How to buy the best Desktop PC
How to buy the best monitor
By Jack Turner
Article 2 of 3
A monitor is an essential purchase if you've bought a new desktop PC. We tell you what to look out for, and what to avoid.
If you’re buying a desktop PC, then you’ll also have to purchase a monitor to go with it. Modern monitors tend to be slim, power-efficient and crisply detailed, but there are various specs to contend with.
Monitors vary wildly in price, with the top end ‘8K’ models priced highly due to their super-detailed screens. But, you should be able to find a reasonably priced model if you know what you’re looking for.
For a simpler solution, consider an all-in-one PC. These combine the monitor and computer into one package, read our Best Buy reviews.
Does resolution matter?
Screen resolution is key when buying a monitor, and should be your primary concern. Anything that is less than Full High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) should be rejected, but you’re unlikely to find a modern day monitor with lower resolution.
Generally speaking, the higher the number of pixels, the sharper the image. If you’re using your desktop PC for mostly office tasks, Full HD will be more than enough, but if you’re doing a lot of graphics work, or playing games, you’ll notice a big difference by stepping up to a ‘4K’ or ‘ultra HD’ screen.
How far away you sit from the monitor is also key, as the closer you are, the more likely you’ll be to spot lower resolution. It’s also important to remember that if you choose a higher resolution, the objects on the screen (such as program icons) will become smaller. You can delve into the PC settings to increase their default sizes, however.
Key things to look for when buying a monitor
Check the stand - Can it be adjusted to suit your set up? Some can be raised or lowered, but not all, so you’ll need to make sure that it is suitable for your set up.
Ports - Some monitors have additional ports built-in, such as USB. This can be a great boon if your desktop PC is lacking in this department.
Connections - Check that the monitor you are looking at can be easily connected to your desktop PC. If the connections are different, you may need to buy an adapter (or just a different monitor).
Speakers - Some monitors will come with speakers built-in. Given that limited dimensions of a slim screen, these are unlikely to be as impressive as any bought separately, so consider budgeting for extra speakers if sound matters to you.
Touchscreen - If you’re running Windows 10, a touchscreen might be useful. Bear in mind the distance you sit from your monitor - if it’s further than an arm’s length, then a touchscreen will be awkward to use.
Using a TV - Monitors and TV’s are traditionally designed for watching in two different ways - one close up, the other from a distance. However, with the resolution of TVs improving significantly in recent years, it’s feasible to use a small TV as a monitor. Modern desktop PCs all have HDMI connections, so should work just fine connected to a TV.
Viewing Angle - If you’re sat directly on from your monitor, the viewing angle will be of little concern, but if you want to share what’s on the screen with others on a regular basis, look for a model with a wide viewing angle. If you’re looking at a monitor in store, move around it to see if the image darkens or becomes washed out when you’re not looking at it head on.