We get asked a lot about monitors so we thought we would let you know our thoughts.
The first thing you'll want to figure out is what screen size suits your needs. Most computer monitors range from 19 to a whopping 34 inches, measured diagonally from corner to corner. Most people will be happy with a monitor in the 22-24 inch range. This screen size provides enough screen space for general productivity tasks and even light multitasking.
A 27-inch monitor offers 25% more space than a 24-inch monitor! That extra space can be helpful for photo/video editing, gaming, and multitasking. Go for a multi-monitor setup, and there is seriously nothing stopping you.
Be aware; however, prices rise dramatically for monitors above 27-inches. You might be better off considering using a TV to save some money. Just be aware that TV's typically provide fewer connectivity options. They also offer lower refresh rates, higher input lag, and less accurate colour representation.
While these limitations make TVs a poor choice for colour-sensitive work and competitive gaming, most people won't notice the difference. If you only use your computer to browse the web, work with documents/spreadsheets, and watch videos, using a TV instead of a monitor is a great way to maximize screen real estate inexpensively.
Now, let's take a look at those connectivity options. There are several different cables you can use to connect a monitor to a computer. It's essential to make sure your new monitor has ports that are compatible with those on your computer. While you can always get an adapter to make different connection types communicate, you shouldn't need one. Taking a moment to understand the different connection types will also simplify the process of setting up your monitor.
Most monitors today connect to your computer via an HDMI port, which is the same port you'll find on the back of your HDTV. HDMI carries both audio and video signals through a single cable. Virtually all HDMI ports and cables retain the same size and shape.
DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort
DisplayPort (DP) and Mini DisplayPort (mDP) both use the same, newer data transfer interface. The only real difference between the two is the size of their port. Much like HDMI, DisplayPort carries both video and audio over a single cable. And, like HDMI, there are a few versions of DisplayPort, with varying throughput.
The newest port you might find on a monitor is a USB-C port. Whereas both HDMI and DisplayPort are physical ports and interfaces for transferring information, USB-C is just a physical port. Depending on the device, the USB-C port might use DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0a (with an adapter), Thunderbolt 3, or USB 3.1 interfaces. USB-C offers the ability to transfer data and power via a single connection. Because of this, it has been used as the power cable for Android phones and Apple computers for years now. In the not too distant future, monitors and electronics, in general, will likely begin using USB-C as a universal connection.
Just the opposite of USB-C, Thunderbolt is an interface for transferring information that uses existing physical ports. The physical port used by Thunderbolt 1 and 2 was a mini DisplayPort, found mostly on Apple products. Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C port and is capable of transferring an incredible amount of data.
VGA (Video Graphics Array) and DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
If you're using an older computer, you may need a monitor with either a VGA or DVI input. These inputs were standard on computers for many years but have since been superseded with newer options. While no longer common, many monitors can still be found with DVI and VGA connectivity.