3 Best Monitor for Programming and Coding: The Ultimate Guide 2017

Finding the right monitor setup can be extremely confusing.  There are so many complicated terms to understand, not to mention choosing between the seemingly endless spec options.  That’s why we put together this guide to make buying the best monitor for programming and coding simple and easy.

In This Article:

3 Best Programming Monitors for CodingSizeRatingPanel TypePrice
Dell UltraSharp 24″ U2415 LED Monitor

Dell UltraSharp 24″ U2415 LED Monitor
24" / 25" / 27"4.3IPS$$
HP Pavilion 25XW LED Backlit Monitor

HP Pavilion 25XW LED Backlit Monitor
21.5" / 23"/ 25" / 27"4.6IPS$$
ASUS PB279Q 4K UHD 27″ Monitor

ASUS PB279Q 4K UHD 27″ Monitor
23" / 27" / 28" / 32"4.2IPS$$$$

Are Multiple Monitors Better For Coding?

There are many different ways that you can setup the monitors in your work space.  If your budget allows, you should consider using multiple monitors to increase productivity.

A single widescreen monitor has always been the norm, but using dual or triple monitors can take your coding to a whole new level.  Maybe it’s time to expand your work space with an extra monitor or two.

triple-monitors-setup

Triple Monitor Setup (Photo by Brett Morrison used under CC, image has been cropped)

Work with two programs at the same time:  Often when programmers are working on a project, they need (at least) one program to actually code the website, application or software and another to test the results of their coding. This is where a second monitor can come in handy, where a coding program like Sublime Text could be open on one screen and a web browser with the resulting output on the other. This also works if there is one program that you always need to keep open like an email client or a chat application to collaborate with your team while working on a coding project. Instead of having to stop what you are doing, click over to the other program and back again, you can simply glance over to your other screen.

Quickly Access Information:  Especially when you are learning to code, or even if you’re just honing your developing your programming skills, you may need to reference tutorials, examples or even your previous work while coding a project. A second screen allows you to view these types of references while working on your programming project, meaning you can watch a YouTube video and code the example without having to pause the video, switch over to your coding software and then jumping back to the video.

Note taking and Collaboration are Easier:  Digitally taking your notes, whether they are from an online class that you’re using to hone your skills or for a client’s vision of a particular programming project, can save paper, be more efficient and help facilitate easier storing and collaboration. However, with a single monitor, it’s often hard to have a video or conference call playing in one window while taking notes effectively in another. Two monitors allow you to focus on the other people in your meeting while also being able to take diligent notes to use later in your project or to share with your team.

Overall Increased Productivity:  While none of these benefits will save you hours of time every single day, the precious seconds do add up. Several studies have found that dual monitor setups can increase productivity anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.

Vertical Portrait View Monitors for Coding

Many programmers swear by the longer window of a portrait view monitor (shown right), making reading and writing code much easier.  While everyone’s personal preferences and work needs will be different, you should consider whether a monitor optimized for portrait view is something you could benefit from.

dell-portrait-view-monitorThe portrait orientation allows one to see more lines of code at a time on the screen.  Individual lines of code aren’t usually that long, but can be quit lengthy on the whole.  For programmers, longer vertical space reduces straing on the eyes. This creates less stress, spurs enthusiasm and enhances performance on the whole.

In addition, the vertical monitor gives a more compact content to all webpages and computer applications. All the webpages, which appear fragmented with white spaces in the landscape monitors, get a crisp newspaper like appearance which is much more welcome to the eyes.

Be careful though, not all monitor panels are best for using portrait view as discussed in the next section.

Monitor Panel Types (TN, VA, IPS)

Choosing the right monitor panel type is important when buying a monitor for programming.  The three main panel types are known as  Twisted Nematic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-plane Switching (IPS).

Panel Type:ColorResponsivenessContrastViewing AngleAffordability
TN★★★★★★
VA★★★★★★★★★
IPS★★★★★★★★★★★★

In-plane Switching (IPS):

IPS panels are often known for their superior performance with vibrant color, good contrast and responsive performance.  In-plane switching monitors have the best viewing angles of any panel type, but are more expensive than TN or VA.

  • Vibrant Color
  • Best Viewing Angles
  • Respectable Performance

Generally VA and IPS panels provide features more suited for programming, such as color, contrast and viewing angles.

Vertical Alignment (VA):

VA panels are a more mid range monitor, but are less commonly found.  Vertical Alignment has better looking images than TN offering sharper colors, excellent contrast with distinct black and white color and improved viewing angles.  The downside is that VA panels can result in a slower monitor with viewing lag.

  • Excellent Color and Contrast
  • Improved Viewing Angles
  • Slower Responsiveness

Twisted Nematic (TN):

TN panels are the most common monitor type, making them the most affordable option in most cases.  They have the fastest response times which are optimal for gaming monitors but don’t help a lot for coding.  Twisted Nematic panels can lack good viewing angles and color quality.

  • High Refresh Rate
  • Decent Image Quality
  • Poor Viewing Angles

Optimal Size and Resolution for Coding

There are so many difference sizes and specs to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  To help in choosing a monitor that suits your needs, the guide below will give you a general idea of common sizes and their most used resolutions.

When choosing a monitor for coding you want a large screen display that doesn’t sacrifice resolution quality.  For best results, we recommend choosing a monitor that’s at least 24″ with 1080p.  For larger screen sizes you may want to consider a higher resolution, especially for a monitor bigger than 27″.

monitor-size-resolution-guide

Do Programmers Need 4K?

You’ve probably heard the term 4K mentioned in regard to TV’s and monitors before.  It’s been a hot topic for a number of years as the technology has developed.  The term 4K simply means that there are a lot more pixels found on the screen, resulting in a higher resolution and sharper image.

So why do some programmers prefer 4k?  Well one of the reasons is that the increased sized and resolution gives you a lot more room with just a single monitor.  With larger 4k displays you can often have multiple windows open and still have a crisp looking image.  This is great if you prefer one large landscape monitor and don’t want to setup multiple screens.

The downside of 4k is that it is taxing on your hardware.  If you’re computer is outdated and has outdated specs then upgrading to a 4k monitor is only going to make things worse.  Often a good quality graphics card and HDMI support are required to make this high resolution work properly.

Here are some 4K Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro:

  • 4 times the number of pixels than the average monitor.
  • More detailed image and improved picture quality.
  • Image stays sharp even at close distances.

Con:

  •  High system requirements.  You will often need a high end graphics card to run 4K properly.
  • The technology is still being advanced; not all content is readily available in 4K.
  • Display scaling can result in unwanted magnification of some programs.

It’s up to you whether you want to invest in 4K or not.  Keep in mind that the technology is rapidly changing, and while 4K has come a long way there is still a lot that can be improved.

The Best Monitor for Programming Top 3 Picks:

Hopefully this guide has helped you in getting a better understanding of some of the important monitor terms and specs.  Here’s our top 3 recommendations for the best monitor for programming.

1080p

HP Pavilion 25XW LED Backlit Monitor

HP-Pavilion-ISP-LED-25xw-monitor

The HP Pavilion 25XW Monitor is known for it’s vibrant color display and exceptional overall performance.  The HP 25XW is one of the best displays currently on the market with quality that has been compared to monitors three times the price.

Click Here to See Pricing and Reviews on Amazon

Panel Type:IPS
Size:25"
Native
Resolution:
1980 x 1080
Price:$$
Rating:★★★★★

Pros and Cons:

The HP Pavilion 25xw IPS LED Backlit Monitor comes in five different sizes: 21.5, 23, 23.8, 25 and 27 inches, perfect for almost any size workspace. The in-plane switching features helps deliver the user vibrant color and outstanding picture quality no matter the vantage point, ideal for showing your work to collaborators or non-traditional monitor setups. Comes with a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, and the wedge design of the stand gives the user convenient access to both VGA and HDMI ports. In addition to the monitor’s ultra-slim profile, bezel-less design and anti-glare screen, it is also Energy Star certified.

On the down side, this monitor doesn’t move any other direction than a slight tilt back, and it doesn’t have any holes for mounting on the wall, so it is pretty much relegated to being on a desk or stand. The HP Pavilion IPS LED also doesn’t accommodate any USB devices, relying on only two HDMI ports, a VGA port and an audio jack for all of its connections. Some power users noted that the display has crisp and clear colors, but that those colors may not always line up directly with a different brand’s display as a second monitor, even with identical color settings.

1200p

Dell UltraSharp 24″ U2415 LED Monitor

dell-ultrasharp-u2414H-24-inch-monitor

The Dell UltraSharp series is a gold standard in excellence which programmers have used and loved for years.  The Dell U2415 has a sleek design with ultra thin border and excellent IPS viewing angles perfect for a dual monitor setup.

Click Here to See Pricing and Reviews on Amazon

Panel Type:IPS
Size:24"
Native
Resolution:
1920 x 1200
Price:$$
Rating:★★★★★

Pros and Cons:

The Dell Computer Ultrasharp U2415 monitor features modern styling with a nearly edgeless display coming in 24, 25 or 27 inch sizes, as well as a full range of motion, tilting, swiveling and rotating up to 90 degrees both clockwise and counterclockwise (perfect for vertical screen orientation for mobile development). Provides over 16 million colors for a vivid picture quality that won’t be compromised by digital connectivity. Also comes with a high-current USB 3.0 port that charges and powers connected devices quickly and efficiently. The Ultrasharp U2415 can either be connected to a separately sold stand or to the wall depending on your workstation and preference, but probably isn’t ideal for compact or mobile workstations given its large display sizes. The screen resolution maxes out at 1920×1200.

Works well with both Macs and PCs and comes highly reviews from most users. However, some graphic designers do note that there can be some uneven backlighting, which is less than ideal for power display users. From a connectivity perspective, the U2415 has 10 different ports, including 5 USB 3.0 ports, but for accessibility, all of the ports are along the bottom row, which may be a little annoying for users who need to change out their connections frequently.

4K

ASUS PB279Q 4K UHD 27″ Monitor

ASUS-PB279Q-27-inch-4k-ISP-Monitor

The ASUS PB279Q combines stunning 4K sharpness with professional looks and superior performance. The advanced IPS panel provides impressive visual clarity and color that pivots and swivels for the best viewing angles available.  Other notable features of the the PB279Q include an excellent response time with little to no input lag, great connection options and out-of-the-box usability.

Click Here to See Pricing and Reviews on Amazon

Panel Type:IPS
Sizes:27"
Native
Resolution:
3840 x 2160
Price:$$$$
Rating:★★★★★

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this guide has helped you in getting an idea what you should look for in the best monitor for programming.  If you’re still stuck on what to choose, feel free to send us a message or comment for more advice, or check out the great monitor community on reddit.

BUILD THE ULTIMATE CODING BATTLESTATION

Choosing the right gear for programming takes time and planning.  Be sure to subscribe for tips and ideas to create the perfect coding setup.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below