Buying an LCD monitor for your desktop computer is about matching its features and functions — including size and usability — with your specific needs. Our comprehensive guide to choosing a monitor makes the decision easier.
Why Should You Buy An LCD Monitor?
LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors – LED screens are also available – are lighter, brighter and smaller than the old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors. This makes them perfect as a second computer monitor (working on multiple documents), or for watching movies and playing games in restricted spaces.
How Big Should I Go?
- LCD screens most commonly range between 21.5-inch and 29-inch, measured diagonally across the screen
- Ensure you measure the space where your monitor will sit before purchasing
- If you work on multiple documents on your PC, two smaller monitors might be better than one large screen
Usability Is The Key
- Look for LCD monitors with height-adjustable stands; the top of the screen should be in line with, or just below, your eye level
- The monitor controls should be easily accessible and the options menu (to change contrast, brightness etc.) easy to navigate
How Do I Connect My LCD Monitor?
- Most monitors come with a DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
- To connect with older computers, look for a VGA port
- An HDMI connection is desirable for connecting Blu-ray, PS4, etc
- To connect external speakers, look for Audio In and Out
- Resolution: Measured in pixels (horizontal x vertical). High Definition (HD) content, such as Blu-ray, is delivered at 1920×1080 (1080p)
- Aspect ratio: Proportion of width to height. A contrast ratio of 16:9 (seen in 1920×1080 screens) will display full HD content without distorting the image
- Contrast ratio: The difference between the light intensity of the brightest white and the darkest black. Look for the highest ratio possible; above 10,000:1 is good
- Pixel response rate: How quickly the pixels can change colour, measured in milliseconds (ms). A good response time is between 5ms and 2ms
- Luminance: Measures brightness in candelas per square meter (cd, m2), otherwise known as nits. Between 200 to 300cd/m2 is fine, but 500cd/m2 is better for TV and movies
- Viewing angle: LCD pixels tend to distort the further at an angle you view the screen from. Look for the widest viewing angle possible; greater than 150 degrees is advisable
Match Your Lifestyle
Whether you work from home or in an office, make sure the LCD monitor is usable for extended periods of time.
- Size: Consider two smaller screens to work between multiple documents
- Height adjustable stand: Reduces strain on your neck and eyes
- Brightness: You don’t want to strain your eyes, so aim for above 250cd/m²
Design and Photography
Make sure that you get the best picture quality and colours possible to view and edit images.
- Brightness: Aim for around 500cd/ m²
- Contrast ratio: Look for over 100,000:1
- Resolution: Aim for the highest possible; a 1920×1080 screen is considered full HD
- Movie Buffs and Gamers
Use your LCD monitor as a gaming station or a movie screen.
- Brightness: Aim for around 500cd/ m²
- Pixel response time: A fast time like 2ms is ideal
- Connections: Look for HDMI to fit Blu-ray
- Simple LCD Monitor Choices
- Size: Measure the space where your screen will sit before deciding on size
- Better moving pictures: Look for LCD monitors with a pixel rate of 5ms or less
- Widescreen: An aspect ratio of 16:9 is best for widescreen movies
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