Need a 4K, ultrawide, G-Sync, 30Hz, TN, Quantum dot monitor? You most likely don’t, but it can be tricky to figure out what you actually need when searching for a monitor.
Even if you’ve got the perfect monitor, and you just want to know more about the tech, our guide is a great place to start your research.
- Resolution: The amount of pixels available to display an image on the monitor, traditionally measured in height and width.
- Size: The diagonal size, in inches, of the screen itself.
Refresh rate: How many times the monitor refreshes the image within one second. The standard is 60Hz, but it can be up to 240/480Hz.
- Response times: How quickly the pixels change to the new information given to them - low response times leads to ghosting and motion blur.
- IPS: In plane switching offers the best colours and excellent contrast levels too, but can suffer from weaker black reproduction. Originally made by LG, they own the IPS branding, which has meant Samsung, and latterly AU Optronics, have had to create their own IPS-like tech – branded Plane to Line Switching (PLS) and Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle (AHVA) respectively. But all three essentially offer the same thing.
- VA: Vertical Alignment is the next step up, and is actually quite an advance over, TN. You get much better colours and the viewing angles are excellent too. VA panels also generally offer the best black levels too, even over IPS screens.
- TN: Twisted Nematic panels are the cheapest, and most common, type of display tech and, for the most part, it shows. Monitors using TN suffer from poor viewing angles (leading to weird colouration if you’re not sat directly in front), poor colour reproduction across the board, and a general washed-out look. Some, however, prefer them because of their quicker refresh rates and response times. But they’re wrong.
- G-Sync: Nvidia's frame synchronising tech, which uses proprietary hardware to allow the monitor and GPU to sync up perfectly, only showing a new frame once the GPU has one ready in the buffer. Allows frames to be kept perfectly in sync regardless of the frame rate, but adds a premium onto monitors because of the extra Nvidia hardware module.
- FreeSync: AMD's non-hardware based version allows the monitor and GPU to sync up, again only showing a new frame once the GPU has one ready in the buffer. It links in with DisplayPort’s Adaptive Sync technology making it essentially free for monitor makers to add into their displays.
- sRGB: Colour space standard used by professionals.
- Adobe RGB: Colour space standard used by professionals.
- OLED: Organic light-emitting diodes are self-emissive meaning the panels don’t require any backlighting, which means they can be incredibly thin. That also means they can display almost totally black screens when on, which means that, despite not reaching the peak luminance of others, they have incredible contrast levels. They can also deliver very fast refresh and response times too. They’re also very difficult (read: expensive) to produce so there are very few manufacturers able to make them.
- LED LCD: The traditional liquid crystal display uses a backlight made of many little LEDs to shine through the crystals and project the image.
- Quantum dot: The quantum dot filter sits above the panel, widening the available colour gamut. Improves backlighting by removing need for white LED backlights - produces better colours, better contrast, higher brightness, and reduced power usage.
- Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio is the relation of width to height and is shown as 4:3 or 16:9 for standard or widescreen aspect ratios, and 21:9 for the ultrawide aspect ratio.
- Ultrawide: Denotes much wider aspect ratios using increased width, such as 32:9 and 21:9.