Pick a Diagonal and Aspect Ratio
When deciding on the size, it is worth considering the distance to the screen, as well as the level of quality of the content that the monitor should display. The closer to the display, the more noticeable all the imperfections of the image.
High resolution gives a clearer picture, but at the same time, the level of requirements for the video card increases. For large models, you will need the appropriate hardware if you sit close to the monitor.
Here’s what the diagonal can be:
- 19 to 22 inches — Diagonals of budget devices for the office. Not suitable for home and graphics work.
- 23–24 inches — quite popular diagonals among office and home models. Typically, these screens have Full HD resolution and are suitable for most everyday tasks.
- 27 inches — a common option that is often used in gaming and professional devices.
- 29″ — 30″ — diagonals of popular ultra-wide models.
- 31.5″ — 32″ — the optimal size for 4K resolution scaling (3840 × 2160 pixels).
- 34 inches — Diagonal ultra-wide monitors with support for 3440 resolution × 1440 pixels. Quite often, these are curved models designed for immersive gaming.
- 37.5″ — 38″ — diagonal ultra-wide devices with 4K support.
- 42, 43 and 49 inches — these are the sizes of wide models that can be used instead of a pair of small screens for maximum immersion in games and for working with several programs at the same time.
So, for working with photos, videos and graphics, a diagonal of 27 inches or more is suitable. At this size, you can comfortably use editors like Photoshop, placing all the necessary tools on the screen.
The most common monitor aspect ratio is 16:9, which is suitable for most tasks, including games, movies, and work. There is also a lesser known format — 16:10.
And among gaming and professional devices, the ratio of 21: 9 (Ultra Wide) is popular. Even wider models are produced in 32:9 and 32:10 formats. These are usually curved displays with the above 43 or 49-inch diagonals.
What to buy
Decide on a resolution
The level of detail in the image depends on the resolution. The HD format is already outdated, and the ultimate 8K is still rare. At the moment, it is worth choosing between Full HD, 2K and 4K.
A high-resolution monitor can fully open up only when working with appropriate content and having a powerful computer. When choosing, you should focus on these current options:
- 1920 × 1080 (Full HD) is still the most common choice. Most of the content is available in 1080p.
- 1920 × 1200 — Full‑HD‑monitors with an aspect ratio of 16:10.
- 2560 × 1080 — one of the resolutions in ultra-wide monitors.
- 2560 × 1440 (2K, QHD) — An intermediate option between Full HD and 4K. Well suited for games on not the most powerful PCs, as well as for photo editing.
- 3440 × 1440 (UWQHD) — resolution of widescreen models. It is best revealed in games.
- 3840 × 1600 — resolution of ultra-wide monitors with a diagonal of 37.5 inches.
- 3840 × 2160 (4K, UHD) — in the future will become a replacement for the most popular Full HD. While its distribution limits the level of requirements for PC stuffing.
- 5120×2880 (5K) — resolution of expensive professional devices. 5K marking is also used for elongated monitors, which do not differ in clarity from 4K models.
- 6016 × 3384 (6K) — Resolution of Apple Pro Display XDR monitors.
- 7680×4320 (8K) — This resolution currently supports a small number of gaming and professional monitors. It is used in models with a large diagonal.
Pixels per inch (PPI), or the number of dots per square inch, is used to evaluate display clarity. For modern models, this parameter varies from 70 to 300. Budget devices and monitors in the middle price segment usually operate at 80–90 PPI. This is enough for gaming, watching movies and everyday tasks.
To work with graphics, it is better to choose devices with an indicator of about 120 PPI. On such a screen, it is already difficult to distinguish pixels from a distance of 70-80 cm. If you have the appropriate budget for professional visual tasks, you should use a display with 200 PPI or higher.
What to buy
Select Matrix Technology
Manufacturers use different technologies that are distinguished by better color reproduction or high response speed. The choice depends on the purpose of use. At the moment, all monitors have LED or OLED matrices.
Technology based on liquid crystals. This is a modified version of the LCD with LED backlighting instead of fluorescent lights. This approach allows the production of thinner devices compared to older models. At the same time, the rest of the design is no different from earlier versions of LCD displays.
LED panels are currently the most common. They have varieties that differ in the arrangement of crystals in the matrix. Here they are:
- TN — an outdated technology that is used in office and eSports models. These monitors have rather mediocre color reproduction and small viewing angles. But TN-matrices are capable of working with a low response time, so gaming monitors with a high refresh rate are often assembled on such panels.
- IPS — these matrices provide good viewing angles and high-quality color reproduction. But the contrast is not very high, the black color in low light is similar to gray.
- VA — combines high response speed and good color reproduction. However, such displays may have problems with viewing angles. A common option in gaming models, it is also quite suitable for watching videos.
One of the important indicators of the quality of the matrix is the bit depth, or bit depth. This can be 6, 8, or 10 bits per channel, resulting in 262,144, 16,777,216, or 1,073,741,824 colors, respectively. LED monitors have a characteristic of 6 Bit + FRC or 8 Bit + FRC. This means that the bit depth is increased by software. With Frame Rate Control (FRC) technology, colors look better. But a full-fledged model with 8 or 10 bits will transmit transitions between shades much better than a variant with a lower bit depth and FRC.
More modern than LED technology based on organic light emitting diodes. They do not need a backlight — they themselves emit light when current is applied and are able to turn off completely. OLED monitors stand out for their good color reproduction, contrast, fast response times and wide viewing angles.
At the same time, OLED matrices are inferior to LED displays in brightness, are prone to pixel burn-in and are noticeably more expensive. Monitors based on this technology are suitable for buyers with a voluminous budget.
What to buy
Consider the type of backlight
All monitors, except OLED, use LED matrix backlighting. At the moment, manufacturers are also using improved technologies in addition to standard LED options:
- Nano IPS — LG technology, thanks to which spurious shades are cut off on the illuminating LEDs. This noticeably improves color reproduction compared to conventional LED versions.
- QLED is a popular Samsung standard that expands the color gamut of an LCD monitor. This technology uses blue LEDs that generate the red and green colors missing from RGB using a layer of quantum dots.
- Mini-LED — backlight mini-LED with local pixel dimming and high brightness. So far it is used only in expensive monitors.
Decide on screen refresh rate and response time
The screen refresh rate per second is measured in hertz (Hz). The higher the frequency, the smoother will be the dynamic moments, for example, in video games. Here are the relevant options:
- 60–75 Hz — the most common indicators in most monitors. This frequency is enough to perform all everyday tasks.
- 100–120 Hz — a range that is often found in ultra-wide devices. Suitable for watching movies and console gaming.
- 144 Hz — the refresh rate, which is considered the minimum necessary for a comfortable game in dynamic shooters and other similar projects where reaction speed is important.
- 240 Hz and above — level for professional eSports models.
Monitor response is the minimum time, in milliseconds (ms), that a pixel needs to change brightness. The indicator is very important for competitive dynamic games. May be:
- less than 1 ms — found in expensive eSports models;
- 1 ms — the level of a good gaming monitor;
- 4–8 ms — response time that is suitable for watching movies and work;
- 10 ms or more — an indicator for ordinary everyday tasks, for games this will definitely not be enough.
What to buy
Assess display brightness and contrast
Brightness is the maximum white level that the device can display. The indicator is measured in cd / m² or nits — these values \u200b\u200bare equivalent. For high-quality HDR playback, you need at least 500 nits, and for professional processing of HDR content — from 1,000.
When choosing a monitor, you can come across such numbers:
- 200 nits — the minimum threshold for the brightness of budget models. On such a monitor it will be uncomfortable to work in intense lighting.
- 250-350 nits — the most common brightness range of modern monitors. This level is sufficient for enclosed spaces and most everyday tasks.
- 400-600 nits — indicator of displays with an initial HDR display level.
- 1,000 nits or more used in expensive professional monitors to work with HDR content.
The saturation of the black color depends on the static contrast. The higher this value, the better the image detail. Very high values (20,000,000 : 1) are specified by monitor manufacturers for dynamic contrast, but it should not be considered as a main characteristic when choosing a monitor. You can look at the following ratios:
- Up to 600 : 1 — the minimum contrast characteristic for monitors on a TN matrix. Not suitable for graphics.
- From 700 : 1 to 1500 : 1 — the usual contrast of IPS matrices.
- 2500 : 1 to 4 000 : 1 — typical contrast of VA matrices.
- 5,000 : 1 or more — a high rate available in OLED displays.
Learn about HDR support
High dynamic range technology HDR allows displays to display both bright and dark parts of the image in detail, without losing contrast and brightness. The standard includes several levels:
- Display HDR 400 — initial indicator with a maximum brightness of 400 nits on an 8-bit matrix. At this level, local illumination technology may not be applied, so the HDR effect will not be very noticeable.
- Display HDR 600 — level with brightness of 600 nits, 10-bit matrix and local illumination.
- Display HDR 1000 — an indicator of top professional monitors with a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits, a 10-bit matrix and high requirements for a backlight system.
Consider color gamut
Color gamut is the range of colors that a monitor can display. The abbreviations sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI‑P3 are the most common abbreviations in display specifications. These standards differ in requirements and areas of use. sRGB is the most common option that most models work with.
When choosing a monitor, be guided by the following:
- Below 70% sRGB — poor color reproduction, usually characteristic of TN matrices.
- 90-95% sRGB — suitable for home use, but for professional activities this is not enough.
- 100% sRGB — level for design and work with photos.
- Adobe RGB — wide color space. Usually it is used for working with printed products. Printing monitors can display up to 99.5% Adobe RGB.
- DCI‑P3 — a standard for projectors in digital cinemas, adapted also for monitors. It has a wide color gamut: 130% sRGB and 45.5% of the entire spectrum visible to the human eye. This color space is often used in Apple screens.
What to buy
Explore available connectors
Now the number of ports in monitors has been reduced to a minimum. Video and audio are carried over the HDMI connectors, so all you really need to do is make sure you have enough for all your devices. However, there are a few nuances that are also worth paying attention to:
- VGA (D‑SUB) — This is an outdated analog connector, which is still used in budget devices.
- DVI (DVI‑I, DVI‑D) installed in almost all modern models. Sufficiently high quality and quickly transmits a signal. The DVI‑I modification supports analog and digital transmission, while DVI‑D only works with digital.
- HDMI — a popular standard with a higher bandwidth compared to DVI. Supports all resolutions up to 4K. Can transmit both video and audio signals simultaneously.
- display port — an up-to-date and efficient connector that also transmits both video and audio at once. It has more bandwidth than HDMI.
- Thunderbolt 3 Apple’s high-bandwidth standard.
Learn about dynamic update technologies
Dynamic refresh, or adaptive picture sync, combines screen refresh with the number of frames produced by the graphics card. This system is needed to reduce delays in signal transmission and eliminate discontinuities in the image. Here are the options:
- G‑Sync has three versions: G‑Sync Compatible, G‑Sync and G‑Sync Ultimate. The first operates via DisplayPort, while the other two use hardware processing with a special chip. The technology was created by NVidia for its video cards.
- freesync works through DisplayPort and HDMI interfaces. There are also three versions here: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium, and FreeSync Premium Pro. The latter two require a resolution of at least Full HD and a refresh rate of at least 120Hz. The Pro version additionally has an HDR function. The standard is used in video cards from AMD.
Explore additional features
The curved display enhances the immersive gaming experience. The picture seems more realistic, there is no distortion around the edges. But for this you need to sit exactly in the center of the screen. Therefore, such monitors are usually not suitable for comfortable viewing of movies.
Glossy screens have a lot of glare, but at the same time they convey colors better. The matte finish eliminates glare, but its main problem is the low saturation of the picture. The choice depends on the location of the table with the monitor in the room in relation to the light source.
Most current displays have eye protection systems. The Flicker-Free feature means no eye-damaging flicker. The Low Blue Light mark indicates reduced blue light emission to reduce visual strain.
Touch monitors are useful for training, presentations and as an additional screen in professional work. Most often, they support a maximum of Full HD resolution for a balance between quality, convenience and cost.
Some monitors have a built-in headphone output, which is suitable for everyday use if you do not have an external sound card or cannot connect a wired model to the system unit. The USB hub also allows you to connect keyboards, mice, and other peripherals to your computer through the display.
The monitor stand can be adjusted in height and tilt, as well as rotated 90°. Installing in portrait mode will be needed by programmers, analysts, engineers and traders. In budget models, you can usually only change the tilt of the display.
Almost all monitors have a VESA mount that allows you to hang the device on a wall or mount it on a bracket. The most common standards are VESA 100x100mm and 75x75mm.
Please note: prices are valid at the time of publication of the article. Stores can update the cost of goods during the day.
This article was first published in March 2019. In July 2022, we updated the text.
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