Compare the Best Small MonitorsMarch 2018(Last Updated 20 March 2018)
|The best monitors 20" or smaller, good for small desks or second screens|
|Compare top brands including Samsung, LG and Philips|
|Independent & impartial evaluation of every PC monitor based on features, reviews and price|
|To Find the Best PC Monitors We Impartially Analysed:||4,200 PC Monitor Models||146,000 PC Monitor Reviews||18,800 PC Monitor Prices|
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
PC Monitor Buying Guide
Finding the right PC monitor is easy if you know the basics about screen sizes, resolution and features. There are some great offers around and with newer technologies and higher resolution models becoming available, prices tend to drop significantly for well established models.
4K computer monitors offer an ultra-high resolution allowing for a huge amount of information to be displayed on the screen. Full HD screens in popular sizes between 19 and 24 inches are now very affordable and many retailers have time-limited deals available so it is always worth comparing prices to find a bargain.
Most computer monitors are from brands including BenQ, Asus, Dell, Hanns G, HP, LG and Samsung. Our buying guide will give you an overview of the specifications and features to look out for so you can buy your next computer screen with confidence.
Computer monitors come in sizes ranging from a tiny 7 inches to a huge 70 inches although sizes between 19 and 24 inches are most common.
For basic web browsing and simple tasks a monitor between 19-21 inches will be sufficient. If you need more space to display photos, watch movies sort have multiple documents open at the same time, a monitor between 22-24 inches will be a good choice for your home or office. Even larger displays in the 40 or 50 inch range can replace a multi-monitor setup and show a number of charts and documents simultaneously.
Most popular monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, making them ideal to watch movies and display documents side-by-side. Some monitors have a aspect ratio of 16:10. This gives slightly more space vertically but results in black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing 16:9 movies.
A monitor aspect ratio of 4:3 used to be the norm although this is now less common and widescreen monitors have established themselves as the new standard.
Full HD Monitors
Most monitors today have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which is the same as the resolution of Full HD LED TVs. This resolution allows you to play Full HD movies from Bluray and DVD at the best quality.
4K PC Monitors
Ultra high resolution monitors, also known as 4K monitors offer the highest display resolution on the market today. Combined with a large screen size, these UHD monitors offer a huge amount of display space to show a large amount of content at the same time. 4K monitors are ideal for productivity enthusiasts and usually have a native resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
Other Monitor Resolutions
Some monitors, usually with an aspect ratio of 16:10 and a display diagonal of 24 inches have a resolution of 1920 x 1200 also known as WUXGA, adding extra vertical pixels to accommodate the higher aspect ratio. Larger monitors, usually between 27 and 30 inches sometimes have a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.
Before buying a monitor, make sure you check the output resolution of your graphics card to ensure the monitor’s native resolution is supported.
Designed and the successor to DVI, Display is still a relatively new technology and not very commonly found on PC monitors. Display Port technology has been designed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) primarily to connect displays but it can also carry audio and USB data.
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the current standard to transfer digital images and sound through a single cable. HDMI became popular with widescreen monitors and the fact that it is widely used means you can also connect DVD or Bluray players, games consoles and set-top boxes directly to your monitor. HDMI sockets are most commonly found on laptops but it also possible to connect HDMI to DVI using an adaptor cable.
Most PC monitors have a DVI socket, which is usually coloured white. Depending on the type, DVI can carry digital signals only (DVI-D) or both digital and analogue signals (DVI-I).
VGA / D-Sub 15
Once the most widely used what to connect computers to monitors, the Video Graphics Array (VGA) socket can still be found on many monitors, although it is now being replaced by HDMI and Display Port. VGA is an analogue-only connection using a 15-pin connector, which is usually coloured blue. Laptops usually use mini-VGA ports instead of a full-size VGA connector.
The viewing angle is measured in degrees from the centre of the monitor and indicates how far you can move either vertically or horizontally for the picture to still be visible. If you are planning to use your computer monitor to watch films the horizontal viewing angle determines how far people can sit to either side of you and still have an enjoyable experience.
Matt & Glossy Screens
Glossy screens became popular as they tend to make colours appear more intense and the image might appear sharper. Glossy screens do have the downside that any nearly light sources or windows will create glare on the screen. If you use your PC monitor in a room where you are able to control the surrounding light, then a glossy screen can be a good choice. If you are working in an office or sit near a window and don’t want to close the blinds when the sun comes out, a matt screen will reduce reflections and glare and will be more comfortable to work with.
A fast response time is particularly important when using the PC monitor to play games or watch fast moving sports as it prevents blur and keeps the image crisp. The response time measures how long it takes for a pixels to change it’s colour and brightness. A good monitor will have a response time of 2ms (milliseconds or 1/1000th of a second), while more affordable screen will have a slower response time of around 6-8ms.
Contrast Ratio, Black Levels & OLED Computer Monitors
Contrast ratio describes the difference between the brightest and darkest pixels the computer screen is able to display. Since some of the backlight will always shine through the screen on an LCD display, true blacks are impossible to achieve and you will at best see a very dark grey. To achieve true black which would result in an infinite contrast ratio, we will have to wait for OLED PC monitors to come to market. OLED TVs are already available and it will probably only be a matter of time until we see ultra-thin and even bendable OLED computer monitors.
Have a look at this amazing transparent OLED laptop screen from Samsung - a good indication of what is about to come in the future!
Integrated webcams are a common feature and help to reduce the number of cables on your desk. You can make Skype calls or use Google Hangouts without having to connect an external webcam. Keep in mind though, that built-in webcams tend to have an inferior picture quality compared to high quality external webcams.
Some monitors have integrated UDB 3.0 ports making it easy to connect a computer mouse, keyboard or a digital camera to download photos. This is handy if the number of USB ports on your computer is limited or you keep your computer below your desk where it is harder to reach.
Some PC monitors have a built-in Freeview tuner, which allows you to receive and watch TV programmes on the monitor, even when it is not connected to a computer. Monitors with build-in tuners tend to be more expensive but this can be a good option if your space is limited and you want your monitor to double-up as a TV. Alternatively, you could buy a TV tuner card for your computer. The picture-in-picture function on some monitors lets you watch TV while also displaying you PC desktop at the same time.
A few computer monitor have built in speakers. Monitors with built-in TV tuners always have speakers. This can be convenient if you don’t want to buy additional computer speakers but keep in mind that built-in speakers are usually small and don’t have a lot of power. If sound quality is important, it will be a better choice to invest in some good quality external speakers.
The Video Electronics Standards Association has defined a standard called the Flat Display Mounting Interface (FDMI), also known as VESA Mounting Interface Standard (MIS) or simply ‘VESA mount”, which allows flat panel displays including TVs and monitors to be mounted to stands and wall mounts using the same interface. If you are planning not to use the monitor’s stand but mount it, look out for compatibility with VESA mounts.
Depending on where you want to position the monitor, it will be an advantage to make adjustments to the monitor’s placement quickly. Look for a monitor that’s height adjustable unless you are planning to use an adjustable monitor stand. Some monitors also have tilt adjustments and a swivelling base to improve your set-up.