I’m going to presume you’re on the lookout for a brand new TV or a monitor. I’m making that presumption because everyone’s always looking at monitors and TVs. I find myself looking at new monitors the day after I buy one. You’re probably looking for something that will make you feel like you’re sitting courtside with Drake when watching Toronto Raptors.
Or, you might be a cinephile ready to experience the new Blade Runner movie from the comfort of your own home with the best picture possible. Some people don’t want to bother with going all the way to the movie theater.
You could also be a ”noob”, eager to dip your toes (and cash) into the world of gaming. The only thing to do is to get the best gaming monitor possible and experience it in all its glory.
Whatever the reason may be, during your research, you will encounter two important words sticking out like a sore thumb and starting numerous debates on internet forums — screen size. I’ll go into the dirty details about what to look for when it comes to screen size and I’ll teach you how to measure the size of any monitor.
These two words have become incredibly important, and are the main talking point in the screen business. Like fashion trends, screens have been swinging back and forth from miniature portable gaming monitors to gigantic 65’’ monstrosities, so confusion is to be expected. Worry not, I’m here to help you.
Does Monitor Size Matter for Gaming?
‘’Size matters not’’, Yoda would say, and you wouldn’t dare doubt the words of a wise Jedi master, would you?
Well, some would beg to differ, and for good reason. It all depends on what you plan on using your display for and how much cash you’re willing to drop on a new toy. If you’re in search of a TV that will make your living room a mini-movie theater or a crazy console gaming room, then there’s a giant Toshiba TV with your name on it.
If you’re a thriving businessman looking for an ideal machine that is light and portable, you need something that will serve for work purposes. You’re in luck—there’s a wide range of reasonably affordable 11-inch screen laptops and even smaller notebooks that will accommodate your basic needs.
Perhaps you’re just a regular Joe not really into the technical mumbo-jumbo and are just looking for a cheap PC monitor for gaming that will do the job.
The list goes on and on. So, to answer the question, screen size matters only if you deem it important. From a technical standpoint, though, it does matter. A bigger screen usually means a broader, more vibrant, and more immersive display capable of showing a far more detailed image without you having to squint like a weirdo.
‘’Why usually? Why not always?” you ask. When talking about achieving an optimal image quality, we need to take into account not only the size of the monitor in question but its resolution as well, which brings us to the core of our debate:
Screen Size vs. Resolution?
To get to the bottom of this, we must first differentiate the two terms. Screen size is all about—you guessed it—the physical size of the screen, measured in (square) inches and centimeters. Resolution is an entirely different beast. It’s the number of pixels that can be displayed on your monitor/TV and it determines how sharp your picture will be. The more pixels there are, the sharper your image will be, and the less you’ll feel like you’re looking through foggy glasses.
Instead of giving a total number of pixels, we display it as ‘’width x height’’. For example, a 720p screen is 1280 pixels wide (from left to right or vice versa) and 720 pixels tall (from bottom to top or vice versa). This gives us a resolution of 1280 x 720. Moving up, the best 1080p gaming monitors are 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall. That provides us with many more pixels to work with, allowing us to display even more stuff on our screen.
But, back to the fight at hand. Well, “fight” is a pretty harsh word, as these two don’t necessarily clash, but rather complement each other. The bigger your screen is, the higher the resolution should be. If you were to have a large display with a pitiful resolution, you would get a stretched-out image, with the images appearing bigger but a lot less detailed than they would on a smaller display with a higher resolution.
If you had a 720p television and a 1080p television of the same size, the second one would have a much crisper picture, with more detail and a lot less murkiness. The way you determine whether the resolution matches the screen size well is by checking the number of pixels per inch, or PPI for short. It shows you the number of pixels on your display contained in one square inch.
The higher that number goes, the clearer the image will be. To calculate PPI, divide the total number of pixels in one row by the actual width of the display area. If you have a 1920 x 1080 display that’s 20.9″ wide, that’s about 92 PPI. Not bad!
How to Measure Laptop Screen Size
While some gamers praise laptops for their high portability, ever-improving battery life and excellent flexibility, others criticize their price tags and limited power. It’s undeniable that outside of gaming they hold a crucial role in a modern society which emphasizes the ‘’work anywhere’’ mentality.
If you’re planning on getting your hands on a laptop built specifically for gaming, you should pay attention to the screen. Unlike PCs, you don’t get the luxury of swapping the display for a new one. You can still use an external monitor, but it’s a lot of extra work to set one up and lug it around.
Even though you should focus on finding the right resolution, screen size shouldn’t be overlooked. Screen sizes are mostly measured diagonally between opposite corners of the screen. You can measure the laptop screen diagonally in two ways: by using the Pythagorean theorem (nerd alert), or by simply placing a ruler on the opposite corners of the screen. An ideal measurement for most gamers would be around 12.5-14’’, which is a good balance between portability and usability.
However, sometimes a gaming laptop—even a super-beefy one—just won’t cut it, and you may want to go with the best gaming PC.
What Size Is My Desktop Monitor?
Let’s face it, gaming laptops are convenient, but nothing beats a full-size desktop for performance. Desktop PC gamers have access to the best gaming graphics cards, thousands of Gigabytes for storage, lightning-fast SSDs, awesome Intel processors, mechanical keyboards, and, of course, monitors.
When it comes to measuring the size of an external display, it’s pretty much the same as measuring a laptop screen. You should know that in both cases you should only measure the display. Don’t measure the frame and structure around it.
A ruler or a tape measurer will work. If you’re feeling special and quirky, you can also calculate the display area by multiplying the width by the height, or calculate the aspect ratio by finding the lowest common denominator of the width and height. The standardized ratios are 16:9 and 16:10, while 4:3 is considered old school. If the width of the monitor is 16’’, and the height is 10’’, that gives us an aspect ratio of 16:10. If we’re talking about a bigger monitor that’s 25’’ wide and 15’’ high, that provides us with 25:15, divide the numbers by 5 and we slim it down to 5:3. Easy peasy!
What Is the Best Screen Size for Gaming?
Okay, enough math, let’s get into the fun stuff! Big screens have been the gold standard for gaming since the early days of playing Mario Kart 64 on the side of a house (!) using a projector, and the tradition continues today with multi 4K gaming monitor setups. The question of choosing the best gaming screen is a tough one, but we’re here to help.
As I said earlier, it’s all a matter of personal preference, but we can give you a few guidelines. For starters, consider the distance between the gamer and the screen. If you’re sitting too close to the monitor, your eyes will surely start wandering from left to right trying to catch all of the action, which can cost you a few crucial milliseconds in tight multiplayer clashes. Sitting too close to the screen also increases eye strain and can cause eyeball-related problems over time.
If possible, you should move away from the screen as much as the keyboard and mouse cables allow without compromising comfort, but not so far as to make yourself have to use a real sniper scope instead of the virtual one. The general rule is that the most comfortable viewing distance is equal to the diagonal measurement of the monitor (e.g., if you have a 30’’ monitor, you should be 30’’ away from the screen).
The optimal screen size for 1080p displays is usually between 21″ and 27″. If you want to go for anything bigger than that, you should consider buying a great curved monitor for gaming, or even a TV.
Screen size is an important factor to weigh, but it has to be balanced against others, such as resolution, PPI, and how you plan on using it. We hope that this little guide has provided you with enough knowledge to make a more confident buying decision when you’re ready for a new monitor.
Tip: It might be smart to get a pair of quality gaming glasses if you’re planning to stare at a giant screen for hours at a time.