Aspect ratio, screen size and resolution
Normal 5:4 ratio (NR) displays get slowly killed off by manufacturers in favor of the widescreen (WS) format 16:10 which is why this guide focuses on that format. It is also getting really hard to find reviews on NR LCDs. Now, that isn’t a bad thing because widescreen feels better for 90% of the people but you have to consider that the widescreen format is smaller in height for the same size compared to normal displays, so you have to choose a bigger one to gain in height and width. For example, if you have a 19” CRT or 17” NR LCD you would have to get a 22” LCD to gain a little in height as well and not just in width.
The relation of screen size and resolution has an effect on the size of the pixels. Looking at the most common new display sizes of 20” and 22” WS with a 1680x1050 resolution and 24” and 27” WS with a 1920x1200 resolution, the 22” and 27” have a bigger pixel size. Now, there is no general consensus which is better and it usually spawns a great debate when someone brings up the topic. What can be said however, is that the closer you will sit to your LCD, the smaller the pixels should be so the pictures stays sharp and you don’t see the borders around the pixels (what is called screen door effect
). If you have a small pixel size you will have to adjust the font size in windows so the letters don’t become too small. I recommend having a look at the displays in a shop to get a feel of the pixel size.
(screen door effect (courtesy of Wikipedia))
Bigger is generally better and especially for working with an LCD, a bigger display can make you more productive. For gaming, a high native resolution is taxing GPUs so either you buy a smaller display, buy one that supports 1:1 pixel mapping (see features), run a display outside the native resolution (still isn’t perfect) or upgrade your GPU more often.
(1:1 Pixel Mapping Activated on the Right LCD screen)
For TN displays, you should not get one above the size of 22” WS because the bigger the display gets, the more the limited viewing angles will be noticeable.
For a VA display, I would aim at the size of 24” because there is a lot of competition that drives the price down in this class.
IPS panels are only available in a very limited choice of sizes in the widescreen format due to their small target group. In Europe we only get the size 20” and 26” but there might be a 24” one coming from NEC (or, a lot of IPS fanatics are hoping it does).