Matte vs Glossy: Which display should you buy?

Matte vs Glossy: Which display should you buy?

Best answer: When it comes to matte vs glossy displays, there's not really a right answer that fits most people. Both types of displays have their pros and cons, along with their passionate fans.Amazon: HP Z27n G2 ($332)Amazon: Dell S2718D ($360)

A matte display is great for any environment

Matte displays are anti-glare, great for any sort of lighting environment. Whether you're working under the bright fluorescent lights of an office while in your cubicle or have your desk bathed in sunlight through your office window, a matte display will let you continue to see your work.

Anecdotally, I always have a much easier time using matte screens for extended periods without experiencing eye strain. It's not exactly scientific, but I've heard the same thing from others, as well.

The biggest downside for any given matte display compared to glossy screens often comes down to color. Colors on a matte display are, generally, not as vibrant as those you'll find on a similarly-specced glossy display. That's not to say that a matte monitor will have bad color, far from it, but unless your monitor has HDR support, when compared to a glossy display, you'll probably notice that colors don't quite "pop" as much. While this might be alright if you're working with colors (as colors on a matte monitor do tend to be more accurate), it leaves something to be desired when using your monitor for entertainment.

The colorful world of glossy displays

You may get a lot of glare on a glossy display, but when it comes to color, you can't beat it. While the nature of matte displays may dull down colors by varying degrees, glossy displays often offer some of the most vibrant, beautiful colors out there. In particular, glossy displays are great for entertainment like movies and games, where colors and contrast both matter a lot.

The biggest drawback of any glossy monitor is obviously glare. Some glossy displays, like the Dell S2718D (our glossy pick), often have some level of anti-glare coating, but it's not going to be as effective as using a matte display. And while vibrant color might be great for viewing photos, watching movies, or other entertainment activities, if you do work that requires accurate color, you'll generally be better off with a matte monitor.

The HP Z27n G2 is a great matte monitor

The HP Z27n G2 is a matte LCD monitor with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. It's got a USB-C port for USB data, though it won't charge your laptop. It has excellent colors, while it's minimal bezels and adjustable stand make for a thoroughly modern design.

Dell's S2718D is a sleek glossy option

Speaking of modern, the Dell S2718D is also a 1440p monitor, though glossy instead of matte. This monitor is thin and modern, and instead of placing its controls on the underside of the monitor itself, has consolidated them in the base at the bottom of the stand. That's also where you'll find the S2718D's USB-A ports, HDMI port, and USB-C port.

The Dell S2718D also supports Dell HDR, which allows you to view high dynamic range content formatted for HDR10 with a full range of vibrant colors.

A lot of this comes down to personal preference

At the end of the day, you can't say that there's one definitive monitor type for everyone, because a lot of this comes down to personal preference. Want to keep glare down? Get a matte display. Looking for more vibrant colors? Check out your glossy options.

Outside of actual specs, one of the biggest advantages that matte monitors have is availability and variety. It is easier to find exactly what you're looking for in a monitor (1440p and 4K, higher refresh rates, G-Sync or FreeSync support, etc.) if you're looking for a matte display.

Unfortunately, glossy displays aren't as plentiful as matte options are, particularly in higher resolutions like 1440p and 4K. But there are choices out there. You've just got to do some digging.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.