Monitor Buying Guide

Monitor Buying Guide

Gavin Male

Posted on 22/04/2024

Since the age of working from home dawned upon us at the beginning of the decade, the average Kiwi probably spends a lot of time in front of their computer. Choosing the right monitor (or screen) for your home or work office or entertainment suite is an important part of establishing a seamless setup.

However, there are so many monitors on the market and it can be tricky to know which one will be right for you. Our monitor buying guide is designed to help make that decision a little easier, by giving you more knowledge about the different kinds of monitors so you can make the most informed choice on your purchase. 

This monitor buying guide is sponsored by HP. It is a great time to take advantage of HP’s End of Financial Year sale! Make big savings on the new addition to your home office or work office! 

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Screen Size

Computer monitors can come in a variety of sizes, typically from 18 to 49 inches. 

20” or under: If you intend to just use Microsoft Office and similar programs and surf the internet, a smaller monitor such as 20 inches and under will suffice, and come at a lower price point. 

20” to 26”: Monitors 21” to 26” will also suit those looking for an all-rounder as they are great for multi-purpose use such as streaming, gaming, creating documents, and basic image processing. 

27’ or larger: It’s important to consider what you may be using your monitor for. If you plan to watch movies and play video games, a large monitor may be your best bet. Serious gamers and creative professionals may prefer to choose a monitor that is 27 inches and larger.  


Resolution is the amount of pixels the screen displays. It determines the clarity of images and the sharpness of fine lines and pigments. 

High Definition 720p: The lowest available resolution is generally found on monitors 20’ and under with the pixels typically measuring 1280 x 720. 

Full HD 1080p: These monitors have a resolution that is equivalent to 1080p wide TVs and is a great choice for everyday use, with the pixels measuring 1920 x 1080. 

Quad HD 1440: Commonly found on ultra-wide monitors, delivering crisp and clear imagery, which is ideal for graphic designers, video editors, and gamers. The pixels measure 2560 x 1440. 

Ultra HD: Often referred to as 4K, this delivers exceptional resolution of 2160p. Typical consumer displays are usually 3840 x 2160 and are an incredible tool for photo and video editors, gamers and movie watchers alike who seek an immersive experience. 

5K Ultrawide: This newer resolution offers unparalleled clarity with a 2160p resolution. This innovative monitor delivers clarity unlike its predecessors and is perfect for professional graphic artists and designers and video and photo editors. 


It’s important to have an understanding of the type of connection you need and the type that your monitor will require. You will be connecting your monitor to your PC or a laptop.

HDMI: The most common connection type that carries audio and video signals to the monitor display. 

DVI: Similar to HDMI, however, it doesn’t carry audio and tends to support a slight variation in resolution. 

DisplayPort: Considered the successor to HDMI and DVI, this technology has a higher bandwidth, delivering a clear picture for games and movies. It also transfers both audio and video information to the monitor. 

USB: Since the improvements of USB Type-C connection, these make for an ideal choice for those on the move who want a set up with more than one monitor for their laptop. 

Type of Panel

Twisted Nematic (TN): LCD panels are most common and use liquid crystals to show what’s on the screen. Liquid crystals use a backlight, or a reflector to release light and produce images, either in monochrome, or colour. TN monitors will work well for everyday use. However, they are not as good at producing quality colour. However, a pro to TN panels is their response times and high refresh rates.

Vertical Alignment (VA): VA panels have typically better colour and viewing angles than TN. However, their response times are slower than those of TN and IPS – another panel type. For those looking for a monitor that works for general use, these would work well. 

In-plane Switching (IPS): These panels deliver the best image quality overall, with vibrant colour, quality contrast, and great viewing angles. For creative professionals, such as graphic designers or video editors, an IPS monitor will deliver crisp clarity and accuracy of colour. For those seeking quick refresh rates, however, IPS panels are typically slower than TN and VA panels. 

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED): OLED panels are touted as the successor, offering the highest quality of imagery. With OLED displays, each LED light is extremely small, and produces both light and colour. OLED monitors deliver unmatched contrast ratio and dynamic range and near instant response time. OLED bulbs produce their own light so this technology doesn’t require traditional backlight. For those seeking ultra-crisp imagery, colour, and dynamic range, the OLED monitor may be for you. This incredible technology will suit creative professionals, engineers, gamers, and even those at home who wish to experience the best picture for movies and everyday tasks. 

Other Factors to Consider

Graphics Card: Some new monitors may not pair well with an older PC, meaning, the display may not be optimised. Think about whether you might need to upgrade your graphics card. 

Refresh Rate: The refresh rate is the amount of times a screen image is refreshed per second. Generally, monitors have a minute refresh rate of 60Hz, meaning there are 60 frames per second. But if the rate is above 75Hz, this is a great rate. High end monitors will have a rate between 120Hz and 144Hz. 

Response Times: The response time is how quickly the pixels in the display can change colour. A fast response time means you’ll experience less blur of images, so it’s ideal for gaming and videos.

Including a monitor can elevate your office space and entertainment suite by helping boost productivity and unlock an immersive experience for movies and games. Take your setup to the next level today!

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