The Ultimate Guide for Buying the Perfect PC Monitor

The monitor is the surface on which we are going to fix our sight for many hours, so it is important to choose the screen most appropriate to our way of using the computer. Below we offer you a complete guide so you do not miss any details when choosing the Best pc Monitors.

If you live in a house with a particular architecture, whether very large or very tall, you may have …

When choosing a monitor you have to look at several variables and, in addition, you have to relate them. We would like to say that the ideal is a 5K 30-inch monitor, but such barbarity, apart from an exorbitant price, also has its problems. These are the data to keep in mind.

Size

The dimensions of the monitor are indicated by an inch number that measures the diagonal of the screen. The most common today are between 17 and 32 inches. In general, the larger the monitor, the better, but there are nuances. If we are going to have the screen very close to the face, it may not be worth paying the extra for an extreme diagonal. On the other hand, we must anticipate that we will need enough space on the table to locate a large monitor.

Resolution and pixel density

The resolution expresses the amount of pixels that the screen has wide and high, and determines greatly the sharpness, as well as the amount of space that we will have for the desktop and applications. Generally, resolution is expressed in combinations of two numbers (width x height) in pixels, but sometimes the nomenclature is used based on the old VGA standard. This chart shows the most common resolutions and their names.

The resolution is closely tied to size. 1920 pixels wide on a 27-inch screen are not the same as 1920 pixels in a 15. In the second case, the pixels will be more “tight”, while in the first there will be more space between them, and this logically affects To the sharpness of the image.

The figure that relates size and resolution is the pixel density, which is expressed in pixels per inch (PPI) and measures the number of pixels in a square of one inch on the side. In general, the higher this figure, the better.

To this day it is recommended that the resolution be at least the high definition standard of Blu-Ray (1920 x 1080 pixels). From there up. However, for screens of more than 21 inches it is better to opt for resolutions higher than 1920 x 1080 that will give us more clarity.

The resolution is something that will be very conditioned by the power of the graphics card. It is necessary to check what resolutions our team supports before launching us crazy for a 4K. On the other hand, it is not the same to work in 4K with desktop applications that make a video game work at that resolution. Most cards do not have enough muscle to move 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) with enough fluidity or frame rate.

Finally, it is good to consider what the native resolution is. This figure refers to the physical pixels that the screen has, not those that it is able to emulate by means of scaling. The native resolution is the one that offers the best quality and a more stable image. It makes no sense to buy a monitor with native UHD resolution if we then set the resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels all the time to play. For that, it is better to buy a FullHD and save the difference.

Aspect Ratio

It refers to the proportions of the screen, that is, whether it is more square or more panoramic. The aspect ratio or aspect ratio usually marks the resolution. 1600 x 1200 is usually 4: 3, however, 1920 x 1080 monitors are usually 16: 9 or 16:10 (slightly higher).

Aside from conditioning the native resolution, the aspect ratio influences how certain content will look. The cinema, for example, uses a very panoramic format, with ratios of 1.85: 1 or 2.39: 1. That’s why in most of the monitors we are forced to watch movies with the two black bands down and up to finish filling the screen. If we are going to see a lot of cinema, maybe we should consider buying a widescreen monitor, but its native resolution forces you to deform video games, or it does not take advantage of the entire screen surface. In addition, panoramas are usually expensive equipment.

Panel Type

The panel refers to the type of LCD technology that forms the image. There are three basic types of LCD panel: Twisted Neumatic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-plane switching (IPS). Of the three, the IPS panel is the most common today, but it is also more expensive than TN or VA. It is not very common that the data on the type of panel appears in the specifications, but in general the IPS offer better image quality and angles of vision to change worse response times. There is a variant of the IPS called SPS that improves the response times but its price is quite higher.

Type of lighting

On LCD panels, the pixels do not emit light by themselves. They need a light source that usually consists of an LED structure. The type of structure in which LEDs are arranged varies and determines how well or poorly they are able to homogenously illuminate the screen and help make the contrast better. There are three types of lighting:

  • Edge LED: The one used by most monitors. LEDs illuminate the screen from the edges using a diffuser panel.
  • Full LED: The entire back of the screen is illuminated by LED. Which, theoretically, makes the screen more bright and more homogeneous.
  • Local Diming: Same as above, but with the ability to selectively turn off LED areas to improve contrast.

Some brands have different LED technologies that use, for example, colored LEDs to make the tones more vivid. Finally, there are organic LED monitors or OLED (AMOLED technology from Samsung or P-OLED fall into this group). The advantage of these systems is that each pixel is an independent LED that can be turned off completely, which translates into very deep and deep black tones and better color reproduction. The bad news is that the monitors with this technology are rare and expensive.

Brightness and Contrast

The brightness or brightness of a monitor expresses the amount of light it emits, and is measured in candelas per square meter or CD / m2 (sometimes also called NITs). In general, the brightness influences how well we will see the screen in bright environments. Obviously, this figure is more important in a laptop or a smartphone, two devices that are more likely to use in full sun or in environments with excessive and unfavorable lighting. On a desktop monitor, brightness is not so crucial. An excessive luminosity, in fact, can tire the eye or translate into shallow blacks if the contrast is not good.

This is where one of the figures most distorted by manufacturers comes into play: the contrast. The problem of contrast is that there is no universal standard of measurement, and that makes each manufacturer measure it as best suits them to inflate the figures in order to sell more. To make matters worse, there are two types of contrast: real and dynamic.

In theory, the actual contrast should measure the difference between the brightest pixel on the screen and the darkest pixel at a given instant, that is, from whiter to darker black. This figure depends almost entirely on the type of monitor panel, and usually ranges from 800: 1 to 2000: 1. These figures express how many times the brightest pixel is brighter than the blackest pixel. In general, and if we have access to that data, it is better that the actual contrast does not fall below 1,000: 1.

The dynamic contrast was born when the monitors began to be able to turn off the lighting of the screen by zones to reinforce the actual contrast when the content of the screen is very dark. This data does not usually measure variations between black and white, but between grays and, in addition, in a determined period of time. As a result we will find marketing barbarities as 50,000: 1, 100,000: 1 and up to 5,000,000: 1. In general they improve the image, but do not pay much attention to them.

The best advice I can give in this regard is to read analysis of the particular monitor that we like and, if possible, to see it working in a place with lots of light and a very dark video clip. YouTube is full of them. Checking brightness and contrast in an illuminated environment is important because ambient light completely kills the contrast and eats the brightness if it is high. Movie theaters do not put the movie in the dark on a whim. If the contrast and brightness are good with light, in the twilight they will be fantastic.

Response time

This is another tricky move. In theory it measures, in milliseconds, the time it takes a pixel to change from white to black. As with contrast, each manufacturer measures it as it likes, from gray to gray, or from one color to another. Times fluctuate around 5 milliseconds on the fastest monitors, but I’ve come to see absurd figures of one or two milliseconds. It is the circumstance that the fastest panels are the TN. IPSs have higher response times and, if we want an IPS with a good response time, we will be much more expensive.

Response time is important because if it is too high (slow monitor), the pixels take too long to change color when they display a moving image. This results in halos or traces of light when the on-screen images move very fast. Needless to say, this feature is only important if we are going to see a lot of movies and video games. For static images it gives us absolutely the same.

Refresh rate and frames per second

The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and is the speed at which the screen is able to refresh the screen image every second, ie to display a new image. 60 Hertz implies that the monitor updates the image 60 times in a second. This figure greatly influences the perception of fluidity in movement. On the other hand, the frames per second are a usual average in videogames and graphic cards that is equivalent to the refresh rate.

To explain briefly, the refresh rate marks the speed and the maximum limit that we can see the FPS or frames per second of a graph. If we see a video at 60FPS on a monitor at 60 hertz, every second we will see 60 images. However, if we watch a video at 30FPS on a monitor at 60HZ, every second we will see only 30 images and each one of them will last on screen twice as in the previous case. The fluidity of the movement will be less. If we see 120 FPS on a 60Hz screen, the monitor needs to remove some frames to show only 60. How well or poorly it does depends on many factors. In general, a higher refresh rate will allow us to watch video or video games with more fluency. (As long as our graphic holds the trot).

Color Space

To the left, the sRGB color space, to the right Adobe RGB

Unless you are dedicated to graphic design, color space should not really matter to you. Most monitors use the RGB or sRGB color space, which is a generic tonal range that the monitor is capable of reproducing. The problem is that that range is not enough to show some tones of the color system used in printing (CMYK). For them designers usually look for monitors capable of reproducing the Adobe RGB color space, much wider. Some monitors do not even bother to explain what color space they use. If they do, they often express what percentage of the space created by Adobe use.

By the way, if you are going to focus on the design, it is a good idea to properly calibrate the monitor. Most manufacturers configure the screen to display much more exaggerated colors than reality. That’s a problem when it comes to photo retouching or editorial design. The best way to calibrate it is by software or better yet, with the help of an external calibrator.

Viewing angles

This feature is more important in televisions, where there are several people watching the screen at the same time, as in monitors, where it is most likely that we only see it ourselves and do it directly from the front. Again, the problem is that manufacturers bring this up merrily, but they do not explain how it was obtained. When they say that a monitor has a 180-degree viewing angle, it may happen that they are only counting the point at which the pixel is no longer visible, but not its progressive degradation. That means that only by moving 60 degrees and we will be appreciating a loss of fidelity in color and brightness quite remarkable.

To make matters worse, the horizontal viewing angle is wider than the vertical, and manufacturers do not always give the two figures.

Other considerations

Apart from all of the above, there are other considerations that are interesting to consider when buying a monitor. These are:

Connections

You could say that standard HDMI is not enough? Not really. First, it is very important to check what version of the HDMI port the monitor has. The most recent is 2.0. It differs from 1.4 in that it supports 4K content, 21: 9 formats, and has a higher bandwidth to improve frame rates. In other words. If your card emits signal in 4K, and the HDMI of your monitor is not 2.0, forget about having 4K image. For obvious reasons, most 4K monitors have HDMI 2.0, but it’s worth checking.

Otherwise, there are other ports that are useful, such as DVI, Displayport, Thunderbolt (if you use MAC), or USB to have a port on hand if your CPU is out of range. The new Type-C USB ports are still a rarity in monitors, but sure to see teams with this connection

Speakers & TV Tuner

In general, the speakers of a monitor will not give you good sound. They probably do not even give you a decent sound. The only reason you might want speakers on the monitor is that you have no other way to have audio output. Better always with external speakers.

As for the TV tuner, many users look for it to be able to have a standard television in the same place as the monitor. However, for that it still requires an antenna socket. With virtually all DTT channels on the Internet, this feature does not make much sense except for very specific cases. It is better to buy a good monitor and then to connect a simple tuner for HDMI, if we both care about the TV, to mess up trying to bring it integrated and end up buying a bad monitor.

Color Space

To the left, the sRGB color space, to the right Adobe RGB

Unless you are dedicated to graphic design, color space should not really matter to you. Most monitors use the RGB or sRGB color space, which is a generic tonal range that the monitor is capable of reproducing. The problem is that that range is not enough to show some tones of the color system used in printing (CMYK). For them designers usually look for monitors capable of reproducing the Adobe RGB color space, much wider. Some monitors do not even bother to explain what color space they use. If they do, they often express what percentage of the space created by Adobe use.

By the way, if you are going to focus on the design, it is a good idea to properly calibrate the monitor. Most manufacturers configure the screen to display much more exaggerated colors than reality. That’s a problem when it comes to photo retouching or editorial design. The best way to calibrate it is by software or better yet, with the help of an external calibrator.

Viewing angles

This feature is more important in televisions, where there are several people watching the screen at the same time, as in monitors, where it is most likely that we only see it ourselves and do it directly from the front. Again, the problem is that manufacturers bring this up merrily, but they do not explain how it was obtained. When they say that a monitor has a 180-degree viewing angle, it may happen that they are only counting the point at which the pixel is no longer visible, but not its progressive degradation. That means that only by moving 60 degrees and we will be appreciating a loss of fidelity in color and brightness quite remarkable.

To make matters worse, the horizontal viewing angle is wider than the vertical, and manufacturers do not always give the two figures.

Ergonomics

Of all the extras that can have a monitor, this is the most important and yet one of the least is taken into account. Ideally, your monitor’s foot should be able to rotate sideways, change its height to a certain extent, and tilt at an angle wide enough to allow us to place it perpendicular to our face, regardless of our position. It is not uncommon for there to be monitors with the foot fixed and that just slightly tilt vertically. On the other hand, and if we dedicate ourselves to design tasks, we may be interested in a monitor that we can place completely vertically.

With most operating systems already ready for use with touch screens, it is not a bad idea to consider buying a touchmonitor, but its price, again, hits a good stretch. We are not going to mention curved or 3D screens. Both are very apparent tricks, but completely secondary when it comes to deciding what to buy. The only exception is if we are going to organize several monitors. Perhaps the curved one is an advantage when it comes to creating an enveloping environment. Of course, we better prepare the wallet.
Some examples

Monitor for graphic jobs

Most users want a quality screen. Design, photography and video editing professionals need it. Be prepared to pay, but consider it an investment. Also, keep in mind that you will need a powerful graphics card and that what you are going to buy is not the most suitable for video games. The points to take into account are a diagonal and resolution as high as possible. Eye to the ergonomics, and to the space of color. IPS panels are perfect because the refresh rate is not such an important factor.

Video Game Monitor

The speed of response and the ability to show fluid movement are crucial here, not resolution. Size is important, but neither is the most important factor. In some cases it is better to go to a fast 1080p monitor and with a good lighting and contrast system than to engage in a monitor with more size and resolution. If your game is the beast, consider buying two or three good 17 or 21 inch 1080p monitors with the thinnest frame possible. It may come cheaper than a single huge monitor. Be that as it may, refresh rate, response time and contrast are important points to keep in mind.

Monitor for cinema

If your thing is to watch movies in all rags and you will not give too much to video games, the panoramic monitors are your thing. The other features are similar to those of the video game monitor.

Multipurpose monitor

Okay, we all like to watch movies, we all like to play, and we all do our little things in Photoshop. You want a monitor that does everything reasonably well. In this sense, and unless we do not have enough space, our recommendation goes through a 16: 9 IPS (or better 16:10) IPS monitor. If we can go to a resolution somewhat higher than 1080p we will have more room to work.

As for the rest of the characteristics, it is determined by the price and our computer. After reading all this, you already have the tools to know in general terms what to give up or what not when you buy your next screen.

Now you know how to choose a monitor pc, you can check our lastest monitor pc review here.

 

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