A monitor is necessary to display the output from the PC. Most new monitors today are slim LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) models. But, older, more bulky CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors are just as serviceable, if youre looking to save money, rather than be stylish. CRT monitors also have a faster response, if you need to battle aliens or such.
Its important to buy your CRT monitor locally or get it with free shipping. You might pay $90 for a 17" .28 dot pitch monitor. But, to ship that sucker across the USA might cost $50!
For this build, we purchased a 17" ViewSonic A70f+ Flat Screen Monitor online from Best Buy (BestBuy.com). Shipping was free, and the monitor should have cost $150 after a mail-in rebate. However, the rebate was initially denied, so the monitor could cost us $190. We followed up aggressively to get the rebate and received the rebate. See the chapter about purchasing components for more about the dangers of mail-in rebates.
The key parameters for a CRT monitor are refresh rate, resolution, and dot pitch. You want at least a 75 Hz or greater refresh rate. 85 Hz is even better. Lower refresh rates might cause eye strain. Refresh rates tell us how often the monitor screen is redrawn by the beam which displays it.
The dot pitch should be .28 mm or less. About .25 is ideal. Resolution should allow at least 1024 by 768 pixels for a 17" monitor. Most 17" CRT monitors support 1280 x 1024 pixel resolution.
If you purchase an LCD monitor, resolution is determined by the actual matrix of the display. For example, most LCD 15" monitors are designed to show 1024 x 768 pixels. Think of the monitor as actually having this many dots across the physical screen. Most 17" LCD monitors will allow 1280 x1024.
Its important to know that a 15" LCD display has about the same viewable area as a 17" CRT.
One important parameter of an LCD display is the contrast ratio which expresses the ability of the monitor to distinguish between lighter and darker colors. A contrast ratio of 400:1 or more is good. Another important parameter is the brightness of the screen which is measured in nits or cd/m.² 300 cd/m² (nits) or more is considered good.
If you plan to use an LCD monitor, also be sure your video card supports a DVI (Digital Video Interface) connector. LCD monitors can use analog VGA connectors, but doing so makes little sense. The video signal from the computer is converted from digital to analog and then back to digital! Analog signals were necessary for CRT monitors, but not for LCD monitors.
If you plan to purchase an LCD monitor, it might be a good idea to visit your local computer store and examine some models to be sure youre happy with the display.
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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005
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