Choosing The Right Monitor For Your Computer, Part 2

Monitor Types

In our last blog, we discussed the different types of PC monitor connection types and which ones would work best for your computer setup. Whether you plan to build your own computer, upgrade an existing system, or rely on the technical expertise of a company like Magic Micro Computers to create a custom computer for you, it’s good to know the details of what parts will be going into your build and how they can affect your experience. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the various kinds of monitors and how they can benefit your new (or old) computer.

Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

Let’s get this one out of the way first. CRTs are almost impossible to find these days, due to the fact that they have been replaced — outside of specialty applications or use in certain industries — by newer, cheaper, and better monitor technology. CRT monitors are based on outdated tech invented in 1897 (the cathode ray tube, if you haven’t guessed by now) that was in steady use up until the introduction of commercially-viable LED screens in the late 1990s. Remember your parents’ first television? That big, bulky monstrosity that took up a sizeable chunk of space in your living room was a CRT device.

So why are we talking about CRTs if they’re so difficult to obtain? Some video game-playing

enthusiasts still rave fondly about the benefits of owning a CRT monitor. Though it’s admittedly a very short list, it’s worth noting for those of you who might find the benefits worth the time it will take to chase down a used CRT monitor:

  • Response time (the amount of time it takes new data to show up on the screen) in a CRT monitor is measured in picoseconds, which means the image change on a CRT is almost instantaneous. Compared to the 5-30 milliseconds it takes an image to switch over on an LED monitor, that’s pretty fast.

  • Color emulation in a CRT is superior to that of a standard LED monitor. Colors look more lifelike and consistent — for graphic designers and digital artists, this can be a big advantage.

  • With no native display resolution baked into a CRT monitor, they can handle multiple resolutions without distorting or blurring the details you see on the screen, as long as the resolution is between 800x600-1024x768.

As compelling as those benefits might be, CRTs have some major disadvantages, among them higher power consumption, limited display size, screen flicker, reduced brightness, and reduced image sharpness. They also weigh a ton compared to modern displays, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts for them after they break down. If you take all of these issues into consideration before plonking down the money for a CRT monitor, you may end up deciding on something else.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

The LCD monitor is like the older, wiser brother of the ubiquitous LED monitor we are all now so familiar with. Technically, they come from the same stock, but they have some genetic differences that make them stand apart from each other. LCD was born in 1968 out of an idea that liquid crystals could be used to transmit images to a screen — put those crystals between two thin layers of glass, manipulate them with electricity, and voilà, an image is produced! Its invention revolutionized consumer technology by removing the need for bulky equipment to house components, leading to things like clocks with no moving parts, electronic watches, and eventually flat-panel television and monitor screens.

LCDs are still around and still being used by consumers. Although LCDs and LEDs use the same essential tech, there are some differences worth mentioning. Among them:

  • LCD monitors use fluorescent lighting to brighten and darken the image from directly behind the screen. This results in less control over brightness and contrast for the user, but it can prevent strain and possible damage to a user’s eyes during long sessions.

  • “Burn-in” when an image on the display is permanently burned into the screen due to image inactivity, is less likely to happen with an LCD monitor.

  • LCDs have a higher energy consumption rate compared to LEDs.

  • Viewing angle is a concern with LCDs; if you plan on playing a lot of co-op games on your monitor, then LED is a much better choice.

  • Screen response time is subpar in an LCD monitor. If you’re a fan of first-person shooters or other quick-moving video games, you might want to look elsewhere.

  • LCD monitors cost significantly less than their LED brethren.

LED (Light-Emitting Diode)

As noted above, LED and LCD monitors originate from the same technological breakthrough. However, LEDs come with a noticeable upgrade — instead of using fluorescent lighting to enhance and brighten an image, they use a series of miniature diodes placed behind the screen to do the same thing with more efficiency. The results are a thinner monitor, less power consumption, and more vibrant contrast, shading, and color. In addition, light-emitting diodes allow for a better viewing angle, produce less heat, and are more environmentally friendly.

The only real downside to an LED monitor is the price — expect to pay significantly more than you normally would for a comparably-sized LCD monitor.

TFT (Thin Film Transistor)

Another variant of the trusty LCD is the Thin Film Transistor monitor (also called an active-matrix LCD). It operates by using a thin layer of transistors located on the back of the screen to manipulate pixels in order to create an image. Information from the computer or video source is updated row-by-row, as opposed to frame-by-frame for a regular LCD. The result is an image that can be refreshed in massive chunks, meaning a faster screen response time for the viewer.

TFT monitors are readily available these days. In fact, they can often be found alongside LED monitors in retail stores. Because of their advanced technology and quicker response time, they tend to be more expensive than standard LEDs, but that hasn’t stopped many PC enthusiasts from being won over completely by the them.

If you’re looking for a monitor for that offers fine support for quick-response video gaming along with a decent range of capabilities and features, you can’t go wrong with a TFT.

OLED (Organic LED)

Yet another LED/LCD offshoot, organic LED monitors use a layer of organic molecules that emit light when electricity is applied to them. This light helps forms the image you see on the screen.

Since Organic LEDs implement light-emitting molecules to form a picture, there’s no need for a secondary light source such as the diodes you find in a basic LED monitor. Essentially, each pixel on the screen is illuminated independently and provides its own light. What does this mean for the viewer?

  • Superior contrast compared to other monitor types.

  • Superior viewing angle compared to other monitor types.

  • Backlight bleeding — when extra light leaks through the front of the screen and forms bright spots or edges — is nonexistent.

  • Theoretically superior refresh rate, though currently only on par with high-end LED monitors.

  • Remarkably clear and precise image detail

  • Excellent HDR (High Dynamic Range) support — great for 4K movies and games.

  • Future-proof technology, with some OLEDs able to support 8K resolution.

The downside to an OLED monitor? The price, and boy, is it steep. Current OLED monitors in the market can cost three to four times more than a standard LED monitor of comparable size. If you’re planning on buying one for your rig, be prepared to pay a hefty premium.

Which Monitor Type Is Right For You?

Now that we’ve gone through the different styles of PC monitors available for your setup, which one is going to work for your needs? Let’s summarize what we’ve seen so far:

  • Are you a graphic designer concerned about color consistency, or a gamer looking for the ultimate screen response time? Track down a CRT monitor.

  • Are you a regular joe who isn’t concerned about all the flashy stuff and just wants a reasonably-priced monitor that performs adequately? Get an LCD display.

  • Are you a gamer looking for relatively high-end performance, but are being held back by a limited budget? Go grab an LCD monitor.

  • Are you an enthusiast who is looking for the best in LED technology and aren’t concerned about spending “too much?” Pick up a TFT monitor.

  • Are you a movie lover or dedicated video gamer who wants nothing but the best for your rig and has plenty of cash to spare? Just do it, go for the OLED display.

Coming soon in Part 3 of this blog series, we’ll be discussing how PC monitor resolution and refresh rate can affect your overall experience in gaming, multimedia, and everyday use.

Let Magic Micro Computers Do All The Work For You

Instead of spending your precious time chasing down parts for a custom gaming computer or spending hours looking through dozens of do-it-yourself websites, why not letMagic Micro Computers, do it for you instead? With a large, customizable selection of pre-built PCs, includingdesktops,laptops, andgaming computers, you’re guaranteed to get a system that will take anything you can throw at it.

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