Whether you are into gaming, movies, video editing, or simply surfing the web, the right computer monitor can make your experience a lot better with amazing definition, ergonomic smarts, versatile connections and much more. The best starting point to finding the perfect monitor is figuring out your needs. Once you decide on what you are going to use it for, you can proceed to choosing the right screen size and resolution, connectors, plus other features, everything within a convenient price range.
Check out our computer monitor shopping guide below.
1. Know Your Needs
What are you planning to use your monitor for? Are you a casual gamer in search of a monitor with a great resolution and perhaps a retina display? Are you a video or photo editor and need perfect color accuracy? Or do you want a basic monitor that works well for sending and receiving emails, browsing the web, and other basic tasks?
Knowing your needs will help decide the best screen size and resolution of your monitor, as well as necessary connections, stand and swivel options, and price. For example, you will need a screen resolution of at least 1920 x 1080 pixels to achieve fairly sharp images, and a refresh rate of at least 60Hz if you are in search of a gaming monitor.
2. Screen Size and Resolution
Monitors come in many different screen sizes and resolutions. While gaming, video editing, movie streaming and other such more demanding tasks will require larger screens with sharper resolutions, basic activities such as browsing the Internet or using social media platforms can be performed on smaller screens with smaller (and hence less sharp) resolutions.
- 17- to 20-inch: Most 17-inch monitors have an aspect ratio of 4:3, which might not fit your needs if you have grown accustomed to wide-screen displays. On the other hand, 19-inch monitors sport wider screens and a 16:10 aspect ratio, but their resolutions do not break the typical 1,366 x 768-pixel barrier. As for 20-inch monitors, these usually have an aspect ratio of 16:9 paired with a 1,600 x 900-pixel resolution. Not the sharpest resolution, but you can expect HD movies (720P) to play well at their natural aspect ratio. Typical price ranges from $100 to $350.
- 21.5- to 23-inch: Both 21.5- and 23-inch monitors are becoming more popular among computer users, especially since many of them sport 1,920 x 1,080 resolutions. At this size, many of the monitors begin to feature more useful connections, including DVI. Typical price ranges from $130 to $500.
- 24-inch: Most 24-inch monitors function at both 1,920 x 1,080- and 1,920 x 1,200-pixel resolutions, which makes them quite versatile for movie streaming, gaming, and many more. Prices vary from $300 to $2,500.
- 27- to 30-inch: As expected of monitors in this size, 27-inch monitors are capable of 1,920 x 1,080- and 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolutions, which provides extreme definition that delivers a stellar experience. Prices are typically $400+.
3. Additional Features
There are countless features your new computer monitor can be equipped with, but you won’t probably need all of them.
- Refresh Rate: Refresh rate is an important factor to consider if you need a good gaming monitor. Most models come with a refresh rate of 60Hz, which translates to 60 frames per second. Even if your game is running 100fps, you can see only 60 of them if your monitor’s refresh rate is 60Hz. If you want a smoother gaming experience, opt for a refresh rate of 120Hz, which enables you to play games in 3D at 60Hz for each eye.
- Anti-Glare Coating: Anti-glaring coating prevents glare from light coming behind you, and they come in very handy if you have a window behind you, or if you work in a well-lit environment. Keep in mind that anti-glare coating might make the screen appear duller and a bit fuzzier, as compared to glossy screens, which tend to look sharper, though they also suffer from glare problems. If picture sharpness is not a concern, anti-glare coating might make your work space a bit friendlier.
- Swivel Options: Many monitors on the market come with swivel options that allow you to tilt them from side to side, vertically, or even to 90 degrees for an improved experience. If you are looking for a more comfortable and convenient gaming or movie streaming experience, consider getting one of those, as they will allow you to tweak the screen as desired.