Why You Should Upgrade Your Old Computer Monitor

A woman working on a desktop computer, with an open laptop next to it. Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

Monitor technology has advanced considerably in recent years. If you focused on replacement of other components, you may have been waiting for a long time for a monitor upgrade. Here’s what you missed!

IPS monitors finally reach a latency of 1 ms

Previously, if you wanted a very low latency monitor, you had to buy a TN panel. Most monitors are available in one of three types of display panels: TN, IPS and VA. Each type had advantages and disadvantages.

TN panels were favored for their one millisecond ultra-low response time. This creates very little noticeable lag between the keyboard and the screen, which reduces ghosting and motion blur. The only problem is that TN panels have terrible viewing angles and less than ideal color reproduction.

IPS panels addressed these two issues. In addition to having a better contrast ratio than most TN panels (which means deeper blacks in real terms), they have much better viewing angles. The only problem is that, until recently, IPS panels could only handle latency of 4 milliseconds or more.

The LG UltraGear game monitor.LG

Everything changed in June 2019, when LG announced a new range of “Nano IPS” screens at E3. They are the first IPS panels in the world with a latency of 1 millisecond. This means that players no longer have to sacrifice color reproduction or viewing angles if they want a high performance monitor.

Currently, you can buy two Nano IPS monitors from LG: the high-end 38 inch UltraGear 21: 9 curve 144 Hz for $ 1,799, or the most user-friendly UltraGear 27: 16: 9 144 Hz for $ 499.

RELATED: TN vs IPS vs VA: What is the best billboard technology?

Refresh rates hit the roof

The refresh rate is the number of times a monitor refreshes per second. A refresh rate of 60 Hz means that the monitor updates the display 60 times per second. While 60 Hz is ideal for general computer use, monitors with higher refresh rates are more common than ever.

Only a few years ago, 144 Hz were the standard players were hunting. Now 240 Hz is not uncommon, and some monitors even extend to 280 Hz. When paired with a sufficiently powerful PC, a high refresh rate monitor can transform your entire gaming experience.

Two 144 Hz NewSync refresh rate monitors.NewSync

Smoothness is the name of the game. If you go from 60 to 240 Hz, your new monitor will update four times more often than the old one. This is something that you will notice in almost everything you do on your machine, from moving the cursor and scrolling through web pages to games.

Is it a necessity? Is it a good thing to have? Yes. Can you revert to a model with a slower refresh rate? Probably not. Monitors with a high refresh rate are most often sold to players and, in particular, competitive players who will jump to any possible advantage.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Cheap TN monitors have some of the highest refresh rates on the market, to the detriment of color reproduction and viewing angles. If you are spending more on an IPS panel, make sure the latency is as low as possible (ideally, 1 millisecond) to avoid ghosting or motion blur.

Replace two monitors with one Ultrawide

Generally speaking, an ultra wide monitor is any computer screen with an aspect ratio of 21: 9. For context, traditional wide screens have an aspect ratio of 16: 9, while that the iPad has the old CRT television standard of 4: 3.

Thanks to their additional width, an ultra wide monitor can be a suitable replacement for two “standard” monitors. Because you will lose the bezel in the middle of the screen, the experience could be more immersive thanks to the curved design.

Ultrawide monitors have never been so popular or affordable, thanks to lower production costs. You can take a decent 21: 9 ultra wide, like the Acer XR342CK 34 inch 1440p 100 Hz, for less than $ 700 to date. You can save even more money if you don’t care about things like ultra-low latency.

21: 9 may just not be wide enough for you. Maybe you want to replace three standard monitors and you have money to splash. In this case, try a super-ultra wide 32: 9, like the 49 inch 49WL95C-W from LG, which can be yours for just under $ 1,500 at the time of writing.

The LG 32: 9 Super-Ultrawide 49 inch 49WL95C-W monitor.LG

Samsung, Dell, ASUS and other manufacturers have all entered the ultra-wide space in the past year. These larger-than-usual monitors tend to sacrifice high refresh rates and ultra-low latency in favor of screen space, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a game monitor.

If you opt for the ultra wide track, there is one more thing to remember, and that is the office space. If you are going to use the stand that came with the monitor, you need a desk that is very wide and deep. However, a simple way around this problem is to place your monitor on a VESA stand, which should also reduce monitor shake (and, yes, these things do shake).

The price of 4K monitors has dropped significantly

If you want a big screen, 4K is the way to go. Not only do you get higher resolution, which means more screen space, but you can also push the monitor size to 27 or 32 inches without sacrificing image quality. With a higher pixel density, the display will be sharp and individual pixels will be difficult to see.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to go 4K, as long as you’re ready to make some sacrifices. At the end of the budget, you anticipate a response time of approximately 5 milliseconds and refresh rates of 60 Hz. For example, the economy brand Monoprice sells a 27-inch 4K HDR400 certified display for less than $ 400 to date.

27-inch Crystalpro IPS 4K monitor.Monoprice

Buying on a budget means there are all kinds of other things to watch out for, including color accuracy. If you are using the monitor for serious color work, such as photo editing, video color grading, or illustrations, you should calibrate your monitor with a color calibration device, anyway.

If you spend a little more, check out something like LG 27UK850, a 4K screen certified HDR10. It even uses a modern USB-C connector. For around $ 500, you will get higher brightness, greater color accuracy and tighter quality control than some of the other cheaper brands.

Keep in mind that even the best 4K monitors always compromise compared to the 1080p and 1440p models. Take the Acer Predator X27, for example; this $ 1,800 monitor has a response time of 4 milliseconds with a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

FreeSync and G-Sync are everywhere now

FreeSync and G-Sync are two similar technologies that reduce screen tearing. “Screen tearing” refers to unsightly horizontal lines that appear on a screen when the refresh rate is not synchronized with the computer. When refresh rate adapts on the fly, this is no longer a problem because the screen and the computer will be synchronized.

Despite similar objectives, the two technologies are implemented differently. G-Sync is proprietary technology, which means it is owned and closely monitored by NVIDIA. It is implemented with a dedicated hardware chip in the monitor, which lightens the graphics processor.

NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync logos.

FreeSync, on the other hand, is AMD’s open technology. He doesn’t use a chip. Instead, it relies on a technology called Adaptive Sync built into the DisplayPort standard. It also requires more effort on the GPU side than G-Sync. You must also use DisplayPort (not HDMI) to enjoy it.

More and more monitors are using FreeSync because it is easier to implement and there is no NVIDIA fee to pay. However, FreeSync can cause ghosting on some models (this problem is rarely seen on G-Sync monitors). However, both implementations significantly reduce screen tearing, and they represent a huge improvement over the outdated V-Sync.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll probably want a FreeSync or G-Sync certified monitor. The good news is that technology is making its way into a huge range of models, at all prices. If you are on a budget, you are definitely looking at a FreeSync monitor. If you have more to spend, you will get better performance with a G-Sync monitor.

RELATED: Explanation of G-Sync and FreeSync: variable refresh rates for games

Is it worth an upgrade? Yes!

The upgrade is much more than just increasing raw power. Sometimes you have to spend money outside of the deal. A new monitor can reinvigorate your entire configuration and make you more productive. It also offers a much more immersive experience, whether you’re playing games, editing photos, or just browsing the web.

RELATED: The five best PC upgrades to improve performance

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