How To Choose The Right Monitor


As you decide what monitor you want, don’t forget the video card (sometimes called the graphics card) on your new computer.

There will be two options:

Less expensive computers will have “onboard ” video. This means the video is build right into the motherboard. To draw images on the monitor, onboard video will borrow memory from RAM, reducing the amount of memory available for running applications.

This is Part 5 in the How To Buy A New Computer Series

This is fine if all you do is surf the web and read email.

However, if you want to edit photos, watch movies (or even lots of You Tube), edit video, use drawing programs, play games – in short, if you want to do anything that is at all video intensive – onboard video will frustrate you.

The second, better option is a dedicated video card. These cards will have their own memory chips, ranging from 128 MB to 512 MB. If you use Photoshop, play video games, or edit movies, get the dedicated video card. It can add over $100.00 to the price of the computer, but it will be well worth it.


The video card will have color-coded plugs for attaching the monitor.

There will be at least one plug, and there may be up to three. Some video cards allow you to attach more than one monitor to your computer. Others allow you to attach either an analog or a digital monitor.

A blue plug is for an analog monitor. This monitor can be either a CRT (big, boxy, TV-like) or an LCD (sleek, flat screen) monitor. You must attach an analog monitor to an analog plug.

There may also be a larger, white plug on your video card. This is a DVI plug for a digital monitor. Just as TV is going digital, so too are computer monitors. Digital monitors will have crisper, clearer displays. You must attached a digital monitor to a digital plug.

Be sure you select a video card that will work with your monitor.


If your budget permits, get a stand alone video card with at least 256 MB of memory and a DVI plug.


If you spend much time at the computer, you’ll want the best monitor you can afford. Most monitors are now widescreen LCD, flat panel monitors – so that choice is easy.

However, just because a monitor is widescreen and flat panel does not mean it is digital. Digital monitors will all be labeled “digital,” and they will always have a white DVI plug. They will also cost more, but again, the extra expense will be a good investment. You’ll be able to use a new digital monitor for years to come. It will have a sharper picture and it will be easier on your eyes.

Computer monitor resolution is a tricky thing. A bigger monitor doesn’t mean a bigger picture.

Instead, the higher the resolution, the smaller the type. It’s like the difference between writing with a very sharp pencil and a Magic Marker. You can get a lot more words on the paper with a fine point, but they will be smaller and harder for some people to read. If you have poor eyesight, try going to a store where you can see different size monitors in action before you buy a 24? widescreen monitor with a 1920 x 1080 resolution.


19″ widescreen, digital, flat panel monitor