Computer monitor buying tips

Updated: 05/25/2017 by Computer Hope

Purchasing a computer monitor can be one of the most important pieces of hardware since it is what you are going to look at every day. A poor quality monitor can cause eye strain and a bad experience.


CRT - Today, one of the most commonly used technologies for computer monitors. CRT, or Cathode Ray Tube, is a technology much like what you will find on most TVs. CRT monitors are an affordable solution; however, they are bulky and very heavy.

Flat-panel and LCD - LCD, or Liquid Crystal Display, monitors are similar to what is found on portable computers. LCD monitors overall display much sharper of an image, are lighter and more space efficient; however, they are much more of an expensive solution for desktop displays.


When considering purchasing a monitor utilizing the CRT technology it is important to consider the following:

Dimensional Size Size can be one of the more important considerations when purchasing a computer monitor. Monitors are available in 15",17", 19", and 21." Like most things, larger is more expensive. The larger the screen, the more viewable space you have to work with. We recommend users that plan on utilizing their computer for more than one-two hours a day and have the available space purchase at least a 17" monitor. Users who plan on using the computer for graphic art or cad, we highly recommend utilize at least a 21" monitor. Finally, users with little space or plan on using the computer for word processing and e-mail may want to consider a 15" monitor.

Viewable Size - The viewable size of the monitor is an important consideration and can vary by manufacturer. The viewable size is the size of the viewable area and not the complete monitor.

Dot and stripe pitch

When purchasing a monitor, dot pitch or stripe pitch is an important consideration. Dot pitch measurement is found on most monitors and defines the amount of space (in millimeters) that separates two adjacent pixels that are the same color. The smaller the dot pitch, the sharper the image. We recommend that when purchasing a monitor the dot pitch be no bigger than 0.25.

stripe pitch is a measurement used with Trinitron or Diamondtron monitors and is a measurement (in millimeters) that separates two like-colored stripes. The lower the stripe pitch the higher the quality of image.

When looking at monitors you should only see a dot pitch measurement or a stripe pitch measurement. You should not see both of these measurements measuring the same monitor.

Finally, these two different measurements should not be a measurement comparison when deciding between two or more monitors, each technology is different.


Resolution is the maximum resolution of pixels capable of being shown horizontally x vertically. Be cautious when purchasing a monitor at any size that advertises a large resolution size such as 1,600 x 1,200 for a 15" monitor.

Some monitor manufacturers may allow for such high resolutions at a high cost but most users never need such resolutions. As the monitor increases in size, the image display will decrease; below is a listing of a usable resolution limit by the size of the monitor. These sizes can be debated but are the standard and most viewed resolutions.

15" 800 x 600 or 1,024 x 768
17" 1,280 x 1,024
19" 1,280 x 1024
21" - 1,600 x 1,200

Refresh rate

The refresh rate is a measurement of the number of times per second the screen is redrawn. This measurement is measured in hertz and it is recommended that a monitor have at least a refresh rate of 75 MHz at the resolution you want to run.


When purchasing a monitor, it is important to look at the available controls of that monitor. The controls allow for modification or adjustment of the viewable settings.

Price range

When purchasing a monitor, expect to pay much less than an LCD or flat-panel display. In addition, the larger the monitor, the more money it may cost. When purchasing a monitor, expect to pay the following by size.

15" display: $200 or less
17" display: $200 to $400
19" display: $400 to $1,000
21" display: $700 to $2,000

Ready to buy

Once you have reviewed the appropriate information and believe that you are ready to make a purchase of a new monitor, ensure that the source that you plan on purchasing the monitor from is a reputable source and you have reviewed our section on what to look out for when purchasing over the Internet.

Computer Hope is available to help with issues you may encounter during the purchase and installation of your monitor regardless if you purchase through us or another vendor.

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