It Might Be Time to Upgrade to a Mini-LED Monitor, Experts Say

Superior image quality makes Mini-LED hard to beat

Key Takeaways

  • Mini-LED monitors boost HDR performance and boost contrast.
  • Better pricing on display panels and LED chips drive this trend.
  • Pricing has dropped from $4,999 to as little as $699.
Acer's Predator X32 miniLED monitor
Acer’s Predator X32 miniLED monitor.

Acer

2022 could be an excellent year to upgrade your computer monitor.

High-end options like the ASUS PA32UCX-PK and Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 offered Mini-LED technology in 2021, but pricing was in the thousands. That’s changing thanks to the Cooler Master GP27-FQS, an affordable Mini-LED monitor leading a long-term trend that could change computer monitors forever. 

“I would attribute the decline in Mini-LED monitor prices to lower panel prices as monitor panel prices are getting hit more now,” Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, said in an email to Lifewire. “In addition, Mini-LED costs are coming down, helped by Apple’s high volumes in the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro, which is bringing down Mini-LED chip costs and assembly costs.” 

Fewer LED Chips at Lower Prices

This steep decline is surprising given global supply chain issues. Mini-LED monitors are becoming more affordable while most consumer electronics head in the opposite direction. How is this possible? 

Two high power COB LEDs with 20W and (left) and 10W (right)

Wikimedia Commons

As Young notes, Apple deserves partial credit. The company brought Mini-LED to high-volume products like the iPad and MacBook Pro in 2021. This encouraged suppliers to boost LED chip production and lower costs. 

Apple doesn’t own its suppliers, however, leaving them free to sell even more chips to other monitor and display manufacturers, which, due to lower per-chip pricing, can now afford to place them in obtainable monitors. 

Monitor makers are also cutting prices by reducing the number of dimming zones in entry-level products. “It is important to have a fair comparison,” Dr. Guillaume Chansin, Display Researcher at Display Supply Chain Consultants, said in an email. “Aside from panel size, the number of dimming zones has a significant impact on the cost of a Mini-LED backlight. In this instance, the Cooler Master monitor has 576 zones on a 27-inch, compared to Asus with 1,152 zones on a 32-inch.”

Mini-LED is a backlight technology that places an array of LED chips into zones that operate independently, making it possible to dim the backlight dynamically. It’s not standardized, however, so the number of LED chips and dimming zones in a display can vary dramatically. The iPad Pro has 2,596 dimming zones on a 13-inch Mini-LED display, far superior to the 576 dimming zones found in Cooler Master’s 27-inch monitor.

Mini-LED costs are coming down, helped by Apple’s high volumes in the MacBook Pro and iPad Pro.

The slim number of dimming zones in affordable Mini-LED monitors will impact performance. They’ll show noticeable blooming, an issue that causes bright halos to surround bright objects on a dark background. 

Still, even a basic Mini-LED backlight remains a step up from the edge-lit LED backlight used by most modern monitors, with a better contrast ratio and improved HDR performance. 

Pricing Has Dropped Seven-Fold in Two Years

Apple’s Pro Display XDR brought the technology to monitors in December of 2019 at the outrageous price of $4,999. Cooler Master’s new GP27-FQS is over seven times less expensive than Apple’s Pro Display XDR, which still sells at its debut MSRP.

Cooler Master’s monitor is not alone. Monoprice and AOC have announced new 27-inch models at $999. Acer plans to release a pair of 4K 32-inch Mini-LED monitors starting at $1,799. A variant that supports Nvidia G-Sync will be $1,999.

Cooler Master GP27-FQS-2

Cooler Master

These prices are more in line with what enthusiasts and gamers expect. Popular mid-range monitors like the Dell S2721QS and LG Ultragear 27GP850 retail for $350 to $500. Premium 4K options like the Acer Nitro XV282K are typically $600 to $1,000. 

The perks of Mini-LED monitors were alluring even when they sold for thousands of dollars. The new, more affordable models from Acer, AOC, Cooler Master, and Monoprice will be hard to pass up. That’s good news for anyone looking to buy a monitor in 2022. 

Was this page helpful?