Computer monitors are an essential component of any desktop setup. Monitors display the information you need to use your device, allowing you to browse websites, complete work projects and play the latest games. While you might think of a monitor as a simple screen, there are a huge range of options available, offering different features and advantages. Depending on your specific needs, some monitor types may be more useful than others. In this guide, we’ll be looking at how to choose a computer monitor and what features to look out for.

Working Out Your Specific Needs

Before you start looking at monitors and checking what’s available, it’s important to think about your needs. If you’re using the desktop primarily for gaming, you need a high resolution monitor capable of making your games look their best. However, if you’re using your machine for working in excel, you won’t need the same capabilities. Monitors with better specifications and more features are going to be more expensive, so you should also consider your budget and how much you’re willing to spend to get the quality you want.

Options to look at include the resolution, colour accuracy, refresh rate and size. You should also think about the display port and how you’re going to connect your monitor to your existing desktop computer. You need to make sure the device is fully compatible with any hardware you already own.

Understanding Refresh Rates

Monitors work by constantly displaying an updated image based on the signals they receive from the device they’re connected to. The image must be updated or refreshed regularly, and the speed at which this happens is called the refresh rate. This is measured in Hz and the bigger the number, the faster the speed.

Ideally, you want a refresh rate of at least 60 Hz. Any lower than that and you’ll be able to detect the flickering of the screen, which was present in old CRT screens. If you use your computer for gaming, higher refresh rates are needed, as you want the action on the screen to be displayed smoothly and without chopping.

Understanding Resolution

Monitor resolution is a measure of how many pixels the screen can display. This is shown in a width x height format. 1920 x 1080 is the standard high definition resolution, and this is the base minimum you should be looking for. Lower resolutions than this may affect your eyes when using the monitor over long periods, causing you to strain and potentially suffer problems caused by this.

Higher resolutions means better picture quality, as more pixels are used to make a clearer image. Whether you’re using your monitor professionally or just for entertainment, a better image is important. If you’re really serious about resolution, 4K is one of the highest available options.

Understanding Display Panel Technologies

While resolution and refresh rate are definitely important, neither will have as big an impact on your viewing experience as the display panel technology you opt for. All modern monitors use liquid crystal display (LCD), but the way they’re aligned changes how they work and the different characteristics of the monitor.

Twisted nematic (TN) is the oldest type of LCD panel and although it’s cost effective, it doesn’t stand up to the newer models. The downside of this type of monitor is that you have limited viewing angles, with colours inverting when seen from different positions. This can make it difficult to use and the overall colour reproduction isn’t the best.

In-Plain switching (IPS) are a more modern monitor technology, offering better colours and improved viewing angles. They also have superior refresh rates and low input lag, although not as good as vertical alignment (VA) panels.