Finding a new monitor that is best for the buck is important. And, it requires a bit of research and a guide like this to help you achieve that. The first and foremost job is to decide what is the purpose of buying that monitor. Whether you are going to use your new monitor for gaming, office, photo editing, or watching your favorite shows on Netflix, etc. Each criterion has specific things to look for. Based on that below is a list of few major things to consider when buying a new monitor.
Things to consider when buying a new monitor in general:
Bigger is better. The Only thing to consider is your desk size. Nowadays, getting a 24 or 27-inch monitor is affordable than ever. A bigger screen makes anything you are doing more immersive. If you don’t want to spend on a multi-monitor setup, you might want to get an ultrawide monitor or simply a bigger monitor like 27 inches for multi-tasking on a bigger screen, increasing your efficiency marginally.
The higher the resolution is better. The most standard resolution is 1920 x 1080 or Full High Definition (FHD). Meaning 1920 pixels on the screen horizontally and 1080 vertically. If you have decent gaming hardware than FHD is best suitable because it gives you that good balance between details and frames per second (fps). If you are using it for professional work like programming or media creation then even higher 2560×1440 (QHD) or best 3840 × 2160 (4k). But note that the more the resolution expensive the monitor. The Same 4k monitor will be 30 to even 80 percent expensive.
HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C are the most common types of ports recently. While if you happen to connect your monitor to old devices then legacy options such as VGA and DVI are the ones to look for.
As per your needs, you can choose the best ports for you. Let’s learn about a few common ports:
High Definition Multimedia Interface is a rather common and widely used port. Unlike older ports, it can transfer both higher quality audio and video in a single cable making it more convenient. There are many versions of HDMI now with the latest being HDMI 2.1. It supports up to 10k at 120 Hz. This makes it suitable for even the highest level of gaming. If you want more frames DisplayPort is the one to go for. HDMI 2.1 also supports wider color gamuts, audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and Variable Refresh Rate technology. If you are just watching movies or casually using your monitor then HDMI 1.4 is enough. It can support 4k @ 24 fps and FHD @ 120 Hz.
- Display Port
DisplayPort (DP) is another newer connection method that’s primarily found on high-end monitors. It enables support for VRR technologies like AMD FreeSync and Nvidia g sync. The most common is DisplayPort 1.2: Support for monitors with 4K video at a 60 Hz refresh rate. If you want the latest version of DisplayPort with max specifications than DisplayPort 1.4 will support up to 8K at 60Hz and a wider color gamut.
- USB – C
It is the most versatile port of all. It can connect to your smartphone, tablet, pretty much any device with USB-c to your monitor. Not only that it can be connected on any side. Unlike USB-a you don’t have to worry about the correct side making it very convenient.
Another outstanding feature of USB-C is that it can output video, audio, data, and power as well. The latest version is USB-C 3.1 with speeds up to 10 Gbps.
Video Graphics Adapter or Video Graphics Array, VGA is a popular but old display standard. VGA provides very low resolutions like 640 x 480 resolution at 60 Hz. It is only required if you are going to use old consoles or devices.
DVI or Digital Visual Interface is rather old but not as old as VGA. It can transmit both analog and digital signals which makes them unique. That is why this port can provide you with a higher frame rate than an HDMI cable on 1080p monitors. Also, it can provide a clearer picture and increase image sharpness and detail in comparison and also higher frames per second. compared to old HDMI versions like 1.2.
There are basically 4 adjustments commonly found in the monitors. That is height, tilt, swivel, and pivot. Stand adjustments makes the overall viewing experience more enjoyable. Every person’s height and stance is unique. It is always convenient to have different stand adjustments. Also, it makes it easier to share your screen with another person when showing anything.
I personally am a big fan of the curved screens and I recommend them unless you are going for a multi-monitor setup or more than one person is looking at the monitor for longer times.
Curved screens reduced eye strain and provide a better field of view. They are more immersive because they are easier to perceive to the human eye naturally.
Also, it helps reduce the distortion because as discussed earlier curved screen has a better field of view and hence reduces blurriness especially at the edges of the screen.
Lastly, ultrawide monitors are the best to use when you are working on multiple screens at a time. You can grab any 32:9 or 32:10 aspect ratio monitor and it can work exactly as a dual monitor side by side. The big advantage is you are not bothered by the screen borders in between unlike a multi-monitor setup.
Things to consider when buying a gaming monitor:
Whatever motion you see on the monitor, be it videos or games. It is, in fact, the number of images changing at a very fast pace to give you a feel of motion. The refresh rate is the number of times new images are formed per second. The higher the refresh rate, the better the viewing experience especially when gaming. I would recommend at least a 75 Hz monitor. If you have high-performance hardware you can go up to 144hz or even 240 Hz.
Pixel Response Time:
It is often called Gray-to-Gray (GtG) response time. Lesser the value better. It is because less pixel response time means less motion blur evident especially during fast-moving objects. It is one of the major aspects to consider when buying a gaming monitor after refresh rate. Recently, the best response time monitor you can get is 0.5 ms. I would recommend going for at least 4ms. Response times greater than this may worsen the gaming experience.
It is the lag or delay between the input you give (like pressing a key or mouse click) and that action performed on the screen. While gaming, you want your character or car anything to react almost instantaneously as you press the key. Thus it is important to consider input lag when buying monitors for gaming. The lower the value better it is. Any value of less than 10 ms is what I recommend for a gaming monitor.
There are 3 types of LCD tech found in recent monitors. The Twisted Nematics (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA), and In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels. Each of their pros and cons and on basis of that we can choose a particular technology based on our use case.
For gaming, the best panel technology is TN or Twisted Nematics. It is because it provides with lowest pixel response times, highest refresh rates, and Lower input lag. TN panel fulfills all three crucial aspects to look for a gaming monitor. However, you might not have to compromise overall image quality because of below-par color reproduction and also inferior viewing angles than VA or IPS.
Variable Refresh Rate (AMD FreeSync / Nvidia G-Sync):
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) is a technology that helps reduces screen tearing or stuttering during gaming and makes gaming even more immersive by matching refresh rate and fps.
There is basically two VRR tech that comes with recent monitors. The first is Nvidia G-Sync (for Nvidia GPUs) and another is AMD FreeSync (for AMD GPUs). So you can consider this feature while buying yourself a new gaming monitor according to your GPU. Just one thing to keep in mind that Nvidia G-Sync only works with DisplayPort while AMD FreeSync works with both HDMI and DisplayPort.
Things to consider when buying a photo or video editing monitor:
The panel that is recommended for photo or video editing monitors is In-Plane Switching (IPS). It has very good color reproduction, color accuracy, and wider viewing angles.
This refers to the ability of the monitor to shows a wider range of colors in general. Wider the color coverage better it is. The most common standards under CIE (International Commission of Illumination) are sRGB and Adobe RGB. For photo or video editing monitors, Adobe RGB is to look for.
It a measure of knowing how well a monitor achieves true color perceivable to the human eye. Basically, we have to look for a lower Delta E value. Delta E ranges from 0 to 100. The human eye has a Delta E of 1 and the monitors closest to that number have the highest color accuracy.
Screen resolution is also important because higher resolution improves the readability of the text and makes details more evident. It makes the images sharper.
Things to consider when buying an office monitor:
Resolution & Size:
It is always a good idea to go with a higher resolution and a bigger size screen. It really depends on your will to spend on the monitor. But you need at least a 1080p screen with a 24-inch size which might cost you nearby $100 to $200. If your okay with spending even more then you can go with a better QHD or 4k display with a 27-inch screen.
Stand movements make viewing monitors at different positions more convenient. There are different movements like height adjustments, tilt, swivel, and pivot adjustments. As per your requirements, you can go for movements you are looking for from your new office monitor. Also, many monitors come with VESA 100 x 100 mm mounts if that is more suitable.
Generally in the office, you are sharing your screen with other colleagues and wider viewing angles are better to have in such scenarios. You can look for a monitor with angles greater than 170°.
Things to consider when buying a monitor for movies or streaming:
High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology is one the important feature to look for when buying a monitor for movies or streaming. It improves the range of color by making it wider and the better results at even higher screen brightness to make things on the screen look more realistic. It improves details of the image even for darker hues and improves the experience in the darkroom.
As discussed earlier, the monitor’s wider color gamut provides more subtle variations of distinct colors improving the accuracy, consistency, and immersion. You can look for standards like sRGB, DCI-P3, or Rec. 709.
Most of the time people prefer to watch movies or series in dark rooms. That is why black uniformity is a crucial aspect to look for. It is the ability of the monitor to show a solid black color throughout the entire screen without backlight bleed or any glow. Good black uniformity makes darker content more even and smudges free.
Contrast Ratio is the ratio between the brightest white and the darkest black. For instance, a contrast ratio of 2000:1 means that the brightness of a completely white image is 2000 times greater than the brightness of a completely black image.
When selecting a monitor for watching movies or online streaming, the contrast ratio is important. It lets an image give more perceptible degrees in subtle textures, protect small nuances and details in dim areas, and block washout in bright areas.
Hope you learn at least some of the things to consider when buying a new monitor whether be it a gaming monitor, or professional monitor, or just for casual use.
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