Whether your old monitor has died or you finally decided you need to upgrade for the latest movies or games, buying a new computer monitor is a big decision.
You can get a great screen for several hundred dollars, pay through the nose for some incredible tech, or save a lot of money by focusing on the monitor features most important to you. We’re here to help you out with the information on just what to look for.
How big is big enough? When it comes to computer monitors, you want something that can fit comfortablyon your desk while giving you plenty of screen real estate. While in the past sub-20-inch monitors were common place, today unless you’re really constrained for space, there’s no real need to buy anything under 22-inches. For most, 24-inches is going to be a baseline as you can pick up a number of screens at that size for around $100.For those who want more than that though, there are plenty of sizes to choose from. Monitors that stretch 27-inches diagonally are increasingly popular and there are plenty of options beyond 30-inches that are affordable. If you want to goextreme, we’ve even seen some great computer monitors that get close to 50-inches. While you’ll need to sit well back from those, there’s no denying that they look amazing. They tend to be rather expensive though and certainly for most users would be complete overkill.
Anywhere between 24 and 30-inches is going to be perfectly fine for most users. They let you make the most of modern resolutions and color clarity, and they also fit a couple different web pages open at the same time without needing to use two monitors, which is handy for many professionals.
We’ve been waiting years for OLED technology to make the transition to PC monitors, and it’s still over the horizon somewhere — especially when it comes to mainstream options. Today all the best screens are still LCD monitors that use LED technology for a slim product that saves energy while providing ideal backlighting.
One aspect of PC monitors that you do need to consider though, is resolution. While 1080p was once the gold standard, today it’s just the baseline. If you’re happy to spend a little more, there are a few other options worth considering, especially if you want to improve screen space or gaming visuals. Resolution isn’t the be-all and end-all of monitor features, though. In fact, too much resolution on too small of a screen can often be annoying, because it shrinks all images down and forces you to enlarge everything to easily read it.
While the above are the most common resolutions you’ll find on monitors, there are some that fall into more niche categories. The best ultrawide monitors offer unique aspect ratios and resolutions with broad horizontal pixel counts, but less on the vertical dimension. Then there are curved monitors to consider. They don’t have different resolutions than their flat counterparts, but they are noticeably different. Curved screens aren’t a necessity by any means, but they have their uses, and we certainly have our favorites.
Several other aspects of a monitor’s display contribute to just how awesome of an image it can produce. Here are some other commonly used stats to help you compare
The type of panel used to make your new display can have a major impact on what it looks like and how it performs. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses, making them better suited to different sorts of PC users. While manufacturers have made valiant attempts to bridge the gaps between the types, each tends to still have their evangelists and depending on what you spend most of your time doing while on your PC, you’ll likely want to opt for one over the other. There can be a cost to pay for certain features though.
There are a few different ports you should look for on your monitor. Where VGA and DVI were standards of yesteryear, today new displays ship with HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C connections most commonly. To make things more confusing, each of those has their own multitude of generations which you need to be aware of if you’re planning on running a high-resolution or high-refresh-rate display.
To run a display at 4K resolution, you’ll need to use HDMI 1.4 at the very least, though HDMI 2.0 would be required if you want to support a refresh rate of 60Hz, which should be a bare minimum unless all you do is watch movies on it. If you want to do high refresh-rate gaming, especially at higher resolutions, DisplayPort 1.4 monitors can handle up to 8K at 60Hz and 4K at up to 200Hz, so is better suited than HDMI in that regard.
The slightly older, DisplayPort 1.2 connector can handle 1440p and 1080p at high-refresh-rates too, so if you’re not opting for 4K, that port option should suffice for lower-resolution monitors. USB-C is an option, as it can support up to 4K resolution, but it’s not as capable as DisplayPort connections.