With all the recent innovations in technology, you may wonder, do you really need a monitor for a PC?
Let’s take a look at everything to know about PC monitors and whether you need one or not.
Do You Need A Monitor For A PC?
Yes, you do need an electronic visual display for a PC, typically a monitor.
However, other options can be used as well.
The choice of an electronic visual display depends upon your particular needs.
What Is An Electronic Visual Display?
An electronic visual display, commonly called a screen, is a device that takes data transmitted from the PC and turns it into a visual form such as an image, text, or video.
A screen can be a peripheral device, like a monitor, or integrated into the computer, such as a laptop or smartphone screen.
A screen receives information from the PC through a data cable which triggers electrical signals to display the image.
Common Electronic Visual Displays For A PC
When choosing an electronic visual display or screen for a PC, there are a few common options, each with its own unique qualities.
- Monitor: A monitor is an electronic visual display device that receives information from the graphics card in a PC via a connection, most commonly a cable. Monitors may or may not be equipped with speakers for sound production. They are designed to interact efficiently with PCs and provide low input lag, high refresh rates, and a high number of pixels.
- TV: Most TVs can be used as a viewing device for PCs. A television can be connected to the PC using a compatible cord such as an HDMI cord. TVs come in a wide range of sizes and can be significantly larger than monitors which may be desirable for come PC users. However, a TV can be prone to ghosting, reduced image quality, or input lag. This may be a factor in display choice, especially for PC gamers.
- Projector: Projectors are electronic display devices that receive input and project the corresponding image onto a surface. Projection of the image can be achieved with light shining through a transparent lens or using lasers. A projector can increase or decrease the size of the projected image, allowing for greater viewing flexibility. They do have a slower input response time and lower image quality as compared to monitors or TVs.
- VR Headset: Virtual reality or VR headsets can be used in conjunction with a PC as an electronic visual display device. However, VR headsets are not currently designed for direct connection to PCs and require specialized software to be compatible. Also, a primary display device like a monitor is still required. The VR headset can mirror the monitor display to provide an immersive PC experience. Such headsets are capable of multiple monitor connections at once and their portable size can be useful. The drawbacks of using a VR headset as a PC display include significantly reduced image quality, physical discomfort, and inability to see the mouse and keyboard. Also, a VR headset requires a powerful PC to run the compatibility software smoothly.
Factors Affecting Screen Choice
When deciding which electronic visual display device you want for your PC, there are numerous factors to take into consideration in order to find a screen that fits your unique needs.
The primary use of the PC will also play a major role in screen choice.
Users who use their PCs for standard home use may not require advanced display technology while those who primarily use their PCs for more demanding tasks such as gaming may need highly advanced display solutions.
1. Screen size
Screen size is the measure of the screen diagonally from corner to corner.
When considering screen size, take into consideration the placement of the intended screen.
Larger screens such as TVs are typically designed for viewing from a greater distance than monitors.
If you intend to place your screen on a wall or at a distance, a larger screen may be more effective.
At close range, however, larger screens can look blurry and can also cause eye strain.
Also, when using a larger screen at close range, you will have to physically shift your entire head to view certain parts of the screen rather than being able to use peripheral vision to see all parts of the display.
The display on a screen is made up of tiny bits of information called pixels, short for picture elements.
Pixels are placed next to each other vertically and horizontally to compose an image.
They are just like the individual dots in a pointillist painting which are placed close together to create an image when viewed from a distance.
The resolution of a screen is the number of pixels horizontally and vertically.
The higher the resolution, the more an image can be reduced into individual pixels, resulting in sharper images.
When comparing two screens of the same size, a screen with a higher resolution will have a clearer image than one with a lower resolution.
To compare resolution, compare screens of the same size.
Comparing different-sized screens based on resolution alone can be misleading.
3. Pixel Density
Pixel density is the number of pixels per square inch and is annotated as the PPI, or pixels per square inch.
The pixel density is determined by the screen resolution and screen size. Two screens of the same size but with different resolutions will have different pixel densities.
In this case, the screen with the higher PPI will produce a sharper image than the screen with the lower PPI.
Like resolution, compare screens of the same size when evaluating pixel density.
The effect of pixel density can vary significantly when the intended viewing distance from the screen is taken into consideration.
4. Input Lag
While there is no technical standard for input lag, it is generally considered to be the time it takes for the information sent from the computer’s graphics card to be shown on the display.
Input lag may be affected by scaling chips in displays such as TVs.
A scaling chip is used to transform lower resolution images to higher resolution images.
The scaling chip in the display can increase input lag by adding processes between the transmission of data from the graphics card to the display.
More processes mean more time before the image is displayed.
For standard users, input lag may not have a significant effect on use, but for high-speed actions such as gaming, input lag can create a tangible effect.
5. Response Time
Response time is calculated by measuring the amount of time a pixel takes to go from one color to another and back again.
Response time is measured by either the BTW (black-to-white) or the GTG (gray-to-gray) and is measured in milliseconds.
BTW response times are slower than GTG response times because BTW rates measure the time it takes for a pixel to go from fully off, or black to fully on, or white and back to off.
GTG measured displays, however, do not completely turn their pixels on and off but live in a world of gradation which reduces the amount of time it takes to change back and forth.
Different display types use different response time measurements depending on their primary intended purpose.
GTG is often used for gaming monitors where response time takes precedence over image brightness while TVs typically use BTW to achieve higher contrast and brightness.
6. Refresh Rate
The refresh rate is the number of times the display updates an image in a second and is measured in Hertz (Hz).
Think of a picture flipbook.
As you flip pages, the image moves.
The more quickly you can flip the pages, the quicker and smoother the image will move.
A display with a refresh rate of 144 Hz is able to show 144 updated images in a second which is far superior to a display with a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
7. Frame Rate Of Your PC
The frame rate is the number of images the CPU and GPU can produce in a second and is denoted as frames per second or fps.
The frame rate of your PC is not affected by the refresh rate of your display but can be limited by it.
Likewise, the refresh rate of your display is not dependent on the frame rate but can be limited by it.
A display with a higher refresh rate than the frame rate will not perform optimally and vice versa.
Monitor Panel Types
A monitor consists of three distinct parts: the panel, the stand, and the cable.
The panel is the screen of the device.
There are three different display technologies that modern LCD monitors use: twisted nematic, in-plane switching, and vertical alignment.
1. Twisted Nematic
Twisted nematic or TN panels function by twisting the polarized liquid crystal molecules between two panes of polarized glass 90 degrees to let light through and produce color.
TN panels were the first type of LCD panel developed.
- Cheap: TN panels are cheap to produce resulting in a lower cost to the consumer.
- Low input lag: Due to the twisted nature of image production, it takes less time for the screen to process electrical signals resulting in lower input lag.
- High refresh rate: For the same reasons as low input lag, the TN panels can handle a high refresh rate, often up to 240 Hz.
- Low power consumption: Very little voltage is needed to power a TN panel, which means less power consumption and reduced electric bills.
- Visibility in bright light: TN panels can be designed for use in very bright light situations, such as outdoors.
- Color accuracy: The color accuracy on TN panels is not as accurate as other types of panels. This is due to the way the panel produces the image, and most cannot offer a 24-bit color representation.
- Limited viewing angle: TN panels are designed to offer optimized viewing from a specific angle, with other angles becoming less clear and some angles being completely unusable.
- Contrast: The contrast the TN panel can offer also suffers due to the technology behind the image production.
2. In-Plane Switching
In-plane switching or IPS panel’s liquid crystals are oriented parallel to the polarized glass.
To produce an image, the liquid crystals rotate to let light through.
IPS panels are the most common panels on the market today.
- Viewing angle: The alignment of the liquid crystals in the IPS panel results in a wide range of viewing angles. The image can be seen sharply with color accuracy from almost any angle.
- Color accuracy: IPS panels offer the most accurate color representation of the three panel types. Some IPS monitors even add an extra layer to the LCD stack to improve color representation.
- Black and grey uniformity: Black and grey uniformity is the ability of the monitor to produce the same black or grey tone throughout the entire display. The black and grey uniformity of the IPS panel, while not completely accurate, is highly superior to TN panels.
- High refresh rate: IPS panels have made strides in their capabilities for high refresh rates and are now able to compete with TN panels in that department.
- High price: IPS panels are still relatively expensive to purchase.
- “IPS glow”: IPS glow is produced at extreme viewing angles when the backlight can be seen through the display. This can be a detraction for some users.
- Brightness: While it may seem that the brightness of a display is a positive quality, it can also be a drawback when the display is used in a dark setting. The brightness may be too extreme for viewing comfort.
3. Vertical Alignment
Vertical alignment or VA panels align the liquid crystals vertically between the polarized panes of glass to produce an image.
This alignment results in liquid crystals which do not tilt and provide better light blockage for truer black production and higher contrast.
- High contrast: Due to the vertical nature of the crystals in the VA panel, the light can be blocked more efficiently, resulting in much higher contrast levels.
- Black and grey uniformity: The VA panel can produce almost perfect black and grey uniformity, highly superior to the TN panel and a notch above the IPS panel.
- Color Accuracy: VA panels can produce relatively accurate colors. They do fall just short of IPS panels but are significantly above TN panels in color reproduction.
- Viewing angle: VA panels also suffer from viewing angle issues. The ability to view the image from various horizontal and vertical angles, while better than the TN panel, is still not nearly as capable as the IPS monitor.
- Refresh rate: The VA panel has a lower capability for handling high refresh rates. This may cause lag or a ghosting effect in highly demanding situations.
- Input lag: The amount of time between data processing and image production with the VA panel is significant, resulting in higher input lag. Due to this input lag and the lower refresh rates of VA panels, they are not seen as often in gaming monitors which require superior response times.
- Price: The price of VA panel monitors is still high as compared to other panel technology like the TN panel.
LCD monitors rely on backlighting to produce images.
An LED monitor uses light-emitting diodes which do not need backlighting for image production.
This reduces the size and weight of the screen while also reducing power consumption.
LED monitors can produce the most accurate images for color reproduction and contrast and are well suited for graphic design and other uses which require high color accuracy.
These monitors, however, tend to be expensive and can suffer when exposed to temperature fluctuations.
Many monitors today are now using LED backlight technology in their LCD screens, combining the best of both screen offerings.
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