Computer Monitor Buying Guide
A dedicated computer monitor is one of the upgrades to a work-from-home setup that has the biggest immediate impact. Connect one to your laptop to view more content simultaneously and spend less time switching between windows.
You might decide to work on a PowerPoint presentation or Word document on one side of the screen while leaving programs like Outlook, Slack, and Microsoft Teams open and constantly visible on the opposite. As you browse the web in a separate window, your email inbox may be semi-permanently pinned to one side of the screen.
Because working on a laptop for extended periods of time often results in a hunched-over posture and places the screen and keyboard at an awkward height for sitting upright, laptop users can benefit from improved ergonomics. Having two screens open at once—the new monitor serving as the main screen while the laptop displays secondary tasks—will also be advantageous.
By increasing the size of your workbench, you can fit more tools and complete more tasks. This is similar to adding a dedicated monitor.
A decent monitor can be had for not too much money. The recommended monitors from CR come in price ranges starting at about $200.
Computer Monitor Features
The majority of models in our ratings perform well in this area, making display quality—possibly the most crucial monitor feature—not a major source of concern. But when picking a monitor, you should also take into account the following elements.
The number of picture components, or pixels, that make up an image is referred to as a monitor’s resolution. Today, 1920×1080, also known as 1080p or Full HD, is the most popular resolution. A 4K screen is also an option and costs more.
More content can fit on the screen when the resolution is higher because it allows for smaller text and image sizes. When working with photos and graphics, a higher resolution is preferable.
The display response time of a flat panel tells you how quickly the screen can handle changes in the video image. The 60-hertz measurement of typical monitors is sufficient for daily tasks. Refresh rates of 120 Hz or higher are available on more expensive models, which is beneficial for gamers who demand fluid motion during gaming sessions.
This ratio serves as a representation of the contrast between the lightest white and the darkest black. Images can be more vivid and punchy when the contrast ratio is higher. However, because there is no standard method used by manufacturers to measure contrast ratio, advertised figures are unreliable.
If you’re working in a room with strong lighting, a bright screen is essential. The specification is usually listed on the company’s website and is expressed in candelas per square meter. The better, the higher the number. The brightness of an LCD can also be adjusted using buttons or on-screen controls.
Many of the models you’ll find on store shelves are covered by the monitors in our ratings, which have a size range of 24.5 to 38 inches. A larger monitor can make you feel pampered and increase productivity. However, larger monitors typically cost much more, and they obviously take up more desk space.
Similar to other tech products, monitors have experienced supply chain problems that have led to the unavailability of many models and an increase in price. If you’re willing to be flexible with your model choice and have the time to shop around, you can still find a good deal. Before making a purchase, take into account the following.
Decide on a Screen Size
Added screens Real estate is always beneficial, so we advise purchasing the biggest screen you can manage and finding the space for it. Therefore, what works for your space and how much you want to spend ultimately determine the choice. The majority of 1080p monitors are between 21 and 24 inches in size, with the smaller ones costing around $100. For larger (1080p) monitors (about 27 inches), budget $200 to $300.
Widescreen Is Standard
Although 1080p monitors’ 16:9 aspect ratio is ideal for video content, it isn’t always the best for navigating through documents. A monitor with a more square resolution of 1920×1200 (which has an aspect ratio of 19:10) may be more practical if you spend the majority of your day using Gmail, Facebook, or Microsoft Word because you’ll have more screen space at the top and bottom to work with. Although they are less common than 1080p monitors, you can still find these at most online stores. Notably, 4K displays, which have a resolution of 3840 by 2160, retain the 16:9 aspect ratio of 1920 by 1080 displays.
Consider Easy Adjustments
Almost all modern monitors can be quickly adjusted by tilting up or down. Look for a monitor that also allows you to adjust the height for more flexibility. For viewing a larger portion of web pages or text documents, such models may also have the ability to rotate 90 degrees from landscape to portrait mode.
Look for controls that can conveniently change the contrast, brightness, and other settings. We prefer a dedicated contrast/brightness control in the front.
Look for a Long Warranty
Some monitors have a three-year part and labor warranty, while others only have a one-year warranty. If you’re buying a more expensive model, it’s worth looking for the longer coverage. The manufacturer’s defective-pixel policy is an additional factor. While some people accept a certain number of stuck or dead pixels, others will replace a monitor while it is still under warranty if it has even one faulty pixel.
Do You Really Need a New Monitor?
It is important to consider your monitor purchase’s purpose.
Recent advancements in computer monitor technology may be more significant to demanding users than to the average user, such as serious gamers or professional creatives. Therefore, making a purchase simply to upgrade your workspace might not be worthwhile.
Getting a separate monitor, however, can increase your productivity and make your work more enjoyable if you’re currently working on your laptop screen.
Added choices? Consider an all-in-one computer, which is essentially a monitor with computational hardware built in, if both your monitor and computer are getting on in years. Of course, if you want to focus on a project, in particular, that’s not the best choice.
Companies like Dell, HP, and Lenovo both sell individual monitors as well as the monitors that come with their computers. Acer, Alienware, AOC, Asus, BenQ, LG, NEC, Planar, Samsung, and ViewSonic are some additional monitor brands. With the aid of this guide, you can compare monitors by brand.
Acer, Alienware, Asus, BenQ, Dell, HP, LG, Lenovo, Samsung, ViewSonic
Frequently asked question
How do I decide what monitor to buy?
A 24-inch monitor with 1080p resolution or a 27-inch monitor with 1440p resolution are your best bets if you want a quick, straightforward recommendation. Though VA is also good, an IPS panel is preferred. Both options come with a 144Hz refresh rate, which offers a smoother and more responsive experience for a little bit more money
What to look for when buying a gaming monitor?
The need for speed.
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) technology.
Strobe backlights for motion clarity lovers.
Detailed worlds (resolution)
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
How much should a good monitor cost?
Good 24-inch 1080p monitors typically cost between $150 and $250. Higher resolution 1920 x 1200 monitors typically cost $200 to $300. Stands and VESA mount support: The best you can hope for with less expensive monitors is a stand that allows the monitor to be tilted up and down without excessive movement.
How many Hz is good for gaming?
The absolute minimum is 60 Hz, but 144 Hz will improve performance. Although 240 Hz is nice, it won’t likely result in as much of a performance jump as the 60-144 Hz jump. To fully take advantage of a fast monitor, you must have graphics that are capable of supporting games at these frame rates.
Which is the better curved or flat monitor?
Curved Monitors Are More Comfortable for Your Eyes
In essence, the monitors’ curvature makes it possible for our eyes to take in everything at once without getting tired. In contrast, flat screens, depending on their size, may result in eyestrain if they obstruct the viewer’s natural field of vision.