Last updated: July 1, 2020

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Because of the wide selection of monitors available to Americans, choosing the right monitor for your computer is no easy task. It is a blessing and a curse that we have such a wide variety of models and at very different prices to choose from. For this reason, it is normal to feel a little lost when embarking on the search for the perfect monitor.

Perhaps you’re looking for what will be the primary monitor of your desktop computer… Or maybe you’re searching for a second screen to your laptop. Either way, defining the use you will give it will be a very important first step. This guide is designed to help clear up any doubts you may have so that you can find the best monitor for your needs.

Key Facts

  • One of the most important steps when searching for a monitor, is deciding what purpose it needs to serve. This aspect will influence the rest of the characteristics and features you’ll need from your monitor. For instance, if you plan to use it for gaming, it will be important to search for a product that doesn’t distort moving images.
  • The next essential feature to be carefully contemplated is its resolution. This feature will have a significant impact on the quality of the images displayed. A popular resolution is Full HD, however, 4K is now the standard. Resolution is another aspect that largely determined by the intended use for the monitor.
  • Size is another aspect that is closely linked to the ones above, and again, heavily influenced by the purpose of the monitor. The proper resolution for your screen will be in part determined by its size. In the same way, the use you have planned for it will determine which dimensions are better than others.

Our Selection: The Best Monitors on the U.S. Market

When you begin your search, the task of choosing the best monitor your budget allows can seem overwhelming. For this reason, in this section, we want to show you the best monitors you can find at different price points. Use this section to note the makings of a good monitor, and keep these characteristics in mind throughout your search.

Best High-End Monitor

This impressive monitor from LG comes with a wide viewing angle and IPS panel that provides superior color control, which has 99% coverage of the sRGB color gamut – this makes it great for photographers, graphic designers, or anyone looking for highly accurate color. This VESA DisplayHDR 400 monitor has been rated to deliver impressive peak luminance of 400 nits and a max display resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. And for gamers, the monitor comes with Radeon free Sync technology.

Best High-End Monitor at the Best Price

This virtually borderless HP display comes with an ergonomic stand, built-in speakers and an ultra-slim design at a competitively low price point. It is a 3-sided micro-edge, Full HD, diagonal IPS screen. It has an impressive 178-degree viewing angle, which delivers bright picture quality, all within a sleek design. Furthermore, it allows you to make the most out of your workspace, with convenient ergonomics which include tilt, height and pivot adjustments.

Best Monitor for Under 100 Bucks

This Acer monitor comes in varying widescreen LCD IPS display sizes. All monitors combine stylish, ultra-thin functionality with amazing 1920 x 1080 resolution; allowing you to enjoy High-Definition entertainment in the comfort of your home and at a great price. The screen also features multiple inputs (HDMI & VGA) for greater compatibility, a Kensington lock slot to protect your investment, and Energy Star compliance to help you save money and energy.

Best Monitor at the Lowest Price

This 20″ LED HD+ monitor from Sceptre comes with a high resolution of 1600 x 900. It has a 5 millisecond response time, which allows for all activity on the LED screen to seamlessly transition almost instantly. The Kensington Lock securely fastens your monitor in place for safety. Last but not least, the VESA wall mount pattern is there so you can easily mount it on the wall in a manner that is both aesthetically pleasing and conveniently practical.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Monitors

Before simply buying the first monitor you find, make sure to carefully evaluate its characteristics and your needs. For instance, make sure the monitor you buy will work well with your computer components, this will allow you to make the most out of the monitor you choose. There are many other things to keep in mind, for that reason, this section includes all of the information you’ll want in order to get the best monitor for your needs.

Guy in a computer

Make sure to consider your computer components and needs in order to get the best monitor.
(Source: Wavebreak media: 1619713/123rf.com)

What is the response time of a monitor?

A monitor’s response time refers to the speed at which a pixel changes from one color to another. It is a parameter that is measured in milliseconds (abbreviated, ms). The lower this response time, the faster the color pixel will change. Among other things, this characteristic influences the sharpness of the image displayed on the monitor.

Response time is particularly important with fast-moving images. If the monitor has a low response time, it will blur and distort fast-moving images and sudden movements. For gamers, this is a particularly important feature. When watching movies, it will also determine the quality of the experience. The top monitor models can reach a 1 ms response time.

What is the resolution of a monitor?

Simply put, the resolution of a monitor is the number of pixels that a screen has the ability to represent. In the product selection of this article, you may have noticed that when we described the monitors and their quality, we wrote down two figures. These two figures, for example, 1920 x 1080, refer to the pixels the monitor is able to represent.

Let’s take these numbers, for example, 1920 would be the number of pixels that the monitor represents vertically. As you may have guessed, 1080 refers to vertical pixels the monitor can represent. Therefore, in the case of the LG monitor, the numbers varied most from the rest. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160 because it has a more panoramic display than the other models.

The resolution of a monitor is not determined by its size, although it is related to it. A large monitor with a low resolution will cause the image to look distortedly large. And the other way around: a small monitor with great resolution, will make the image look very distorted and small. In order to get the best image, it is key to find a balance between these two important parameters.

What is the aspect ratio of a monitor?

The aspect ratio of a monitor is the ratio between the height and width of a monitor. This parameter is closely linked to the resolution component we mentioned above. With the wide selection of products available, you’ll find that there are also many different aspect ratios, however, the most common one is 16:9.

To explain a little more, a Full HD screen, i.e. 1920 x 1080 pixels, would have this aspect ratio. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of proportions. In other words, for every 9 vertical pixels, there are 16 horizontal pixels. Another aspect ratio, increasingly used, is 21:9; this is a more panoramic ratio.

It is important to note that the aspect ratio does not affect image quality. For instance, let’s consider a screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and another with 7680 x 4320. Both have a 16:9 aspect ratio. However, the second would have a higher image quality. Keep in mind that a 4:3 aspect ratio was popular years ago, but is now in decline.

What is the contrast ratio of a monitor?

The contrast ratio of a monitor is the difference between the brightest pixel and the darkest pixel. For example, a 1000:1 monitor contrast ratio means that the whitest pixel is a thousand times brighter than the darkest pixel. A higher proportion of these numbers will result in more contrasting and sharper images. It should be noted that there are two types of contrast ratio: static and dynamic.

In the first one, all the brightness of the screen changes at the same time. It is most ideal for working with still images. With dynamic contrast ratio (DCR) on the other hand, the brightness automatically adjusts as the video plays, to make the dark areas darker and the light spots brighter. This aspect heavily influences image detail and quality.

Why do I need a good monitor?

Making sure to buy a quality product, even at a restricted budget is very important. Why you may ask, keep in mind that through this piece of tech you will visualize all the activities you carry out with our computer. So whether you’re looking for a monitor for leisure or work, make sure to get the monitor that best suits your needs and budget.

When shopping around, you’ll find monitors that have great specifications. However, the larger monitor may not necessarily be the right one for you and your needs. Keep an eye out for when the resolution it offers is not commensurate with its size. As you can see, it will be important to carefully evaluate the product you choose before making the final purchase.

Office woman speaking for a phone

IPS monitors are part of the widly recogniced LCD screens.
(Source: Mark Bowden: 31051618/123rf.com)

What is an IPS monitor?

IPS stands for in-plane switching, a type of LED display panel technology. IPS panels are characterized as having the best color and viewing angles among the other main types of display panels. IPS displays incorporate a series of liquid crystals which work to prevent light leaking.

Simply put, an IPS monitor is an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) with a back layer of LED bulbs. IPS-type panels are particularly suitable for images showing rapid movement. This technology prevents distortions, whether in a video game or a movie. However, keep in mind that IPS panels are also the most expensive ones on the market today.

Shopping Criteria

Monitors are very important compliments to computer units, regardless of whether they are used for work, leisure in general or gaming in particular. In either situation, it is important to take into consideration a few important criteria before making a final purchase. In this section, we leave you with one last set of criteria to evaluate in any product you choose.

Use

This particular aspect will determine and highly influence which model you choose. For this reason, it is important to be clear about the use you plan to make of your monitor. Do you want it for a generic or specific use? If, for example, you work in photo or video editing, you should have a screen that most accurately reflects colors.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a screen to help you immerse in the world of gaming, there will be other parameters you must consider. For instance, the monitor you choose should have a good dynamic contrast ratio and a high refresh rate. For film and series lovers, a monitor with good resolution will be important.

Design

This may seem trivial, but keep in mind that the monitor you choose will be featured prominently wherever you choose to set it up. For this reason, it would be good for it to have an appealing design that fits in harmoniously in the environment it exists. Colour and shape will be part of this consideration, however, thickness will likely play a more important role.

The thickness of your screen will be one of the main aspects to determine how much space it takes up. Fortunately, there are increasingly thinner models appearing on the market. Furthermore, you shouldn’t overlook the design of the edges of the screen. Manufacturers today keep making them smaller and smaller. This is a plus if, for example, you want to use several monitors together.

Resolution

The resolution of a monitor, an aspect we described in one of the previous sections, is not a characteristic that should be overlooked. More important than the numbers of this spec, will be to find a balance between this value and the size of the monitor. The majority of monitors today, come with a resolution of at least 1920 x 1080 – Full HD.

Of course, you’ll be able to find monitors with higher resolutions, especially considering that the use of the 4K, i.e. 3840 x 1440, is becoming more and more popular. In order to enjoy the full benefits of these high resolutions, make sure to get a monitor that is at least 24”. Remember that the resolution you need is related to how you will use the screen.

Connectivity

The most common system for connecting monitors to computers today with HDMI cable. However, some displays also have the ability to connect through VGA ports. Some models even allow you the option of connecting by means of a USB-C cable. Please note that monitors don’t usually include a port for every possibility.

In addition to the connection between the monitor and the computer, you can also look at other connections on the device. Audio output can be of use if you want to connect speakers to your computer. Some monitors have two HDMI ports, in the event that you want to connect another device to it, such as a Chromecast stick.

Size, Mount and Support

There is a wide variety of monitor sizes on the market. This parameter, alongside with resolution, is going to be the main factor to influence the cost of the monitor. For this reason, we must first consider where we wish to place the screen. Will it be on a desk or attached to a wall? Monitors can be over 40” in size, so make sure you have space for the product you choose.

As for how stable the monitor will be, this will largely depend on the type of mount and support it has. An interesting feature for some users is that the mounting height can be adjusted. There is also the possibility of tilting it forward or backward. Even though in most cases, the mount is an accessory that is purchased separately, ideally you should choose a monitor that includes it.

Summary

Monitors are integral components that compliment a computer, it is for this reason, that they should be chosen with care. You will spend a long time staring at the screen you choose, visualizing all the activities you do on your computer. Regardless of whether you’ll be using it for work, leisure or intense gaming; make sure to spend some time evaluating and choosing the one that will best suit your needs. This is important if you want to get the most of it in the long run.

Keep in mind that you should consider aspects such as dimensions, resolution, contrast and aspect ratios. Finally, don’t forget that the most expensive monitor isn’t necessarily the one that will suit your needs best. The best monitor for you will depend on the equipment you have and, as previously stated, the use you are going to give it. If you consider all the information we have given you in this guide, it shouldn’t be difficult to find the monitor that offers you the best value for money.

If you found the information in this guide useful, we would appreciate it if you shared it with friends or left us a comment with your thoughts.

(Featured image source: Dotshock: 70548847/123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.