When programming or coding for long periods, it's essential to have a comfortable monitor to keep eye-strain to a minimum. It's important to get a monitor that's the right size, with enough screen real estate to have multiple windows open, and still work comfortably without having to squint. A flicker-free monitor is also a must, as backlight flicker can cause headaches and eye strain with prolonged periods of use. Many programmers even prefer working with more than one monitor, as you can have your editor open on one and your specifications open on another.
We've reviewed more than 110 monitors and below are our recommendations for the best monitors for coding to purchase. See also our recommendations for the best ultrawide monitors, the best monitors for dual setup, and the best 34 inch + monitors.
The best monitor for programming we've tested so far is the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q. It's a 27 inch monitor that provides plenty of screen space for multitasking, and its 4k resolution results in a high pixel density, making text look incredibly sharp. It has a good build quality and its excellent ergonomics allow you to adjust the monitor however you like. Its IPS panel has wide viewing angles, making it easier to share your work with coworkers. It's a monitor that's better suited for moderately-lit rooms, as it can't get bright enough to overcome glare in very bright settings and it has mediocre reflection handling. Dark room performance isn't that great either due to its low contrast ratio, which is expected of most IPS panels.
Unfortunately, while this monitor has good overall gaming performance, it has a basic 60Hz refresh rate and it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technologies. It has good response time; however, there's a significant amount of overshoot that results in visible motion artifacts. On the bright side, it supports HDR and it delivers a pretty decent experience at that, especially when viewing in a dark room. If you tend to work long hours, its flicker-free backlight can help reduce eye strain.
There's a generous selection of ports on this monitor, including three USB 3.0 and two USB-C ports that support DisplayPort Alt Mode. This lets you display an image from a compatible device such as a MacBook Pro and charge the device at the same time, which helps you keep a clean workstation. Also, one of the USB-C ports can be used for charging even when the monitor is off. All in all, this is a great monitor that most programmers should be happy with, and one that's competent enough for some casual gaming on the side.
If you need an even bigger screen, then check out the LG 32UD99-W. Its massive 32 inch screen provides significantly more screen real estate than the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q without sacrificing too much on pixel density, so text still looks razor-sharp. Unfortunately, it isn't as well-built and it lacks swivel adjustment. Response time is about the same and it also has a 60Hz refresh rate; however, it has FreeSync support to reduce screen tearing when gaming. It has a USB-C port that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode and it has a Picture-in-Picture mode, which allows you to display an image from two input sources at once.
Overall, the Dell is a better choice, as it has better ergonomics, it has more connectivity options, and it's much cheaper. However, if you need more screen real estate, then go with the LG.
If you often work in a dark room, then you should go with a VA panel monitor, such as the LG 32UD59-B. It has a 32-inch screen that provides a lot more screen space than the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q while costing less. It also has a 4k resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate, but its VA panel has a much higher contrast ratio, resulting in blacks that look deep and inky in the dark. Sadly, it can't rotate to portrait mode or swivel, and its lower peak brightness can be an issue in bright rooms. Furthermore, its poor viewing angles cause images to look washed out from the side. On the upside, it has a faster response time and it supports FreeSync, making it a better choice for gaming.
Overall, if you need good ergonomics and wide viewing angles, go with the Dell; however, if you need better dark room performance, then go with the LG.
The best ultrawide monitor for programming that we've tested so far is the Dell U3818DW. This is a monitor with a 21:9 aspect ratio and an uncommon 3840x1600 resolution, which is great for text clarity. The screen has a slight curve, making it easier to see the sides; but if you're still concerned about visibility, its IPS panel has good viewing angles, so the image won't degrade when viewed from the side.
If you tend to work long hours, this monitor has a flicker-free backlight that can help reduce eye strain. For multitaskers, there's a Picture-by-Picture mode that allows you to display an image from two sources at the same time, and you can use one set of keyboard and mouse to control both computers by plugging them into the monitor. There's an abundance of ports on the back, including four USB 3.0 ports and a USB-C port. The latter supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, which lets you plug in a laptop and charge it with a single cable.
Sadly, this monitor isn't well-suited for dark rooms due to its mediocre contrast ratio and sub-par black uniformity. However, you shouldn't have any issues in bright rooms, as it has decent peak brightness and great reflection handling. If you find the traditional 16:9 monitors too cramped, this is the best ultrawide monitor for programming we've seen so far.
If you want an even bigger monitor, check out the Dell U4919DW, as it has a 32:9 aspect ratio. This is equivalent to two 27 inch 1440p monitors placed side-by-side, which gives you a ton of screen real estate for efficient multitasking. Its performance and features are very similar to the Dell U3818DW, but it has a slightly higher peak brightness. Its response time and input lag are outstanding, and you still get its excellent Picture-by-Picture mode. Unfortunately, the ergonomics are poor, as it's limited to tilt and height adjustments, which is quite understandable due to the size and aspect ratio of this monitor.
With both monitors performing nearly identically, choosing between the two largely comes down to size. For most people, the U3818DW should be large enough; but if you like having lots of windows opened at the same time, look into the U4919DW.
The best compact monitor for coding and programming we've tested so far is the Dell UltraSharp U2520D. It's a small 25 inch monitor that's well-suited for tight spaces. Despite its smaller screen size, it has a 1440p resolution that results in a high pixel density, so text and images look incredibly sharp. Its great ergonomics allow you to easily adjust the monitor to your optimal viewing position, and it has an IPS panel that provides wide viewing angles. It has a good peak brightness but its reflection handling is just okay, so it's best to avoid placing it opposite bright light sources.
If you want to do some gaming on the side, the response time is great and input lag is low. However, the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz and there's no VRR support of any kind. It delivers an okay HDR experience in games, but it can't get bright enough to make highlights pop in HDR movies. Also, it isn't well-suited for dark rooms, as its IPS panel has a low contrast ratio and mediocre black uniformity.
Like its bigger brother, the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q, it has tons of connectivity options. Its two USB-C ports support DisplayPort Alt mode, and one can be used to charge your mobile devices even if the monitor is off. It also has a DisplayPort Out, which allows you to daisy-chain multiple monitors. Overall, this is a great monitor for those with limited space or just prefer a smaller screen size.
07/27/2020: Minor text and structure changes. Replaced LG 27UK650-W with Dell UltraSharp 2720Q, replaced Dell U2415 with Dell UltraSharp U2520D, removed Dell U2518D.
05/26/2020: Minor changes to text for clarity; updated notable mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best monitors for coding and programming that are currently available. They are adapted to be valid for most people, in each price range. Rating is based on our review, factoring in price and feedback from our visitors.
If you would prefer to make your own decision, here is the list of all of our monitor reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. Most monitors are good enough to please most people, and the things we fault monitors on are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.