Best Computer Monitors for Programming

Best Monitors For Programming Under $500 [2024 Buying Guide]

Hey everyone Fred here at PLCGurus.NET. I recently found myself in the market for a new (or multiple new) monitors for my desktop PC. Of course, being the tech-nerd that I am this meant hours and hours of research online (I probably spend more time researching stuff like this than I did on my first house purchase!). I’ve now arrived at a short-list of displays and I thought this might be a good article for all you PLC Gurus out there that may also be in the market for one. So here you have it, the best monitors for programming under $500.

Continue reading and I’ll go over how I arrived at this short-list of displays, and the pros and cons of each…in my humble opinion anyway! Staring at an old computer screen for hours on end is a sure-fire way of developing a migraine and fast. Flat screens have come a long way in the brief period that they have been around, in both price and quality. Early LCD monitors used Cathode Ray Tubes as backlights to illuminate an LCD panel.

CRTs produce the same headache-inducing light as the giant-boxy-old monitors of the 90s. New monitors use either LED backlighting or Organic-LEDs that produce their own light. In the case of OLEDs, there are no issues with light or dark patches. LEDs have two main benefits, they use little power, and the illumination is more consistent.

Brands have cherry picked aspects of technologies that they believe are most important for their customers. In the end, manufacturers want to sell their products for the best prices. This raises questions on how important refresh rates are and what is the best resolution for a monitor when you are sitting 3-feet from it. This YouTube video does a decent job explaining monitor refresh rates (…and no I didn’t create it!).

Since 4K content is still rare and takes up a lot of graphics usage, there is no reason to go any higher than this, for a while. Even for future-proofing, 4K is at the upper limit of what the brain can process. It is time for an upgrade and there are great offers to be had on the best monitors for programming that cost less than $500. So without further ado here is my short-list of the best monitors for programming under $500.

1. Dell Ultrasharp U2718Q 27-Inch 4K IPS Monitor

The pleasing design of the Dell Ultrasharp 27” is a little reminiscent of an Apple Mac. This is an LCD monitor with an LED backlight monitor, great for professional use. A well-designed product that comes with the simple idea of being able to twist the monitor on the stand and have its set-up vertically.

The thin bezel works well for ambitions of putting several monitors side-by-side for dynamic workloads. It has a 4K IPS screen. 4K is the new standard in the industry, IPS is the best monitor technology for LCD wide viewing and can replicate 1.07 billion colors.

IPS helps the LCD screen get past the viewing angle limitations of a TN panel, useful when interacting as a team. However, the refresh rate of 60Hz and no flicker protection makes it less than perfect for gaming.

The screen is covered in an anti-glare coating, giving an undiluted image to the viewer from most angles. The monitor has Bluetooth connectivity, making this a useful monitor for a fast and clean laptop setup. HDMI, USB 3.0 HUB, DisplayPort, and mini-DisplayPort connectivity. The possible only other negative of this monitor is the contrast ratio that will produce weaker blacks than its competitors. This monitor is going to be good for multiple screen setups.


  • 1.07 Billion Colors
  • 5ms Response
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 4K IPS


  • 1300-1 Contrast Ratio
  • LCD

2. Sceptre 27″ Curved 75Hz LED Monitor Edge-Less Metal Black

Moving on and into the modern and futuristic world of the curved screen. The Californian based Sceptre has built a screen that is excellent for gaming and graphic orientated moving graphics. 27” is a decent size, it creates the surround experience without taking up a huge amount of desk space.

The monitor also has in-built speakers, producing adequate sound. If the speaker quality is not what you are after there is a headphone jack just under the monitor frame. HD resolution sounds low compared with newer entries, but that must be factored in with the price.

The 75Hz refresh rate is better for reducing the chance of a headache from using the screen for long durations. A curved screen is good as a lone setup, but do not lend themselves well to multiple screen hook-ups. This is a nice-looking screen, suitable for a laptop, and offers value for money that is hard to beat when considering the size of this curved screen.


  • 5ms Response Time
  • Built-in Speakers
  • Full HD up to 75HZ
  • 3000-1 Contrast Ratio
  • Curved LED


  • 16.7M Colors

3. Samsung C27F398 27″ Curved LED Monitor

Samsung, arguably, builds the most reliable screens out there. This product has a similar specification to the Sceptre. It is a curved HD screen, 27”, and is of a similar cost. Colors are more limited than the Dell at 16 million, which may restrict it is used as a professional graphics display.

However, the fast 4ms response time of the pixels of the 8ms of the Sceptre, make it excellent for the rapidly changing graphics in HD Gaming. Samsung will also use around 30% less power than the Sceptre, comparing its peak usage.

This power reduction will be associated with the fact that Samsung only has a refresh rate of 60Hz. Flicker-Free technologies compensate for the low refresh rates of lower power LED screens. Other brands are adopting similar Anti-flicker technologies, in favor of the race to beat refresh rates. It gets rid of the on-off effect prominent in an LCD screen.

Manufacturers have realized that super-high refresh rates are not everything to their customers. Even though this is a fantastic monitor for the money, the lower refresh, may result in headaches for certain users.


  • 4ms Response Time
  • Flicker-Free Technology
  • Full HD
  • 3000-1 Contrast Ratio
  • Curved LED


  • 60Hz Refresh Rate

4. BenQ EL2870U 28 inch HDR 4K Gaming Monitor

BenQ has fast become the go-to supplier of monitors to a lot of well-known brands. This 28“ screen is full 4K, making it more in-tune with others on offer. Have you ever heard of B.I.+ Tech?

Brightness Intelligence Plus Technology. The idea is that by using sensors to check ambient lighting levels, the monitor will automatically re-level to compensate. Most mobile phones employ the same technology to adjust for the screen brightness in sunlight or in the dark.

The eye can distinguish between around 10-million colors. Good color ranges are important if you are using the monitor to create adverts or games.

One billion colors are far beyond what the eye can process, and it comes across as more of a sales gimmick than a useful addition. LED-backlights illuminate a TN LCD screen, an older technology revamped for modern requirements. At first glance, the 60Hz refresh rate is a little underwhelming, but again this has been resolved.

The FreeSync software smooths out the frame jumping and the 1ms pixel response time is very definitely a future-proofed element of it. Picture editing is easier with the deep blacks and stunning whites produced by the good contrast ratio.


  • 1.07 Billion Colors
  • Built-in Speakers
  • Flicker-Free Technology
  • Full 4K
  • 3000-1 Contrast Ratio


  • 60Hz Refresh Rate

5. LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor

LG takes the best elements from all the monitors above. 27” with narrow bezel makes it good for stacking monitors side by side. 4K performance and IPS for wide viewing angles make it excellent for meetings and presentations.

FreeSync induces a fluid motion in frame transition, though this can cause some to have sea-sickness style issues. The technology seems to have replaced some of the need for higher refresh rates.

HDR10 is a resolution correction software that will convert lower quality content into HD level pictures. The manufacturer claims that the graphics are so high that they cover 99% of the sRGB spectrum, perfect for editing high-resolution pictures.

The screen connectors are both HDMI and USB-C for current standards and easy laptop set-ups. This is a self-contained product with inbuilt speakers. Fast response time of 5ms on an IPS non-glare screen, makes it comfortable for long hours of professional use. A highly recommended product that will more than pay for itself in its functionality.

The Verdict…

Now I don’t profess to be an expert when it comes to PC monitors, however, I certainly know what I like, what I’m looking for, and ultimately what I need when I sit down to program. I’m hoping this article will give you some tips and maybe save you a little time, especially if you’re in the market for a new monitor for your own programming PC. So now for my decision…

Even though it is the most expensive, the LG 4K IPS, I feel, is the best value for money. It has all the features it needed to produce an image with the strongest color set. Screens with IPS and 4K resolution, in combination with FreeSync, make them the least likely to give you eye-ache. The LG is designed towards users that want to put several monitors side by side.

The BenQ is close behind, with its larger screen of 32” and is worth the savings, if there is no need for multiple viewing angles. Dell is a good monitor, it has an amazing color range, and the only reason that it is not first on the list is the fact that the LG is just, better.

Some interesting things about the human eye to take into consideration. The flicker fusion threshold, limited by the process in the brain, is around 60Hz. Higher frame rates for monitors will limit flicker, anything above 70Hz should do this or good anti-flicker technology.

The curved screens of Samsung and Sceptre seem like a bit of a gimmick now. They do work well when gaming, but not for serious programming. Curved screens add complexity to the task of placing multiple next to each other and still having them look organized. The curved screens above, both have a sub-4K resolution.

This may not matter so much for coding, but it will show an enormous difference when compared to a 4K monitor in gaming or photo editing. Of the two curved screens, Samsung is worth paying the small difference for, with its faster response times and a slight reduction in power usage.

Final words on the best monitors for programming…

Well I hope I’ve given you some things to think about when it comes to choosing the best monitors for programming and this article has provided you with some good tips to make an informed decision.

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