Your monitor is probably bundled with your PC desktop or perhaps you bought it at a time when 1,280 by 1 024 was thought of as “high resolution.” Since you spend a significant portion of your day in front of your screen it’s important to make sure you choose the latest model. This is the technology that you purchase which you’ll keep for many years to come. Today, you can are getting more from your monitors than you ever did. Many low-end models beat high-end models from the past decade.
The Basics: Pricing, Panel Types, and More
Whatever monitor you’re shopping for, certain general aspects should be considered. Here’s a list of essential points to consider.
What Are the Price Ranges for Different Monitor Types?
Prices for monitors are based on the intended audience and the size of the screen and the capabilities that the monitor. For less than $100 you can purchase the basic 22-inch or 23-inch model however don’t expect luxuries like a range of ports or an adjustable height stand for this price. However, these panels use LED backlighting and require only a little power, and tend to be bright. They are adequate for entertainment and basic business productivity requirements but aren’t ideal for jobs where accuracy in grayscale color is essential.
The other end of the spectrum is top-of-the-line models, designed for graphic design professionals and photographers. Most of these are 27-inch to 38-inch panels that support 4K resolution (3,840 by 2,160 pixels), capable of displaying four times the resolution of a typical full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel, or “1080p”) monitor. Additionally, they come with such options as a very adaptable stand, a selection of ports, including HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB (often with USB-C) as well as a variety of advanced image settings including (in certain cases) calibration software and calibration hardware.
Expect to pay $1,000 and up for a fully loaded, high-performance 4K or Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) monitor like this. Professional monitors of the highest quality, with some with the highest resolution of 6K (around 6000 horizontal pixels) typically range from $2,000 to $6,000. Bottom line: Be ready to shell out for additional features however, don’t spend too much on features you’ll never need.
What Size Monitor Do I Need?
Computer monitors for desktops typically range between 19 and 38 inches. However, for those with desks that are extra large Ultrawide displays with sizes of up to 49 inches are available. (The smaller monitors, aside from a few special displays, like those designed to work with the Raspberry Pi, are USB-connected portable displays intended to be used on the move.) The dimension of the display can be measured in diagonals.
Although it’s always nice to have the largest display possible it’s probably not feasible given your desk-space limitations. Additionally, the larger monitor, the higher you’ll have to shell out. A 24-inch screen is an ideal choice for those who want to see documents with multiple pages or view films but are limited in space on their desk and have a limited budget. There’s nothing better than watching a film or playing games on a large-screen display and if you’ve got enough space on your desktop and you’re looking for a larger display, a 27-inch or greater display will give you a huge-screen experience at a budget-friendly price. If space isn’t an issue, you can consider an enormous screen that is curved to provide the experience of a movie on your computer.
If you’re considering replacing a dual-monitor setup with only one display, look into an ultra-wide large-screen model. They’re offered in sizes ranging between 29 and 49 inches, with curved and non-curved panels. They come with 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios and are available with a range of resolutions, such as wide-screen High-Definition Wide (WQHD that’s 2,560 by 1,440 pixels) and UHD. Some of these are productivity-focused, while others are decidedly gaming panels. (More on gaming panels in the future.)
Do I Need a Low Pixel Response Rate?
The measurement is in milliseconds (ms) the pixel response time is the time required for a pixel to switch from white to black (black-to-white responding duration) or to change between gray shades to the next (gray-to-gray reaction time). The higher the pixel response rate is, the better the monitor can display video without showing artifacts like ghosting or blurring from moving photos. Monitors that have quick 1ms (gray-to-gray) pixels are great for gaming, however, monitors that have slower 6ms (gray-to-gray) pixels are able to display games with no blurring, ghosting or.
The majority of users don’t even be aware of input lag or the amount of time it takes for the display to respond to a command, however, serious gamers view this as an important factor when selecting an appropriate monitor. They usually search for the most efficient models. The most efficient monitor we’ve seen has a lag of less than one millisecond. For everyday usage, you could be able to get by with 25ms before the lag starts to become an issue.
Which Monitor Resolution Is Best for What I Do?
A native resolution refers to the largest amount of pixels a screen can display horizontally as well as vertically. For instance, a monitor with a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels will display 1920 pixels along the length of the screen with 1,080 of them from the top to the bottom. The greater resolution, the more information will be shown on the monitor.
Today, many displays that are in the 22- to 27-inch range offer a natural resolution that is 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. They are also called high HD and 1080p displays. You’ll also see plenty of displays from 24 to 32 inches that offer a WQHD (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) native resolution. Stepping up to a UHD or 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) monitor usually means a 27-inch or larger screen, although we have seen a few 24-inch UHD models. UHD monitors are perfect to view images that are extremely detailed or displaying several pages in a tiled or side-by-side format.
Which Major Features Should I Look for in a Monitor?
If you need to share a monitor with a friend or family member take into consideration a model that has an ergonomically designed stand that allows you to place the monitor at your best viewing angle. The stand is fully adjustable and offers tilt, swivel, as well as height adjustments. You can also rotate the display to view it in portrait mode (aka pivot adjust). If you typically connect and disconnect USB devices frequently, opt for a monitor that has integrated USB ports. Ideally, two of these ports should be positioned on the side or back of the cabinet. It will be easier to connect thumb drives as well as various other USB peripherals.
The majority of monitors have built-in speakers that are suitable for daily use but don’t have the bass volume and volume that gamers and music lovers require. If you are looking for a speaker with audio output then look for speakers with an optimum rating of 2 Watts per speaker. In general, the greater ratings for power, the higher volume you can anticipate, so should you choose the best monitor that has more audio oomph, make sure you take a look at the specs. Certain monitors do not have speakers at all however, you can still add external speakers to provide better sound quality than standard monitor speakers.
The glossy surfaces of screens offer very clear, bright colors, however, they can cause reflection for certain users. If possible, test an ultra-glossy screen with a matte screen prior to buying to figure out which one is best for you.
What Are the Different Kinds of Monitor Panels?
The most popular panel types for desktop displays are twist thematic (TN) as well as in-plane switch (IPS) vertical alignment (VA) as well as Vertical alignment patterned (PVA) Super PVA (S-PVA) as well as multi-domain vertical alignment (MVA).
For the last few years, the majority of display screens for desktops used TN technology. It’s the most affordable display type that is made and also has superior performance when it comes to motion handling. However, IPS monitors that are affordable are on the rise with 27-inch models starting at just $150 and featuring excellent color quality and large viewing angles. VA monitors also provide a wide range of colors, but the viewing angle is better than the typical TN panel, and isn’t exactly as sharp as what you can get when you use the IPS panel.
It’s hard to find a computer monitor that doesn’t provide at the very least a high-definition image. To be able to achieve this minimum mark it is required that the monitor has an original resolution of at minimum 1,920 x 1,080 pixels in a 16:9 aspect proportion to achieve this without cutting or stretching the image. Professionals in graphic design who require a higher level of image clarity should look higher in the resolution stack to get the WQHD as well as a UHD monitor.
There are now monitors made quantum dots to give you better color accuracy and a larger range of colors, and greater peak brightness than you can get from modern panel technology. A different, more recent tech, Mini-LED, uses thousands of tiny LEDs that are arranged in a matrix and then brightened and dimmed in smaller groups as the signal shifts. In the near future, look for monitors that incorporate organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology that promises extremely high contrast ratios, real blacks, and super-fast resolution. OLEDs have taken a while to establish themselves in the market for monitors (versus the television market) because of their high cost.
If you are a laptop user and require dual screens an external monitor may be more suitable over a desktop-sized panel. These devices are lightweight and use the PC’s USB port (most modern models use USB-C) as their source of power and, occasionally, to also receive video. (Others are compatible with HDMI input.) These are great to use for small-office presentations and for expanding the screen area of your laptop Their slim design allows them to be simple to carry around. With less than 200 dollars, you could buy a 15-inch display which will expand your viewing area by doubling it when you travel. (See our test of monitors.)
What Are the Main Categories of Monitor?
You can classify most monitors into one of five categories, all of which target different audiences: Budget, Business/Professional, Touch-Screen, General-Use/Multimedia, and Gaming. Prices differ within each category, based on the panel technology employed as well as its size, screen, and features.
If you’re looking for a simple monitor to view emails, browse the internet, and display office software There’s no need to pay more for a model that has features you won’t need. The budget displays are typically basic models with no extras like USB port cards, card readers, or webcams built-in. A few models that are less expensive making use of TN panels and aren’t well-known for their performance characteristics especially when it comes to motion handling and grayscale precision. But, IPS panels have become popular in the budget range for all screen sizes.
Do not expect much in the terms of flexibility. The majority of budget displays are supported by a stand, and may have a tilt adjustment, but will not provide pivot and height adjustments. Like most screens, prices will increase depending on the size of the panel. It is possible to purchase a basic 24-inch screen starting at $100. On the other hand, budget 27-inch screens can be found at less than $150.
This category encompasses a broad range of display types including small-screen, energy-conscious “green” models for everyday office use, to premium professionally-grade, 32-inch or more models which use indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) or advanced high-performance in-plane switch (AH-IPS) panel technology. They are geared toward graphic professionals who require an extremely high level of grayscale and color accuracy.
Business monitors generally come with ergonomic stands which can be adjusted to provide the best comfort. Typically, they provide pivot adjustment, which allows you to rotate the display 90 degrees to view in portrait orientation. Choose a model equipped with an auto-rotate function that rotates the screen automatically whenever you alter the orientation. Other features that are geared towards business include a long (three to four-year) warranty that includes the option of an overnight exchange as well as integrated USB ports, as well as an active recycling program.
A model that is fully loaded that has a premium display will cost a lot however for photographers and other professionals in graphics it’s an investment worth it. The other end of the spectrum is low-cost, energy-efficient monitors. They don’t have any features, but their power-saving features can help businesses save money by reducing power consumption. (For more details, refer to our guide to the top commercial monitors.)
Displays with touch screens on desktops have seen some interest however, they are mostly used for vertical applications. There’s a cost for touchscreens however, it’s worth it if you are serious about the Windows user experience. Choose a model with an arm that allows you to put the display in a position where it’s nearly parallel to your desktop if you require that type of interaction. (Some touch models are made without a stand, and are intended to be incorporated into a specific space using an individual stand or arm.)
A lot more common than desktop touch screens are portable touch screen monitors, used for general-purpose usage and for graphic artists. (See our guide on screens that can be used in portable devices.)
Multimedia displays usually provide a wide range of options to create and display your home’s photo as well as video productions. A quality display like this will typically offer a range of choices of connections, principally of which are HDMI as well as DisplayPort. These robust models also feature audio connections. At a minimum, two USB ports should be in place and ideally placed on the side of the cabinet to allow for quick access. A USB Type C port that allows you to charge a laptop, for instance, through your monitor, while allowing two-way data transfers is another major benefit.
The monitor could also come with built-in speakers. When you buy a quality multimedia display, these should be at a higher level than the standard low-powered models found on the majority of monitors. If, as mentioned previously, the audio output is a key aspect, you should look for displays that have speakers that are rated at 2 watts or higher. Other less popular multimedia bells and whistles worth looking for include a built-in memory card reader, making it simple to access videos and photos directly from your camera’s media, or a built-in webcam that can be used for video chats as well as for taking photos and videos that you can easily send via email. These aren’t common, however, but they are definitely worth a look. (If you’re an experienced photographer, go through the above and beneath this article for displays that can be used for photography.)
Displays that are designed for gaming require speedy response times to display images that are moving without causing motion blurs or artifacts. Displays that have slower response times can cause blurring in images moving quickly, which could cause distraction during gaming. On smaller screens, this issue might not be as evident, but if you’re playing on a screen larger than 27 inches and you’ll need to limit blurring to a minimum. Find a display with a speed of response that is five milliseconds (black-to-white) (black-to-white) or less than 2ms (gray-to-gray) at the very least.
Gaming monitors with high-end specs may have the ability to support G-Sync (Nvidia) and FreeSync/FreeSync 2 (AMD) display technology that can reduce the appearance of screen-tearing artifacts and offer a smooth gaming experience. However, your computer will require an appropriate dedicated graphics card to make use of this feature.
A rapidly growing subcategory within gaming displays is known as the “high-refresh” panel. Gaming monitor makers are now offering displays that have high-refresh rates, which are above 60Hz. These are designed for avid esports fans or competitive gamers who make use of the screens when playing games with more than 60 frames per second, which means greater performance and smoothness. (Depending on the type of games you play, you might require a premium video card to enjoy the advantages of a high-refresh display. check out our guide on the top graphics cards) These monitors with high-refresh capabilities are available in different refresh rates ranging from 75Hz to 360Hz with the 144Hz frequency being the most commonly used model. They typically come with AMD FreeSync (more common) or Nvidia G-Sync (less popular but more costly). (Many new general-purpose, non-gaming-specific monitors have refresh rates of as high as 75Hz.)
The best gaming displays are 65 inches BFGD (“Big-Format Gaming Displays”) which Nvidia has played a key role in spearheading. These giants in 4K can be HDR-capable, feature the highest display brightness of 1000 nits, they can support frame rates of 120Hz or higher, and also support G-Sync’s adaptive sync. The first BFGD to be released is it was the HP Omen X Emperium 65 Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD). There are only two other BFGDs have been added to the Omen since we last reviewed it in the year 2019: the ROG from Asus Swift PG65UQ and the LG OLED65E92A. It sports an OLED screen, and it is a smart TV as a monitor. Though they’ve taken a while to arrive, BFGDs remain a force to be reckoned with for those who can afford the cost.
Since audio is an integral component of the game experience. I do not have a speaker for your desktop set up, think about getting buying a set with a good speaker system. (Most in-monitor speakers are mediocre at best, however.) A jack either on the side or top of the cabinet to plug into a gaming headset is ideal if you choose the contained sound option. A monitor that includes a USB hub that can be used to connect multiple controllers is also a good idea. (For more information you can read our guide on the best Gaming monitors.)
Should I Get a 4K Monitor?
Four-K or UHD monitors aren’t just reserved for gamers. Many potential users of UHD monitors happen to be video editors or users who want to keep several windows open at the same time without having to add an additional monitor. If you’re one of them then you shouldn’t search for a monitor that has lightning-fast response times however, you must be aware of the hue as well as contrast ratios and the size.
A 27-inch 4K screen (these begin at about $350) typically allows you to accommodate three full-sized browser windows together. Any smaller than that and the screen will not be as effective to multitask.
Gamers however those who are a fan of 4K would prefer an extra-large 4K display with quick response times as well as G-Sync or FreeSync compatibility in the event that their PC has an appropriate video card that has one or both because a larger resolution can make tearing more distracting. Gaming in 4K requires an extremely robust video card, however. (See our guide on the top graphics cards to play games in 4K.) 4K gaming displays begin at around $350, however, they can reach upwards from $1,000 for 32 inches models or larger models that come with GPU adaptive sync capabilities as well as IPS displays. (See our guide on the best 4K displays.) With the cost of 4K monitors being high and the shortage of gaming cards compatible with 4K today 1080p is the more realistic resolution for gaming gamers.
So, Which Monitor Should I Buy?
Whatever your requirements or budget you have, there’s a screen there that’s suitable for you. Below, take a look at the top displays we’ve tested in the scenarios we’ve covered with various price points.