The days of the big and bulky CRT monitors that were once a hallmark of desktop computers are long gone. They've been replaced by slim high-resolution screens which, just like TVs, are available in ever-increasing size.
Whether you want a 27-, 29- or 34-inch monitor – or maybe something even bigger – you're spoiled for choice. With prices ranging from $250 up to $2,000, you'll need to compare image quality, screen sizes, aspect ratios, ergonomics and more before you buy.
Keep reading to find out how to choose the best large computer monitor for your needs.
Compare some of the best large computer monitors
Data obtained January 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
What is a large computer monitor?
In the world of computer monitors, a large monitor is typically 27 inches (measured diagonally) or bigger.
There are many monitors available measuring 30 inches and above, and some top-end gaming monitors push up towards the 50-inch mark. For example, check out our review of the 49-inch Samsung CHG90 QLED.
Pros and cons
There are several reasons why bigger is better:
Better viewing. Whether you're streaming a movie or sharing photos, chances are you spend a large portion of each day staring at your computer monitor. A good-quality large monitor can offer a much more detailed and user-friendly viewing experience than that five-year-old model currently on your desk.
More work space. An ultra-wide screen allows you to easily look at documents side by side and view large spreadsheets without continually having to scroll back and forth. If you're a creative type, a large monitor gives graphic designers, photographers and multimedia professionals the high resolution and screen space they need to accurately display and edit images.
Immersive viewing and gaming. With a large monitor, your PC can double as a home entertainment centre where you can stream movies and TV shows. It also offers a much more immersive and involved experience for gamers.
There are two main drawbacks of large computer monitors:
Cost. While high-quality monitors are a lot more affordable than you might think, the larger you go, the more you'll need to spend. And when you can pick up a no-frills 24-inch model for less than $200, you might decide that a smaller monitor is all you need.
Space. They're a lot slimmer than those old CRT monitors, but a big widescreen monitor can still take up a lot of desk space. You'll need to make sure you've got sufficient room for a large monitor before handing over any cash.
Which large computer monitor is best for me?
The only way to answer this question is to ask yourself a few other questions. How big of a screen do you need? How much desk space do you have to work with? What will you be using the monitor for? How much are you prepared to spend?
The bottom line is that provided you have sufficient space, it's generally worth buying the biggest monitor your budget allows. Once you've spent any amount of time using a large monitor, going back to a smaller screen just doesn't cut it anymore.
Only after you've worked out these specifics will you be able to start comparing products to find the best large computer monitor for your needs.
What are my options?
One of the main ways to differentiate between big computer monitors is to take a closer look at the panel types they use. There are a few options available:
The vast majority of modern LCD monitors use LED technology and come in two standard types:
Twisted nematic (TN) panels are the most common because they're cheap and offer very fast response times. However, they have poor colour accuracy and limited viewing angles.
Vertical alignment (VA) panels offer more accurate colours, improved contrast ratios and better viewing angles than TN panels, but their response times are slower.
These anagrams respectively stand for in-plane switching and plane-to-line switching, two very similar types of technology designed to offer better colour accuracy and contrast, a much wider viewing angle and improved image quality. They're the most expensive option and have a slower response time – so they may not be suitable for gamers – but they are generally considered to be the best option.
OLED monitors offering better contrast ratios and faster response times are also starting to emerge. However, as they're not widely available and still prohibitively expensive, OLED is not yet a viable option.
The first step in choosing a computer monitor is to consider your budget. Entry-level 27-inch monitors start at around $250. From there, prices increase in line with screen size and any other special features, such as a curved monitor and 4K resolution. Top-spec gaming monitors can cost as much as $2,000.
Next, compare screen size, image quality, resolution and ease of use before deciding which large computer monitor to buy. Make sure you consider the following essential factors:
Most large monitors sit within the 27- to 34-inch range, but there is a small selection of models that offer screens of 40 inches or more.
You'll also need to consider the amount of desk space you have to work with before deciding on the right size.
Resolution is the number of pixels on a screen. The higher the pixel count, the better the detail – but make sure you're comparing screens of the same size.
1920 x 1080, also known as 1090p or Full HD, is the minimum you'll need, but a higher resolution is usually recommended for large monitors. 4K (3,840 x 2,160) is currently the most popular choice and prices of 4K monitors have come down substantially in recent years.
2560 × 1440 (1440p or 2k) monitors are also available but not as common. Some monitors offer 5K resolution, but there are only a small number of these available at the moment.
Of course, you'll need to check that your computer has the necessary hardware to drive your high-resolution monitor, so check the specs of your graphics card before you buy.
Aspect ratio is the width of the screen compared to its height. 16:9 is the most common ratio and the best choice for most buyers, while 16:10 provides a little more vertical work space for those who might want to look at multiple documents or images on screen at the same time.
Some ultra-widescreen monitors stretch to a ratio of 21:9, offering a smoother and more practical arrangement than a dual-monitor set-up. Ultra-widescreen models are generally more suited to gamers, movie buffs or content creation professionals.
This is the difference between how black and how white a monitor can get. A high contrast ratio is good news, but be aware that there's no uniform way for measuring this across different manufacturers. Instead of taking the specs sheet as gospel, trust your eyes instead.
Many super-widescreen models are curved in an effort to complement your eyeballs and offer a more natural viewing experience. They're designed to improve viewing angles and make gaming and movies more immersive, allowing you to use a wider display without having to sit too far back.
However, they're more expensive than flat screens, the widescreen ratio isn't for everyone and they also stick out from the wall more. Whether you choose a flat or curved monitor really comes down to personal preference.
The refresh rate refers to how often a monitor changes the image on screen, measured in hertz. The average monitor has a refresh rate of 60Hz, which means the display updates 60 times per second, while top-spec gaming monitors can increase this as far as 240Hz.
Additional features to consider:
The display's response time reflects how quickly a pixel can change from one colour to another and is measured in milliseconds. A slow response time can lead to blurry images, but this is more of a concern for gamers than everyday users.
If only one person at a time will be using your computer, viewing angle isn't a major concern. But if there'll be multiple people looking at the screen at once, for example to watch a Netflix movie, look for a viewing angle of more than 170 degrees.
If you run Windows 10, a touchscreen can be a handy addition to your PC – provided you'll be sitting within easy reach of your new monitor.
Can you easily set up the monitor at your desired viewing height? While entry-level monitors don't have an adjustable-height stand, many more expensive models do.
Make sure the monitor has all the right connector ports to allow you to hook it up to your PC tower and any other devices. Also check how easy all ports are to access when needed.
Some monitors come with built-in speakers to help save desk space. However, if sound quality is also a priority for you, you'll want to invest in a decent set of speakers.
Check the length of the manufacturer's warranty and exactly what situations it does and doesn't cover. Most monitors come with a warranty of between one and three years.
Tim Falk is a writer for Finder, writing across a diverse range of topics. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, Tim has reported on everything from travel and personal finance to pets and TV soap operas. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors.
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