What Is The Perfect Size For A Computer Monitor?

Picking the right monitor for your PC is crucial; alongside your keyboard and mouse it's one of the pieces of computer hardware you use every day, but it's also one of the most neglected purchases. You don't have to spend a lot to get a good quality monitor, but how do you pick the right size to look for?

Most computer users sit around half to one metre away from their screens, and according to generally accepted practice, you want a monitor with a diagonal viewing size around two thirds of the distance you're viewing at. So, if you're sitting a metre back from your viewing area, your PC's monitor should be around the 27-inch point, and incrementally smaller the closer that you're sitting.

Obviously, as you'd expect, LCD and LED computer monitors become more expensive as you move from 22-inch and smaller screen sizes up into the mainstream 24- to 26-inch, and larger 27- to 29-inch sizes. You can buy even larger 30-, 32-inch and larger monitors, although they're usually just TVs masquerading as PC displays. From my experience, though, you're better off sitting slightly closer than suggested to your workspace, and buying a 24-inch monitor.

In the same way that a 55-inch TV is the perfect purchase for its compromise of screen size against price, 24-inch Full HD monitors are at the point where they're getting properly cheap for the kind of excellent quality you're getting. Even a top-of-the-line monitor like the Dell U2413, which I'm using at the moment, is a bargain when you consider how long you're going to use it.

Even when it's not on sale, the Dell U2413 is only $749. It's a slightly higher than Full HD 1920x1200pixel 16:10 ratio display engineered for colour accuracy, with an antiglare coating, HDMI, DisplayPort and four USB 3.0 host ports. Its LED backlight won't go dim over time, so you can use it for years to come. It is, for my money, the best monitor on the market at the moment for the widest possible audience. You can buy a 24-inch monitor for as little as $180 on the street, while an only-slightly-larger 27-inch is at least $70 more. When you're looking at the higher end of things, expect to pay over $1000 for those extra three inches of viewable screen space. For most buyers, it just isn't worth it.

Even if you do decide to get a larger 27-inch panel, you shouldn't go larger unless you have a very good reason. Here's why buying a massive 32-inch monitor isn't as great an idea as it sounds. Firstly, for most users sitting within a normal viewing distance, they're too big, and sitting too close to a large screen can strain your eyes, not to mention your neck as you're moving it around constantly to focus on the edges of the display.

Secondly, unless you're spending an insane amount of money, you'll actually be buying a monitor with a lower resolution than a smaller 27-inch display — probably 1080p instead of 1440p — and you won't get as high a pixel density. Finally, a TV-as-a-monitor at that screen size will probably be chock-full of Smart TV features and image processing tweaks, all of which clog up the pipeline between PC and pixels, introducing unwanted lag into your viewing or gaming experience. [Lifehacker]

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