The best monitor calibrator tools in 2021
Welcome to our guide to the best monitor calibrator tools. For photographers, artists and video editors in particular, you need to ensure that your monitor is displaying colours as accurately as possible. Whatever you create, you need to make sure your screen is calibrated and so a monitor calibrator is one of the most important purchases you’ll make.
A proper calibrator is accurate and fast and it means you can get to work safe in the knowledge your monitor is showing colours as accurately as possible in a matter of minutes. There are plenty of different monitor calibration tool options, including software downloads, online tools and the built-in calibration tools within Windows and macOS. But nothing offers the accuracy and ongoing reliability of a hardware calibrator. This is by far and away the best method to ensure you get an accurate display that reflects real-world colours.
So, here’s our guide to the best monitor calibrator tools on the market right now, and if you want to know how these tools work, check out our article on how to calibrate your monitor. And if you need to upgrade your screen too, don’t miss our pick of the best 4K monitors, best USB-C monitors and best monitors for MacBook Pro.
Datacolor is a well-known brand in the field of monitor calibration, and it’s followed up its Spyder5 monitor calibrators (which are included in this guide as well) with the new SpyderX device, which improves nearly every aspect of the Spyder5 range.
It uses a new lens-based sensor system which speeds up calibration time, while also increasing the accuracy – an impressive feat which means you can be even more confident in the colour accuracy of your screen. And, for people who regularly calibrate their monitors (which everyone should do), this decrease in calibration time can end up saving you quite a bit of time in the long run.
This excellent monitor calibrator comes with useful features, such as multi-monitor support, and it can detect the light conditions you’re working in to ensure your monitor looks its best. As always, Datacolor’s software, which comes with the device, is easy to use, letting you begin calibrating straight away.
The incredible X-Rite i1 Display Pro comes with a heap of options, but then you do pay for it. You’re able to use your profile across multiple displays (either on the same machine or network) as well as assess the ambient light in your workspace to set your monitor up for best results.
A technology called Flare Correct will measure and adjust your display profile for reduced contrast ratios caused by glare on your screen. Video colour standards are also incorporated, so video editors can set up their display for best results, too.
The X-Rite i1 Display PRO is a little expensive, but our price comparison tool trawls the web to find you the best price. The X-Rite i1 Display Studio below is a cheaper option.
Want to measure super-bright displays over 1000 nits? Then opt for the X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus (also below) instead.
If you’re a professional who has the budget, and space, for the SpyderX Studio, then this is one of the best purchases you can make. It comes with the SpyderX Elite monitor colorimeter, as well as a SpyderPrint spectrocolorimeter for checking your printouts, plus the SpyderCube, which can be used to calibrate Raw images.
It’s essentially an all-in-one kit that gives professional photographers and designers everything they need to ensure every aspect of their work is properly calibrated. This means it’s pricey, and as there’s a lot of kit, you’ll need to make sure you have enough room for it in your office or studio – and it’s a bit overwhelming for beginners.
However, by offering a collection of some of the best calibration and colour assessing tools on the market right now, it’s a fantastic choice for people who want to upgrade their entire setup with a single purchase.
Sitting underneath the X-Rite i1 Display Pro above is the X-Rite i1Display Studio which offers almost all of the same features. The key difference is the lack of ambient light monitoring. This is a definite drawback if you really want to get things spot on in an office environment.
The measurement speed also isn’t as high as the Pro but this may or may not bother you. For our money, this will calibrate your display very well without the extra expense of the Pro or Pro Plus.
The Pro Plus sits at the top-end of X-Rite’s i1Display range of calibrators and it’s the one to go for if you need to deal with super-bright displays. The company’s other calibrators we’ve covered above handle up to 1,000 nits while this will manage up to 2,000 nits.
As such, it’s the best calibrator for HDR displays on this list, as well as other super-bright monitors that we’re now seeing more of on the market. It also supports Black Current Subtraction to minimise noise. And, as with the company’s other calibrators we’ve featured you can profile up to four separate displays.
This isn’t a general-purpose display calibrator unlike all the others here. Instead it’s designed specifically for use with Wacom’s own Cintiq 27 models. So if you use those displays, then this is the calibrator you’ll want. It’s expensive, sure, but it’s a specialist tool to do a specialist job. This product was first available in 2015 and is similar to the X-Rite i1 Display Pro above, though there have been software updates available since.
Why do I need a monitor calibrator?
Calibrating your monitor ensures your colours are accurate. Essentially, that means you’ll know that what you’re seeing on your screen is what everyone else will see. This is especially important as your working environment can have a big impact on how colours will appear on a screen (even if you have got one of the best cameras).
Calibrating a monitor correctly also means you’re looking after yourself because it’ll help to reduce eye strain when you’re working intensively.
If you or your company have invested in a good quality monitor, these tools will help make sure it’s performing as it should be. If you’re not getting the most out of it, then you’re not giving yourself the best chance of doing great work.