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 85 monitors and below are our recommendations for the best monitors for coding to purchase in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best ultrawide monitors, the best monitors for dual setup, and the best 34 inch + monitors.
The LG 27UK650-W is the best monitor for programming that we've tested so far. The 4k resolution is great for multitasking and ensures that text remains sharp and legible. The overall picture quality is good. In a bright room, you shouldn't have any issues with glare, as the peak brightness is great and reflection handling is good. If you're worried about eye-strain during long coding sessions, the flicker-free backlight is much easier on the eyes.
LG has kept the design of this monitor fairly simple, suitable for any office. The stand has a decent height adjustment, and it can switch to portrait orientation, making it a great choice for a multi-monitor setup. The wide viewing angles of IPS monitors also help if your multi-monitor setup requires you to view the screen at an angle.
Unfortunately, this monitor isn't suited for dark rooms, as contrast ratio and black uniformity are mediocre. If poor dark room performance doesn't bother you, this monitor is a great choice for programmers.
If you need something bigger than the LG 27UK650-W, check out the LG 32UD99-W. This monitor is great for those who don't like multi-monitor setups and prefer to keep their setup clean with a single monitor. The LG 32UD99-W's 32 inch screen has enough screen real estate to have multiple windows open at once. It'll perform similarly to our main pick in terms of picture quality and motion handling; what sets it apart is the addition of the USB 3.0 hub and the USB-C input, which allows compatible devices to display an image while charging at the same time.
Overall, the 27UK650-W is still the best monitor for coding for most people, but If you want something larger and don't mind the higher price tag, the 32UD99-W is a great alternative.
If you work in a dark room, the LG 32UD59-B may be a better choice than the LG 27UK650-W. VA panels typically have a much higher contrast ratio and better black uniformity, allowing the monitor to produce deep blacks in dark rooms. It does come at a cost, though, with viewing angles being the main compromise.
All in all, the 27UK650-W remains our main pick for most people, but if dark room performance is important and you don't mind compromising on viewing angles, the 32UD59-B is a decent alternative.
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 3840 x 1600 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. 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 a decent peak brightness and great reflection handling.
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 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.
If you find the traditional 16:9 monitors too cramped, an ultrawide like this is a great choice.
If you want an even bigger monitor, check out the Dell U4919DW, a monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio. This is equivalent to two 27 inch 1440p monitors placed side-by-side, which gives you a good deal 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 only; however, it's 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, go with the U4919DW.
The Dell U2415 is the best compact monitor for coding and programming that we've tested so far. The smaller size is great for limited spaces, or if you prefer to work with multiple small monitors rather than one large one. This 24 inch monitor has a 1200p resolution, which is decent but isn't ideal for multitasking. The stand has great ergonomics and can easily be adjusted to an ideal viewing position.
This monitor has decent peak brightness and good reflection handling, so there shouldn't be any issues using it in a fairly bright room, as long as there aren't too many windows. It also has great wide viewing angles, which is great for a multi-monitor setup.
Unfortunately, like the majority of IPS monitors, it doesn't look as good in a dark room. Overall, though, it's a good monitor for programming and coding.
If you want something with a higher native resolution than the Dell U2415, check out the Dell U2518D. With a slightly larger, 1440p screen, this monitor delivers a more comfortable multitasking experience, and also delivers much better picture quality than the smaller model. Although not technically flicker-free, it has a very high flicker-frequency that shouldn't bother most people.
Overall, the U2415 is the best monitor for coding for most people, as it's completely flicker-free. If you want something with sharper text, though, the U2518D is a good alternative.
03/27/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
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.