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How to buy the perfect computer monitor

Computer Monitor
Computer Monitor
mic - Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot of things to consider when buying a new monitor, simply because it is more than a screen, it is your portal to other worlds. The type of monitor you buy could have a great impact on your overall user experience, and can really have an impact on how much enjoyment you get out of using your PC. You will need to take into consideration things like how much space you have on your desk, monitor refresh times, price, native resolutions, aspect ratios, contrast ratios and connection types. Lets take a look at the most important specifications to look at when deciding which monitor to purchase.


The days of CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors have long gone, and now consumers will find that the market is dominated by LCD and LED displays, but which one is better? Both technologies are great, and they will both offer a good viewing experiences, but there are a few differences worth mentioning.

In general LCD monitors will be cheaper than their LED counterparts. LCD is an older technology but it can offer more bang for your buck, so getting a larger screen LCD will be cheaper than getting a large LED, the problem is that LCD is not as efficient as LED, which means over the long run, any savings you made in purchasing the LCD screen will be eaten up by usage costs. LCD displays will not offer class leading color reproduction, or black levels that are as deep as LED, and LCD back lighting can put strain your eyes if you use it for long periods.

There are some clear advantages in choosing a LED over a LCD monitor, but if you are not going to be a power user, and would rather have more screen real estate for your occasional gaming or movie viewing sessions, LCD may be the way to go.

Native Resolution

All monitors have a native resolution, and it is important to know what the maximum resolution of a display is. For example, the numbers 1600x900 refer to the amount of horizontal and vertical pixels on the screen. If you have a minimum requirement of 1080p (full HD) make sure the specifications specifically state that it can display full 1080p or 1920x1080 Remember, the larger the resolution the sharper the image will be. These days 1080p is fairly standard in the world of computer displays, but you can still find the occasional 720p display. If you really want to raise the bar you can always opt to purchase a 4K display, just make sure your wallet is deep enough.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio in computer monitors is the same as it is in regular television sets. Most monitors these days are widescreen displays, and they offer a true 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. The widescreen aspect ratio is a real productivity enhancer. Not only can widescreen displays show more information, they are also great for watching movies. Just remember that a widescreen display have a larger footprint than a standard 4:3 monitor, so make sure your desk has enough room.

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio determines the light intensity between the blackest black and the brightest white. The higher the contrast ratio, the better the color reproduction will be. For example a monitor with a contrast ratio of 1200:1 offers better color reproduction than a monitor that has a 500:1 contrast ratio. If you want the best of the best, then you will want a monitor with a high contrast ratio.

Response Time

Response time is another key specification. Response time indicates how quickly the pixels can change color. The faster the response time the better. A fast response time will minimize ghosting, streaking and motion blur. Remember that lower response time numbers are better than high ones. When looking at specifications just remember that 3ms for instance, is faster than 5ms. While the time is measured in milliseconds, do not let this small measurement of time trick you into thinking it is insignificant. You might not think that 2ms will make a big difference, but it really will, and you will notice it a lot if you are a heavy gamer.

Connection Types

The last thing to look for is the connection type. All computers offer at least VGA as a connection type. Newer computers can offer both DVI and HDMI as connection options too. VGA is an analog connection, while DVI and HDMI are both digital, and as we all know, digital is always better than analog. Make sure you check your computer first to see what connections it has available. If you plan on watching Blu Ray movies on your computer you will have to have a computer and a monitor that can accept an HDMI cord.

Before heading to the store to buy your new monitor, take the time to set a budget, and then search the internet for the best deals on monitors in your price range. Going into a brick and mortar store without being armed with information will likely see you spend more money than you really need to. Use the information above to compare monitors, and their prices before letting your wallet take the hit. This way you can ensure you will get the right monitor for you, at a price you want to pay.

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