At TechMalak, we strive to give you the best and most useful content we possibly can. As tech enthusiasts, PCs are an important part of our lives. We know the struggle behind building your first rig; the countless hours invested in research, trying to find the best component for your new pride and joy. For that reason, we’re launching the ultimate PC builder resource series, aimed at both experienced as well as beginner builders.
Since the thing we look at the most on a computer is the monitor, it makes perfect sense for us to start with them. In the world of monitors, there’s plenty of stuff to cover, but we’ll keep it precise and to the point, just like the rest of the series. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a rig for gaming, work or a gift for your parents, a monitor needs these important quality characteristics.
The Image Size
Like in everything that serves the purpose of displaying graphics content, the pure physical size of the screen plays a key role in choosing the optimal monitor. Of course, you have to keep in mind the space in which your rig will reside, but that’s something the ultimate PC builder resource series won’t cover.
Looking back a good couple of years, 16:9 ratio became the standard for screen sizes, with 1920×1080 being the optimal resolution for almost any screen. Combine those two with the 21.5” to 24” in diagonal and you’ll cover almost every low to mid-range monitor out there.
The 16:9 ratio is optimal for a couple of reasons. It’s crisp enough to see every little detail you need on a relatively big screen. Almost all hardware is optimized to run it natively. And lastly, the horizontal viewing area is very wide which is great for gaming and everything action packed since our natural viewing area is very close to the 16:9 ratio.
The Technology Inside
As many of you know, every screen we look at is now an LCD screen. But did you know that there are in fact five types of LCD screens? The ultimate PC builder series won’t cover them all; we’ll focus just on TN and IPS panels, as they’re the most affordable and most popular screen types in the market.
The switch from the old school CRT monitors is a natural progression. They’re bulky, expensive and harmful to people and the environment. But, they have one huge plus side. The image quality you get out of a CRT and the richness of the colors is hard to beat. Thanks to advancements in technology, some types of LCD are very near CRTs in terms of color reproductions. Of course, in a much safer and eco-friendly package.
TN Panel Monitors
The majority of budget-friendly monitors are so-called TN panel LCDs. Their main advantage over the others is their price. My 21.5” Phillips 226V has been with for a good number of years now and it’s seen a lot of gaming and graphics work. I can’t complain about the quality of the imaging if it’s set up properly, but I wouldn’t recommend it for someone that’s building a rig for professional graphic design. For gaming, however, absolutely.
TN panels have a very fast response time which is very important for image changes present in gaming. The 2-5ms response time ensures that there won’t be any image lag or ghosting. This, along with their price, makes them the go-to consumer option.
The main drawback to TN panels is their viewing angles and the tendency to wash out colors. The viewing angles are something you can’t change, but the washed out colors are easily taken care of via a quality graphics card and some adjustments.
IPS Panel Monitors
Recently, IPS panels have started taking over the majority of the monitor market and with a good reason. They give the best results at affordable prices. Unlike TN panels, IPS screen benefits from much greater viewing angles, almost 180 degrees, without any color changes, making them the perfect option for graphics work.
The color reproduction is very near to real life out of the box, but they suffer from one thing. The response rate. IPS screens, perfect as they might seem, are slow in response and as such shouldn’t really be used for fast paced gaming. The problem with IPS’ 6-16ms response time is the possibility of ghosting and image lag.
The Notorious Monitor Refresh Rate
One more important thing behind the operation of monitors is their refresh rate. The refresh rate isn’t the same thing as response time, but it’s very closely related to it.
Response time represents the time a pixel needs to change it’s color and is measured in milliseconds. Refresh rate, on the other hand, is the frequency of image changes. As such, it’s measured in Hertz.
Most monitors on the market feature a 60Hz refresh rate. They are able to display 60 images per second. That refresh rate has been a standard for many years, but as the gaming market evolves, the need for more FPS has become apparent. For that reason, we can see monitors featuring a refresh rate 120 or even 240 FPS, albeit they’re rare.
Personally, I didn’t notice the difference between 60 and 120 FPS. Some will argue with me on that subject so it’s up to you to decide. All I can say, no matter what you choose, you won’t make a mistake.
We came to the end of the first article in the series. Summing things up, the main thing is your budget. The purpose of the monitor(gaming or work) and the physical space you have come after.
If you’re a bit tight with budget, it’s better to use a cheaper branded TN panel screen with 60FPS. Use the money for the hardware inside the case. A decent monitor never goes out of fashion, unlike hardware.