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Best Monitor for Graphic, UI, and UX Design

As a designer, we like our space. The toolbox of today's designer is ever growing. Therefore, having just that extra bit of monitor space can have a big impact on your day to day UI, UX, or graphic design work. However, with the increasing number of monitors it is getting harder to pick the best monitor for design.
Best monitor for design

That’s where this post comes in. We’re going to provide you with a list of the features and specifications you have to keep in mind when you’re looking for a new monitor to do your design work on. We’ll also include a few of our own suggestions to help you out.

Table of Contents

Just as we did with our best laptop for designers post, we will start with providing you with a checklist to help you decide on your new monitor purchase.

What should I look for in a design monitor?

Monitors have an incredible number of specifications to keep in mind. There are tens, if not hundreds, of things to keep in mind. We’ve broken down the list to just a handful of essentials. Take a look at the list below.

Are you not interested in the technical stuff? Skip to the end of the page to see our design monitor suggestion.

Monitor size

The size of a monitor is measured diagonally from the two opposite corners of the display. It is measured using inches. Most displays for design work start around 22 inches and can go up to well over 30 inches.

Today’s monitors come in a different number of aspect ratios. We have the traditional 16:9 widescreen, 21:9 ratio, and ultrawide displays. Keep in mind that bigger monitors are more expensive. The jumps in price get bigger as the monitor gets bigger in size as well. 

Determining the right size for your design needs also depends on the screen size of your laptop and whether or not you already have another monitor that you can use. For example, if you already have a 15″ design laptop you will not need a second monitor as much as when you only have a 13″ laptop.

There is no ideal screen size. We use 27 inch monitors for our design work but that is in part personal preference.

Resolution

Out of all monitor specifications, resolution is the one that is most commonly known. You might have heard of terms like HD, 4K, 1440p, or 2160p. This is what determines the monitor resolution.

Resolution is measured by counting the number of pixels in a vertical or horizontal row. For example, 4K and 2160p are counted vertically.

In case of selecting a monitor for design work, bigger is better applies here. High resolutions result in a more crisp display of your design on-screen. The only thing to keep in mind is that higher resolution monitors require more from your GPU as well.

We suggest to go for at least a 1440p monitor.

Panel type

The panel of a monitor is what sits in the back of the screen. It determines the color depth and viewing angle of your monitor. Three common panel types are IPS, TN and VA. TN panels have a higher refresh rate, making them a better choice for PC gaming.

IPS is generally considered to be the best panel type for design monitors. It has the greatest color range and a big viewing angle. However, this makes monitors that have this type of panel more expensive than TN and VA panels.

We suggest monitors that have an IPS panel for designing.

Color depth

Monitors with a higher color depth can display a higher number of colors. As a designer, this is very important. The color depth of monitors is displayed as 8-bit or 10-bit.

The most commonly used color depth is 8-bit color depth. This means that your monitor can display well over 16 million colors. Monitors that have a 10-bit color depth can display over a billion different colors. These types of monitors are better suited for designing, watching movies, and video editing.

Gray-scale is another important aspect of having great color depth. The level of gray-scale is also determined by the panel type you use. Especially graphic designers need to be able to see their designs on screen in a way that closely resembles the way it will look when printed. 

Our suggestion is to go for a 10-bit display if you can afford it. You can go for a 8-bit display if you’re on a budget.

I/O connectivity

You will need to connect your new design monitor to your computer, laptop, and maybe even some other devices as well. The ports available on a machine is what we call the I/O connectivity.

For monitors, this needs to align to the ports on your laptop. For example, if you have a Mac with only USB-C connectivity you will need a monitor with the same ports. It is an easy thing that can just slip by you.

Monitors usually have USB-C or HDMI output. Keep that in mind. Other ports that can be interesting to your needs are the AUX or USB-A output for speakers and external hard drives.

The best monitor for designers

We described a number of design monitor specifications. If you put them all together you will get the following list. Your next design monitor should be at least the following.

  • Screen size: at least 22 inches.
  • Resolution: at least 1440p.
  • Panel: IPS.
  • Color depth: 8-bit.

Take a look at our suggestions below.

The best monitor you can get has specs that are slightly higher than the list we wrote about just now. For our suggestion, we’re going for a bigger screen that has a color depth of 10-bit.

Our suggestion for the best monitor for designers

The best monitor we can suggest for UX and UI designers is the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q. It has a resolution of 4K on a 27 inch screen size. The monitor has a 10-bit color depth and a number of ports, making it compatible with almost any laptop.

You can get the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q on Amazon.

The best budget monitor for under 500 dollars

The monitor we suggested just above is well over 500 dollars. That’s expensive! Luckily enough, there are cheaper alternatives that will get you a quality graphic design monitor as well.

Best budget monitor for under 500 dollars

Take a look at the LG 27MK600M, for example. It is 27 inches in size as well and has an IPS panel. However, it does not have a 4K resolution.

For 200 dollars, it is the best monitor for design you can get at this price point. Check it out on Amazon over here.

Frequently asked questions

Selecting a new monitor that fits your type of design work is quite a challenge. We receive a lot of questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions we can answer to help you purchase the best monitor for design available today.

Do I need a 4K monitor as a graphic designer?

No, you do not need a 4K monitor for graphic design per se. Keep in mind that having a second monitor requires a high-performance laptop as well. The more pixels you have to display, the stronger your laptop has to be. Monitors with a lower resolution are an option as well.

To create 4K design work, you do not need a monitor that can display a 4K image. You can zoom and pan to see your work.

So, to answer your question, if your laptop can handle it, go for it. However, it not a requirement. You can do your graphic design work just fine on a 1440p or 1080p display. 

Are curved monitors worth it?

Yes, for professional designers curved monitors are totally worth it. In most cases, curved monitors are slightly more expensive than flat monitors. The benefits, however, weight up to the additional costs. A curved monitor is less straining on the eyes and have a better field of view.

As a designer, having a better field of view is important. You’ll see the on-screen color in a better way. This means that you can be more productive all while being more efficient and less taxing on your mental health and eyes. If that’s not worth it, we don’t know what is.

Are IPS monitors good for design?

IPS, or in-plane switching, monitors are considered to be the best panel type you can get today. So yes, this type of monitor panel is very good for all kinds of design. This includes graphic, visual, and UX design.

Graphic designers need to have a monitor that displays a wide range of colors under a wide viewing angle. That’s exactly what IPS monitors do.

Further reading

It is important to have a good monitor when you are a designer. However, there’s more to a complete workspace than just the monitor. Have you considered getting yourself a laptop stand that’s good for your posture? Check out our post on laptop stands.

Nick Groeneveld

About the author

Nick Groeneveld is a designer from the Netherlands with over 5 years of UX, visual design, and consultancy experience. He has worked in many different industries, including retail, finance, and sports.

Take a look at Nick’s LinkedIn and Medium for more.

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