Guide to buying a computer screen

The choice of computer is important, but the screen can improve or spoil your computer experience. After all, to use your computer, you need to look at your screen. It’s no longer just a matter of size. There are more models than ever before and a bunch of features to consider. You can also connect a computer screen to your laptop to increase its capacity. By choosing the right screen, you are sure to get the most out of your computer. This guide will explain the different options to help you choose computer screen that best meets your needs.


What can the screen do for you?

What are you doing with your computer? The first step in choosing the right screen is to determine its primary use. Will you mainly be using your computer to play video games or will it only be used for a few minutes here and there to check your email and browse the web? The screens recommended in these two situations are very different.

Basic computing

If you use your computer occasionally, mostly for simple tasks like browsing the web, checking your email, or doing your homework, you don’t need an elaborate screen. Choose one based on your budget, desired size, and connectivity options: you don’t need to buy a display with sophisticated high-tech features that you probably won’t use. PC monitor buying guide

Multimedia applications

Many computers are mainly used for basic computer tasks, but they are also used for multimedia applications. You may be using your computer to store and edit your family’s digital photos. You may also sometimes use it to stream videos. In this case, you need a slightly more advanced screen. Opt for a larger screen with full HD resolution (or higher), built-in speakers, and accurate color reproduction.

Professional use

If you spend hours working on a computer, the screen is extremely important. Everyone who uses a computer for work needs a large screen (or even multiple screens to be more productive), offering high resolution and features such as a wide viewing angle, anti-reflective treatment and adjustment possibilities.
professional monitor
Any work involving editing or creating multimedia content can take advantage of a screen with advanced color management features to ensure greater accuracy.

In addition, some screens use a blue light filter and offer a flicker-free mode to produce a softer image for the eyes. You will feel less eyestrain after spending several hours in front of the screen!

Video games

gaming monitorVideo game enthusiasts are very demanding when it comes to computer screens. Just like people who use a computer for work, they want a large screen with high resolution, anti-glare, and a wide viewing angle. But video game enthusiasts also want a fast refresh rate, high contrast, and game optimization features like a 144 Hz refresh rate, as well as G-Sync and FreeSync technologies.

Computer games encourage the development of screens. At CES 2020, Acer presented its Predator CG552K screen, a 55-inch DELO game screen. Alienware and ASUS introduced new game screens with a 240 Hz refresh rate, and there was even a 360 Hz game screen.

monitor size comparison

Screen size comparison

Computer screens come in a wide variety of sizes. The screen size is shown in inches and is measured diagonally. Small screens of 22 “or less are for basic IT tasks, usually when budget and space are limited. If you want a slightly larger screen, higher resolution and more features, choose a 23 to 24 inch screen. Video game enthusiasts tend to prefer screens that are at least 24 “(but when they have the space, they opt for the largest models possible).

Users interested in multimedia applications tend to buy screens of at least 25 “to 27”, while professionals are now turning to 4K screens and the panoramic screens of 34 in and over. For those who want to use all the screen space available, there are more and more impressive screens of 30 “and more.

Display technology

Large cathode ray tube screens are over, and flat LCD screens are now dominating the market. However, there are several types of screens, each with its own advantages. Most of today’s screens are screens LED backlit, but some LCD screens still use cold cathode fluorescent tubes.

Screens with Nematic Helix (TN) technology have limited viewing angles, brightness, and color accuracy, but they do offer ultra-fast response times (often 2 ms or less), which makes them popular with players. Screens with vertical alignment (VA) technology offer several advantages, including high brightness, excellent color reproduction and excellent black levels, but their refresh rate is lower than that of TN screens. IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens are the ideal solution for those who want high color accuracy and excellent viewing angles, but they offer slower response times. There are also the PLS screens which are essentially the IPS screens from Samsung. There are also screens from Samsung with quantum dot technology. They use nanocrystals that offer a greater range of colors and deeper blacks.

And as we saw at CES 2020, high-end OLED displays are starting to hit the computer monitor market, especially among PC video game enthusiasts.

Interesting features

monitor resolution

Resolution

It is also very important to choose the resolution you want when buying a new screen. The higher the screen resolution, the more detail it can display. Higher resolution also results in sharper text and images. The overall sharpness of the screen depends on the resolution, size and viewing distance.

Most computer screens today offer at least full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. In 25 “to 29” screens, Quad HD (QHD) resolution is becoming common, providing 2560 x 1440 pixels on the screen. Ultra-wide panoramic screens can offer WQXGA (2560 x 1500) or WQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution. 4K Ultra HD resolution is increasingly sought after on large computer screens. It offers 3480 x 2160 pixels and displays extremely sharp content. The next step in ultra high resolution displays is 5K technology. These screens are still rare, but the resolution of 5120 x 2880 displays more than 11 million pixels on the screen at the same time.

Panoramic screen

Panoramic screens are sought after by users who want to be more productive and by video game enthusiasts. They use a different aspect ratio than traditional screens. They are therefore wider, which is ideal for viewing several documents side by side, or for providing a larger field of vision in a video game.

Curved screen

monitor with curved screen Curved computer screens started gaining popularity a few years ago, and many companies now offer it.

These screens are slightly curved and provide a more immersive viewing experience, making them particularly popular with PC video game enthusiasts and those who enjoy watching videos on their computer.

At CES 2020, Samsung launched a new gaming screen huge with unprecedented curvature. The G9 is a 49-inch ultra-wide display with a deep 1000R curvature.

Refresh rate and response time

The two factors that influence how content is displayed are the refresh rate and the response rate. The refresh rate measures the number of times per second that an image is displayed. Most screens have a default refresh rate of 60 Hz, or 60 frames per second. It is more and more common to see a refresh rate of 120 Hz, as this allows for faster response and reduces motion blur. The new game screens launched this year have refresh rates of 240 Hz and 360 Hz.

Response time measures the time it takes for the screen to change the color of a pixel. This time differs according to the colors, but the standard usually used is the transition from the lowest gray value (black) to the highest value (white). Faster response time means fewer visual effects, such as ghosting or blurring.

Gamers and those who use their computers for multimedia applications should pay particular attention to these two measurements, and look for a high refresh rate (ideally 120 Hz) and a low response time (5 ms or less).

Contrast

Contrast measures the difference between the deepest black and the brightest white that a screen can produce. It is presented as a ratio, such as 1000: 1. The higher the ratio, the better. When the contrast is high, the images on the screen appear more vivid.

Some screen manufacturers indicate the dynamic contrast ratio, which looks much more impressive. The dynamic contrast ratio can sometimes be 10,000: 1 or more, but it measures pure black when the LED backlight is off, and then compares it to the brightest white when the backlight is on again. While this is useful, it is not quite a “usable in a real situation” number and you should be careful not to compare the dynamic contrast ratio with the contrast ratio, as these are two different things.

The actual contrast ratio can easily be increased in DELO displays. Since they do not use the backlight, they can produce pure blacks and contrast ratios of 300,000: 1 or more.

Brightness

As the name suggests, this is the maximum brightness your screen can produce. This value is particularly important if you use your computer in a room that is already very bright, since the content displayed on the screen must stand out from the ambient light to be clearly visible. It is measured in cd / m2. The higher the number, the better. If you use the screen in a dark room, you can always reduce the brightness.

Range of colors

You don’t need to worry about this setting if you only use your computer occasionally. However, this is an important parameter for video game enthusiasts and professionals. This is essentially the color palette that the screen can display.

monitor color gamut
This setting is represented using three standards: sRGB, Adobe RGB, and NTSC, as well as the percentage of the color gamut that the screen can accurately display. As is generally the case, higher numbers are better. The most demanding standards of the three are Adobe RGB and NTSC; these are the two standards that professionals in multimedia editing examine in particular. A screen with a high Adobe RGB color gamut provides the features needed to meet the needs of graphic designers and other multimedia editing professionals.

Viewing angle

If you’re sitting directly in front of your screen, the viewing angle is not very important. On the other hand, if you look at it from the side, or if several people look at it at the same time (and in this case, at least one person will not be directly in front of the screen), it is preferable to have a viewing angle higher. The higher the number, the greater the angle from which you can view the screen without distorting the displayed image.

Anti reflection

The surface of a computer screen is a large sheet of glass. If you work in a room with multiple windows or multiple light sources, it may be difficult to see this sheet of glass due to the many reflections. An anti-reflective screen helps reduce glare and eyestrain. We usually use a mat finish, but sometimes also a film.

Touch technology

If you like Windows 10 touch gestures, you’ll probably be interested in a screen multipoint. This will allow you to pinch, swipe, and interact with onscreen content as if you were using a tablet, smartphone, or touchscreen laptop.

Connectivity

When looking for a new screen, connectivity is an important factor. Many high-end displays offer multiple connectivity options, but others have limited input ports
a monitor's input ports
Most computer screens today offer HDMI connectivity for high definition video and audio content, using the same cables you use to connect accessories to your flat screen TV. Other popular digital options are DVI (video content only, no audio content) and DisplayPort ports. We should also find high speed USB-C ports, as they are more and more present on newer computers. To meet the needs of conventional analog connectivity, many displays continue to offer a VGA port.

When choosing a screen, take one with a connectivity option that matches your computer, preferably one of the digital options to support high resolution content. Adapters are available, but it’s always easier (and cheaper) to have a native connection.

If your computer lacks USB or USB-C ports, opt for a screen with output ports so that it can also serve as a hub for your devices.

Energy consumption

energy star labelWith electricity more expensive than ever, energy consumption is a factor for many people to consider. In general, the larger the screen and the higher the resolution, the more power the computer screen consumes. To save as much as possible on your electricity bill, opt for an ENERGY STAR certified screen. This standard means that it consumes on average 25% less energy than other computer screens in its class.

Setting options

adjustable monitorFor occasional use, a basic computer screen on a fixed support may suffice. But the setting options make the screen more ergonomic, and they can also be an important feature, depending on how you use it. Ideally, your computer screen should be able to pivot back and forth on its stand, as well as tilt up or down. This allows you to get a good viewing angle and minimize glare. For a more comfortable viewing, opt for a screen that also allows you to adjust the height. Some business users want a screen that can be rotated so that it can be used in portrait mode rather than traditional landscape mode.

You may also prefer not to use the stand and mount your screen on the wall to free up space on your desk. In this case, look for a model compatible with VESA mounts. Another space-saving option is to choose a screen with a stand that takes up very little desk space.

example of gaming-optimization

Optimization of video games

The computer screens designed for gamers offer several optimization options for video games. This ranges from the button to activate a game mode to the ability to quickly switch from one refresh rate to another, support for high dynamic range imaging (HDR), image support 3D and technology to reduce motion blur. G-Sync is one of the most popular advanced gaming features. It allows displays connected to computers with compatible NVIDIA graphics cards to reduce screen lags, jerks, and tearing effects. FreeSync is a similar feature, but it is optimized for use with AMD graphics cards.

Eye Saver Technology

Some computer screens have “Eye Saver” technology. Designed to prevent eye strain from prolonged screen use, this technology includes features such as reduced flicker or blue light levels. Curved screens can also help reduce eye strain.

Additional Features

Computer monitor manufacturers offer many additional features to make their products more attractive. This can be a software function such as support for picture-in-picture. Many material options can also greatly influence your decision. Some of the most popular accessories include built-in web cameras (ideally 1080p), pass-through USB ports (so the screen can be used as a USB hub), USB charging ports for accessories and mobile devices and the built-in speakers. Some computer screens can also be connected to multiple devices simultaneously, allowing them to be plugged into both your computer and your game console, for example.

set of speakers

Accessories

After purchasing your computer screen, you may want to add accessories to it to optimize your experience. It’s also a great way to add features that weren’t included on your screen at the time of purchase.

For example, you can add a web camera to almost any computer screen or replace the one you already have with a 1080p Full HD Web camera. If your screen does not have speakers, or if the built-in speakers do not provide the power you are looking for, add a computer speaker system. You can go for a basic two-channel stereo system or choose something more impressive and take a 5.1-channel surround system. If your computer screen cannot be adjusted to the ideal position, a screen support can make a huge difference. It can be a simple tablet to raise your screen or an articulated wall support. Experienced users can even obtain a support allowing to position several screens side by side.

Do not forget to take into account the technical characteristics of your computer

Before choosing your new screen, you must take into account the characteristics of your computer. For example, if your computer has video output that maximizes full HD resolution, you may not be able to take full advantage of the benefits of an Ultra HD 4K display. If the only video output on your computer is an HDMI output, be sure to choose a screen with HDMI inputs.

Adapter cables and better graphics cards can resolve these issues, but you will need to plan ahead to be sure you have everything you need to get the most out of your new computer screen.
gaming monitor

For further

You now have a better understanding of the different technologies used. You know what your computer will be used for mainly and you know its characteristics. And you know your budget. Now is the time to take a look at the huge selection screens offered by Best Buy. You are sure to find the screen that is right for you.

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