The importance of a quality monitor while editing video and creating graphics can’t be overstated. Proper screen size, colour (Rec. 709), resolution, refresh rate, etc., give editors an accurate picture of what they’re cutting and grading. But a good monitor doesn’t need to be expensive. While the 6K Apple Pro Display XDR starts at $5000, a quality 4K monitor starts at $619 (27-inch) and doesn’t get more expensive than $1400 (32-inch).
Tips to Save Money
While there are some monitors that have list prices pushing 1800 USD, most have some sort of sale attached to them, bringing the price down a few hundred dollars. Many electronics stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, will match the manufacturer’s sales prices, or price-match competing stores.
Another way to save money is to look for open box items, which are items still in the original packaging, but sold to a customer who then returned it. There are no scratches, damage, etc., and you can get a nice discount. It’s effectively a new item that was returned soon after purchase.
Refurbished monitors offer even better discounts and a full manufacturer’s warranty as if you were buying new and are worth considering. However, there are some stores that do the refurbishing and repairs, then put the monitor on sale. Check to see if there is a full manufacturer’s warranty or if it’s just the store. Also, make sure the store is an authorised repair facility for the brand of monitor they may be selling. Be cautious of some resellers on Amazon and what they’re selling.
Finally, look for monitors that go on sale or clearance because a new model was announced. The new one may have more bells and whistles, but the unit it’s replacing just saw its price slashed and is very likely still a worthy monitor to purchase and use for video editing.
Below are three brands to consider.
When Apple released the late 2013 Mac Pro (aka, the Trash Can), it no longer manufactured a monitor. Instead, it sold an LG 5K display, which was a highly praised, workhorse monitor. Today, you can purchase one of several high-quality 4K LG UltraFine monitors at competitive prices. Here are a couple of options:
- LG 27-inch Class UltraFine 5K IPS LED Monitor (27'' Diagonal): 5120 x 2880 5K resolution, 60 Hz, 500 cd/m² brightness, 1100:1 contrast ratio, 178° horizontal and vertical viewing angles, Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C inputs (the latter can be used with an iPad, it’s similar to the screen on the 5K 27-inch iMac. List price is $1299 USD, but it’s been as low as $999.
- LG 32-inch Class UltraFine 4K UHD LED Monitor with Thunderbolt 3. This monitor has many similar features as the 5K model, but it’s larger and features 4K resolution, and is priced nearly the same. While the list price starts at $1299 USD, it’s gone as low as $999, making it one worth considering.
Dell has some of the best monitors on the market with its UltraSharp line and that’s regardless of the platform, Windows or Mac. Two great options include:
- Dell UltraSharp 27-inch 4K Monitor (U2718Q). This is a great monitor with 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60 Hz, support for HDR playback and 1.07 billion colours. Brightness is set at 350 cd/m², 1300:1 contrast ratio, and 163 PPI (pixels per inch). It comes with HDMI, DisplayPort, and Mini DisplayPort, but doesn’t support daisy-chaining. There’s a nearly identical monitor to this one with more features and ports and it costs double. The list price is $619 USD, although Dell does offer sales, sometimes up to $150 off.
- Dell UltraSharp 32-inch Ultra HD 4K Monitor with PremierColor (UP3216Q). 4K monitor at 3840 x 2160 resolution, 60 Hz, 1.07 billion colours, brightness at 300 cd/m², and 1000:1 contrast ratio (2,000,000:1 dynamic). Many of the features and ports are similar to the 27-inch monitor above, but you’re getting a larger monitor. It’s listed at $1799 USD, but again, Dell offers some nice sales, up to $400 off ($1399), and even as low as $999 USD. It might be more expensive, but this 4K monitor is well worth the price.
Dell also offers an 8K monitor — you read that right, 8K — the UltraSharp 32-inch 8K Monitor (UP3218K), with resolution of 7680 x 4320 at 60 hz, 1.07 billion colours, and 1300:1 contrast ratio. The listed price is a jaw-dropping $4999 USD, though it’s been as low as $3600.
BenQ is a popular and affordable monitor solution, offering general options plus speciality monitors. These include the VideoVue, PhotoVue and DesignVue. Here are its two VideoVue PV Series options:
- BenQ PV270. The 27-inch monitor is closer to 2K QHD Resolution at 2560 x 1440 but is still an ideal monitor to use for editing video. It features 1.07 billion colours, 60 Hz, 350 cd/m² brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio and more. The list price is $899 USD, but some resellers may have lower cost options.
- BenQ PV3200PT. This 32-inch monitor is 4K UHD Resolution at 3840 x 2160 and many of the same features as the PV270 above, including 1.07 billion colours, 60 Hz, 350 cd/m² brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio, etc. While the list price is $1299 USD, you can find more competitive prices if you comparison shop.
There are plenty of great options for 4K and even a 5K monitor that average around $1000 to $1800 USD in price, and even as low as $600 if you’re willing to sacrifice a couple of features, like more inputs and the ability to daisy chain more than one monitor.