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Widescreen vs Standard Monitors
About LCD Monitor Aspect Ratios
When buying a new LCD monitor for your computer, it's pretty much impossible to find a newly made non-widescreen one. Widescreen displays are very popular these days, but are they really better than the 4:3 monitors which were popular back in the day? Some people who still own older standard aspect ratio screens are reluctant to switch to 16:9 or 16:10 for various reasons.
Find out more about widescreen and standard monitor pros and cons on the page below. Please join in the discussion and voice your own opinion about the best resolutions and ratios of PC monitors, too. And if want to learn about the standard monitor resolutions, scroll down to the monitor size chart.
Widescreen versus Standard Display Comparison
It's a bit silly to call 4:3 "standard" when widescreen is the new standard, but for the sake of simplicity, please bear with it. It can also be called "fullscreen", but that's confusing in its own way. Perhaps we should just go with "square" and "rectangular"...
Widescreen computer monitor pros and cons
- Best for watching DVD format movies
- Good for gaming
- Easy to work with two windows side-by-side
- Less vertical space for reading
- Extra white space on websites
- Less overall pixels, given the same size in inches
Standard monitor pros and cons
4:3 monitor pros:
- Great for surfing the internet
- Excellent for reading and working with text
- More pixels (given the same diagonal size)
4:3 monitor cons:
- Bad for watching 16:9 format movies
- Smaller horizontal field of view in games
- Can't work with 2 windows side-by-side
Proponents of widescreen often argue that 16:9 is closer to the golden ratio and as such, is more pleasing and natural to the eye. However, it does not necessarily match the human field of view.
One of the main reasons for the huge push from "square" to widescreen is cost. LCD panel manufacturers can save a lot of money if they use the same parts for both computer monitors and HDTVs. In addition, wider monitors have less pixels compared to former standard 4:3 ones if the diagonal size is the same.
Widescreen vs Fullscreen Aspect Ratio Discussion
Are wide (16:9 and 16:10) or standard ratio (4:3 and 5:4) monitors better?
Monitor Resolution Chart
PC monitors with aspect ratios wider than the 4:3 standard are considered "widescreen". You can see all the common display resolutions and aspect ratios in this monitor resolution list. A new trend not shown on this chart is ultrawide 21:9 "cinema" type computer displays and TVs. These screens use a 2560x1080 resolution.
16:9 vs 16:10 Aspect Ratio
Pretty much the only choice a buyer has these days
No matter how much I prefer 4:3 over widescreen, the fact is that the absolute majority of new computer displays on the market come in wide resolutions. The only real choice one has is between 16:9 aspect ratio (with resolutions like 1920x1080 and 2560x1440) and 16:10 aspect ratio (1920x1200 and 2560x1600). This is commonly known as 1080p, 1440p, 1200p, and 1600p among computer enthusiasts.
Unsurprisingly, I think 16:10 is better in most cases, as it gives you more vertical space and more pixels to work with. If you do video editing, a 1920x1200 monitor will let you watch a 1080p video and have a toolbox and a timeline visible at the bottom of the screen. If you work with text, you'll be able to have several documents or websites open at the same time, and you will also have more vertical space compared to a 16:9 monitor.
The only time I'd go with a 16:9 screen is if it was primarily used to watch movies. Those black bars can be annoying. Gaming is another issue. Most video games will work beautifully in 16:10, but you have to keep in mind that your graphics card will have to render more pixels as compared to a 16:9 monitor of the same width, so you will get slightly lower FPS.
Computer Monitor Aspect Ratio Poll
What is the aspect ratio of your computer monitor?
Non-Widescreen, LED-Backlit Monitor
The market might have turned to widescreen, but it's still possible to acquire good square monitors like this 1280 x 1024 resolution, 5:4 aspect ratio Acer with LED back-lighting.