For programmers and software developers, a computer monitor is a crucial part of the job from day to day. It allows you to visualize everything you need, expands your screen real estate, and creates space for every window and application you need to open.
This means it’s extremely important to pick the best model that will be reliable, long lasting, and efficient.
From extending an existing display to creating an entirely new PC from scratch to upgrading the one you already have, the monitor is key. However, buying a monitor brings up many questions.
Should it be curved? Is 4k worth the extra cost? What about orientation rotation? That’s why we’ve picked out some of the best programming monitors available — and included plenty of information on how to decide which one is the best fit for you.
Best 4K Monitor: ASUS Designo MX27UC 27″ 4K Monitor
If you’re going 4K, ASUS is the way to go. Their monitor features an almost edgeless 27″ screen and uses the modern USB type C port for all of its needs, eliminating the need for multiple cords. It even comes with built-in speakers.
Best Small Monitor: HP Pavilion 21.5-Inch IPS LED HDMI VGA Monitor
If you need something small, the HP Pavilion is the way to go. At 21.5″ it will easily fit on any desk, but still maintains a stellar 1080p display and offers both HDMI and VGA connections. The display is anti-glare, which is also great for offices that experience poorly placed or otherwise annoying lighting.
Best for Flexibility: Dell UltraSharp U2715H 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor
This monitor’s middle name might as well be adjustability. It can swivel, tilt, and rotate to support all orientations without the use of an external arm, all while providing an extremely high-quality 1440p display.
I’m a Developer, Do I Really Need a Monitor?
Whether you’re building a PC from the ground up, extending the display from a laptop, or adding another monitor to your existing array, these devices are a significant part of your workflow. They represent a significant investment in hardware and should be treated as such. The right monitor will help you work more efficiently and feel more comfortable at your workstation.
Because monitors are used for so many different things, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. We’ve recommended some monitors for programming and coding here, but these aren’t necessarily the same best choices as if you plan on gaming competitively or using a suite of creative software on a regular basis.
If these are your needs, we have some other recommendations as for the best gaming monitors, but if you are intending to code as your primary use then the monitors here are all great choices.
Best Programming Monitors: What to Consider in 2020?
Resolution is a measure of how many pixels fit into your screen. High resolutions mean that the pixels are packed tighter, so information will be sharper and clearer. Most monitors these days are available in 1080p (1920 x 1080), but many manufacturers have also released 4k models to take things up a notch.
However, unless your graphics card and CPU support 4k, you won’t actually be able to use it to its full potential and it may become nothing more an extra expense.
Size & Orientation
The size of your monitor also needs to be considered. Displays are typically measured on the diagonal, and depending on your goals, you may want something bigger than or matching the size of your existing setup. You should also consider whether you need portrait or landscape monitors. Many models will offer a rotation feature, but not all, so it’s good to check.
Lastly, make sure the monitor’s footprint isn’t too big for your desk – especially if space is already fairly crowded or if you have another monitor that takes up a significant amount of space.
Stand & Flexibility
Every monitor comes with a different stand, and while you could theoretically change it out if necessary, you probably don’t want to go through the trouble. Most stands will be angle-adjustable, but to different degrees, and you’ll also want to make sure that the height can be easily changed.
Fixed stands are a poor choice for anyone. Since the most comfortable viewing angle can vary for a number of reasons, you definitely need something that can be easily adjusted to that.
Best Monitor for Programming: Our Picks for 2020
If you have the graphics card to support a 4K display, this model from ASUS is a great choice. It’s an elegant, thin, and refined display with a circular base that will look great on any desk. It comes with a wide variety of features, including built-in speakers and a Type C port that functions for power and data transmission.
- The large, 4k display is 27″ on the diagonal and features a circular stand that can be tilted for comfort.
- The monitor has a 178-degree viewing angle, built-in speakers.
- It also comes with a modern Type C port that combines what would have been several cords for power, data, and video into one.
- It’s not height adjustable.
For a smaller but just as capable monitor, the HP Pavilion is a great choice. It’s only 21.5″, but it comes with both HDMI and VGA ports so you can pick what’s best for you. The monitor is full HD (also known as 1080p) and ready for anything you throw at it.
- Great, clear IPS display at a high resolution and on a fair sized screen.
- The monitor is anti-glare, which is great for offices with annoyingly placed lighting or nearby windows.
- The design is clean and modern.
- It comes with a VGA and power cord, but not an HDMI, which is important to keep in mind depending on which setup you intended to use.
- No audio outputs.
For a truly adjustable monitor, the Dell UltraSharp is a clear winner. The stand it comes with is capable of holding it in both horizontal and vertical orientations, and also has the ability to tilt or swivel as needed. The display is clear, expansive, and runs a 1440p resolution (better than 1080p, but not as good as 4k).
- Extremely low input lag, a beautiful display, and plenty of screen real estate make this monitor a joy to work with.
- You won’t need an external arm to mount it on either — the base can tilt, swivel, and rotate in all directions.
- The small bezels are icing on the cake.
- It comes with an HDMI cord but not DisplayPort, and full resolution is only achievable with the DisplayPort cord. (Update: it now comes with a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort, you don’t need to buy an extra one if you choose to purchase this model.)
Useful Tips & Tricks
Computer monitors are fairly long-lasting pieces of hardware. Most people will find that they easily outlast laptops, phones, and other electronics, so it’s important to take care of them and get the most for your money.
Cleaning a monitor doesn’t actually require complicated equipment and you can do it at home every so often to keep things in sparkling condition. This article from Dell outlines some basic tips on how to clean the LCD Panel on your monitor.
Every once in a while, a monitor will experience “dead pixels”, or single pixels that stop functioning. These can be hard to spot while just going about your day, so when you first get your monitor it’s important to check that it is completely intact. This web test can catch dead pixels for you, and you should scan periodically, especially if your monitor is under warranty.
You spend a large chunk of your day in front of a computer. It makes sense that your monitor should enhance that experience rather than diminish it. Whether you go all out with a large 4k display or stick to something small and practical for your space, make sure you pick something that’s right for you and will integrate well with your existing system.
Are you a developer? Have a favorite monitor that’s not on this list? We’d love to hear about it, so drop us a comment below and tell us what makes it so great!
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.