For anyone who owns a desktop PC, you’re going to need a monitor. It’s no good investing in a top of the line tower PC, only to see it ruined by a monitor that is sub-standard or not quite right for your main system. Acting as the face of your desktop, the right monitor is essential for maximising the potential of your PC ecosystem.
As monitor tech develops at breakneck speed, it can be tricky to find the right balance of size, resolution and connections. Never fear, we’ve broken down all your buying choices so you don’t have to.
Let’s begin with size. Depending on exactly what you’ll be using your new monitor for will likely influence the size you inevitably plump for. PC monitors tend to start around the 17 inch mark, aligning itself with a large laptop display. For that however, you’re unlikely to find an aspect ratio excelling 5:4, and for those of us who are used a widescreen display, a 17 inch monitor is unlikely to do the trick. At the opposite end of the scale, general consumer monitors tend to rise as high as 27 inches.
Ultimately, you need to consider what you’ll be using your monitor for. Perhaps you’re looking at purchasing two monitors, in which case you need to consider the size of the desk you’ll be housing them on. If you want to use your monitor for gaming or streaming movies, consider a larger display for the best possible entertainment experience. Similarly, large displays are usually associated with creative designers, who need every inch of a big, rich display to optimise their productivity. Whichever screen size you’re comfortable with, an increasingly hectic market will no doubt oblige with a number of available products.
One careful consideration to make, and one which is closely linked to screen size, is resolution. Essentially, the greater width to your chosen monitor, the more attention needs to be paid to its resolution. If you’re sticking to a monitor of 21 inches of below, resolution will rarely exceed 1600×900. Given the small monitor size however, the pixel density will still be numerous enough to produce a decent image.
As you rise up the ladder of monitor sizes, resolutions will inevitably rise alongside it. Hit the 22 inch mark, and 1920×1080, or Full HD, is now considered a market benchmark. Reach beyond 24 inches, towards large format displays of 27 inches and above, and pixel density needs to carry on increasing to gain the appropriate image quality. Full HD is still widespread amongst larger monitors, but the picture won’t be as sharp as a 24 inch display. To deal with the extra width, consider at least a 2560×1440 resolution. If you’re feeling flush, an Ultra HD 4K monitor will pump out a massive 3840×2160 resolution, for an eye-melting amount of detail.
Gone are the days of CRT and TFT technology, banished as they are to yesterdays monitor. LCD panels are pretty much a standard in today’s market. But within the umbrella of LCD, there are still a few choices to ponder.
Beginning with Twisted Nematic (TN). Generally the most cost effective and widespread panel type on the market, TN displays have the best response time and refresh rate of any monitor panels. Making them popular amongst gamers, a TN panel stumbles on narrow viewing angles and low brightness.
For a greater colour reproduction and a wider viewing angle, consider a Vertical Alignment (VA) panel. VA monitors tend to be a little more expensive than TN, but will produce a superior contrast ration and brightness, with particular praise given to their ability to display deep blacks. Given there poorer response times and greater price however, TN panels are generally preferred by gamers.
In-Plane Switching (IPS) monitors are becoming more common at the top end of the market, but again, there is a trade-off. IPS panels will produce the best all-round image quality. Viewing angles are impressive and colour recreation will outshine that of a TN or VA panel. On the other hand, longer pixel response times than both TN and VA and a tendency for input lag does leave an IPS panel as an expensive, and risky, purchase.
Plane-Line Switching (PLS) panels are an emerging fourth option in the market. Similar to IPS on viewing angles, PLS panels offer higher brightness and a lower power output. As with any emerging tech however, PLS remains expensive and lacks a range of available products. Watch this space.
You many have noticed a lot of talk of response times and refresh rates in the panel comparison above. Unless you’ll be using your monitor for gaming however, you can largely ignore this section. Low pixel response times and a high refresh rate are high on a gamers list of monitor requirements. Pixel response is the time it takes the display to respond to a user’s input. For a gamer then, it’s vital to enhancing their gameplay. As such, a response time of less than 3ms (milliseconds) can ensure no compromise is made on gaming experience.
You may be familiar with refresh rates from your TV set. 60Hz is an industry standard, meaning the screen will refresh 60 times per second. PCs able to run the latest games at their best, ultra-spec resolutions however, will look for higher refresh rates. Even if your PC is able to run games at 70 frames per second, if the monitor is only a 60Hz display, then 60 FPS is all your eyes will able to feast upon. If you’re big on PC gaming, it’s imperative you get the right quality of screen to match your power-based PC.
Your final major consideration revolves around connections and ports. HDMI has grown into the most popular source on the market, so expect almost all monitors above 21 inches to sport HDMI capabilities. Able to connect to pretty much any high-definition device, a HDMI port can hook your monitor up to Blu-ray players, games consoles and TVs. Indeed, we would recommend a dual-HDMI monitor, allowing you to keep more than one media device attached at all times.
DisplayPort connections are becoming increasingly popular, but are generally limited to a computer connection. Capable of high pixel resolutions at impressive refresh rates, DisplayPort cables tend to be similar in price to HDMI. If you’re connecting a tower-PC to your monitor, there is no reason not to use the DisplayPort connection. Either way, it’s always handy to invest in a DisplayPort-to-HDMI cable.
Some newer monitors are opting for DVI connection, often alongside HDMI. Again, if this is the case, get yourself a DVI-to-HDMI cable for HDMI devices. Whichever port you plan to predominantly use, ensure the video card in your PC has the appropriate capabilities.
Choosing the right method of connection is relatively straightforward. Just take a look at the ports on the back of your external devices, and align your connections accordingly. Also, consider how many USB drives you might need, as peripherals such as keyboards and mice can soon see a monitor’s ports fill up.
As computing technology moves ever forward, components such as monitors will continue to fall in price. Even today, you can get hold of a sufficiently impressive display for increasingly reasonable outlays. Obviously, greater size and resolution will drive up the cost of your chosen display. Typically, Full HD 22 inch monitors start for as little as £100. 4K monitors, still struggling to gain enough traction in the market, are currently priced at £300 and above.
Monitors at Ebuyer.com
Whichever monitor is right for you, Ebuyer.com is on hand to provide you with the ideal product. Use the various links throughout this article for optimised search on our outstanding range of monitors.