Computer Monitor Buying Guide

Whether you're studying, gaming or watching movies, you need a display that’s suited to the task. This computer monitor buying guide details your options and provides helpful shopping tips.

Computer Monitors 101

A fast hard drive and good selection of software are crucial, but it's the monitor that brings a computer to life. Gamers and movie lovers will get the most from a high-resolution LED monitor or a 4K ultra-HD monitor. LCD and VA monitors combine high picture quality and affordability, perfect for family computers that see daily use. If you enjoy watching movies on your computer, choose a widescreen model, the larger the better. Look for a monitor with plenty of extra ports: you'll get more use out of it if you're able to hook inall your other devices, like your laptop, camcorder and external speakers.

Types of Computer Monitors


LCD Monitors

Ideal for casual activities like watching videos and viewing pictures, a liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor is an affordable option that delivers crisp pictures with excellent colour. And if space is a concern, LCD monitors feature thin designs that work well on small desks and workstations. LCD monitors are also energy efficient, so you can enjoy shaving a bit off your hydro billwhile using your computer to track household expenses.

LED Monitors

Perfect for gamers, movie lovers and graphic designers, light emitting diode (LED) monitors give you excellent image quality while cutting down on weight, size and energy costs. LED monitors feature a thin layer of tiny liquid crystals and can deliver sharper, more colourful images than LCD monitors. LEDs also produce less glare and almost no lens flicker, which is perfect for watching long movies or working overtime to meet an important deadline. Plus, an LED monitor is energy efficient, saving you money every month on your power bill.

VA Monitors

Get more people in on the action with a vertical alignment (VA) monitor. These affordable panel-type monitors have a wide viewing angle, the perfect solution for computers that double as televisions, or if you simply like showing people videos on your computer. VA monitors also display excellent contrast at high brightness levels, giving you deeper colours with a brighter picture. A downside of VA monitors is they tend to have slower response rates, which can result in viewing lag and ghosting if viewing action movies, playing video games or streaming sports. 

IPS Monitors

If you’re shopping for a display with good colour reproduction and wide viewing angles, then consider an IPS (in-plane switching) monitor. These panel-type computer monitors offer fluid and consistent colours even when viewed from well off to the side. IPS monitors are fine for basic computing and easily double as television monitors for watching movies and TV programson your PC. Consider an IPS monitor if you need superior colour, but be aware that they have even slower refresh rates than VA monitors.

4K Ultra HD Monitors

Watching movies on a 4K Ultra HD monitor is the next best thing to going to the theatre.4K monitors have resolution rates that are four times higher than regular HD models, offering you the clearest, most detailed image reproduction imaginable. These screens are the best option for ardent movie lovers, hard-core gamers, graphic design professionals and anyone else who demands exceptional visual performance from their computers.

Monitor Sizes


19 Inch & Smaller Monitors

A smaller-sized monitor can be perfect for a crowded desk or when used as portable monitor paired with a small laptop. Screens 19 inches and smaller usually have basic features and often come in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is narrower than themore common widescreen aspect ratio. Portable monitors are lightweight, compact and often powered through a USB connection. With a portable monitor in your toolkit, you have the flexibility to load your presentation onto your small, easy-to-carry laptop and impress with a bigger-screen demonstration.

20-22 Inch Monitors

Arguably the sweet spot for gaming and viewing media, a 20-22 inch computer monitor is not so big that it’s unwieldy, but still small enough to fit on most desks. At this size, computer monitors start having more features to enhance your viewing experience, including extra outputs, higher resolution and aspect ratios that support widescreen programming. It's great for everyday computer needs and plenty large enough for gaming, movies or watching funny viral videos.

23-24 Inch Monitors

23-24 inch monitors are often the best balance of function, quality and price. At this size, you can find the right monitor for your lifestyle, whether it's a dedicated gaming monitor with fast response rates and perfect contrast, a widescreen monitor for watching blockbuster movies, or a monitor that balances perfect colours with deep contrasts for displaying lifelike still images. Either way, you should find plenty of inputs for camcorders and digital movie transfers. 

25 Inch & Larger Monitors

Turn your home computer into your main television with a monitor that's 25 inches or larger. Bigger monitors are ideal for gamers and movie lovers. Not only do they have bigger screens, they also tend to offer better image quality.When shopping for a monitor of this size, look for a model that has all the features you need and expect, including wide viewing angles and lightning-quick response rates. 

Computer Monitor Buying Tips:

• A comprehensive warranty is essential. Most monitors come with a three-year warranty for parts and labour
• Ensure the backlight is included in the warranty as it can be very expensive to replace
• For the best picturequality, pair your new monitor with a good computer graphics card
• Some monitors have built-in speakers, eliminating the need for separate computer speakers
• Some monitors offer greater control over picture and sound settings

Computer Monitor Features

Viewing Angle +

Monitors are best viewed head on. As the viewer moves up, down or to either side (more common) the picture quality suffers. Viewing angles are measured both vertically and horizontally; a higher number means you can sit further from the ideal viewing angle without sacrificing picture quality. VA and IPS monitors often have excellent viewing angles.

Pixel Response Rate +

Response rates refer to how quickly a monitor responds to image changes, measured in milliseconds. A higher response rate means smoother movement and less ghosting. High response rates are especially important for watching content with lot of movement, like video games and action films.

Connections +

With the right connections, you can sync up your other electronics and get the most use from your monitor. There are many different kinds of ports, so make sure your current devices can plug into your new monitor. Your speaker system may need USB ports, while an HDMI input is perfect for plugging in your camcorder for viewing your home videos. If you’re into video editing, a DVI port is the industry standard for digital video transfer.

Matte or Gloss Screens +

Your choice of screen can provide reduced glare or deeper colours, depending on your needs. Go for a matte screen if your computer will be in a room with direct sunlight. Gloss screens usually have deeper blacks, so choose this type of screen if you want stronger contrasts. If you can’t decide, choose a glossy monitor with a reduced glare finish for the best of both worlds.

Adjustable Stand +

An adjustable stand allows you to sit comfortably while still getting the ideal viewing angle. Use one setting for sitting up straight while doing work and another for kicking back to watch a movie or play a game. If your computer is used by more than one person, an adjustable stand lets you easily switch up the setting so everyone can get that perfect angle.

Resolution +

Resolution refers to the number of pixels a monitor has, measured in a ratio of width and height. Higher resolution means sharper pictures since the images have more individual pixels. But keep in mind that larger screens should have higher resolutions that match their increasing size. For example, a 20-inch screen with resolution of 1600x900 matches standard widescreen HD, while a 24-inch monitor would need a resolution of at least 1920x1200 to do the same.

Aspect Ratio +

A screen's aspect ratio is its height-to-width ratio. The standard for computer monitors used to be 4:3, which is still ideal for word processing and other office work, but many monitors now come in 16:9 aspect ratios to support widescreen movies and games. If your computer is used mostly for media, look for a widescreen monitor so the image isn’t distorted when watching your favourite flicks.

Contrast Ratio +

Contrast ratio measures the difference in brightness from the darkest area of the screen to the brightest. A higher contrast ratio indicates the screen should have deeper blacks and brighter whites. However, differences in the lighting behind the panel can affect the measurements, making them less than reliable. Most monitors don't display true black, only a verydark grey. Professionals like video editors and graphic designerswho need perfect colour reproduction and accurate grey scales require monitors with higher contrast ratios.

Webcams +

Built-in webcams are a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, take pictures and even record video. A built-in webcam is fully integrated into your monitor, which can save you space in your home or office. Plus, built-in webcams are often easy to use right out of the box, so you can video chat with friends around the world sooner.

Touchscreen +

A touchscreen monitor brings the fun, easy-to-use touchscreen capabilities of your smartphone and tablet to your desktop computer. With a simple touch or swipe of your finger on the screen, you can navigate videos, manipulate images and even play games. Many computer operating systems and applications incorporate touchscreen features, so touchscreen monitors are only getting more practical. Plus, these monitors are excellent learning tools for kids just getting familiar with computers.

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Computer Monitor Maintenance Tips:

• Keep all packaging for your monitor just in case you need to return it or ship it away for warranty service
• Always turn off your monitor when not in use to decrease the chance of screen burn-in, which can permanently discolour your monitor. Some monitors, like LCD, are less susceptible to screen burn-in
• Clean your monitor with a soft, lint-free cloth and avoid abrasive cloths, paper towels and similar products that can scratch or damage the screen
• Unplug your monitor from your computer and any power source before cleaning
• Avoid window cleaners, household cleaners and solvents for cleaning your monitor. Instead, use either water or a specialized cleaner for computer monitors
• Never spray liquid cleaners or water directly onto your monitor; instead, spray onto a soft cloth and wipe down the monitor
• Avoid touching, poking, or pressing hard on your computer screen
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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