Monitor - Computer Gaming on a Budget
Your next monitor is for more than your computer.
Truthfully, the lines between a computer monitor and a TV are becoming blurred. In most cases, it will make more sense to buy a flat screen television with multiple HDMI inputs.
Your newer cable/satellite boxes support HDMI, so it makes sense to get a flat screen TV/monitor with 2 or 3 HDMI inputs, if you plan to connect more than 1 device to your monitor. Playstation 3 and Xbox also support HDMI interface. Blu-ray also supports HDMI.
Depending on how new your current television is, you may not even need to buy a monitor!
Photo used with permission: Magnus Manske
High Definition Multimedia Interface
HDMI is a cabling system that transfers both audio and video in most cases.
Basic HDMI allows for high definition video and audio to be transferred between your computer and your monitor. This allows for higher resolutions on your monitor, which will increase picture quality.
The newer cables also support ethernet connection and your 3D televisions.
If your current TV has HDMI, you can probably hook your computer directly to your home TV without much difficulty.
Photo: Public Domain
Digital Video Interface
You may not have a HDMI connector, but a DVI on the back panel of your TV.
If you want to use your current TV, any have a DVI connection in the back, you may be in luck.
First, some motherboards have DVI output, and you will be able to hook your computer directly to your TV that way.
Second, if your motherboard only has HDMI output, you can use an adapter to convert your DVI to HDMI. Adapters are very inexpensive.
DVI does not transmit audio, so you will need to hook up your audio connection as well.
How big should it be?
Bigger is not always better
The larger your TV, the further away you have to sit to see the whole thing. With computers, this can become a problem when viewing text. A 70 inch television is great for watching movies. For a computer monitor, maybe not so much. You have to be within a certain distance even for a wireless keyboard and mouse.
On the other hand, a screen that is too small is going to be no good for gaming. I gamed for a long time on a 15 inch screen, but now that I use a 19 inch widescreen, I'm not sure that I could ever go back to that small of a screen.
Unless you are getting your screen for free, make sure it will be widescreen. When you see 16:9 or 16:10, that's widescreen and indicates the ration of length to height. This is about the same as you see at a movie theater. The older, squarer screens were 4:3, and the inconsistency with sizes gives you the "letter boxing" phenomenon. You use to see letter boxing as black bars on the top and bottom of a screen.
So, find a size that will fit in the area you want to game in, and is comfortable for your budget. Look at refurbished or open box monitors and try to score a deal!
This used to be a really big issue for monitors. Resolution is a measurement of how many horizontal and vertical pixels make up the screen. Basically, how clear your picture could potentially be.
Resolution today is not that big of a deal anymore. Almost all flat screen televisions sold today are high definition. That means really really good resolution.
Resolution should be automatically negotiated by your computer/monitor connection.