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Computer Monitor Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new computer monitor.

Getting Started

A common misconception is that everything computer related is obsolete within 5 years, but that is not true when talking about Computer Monitors. A computer monitor can last for years making them the exception to the technology rule. To make sure you are an informed consumer and find the right monitor that will last you years to come please continue reading. If you find some of your questions unanswered by the end of the article, you can always call our knowledgeable sales staff at 800-860-3577.


Computer monitors are measured the same way as TVs: diagonally across the screen in inches. Monitors range in size from 19 inches up to 34 inches. The recommended size for the typical user is between 22-24 inches because it offers a nice compromise between screen size and the amount of space it takes up. The size of a computer monitor is usually the most important decision when picking out a monitor, so read on to make sure you find the right monitor for your circumstance.

It's important to note the distinction between screen size and resolution. Two monitors of the same resolution will fit the same amount of content on a screen, regardless of their size. Therefore a 19-inch monitor would show a movie exactly the same resolution as a 30-inch monitor. Conversely, if there are two monitors that are the same size, but one has a higher resolution. The one with better resolution can display more content and a more crisp picture than a monitor with a lower resolution.


Resolution is measured in pixels, the tiny little squares of light you can see if you look very closely at the screen. The basic rule of thumb is the more pixels the better the resolution. Each pixel can change in color and brightness, and together they form the images you see on the screen. The more pixels a monitor has the more information the monitor can display and the more detailed that content will be.

Resolution is designated by a set of numbers, which measure the number of vertical lines of pixels side by side vs. the number of horizontal lines of pixels that are stacked on top of each other. The most common resolution is 1920 x 1080, also known as 1080p. Similar to the 1080p of TV's this is a great resolution for the typical computer user: web pages fit nicely, you can stack two Word documents side-by-side, and it displays most TV shows and movies with little to no letterboxing. A higher-resolution display, 2560x1440 monitors increased pixel amounts by 33% in each direction compared to a 1080p monitor. While 4K resolution doubles the resolution of a 1080p monitor in each direction, effectively giving you four times more onscreen real estate.

Aspect ratio

Aspect Ratio describes how wide a display is compared to its height. When first released, computer monitors, like TVs, were squarish in shape, with an aspect ratio of 4:3. As widescreen TVs and high definition content grew in popularity, so did widescreen computer monitors. Today, the most popular monitor aspect ratio is 16:9, the same as an HDTV.

For more lateral length, consider an ultrawide monitor, sporting an aspect ratio of 21:9. Ultrawides are about 33% wider than a normal monitor and offer a good solution to the typical two-monitor setup often found on the desks of creative professionals, and multi-taskers who benefit from a large amount of display space. They're also popular with gamers who are looking for a more immersive gaming experience. Some ultrawide monitors are even available with curved screens. While a monitor's aspect ratio and resolution are linked, it's possible to buy monitors of different resolutions with the same aspect ratio. For instance; 1920x1080, 2560x1440, and 4K are vastly different resolutions, but each features the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Panel Type

While they all look similar on the surface there are distinct differences between the two types of monitors. The two main LCD panel types are Twisted Nematic (TN) and In-Plane Switching (IPS). Their traits result in differing image quality and response times. Response-time is the length of time it takes for a pixel to change color or brightness. Faster response time creates a smoother image when the monitor is displaying fast action.

A TN panel prioritizes speed over everything else, it offers super-fast response times, but sacrifices color accuracy and viewing angles. So they're a great choice for competitive games, but not so great for anyone who needs dependable colors.

IPS monitors have the opposite attributes meaning wide viewing angles and very accurate color reproduction. Making them the preferred choice for professional designers, photographers, and video editors. We suggest a monitor with an IPS panel. Unless you're a hardcore gamer because of the slower response time; which can lead to the phenomenon known as "ghosting."


It's important to make sure your new monitor has the proper inputs to match the computer it will be hooked up to. Most monitors today connect to your computer via the HDMI port, which is the same port you'll find on the back of your HDTV. HDMI carries both audio and video signals through a single cable. If your new monitor is being connected to an older computer, you may need one with either a VGA or DVI input. These inputs were standard on computers for many years, but have since been replaced with newer options. While no longer common, many monitors can still be found with DVI and VGA connectivity.

DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort (mDP) is a newer connection technology found on many high-end monitors. Much like HDMI, DisplayPort carries both video and audio over a single cable. However, it can handle 4K content at a higher refresh rate, making it the better choice for those looking to do serious gaming or video editing. To be safe, check your computer and confirm what type of video outputs it has before shopping for a new monitor.

Other Things To Consider

  • Monitors with high resolutions demand a computer with robust graphics performance capabilities. Make sure that your computer is able to support a monitor with a high resolution or ultrawide aspect ratio.
  • Consider a monitor with a built-in webcam if you'd like to video-chat without needing to buy extra equipment.
  • Most monitors can be mounted on directly onto your wall, using special mounts. Make sure your monitor is VESA-compliant to ensure that it will fit on any of the industry standard mounts.
  • One monitor might not be enough room to multitask on the computer, the dual monitor solution is a common solution to this problem. We recommend getting two of the same monitors, and to double check that your computer can support two individual monitors.
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