In the world of computer peripherals, you’ll know soon enough that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What computer monitor works for John the gamer may or may not be ideal for Mary the graphic designer. If you’re lost and have no idea what computer monitor you should buy, this quick guide should help you out:
Many people focus most of their time on size and resolution, but the type of panel is actually more important since it could dictate how well (or not) the display would perform for your particular tasks.
There are 3 main types of LCD panels (all have their pros and cons):
- TN (Twisted Nematic): The most common and popular type of panel because it has the fastest response times and most affordable pricing. This is the gamer’s choice who doesn’t want lag while playing and is OK with “decent color performance.”
- VA (Vertical Alignment): VA doesn’t focus on response time, but is known to have strong contrast and better color accuracy and performance than the TN panels. These panels also have better viewing angles than TN.
- IPS (In-Plane Switching): IPS panels are the most expensive, but offer the best of both worlds of TN and VA panels. IPS panels have respectable responsiveness, good viewing angles, consistent contrast, and accurate color performance.
Aside from panel type, you might also need to choose from either flat monitors or curved monitors. Each option is available with TN, VA, and IPS panel types, but because of the curved display’s concave screen, the overall experience and viewing angles would be a LOT more different than flat screens.
When buying monitors, weigh your size and resolution options together. This could save you time from comparing models.
- SIZE: While there are smaller and lower resolutions available, the base option for most people is 24 inches with a 1080p resolution (or HD/high definition). 24- to 30-inch monitors are ideal if you’re going to use them for work, but higher if you’re planning to use them for either gaming or as your entertainment system.
- RESOLUTION: 1080p used to be the standard in monitor resolutions. Although it is still pretty solid, offer great picture quality and affordable, there are far better and larger options from the 1440p and 4k/UltraHD (or UHD) to the future of monitor resolutions 5k and 8k. Most advanced computers today are in the 4k range since having 5k or 8k resolution monitors won’t matter until all movies, computer games, TV shows, PC programs and other content can display them in 5k or 8k resolution.
There are several considerations you should check that would dictate how a monitor performs on a day-to-day basis. These include:
- ASPECT RATIO: This factor considers how proportional a monitor is and is described in two distinct numbers separated by a colon (describing the correlation between width and height). The standard is 16:9, which is ideal for most uses. But there are stretched aspect ratios of 21:9 or 16:10 to accommodate other people’s needs.
- BRIGHTNESS: If your workspace is in a well-lit area (either natural sun or daylights), a monitor with high brightness (within the 300 to 350 cd/m2 range) can help prevent glare. However, on the other side of the coin, having too much brightness could also cause eye strain. 250 cd/m2 brightness works for most cases.
- CONTRAST RATIO: This is important for creatives since the contrast ratio determines how well a monitor could show you “whiteness” and “blackness” of images, videos and other content.
- REFRESH RATE: This consideration is a must for gamers because refresh rates (rated in hertz/Hz) would determine how often the monitor could update the image displayed. 120 Hz is the baseline with 240Hz for higher-priced monitors. Most gaming experts recommend finding displays with 144Hz refresh rates to accommodate most games.
- RESPONSE TIME: Indicates the transition between images, response time is important for gaming and entertainment use. A monitor with low response time shows lag results, such as screen tearing, twitchy gameplay, or ghosting.
- VIEWING ANGLE: If you plan to use the monitor to entertain a group of people and watch movies together, viewing angle is important and you should find a monitor with at least 170-degree viewing angles. If you’re the only one going to use the monitor, this shouldn’t really matter.
You can still use your new monitor without weighing the following considerations, but it’s always good to know what options you have, right? So check these out if you think you’d need them in your life:
- VESA mount compatibility: If you’re planning to mount your monitor and save space in your computer room, check if the monitor is compatible with the standard VESA mount.
- Built-in components: Would you like a monitor with a built-in webcam? Built-in speakers? Designed with a built-in USB slot? How about built-in lamps? Every manufacturer invents innovative add-ons, but not all of them stick.
Once you’ve decided which option suits your needs most on each of the considerations above, you can now focus on the monitor’s brand name, model, and price range you could afford.