The best USB-C monitors: These displays have a hidden talent

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USB-C is the one connection to rule them all—literally, in many cases, thanks to a recent law passed by the European Parliament. Its popularity has made USB-C a common sight on new monitors. A USB-C monitor can easily connect with a wide range of devices, from laptops to smartphones; and some USB-C monitors can even charge a connected device while in use.

The details of USB-C can be confusing, however, and pricing for USB-C monitors is often higher than that for monitors that lack the interface. Our guide to the best USB-C monitors will help you pick the right display for your needs.

To learn more, see our section on what to look for in a USB-C monitor below our recommendations.

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

1. Dell U3223QE – Best USB-C monitor overall

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 

The Dell U3223QE, which ranks as our best monitor overall, is an excellent USB-C monitor with a huge range of connectivity. It also packs a cutting-edge IPS panel with alluring image quality. 

Connectivity is excellent. The monitor has a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and up to 90 watts of Power Delivery for charging a connected device. It also drives a USB hub with a total of five additional USB-A ports, ethernet, and DisplayPort-out. That’s enough to connect a wired mouse, keyboard, and display—and still have several ports left over for external drives or your smartphone.

This monitor is among the precious few with an IPS Black display panels. As the name implies, this technology improves black levels, offering roughly twice the contrast ratio of competing monitors with IPS panels. Very few monitors have this panel, so it gives the Dell U3223QE a significant edge over its competitors. The monitor also has 4K resolution and superb out-of-the-box color accuracy.

This monitor has a smaller twin, the Dell U2723QE, which packs the same features and IPS Black panel at a lower price. It’s a good choice if you don’t want a huge 32-inch monitor or do want a USB-C monitor on a more modest budget.

Read our full
Review Dell U3223QE

2. NZXT Canvas 27Q – Best budget USB-C monitor

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

The NZXT Canvas S27Q is the go-to choice if you want a USB-C monitor and don’t need a wide range of USB-C hub connectivity. Its more threadbare feature set helps NZXT deliver USB-C connectivity and superb image quality for less than $300.

This monitor has a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, meaning it can handle video input. It lacks Power Delivery, however, so the USB-C port won’t charge a connected laptop or tablet. The USB-C port connects to two additional USB-A ports. On the plus side, this monitor has two HDMI-in ports and one DisplayPort-In, for a total for four video inputs. Most affordable monitors have just two or three.

The NZXT Canvas S27Q is a 27-inch 1440p monitor with an IPS panel and a refresh rate of up to 165Hz. It also supports AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync, which is good news for gamers.

The monitor has excellent image quality and scores particularly well in color performance and accuracy. It can go toe-to-toe with competitors priced $100 to $200 above it, so it’s a great choice if you want maximum value for your money.

Read our full
Review NZXT Canvas 27Q

3. Asus ProArt PA348CGV – Best ultrawide USB-C monitor

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 PA348CGV is a spectacular ultrawide USB-C monitor. It manages to serve a huge range of people, from gamers to prosumers and professionals, without letting anyone down.

This monitor has a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and up to 90 watts of Power Delivery, so it can charge a connected laptop or table. The USB-C port can drive up to four additional USB-A ports, offering a wide range of physical connections. It doesn’t support ethernet or video-out, however, so some owners will still need an additional adapter. 

Image quality is superb. Color accuracy is excellent, the color gamut is wide, and maximum brightness is high. The monitor’s 34-inch panel has a resolution of 3440×1440, which is roughly equivalent to a 27-inch 1440p monitor and looks sharp in everyday use. The monitor has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, which is good news for gamers.

The ProArt PA348CGV is reasonably priced, as well, at $729.99—not a bargain, but lower than most ultrawide monitors with similar features. Its price, wide range of features, and excellent image quality make the ProArt PA348CGV a great USB-C monitor for gamers and content creators.

Read our full
Review Asus ProArt PA348CGV

4. LG DualUp 28MQ780-B – Best USB-C monitor for productivity

Pros

Unique aspect ratio is useful for photo, video editing

Makes an awesome second monitor 

Highly adjustable stand 

Vivid, accurate color

Cons

Difficult to fit in a small home office 

USB-C port offers limited downstream connectivity 

Can lack immersion in some content





Best Prices Today:



$695.21 at Amazon$699.99 at LG

The LG DualUp 28MQ780-B is a USB-C monitor with a unique 16:18 aspect ratio that’s almost exactly square. It can rotate into a 18:16 aspect ratio if you’d prefer. The monitor is much taller than most monitors and, as a result, has an adjustable stand that clamps to the rear of your desk instead of a normal desktop stand.

The monitor’s odd form factor is ideal for viewing large, complex documents and can be useful for editing portrait or square photos. It’s also well suited for use as a second monitor alongside a large 32-inch display.

The DualUp 28MQ780-B has a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode and 90 watts of Power Delivery, so it can charge a connected laptop or tablet. The USB-C port can extend connectivity to two additional USB-A ports. Unfortunately, the monitor lacks ethernet or video-out, so some owners may need an additional adapter.

What about image quality? It’s great. The monitor has great color accuracy, a wide color gamut, and respectable sharpness thanks to its resolution of 2560×2880. Just be warned: The odd aspect ratio makes it a strange fit for gaming and movies. This is a monitor built for work, not play.

Read our full
Review LG DualUp 28MQ780-B

What to look for in a USB-C monitor

Many features desirable in a USB-C monitor are the same as on any other display. A sharp, vivid, bright, and contrast-rich screen is best. However, shoppers who want to buy a USB-C monitor should keep an eye on details only relevant to USB-C.

Remember, too, that a USB-C display can be used in two contexts. First, you can connect your USB-C monitor to a desktop PC or laptop via a USB-C cable, and use it like a traditional USB-C hub via the USB-C cable’s 20Gbps interface. That’s pretty straightforward.

Second, you can also use the USB-C cable as a replacement for a display cable like HDMI or DisplayPort, especially for newer laptops that might eliminate an HDMI or DisplayPort port.

It’s here that USB-C monitors can get tricky. The traditional rule of thumb is that a USB-C port can support a 4K display at 30Hz resolution. DisplayPort Alternate Mode (see below) increases that to 4K60, which is much easier on the eyes. Newer laptops use DisplayPort 1.4, which combines a high-bit-rate mode (HBR3) with a DSC compression mode that should allow for 4K60 video alongside the ability to use USB 3.1 storage devices.

Be aware, however, that the USB-C cable’s 20Gbps throughput may not allow for video to be passed to premium displays like the NZXT Canvas S27Q at its full 1440p, 165Hz refresh rate. Those specifications probably assume that you’re using a dedicated video port like DisplayPort, instead, as well as its separate video cable. You can certainly connect the display to your laptop using both a video cable and the USB-C cable simultaneously, however.

If your laptop uses either Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 — all of which use a 40Gbps data connection and a USB-C port on your laptop — you should probably have no issues connecting your laptop to the monitor at the full refresh rate using a Thunderbolt cable. Just consult your laptop’s specifications and/or manual to make sure.

Power Delivery

USB-C Power Delivery provides power over a USB-C cable. It’s not part of the core USB-C specification, so devices with USB-C (including monitors) don’t always support it. Power Delivery can pack up to 240 watts, but most USB-C monitors provide just 65 to 90 watts. It’s a perfect fit for those who own a thin-and-light laptop, 2-in-1, or tablet.

Power Delivery is inadequate for some devices, such as gaming laptops, which consume more power than current USB-C monitors can provide. These laptops may still charge when left at idle but will charge slowly (or even discharge the battery) when in use.

Ethernet

Wired ethernet is a desirable feature in a USB-C monitor. Many modern laptops lack a physical Ethernet port, so its inclusion on a monitor is convenient. It can improve the speed and reliability of a connected device’s internet connection.

While useful, this is an expensive feature available only on premium models. The Dell U3223QE is the only USB-C monitor on this list with ethernet support.

DisplayPort Alternate Mode

DisplayPort Alternate Mode is a feature available to USB-C that handles video as if the USB-C cable was a DisplayPort cable. It supports all the features you’d expect from DisplayPort including high refresh rates and adaptive sync.

A monitor without this feature won’t accept video over USB-C, meaning you’ll have to connect both USB-C and a separate video input. All the monitors on this list support DisplayPort Alternate Mode.

How we test monitors

PC World’s monitor guides are the result of independent tests by PC World staff members and freelance technology journalists. 

We test each monitor with a SpyderXElite color calibration tool. This tool can measure a monitor’s brightness, contrast, color gamut, color accuracy, uniformity, gamma, color temperature, and other important aspects of display quality. Using a tool that measures objective quality helps us objectively compare dozens of monitors.

Our tests of USB-C monitors also consider the range of USB-C connectivity and features available. We prefer to see a USB-C monitor with a complete range of physical connectivity including ethernet and at least 90 watts of Power Delivery, but these desirable features are balanced against the monitor’s price.

FAQ

1.

Do I really need a USB-C monitor?

A USB-C monitor is a great way to expand your computer’s connectivity without the added clutter of a USB-C hub or dock. It reduces the wires present on your desk, freeing up space for other uses. PC World’s guide to USB-C hub monitors has the full story.

USB-C monitors are excellent when used with a USB-C laptop that consumes less than 90 watts of power at load. Docking a laptop at a desk can be annoying if you use a wired keyboard, wired mouse, and external monitor. A USB-C monitor can consolidate all your wired devices to a single USB-C cable. 

If these benefits sound good, then a USB-C monitor could be for you. If not, you may get more value from a conventional monitor.

2.

Are USB-C monitors expensive?

Yes, USB-C monitors are more expensive. Basic monitors without USB-C retail for as little as $100, while similar monitors with USB-C start around $150. 

That price premium persists through all price categories. You can expect to pay around $50 to $100 more for a USB-C monitor than you would for a similar monitor without it.

Premium productivity and professional monitors are an exception. Nearly all monitors in these categories offer some form of USB-C support. They remain expensive, though, and are often priced between $500 to $1,000 (and sometimes more).

3.

Are USB-C monitors good for gaming?

Technically speaking, USB-C monitors can be great for gaming. USB-C video is handled over DisplayPort Alternate Mode, which preserves all the usual benefits of DisplayPort. This includes great support for high refresh rates, high resolutions, and adaptive sync.

But there’s a catch: Many monitors that have a USB-C port don’t support important gaming features like an enhanced refresh rate, low pixel response times, or adaptive sync. The Asus ProArt PG348CGV, our pick for best ultrawide with USB-C, and the NZXT Canvas 27Q, our best budget pick, are two notable exceptions. Just make sure that you’re connecting to them with a dedicated DisplayPort or HDMI video cable, and not using the USB-C cable as the video cable, too.

Monitors