If you're a graphic designer or photo editor, you're likely looking for a monitor that has wide viewing angles and color accuracy. In 2018, these options are more affordable than ever before.
The entrance of less expensive e-IPS panels as well as 4k and 5k monitors has brought even more expensive photo editing monitors down. Depending on the level of color accuracy you need, one of these panels might be perfect. For those who do logo work or that depend on high level of color accuracy, you'll likely need to go with something higher-end.
Whatever your needs are, we'll identify a few good computer monitors that should meet your needs as a photo or video editor, or graphic designer.
One of the best value IPS monitors available is the *Dell UltraSharp 2415. It's perfect for those of you on a budget who need semi-critical color accuracy. Gamut is at 99% sRGB. With a 6ms gray to gray response time it's also good enough for video editing and gaming.
For screen real estate, it has a bit more than your typical 1080p monitor. With a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 1920x1200 resolution you get a little bit more to work with.
One of the nice things about the U2415 is that out of the box it comes factory precalibrated with a deltaE of <3. Honestly, this is good enough for most and makes it simple to use right when you get it.
Dell also sells their UltraSharp series in 25, 27, 29 Wide, 30, and 34" curved versions. All of these have their various positives and negatives. Still, the U2415 is the one I see as having the best value for the money you spend.
There is a newer version of this monitor in the Dell UltraSharp U2417HJ that is similar in quality. If it's available for about the same price, it's probably worth the upgrade. Specs are similar and it comes with wireless charging.
A Good and Cheap IPS Monitor Under $200
If you've got a budget of under $200 consider the older model, Dell UltraSharp U2414H. It covers 96% of the sRGB space and comes with a sRGB preset mode which is the factory calibrated profile. As most would prefer not to professionally calibrate a monitor in this price range, it's good to know that any of these monitors come with a decent calibration out of the box.
*The 25" and 27" versions of this monitor both have a 2560x1440p resolution.
Dell Ultra HD Series 4k and 5k Monitors
Want to maximize your screen real estate with a 4k or 5k monitor? Dell's Ultra HD series comes in the resolution and still has 99% sRGB color coverage and a deltaE of <3 for the 4k model and <2 for the 5k.
If you have a Mac, you'll also be glad to know that this series is plug and play. There are no compatibility issues and you'll also notice that the colors will be the same on this screen as on your MacBook.
The 4k version is a great budget option for those looking for more pixels while maintaining a high level of color accuracy. There are no resume from sleep bugs like that which plugged some previous versions. Also, at under $500 you can't complain about the price.
The 5k version of this monitor is, admittedly, much more expensive. And for good reason. It has nearly double the pixels of the 4k version (14.75 million vs 8.3 million).
If you're coming from an iMac 5k to something like this you'll find that it's fairly similar with the iMac 5k having the slight advantage on ppi.
Summary: 4k Is Good Enough for Most
Overall, I'd recommend the 4k version of this monitor for all but those who have need for it or the most particular. Price for these models ranges from just under $400 for the 24" 4k version to up around $1500 for the 5k 27" version. Either option is a compatible monitor with the MacBook Pro.
If you work on branding or need a monitor that's perfectly accurate, I'd recommend one of the monitors below. Getting a good calibration will be key.
Dell UP 3017
Want a big monitor that's color accurate, has a 16:10 aspect ratio, and 2560x1600 resolution? The Dell UP 3017 should be at or near the top of your list.
The UP 3017 comes with a great deal of color accuracy right out of the box. It gives the user amazing accuracy with Adobe RGB, sRGB, and DCI-P3 while being relatively affordable.
The Cadillac Monitor for Photo Editors and Videographers
Looking for the best? I highly recommend the Eizo ColorEdge series.
Eizo ColorEdge 2" CG277-BK
With built-in self calibration, 99% of the Adobe RGB color space, full sRGB and DCI-P3, amazing tone in the dark, and a non glare IPS panel, this Eizo monitor doesn't disappoint. It's price tag is high, around $2,000, but if you need one of the most color accurate monitors available, this is where you should look.
The black levels on a monitor like the ColorEdge simply blow everything else I've tried away. Brightness is a max of 300 nits. Whether you're a digital artist or culling and editing a ton of photos, this monitor is ideal for post production.
The design of it is great as well with an excellent stand and ergonomics and superb built-in colorimeter. The panel, like most professional monitors, is thick at around 3 inches and has a large bezel. However, this is to be expected on a monitor of this caliber.
Overall, it's not a 4k monitor; however, because of that you're getting a cheaper price for it than you would have last year.
A Budget 16:10 IPS Monitor with a Wider Color Gamut
If you need a wider color gamut and a 16:10 aspect ratio, consider the Asus PA246Q with the same screen resolution, a faster 6ms response time, and a P-IPS panel with 98% Adobe RGB coverage. It's a good deal if you can find it still available at just under $500.
The newer version of this monitor is considerably less expensive but does not have the same coverage. It's up to you whether that's worth it or not. Another tempting monitor in this price range is the Asus PB278Q which is one of the better budget 27" IPS displays available on the market.
Yet, there's something especially good about the PA246Q. It's unfortunate that it never received a real upgrade. Overall, the Asus PA246Q is an affordable 30-bit display and great for those that want maximum color accuracy without the price. That being said, you'll likely need to callibrate this one to get the best result.
Technical details include a 1920 x 1200 resolution, 178°(H) / 178°(V) viewing angle, 0.27mm pixel pitch, 1.07 Billion display colors, 400 cd/m2 brightness, ASCR 50,000:1, 6ms GTG response time, P-IPS panel, D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB connectors, USB 2.0 1 x upstream, 2 x downstream, Height, Pivot, Swivel, Tilt adjustment, VESA compatible 100mm x 100mm holes, and includes a standard 3 year warranty
Why Choose an IPS Panel vs. a TN Panel Monitor?
There are two main reasons why I use an IPS panel monitor; accurate color reproduction, and wide viewing angles. In-plane switching panels use 8-10 bits per RGB color for a total of 24-30 bits. On the other hand, e-IPS panels typically are 6 bit. Dithering can be used to make up some of that gap. For this reason, even less expensive monitors may be accurate enough for some.
While true color is considered 18-bit color depth, a professional IPS monitor, like Eizo's FlexScan SX2462W can produce 1.07 billion colors and has a 30-bit color depth.
A Brief History of IPS Panels
Originally developed in 1996 by Hitachi, today, there are many types of IPS panels. Budget IPS displays are widely available and response times, overall, have come down considerably. On most IPS monitors, some user calibration is required in order to get accurate color reproduction. In addition, many IPS monitors go beyond the standard 1920 x 1080 pixels considered high definition in order to give additional working space to graphic designers, photo editors, and video editors.
While TN or twisted nematic panel monitors can claim to have up to 16.7 million colors, dithering is used in order to replace the actual color with an approximation of two or more other colors. The result is often inaccurate and grainy. Advantages to TN panel monitors include faster response times, better energy efficiency, and more affordable prices
IPS Display Poll
With more manufacturers than ever adding IPS panels to consumer displays, it's likely that within a few years the panel costs will continue to decrease. This means better and less expensive options for the masses.
Have a monitor that you'd like to recommend or simply want to make a comment on one of the monitors above? Be sure to let us know in the open discussion area below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.