Like most people, you're probably spending time in front of a monitor for many hours every day. So when the time comes for a new one, it's crucial to have the information that can help make your choice easier. This guide will provide breakdowns and recommendations based on display types and key features to understand what there is to know when buying yourself a new computer monitor.
We'll dig a bit into the specifics of features as we go through some recommendations, but if you want an in-depth feature explainer, check out our See The Difference: Picking Your Perfect Monitor guide!
The sheer amount of monitors on the market today can make your head spin. To make the process easier, ask yourself the following questions:
● What do I use my computer for the most? Do I play games, watch videos, or do something else?
● What is my budget? Are you looking for a cheap monitor, or are you willing to spend more for better features and resolution?
● What size monitor do I want? Do I want something big or something small and portable?
● Do I need the best resolution currently available? or will 1080p be sufficient?
Once you have answered these questions, you'll be able to figure out what type of monitor is best for you. You can then start looking at the different features that each monitor offers. To help with this, we'll cover each type of display separately in the following few sections.
The most significant deciding factor for picking a new monitor is, what do I do most often?
If you need a monitor for tasks like email, social media, surfing the web, and paying bills online, you can get away with a basic model that still looks great. Even simple monitors today look stunning in comparison to the monitors of even a few years ago, and are packed with features that used to be astronomically expensive.
You also don't need a massive monitor for basic work tasks or binging YouTube videos. A 24” monitor, like the LG 24MP400 24" Full HD 75Hz LED Monitor, is a great all-around size and will provide enough screen space for multitasking.
LG 24MP400 24" Full HD 75Hz LED Monitor
A multipurpose monitor provides the screen quality and performance you need for everyday activities, like streaming music or movies, sharing photos and slideshows, videoconferencing, etc. Acer's 27" Full HD IPS LED Monitor works well for these purposes. If you get a larger monitor like 27" or bigger, it can double as your home entertainment center.
The content-creating community needs a large monitor, and Full HD or Quad HD resolution is best for additional screen space and highly detailed images. Samsung's U28R550 28" 4K UHD is fantastic for visual editing, and comes equipped with an IPS panel, meaning deep blacks and accurate colors in your display, complete with wide viewing angles. Also, your monitor's response time should be 5ms or less if you edit movies and videos to help reduce motion blur and ghosting.
We recommend having at least HD resolution and 5ms response time if you're a gamer. If you're getting into esports titles or other online games, you should absolutely spring for a high refresh rate as well, 144Hz or higher, with a viewing angle of 178° or more for optimal gaming performance.
Monitors that use NVIDIA G-SYNC or AMD FreeSync technology will give you added benefits if you have a compatible NVIDIA or AMD graphics card.
Monitors like the MSI OPTIX G24C 23.6" Full HD 144Hz Curved Screen Gaming Monitor are fantastic gaming monitors with high refresh rate and, FreeSynch compatibility, all on a curved HD screen for under $200.
MSI OPTIX G24C 23.6" Full HD 144Hz Curved Screen Gaming Monitor
When it comes to computer monitors, you want something that will fit on your desk comfortably while still providing you with enough screen space. While sub-20-inch monitors were formerly standard, there is no need to purchase anything smaller than 22 inches unless you have limited space.
24" monitors, like the Dell SE2422H 23.8" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 75Hz LED Monitor, are a staples for those who are looking for a simple, clean monitor that won't overwhelm your desk while still offering clear, vibrant visuals.
For those who want more, there are numerous sizes to select from. Monitors that extend 27 inches diagonally are becoming increasingly popular and are regularly found for both casual PC users and gamers alike, and there are several options above 30 inches. If you're looking for something bigger, there are some fantastic computer monitors with a diagonal size of almost 50 inches, such as Samsung's Odyssey Neo.
Most people will find their sweet spot to be between a 24- and 30-inch monitor. They allow you to make the most of today's high resolutions and color clarity. They also fit several web pages open simultaneously without requiring a dual monitor set-up, which benefits many professionals. Check out monitors such as the ASUS VP278QG 27" Full HD 75Hz LED Monitor for a great entry-level 27" monitor.
1080p is the modern staple for monitors, and you'll be hard pressed to find any under this resolution. 1080p monitors offer high-definition clarity without breaking the bank — as long as the monitor isn't too huge. 21-inch to 24-inch displays benefit from 1080p, though as the monitor size gets bigger, the clarity can start to fade. If you're not sure what size or refresh rate you're looking for, check out our full listing of Monitor Madness 1080p offerings.
1440p tends top be the gamers sweet spot, offering crisp visuals without over-taxing GPUs. They're also fantastic for those who work in visual mediums, be it video editing or graphic design. Larger monitors can really take advantage of a 1440p (and up) resolution, enabling every each to glow with vibrant clarity. Micro Center has five 1440p monitors on sale as part of Monitor Madness, but plenty more available!
AOC CQ27G2 27" 2K WQHD (2560 x 1440) 144Hz Wide Curved Screen Gaming Monitor
4K/Ultra HD or UHD is the highest common resolution available (though even higher resolutions do exist). It has 4x the resolution of standard 1080p and is one of the best things you can attach to your computer, though that comes with a caveat. Most modern computers can handle 4k for video streaming and web browsing, but they may struggle, without a high-end GPU, to stabily game and create at 4k. So, before you dig into our Monitor Madness 4k offerings, make sure your computer can handle it.
There are still a few more features you should keep in mind. Some of these might not be important to everyone but always look at them when shopping.
The aspect ratio is the way a screen displays pictures. 16:9 is a common standard, and it's your best bet. It works with most material and is ideal for movies or games.
The resolution of a monitor is measured in pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the more the screen can display more information at once, and the sharper images will appear to be.
For example, a 21:9 display has more information to process than a 16:10 or 4K display because it includes nearly double as many pixels. A good rule of thumb is to choose one with no less than 1,920 x 1,080 (Full HD) or 2,560 x 1,125 pixels (QHD).
Ultrawide resolutions, like 21:9, are also available, and offer their own set of benefits (like more space for working and broader gaming visuals) but they take up even more space on desks.
In brightness, high-end monitors can now reach around 300 to 350 cd/m2. If you work in a well-lit area or next to big windows, extra brightness might be helpful. However, excessive light is terrible for your eyes. So if you choose one with HDR support, the more peak brightness it has, the better.
Speaking of HDR, or High-Dynamic Range, it is a relatively new feature for PC monitors, and it has the potential to improve visuals significantly. It can be a fantastic addition for those looking for high-quality gaming or the best in visual work spaces. In addition, there are many different HDR variants to consider, such as HDR10+ for more sophisticated material.
LG 32UN550-W.AUS 31.5" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz LED Monitor
Response time is the time it takes for the monitor to transition from one image to another. A fast response time is ideal for action video, twitchy gaming, and other types of activity that require a rapid succession of images.
The quickest response times are in milliseconds (milliseconds), with screens able to switch pixels at a few milliseconds, but not everyone needs such instantaneous reactions.
The refresh rate is the frequency at which your computer's display changes. The refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), and it refers to how often the image on your screen is updated. While most screens support 60Hz, some now offer much faster refresh rates.
This can result in smoother desktop movements and game support for higher frame rates, making a massive difference in high-paced games with reduced input lag. There are benefits to choosing a range between 120Hz and 144Hz, but if you're looking to game at maximum, check out monitors that support over 144Hz. Of course, make sure you have a strong graphics card to back it up if you do that.
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