What size monitor do I need?

You need it for your job or for your household admin tasks. You probably need it for your gaming sessions. And you definitely need it to watch your favourite shows on Netflix or the BBC’s iPlayer! It’s your computer monitor – and opting for just the ‘right’ model to suit your needs is a smart move.

Making the right decision in terms of the monitor you opt to use in your desktop PC system is not just a smart move. It’s pretty crucial, actually. It’s something you need to get just right – and a big part of what will be suitable is the size. Of course, these days monitors are virtually flat screen – so much smaller and more compact than the boxy things we all used twenty years ago.

But even so, when you’re getting a new monitor you don’t want to end up buying something too small, and you don’t want to invest in something which turns out to be too awkward or too big for the space in which it will sit.

Plus – of course – you want something with adequate specifications for the purpose you intend. It’s not going to benefit you if you buy a low spec monitor for some high-end gaming, for example. So, in this article we will take a look at all of those other things you need to consider in a bit more detail and answer the question “what size monitor do I need?”

So, first of all, perhaps it’s worth a refresh on what you might need a monitor for!

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What do I need a monitor for?

The monitor is the visual interface between you and your PC. Obviously it is an integral part of a desktop PC system, and you really would not be able to function without one. If you didn’t have a monitor, how would you be able to see what your computer is doing? In fact, how would you be able to instruct your computer on what to do, or work on any of your documents and files?

It may sound kind of simplistic to explain all of that. But it’s always worth a brief moment to stop and smell the flowers, as it were, and grab a reminder that we’d be precisely nowhere if we didn’t have monitors. All hail the computer monitor!

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Why would I need a smaller monitor?

We live in a world where, generally speaking, people believe that ‘big is best’, so this may seem to go against the grain somewhat. But smaller monitors can sometimes be a much better choice to make than larger monitors. It depends on space.

Perhaps you have a smaller desk or a minimum of space on which to place all of your desktop PC bits and pieces – the tower itself plus keyboard, mouse and monitor. In all of these scenarios it would probably be best to go for something smaller. You really don’t want to cram a giant monitor into a small area. A monitor with dimensions appropriate to your desk size, or the area in which you will be working, is always the most sensible choice.

How big is big enough?

For most computer users, 24 inches has long been the baseline in terms of thinking about the size of monitors. This is almost certainly because 24” was the most common size of monitor available for a long time, and it’s what you would see in homes and offices all over the world.

These days you would probably find that most people consider a 24” monitor to be a touch on the small side – and this is due to there being more and more different monitors at bigger sizes. Monitors with screen size of 27 inches are popular, and there are actually plenty of options which stretch beyond 30” and upwards. If you want to be extreme, there are even monitors available in the 50”+ area!

Realistically, though, the ‘average’ home computer user will be satisfied with a monitor between 27 and 34 inches. Monitors of this size mean that, generally speaking, you can make the most of modern resolutions and colour capabilities. From a practical / workflow point of view these sizes of monitor also mean that you can probably have a couple of web pages or documents open at the same time without the need to have two monitors set up. This can be really handy for many professionals.

Monitor technology has developed immensely in the last couple of decades and the switch from CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) to LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) opened up many more possibilities – including for much thinner units and much larger displays. As that technology has advanced and been ‘fine-tuned’, so also has the capability to incorporate many impressive features in monitors.

Okay – so what about the features available on monitors?

Not all people who shop for a new monitor will be looking for the same thing. Some will be more concerned with the quality of the display rather than anything else, while others will have the monitor’s features and connectivity at the forefront. And, of course, some will put the size of the monitor higher on the list of priorities than any of those things. Before we delve into the size issue, let’s run through some of the most important features of computer monitors.

Resolution / quality / sizing

The resolution of your monitor is important. Higher resolution types such as Full HD (1920 x 1080) or UHD, aka 4K (3840 x 2160), provide much more detail than lower resolution and so the benefit of having a bigger screen is obvious. The more detail that is there in the image then the better the viewing experience. But the ideal size for a monitor mainly depends on its resolution and how far you’re sitting from the screen.

Most people find that 1920 × 1080 is appropriate for monitors up to 25-inch; 1440p is ideal for 27-inch, and 4K is perfect for 30-inch and above, depending on preference.

You may consider a 27-inch 1080p monitor as the right choice because it feels considerably larger than a 24” and is usually only a little bit more expensive. But beware! Realistically, a 27-inch monitor is too big for 1920 × 1080 (at least to most users). You will get around 81 PPI (pixels per inch), which will mean that the picture can be somewhat pixelated.

Relatively speaking, it will be noticeable that text is slightly smudgy and details blurry. If you were to sit a bit further away from the monitor any pixellation wouldn’t be as noticeable – but that’s not ideal. And, of course, when you sit closer to type or work on things that is going to be rather distracting.

In terms of specific uses for the monitor, it’s definitely worth considering a larger monitor for gaming and content consumption. But not too large. Many gamers find that anything over 32” is a bit too big to be able to concentrate on all elements of the visuals. There are some 32-inch 1440p monitors on the market, and on these you can get the same picture clarity you would get with 24” 1080p monitors. But many gamers find 32-inch monitors too big for gaming as you have to move your head around to keep track of all of the action.

The WQHD (2560×1440) resolution is ideal for 27-inch monitors. At this resolution you will be at around 108 PPI – a really good balance between picture clarity and detail, and the screen size. Additionally, 1440p allows for higher refresh rates than 4K — that is, if your PC system can handle it.

Speaking of 4K Ultra HD itself, it’s commonly thought that a 27-inch or 28” monitor is large enough. Because the resolution is very high, everything on the monitor will be small – which means you’ll have to sort out scaling so that text etc is readable. Unfortunately, not all apps scale that well – and there are some which don’t scale at all. In terms of gaming this can have quite an effect as well. Should your game not offer custom scaling, some UI elements will appear to be tiny on screen. So, if you’re specifically looking to buy a 4K monitor for gaming, you really have to make sure that all of your favourite games and applications handle scaling well.

It’s also worth considering an ultrawide monitor. Most ultrawide monitors feature a 21:9 aspect ratio (as opposed to the standard 16:9). This extra horizontal space – plus what is usually the curve of a curved screen – can wrap your peripheral vision with the benefit of giving a wider field of view and a more immersive gaming experience.

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The most common screen size for an ultrawide monitor is 34-inches, and these monitors can usually be found with either 3440×1440 or 2560×1080 resolution, which offer extra horizontal space in comparison to their respective 16:9 widescreen resolutions of 2560×1440 and 1920×1080.

The 2560×1080 resolution on a 34-inch monitor offers the same pixel density as 1080p on a 27-inch monitor – so this is really for those people who will be using the monitor just for gaming, and can sit further away from the screen.

But the 3440×1440 resolution on a 34-inch ultrawide monitor results in a similar pixel density to a 27″ 1440p display. Translation: You’ll get plenty of screen space and the details of your picture will be sharp without having to resort to scaling.

Some bigger ultrawide monitors feature even higher resolutions – such as 3840×1600 and 5120×2160. The latter is often considered to be 5K ultrawide (and 5K2K or 2160p ultrawide). This is a sort of a combination of 4K and ultrawide. There are also 32:9 ‘super’ ultra-wide displays with 3840×1080, 3840×1200 and 5120×1440 resolutions.

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Size chart for gamers

As a handy guide, the following monitor size and resolution combinations are what we consider correct / appropriate for gaming:

  • 23-inch to 25”: 1080p
  • 27”: 1440p or 4K
  • 28-inch to 32” and over: 4K
  • 25” to 29-inch ultrawide: 2560×1080
  • 34” ultrawide: 3440×1440
  • 38” ultrawide: 3840×1600
  • 43” super-ultrawide: 3840×1080, 3840×1200
  • 49” super-ultrawide: 5120×1440

Conclusion

So now that you have all of that information about the various screen sizes and resolutions of monitors – for home, office and gaming – then check out Ebuyer’s range and you will definitely find something suited to your needs!

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