Like other components of a computer, the PC monitor needs serious consideration. If you have deep pockets, then choosing a monitor is easy because you just pick the biggest and fastest monitor with the newest technology.
If you don’t have the budget to splurge on the best monitors money can buy, then your next best decision is to prioritize which monitor component would make your work, entertainment or gaming more comfortable for you. Here’s how to do it:
- Define your needs. Why do you need a monitor? Is it for work? Gaming? Watching Netflix? This will help filter down your choices significantly.
- Basic computing - If you’re going to use the monitor for surfing the web, social media, answering emails, video conferences, and other similar tasks, a standard 24-inch full HD monitor will be more than enough.
- Creative professions - For photographers, graphic design, video editing and other creative professionals that require accurate colors and bigger real estate, a larger-sized screen is needed with either Full HD or Quad HD, an IPS panel (for deepest blacks and best viewing angles).
- Gaming - Games are pretty advanced these days, so your equipment must be able to adapt. You’ll need a monitor with at least 5 ms response time and a 60Hz refresh rate. If the monitor incorporates AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, it ensures compatibility with same-brand graphics cards that would improve the refresh rate significantly.
- Multipurpose - If you are gaming and using the monitor for work or for your cinematic experience, you have to choose the higher specifications. The specs of a basic computing monitor simply won’t cut it for pro gaming.
- Decide on Panel type. You have three options for panel type: IPS, VA & TN.
- IPS (In-plane switching) - Ideal for creative professionals and anyone who values quality images more than size or any other technology, IPS displays offer wide viewing angles and excellent picture quality.
- VA (Vertical alignment) - If your computing requires perfect image depth and accurate contrast, VA displays can meet your needs.
- TN (Twisted nematic) - This is a type of LCD display that offers the best refresh rate and responsiveness at affordable prices.
- Choose Display type. Technically, CRT (the bulky monitors) should also be categorized as a display type but no one really uses them anymore due to their higher electricity consumption and outdated tech. So your choices for display type boils down to LED and LCD.
- LED (light-emitting diode) - LED offers brighter images with overall excellent picture quality. What makes LED displays better than LCD displays is that they consume less power and have a more advanced LED backlighting.
- LCD (liquid-crystal display) - LCD displays also offer quality images, even if they are more affordable than LEDs. Technically, LED is also a type of LCD display, but LCDs use CCFLs (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) for backlighting.
- Pick a Resolution. This is probably the most confusing component to choose, but it shouldn’t be. You’ll have several options, each with its own pros and cons. They include:
- HD (1280 x 720) - HD is the lowest acceptable resolution of monitors. This is twice the size of old school analog displays.
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) - Ideal for movies, streaming and everyday use.
- Quad HD (2560 x 1440, QHD, WQHD, Wide Quad HD) - Offers super-clear images that are ideal for creative professions (video editors, photographers, graphic designers, architects, and so on).
- 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 or UHD, 4K Ultra HD) - This monitor resolution features 4x the pixels as full HD, so you can expect it could handle high-resolution photos and videos like a breeze. It is ideal for any kind of advanced user from gamers to live-streamers and creative professionals. However, this may not be the best choice if you’re going to use the monitor mainly as your entertainment system’s “movie screen” since 4K content isn’t as widely available yet.
- 5K (5120 x 2160 and higher) - This offers the most number of pixels of any kind of monitor. But like the 4k display, you have to check the availability of 5k content before buying this display.
- Get the size you need. It’s super easy to get excited and buy the biggest monitor you can find in the market. But bigger doesn’t always mean the best, especially if you have limited work space at home, if you prefer a vertical or dual-display setup. Just decide on a monitor size, then pick out a size higher depending on your budget and other considerations.
If you’re going to spend 8 hours or more in front of your computer, make sure to include comfort as one of your top considerations. Consider a dual-display setup and an adjustable stand or mountable monitor (look for a VESA compliant unit).
You can also dig deeper into other monitor considerations such as fast response time (that removes or reduces motion blur), contrast ratio, brightness, refresh rate and more.
Check this list if budget is your only concern and you’re just looking for a cheaper option.