Choosing Monitor


Compusa (Systemax, Inc.)


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The monitor or screen of you computer is where you see what is going on. A revolution occurred in monitors a few years back with the introduction of reasonably priced LCD or TFT screens. Here are the things you need to know in order to buy a monitor.

Measuring the screen

Refresh rates



What size should I buy?


Measuring the Screen

Monitor screens are measured just like TV screens, diagonally. A 17" screen should measure 17" from the bottom left hand corner to the top right hand corner (and obviously from the top left to the bottom right too). Just like television screens though the manufacturer lie about the size of their screens. They give you the size of the tube before the casing is added on, so you may lose up to an inch the whole way round you screen. Check the small print to see what the visible screen size actually is.Also note that LCD(TFT) screens tend to be closer to the actual size than CRT screens. A 15" TFT may be close in size to a 17" CRT

17" Flat screen



Traditional CRT monitor.

Remember with a CRT monitor to check the depth of you monitor ie how far it stretches back. If you have limited desk space this may mean that a TFT is for you.

Refresh Rates

This is how often your screen updates the picture. The faster the refresh rate, the less flicker there is on the screen. You probably want at least 60 hertz (60 refreshes every second) or if you are particularly sensitive to flicker at least 85Hz.


The difference between a TFT and CRT in terms of quality is minimal, you probably won't be able to tell which will give you the better picture although a TFT is probably easier on the eye. So why spend the extra money (and they do cost significantly more) on a TFT screen. Well there is the fashion aspect of it, the TFT screens definitely look better. The TFT screens save on desk space as well and as as you could be easily using your monitor ten years after the rest of you PC is obsolete then perhaps a futuristic flat panel screen is just what you need. If you want to build a cheap computer with no particular penalties in quality then I would recommend going for a CRT monitor.


CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) is the old traditional style of monitor. This uses the technology used in most TVs technology that has served us well for around for 3/4 of a century.

TFT or LCD monitors (TFT or Liquid Crystal Display respectively) uses technology that has been around for many years too in the form of calculator and digital watch displays. With the advent of color, the increase in manufacturing yields and quality this is fast becoming the monitor of choice.

Dot Pitch - This is the distance between the pixels of you monitor. The smaller this number the clearer you picture will be and consequently the better the monitor. You want to be aiming for .28 or less.


What size should I buy?

I would recommend 17". 15" is just too small and you will regret it when you see what a nice size 17" is. The only justification is in terms of cost or the space you have available.

If you use a lot of graphics applications or have a lot of spare cash then 19" is the one for you. Obviously cost is also going to vary markedly depending on whether you choose CRT or TFT.




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