The Parts Guide - Monitors

Not open for further replies.
This guide is aimed at explaining monitors in a simple way. This is not an extremely technical or in-depth guide (despite its length) on the topic of monitors, just a basic explanation of what I think is important to know and factor in when it comes to considering which monitor to buy.

First off, some theory.
General rundown on how a monitor works.
It’s actually quite simple when you boil it down. At the back of the monitor is a light source of some kind that shines light through a coloured surface called the Panel, where it then goes through the glass on the surface of the monitor, through the air and into your eyes.

Deciding on which monitor to pick largely comes down to what you’re using the your computer for, personal preference and budget. There are a few major variables to consider when deciding on one, with a few more that might sweeten the deal a bit.

Important things to consider

The Light
Currently there are two major forms of lighting as pertains to monitors, and are described below.
CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp)
While still common, this method of lighting is gradually being replaced by LED technology.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)
In modern times, LED’s are coming to replace CCFL when it comes to lighting a monitor.They are far smaller and more power efficient than CCFL, allowing the invention of the slim monitors we know today. Good quality LED's light up far brighter than CCFL and due to the way it is applied within the screen avoids the "bars" of brightness that can be found on older CCFL screens. Due to the way LED's work, they can be dimmed further then CCFL, allowing deeper blacks and can provide a greater contrast between colors.

The Panel
The literal coloured surface inside the monitor, this can have a massive impact to how the image displayed looks and reacts. There are numerous panel types, which I will describe below.
All of the types that will likely be dealing with are variants of LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology.

There are more panel types based on older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) technology, but they have been effectively fazed out of production and are no longer available unless you buy second hand.

The different LCD panel types and their description can be found in the spoiler below.
TN (Twisted Nematic)
Chances are if you were to pick a random monitor, it would use a TN panel. They are fast and cheap, making them very popular for those on a budget and are lauded as the best panel for a gaming audience due to its fast response times. Disadvantages of TN is its relatively poor colour reproduction and viewing angles compared to other panels like IPS or PLS.

TN 120Hz
It’s debatable whether this could be considered its own panel type, but it is sufficiently different to standard TN to justify addressing it separately.
These are high quality TN panels that have been “overclocked” to run at a refresh rate of 120hz, rather than the typical 60-75hz. 120hz monitor can also display 3D content due to the high refresh rate. Very expensive compared to standard TN, approaching or exceeding the cost of IPS panels. Guaranteed a 2ms or lower response time.

IPS (In-Plane Switching)
Offering far better colour reproduction and viewing angles than TN is IPS, but at a higher price tag and typically at slower response times. These are best used in a professional context such as for an image or video editing computer, where the superior colour reproduction is a worthwhile investment.
While not an inherent property of IPS panels, typically monitors with a resolution above 1080p use IPS panels.

PLS (Plane-to-Line Switching)
Also known as Super-IPS, it is exactly what it sounds like. Take the traits of IPS and ramp them up a bit, better colour reproduction, wider viewing angles and at an even higher price tag. PLS panels do have response times comparable to standard TN panels.

VA (Vertical Alignment)
There are a few subsets of VA like MVA and PVA, but all share the same general properties.
VA can be considered a middle ground between a TN and IPS panels, they have better colour reproduction and wider viewing angles than TN but not to the degree of IPS. However a downside is a response time typically slower than IPS panels, which can lead to ghosting and input lag issues.

The Resolution
A pixel is a small square of colour and the resolution tells you how many pixels an image has. The more pixels, the smoother and less jagged an image you have. Think Mario from the original Super Mario Brothers, then him in modern games. That visual difference is because there are more pixels used to construct his image.
Note: How "jagged" the screen appears to be does depend on its size of the monitor and your distance from it. See "Size" section below for explanation.

The resolution of an image is represented as “Horizontal Pixels X Vertical Pixels”. So a resolution of 1920x1080 is 1920 pixels wide, by 1080 pixels tall.
There a few shorthand ways of specifying a rough resolution.

-720p refers to a resolution that is around 1280x720, and can range from 1024x600 to 1280x1048, considered a HD (High Definition) resolution in film and television.
- 1080p is considered HD standard for computer usage and in film and can refer to 1680x1050, 1920x1080 and 1920x1200.
- 1440p is a HD+ resolution and can mean 2560x1440 or 2560x1600.
- 4K refers to a resolution of 3840x2160.

As your resolution increases, so does the demands on whatever is pushing your graphics. The GPU has to calculate what each pixel is doing every given frame. At 720p, that means its dealing with roughly a million pixels, go up to 1080p and its suddenly pushing two million pixels.
Your performance wont drop by a half because its got double the pixels to deal with, but it will make a difference.

Aspect Ratio
The Aspect Ratio is the ratio of horizontal to vertical pixels. You might notice on older films and TV shows that there are two black vertical bars on either side of the image when you watch it on your modern TV, this is because the standard Aspect Ratio was 4:3, meaning that the image is roughly square shaped. Since then, 16:9 has become the standard Aspect Ratio, leading to the widescreen, rectangular images and monitors we see today. There is also 16:10, which is still standard but not as common as 16:9.
Occasionally manufactures will release monitors with non-standard Aspect Ratio's, typically being much wider than its vertical height would suggest. A good example is of the AOC Q2963PM, which uses a 2560x1080 resolution and therefore has a 21:9 Aspect Ratio.

Response Times
This describes how fast a pixel can change colour, and is represented in Milliseconds (ms). A lower response time is better, but whether you will be able to tell the difference between two different response times is very subjective.
When the response time is noticeably slow, it leads to what is called "ghosting", which is explained further down this guide.

Refresh Rate
This is how fast the panel can change to a different image, literally how fast the monitor can display new frames. It is measured in Hz (Times per Second). It’s hard to explain, but a higher refresh rate leads to everything just generally being smoother, as more images are coming from the monitor with less of a delay between each one. Most monitors run at a refresh rate of 60hz, with some TN panels running at 120Hz or above in some cases.

The refresh rate also impacts on a monitors ability to show 3D content. For more info, check the "3D" section below.

Colour Depth
Represented in Bits (bit), on a basic level its how many colours the display can show accurately. The higher the colour depth, the greater number of colours can be represented without the monitor having to alter them to a close equivalent. Typical monitors use 6bit panels, though in professional applications and usage can go as high as 32bit.
Monitors that are within reach of the everyday consumer typically have a max of 8bit panels, with 10bit and higher usually being prohibitively expensive and requiring workstation graphics cards to support the full color depth.

Not so important things to consider.
All the above are major factors that come into play when deciding on a monitor. But there are a few more that are worth considering depending on what you want from the monitor.

Measured in Inches diagonally across the screen, this represents how physically large the screen is. Typically desktop monitors as of time of writing range between 21.5 and 27", with some HD or greater resolution monitors being 30"+.
Size does have an impact to image quality. If you have a 27" 1080p screen, the pixels are going to be physically larger and further spaced apart, and you end up with a lower PPI (Pixels per Inch) as compared to say a 1080p 24" screen. This is also coupled with your distance from the monitor, if you sit close to the monitor, a lower PPI is going to be obvious, if your further away chances are it will not be noticeable. 
This is why many 27" and most 30"+ monitors use a HD+ resolution, to avoid this PPI issue. There is also some debate over whether the human eye can perceive increases in PPI beyond a certain point, which is why many are skeptical of 4K resolutions on desktop sized monitors.

The Stand
All monitors have some kind of stand attached to them that holds them up and keeps it stable. However they can do more than that, higher end monitor stands allow you to swivel, tilt and rotate the monitor to any angle or orientation you could want, as well as adjust its height. If you plan to game across multiple monitors, then having good stands is important as you will need to manipulate the monitors so they line up with each other to get a smooth experience. Its disorienting having your mouse drop by an inch whenever you move it across screens.
The monitor stands capabilities are unique to each monitor, so you will have to check the manufacturers product page for clarification on what it can do.

VESA Mounting
VESA mounting allows you to use your own aftermarket stands on a monitor, in case you don’t like the one that comes stock with the monitor, want to make use of multiple monitors stands or something like wall mounting.
There are a few VESA mounting hole configurations, but the de facto standard is 100x100mm.
Often monitors (particularly slimmer models) do not include VESA mounting holes, so make sure it has VESA mounts if you intend on using aftermarket stands.

This can become quite important depending on how you intend to use the monitor, its properties and whether you intend to use something like AMD Eyefinity or Nvidia Surround. If a monitor requires a certain connection to function properly, it will have it built in, but what may be the issue is your computer.
If you have a 120hz+ or 3D monitor, you need a Dual-Link DVI or Displayport connection on your computer to support the full resolution and refresh rate of the monitor.
If you have a 2560x1440 or larger resolution monitor, you need a HDMI, Dual Link DVI or Displayport connection.
If you intend to run AMD Eyefinity, at least one of your monitors must be DisplayPort capable for it to work. If none of your monitors support Displayport, the use of an Active Displayport adapter is necessary for Eyefinity to function correctly.
If the monitor has inbuilt speakers or audio 3.5mm jack, the you need to use a HDMI cable or a DVI to HDMI adapter for those to work.

Glossy vs Matte
Between the Panel and you is a plastic or glass screen, to protect the panel behind it from moisture, collision, dust and other hazards. These come in two different finishes, Glossy and Matte, and that can also impact on how the screen looks.
Glossy, as the name implies, are quite reflective. This allows them to display more vivid colors and greater contrast, but in non-ideal lighting conditions will reflect everything around it, acting almost like a mirror. This is particularly more noticeable if the image being displayed is darker.
Matte is nowhere near as reflective, but also doesn't allow the vividness and contrast that a Glossy screen can.

This is an image of two Macbook Pro's turned off, one with a Glossy screen (left) and the other a Matte (right).

Which one to use is largely personal preference and variable to the conditions the monitor will be placed in.

The Bezel
Whether this is a concern at all depends on your usage of the monitor/s.
The bezel refers to the shroud around the edge of the screen that is used to hold it in place. For most users, this is not a concern. But for those wishing to use multiple monitors (particularly for gaming) this can be quite important. A larger bezel means more space between each monitor, leading to a dead space between the different monitor screens.

When using multiple monitors (particularly for gaming), a smaller bezel is better since it disrupts your view the least.
Bezel-less monitors are starting to be introduced to the market, but are still relatively unavailable.


First, some very generalized theory.
When you watch a 3D film, you have to wear glasses that are tinted different colours if you want the effect. When the film is playing, each frame is tinted one of these two colours, alternating between them per frame. This means that your "blue" eye (with the blue tinted lens in front of it) cant see the red frames, and the "red" eye cant see the blue frames. Doing this allows each eye to see a different image, which in real life is what gives us the ability to see in 3D. Other 3D glasses and content operate on the polarization of light, which has to do with the directional axis the light waves vibrate on, but still achieves the same thing as the colour explanation just in a different way.
This is known as passive 3D.
Since you are only really seeing with each eye half of whats being output by the screen, the effective (visible) resolution has been halved, leading to lower image quality. Passive 3D is generally only a concern in the TV space, but I thought was worth covering.

Active 3D is a different way of achieving the 3D effect. You wear a pair of glasses with shutters on the lenses, and they close and open in-sync with the refresh rate of the monitor so that one eye sees one set of images and the other the other. This is what technology solutions like Nvidia's 3D-Vision uses.
Disadvantages to this is that its far more expensive than passive 3D, particularly with the glasses (that are battery powered, they need to be charged), and some users can notice the flickering of the shutters in use.

With both Active and Passive 3D, it effectively cuts the refresh rate of the monitor (and your FPS in-game, make sure your graphics setup can take the hit) by half as its alternating frames for you to see. On a standard monitor, that means its now operating at an effective 30hz, which is easily noticeable. 120hz monitors however get cut down to 60hz, which is what most people play at and is fairly undetectable to all but the most sensitive users.
This is why 120hz monitors are recommended for 3D gaming and content, and are the only ones eligible for Nvidia 3D-Vision certification.

Note: If you have a 120hz/3D monitor, you need a Dual-Link DVI or Displayport connection to support the full resolution and refresh rate of the monitor.

Free/G Sync

An inherent problem with current displays is that they display content at a static rate. Your monitor refreshes its image a certain number of times a second and is unchanging. Your GPU however is spitting out frames at a very variable rate and at one that more than likely isnt going to be the refresh rate of your monitor. The monitor is running at 60hz, but if the GPU is only outputting 45fps, some frames are going to be held longer than others or if the GPU is outputting above 60fps, screen tearing occurs.
Free-Sync (AMD) and G-Sync (Nvidia) are both scalar modules that dynamically changes the refresh rate of the monitor to match the output of the GPU. In other words, it will only refresh the monitor when it receives a new frame from the GPU, effectively matching both the screens refresh rate and GPU's output in FPS.
This is claimed to reduce stutter on the display and eliminate screen tearing entirely.

G-Sync is only available on supported Nvidia graphics cards and G-Sync enabled monitors, with dedicated scalar hardware built into the monitor that allows it to work.
Project Free-Sync is AMD's answer to G-Sync, and has successfully lobbied VESA to include Adaptive Sync (previously only in their embedded Displayport standard for laptops) into the desktop Displayport 1.2a standard as an optional addition. Support for this requires a monitor with the updated 1.2a DisplayPort and an AMD R9 or R7 series graphics card (being an open standard, Nvidia could offer support as well). As of May 2014, AMD have stated that compatible monitors should appear in 6-12 months.

Multiple Monitors
The uses of having multiple monitors varies greatly and there is much confusion on how it is achieved and how it works. So I will chunk it down to each application of multi-monitors and explain from there.

For Gaming.
For a gaming setup, you require 3, 5, or 6 (in a square config) screens to run in any decent way (imagine the monitor bezel running vertically down the center of your crosshair in a game, not that great).
There are two competing technologies for this, AMD's Eyefinity and Nvidia's Surround, and both work in the same general manner. They basically take your monitors and converts them into a single "Virtual" screen which means games consider your display setup as a single large resolution display. You can then split up your 'Virtual" screen into virtual desktops to fit your monitors, allowing things like program windows to snap to corners and screens.
By using multiple monitors to game on, you get a far more immersive experience than a single monitor as you can arrange the monitors to fill your peripheral vision.
For Eyefinity or Surround to work, all the monitors must share a common resolution. It will pick the highest common resolution, so if you have two 1080p monitors and a 720p, you will end up with displaying 720p images on each monitor.
Although the technical way to express a multi-monitor resolution is too literally say its resolution (5760x1080 is three 1080p monitors arranged horizontally), often it is simplified to a single monitors resolution x the number of monitors. So either 1920x1080x3 or 1080p x3 in the aforementioned example.

Note: If you intend to run AMD Eyefinity, at least one of your monitors must be support a DisplayPort connection for it to work. If none of your monitors support Displayport, the use of an Active Displayport adapter is necessary for Eyefinity to function correctly.

Note 2: You are running games at a higher resolution by doing this, and you will have decreased performance because of it. Make sure your graphics setup can handle this kind of load before you drop a lot of money on a multi-monitor display setup.

For Productivity/General usage.
Many professionals and power users go with multiple screens as it allows easier multi-tasking and spreading out of projects.
Lets say your writing an essay in Microsoft Word, and you have an internet browser open for research. You could switch between the two, losing time doing so and never being able to see both at the same time. Or you can let each take half the screen, meaning that you only get a small window of what your doing in each application. Here a multiple monitor setup can be useful, Word document on the primary monitor and Internet browser on the secondary. No need to switch between them, and you can see both at the same time without having to limit your view of them.
This kind of setup, called "extended desktop", is fairly easy to achieve through the Windows inbuilt utility.
In an extended desktop setup, one monitor will be the "Primary". This is the monitor that new programs will open up in and games will be played on.

"Overclocking" Monitors
You may have heard of the phenomena of "overclocking" 1440p IPS panels to run at a faster refresh rate.
It is possible to overclock 1440p IPS panels to run at a higher refresh rate, but very rarely will you get any real benefit from it. Most will only get to about 65-75Hz before stopping, and unlike normal overclocking you cant just up the voltage to achieve a higher number, what your monitor gets too is what your monitor gets too. The Korean monitors detailed below are exceptions, 96hz is not an uncommon overclock on these panels.
Monitor overclocking guides. These are aimed toward Yamakasi Catleap Extreme 2B owners, one of the few monitors consistently capable of hitting 120hz, so dont expect the results he achieves.
Nvidia and AMD.

Korean 1440p monitors, on the cheap

Currently on the market there are a range of 1440p screens, typically starting at ~$600 and going upward depending on physical size, build quality, brand, exact type of panel being used, etc from your typical retailers.
However, as of the time of writing, there is an alternative to these mainstream options. Various Korean manufacturers (QNIX, Yamakasi, CROSSOVER) and re-sellers are offering 1440p monitors quite cheaply through Ebay, for example a Yamakasi Catleap Q270 SE (not the monitor mentioned in the "Overclocking section") 1440p IPS monitor can be had for about $350-400.

Originally the majority of these panels were rejected LG stock, intended to be used in Apple iMac's or Apple Cinema displays but were for one reason or another ended up not being up to par with Apple standards. As of late, Samsung PLS and AH-VA panels have started appearing on the Korean market. These leftover panels are sold to the various manufacturers who create the monitors that are available on Ebay now.
The panels are A- grade, meaning they are more likely to have dead pixels and other defects than the A+ grade panels that make their way into branded displays. Resellers of these monitors often offer a "Pixel Perfect" option, where for $30-40 more you can be guaranteed a monitor without any dead pixels.

The cheapest of these monitors only come with a single display input (typically DL-DVI). If that's what it accepts, that's what you need to use natively. You cannot adapt a different interface into the one the monitor accepts.

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)
Currently a technology that is unavailable in any real capacity on the current market-place*, its quite similar to more traditional LED's except that it uses a current passing through organic compound to emit the light. Where the big difference is that these OLED's can change the colour of their light and are much smaller and thinner than traditional LED's. That in itself is fairly big, OLED's do not require a dedicated backlight like current LCD technology as they act as a combined light and panel.
Given that all the materials involved aren't rigid like current LED's, this will also allow easier manufacturing of curved displays and given enough time, a screen you could potentially scrunch into a ball and put in your pocket.

Another possible benefit of OLED displays is their ease of manufacturing. Its estimated that in the future, we could make our own OLED displays from a consumer grade printer, similar to how 3D Printing is slowly becoming more viable to the home user.

* This is not technically true, a derivative of OLED, AMOLED (Active-Matrix OLED) displays are on the market, notably on the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.

Ways your monitor can go wrong

Computer electronics aren't perfect, and monitors equally likely to have any number of issues as any other component in your computer. So heres an explanation of common problems that can happen with monitors.

Dead/Stuck Pixels
A dead or stuck pixel is basically a pixel in your screen that for whatever reason has stopped working or responding. A dead pixel is just black, the circuitry behind it has failed and it is no longer displaying colour. A stuck pixel is when for whatever reason the pixel has become unresponsive and is "stuck" displaying the one colour.
Generally, there isnt anything you can do about either one apart from RMA'ing the monitor (if its in warranty and said warranty covers dead/stuck pixels) or just living with it. Stuck pixels have been known to just fix themselves, dead pixels are far less likely too.
You can test for dead/stuck pixels by having the monitor display full screen a single colour and manually searching for any, its best to use multiple colours during the test as a stuck pixels could be missed if its the same colour as what your displaying.

Ghosting is when the response time of the monitor is slow to the point of leaving a noticeable blur behind moving objects as the pixels change colour after it. This is a very subjective thing, some people are more sensitive to it than others.
Again, nothing much you can do about it. If the ghosting is excessive, you may have a faulty monitor but generally you are just sensitive to it and would be more suited to a lower response time monitor.

This is when you leave the screen on a static image for a long period of time, and when you change it afterward or turn the screen off, you can still see the image in the screen.
This goes away with use, and is only an issue on CRT monitors, early LCD screens and some TV technologies such as Plasma.

This happens when the FPS of a game or movie is higher than the refresh rate of the monitor, and causes the monitor to glitch and try to display multiple frames at once. Since Screen-Tearing is most noticeable while turning in game, it commonly appears as if everything is slightly out of line with each other, particularly on straight edges.
This is an exaggerated example of Screen Tearing, but conveys the concept well.

To prevent this is a software function found in most games called V-Sync (or Vertical Sync) which limits the FPS to a max of 60, which is the refresh rate of most monitors. V-Sync is now starting to also offer caps of 120 given the 120hz monitors now on the market.

Backlight Bleeding
This manifests as excess light "leaking" from the monitor bezel and affecting the image on the screen. This is purely a physical problem, during manufacturing or shipping something inside the monitor has been knocked loose and light is getting where it shouldnt. Unless you have the means to pull apart the monitor and then re-assemble it correctly, there is nothing you can do other than RMA the monitor, or lower the brightness to nullify some of the effect.

This is a pretty extreme example of backlight bleeding.

Update Log
- Size, Glossy vs Matte, The Bezel added to 'Not So Important" field.
- Generally including more detail throughout, changed phrasing of some parts.
- Fixing of errors/clarifying on the CCFL lighting.
- Inclusion of non standard Aspect Ratios.

- Added "Miscellaneous" and the sections "3D" and "Multiple Monitors" to it.
- Added "Ways your monitor can go wrong" and the sections "Dead/Stuck Pixels", "Ghosting" and "Burn-In" to it.
- Some general formatting
- Added 4K resolution to "The Resolution" section.
- Further explained how resolution impacts gaming performance in "The Resolution" section.
- Mentioned the debate about high PPI's in the "Size" section.

- More formatting
- Added notes to "Multi-Monitor" and "3D" sections
- Added "Screen Tearing" under "Ways your Monitor can go wrong".
- Added VA panels to "The Panel" section.
- Added "Overclocking Monitors" under Miscellaneous.
- Added "OLED" under Miscellaneous.

- Yet more formatting, phrasing and spelling mistake fixes.
- Fixed the spelling mistake on the word "spelling" above :p.

- Added "Backlight Bleeding" to "Ways your monitor can go wrong" section.
- Put the update log inside a spoiler box to save vertical space.

- Correction to brand name in the "Overclocking" Monitors section, Yamakasi not Yamasaki.
- Added section "Korean 1440p IPS monitors, on the cheap".

- Clarified on Active and Passive 3D.
- Added "Colour Depth".
- Changed Intro.

- Wow its been a while
- Added Free/G Sync under Miscellaneous
- Updated 4K section to reflect the availability of 4K monitors

- Moved to new Displays forum
  • Like
Reactions: bonnie215
Traditionally, LCD monitors have had CCFL backlighting. It's only recently that LED backlighting has become popular. Many models sold still have CCFL.

Uniformity of lighting and brightness are two major concerns.

There is also another, more hidden variable when it comes to gaming. Input lag. This has to do with the signal processing that occurs at the monitor end, before the image is actually drawn. At one point there was a great write-up at Anandtech but I don't know that it still exists...

Yep, it's old but still has some info
  • Like
Reactions: Eric Pepe
you can NOT assume led backlighting. in most cases led backlighting is called out while ccfl backlighting is not. if anything you could assume ccfl if not stated otherwise. also ccfl is not rare at all.

you should break down ips panels. 6bit ips doesnt offer much of a gain over tn in terms of color accuracy but does have a better viewing angle. 8 and 10 bit ips are even better. you can not assume greater than 1080p is ips

s-ips (8bit) does not necessarily have better response times to e-ips (6bit).

more pixels does not always mean a smoother image. what you are looking for is pixels per inch density (ppi) and comparing that to the distance you intend to sit from the panel. for instance a 1080p 20" panel may look great at normal distances but so will a 1080p 40" tv at a farther distance. also a 1080p 30" panel will not be as sharp as a 20" version.

1080p is considered HD for the film industry also.

monitor stands are definitely important. first is stability as you dont want the monitor falling or otherwise moving around anytime someone bumps the desk. tilt, height adjust and swivel are also important especially in multimonitor setups since you will need to align the monitors so they dont look out of place next to eachother.

vesa mount multi monitor stands are not unusual. they are used quite often.

if you have a 120hz monitor you need a dual link dvi cable. dvi-d comes in single link and dual link varieties.



this guide is by no means complete and requires extensive editing to be useful.

what this guide requires:

-fix your information so that it is correct. provide links and photos to sources.
-need information on crt, projectors, tvs
-need information on dead or stuck pixels
-need information on backlight bleed
-need information on cable types and specifications not just a callout
-should include ppi comparisons between monitors of different sizes and resolutions.
-explanation on monitor bit depth
-include va monitors
-stop using assumptions and provide straight facts only
-you forgot ultra wide and ultra ultra wide aspect ratios for video content (but agree that panels arent available)
-european monitors run at 50hz i believe. i think this is tied to their power grid being different than ours in the usa.
-agree that uniformity and brightness are important to list
-it would be beneficial to go over multi monitor setups such as "extend desktop" or "copy desktop"
-safety tips are also suggested such as why not to use the pc monitor at nighttime in a dark room.

a good concept but i would like this turn into something that is worthy of being stickied. if this post just turns into a half-effort it will result in more questions being raised than answered and will put even more strain on us who answer the posts.

good luck.


if you like this could be a "work in progress" post which we can copy and paste and edit. in this way we could then post a final edition to be submitted for sticky while eliminating all of these unnecessary after-posts which are helpful to the creation of the topic but detract from the actual reading of a sticky (since everything ends up jumbled and confused typically)
  • Like
Reactions: Eric Pepe
no problem. the guide should be made as complete as possible so that it provides a great deal of information. it may be long but thats a GOOD thing.

i also think that it should avoid putting terms into baby talk. it comes across like the person reading doesnt know anything at all you know?

just a suggestion of course.

try a second draft when you have time and i'll get around to commenting again. i may even proofread and edit it myself if i have time. i have a project going on right now so i'm spending quite alot of time researching that instead.
i also think that it should avoid putting terms into baby talk. it comes across like the person reading doesnt know anything at all you know?[/quotemsg]

Thats kind of the point.
This guide is a part of a larger guide that's still under construction, aimed at people who are completely new to computer tech. I can understand your want for more in-depth detail, but that's what I was trying to avoid. Its supposed to be enough to let new people figure out whats what without drowning them in information.
I dont intend for this to be the definitive monitor guide.

Copied from the main guide
This is a guide aimed at the people just starting out - they're overwhelmed by the learning curve of building a computer, and are looking for general advice and information on what decisions are good and bad, as well as basic overview of what decisions they should be thinking about.

EDIT: Updated the guide a fair bit, changes are in the new update log at the bottom. Still got more to do.
i think that i will lend a hand with this project. it would be good to have a more up to date sticky on the subject.

please do not take offense if i make broad sweeping changes to your content. this is just how i work.

alright i've had enough for today. Attached is the rough draft with items still needed highlighted in red.

for my reference only:

add vesa info, stands & distance from monitor

ignore everything below this line.... i'm using it as a sandbox and bbcode test... the below is a work in progress only.

The Parts Guide – Monitors & Other Displays

This in-depth guide is designed to educate the reader on the various types of displays which can be used with a computer as well as explaining common terminology. The various advantages and disadvantages of different options will be evaluated and listed. I have attempted to be as clear and concise as possible. All photos should also be links which allow you to view a larger image for clarity. I have provided many links for further reading on the intended subject which go much more in depth on the chosen subject material. This guide will not list particular models of screens since this information can become outdated very quickly and instead is provided as a means to educate the user on what to look for when looking for a screen.

Types of displays

There are many types of displays to pick from. The most common option is to use a lcd computer monitor, however there are other options available. With the popularity of HTPCs home theater personal computers and HT home theaters it is becoming commonplace to find projectors and lcdtvs lcd televisions used as computer screens. More information will be provided later in this guide.

The major types of display technologies

▪ LCD liquid crystal display
▪ OLED organic light emitting diode
▪ Plasma
▪ Projector
▪ CRT cathode ray tube

LCD monitors
Further reading: Wikipedia

Most modern monitors are liquid crystal displays. This technology has been used in multiple applications ranging from digital watches, cell phone screens to the monitor you are reading this on now. There are multiple types of lcd panels which will be discussed later.

How it works
Further reading: HowStuffWorks, Youtube Animation

1 Light is emitted from backlight
2 The light gets polarized then passes through glass substrate
3 When the light passes through the liquid crystal it either is either blocked or allowed to go through
4 Light that passes through the liquid crystal then passes through the color filter
5 Light goes through another polarizer and glass substrate

What are pixels?
Further reading: Wikipedia

Each group of RGB red, green and blue color filters is called a pixel. Combinations of rgb pixel colors trick the eye into perceiving various shades and hues. The second image example shows a closeup of an lcd panel displaying black text and symbols on a white background. When viewed at normal size things appear to be pure black and white.

What is the difference between a lcd monitor and lcd television?

Other factors aside, which will be described later, televisions may use a different pixel geometry which is optimized for shapes instead of horizontal lines, vertical lines and text like computer monitors. Text will generally be easier to read on computer monitors than on televisions however both can be used for displays. More information on this will be provided under the what type of screen should I buy section

Some television lcd panels use RGBY red, green, blue and yellow pixel arrangements which can improve upon color reproduction performance in some cases.

Types of lcd panels
Further reading: Wikipedia, TftCentral

The following is a list of common panel technology types. I will omit a great many of them in the practical discussion below however the link to TftCentral above gives an in depth description. I have also omitted television only panel types to shorten this list. All terminology will be explained in the terminology section so it may be advised to read that part before continuing.

▪ TN twisted nematic
▪ VA (common variations)
_____ VA vertical alignment
_____ MVA multi domain vertical alignment
_____ S-MVA super multi domain vertical alignment
_____ AMVA advanced multi domain vertical alignment
▪ PVA (common variations)
_____ PVA patterned vertical alignment
_____ PVA super patterned vertical alignment
▪ PLS(common variations)
_____ PLS plane to line switching
_____ S-PLS super plane to line switching
▪ IPS (common variations)
_____ e-IPS economic in plane switching
_____ S-IPS super in plane switching
_____ S-IPS II super in plane switching 2
_____ AS-IPS advanced super in plane switching
_____ E-IPS enchanced in plane switching
_____ P-IPS performance in plane switching
_____ H-IPS horizontal in plane switching
_____ UH-IPS ultra horizontal in plane switching

TN panels

This panel type is very common and is popular with office workers and gamers alike. Since they are cheap they are a very good option for those on a budget. Since they offer good response times gamers like them since they do not ghost or lag. 120hz TN panels allow 120fps frames per second of feed to be displayed on the panel which results in smoother looking video. Another option is that this number can be halved to provide 60hz or 60fps of passive 3d content to be displayed. The biggest limitations of this panel type are the often very poor viewing angles and 6bit bit depth.

▪ fastest response times of any monitor
▪ only monitor capable of 120hz input
▪ cheapest monitor option

▪ 6bit color reproduction
▪ Lower than average viewing angle

VA panels

This panel type is a middle of the road type option. Viewing angles and color depth are improved over TN (certain subtypes) however response time can be an issue in some cases.

▪ better viewing angles than TN (MVA and S-MVA)
▪ 8 or 10bit color depth (MVA and S-MVA)
▪ Middle range prices

▪ 6bit color reproduction (VA)
▪ slower response time than TN


This panel type was developed as an alternate to MVA. Generally it is an improved version featuring better contrast ratios and slightly improved viewing angle.

▪ better viewing angles than TN
▪ 8 or 10bit color depth
▪ Middle range prices

▪ Improved contrast ratio over TN and IPS

▪ slower response time than TN

PLS panels

New panel design created which shares similar characteristics with ips panels. Features wide viewing angles, better color reproduction and increased brightness while maintaining lower production costs.

▪ better viewing angles than TN
▪ Middle range prices

▪ slower response time than TN

IPS Panels

This type of panel features greatly increased viewing angles and great color reproduction. Early models had slower response times but some current models approach TN in terms of response times. These are most often used by graphic designers or anyone who requires the absolute best in color reproduction. The exception is e-IPS which does feature slightly better performance than TN (except response time) but does not share the same quality as the other IPS sub panel types.

▪ Best viewing angles of any monitor
▪ 8 or 10 bit color depth

▪ slower response time than TN (current models address this)
▪ high priced (except e-IPS)

OLED Display

OLED organic light emitting diode technology is a new display technology currently found in many phones and portable devices. current manufacturing costs make full sized displays prohibitively expensive for the time being however in the future this is likely to change. since the technology is very simple it is possible to make ultra-thin flexible displays. since the technology requires no backlight this also translates to additional power savings over lcd panel designs. also it is possible to make semi-transparent displays using the technology depending on the particular design.

How it works
Further reading: HowStuffWorks

unlike lcd panels which rely on a backlight to generate light and a rgb color filter to translate this light into red, blue and green light which can then be altered and adjusted to display a multitude of colors, shades and hues oled technology is capable of generating colored light and adjusting the output from the individual led modules.

Plasma Display

plasma technology is primarily used for televisions. since there is no backlight and individual cells can be turned on and off plasma displays have a much higher static contrast ratio than lcd panels. plasma panels also have a much higher refresh rate so are ideal for fast motion such as sports broadcasts. due to the design plasma panels consume much more electricity than standard lcd panels and also have a higher risk of burn in or failure.

How it works
further reading: HowStuffWorks

1. display computer sends an electric charge to a specific cell via intersecting electrodes
2. excited gas inside the cell produces ultraviolet light which excites the phosphor material coating the cells
3. when exposed to uv light the phosphor material emits colored light

CRT Display
Further reading: Wikipedia

A crt cathode ray tube monitor is an older style monitor which uses an electron gun to excite a phosphor coating on the front of the screen. individual pixels are defined by a shadow mask or grid which the electron beams pass through. Benefits of crt technology include a faster refresh rate and the ability to change display resolution without affecting sharpness as severely as lcd panels. the disadvantages are visible flicker at lower refresh rates and the physical size of the display.

How it works

1. electrons are fired from the electron guns (cathodes)
2. the electron beam (cathode ray) is directed to an individual pixel by magnetic fields
3. the cathode ray passes through a mesh or grille which defines the shape of the individual pixels
4. when struck by the cathode ray the coating of phosphor emits light

DLP Projector

DLP digital light processing projectors rely on a lamp for light output, a color wheel and thousands of tiny mirrors which control which pixels of light get directed at the display surface at a given time. benefits of a projector include a lower cost per inch of screen since the projector does not include a display surface and instead can use walls or pull down fabric screens as well as the ability to adjust the size of the screen depending on the projector lens focusing and distance from the display surface. the disadvantages of projectors are that they are often more blurry (often due to size of the final image), are not as good with high amounts of ambient lighting and images in front of the projector can cast shadows on screen.

How it works
Further reading: HowStuffWorks

1. Light is emitted from the lamp and goes through a focusing lens
2. The light beam then goes through a color wheel which adjusts the color and shade of the light beam
3. The light beam goes through a shaping lens and is reflected off the DMD digital micromirror device
4. The dmd can be either on (focused towards the projection lens) or off (focused away) which determines which pixels show up
5. All light exits through a projection lens which is adjustable to focus the image on a screen or wall.

Terminology and Concepts

In this section I will go over various terms and concepts not listed elsewhere in this guide.

Bit depth
Further reading: Wikipedia
Further reading: About

Color depth or is often referred to as the number of colors a screen can display. However, in the case of lcd monitors the number of levels that a color can render as is used instead. Provided below is an example of 24 bit true color and the effect on the amount of colors which can be displayed. Listed in order are 6bit, 8bit and 10bit panels.

▪ 2^6 x 2^6 x 2^6 = 64 x 64 x 64 = 262,144 possible colors
▪ 2^8 x 2^8 x 2^8 = 256 x 256 x 256 = 16,777,216 possible colors
▪ 2^10 x 2^10 x 2^10 = 1024 x 1024 x 1024 = 1,073,741,824 possible colors

in order to display more colors 6 bit panels use Dithering to better represent the original image.

Response time
Further Reading: Wikipedia

This is the amount of time a pixels takes to change from one value to another and back again. This is often measured in Grey to Grey or Black to White to Black. This is measured in ms milliseconds Lower response times generally result in less image artifacts. A slow response rate can cause ghosting (see definition) and is also linked to the hertz rate (see definition).

Input lag

This is the time it takes between an action is started and the change to appear onscreen. For instance if you pressed the letter A and saw it display on screen the time it takes is the sum of the following factors:

▪ signal passing through the cable from keyboard to pc
▪ signal processed by cpu
▪ video card generating frame
▪ monitor post processing (in some cases with tvs)
▪ time it takes monitor to display signal.

if input lag is too high then there would be a noticible delay between your actions and the appropriate change on screen. an extreme example could be compared to poor voice overlay in movies where there is a delay between mouth movements and the associated sound of speach. in most cases input lag is not a major problem however in the case of some lcd televisions (120hz and 240hz) the post processing of adding in additional frames (they are still only 60hz input) can cause very noticible delays so is an issue.

a way to test input lag is by using a stopwatch program. the further reading links under monitor calibration both offer such tests. in the example below you can see a difference between two different monitors used in the test.


Hz hertz is the rate at which your pc outputs a signal to the monitor. Most computers output at a rate of 60hz or a maximum 60 frames per second. The exception to this is dual-link dvi which can output at 120hz to tn panels rated for this display input.

A 60hz monitor is capable of displaying a maximum of 60fps. A 120hz monitor is capable of displaying 120fps. What this means is that if you have high end hardware and a 60hz monitor it does not matter what your video card can handle over 60fps since it will not matter. On the other hand, if you have a 120hz monitor you can notice a smoother image provided you can generate over 60fps.

In cases where the hz rate is higher than the fps such as in movies where they are recorded at 24 or 30fps each frame of the movie will be displayed for multiple cycles. 30fps = 2 cycles.

In the case of 120hz and 240hz televisions which post process in extra frames video can look smoother due to post processing however this processing gets added to the input lag (see definition) so some users note a delay compared with typical 60hz panels.

Types of Connectors
to be added soon!
Aspect Ratio

aspect ratio refers to the number of horizontal pixels in reference to the number of vertical pixels of resolution. modern monitors are typically 16:9 (1920x1080 2560x1440) or 16:10 (1920x1200 and 2560x1600) although there are other resolution variations which also equate to this ratio. older monitors were often styled in 4:3 (1600x1200 for instance) which is not widescreen. there are other several other ratios which are better described by the chart below.

various resolutions and aspect ratios of monitors

other ratio standards

in movies you may remember seeing "formatted to fit your screen" in the opening credits of a movie. what this means is that widescreen content was clipped so that the aspect ratio would more closely match the aspect ratio of current televisions. this is done to reduce the amount of letterboxing for ultra widescreen movies. depending on what ratio the movie was filmed with and what ratio it was clipped to there can be quite alot of content clipped out as can be illustrated by the photo below.

example of missing information from clipping aspect ratios

also in the case of movie content when the aspect ratio does not match the screen aspect ratio the content is scaled to fit. if the content has a wider ratio horizontally black bars are shown top and bottom with the content shrunk so that it stretches from edge to edge horizontally. if the content has a taller ratio vertically black bars are shown left and right with the content shrunk so that it stretches from edge to edge vertically. this is done so that the content is displayed as large as possible while maintaining the original aspect ratio.

example of letterboxing

in some cases content can be zoomed or stretched to fit the screen. this can either distort or reduce the quality and amouint of content displayed as illustrated below.

stretched to fit

zoomed to fit


the amount of pixels a display is horizontally by vertically. this is directly tied to aspect ratio, pixel pitch and pixels per inch. see the associated definitions for more information.

common resolutions of monitors are:

1920x1080 (1080p)

Pixels per inch and pixel pitch

PPI pixels per inch is how many pixels there are in one square inch of lcd screen.
Pixel pitch is the dimension of how large the pixels are.

this image shows how pixel pitch is measured. this is the same as the dimension across all RGB sections that make up a pixel.

below is an example of different ppi/pixel pitches which are not shown to scale. as you can see lower pixel pitches results in higher ppi which will result in a much sharper image.

pixel pitch and ppi are directly related to resolution. for example a 1920x1080 resolution screen at a 20" physical size will have a much higher ppi count and lower pixel pitch than the same resolution at 24". the smaller screen will be sharper if viewed at the same distance as the larger monitor, however if you view the larger screen further away the two will appear almost the same. the image below is a good explanation of this concept.

a 1920x1080 resolution (which also equals the number of pixels) has 2202 pixels in a diagonal line from bottom left to top right. since monitors are also measured in a diagonal line from bottom left to top right we can take this number and divide it by the physical size of the monitor to give us our pixels per inch rating. in general the average unaided human eye does not benefit from greater than 300 ppi.

common monitor sizes at 1080P

1920x1080 @ 20" = 110 ppi
1920x1080 @ 22" = 100 ppi
1920x1080 @ 24" = 92 ppi
1920x1080 @ 26" = 85 ppi

common television sizes at 1080p

1920x1080 @ 40" = 55 ppi
1920x1080 @ 42" = 52 ppi
1920x1080 @ 46" = 47 ppi
1920x1080 @ 50" = 44 ppi
1920x1080 @ 60" = 37 ppi

for reference here are some other product ppi numbers

1136x640 @ 4" = 326 ppi, iphone 5 retina display
10000x10000 @ 20" = 707 ppi, prototype lcd display advertised in cpu mag
2560x1600 @ 30" = 100 ppi, dell 30" ultrasharp monitor
1920x1080 @ 5" = 440 ppi, typical 5" 1080p android phone
1280x720 @ 4" = 367 ppi, typical 4" 720p android phone
640x480 @ 32" = 25 ppi, typical 32" 480i crt tube television


There are two backlighting types. CCFL cold cathode fluorescent lamp and LED light emitting diode. in panels where the backlighting type is not noted they are usually ccfl. Led backlit panels are typically called out as led monitors.

CCFL backlighting uses a few lamps arranged across the back surface of the panel to produce light. In some cases there can be brighter zones than others.

LED backlighting can be arranged in either an edge lit or grid array pattern. Edge backlighting creates bright and dark zones similar to CCFL while grid based or zone backlighting allows individual areas to be dimmed which improves performance. Such backlighting also makes dynamic contrast much more useful. Led monitors are more power efficient than ccfl and can save you money on your power bill.

One bad thing to note about LED: on some cheap models a blue led is used with a yellow phosphor coating to imitate true white leds which are found on more expensive panels. This fake white led can lead to the whole panel having a slightly purple or blue tint. Normally this can be compensated for but is definitely a factor worth examining.

Below is an example of what local dimming (zone backlighting/grid backlighting) can do

Backlight bleed

Backlight bleed occurs when light is not blocked around the edge of the panel. This occurs from poor bezel to lcd screen fit.

Stuck or dead pixel
Further reading: Deadpixeltest

In some cases a pixel can be unresponsive. A dead pixel is one where the submatrix is always off resulting in a bright white spot (tn panels) or a dark black spot (other panels). A stuck pixel is where the pixel is always on displaying red, green or blue. Stuck pixels can sometimes disappear and there are several remedies. Dead pixels are unlikely to disappear.

Further Reading: Lagom,

In order to get the best possible performance a new monitor should be calibrated. This can often be done by using websites such as lagom but in professional settings a device set up for this provides greater accuracy.


A monitor bezel is the plastic framework around the screen. It is basically a cover for the framework and lcd panel underneath with a convenient place for control buttons to be mounted. In single display options this is usually not an issue however in multi monitor setups often it is desirable to have a thin bezel.

This is an example of what a normal bezel would look like in a multiple monitor setup. Note how the bezel detracts from the experience. Some people specifically buy products without a bezel or products which feature multiple panels without a bezel.

This is an example of a monitor with a similar viewing area but without the bezels in the way.

Further reading: Wikipedia

On panels with a slower response time ghosting can become an issue. Ghosting is basically motion blur due to poor response time in a panel.


Low response time monitor showing animation


High response time monitor showing animation (highly exaggerated for learning purposes)

Burn in

When a monitor is left on too long with a static image it can have the image burned into the panel. This was a big issue with older lcd panels and with plasma televisions in the past but I believe most issues with this have been corrected.

Screen coating

There are three main types of screen coatings.

▪ Matte Finish (No Coating)
▪ Glossy
▪ Anti Glare

Matte finishes have very low glare however colors look less vibrant They are good for areas with directional lighting. Glossy finishes make colors seem much more vibrant but are very reflective. This can cause eye strain from reflected lighting or annoyance with reflected objects. Suited for ambient lighting situations only. Anti glare finishes are designed to prevent glare completely. The problem is that looking through them can often seem like you are looking through a thin layer of sand which can cause eye strain for some due to trouble reading text.

Comparison of matte vs glossy

Not a perfect example but this is what an anti-glare coating can look like.

Dynamic and static contrast

Static contrast ratios are what a panel can display with a set backlight level. Dynamic contrast ratios dim and brighten the backlight to increase contrast values. It is very noticeable and some users disable dynamic contrast since it causes the backlight to brighten and dim very often

Viewing angle

This is the angle you can view a monitor at without any color distortion. The wider the viewing angle the less chance you will have of noticing any issues. TN panels are notably bad for viewing angles and can cause distortion from only a few degrees off center. Larger TN panels can even color distort in the corners when viewing from straight on.

An example comparing TN with IPS

What solution is best for me?
to be added soon!

"Broad sweeping changes" ey?
You'v got a whole new guide there ssdx! :lol:

Thank you Jaguar for making this a Sticky, never thought something I would make would end up being one :D.

Perhaps we could have a dual ownership sticky?
Because its apparent you know far more about the finer details display technologies than I do, while I have learnt about it from the angle of a system builder and what basic things to take into account when deciding on one.

What I'm thinking is I keep the top as is, which acts like I intended and explains the basics in a colloquial manner to a person who presumably doesn't know anything. Then underneath is your guide, which gets into the nitty gritty of monitor technology for those who really want to dig deep into this. That way we can both achieve what were aiming for here.
as the mythbusters would say... sounds plausible!

i still need to finish up some updates on my end as well. its supposed to rain this week so outdoor activities are likely moot so perhaps i'll be able to finish.
new content added....

-additional photos
-input lag
-aspect ratio

i still have quite a bit more detail to add....

once done though it should be a good source of information!
With regard to PPI, anything below 96 dpi is typically considered "visible" to most people. That's why a 17" monitor @ 1920 x 1080 (81.6 ppi) would be a poor choice at normal viewing distances.

Also motion blur is a subject that could use some fleshing out......two great articles on the topic and ways to reduce it here:


120 Hz Refresh rate w/o Lightboost


120 Hz Refresh rate w/ Lightboost

as far as what is visible that can easily vary from person to person depending on their eyesight. just as some people have an issue with 60hz and others do not. while true that there is a certain number of ppi that some people can recognize i'm not sure if it is 96. i've heard reports of upwards of 170ppi. in any case it doesnt matter as the user should look at some screens in person and then compare numbers to get a good feel for what that particular ppi looks like.

1920x1080p at 17" is not 81.6ppi. 1920x1080 hypotenuse is 2202.91 divided by 17" diagonal = 129.6ppi. perhaps you meant 27" which would be 81.6ppi.

it is your personal opinion that a 27" 1080p would be a poor choice. i am using a 40" which equates out to around 55ppi and i have zero trouble at all. honestly its a tradeoff: size for sharpness.

as far as motion blur is concerned... yes that is a subject that can be added.

lightboost is just a strobing backlight. i suppose it could be touched on though.

keep in mind that this guide is still in its infancy stage. while it is no doubt a good source of general information it is by no means complete (hence the huge bold text saying so before my guide). i do welcome comments such as those you gave me though. i'll have to keep it in mind when i have time to update this guide.


May 31, 2015
thanks for the info , its was a nice refresh since alot of these things you tend to forget after a while or if you dont use the info!!

as far as what is visible that can easily vary from person to person depending on their eyesight. just as some people have an issue with 60hz and others do not. while true that there is a certain number of ppi that some people can recognize i'm not sure if it is 96. i've heard reports of upwards of 170ppi. in any case it doesnt matter as the user should look at some screens in person and then compare numbers to get a good feel for what that particular ppi looks like.

1920x1080p at 17" is not 81.6ppi. 1920x1080 hypotenuse is 2202.91 divided by 17" diagonal = 129.6ppi. perhaps you meant 27" which would be 81.6ppi.

it is your personal opinion that a 27" 1080p would be a poor choice. i am using a 40" which equates out to around 55ppi and i have zero trouble at all. honestly its a tradeoff: size for sharpness.

as far as motion blur is concerned... yes that is a subject that can be added.

lightboost is just a strobing backlight. i suppose it could be touched on though.

keep in mind that this guide is still in its infancy stage. while it is no doubt a good source of general information it is by no means complete (hence the huge bold text saying so before my guide). i do welcome comments such as those you gave me though. i'll have to keep it in mind when i have time to update this guide.

1. I didn't just pull 96 outta nowhere.... Windows was in fact designed on 96 dpi for those very reasons as it was deemed the minimum value for text to be easily read and make text at normal screen viewing distances, look just like text on paper at normal paper viewing distances. A monitor guide that does not recognize this fact would be lacking.

Where does 96 DPI come from in Windows?

Most Windows systems are shipped with the display DPI set to 96 PPI. (I’ll use the term PPI in this blog entry as it more accurately reflects usage for computer screens while DPI is more common for print usage. Windows tends to use the DPI acronym.) This setting is sometimes also called “Normal Size” or “Small Fonts.” Where does this 96 value come from?

The decision was made to report the resolution of displays on Windows as about 1/3 greater than actual resolution. This roughly corresponds to the increased reading distance. So, for displays around 72 PPI, Windows would indicate 96 PPI

Compounding the problem of few pixels is the viewing distance of most displays. When reading a book or other piece of paper, the text is usually held at arms length distance. Computer monitors, on the other hand, tend to be farther away, somewhere around 1/3 the distance more than paper. The size of the text on your retina is impacted by the distance from the text. In order for the text to appear to be the same size, the text farther away must be larger.

There are both positive and negative aspects to this solution. On the positive side, it made text much more readable at equivalent point sizes on screen and paper. Eleven point text on Windows matched eight point on the Macintosh. It made it much easier for us to hint fonts for Windows as we realistically needed to only worry about 8 point (11 PPEm) and above. Users were able to look at and read the same sizes on print and screen.

Although screen PPI has remained fairly constant in the almost twenty years since this decision was made, there has been some marginal improvement. But, in this same timeframe, many, many applications have been written for Windows with 96 PPI. Unfortunately, many of these applications have made assumptions about the size of a pixel and many dialog boxes and web pages have been designed around 96 PPI. As newer displays have come along, some, especially laptops have higher pixel densities. Unfortunately if one adjusts for this by using PPIs besides 96, then there is a risk of some applications or web pages not working properly.

2. Most people don't have the opportunity to view screens in person as you are not going to find most monitors in local stores. Of course people see things differently but try using that as reasoning the next time you go to DMV. The fact is ***most** people, at the viewing distance that ***most*** people sit at, can see individual pixels at less than 96 dpi. Standards are based upon a standard deviation from the norm.

3. The ppi numbers are published data that is easily found and yes it was a typo since the subject at hand was obviously 27" monitors. And a screen can have different ppi vertically than horizontally

1920×1080 1080p 13.1 168.2
1920×1080 1080p 15.6 141.2
1920×1080 1080p 16.4 134.3
1920×1080 1080p 21.5 102.5
1920×1080 1080p 23.0 95.8
1920×1080 1080p 23.6 93.3
1920×1080 1080p 24.0 91.8
1920×1080 1080p 24.6 89.6
1920×1080 1080p 27.0 81.6

4. PC history and industry standards are certainly not "personal opinion". If you are not recognizing why Windows was based upon 96 ppi and the issue of text appearance and image graininess, then a significant factor affecting monitor selection would be missing from the guide. The "I am using a 40" which equates out to around 55ppi and i have zero trouble at all" statement is irrelevant in this context, as people ***normally*** don't sit at "normal PC viewing distances when viewing 40" screens.

This is very easy to demonstrate as large screen TVs are common in most households. Most viewing charts for recommended viewing distances set the optimal viewing distance of a 40" screen at > 5 feet. The **normal** viewing distance of a computer monitor is 14 - 24". Looking just now at a 36" wide TV, if I walk up to it, it looks like I am watching the TV thru a window insect screen. It's very easy to see individual pixels ..... a lot less hard than seeing the lines on this engineer's scale which is twice that at 60 lines per inch


The following article addresses the impact of display technologies on folks with vesticular disorders but does an excellent in explaining the technology as a basis for its recommendations

The smaller and closer the pixels are to one another, the more realistic and detailed the picture appears .... Screen size and viewing distance are factors that affect the brain’s ability to interpret specific resolutions without graininess or blurring. For example, the low-resolution picture in Figure 2 isn’t clear when seen at reading distance, but it resolves when viewed from far enough away for the brain to assemble the dots into a recognizable image...... This difference in viewing distance is the reason why computer monitors require higher resolution levels than televisions, and it is why most televisions used as computer monitors do not produce high quality images. The difference in resolution levels also affects how on-screen movement is represented.

If you look at page 3 in the article, the referenced picture is shown .... at ***normal*** viewing distances, the picture is all blurry; lean your head back and it looks normal.

At 27" the 1920x1080 resolution is getting a bit blocky looking due to the DPI of the screen -- 1920x1080 looks better on a 23 or 24" screen for 27" you'd need closer to 2560x1440 resolution for a crisp looking image -- what is the native resolution of the monitor ?

And you also have to remember that a 27" diagonal screen with 1920 pixels x 1080 pixels is going to have much larger pixels than a 23" diagonal screen with the same number of pixels -- so if you are fairly close to the screen you are going to see a lot more grain -- most 27" monitors would be 2560x1440 pixels so that the DPI would be the same as a 23 or 24" 1920x1080 screen.

Figure Ideally a PC monitor will use 96DPI (at least that was the old DPI standard years back) so a 1920x1080 screen would ideally be 20" x 11.25" (which is what my 23" diagonal monitor is !) where your monitor is 23.5"x13.2" or 81-82 DPI so you are using about 14 less pixels per inch of screen space or stretching what should be a 20x11.25" screen to 23.5x13.2" which is going to be a bit blocky.

Up to you and your budget. Personally, I think 1080p on a 27" screen would be to grainy. You can get the same resolution on a 5" smartphone now. 27" needs something higher than 1080p resolution to really enjoy it, IMO.
Not open for further replies.