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The monitor is arguably one of the most important peripherals in a PC build. It acts as the visual interface between you and your PC, so it's a good idea to spend a bit of time thinking about what monitor you want to pick.

Monitors have buttons on them that control power or provide a menu for changing settings. If your monitor has support for features like high refresh rate or adaptive sync, don't forget to make sure they're turned on in the monitor menu!


As usual, you should pay close attention to the company that makes the product!

Reputable brands like LG, Samsung and Dell often produce monitors with the best display quality and colour reproduction.

However you should still find and read reviews on a product-by-product basis, as no company produces great products 100% of the time.


Monitor size is measured along the diagonal of the screen, in inches. Most monitors have a size from 21 to 34 inches, with a significant portion sized at 24 or 27 inches.

When picking a monitor size, perhaps the most important factor is your physical desk space. There's no point in buying a giant 34" monitor if you have no space to put it!

Aspect ratio

The aspect ratio represents how "wide" your monitor is, and is measured as a ratio of two integers.


This is the most common aspect ratio used in monitors, and provides a good balance between media consumption and productivity.


This is uncommon in desktop monitors, but sees wide use in notebooks such as MacBook models and Dell's XPS lineup. This is because 16:10 is better for productivity tasks as you have more vertical space. Some examples of tasks that benefit from more vertical space are word processing and photo editing (most photos are taken in 4:3 or 3:2)

Out of all commonly used aspect ratios, 16:10 is the best approximation to the ratio, which is believed to be the most aesthetically pleasing ratio.


The most popular "ultrawide" ratio, 21:9 is seldom used in laptop screens but more often in desktop monitors.

The wider ratio is better suited to gaming and media consumption (most movies use a wider aspect ratio).


An even wider ratio than 21:9, sometimes known as "super ultrawide".


Resolution is the amount of pixels on your monitor's screen.

A higher resolution means better picture quality, especially for games and movies. In particular for games, a higher resolution requires a stronger GPU to attain a good framerate.


Also known as 1920x1080 or FHD (Full HD). This is the most common resolution.


Also known as 2560x1440, WQHD (Wide Quad HD) or just QHD. Many PC gamers choose this resolution as it is a good balance between image quality and the performance required from your GPU.


Also known as UHD (Ultra HD). This is more common among productivity users (such as video editors) or console gamers.

The numerical resolution is usually 3840x2160, but some monitors are 4096x2304.

Refresh rate

This is how often your monitor screen updates to give the perception of motion, measured in Hz (Hertz) or fps (frames per second). A refresh rate of 60 Hz means that the screen updates 60 times per second.

Most displays are 60Hz (such as laptop screens), but many PC gamers (especially competitive gamers) opt for higher refresh screens of 120Hz, 144Hz, 165Hz or even higher. A higher refresh rate means more fluid motion - most people notice a significant difference between 60Hz and 144Hz. This is especially the case in fast-paced games or first person shooters, but almost every game can benefit from a high refresh rate monitor.

As one might expect, a higher refresh rate requires more powerful hardware to run. In addition to a strong GPU, the CPU also becomes somewhat important at 144Hz.

Panel type

There are several different types of LCD panels with significant differences, so it's important to pick one that's best for you.


IPS (in-plane switching) is probably the most common panel type used. Almost all modern laptop displays are IPS.

IPS panels provide a good balance between colour quality, viewing angle and response time - but they do tend to be a bit more expensive.


TN (twisted nematic) displays are cheap and provide the best response times, which is why they are preferred by highly competitive gamers. However, the poor viewing angles and bad colour reproduction mean that many people opt for IPS or VA displays.


VA (vertical alignment) panels are usually reasonably priced with good colour reproduction, decent viewing angles and the best contrast ratios. However, they suffer from high response times and "ghosting" issues.

VA panels are very common in curved monitors.

Multiple monitor setups

Many people have more than one monitor on their desk. Although it may seem odd, having the extra screen real estate is helpful for multitasking.

For example, you can have a game running on one monitor, and Discord open on another.

You should think about whether you want one or several monitors. Some important questions to ask are:

  • Do I have enough room for more monitors?
  • How do I want to arrange the monitors?
  • What resolution and size should each monitor be?
  • Can I afford multiple monitors?

Other considerations


If you consume a lot of media content, you might want to look into buying a monitor with HDR support. These monitors typically have better image quality and/or colour reproduction than non-HDR monitors.


Some monitors allow you to tilt or otherwise adjust them, some do not.

Some monitors support VESA mounting - you may decide you want to mount the monitor to a wall instead of sitting it on your desk.

Curved screens

Many people enjoy curved screens for media consumption and gaming, particularly on ultrawide monitors.

Curved screens may provide more immersion because each part of the monitor is approximately the same distance from your eye (as opposed to a flat screen).

The curvature of a display is usually given as a number (typically from 1800-4000) followed by an "R", such as 1800R. The number is the radius of curvature in millimetres, with smaller numbers denoting a more intense curve.

Adaptive sync

Many gaming monitors support AMD FreeSync and some high end ones support NVIDIA's G-Sync. These are both implementations of adaptive sync (or variable refresh rate) technology that can reduce screen tearing and lead to a smoother experience.

You should keep an eye out to see if the monitor you want has adaptive sync support.

Pixel density

Pixel density is the ratio of the number of pixels on your screen to the size of it, measured in ppi (pixels per inch). The higher it is, the less "pixely" a display will seem and the harder it will be to make out each individual pixel.

When choosing a monitor, a 24" 1080p display may look better than a 27" 1080p display due to the higher pixel density - this is something to keep in mind.

Onboard speakers

Some monitors have built-in speakers. While these are usually not as good as dedicated speakers or headphones, some people may prefer to use them.

I/O and connectivity

Most modern monitors, graphics cards and motherboards support HDMI and DisplayPort connections, with a few also using USB-C.

However if you are using older hardware, you may have VGA or DVI ports instead. In this case you will need an adapter if you want to use a different cable type.

If you want to use adaptive sync on your monitor, you should make sure you use either DisplayPort or HDMI 2.1, as prior HDMI versions do not support it.

If you have a high refresh rate display, older versions of HDMI may not have enough bandwidth available to keep up with it. For example, HDMI 1.4 cannot drive a 1440p display past 75Hz, so you should use DisplayPort if in doubt.


HDCP (high-bandwidth digital content protection) is a form of copy-protection used to protect copyrighted content.

Some examples of content that uses HDCP are Netflix and Blu-ray.

Almost any modern setup will be able to stream 1080p HDCP content.

If you want to stream 4K HDCP content, you should make sure that your computer (GPU), cables and monitor all support HDCP 2.2. For cables, you will need to use an HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3 connection.

You can check if your GPU supports HDCP in the driver settings.