how common they are and you can get most work done without them, and the same can generally be said for that resolution too.
What makes this model stand out is Dell’s own Easy Arrange system. Shipping with Dell computer products, the Dell Display Manager has an Easy Arrange mode that makes repositioning and resizing open windows much easier. This allows you to cram your screen full of important information while coding, so you don’t have to tab in and out constantly.
Sometimes those windows will have color in, as can be the case when different lines of code are, well, color-coded. In those cases, the IPS panel that this monitor is made with guarantees that the color will be more vivid than it would with other commonly used panel types.
This model also uses AMD’s FreeSync tech to manage screen tearing and ensure that the monitor runs at its smooth 75Hz refresh rate. That screen is much easier to see thanks to the fact that the top and sides are essentially borderless.
If the above specs are close but not close enough, you’ll be glad to know that the size and base of this model have different variants you can buy. The screen is twenty-seven inches, sure, but you can get twenty-four inches too if you want. Likewise, we’ve linked the fixed-base model but you can get an adjustable one that can swivel too.
A larger 32” 4K UHD monitor with a 3840x2160 resolution on a VA panel compromise.
Compatible with AMD FreeSync tech to maintain smoothness and stop screen tearing.
Features a comprehensive 90% DCI-P3 color gamut.
Compatible with HDR 10 video format.
Has a basic fixed mounting stand.
Next up is a larger monitor from an equally familiar electronics company, LG’s 32UN500-W 32” UHD Display monitor. If you liked the look of the number one option but weren’t thrilled about that twenty-seven-inch screen then this should be the monitor for you. At thirty-two inches, this monitor has a 3840×2160 4K resolution that’s arranged across a VA panel. Where IPS panels are more suitable for color performance, the VA panels are a happy medium between TN and IPS and make for a better general-use monitor.
Like the number one monitor, it can make use of AMD’s FreeSync technology to keep the image smooth and prevent vertical screen tearing. The image is also supported by some of the latest color gamut innovations in the form of a DCI-P3 gamut with 90% color spectrum coverage. That means that when color is present, you’ll get a high color fidelity across the RGB spectrum.
The monitor is also compatible with the High Dynamic Range 10 video format, improving brightness and image clarity. The image is only bordered along its bottom too, the top and sides having pretty much no border to maximize its thirty-two inches of screen space. Our one gripe would be that, for a larger screen, it has a fixed mounting stand with no option for adjustability.
A compact 25” QHD monitor with a sophisticated 99% sRGB color gamut.
This model also uses Dell Display Manager and its Easy Arrange function.
A seamless restore system and accessible shortcuts ensure you don’t lose any programming progress.
Made with InfinityEdge design that can present a consistent image across multiple screens.
Less reviewed than the previous two monitor recommendations.
The third monitor we’re recommending is another Dell product, their Ultrasharp U2520D 25” QHD LCD Monitor. It’s a smaller monitor than the others, that much should be obvious already, but it’s not short on features that can make this a great display for your desktop. If you’re after a multi-screen setup then this might be the handy second monitor that you’ve been looking for.
As a Dell monitor, this model also uses Dell Display Manager which, with its Easy Arrange function, makes full use of all twenty-five inches of the screen by arranging tabs and open applications in a way that makes them all visible at once. As we said before, it’s the perfect feature for having a lot of information on-screen at the same time.
If and when you turn the monitor off, the product uses an auto-restore feature that remembers where you stopped. Even if you unplug the monitor, the screen will come right back on with the same information assuming that you didn’t manually close the windows down yourself. It also has easy shortcut key management too, which can come in handy when programming.
This monitor is great as a secondary monitor too. If you use multiple monitors then this model’s InfinityEdge feature enables cross-screen image consistency. This means you can have an image across both screens and seamlessly drag items from one screen to the other and vice versa. If that sounds complicated, the Dell Express Daisy Chaining system built into the monitor makes setup easier than ever.
The fact that this model can also tilt and adjust to your preferred height positioning also makes it great as either a primary or secondary monitor.
A 27” WQHD 2K monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 and an IPS panel construction.
Makes use of a pair of sophisticated 100% sRGB and 100% Rec. 709 wide color gamut.
Proprietary ASUS ProArt Preset and ProArt Palette allow for unmatched color adjustability.
The most connective display on this list with HDMI, USB 3.0, DisplayPort, and Mini DisplayPort ports.
ASUS monitors tend to have pretty bad viewing angles.
The fourth monitor you should take a look at is the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV 27” WQHD Monitor. This is your average-sized 2K monitor, so that’s a resolution of 2560×1440, which is displayed on an IPS panel. IPS panels, if you didn’t know, are considered better than TN and VA alternatives when it comes to color fidelity and vivid image detail.
You’ve likely noticed that the name of this display is the ProArt. While some may consider programming its own kind of art, this name might bring to mind a computer that’s oriented towards visual artists and graphic designers. You wouldn’t be wrong as it has both a 100% sRGB color gamut and a 100% Rec. 709 wide color alternative that makes it the most suited for artistry work.
What’s more, the ASUS’ exclusive ProArt Preset and ProArt Palette allow you to adjust the color settings on the monitor in a way that a lot of other brands lack. If your programming is towards a visual end, like for a videogame or other projects that are experienced through the eyes, then you might want this kind of color adjustability.
This monitor is the one for those who often find that they get displays with lackluster connectivity options. This ASUS ProArt model should keep you covered for the foreseeable future thanks to its wide variety of ports, from USB 3.0, HMDI, and DisplayPort (along with Mini DisplayPort) to more less-used port types like dual-link DVI-D and even an earphone jack.
The stand of this monitor is ergonomic too, meaning that it adjusts to the ideal horizontal and vertical positioning that you’d like. This isn’t anything new for the products on this list but what this monitor does differently is its VESA-compatible wall mounting capability. This adjustability is great as ASUS monitors do tend to suffer from poor viewing angles if you’re not looking at them head-on. If you want a monitor that you can affix to the wall of your office space, this display can do it.
A large 38” WQHD+ curved monitor with a resolution of 3840x1600.
ComfortView filters away harmful blue light so that your eyes aren’t damaged by prolonged viewing.
Its IPS panel makes it great for vivid-colored imaging.
Dell InfinityEdge maximizes this already large screen size by restricting upper borders.
This is the most expensive monitor on this list.
The final monitor we’re going to recommend today is yet another Dell model. This time we’re talking about the Dell U-Series 38” LED-Lit Monitor, a model that sags in some places but is unrivaled in its nearly forty whole inches of screen real estate. That extra real estate doesn’t come cheap, however, with this monitor being the most expensive on this page.
As a WQHD model, the thirty-eight-inch monitor is actually curved to make full use of every inch and allow it to fit into a smaller workspace. It offers a 3840×1600 resolution that has been TUV-certified to avoid flickers and be easy on your eyes. This is partly due to ComfortView, a feature of this monitor that restricts blue light emanating from the monitor. This means it’s easy to stare at the screen for prolonged coding sessions without the usual adverse health effects. This doesn’t harm the performance of the colors reported by this display, however, thanks to its IPS panel that maintains a higher level of color fidelity when working.
The monitor makes use of that InfinityEdge tech that Dell uses often, effectively eliminating upper and side borders to make an already big display bigger. This impressively large monitor can also be connected with as little as one USB-C cable. Otherwise, it has alternate HDMI ports you can use, just as you would with the other monitors featured on this list.
Things To Consider
This one should be fairly obvious to buyers. Most of us think that a bigger screen will be better, which it usually is assuming we have space and the cash for it but thinking about this will help you to determine the use of your monitor. Does it need to be large? If not, you can save some cash by going for a smaller model. How close will you be to the screen and how long will you be staring at it?
For programming, you can ideally get any screen size you want. That said, a larger screen will be able to show more and at a higher level of detail thanks to its boosted resolution. Is it necessary? Not really, so buy for more important specs and, if they match with a larger model that’s equal in most other ways without breaking the bank, maybe grab the larger one instead.
You’re going to want to get a monitor with a great display resolution so that you can see exactly what you’re doing on the computer. From 1920×1080 to 4k (3840×2160), modern commercial monitors are supported in many different resolutions that dictate screen size and image detail.
In our list, we’ve covered most of them, so there’s no real pressure to buy for pure resolution alone. Think of how your screen right now looks while programming. Would you prefer the extra space or is your programming setup just fine as it is now and you’re buying for other specs instead? Only you can answer these questions and, once you do, you can then start shopping around the resolutions you want to get a price point you can manage.
Whether it’s the panel type used for the supported color gamut, color fidelity is how well the screen reports colored contents from a palette of sophisticated color shades. In terms of panels, it’s pretty much unanimous that you want an IPS panel for color performance with the VA being a close second ahead of TN panels.
Whether it’s an RGB variant, a DCI-P3, or a Rec. 709, any monitor will come with one or even a combination of these along with a percentage point that indicates how much of the color spectrum they have covered.
So how many colors do you use when programming? If the computer is also for personal recreational use, color performance specs like these become more important. That said, even if you’re just programming there’s often color used to separate and differentiate lines of code from one another and show the relationships between them. In that case, having those colors be as vivid as possible can be a plus for you.
Response Times and Refresh Rate
Response time is how fast the pixels on your screen change to reflect coloration changes on-screen. This is usually done via a grey-to-grey transition. The spec is given in milliseconds, with five being a good baseline and one being what you should expect if you’re paying premium prices for modern displays.
Refresh rates are instead measured in Hertz and you want to see the corresponding figure be as high as possible. Many monitors operate at 144Hz, though 160Hz and higher are even better. Refresh rates are how often the screen updates what’s being shown on it, so the higher the refresh rate, the less you’ll have to contend with ghosting and screen tearing.
While the decision is ultimately down to you, here’s what we can say. Take a look at the pros of each of the above models. If you’re buying for size and size alone, our number five monitor, the Dell U-Series, might actually be your number one. While we’ve rated for performance specs, what matters is which specs are important to you.
Likewise, if it’s the color capability you wanted then the ASUS ProArt Display has exactly what you want, or you can customize its color settings to make it exactly what you want. Our top monitor, the Dell S2721H model, was chosen because it gives you the most for the humblest price, making it the most consumer-friendly product. As always, buy within your means and get the best item that you can afford.