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The best monitor calibrator tools in 2021

Included in this guide:

X-Rite - best monitor calibrator tools
(Image credit: X-Rite)

If you're doing color-accurate design or photo work, you'll know that keeping your display calibrated is absolutely essential. You want to be looking at colours on your screen that are as close as can be to the real world. 

There are other tools, software downloads and apps available that suggest they do  calibration, but none of these are a real substitute for dedicated hardware that can actually 'look' at your display. 

So let's look onward to the best monitor calibrator tools available today. If you need more information on how these work, check out our article on how to calibrate your monitor

Also don't miss our pick of the best 4K monitors, best USB-C monitors and best monitors for MacBook Pro - especially important if you find your display isn't colour accurate enough. 

Why do I need a monitor calibrator?

Calibrating your monitor is an important task and it's designed to make sure the colours you see are accurate. Your working environment can have a big impact on how colours will appear on a screen and so the calibration process will need to take account of that.

Calibrating a monitor correctly also means you're looking after yourself because it'll help to reduce eye strain when you're working intensively.

And 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. 

The best monitor callibrator tools available now

Datacolor SpyderX Pro

(Image credit: Datacolor)

01. Datacolor SpyderX Pro

The best monitor calibrator we've yet seen

Reasons to buy
+Much quicker than the previous Spyder5+Great overall accuracy+Really good value
Reasons to avoid
-Interface could be more friendly-No budget Spyder X 'Express' version

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 SpiderX design which improves nearly every aspect of the Spyder5 range.

It uses a new lens-based sensor system that speeds up calibration time, while also increasing the accuracy - an impressive feat that 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.

X-Rite i1 Display PRO

(Image credit: X-Rite)

02. X-Rite i1 Display Pro

Another top calibrator for pros

Specifications
Settings: Unlimited
Laptop and desktop: Yes, plus projectors
Connector: USB
Reasons to buy
+You can re-use the same profile on multiple displays+So many options
Reasons to avoid
-It's rather expensive

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 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. 

(Image credit: Datacolor)

03. Datacolor SpyderX Studio

A top-end calibrator for professionals

Reasons to buy
+Combined monitor and print solution+Good performance
Reasons to avoid
-It's rather bulky-Not for beginners

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 gear, 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 color-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.

X-Rite i1Display Studio

(Image credit: X-Rite)

04. X-Rite i1Display Studio

No ambient light monitoring, but it'll do the rest

Specifications
Settings: N/A
Laptop and desktop: Yes
Connector: USB
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Good value for what you get
Reasons to avoid
-No ambient light monitoring 

Sitting underneath the X-Rite i1 Display Pro above is the X-Rite i1Display Studio that 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. 

X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus

(Image credit: X-Rite)

05. X-Rite i1Display Pro Plus

Calibrate super bright screens, projectors and printers

Specifications
Settings: N/A
Laptop and desktop: Yes
Connector: USB-A and USB-C
Reasons to buy
+Calibrates screens and projectors+Supports HDR and super-bright displays
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

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. 

Wacom Colour Manager

(Image credit: Wacom)

06. Wacom Colour Manager

For precise colour management of Wacom displays

Specifications
Settings: N/A
Laptop and desktop: Compatible with specified Wacom displays
Connector: USB
Reasons to buy
+1ms response time+For professional use
Reasons to avoid
-Only compatible with a few Wacom models.-Similar to X-Rite i1 Display Pro above

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 Wacom Colour Manager is the calibrator you'll want. It's expensive, sure, but it's a specialist tool to do a specialist job. This product is similar to the X-Rite i1 Display Pro above. 

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Dan is the Editor of T3.com and covers the latest in computing, home entertainment and mobile tech. He's also the former Deputy Editor of TechRadar and former Editor of Lifehacker UK. Dan has written for numerous computing and lifestyle magazines and has also written a book, too. You'll see him pop up in numerous places, having been quoted in or on The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, ITN News, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4 and Sky News Radio.