2024 is the year to upgrade monitor: OLEDs leave everything else outdated

With new OLED monitors hitting the shelves, it’s become clear that most of the benchmarks previously used for monitor comparisons are now obsolete. OLEDs simply fill all the checkboxes with price tags falling below $1000.

This year may not have brought anything exciting in regard to new graphic cards or processors. At least not yet. However, with the second generation of QD-OLED monitors and WOLED competitors hitting the shelves, 2024 may bring the most meaningful upgrade for eyes that stare at screens for the most part of our waking hours.

4K resolution – check.

240 Hz refresh rate – check.

Almost instant response time and input lag – check.

Incredible HDR performance and color accuracy – check.

Infinite contrast and wide viewing angles – check.

Thin and flat design – check.

Price? Well, it's falling but still fluctuates around $1000.

Even users who can’t afford OLEDs should be excited – new tech pushes the prices down for older technologies.

OLED deletes benchmarks

OLED panels differ from traditional back or edge-lit displays – they don’t have a backlight. Each pixel can be turned on and off individually. That means that the screen can be perfectly black without any light bleeding. For a while, TV enthusiasts enjoyed the incredible HDR experience that OLED brought. Some even started using TVs as a monitor replacement just for that. However, 2024 is the first year to introduce OLED monitors of various sizes, reaching up to 4K resolutions, 240 Hz refresh rates, and more reasonable pricing.

Many metrics that monitors chased for competitive advantage became obsolete in the last two years when OLED monitors took the stage.

One of the benchmarks used to measure the display performance was the pixel response time, which is how fast it can change from one color to another, typically measured in milliseconds.

Response times of OLED monitors now are measured in parts of milliseconds, ten times faster than the fastest gaming monitors from the past few years. Now, those timescales are humanly imperceivable, and comparing them becomes meaningless.

Even people with the fastest reaction times, such as fighter pilots, formula drivers, or champion computer game players, will need 100-120 milliseconds to react to visual stimuli (normal humans have reaction times above 200 ms). OLED monitor pixels respond in about 0.3 ms, adding approximately 0.3% to the reaction times of superhumans.

More delay is added by the monitor’s processing. However, even combining the time the monitor takes to process the image, refresh the screen, and for pixels to respond, it adds up to a total of 2-6 ms, the latest reviews by Monitors Unboxed reveal.

Input lag may still be worth checking out before buying a new monitor, as it depends on the vendors’ choices of hardware.

New MSI OLED monitor
Image by MSI.

OLEDs from 2024 now also offer 240Hz refresh rates. Together with instant response, they provide excellent motion clarity. If Hertz is all a gamer cares about, OLEDs now come with 360Hz with a lower 1440p resolution. While some IPS screens push the limit to 500 Hz and above, there’s hardly any reason to go there, given slower pixel response times and other compromises for visual quality.

4K resolutions of 32-inch OLED models also eliminate text clarity problems, such as “pink fringing,” that may have plagued the first OLED models due to their different subpixel structures.

New OLED monitors now fill up many color spaces. The SDR color gamut is covered up to 100% (although it sometimes requires enabling SDR mode for color accuracy). The Adobe RGB, used in professional photography, also covered 99-100%.

The ultimate metric for gamers and content creators could now be considered a wide color gamut Rec.2020 coverage. Even here, OLED monitors already demonstrate an 80% coverage, meaning that only the most saturated reds, greens, and blues are unreachable.

Color accuracy out of the box often falls below the 3% threshold, which is considered the benchmark for achieving what is perceptible to the human eye. Even more can be achieved with professional calibration.

OLEDs previously struggled with brightness output. However, the latest models now consistently deliver full-screen brightness of 230 nits and above for SDR content.

OLED monitors are praised for their HDR (high dynamic range) capabilities, highlighting details of 1000 nits brightness and above and delivering perfect blacks.

“I cannot get over how good 240Hz running at 4K resolution with QD-OLED is. Just incredible colors. God, it's stunning. Even everyone behind me is like, wow, that looks so good,” Nicholas Plouffe, a reviewer at ShortCircuit, said.

There are some downsides

The main downside of any OLED panel, TV, or monitor is the risk of image retention in the form of burn-in. When pixels are lit constantly with the same static element, their performance may degrade over time, leaving blank spots on the screen. Therefore, OLED monitors are less suitable for office work, where some static elements, like windows, are always present.

However, manufacturers now usually offer up to 3-year burn-in protection warranties. Screens also include many protection features, from pixel-shifting and static element detection to automatic brightness limiting and others.

Price is also an obvious disadvantage. However, this year, even top-end specification OLEDs, for the first time, come under $1000.

OLED monitors also lag behind in power consumption, as they often need more power to drive self-lit pixels to their limits. A simple backlit display may consume 30-60 watts of power, and an OLED display can consume up to twice as much power.

Some may not like the “gamery” look of the new monitors, as gamers are usually the audience that vendors target their products towards. However, there are models with tuned-down gaming accents.


Which models to choose?

There are only two vendors currently offering OLED panels to monitor manufacturers. LG Display produces WOLED-type displays, and Samsung Display offers QD-OLED panels with quantum dots. Both are great technologies.

WOLED displays introduce additional white subpixels together with red, green, and blue ones. That achieves higher total brightness at the cost of color purity, as they may look a bit washed out.

QD-OLED displays are only powered by blue subpixels and rely on quantum dots to convert the colors to red or green. This technique does not require color filters, delivering better power efficiency.

With those panels, monitor manufacturers offered plenty of models. Among the latest high-end 4K 240Hz and 32-inch screens are Dell Alienware AW3225QF or Asus PG32UCDM, considered to be among the best, according to review site Rtings.com.

Recently, the MSI MPG 321URX has been making waves in the market, offering similar specs and below the $1000 recommended price in the US. Other vendors introduce their models, and many more competing models are expected this year as the OLED market expands.

“With so many options and, crucially, multiple panel manufacturers targeting this spec, there should be a fiercely contested battle that will keep prices in check,” Tim Schiesser from Monitors Unboxed said.

Smaller 27-inch 1440p OLED monitors are a bit cheaper, around the $800 mark, with models to choose from: LG, Samsung, Asus, Dell, MSI, or others.

Bargain hunters who could wait longer should expect better deals on special events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday or look for models from the last year.

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