I tried a 4K monitor and a high-end gaming display to see which is the best computer monitor for most people - and there's a clear winner

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mac office monitor setupDave Smith/Business Insider

  • For the past couple of months, I've been using a 27-inch 4K monitor from LG and a 25-inch high-end gaming monitor from Dell as part of my new office setup.
  • After switching between the two as my main monitor, and also using both at the same time, I thought it would be interesting to compare the two monitors to see which would be the best purchase for most people.
  • Check out my full breakdown and conclusions below.
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This past December, after many months of consideration, I decided to finally set up a new office space in my apartment.

This past December, after many months of consideration, I decided to finally set up a new office space in my apartment.

I knew I wanted a Mac Mini as my main office computer: I wanted a desktop computer that could run MacOS, but I wanted to be able to provide my own monitors and accessories.

I knew I wanted a Mac Mini as my main office computer: I wanted a desktop computer that could run MacOS, but I wanted to be able to provide my own monitors and accessories.

So, on Black Friday 2018, I purchased a 27-inch 4K monitor from LG.

So, on Black Friday 2018, I purchased a 27-inch 4K monitor from LG.

Here's the monitor I purchased.

Dell was also kind enough to send me a 25-inch Alienware gaming monitor to review as well.

Dell was also kind enough to send me a 25-inch Alienware gaming monitor to review as well.

Here's the Alienware monitor Dell sent.

I've been using both monitors for a couple of months now. I've switched between the two as my "main" monitor countless times, but most of the time I use both simultaneously.

I've been using both monitors for a couple of months now. I've switched between the two as my "main" monitor countless times, but most of the time I use both simultaneously.

Each monitor has its strengths. LG's 4K monitor needed a bit of tuning to be more accurate with colors and contrast, but I love how big and brilliant the screen is. If you're coming from a Retina MacBook like I was, you will feel right at home on this bright, crisp display.

Each monitor has its strengths. LG's 4K monitor needed a bit of tuning to be more accurate with colors and contrast, but I love how big and brilliant the screen is. If you're coming from a Retina MacBook like I was, you will feel right at home on this bright, crisp display.

Dell's Alienware 25 monitor, on the other hand, is a beautiful monitor with thin bezels around the display, the ability to lean forwards and backwards, rotate vertically, and has all the ports you'll ever need.

Dell's Alienware 25 monitor, on the other hand, is a beautiful monitor with thin bezels around the display, the ability to lean forwards and backwards, rotate vertically, and has all the ports you'll ever need.

Of course, the main draw of the Alienware monitor is the high refresh rate. If you're unfamiliar, refresh rate basically means how often an image is changed on screen — so 60Hz means the image is being changed about 60 times per second on screen. Dell's Alienware 25 monitor features a 240Hz refresh rate.

Of course, the main draw of the Alienware monitor is the high refresh rate. If you're unfamiliar, refresh rate basically means how often an image is changed on screen — so 60Hz means the image is being changed about 60 times per second on screen. Dell's Alienware 25 monitor features a 240Hz refresh rate.

This CNET story breaks down why 240Hz is a good thing.

In general though, I prefer the 4K monitor to the high-end gaming monitor, for pretty much everything.

In general though, I prefer the 4K monitor to the high-end gaming monitor, for pretty much everything.

For this setup, I connected both monitors to an Xbox One X, which supports 4K and HDR gaming, as well as my Mac Mini for normal work.

For this setup, I connected both monitors to an Xbox One X, which supports 4K and HDR gaming, as well as my Mac Mini for normal work.

On my Mac Mini, LG's 4K monitor was the clear winner between the two displays. Apps, videos, and text look incredibly sharp, right out of the box.

On my Mac Mini, LG's 4K monitor was the clear winner between the two displays. Apps, videos, and text look incredibly sharp, right out of the box.

The Alienware monitor was not quite as bright, or sharp, though it was definitely more color accurate.

The Alienware monitor was not quite as bright, or sharp, though it was definitely more color accurate.

You can really see the difference when you zoom into images and text. Here's text on the LG 4K monitor.

You can really see the difference when you zoom into images and text. Here's text on the LG 4K monitor.

And here's text on the Dell Alienware monitor. You can see the individual pixels, and the display as a whole doesn't get nearly as bright as the 4K monitor.

And here's text on the Dell Alienware monitor. You can see the individual pixels, and the display as a whole doesn't get nearly as bright as the 4K monitor.

I also connected my Xbox One X to both monitors to see how games look and perform. Here's "Red Dead Redemption 2" on the LG 4K monitor.

I also connected my Xbox One X to both monitors to see how games look and perform. Here's "Red Dead Redemption 2" on the LG 4K monitor.

And here's that same game running on Dell's Alienware 25 monitor. Even if you ignore the glare on the screen, the image itself is less sharp and bright than the 4K monitor.

And here's that same game running on Dell's Alienware 25 monitor. Even if you ignore the glare on the screen, the image itself is less sharp and bright than the 4K monitor.

The differences are even more apparent when you zoom in. Here's "Red Dead Redemption 2" on the 4K monitor ...

The differences are even more apparent when you zoom in. Here's "Red Dead Redemption 2" on the 4K monitor ...

... and here's that same moment on the Alienware 25 monitor. Again, you get more details and better contrast on the 4K monitor.

... and here's that same moment on the Alienware 25 monitor. Again, you get more details and better contrast on the 4K monitor.

Generally, I was surprised at how much more I liked the 4K monitor as opposed to the high-end gaming monitor. Of course, I might have a different experience if I were gaming off a traditional PC, which can support higher refresh rates and lower response times compared to the devices I used, but I preferred the richer colors and contrast of the LG monitor — and I suspect most others would feel the same way.

Generally, I was surprised at how much more I liked the 4K monitor as opposed to the high-end gaming monitor. Of course, I might have a different experience if I were gaming off a traditional PC, which can support higher refresh rates and lower response times compared to the devices I used, but I preferred the richer colors and contrast of the LG monitor — and I suspect most others would feel the same way.

For most people, I'd recommend buying a 4K monitor over a high-end gaming monitor. If you have a high-end gaming PC, you might prefer the high refresh rates and low response times offered by monitors like the Alienware 25, but I think most people would prefer the benefits of a 4K monitor versus a 1080p display with a high refresh rate.

For most people, I'd recommend buying a 4K monitor over a high-end gaming monitor. If you have a high-end gaming PC, you might prefer the high refresh rates and low response times offered by monitors like the Alienware 25, but I think most people would prefer the benefits of a 4K monitor versus a 1080p display with a high refresh rate.
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