Buying a new monitor can be an exciting yet tricky task.
With so many options, figuring out where to start takes time.
This comprehensive monitor buying guide will walk you through everything you need to consider when purchasing a new display.
Follow these tips and have the perfect monitor for your needs and budget.
One of the first things to decide is what size monitor you need. Standard monitor sizes include:
- 34-inch ultrawide
A 24-inch monitor is ideal for general home and office tasks.
27-inch monitors provide more screen real estate and are great for gaming and creative work.
Larger 32-34-inch monitors are best suited to more immersive gaming, movie watching, and productivity tasks where you must view multiple windows simultaneously.
When choosing a size, consider the resolution (see next section). You’ll want a monitor with an appropriate pixel density for its screen size.
A 24-inch 1080p monitor would have a high pixel density, while a 32-inch 1080p monitor would have a lower density with more visible pixels.
The monitor’s resolution determines how crisp and sharp the image quality is.
A 1080p (1920 x 1080) or 1440p (2560 x 1440) monitor provides most users with the right balance of screen real estate and text/image sharpness.
- 1080p – The most common resolution for 24-27-inch monitors. Ideal for basic home/office tasks, web browsing, and casual gaming.
- 1440p – The new sweet spot for 27-32-inch monitors. Provides extra screen real estate over 1080p for more immersive gaming and multitasking.
- 4K – Best suited to larger 32-inch+ monitors. It provides exceptionally sharp image quality but requires a more powerful computer for gaming.
When matching resolution to monitor size, aim for a pixel density of around 100 PPI for a nice balance of screen real estate and detail.
A 27-inch 1440p monitor hits close to this sweet spot.
There are three main monitor panel types to choose from:
- IPS (In-Plane Switching) – IPS panels offer the best overall image quality with vibrant colours and wide viewing angles. They are ideal for colour-critical work, gaming, and entertainment.
- VA (Vertical Alignment) – VA panels provide good contrast ratios and deep blacks. Their viewing angles are less comprehensive than IPS, but VA monitors often have higher refresh rates. Great for gaming and media playback.
- TN (Twisted Nematic) – The most affordable panel type is the TN panel, but with narrower viewing angles and colour accuracy compared to IPS/VA. TN is best for budget gaming monitors and general office work.
For most users, an IPS monitor provides the right balance for everyday use.
VA monitors are also compelling options for gaming and media setups. TN panels are suitable primarily for budget shoppers.
Standard monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate.
But for gaming and video, higher refresh rates provide a much smoother experience:
- 60Hz – The standard for office work, web browsing, and everyday computer use.
- 144Hz – High refresh rate for smooth gaming up to 1440p resolution. Especially beneficial for fast-paced competitive multiplayer games.
- 240Hz – Ultra-high refresh best suited to 1080p gaming. Primarily for eSports gamers who want the smoothest possible gameplay.
A gaming monitor with at least a 144Hz refresh rate is recommended for serious PC gamers.
For everyday use, 60Hz is fine. Higher refresh rates require a powerful GPU to maintain high fps in games.
Response time measures how fast a monitor refreshes image data on the screen.
Faster response times help reduce motion blur in games and videos.
For 60Hz monitors, a 5ms response time is expected. For 144Hz gaming monitors, a 1ms response time is ideal for crystal clear motion clarity.
IPS and VA panels tend to have slower 4-5ms response times. TN gaming monitors can achieve faster 1-2ms speeds.
Adaptive Sync – FreeSync and G-Sync
FreeSync is supported on AMD graphics cards.
G-Sync works with Nvidia cards.
Having an adaptive sync monitor matched to your GPU brand provides the best gaming experience.
G-Sync displays tend to be more expensive than FreeSync. But FreeSync Premium monitors meet Nvidia-certified performance standards at a more affordable price.
This makes FreeSync monitors the better value pick for most gamers.
Ports and Connectivity
Modern monitors include the following connection ports:
- HDMI – Connects to PCs and laptops. Supports up to 1440p 144Hz gaming, depending on the version.
- DisplayPort – Supports higher resolutions and refresh rates than HDMI. Ideal for gaming monitors and 4K.
- USB 3.0 – Convenient USB ports for connecting peripherals like external drives.
Look for a monitor with at least one HDMI and DisplayPort connector.
USB ports are a nice bonus for plugging in wired keyboard/mouse and flash drives.
Some monitors also include built-in speakers, but external speakers generally sound much better.
Extra Gaming Features
Gaming monitors often include extra features tailored to immersive, competitive gameplay:
- As discussed above, AMD FreeSync Premium / Nvidia G-Sync – Adaptive sync for tear-free gaming.
- High refresh rates – 144Hz or higher for ultra-smooth motion.
- Low response times – 1 ms response time to eliminate ghosting and blurring.
- Curved screen – Curved monitors provide a more immersive field of view for gaming. Usually best at 27″ and larger sizes.
- HDR support – For brighter colours and expanded contrast for a more vibrant, life-like image.
Some of the top monitor brands include:
- Dell – Known for quality displays with reliable performance and excellent customer support.
- LG – Make excellent IPS panels along with high-performance gaming monitors.
- Samsung – Leading monitor brand with models ranging from budget to high-end. Great for office and creative use.
- BenQ – Gaming specialist with monitors optimized for RTS, FPS, and action games.
- Acer – Budget-friendly monitors that don’t compromise on performance and features.
- ASUS – Top choice for high-refresh gaming monitors packed with extras.
- AOC – Affordable monitors that punch above their weight in visuals and speed.
Stick to well-known brands buying a monitor.
Avoid lesser-known companies that may cut corners on build quality or panel performance.
Monitor pricing ranges from $100 to $1000+ depending on size, features, and panel quality.
Here are some general price ranges to expect:
- $100-150 – 22-24″ monitors with 1080p TN panels. Basic office/web models.
- $150-250 – 24-27″ IPS or VA monitors with 1080p resolution and 60Hz refresh rates. Great for home and office.
- $250-400 – Best bang for the buck range. 27″ 1440p monitors, 144Hz 1080p gaming monitors.
- $400-600 – High-end gaming monitors with 1440p resolution and 144Hz+ refresh rates.
- $600+ – 4K monitors, ultra-wide models, specialized professional displays for design, photo/video editing.
Decide on your must-have features, size, and panel quality, then find the best monitor you can afford within your budget.
Paying a little more goes a long way in getting better performance and longevity.
Ques 1: What size monitor should I get?
Ans: 24-27 inches is ideal for most home/office setups. 24-inch for tighter desks, 27-inch for maximum screen space.
Gamers may prefer 27-inch or larger monitors.
Ques 2: Is a 4K monitor worth it?
Ans: 4K monitors are best suited for screen sizes 32 inches and up. The ultra-high resolution provides exceptionally sharp image quality.
But it would help if you had a robust GPU for 4K gaming.
For general use and gaming, 1440p 27-inch monitors are the better value.
Ques 3: What’s better for gaming: IPS or TN?
Ans: IPS panels offer better colours, viewing angles and overall image quality than TN.
But TN monitors can achieve faster 1ms response times. For a balance of speed and visuals, we recommend IPS gaming monitors.
Ques 4: Is a curved or flat monitor better?
Ans: Curved monitors can provide a more immersive experience, especially in gaming.
But flat monitors are usually cheaper and work just as well for everyday use.
Curved displays are best appreciated on models 27 inches and more significant.
Ques 5: Do I need G-Sync or FreeSync?
Ans: G-Sync and FreeSync adaptive sync technologies provide smoother, tear-free gaming by matching your monitor’s refresh rate to the frame rate output of your GPU.
A matching monitor sync is recommended for the best experience if you have an Nvidia or AMD graphics card.
Ques 6: What refresh rate do I need?
Ans: For gaming and video, 144Hz or higher is recommended.
For general use, office work, and web browsing, a standard 60Hz monitor is fine.
Competitive esports gamers may benefit from 240Hz monitors.
Ques 7: How do I clean a monitor screen safely?
Ans: Use a microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen to remove dust and fingerprints.
For deeper cleaning, slightly dampen the microfiber cloth with water or a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water.
Avoid using paper towels or abrasive cleaners on the monitor.
- Measure the desk area where you plan to place the monitor and make sure the size/dimensions will fit. Leave enough depth for your keyboard.
- Check that your PC’s graphics card has the right video outputs to connect to the monitor. Most modern GPUs have HDMI and DisplayPort.
- Look at ergonomics. Adjust your monitor height so the screen is at eye level and 20-28″ from your face. Reduce glare with monitor placement.
- Shop around between retailers for the best monitor deals. Big box stores, Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and the manufacturer’s site offer competitive monitor pricing.
- Feel free to return a monitor if you notice backlight bleed, dead pixels, or other image issues right out of the box. Get a replacement unit that meets your expectations.
- Invest in a quality surge protector or UPS battery backup. This will protect your new monitor from power fluctuations and lightning strikes.
This monitor buying guide gives you all the essential tips, factors, and knowledge to pick the perfect display.
Choosing the right monitor for your needs and budget is a necessary purchase.
Follow this advice to enjoy years of crystal clear viewing, vivid colours, and smooth gaming.