Commonly, a monitor is not the highest priority when we think about buying a new computer. However after all, we end up looking at it for the rest of the day. Realizing the need on better monitor, we often wonder what to consider when buying a PC monitor. It differs like the rest hardware out there, and it has several factors that define its performance. So here is a little thought when it comes to choosing.
Monitor size is the first thing that often comes up in mind. There are several common sizes including 17”, 19” to 20”, 22”, 24”, 27” which is massive and in trend right now, and many more size variation. Besides depending on what you are going to do with it, the choice also depends on the size of your desk and if you want a double monitor. Obviously, 27” isn’t the right thing when the double screen is in agenda.
19” and 20” monitors are available at reasonable price, and they provide good size as well for screen real estate. The 21” to 26” monitors are perfect for multi-tasking duty. Watching TV shows and movies, playing games, and viewing multiple-page office documents will be comfortable with it. At last, there is 27” and bigger sizes as well. These monitors are the best mate for professional tasks in video production, graphic arts, and photography, and they serve the best display for serious gamers.
The newly-in-trend ultrawide monitor is available in 25” to 35” inches nowadays. This monitor is a perfect match for professional tasks and serious gaming while serving multiple screens function at once. Surely, it is still pricey comparing to the other alternatives.
After deciding on the size, monitor resolution should be the next to decide. Resolution defines a number of pixels the monitor can display. It affects image sharpness. The most common resolution to find is 1920x1080. Monitors with this resolution are also known as 1080p monitors. This resolution is capable of displaying relatively sharp image on a 23” monitor. For larger size like 27”, 2560x1440 resolution is more preferable. The display image is sharper, and it also offers more space on screen for web pages, icons, and other things. Alternatively, 1920x1220 is often recommended as well. It offers fairly the same sharpness as 1080p monitor can give, yet it offers extra 120 pixels vertically. It means great writing and browsing session even though this monitor is kind of harder to come by. The ultrawide monitors are available with either 2560x1880 or 3440x1440 resolution, depending on the size of the monitor. It explains why these monitors have cinematic movie-watching, high-immersed gaming, and extended space for multi-tasking work.
Remember the following details to recognize it in monitors. 1336x768 is already HD resolution while 1600x900 resolution is originally categorized as HD+. The 1920x1080 is already categorized as Full HD resolution and 2560x1440, which is offered in ultrawide monitors too, is categorized as Quad HD resolution. Monitors with this resolution are often called as WQHD, Wide Quad HD, or simply QHD. At last, monitors with 3840x2160 are categorized as 4K Ultra HD monitors. The last two categories require updated graphic cards to support its’ performance.
There are basically three types of panel available right now, and each of them is ideal for different aspects. First, there is Twisted Nematic Panels which are also known as TN panels. This panel type is not only the most common but also the cheapest LCD panels right now. The best part of this panel is on its refresh rate and response. Its’ refresh rate is high which make the panel an ideal choice for 3D gaming. Its’ response time is fast as well for fast changing performance. Unfortunately, this panel gets distorted on specific viewing angles and its’ colors are the least accurate comparing to other panels. If high response time and refresh rate aren’t needed, other panel types will be better looking.
Second, there is Vertical Allignment Panel, which is also known as VA panel. This is often considered as the midrange panel among users. The best part of this panel is on its black color which is the perfect one among other panel types. Its’ color accuracy is far better than in TN panel as well. However, weird color effects are still present on certain angles.
Third and lastly, there is In-Plane Switching Panel, which is also known as IPS panel. The best part of this panel is that it has nicer viewing angles comparing to the previous panels. Videographers and photographers always prefer for this panel. In addition to it, its’ color accuracy is reasonably better than on TN panels and better looking too. Unfortunately, this panel is more expensive. Comparing to TN panel in particular, this panel doesn’t have faster response or higher refresh rate which will be problem for 3D gaming. Then, there is Plane-Line Switching panel, which is also known as PLS panel. It works better than IPS but it is even more expensive.
Refresh rate is about how many frames per second the monitor can display. It becomes important details when it comes to gaming. Most monitors today come with 60Hz refresh rate. It means the monitor can only display 60 frames per second. What if the game is 100 FPS? Still, the monitor can only display 60 frames on each second. For better performance, gamers tend to choose monitor with 120 Hz refresh rate which also supports 3D gaming already. Higher refresh rate, however, is only available on TN panel monitor so it is going to be not as good looking as IPS.
Anti-glare coating is small yet significant detail on a monitor. Preventing glare issue from light that is coming behind users, it comes handy when monitors are positioned in a well-lit spot. Despite the advantage it contributes, this coating also makes the image on monitor fuzzier and duller. To solve this problem, user can refer to glossy monitor look, but it tends to have more glare issues on bright room. Often, semi-gloss looking monitor becomes the best alternative for the issue.
This is less important detail yet significant when user needs to narrow down the options. Many monitors are built flimsy, and many others are solid enough. Several monitors are built to tilt only vertically while the others are built to swivel more nicely. The important note is that the nicely-built monitor tends to be easier to tweak to user liking.
Obviously, user will need to connect the monitor with many other devices. It is highly important to research on the ports available on a monitor. If the video cards output is in DVI, user needs to find monitor with DVI port clearly. Also, think about restrictions and port types to connect. On most cases, dual monitor setup is enabled with DisplayPort only so if dual monitors setup is in agenda, look for the specific port. Beside DVI port and DisplayPort, HDMI port and VGA connectors are often essential to find. Do research on each brand and series of monitor to find the entire needed ports.
In addition to the standard features mentioned above, some monitors are built with additional features as well. They are commonly pretty awesome to have. Touchscreen feature is popular today. However while looking at this particular feature, it is important to check on monitor smoothness while swiping. Monitors built with enough glass on edge normally perform perfect swipe from side to side. If a monitor with this feature can’t perform touch-based tasks and games, and it can’t move displays into different positions as users like, don’t invest on it.
3D feature is available on few latest monitors too. There are monitors with active and passive version of it. Monitors with active 3D features have better looking display on various angles. It displays great looking 3D images as well even though not as bright as ones in monitors with passive 3D feature. User will require special glasses to enjoy the performance, and only very few brands build 3D monitor along with glasses. Important to note, this kind of monitor tends to be heavier. It is more expensive than one with passive 3D feature, and it may need batteries too.
When entertainment is the primary focus, several features are worth the investment. Microphone enables user to input voice and record using the monitor only. Integrated and separated speakers that are offered together with the monitor are great to have too. Memory card readers come in handy to display photos or play videos directly from camera. A built-in TV tuner is another feature to have, but users recently prefer on iPod docks better. It adds the possibility of playing music or viewing images through monitor directly.
When it comes to brands for monitors, there are more than enough options to choose. Several brands like Lenovo, HP, Gateway, Dell, and Apple build their own monitors to complete their monitors as well as selling them separately. Several other brands are also known to build great monitors. Brands like ViewSonic, Samsung, Planar, NEC, LG, BenQ, Asus, AOC, Alienware, and Acer have positive feedbacks from users so far. Other bigger brands actually own several brands. It means its’ quality should be as reliable. Several brands also buy monitors from other companies. It can be complicated, but reading buying guide and reviews should help.
Most monitors come with either three-year or one-year warranty on both labor and parts. When buying more expensive variants, longer coverage is recommended. Another thought, think about defective pixel policy. Many will replace even a single fault on pixel as long as it is withing the warranty period. The rests think that hot or dead pixels and stuck acceptable enough. It depends on personal preference how the warranty should be.
There are still more advanced specs for monitors offered out there. However, the above specs are the most important ones, and they should help a lot in narrowing down options. So to answer question like what to consider when buying a PC monitor, you can start looking with those specs in mind. Don’t forget to read the reviews to get real and complete details.