The best monitors for graphic design: What you see is what you get

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Everyone enjoys a monitor with great image quality but, for graphics designers, image quality is a professional necessity. Graphics designers need a monitor that has accurate color and supports the correct color gamut for their work. Monitors that fall short make it difficult for designers to know their work will look correct when it’s viewed on other monitors or put into production.

This guide rounds up the best monitors for graphics design across a range of budgets. Scroll below our recommendations to learn more about what to look for in a monitor for graphics design.

For even more monitor recommendations, check out our roundup of the best monitors across all categories.

1. Asus ProArt OLED PA32DC – Best monitor for graphic design

Pros

The best SDR image quality yet

Good HDR performance

Long list of image quality features

Exceptionally sturdy

Numerous inputs, plus USB hub

Cons

HDR brightness could be better 

Glare can be an issue in bright rooms

Only 60Hz, no adaptive sync





Best Prices Today:



$3499 at Asus

Do you want an awesome monitor for graphics design—no matter the price? Asus’ ProArt PA32DC is for you.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: This monitor is $3,499. That’s a lot of money, to be sure, but its quality lives up to the price. This monitor has a 4K OLED panel with tack-sharp clarity, excellent color accuracy, and a very wide color gamut covering 99 percent of DCI-P3 and 98 percent of Adobe RGB. The OLED panel also provides class-leading contrast and strong HDR support, making this an ideal choice if you work with HDR content.

The ProArt PA32DC’s professional focus carries over to its design. It’s built like a tank and includes a built-in handle. You can also detach the height-adjustable stand and instead use a pair of screw-on legs that collapse flat. These unusual features might seem odd for a 32-inch monitor, but they’ll prove handy if your work requires travel to a client’s office or studio.

Connectivity is superb, too, with a total of five video inputs including a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and 65 watts of Power Delivery. The monitor’s on-screen menus offer a massive range of adjustments and customization to help professionals tune the image to their work.

This monitor is expensive, but it’s worth it. It’s an ideal professional display built for the most demanding graphics design work.

Read our full
Review Asus ProArt OLED PA32DC

2. Dell U3223QE – Best 4K monitor for graphic design

Pros

IPS Black panel fulfills its promise 

Accurate color with wide gamut 

High brightness in SDR  

USB-C hub with 90 watts of power 

Cons

Edges of display are noticeably bright 

HDR performance disappoints 

Only a 60Hz panel 

Want an excellent monitor for graphics design that won’t obliterate your savings account? Dell’s U3223QE is the perfect choice.

The Dell U3223QE is almost as color accurate as the Asus ProArt PA32DC, and the difference between them is small enough to generally not be an issue. It also supports a wide color gamut spanning 99 percent of DCI-P3 (though only 89 percent of Adobe RGB). Dell’s monitor is brighter than the ProArt PA32DC and has a more effective anti-glare coat, making it a better choice for use in bright rooms.

Dell’s U3223QE is among a small handful of monitors with an IPS Black panel. It still lacks the contrast of an OLED panel, but the contrast ratio is roughly twice that of a standard IPS panel. This is a big advantage over similarly priced competitors, most of which have a standard IPS panel with a lackluster contrast ratio.

Connectivity is great, as well, and includes a USB-C port that powers a full-featured USB-C hub with multiple USB-A ports, ethernet, and DisplayPort-out. The USB-C port delivers 95 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet.

Graphics designers who want a smaller monitor should consider this monitor’s sibling, the Dell U2723QE. It offers the same IPS Black panel, 4K resolution, and USB-C hub at a lower price.

Read our full
Review Dell U3223QE

3. Asus ProArt PA348CGV – Best ultrawide monitor for graphic design

Pros

Excellent SDR image quality 

Sturdy, hefty design 

Wide range of customization

120Hz refresh rate

Cons

USB-C hub lacks video-out or ethernet

HDR is merely passable





Best Prices Today:



$729.99 at Amazon

The Asus ProArt PA348CV is a great monitor for graphics designers who want an ultrawide display.

This ultrawide monitor delivers excellent image quality. Surprisingly, its color accuracy is the best of all monitors on this list, and its color gamut spans 98 percent of DCI-P3 (and 89 percent of Adobe RGB). Overall color performance is right on par with the Dell U3233QE, which is a couple hundred dollars more expensive. The monitor’s resolution of 3440×1440 is not as sharp as 4K but still looks great.

Asus throws in a wide range of features to sweeten the deal. The ProArt PA348CV has a feature-rich menu with numerous image-quality adjustments, a USB-C port that can deliver up to 95 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected laptop or tablet, and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. It also supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for smooth gaming. This monitor retails at an MSRP of $749.99 which, though not inexpensive, undercuts competitors with similar features. Other monitors can match the ProArt PA348CV on image quality, features, or refresh rate, but none beat it on all three.

Read our full
Review Asus ProArt PA348CGV

4. NZXT Canvas 27Q – Best budget monitor for graphic design

Pros

Attractive and robust design

Four video inputs including USB-C

Great color performance

High motion clarity at 144Hz and 165Hz

Cons

Limited image quality adjustment

Speakers not included

HDR mode is barebones





Best Prices Today:



$249.99 at NZXT

It’s tough to find a truly excellent graphics design monitor for less than $500. The NZXT Canvas 27Q is one such diamond in the rough.

The NZXT Canvas 27Q’s color performance is shockingly good for its price. The monitor’s color accuracy is superb and, in fact, slightly better out-of-box than the Asus ProArt PA32DC and Dell U3223QE. The monitor also has a wide color gamut spanning 97 percent of DCI-P3. That’s not as wide as the best graphics design monitors but, for many, it will be enough.

This is a 27-inch monitor with a resolution of 2560×1440. It doesn’t look as sharp as 4K alternatives but still appears pleasantly crisp. The monitor also supports USB-C with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, though it doesn’t have Power Delivery for charging a connected device.

The monitor’s MSRP is $339.99, but it frequently sells for just $249.99. That’s without a stand, which adds $40 to the price. NZXT also offers an optional monitor arm that can clip to your desk. It’s a good pickup if you plan to use the Canvas 27Q as a second monitor.

Read our full
Review NZXT Canvas 27Q

What to look for in a monitor for graphics design

A great monitor is critical for graphics design—you’ll be spending all day staring at it, after all. Many monitors can do the job, but the best graphics design monitors have specific traits that set them apart from monitors that are great for 4K movies, gaming, and general use.

Buy a monitor with great color accuracy

Color accuracy is a key trait for graphics design monitors. Accurate color means that content you view on it will be a reasonably accurate example of what the same content will look like on other monitors, or when your work is sent to print.

Most modern monitors deliver reasonable color accuracy, but some remain much better than others. The good news? You don’t have to spend a fortune to see top-notch results. The NZXT Canvas 27Q, which retails for as little as $249.99 on sale, has color accuracy on par with our top pick, the $3,499.99 Asus ProArt PA32DC.

Color gamut is critical

Of course, the similarity in accuracy between the NZXT Canvas 27Q and Asus ProArt PA32DC may leave you scratching your head. Why pay over 10 times more for the Asus?

Color gamut is a key reason. A monitor’s color gamut describes the range of colors that it can display. This is often measured relative to a specific, industry-standard color space, such as sRGB, DCI-P3, Rec.709, or Adobe RGB. If a monitor has a color gamut that can display 99 percent of DCI-P3, that means it can show 99 percent of all colors included in the DCI-P3 color space.

That’s why a wider color gamut is better than a narrow color gamut. A monitor with a narrow color gamut literally can’t display some colors, which means they won’t appear correct on that monitor.

A high resolution is preferrable 

A higher display resolution is usually preferable over a lower display resolution. A high resolution literally displays more information than a lower resolution, and that translates to more detail and the ability to see more of an image at once without zooming in. In practice, 4K is the preferable resolution for modern high-end graphics design displays, while 1440 is an acceptable alternative.

The work that you do is also important. If your graphics design is centered on web design, for example, it’s less likely you will need an extremely high resolution. Photographers, on the other hand, demand high resolutions because it reduces the zooming and scaling required when working with high-resolution DSLR (or even smartphone) photos.

It’s good to have options

The best monitors for graphics design look excellent at default settings, but graphics designers often need to tune a monitor’s look to fit their preferences or the requirements of a client. One job may only require use of the sRGB color space, but another might require DCI-P3, and so on.

All the monitors on this list provide some degree of customization, with more-expensive models generally offering more options than less-expensive alternatives. This is where the Asus ProArt PA32DC truly excels. It looks superb out-of-box, true, but can be tuned to fit a wide range of color space, gamma, and color temperature requirements. It even includes a built-in calibration tool to dial in image quality.

How we test monitors

PC World monitor reviews are written by the publication’s staff and freelance writers. We use the SpyderXElite color calibration tool to objectively measure the brightness, contrast, color gamut, and accuracy of each monitor. Objective measurements help us directly compare the quality of dozens of monitors at once.

Our tests consider whether a monitor supports any special features that give it an advantage. A USB-C hub that includes ethernet connectivity and USB Power Delivery is a bonus; we also like to see ergonomic stands, multiple video inputs, and a wide range of useful on-screen menu options.

FAQ

1.

What makes a monitor good for graphics design?

The two most important traits for graphics design are color accuracy and color gamut. Accurate color ensures the color shown on a monitor will be like that on other monitors, while a wide color gamut ensures support for industry standard color spaces. Resolution is also important. 4K resolution is preferred, and 1440p is the minimum that we recommend.

2.

What is color gamut, and why does it matter for graphics design?

Most graphics designers work in an industry standard color space that describes a specific range of color. The sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces are common examples. 

A monitor’s color gamut describes the range of color a monitor can support within a color space. The more, the better. Any colors that a monitor can’t display within a color space won’t appear correct on the monitor. That may cause an image to appear inaccurate. 

A monitor’s color gamut doesn’t need complete, 100% coverage for a color space to be usable, but a minimum of 95 percent of a desired color space is recommended.

3.

What is the best resolution for graphics design?

4K resolution is the most practical resolution for graphics design. It delivers four times as many pixels as 1080p, yet nearly all modern devices offer great support for 4K resolution and will have no problems displaying an image on a 4K monitor. It’s commonly used in many industries and is effectively the standard for television and film. 

1440p resolution is an acceptable compromise common in budget monitors and ultrawide displays. It’s not as pixel dense as 4K, but still a good upgrade over 1080p, and looks sharp in typical use.

4.

Is an ultrawide monitor good for graphics design?

Ultrawide monitors provide a wider display space which offers more usable display real estate. That’s handy if you often multi-task or need to compare content frequently. You can snap a window to each side of the monitor to easily see the difference between two images. 

However, nearly all ultrawide monitors are limited to 3440×1440 resolution. The few that offer a higher resolution charge a substantial premium for the feature. This is a problem if you need to work on 4K content at native resolution.

Monitors