One of the most important factors when considering the next computer screen you will own is the screen’s size. They generally come between 21 and 34 inches, but you can get some portable options which are around 15” and some mammoth screens reaching up to 50”.
Screen size is measured diagonally across the screen. Your average work office desktop will be around 24” if you need a bit of guidance.
The cost of PC monitors varies widely. You can pick up a standard no-frills 21.5” screen which is suitable for office work for less than £100, but there won’t be any fancy mod cons involved such as extra USB ports.
There are various resolutions to look out for, and most are similar to the language you’d be seeing if you were picking a new television. Resolution is displayed in a ‘length x width’ format and informs the user of how many pixels the screen can display.
Full HD or 1920 x 1080p is one of the most common nowadays and is even present in the cheapest models, which makes a big difference from the resolutions of 10+ years ago. It is the least you should look for, and the lowest we feature.
Then there is 4K Ultra HD, 3840 x 2160p, which is ideal for either viewing sharper detailed imagery, editing photos, or viewing several typed pages in a side by side or tiled format.
In short, this is how well a screen will display video in real time. Essentially, it is the time it takes for a pixel to change black-to-white or to transition from one shade of grey to another (GTG).
Measured in milliseconds (ms), a screen with a 1ms pixel response would be great for gaming as there would be little lagging, blurring or ghosting. One with 6ms won’t make too much of a difference, but there may be the occasional blurring if things are fast-paced.
It is something you won’t even notice much when using the screen, but if you’re a hardcore immersive gamer, it could be worth considering. Basically put, smaller numbers are better.
Another factor which affects lag, the refresh rate is simply the number of times a display will refresh an image shown, per second. The display will refresh even if the frame does not change, such as in a still film scene.
The refresh rate on its own isn’t something to deliberate over for too long but starts to become important depending on the input and use for the monitor.
If you’re a gamer, and a game renders at 80 frames per second, but your screen refreshes at 60 Hz, you’re going to have lagging as it can’t deal with the input at the same rate. If you have 120Hz though, it will be incredibly seamless.
A gamer may want to look for a rate of 100 Hz+, but ordinary users will be fine with 60Hz.
The refresh rate is more important in TV’s than computer screens, so don’t deliberate over which to stick to too much. However, bigger numbers are better.
Sit at a desk all day? You’re going to need a screen which can adjust to your most comfortable seating position, and not the other way round. Screens can now tilt, rise and swivel, and some can even be rotated.