Dear Lifehacker, I recently installed a new graphics card and realised that my monitor, which uses VGA and a DVI-I converter, won’t plug into the graphics card’s DVI-D port. Instead of buying a DVI-D converter, sounds to me like this is a good opportunity to invest in a new monitor with HDMI. Any recommendations around the $400 mark?
My desk is relatively small and cluttered, so I’d choose a smaller screen with a higher resolution over one bigger in size, but suffice to say I wouldn’t want it to be too small either. I feel as though I’d want to say that accurate colours are important given my profession, but mainly I want to be able to play games without jitter. The refresh rate on my current screen is terrible. 4K would be nice but at $400 I’m not expecting much. 1080p and up is fine. Thanks, Josh
Personally, I wouldn’t go for anything smaller than a 24-inch monitor. I’ve used a bunch of monitors over the years in sizes from 13-inch (ew) to 34-inch (yewww) and I think 24 inches is a happy compromise between size and price, especially if you’re not planning to spend a huge amount of money in the first place. You could go larger, but within your budget the 27-inch screens that you’re going to find won’t be particularly impressive in their colour accuracy or response times.
Similarly, I wouldn’t go for anything with a resolution lower than 1080p. In 2017, in the age of ubiquitous high-res content on YouTube and Netflix and powerful gaming graphics cards and decent internet speeds to support those things, you’d be silly not to. But at the same time, anything higher than 1080p is almost wasted on a 24-inch display — 1440p would be nice, sure, but it’s also out of your price range.
Within the 24-inch 1080p criteria you’ve got, there’s a hell of a lot of choice. Cheap and reasonably cheerful LED monitors have flooded the market, and they’re all so similar in paper that it’s genuinely hard to choose between them. One good thing about 2017 is that it’s really quite hard to buy a bad monitor. A mediocre one, sure, that’s easy, but a bad one? Nah. Under $500 there are a few standouts, though, that I’ll recommend and then leave it up to you to find your favourite
(You might have seen in the past that whenever anyone gives me a price target, I start at slightly over it. Because usually it’s worth stretching a little more, especially on something long-term like a monitor.)
If you’re really mostly interested in gaming performance, you can get yourself a 24-inch 1920x1080pixel LED monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate like the BenQ ZOWIE XL2411. 144Hz is more than twice as fast as the 60Hz that most LED/LCD monitors refresh at, which is useful especially if your new graphics card is giving you a significant frame rate boost in the games that you already play. It’s a TN panel, which doesn’t have the same viewing angles or colour accuracy as an IPS one, but that’s the sacrifice you make at this price point to get a faster refresh rate.
If you can stretch a little further than your current budget, my suggestion would be the $499 Dell U2415, a 16:10 ratio 1920x1200pixel screen that I’ve used and liked very much. It has pretty decent response times, a fully articulated stand, integrated USB 3.0 ports, and it’s factory calibrated to a degree that is far more accurate than most of its competitors. You can usually find some decent Dell coupons out there that might even slash 20 per cent off the price and bring it down to your budget.
Within your price range, the $399 Dell U2414H is only slightly inferior to the U2415, but it also has that 16:9 ratio and 1920x1080pixel that you might prefer. Alternately, another affordable 16:10 1920x1200p choice is the Asus VS24AH, another IPS panel like the U2415 that has good viewing angles and response times. However, its stand only tilts rather than rotating and swiveling like the $499 Dell’s.
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This story originally appeared on Gizmodo.