Your hardware, software, and internet connection shape your computing experience. The last essential piece of the puzzle? The monitor you use.
The first thing you need to consider when choosing a new monitor is what you’ll be using it for the majority of the time. Graphic designers will have different requirements than professionals that spend most of their time working on spreadsheets.
Once you’ve determined monitor usage, you’ll need to consider various technical factors. We’ll discuss 6 key monitor specifications below, but keep in mind that the importance of these factors will vary depending on how you use your computer.
Simply put, a higher resolution equals a better picture. Resolution describes how many pixels there are. A Full HD 1080p resolution monitor – the industry standard – has a 1,920-pixel width and 1,080-pixel height. That’s a total of 2,073,600 pixels, which gives you a more detailed image.
Typical resolutions include:
- 1080p (aka Full HD)
- 1440p (aka 2K, QHD)
- 4K resolution (Ultra HD, UHD)
You should be aware that a higher-resolution screen demands more effort from the computer’s graphics card, which can affect performance.
This consideration brings size and screen resolution together to find the sweet spot. Think of it this way: the 2 million pixels from 1080p will look different on a 17-inch screen than on a 42-inch one. A greater pixel density results in sharper images. Typically, a 24-inch screen is good for 1080p, but you’ll go up in resolution as your screen size expands.
You’ll often see tech gurus recommending monitors with at least 109 pixels per inch (PPI). A higher PPI means you get a lot more detail for anything that’s displayed on your screen. Most users will appreciate a monitor with a higher PPI–nobody wants to look at a grainy Word document or browser window for hours on end.
With good color accuracy you can count on the monitor to reproduce colors and shades as intended. This may not be as critical for a general user, but someone editing photographs or creating branded marketing materials will definitely care about this one.
Refresh rate tells you how many times per second a monitor updates the image displayed on the screen. This is measured in hertz (Hz). Most users will do just fine with a 60 Hz monitor, but professionals in the gaming industry like developers and testers will benefit from working with high-performing monitors that support 120Hz, 144Hz or even 240Hz refresh rates. No matter what field you work in, if you plan on keeping your monitor for several years, going for a higher refresh rate is a good way to future-proof your technology.
Response time is the time it takes for an individual pixel to change from one color to another. This is usually measured in milliseconds. While not as important for most professional users, this is a key consideration for video editing, animations, and game design. Response time can make a big visual difference when there is a lot of action happening on screen. For example, a slower response time could mean blurred images in fast-paced action sequences.
There are different types of LCD monitor to select from, too:
- Vertical Alignment (VA) LCD monitors give deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios. These monitors are also less susceptible to color bleed at the screen’s edges, which makes them attractive to general users, especially those who want to stream movies.
- In-Plane Switching (IPS) monitors have faster response times and show color better than the VA option. These are good for professional use (although the most expensive of the three).
- Twisted Nematic (TN) monitors offer top responsiveness and high refresh rates, but a drawback is that color and contrast on the screen can change depending on your viewing angle. This is not the panel type for a graphic artist or photographer!
Still unsure of the best monitor for your home office computer? Give us a call at 240-839-5300 and we’ll help you choose a monitor that meets your business needs.