Help me decide on a low end monitor

sfsuphysics

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So my current el cheapo monitor (quite old though) is having horizontal line "waviness" that is most noticeable on black parts of the screen although it's still noticeable in the dark grey background that is this site. Now I've swapped out the video cable hoping that might fix it, but nope. And I'm not even going to pretend the video card is going wonky, because that is not an option to replace right now. So looking for my "next" monitor, as a bit of a cheapskate.

Now I am in no way a "gamer" in the sense that I need an advantage in online games, my biggest thing I want is it to look good, well second biggest thing I want it cheap AF too, but I'm not hugely worried about things like refresh rate and response time. While I do watch TV shows and the occasional movies on my computer I really do prefer to stream to my TV for those, and I got old man eyes and very typically increase the the zoom size of the screen beyond 100% to see stuff on webpages :D.
So shoehorning myself into a corner to restrict choices I'm thinking of 2 from Costco, because their return policy, and if it happens to be my video card I don't want a higher res version of this on the screen.

Option 1: 32" Acer, 1440p IPS monitor $210 for next 2 days (but this monitor always goes on sale)
https://www.costco.com/acer-32"-class-wqhd-ips-freesync-monitor.product.100511548.html
https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/UM.JE2AA.A03


Option 2: 28" Acer, 4k IPS monitor $250 until the end of the month (I see this on sale quite often too, so they're obviously trying to push out old stock)
https://www.costco.com/acer-nitro-28"-class-uhd-ips-gaming-monitor.product.100581497.html
https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/UM.PV0AA.001


So I'm going from a 23" 1080p monitor both will be a large upgrade. I like both are IPS monitors, bother are similar peak brightness 250 vs 300 which isn't huge but I doubt my current monitor is any better, both have Freesync, not that I think that matters. Option 1 is 75hz vs Option 2 60hz which isn't a huge concern of mine because any increase in refresh for the 4k isn't going to be in this price range at all. And colors are well take it with a grain of salt what Acer says they are according to their literature, which according to them is pretty damn good so HA!

So I know I won't be able to get any sort of serious gaming with my current video card, gtx970, the plan was to upgrade and well... world greed took over..., so that plan has been put on hold until things get reasonable again, however the most I was going to upgrade was to 3070, but more likely 3060ti if they ever get back down to MSRP prices. I do have a corner desk (the Ikea one) so I have room for a bigger monitor if I need to move it back, but again in this sub $300 price range I'm shopping in I realize I can't be too picky. So is the 4k overkill in the foreseeable future and just not worth it? Or are my eyes going to thank me with the higher resolution on everything non-gaming even though the monitor is a big chunk smalelr? Or will I appreciate the bigger size much more than watching movies in 4k and playing 4k games in 2-3 years when one can buy a video card for a reasonable price again?

Thanks
 

tordogs

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My vote is for the 32" Acer. Wouldn't go smaller than at least 32" for 4K. I use 32" 4K and my old eyes don't thank me very often for that. Things are a bit sharper but also smaller. The 1440p IPS is sort of a sweet spot for monitors right now. Unless you want to spend the really big bucks and doesn't sound like you're in for that. I wouldn't be either given the state of affairs in tech at the moment.
 

Ors

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Depends on your use case. Are you text heavy and not much into gaming? If so, than 4k is a must at those sizes, but you won't be running them at 100% scale (for the 28" monitor you would run it in 175% or even 200% scale). For the occasional gaming you do you could do it in 1080p until a new video card becomes an option again. I did buy a 32" 1440p screen 4 years ago and couldn't recommend them anymore (it will have slightly worse pixel density than what you have on your current screen). I moved to 32" 4k since and I would never want to go back to 1440p, am running it in 150% scale and text readability is night and day for me. Only downside is price, the cheapest 32" 4k IPS monitors are in the 500$+ range and can go up fast. Of the 2 you posted I would try the 28" first, take it home, see how it compares to your current one in clarity (use 175% or 200% scaling in windows) and if you'd want even bigger or not.
 
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If you watch movies that were recorded at 24fps, it's nice to watch them on a monitor that can do a refresh rate that is a multiple of 24Hz, i.e. 72/96/120/144Hz. I would go for option 1, so that I could run it at 72Hz for movies.
 
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Zeoclang

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Option 1 because it is bigger and costs less. While I don't expect you will be primarily using VGA, it does have a VGA input which can be useful at times.
 
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I would say definitely avoid 28" 4K monitors, especially if you have vision issues. You'll get no benefit out of them because you'd have to increase scaling to the point that it's not much better than 1080p, and you'll get worse performance in games too. I would say that if you want more usable real estate, you would be better off with either more vertical real estate with a 1920x1200 monitor, or else more horizontal real estate with an ultrawide monitor of some variety. If you want more space to work with, you'll need to make the screen bigger unless you have very good eyes and can sit very close. The resolution matters less, all 4K does is makes it harder to see pixels if you're at the same sizes. I don't even have vision issues and I think I'd need a 40" monitor to get the full benefit of 4K in terms of usable space.

Between those two, the 32" model looks better.
 
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sfsuphysics

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The resolution matters less, all 4K does is makes it harder to see pixels if you're at the same sizes
Help me out here, why does it matter if I can see pixels? I would think if anything I would not want to see individual pixels because then you see all the jagginess of everything, higher resolution would make things smoother specifically because I can't make out the individual pixels. Kind of like making a painting, a painting where I have 100 squares with 1 color per square, versus one with a 1 million squares at 1 color per square, the more "pixels" the nicer the image, however both cases I can still see the pixels, now lets up the game and say each square is a molecule sized dot then the whole image looks smooth and uniform specifically because you can't see the "pixels"

Now if I'm misunderstanding things, please enlighten me.
 

criccio

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Help me out here, why does it matter if I can see pixels? I would think if anything I would not want to see individual pixels because then you see all the jagginess of everything, higher resolution would make things smoother specifically because I can't make out the individual pixels. Kind of like making a painting, a painting where I have 100 squares with 1 color per square, versus one with a 1 million squares at 1 color per square, the more "pixels" the nicer the image, however both cases I can still see the pixels, now lets up the game and say each square is a molecule sized dot then the whole image looks smooth and uniform specifically because you can't see the "pixels"

Now if I'm misunderstanding things, please enlighten me.
You are correct but there is a limit. 28" 4K will be sharp, no doubt, however running at 100% scaling so "native", your UI elements and text may be too small for you to work with comfortably. To fix that, you'd have to increase the scaling which negatively impacts the usefulness in screen realestate you get with 4K at 100% scaling.

There is going to be a tradeoff.

Extreme example. I have a 13" Dell XPS laptop with a 3200x1800 resolution display. Running it at 100% scaling is basically impossible so I make due with 150%. Its still incredibly sharp but I'm not getting the full benefit of that 3200x1800 pixels for content.
 
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Help me out here, why does it matter if I can see pixels? I would think if anything I would not want to see individual pixels because then you see all the jagginess of everything, higher resolution would make things smoother specifically because I can't make out the individual pixels. Kind of like making a painting, a painting where I have 100 squares with 1 color per square, versus one with a 1 million squares at 1 color per square, the more "pixels" the nicer the image, however both cases I can still see the pixels, now lets up the game and say each square is a molecule sized dot then the whole image looks smooth and uniform specifically because you can't see the "pixels"

Now if I'm misunderstanding things, please enlighten me.
Most people would agree they want the picture to be as sharp as possible, you have a point. But the thing is, you said in the OP that you have bad vision, which means you'd get even less benefit from a small high-resolution display because your eyes would blur things together and make things appear smooth anyway. With normal vision, 1080p or 720p would probably look low-resolution at 27", but 2K would be fine. Someone with really good vision might want more than 2K at 32", but if you have any trouble seeing at all or you want more real estate, it will be perfect. Meanwhile, 4K at 27" would be overkill even if you had 20/20 vision. Actually, your situation is kinda rough... because 4K at 32" would be the gold standard, and most people would also be happy with 2K on a 27" monitor. Having that reversed makes it a tougher call.

I'm actually kinda making fun of the people who like to use 200% display scaling on a small, high resolution monitor so their work space is the same size as a 1080p monitor, and act all impressed with how smooth everything is and how happy they are they can't see a pixel. I'm not the one that cares if I can see a pixel once in a while, I'm poking fun at fans of Apple's retina displays, etc.
 
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sfsuphysics

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So pixel density is related to how big text would be, I get that, so the 32" 1440p which actually has less pixel density than my 23" 1080p would natively make everything look bigger (text), but games actually would not look as sharp if at native 1440? Where as a 28" 4k the pixel density is quite a bit higher, so text would be smaller so more scaling factor is necessary which negates the need for a 4k display, but things would look sharper at native resolution, i.e. a game or something that where everything is scaled to fit the screen so characters, UI, etc would be "normal sized" but sharper. So text reading vs gaming?

As to how bad my vision is, I mean it's bad for any over 40 year old person where you lose the ability to focus closely, but I do wear glasses that correct my vision (need a new prescription soon though I feel), it's still increase the screen scaling in a web browser (e.g. this website is at 120%) because it is easier to read than 100%, but I can read 100% no problem but it looks absolutely freaking tiny. Without glasses I can't read shit, even if I increase to 400% things are still blurry, yeah I can read them but they are blurry AF. It doesn't help that I wear progressive lenses too, so the top part of my lenses are which causes me to lean my head back to read stuff at the top of the screen, which would be even higher up with either monitor... so yeah fuck... I think next glasses won't be progressive. Don't get old kids, that's my advice!
 
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So pixel density is related to how big text would be, I get that, so the 32" 1440p which actually has less pixel density than my 23" 1080p would natively make everything look bigger (text), but games actually would not look as sharp if at native 1440? Where as a 28" 4k the pixel density is quite a bit higher, so text would be smaller so more scaling factor is necessary which negates the need for a 4k display, but things would look sharper at native resolution, i.e. a game or something that where everything is scaled to fit the screen so characters, UI, etc would be "normal sized" but sharper. So text reading vs gaming?

As to how bad my vision is, I mean it's bad for any over 40 year old person where you lose the ability to focus closely, but I do wear glasses that correct my vision (need a new prescription soon though I feel), it's still increase the screen scaling in a web browser (e.g. this website is at 120%) because it is easier to read than 100%, but I can read 100% no problem but it looks absolutely freaking tiny. Without glasses I can't read shit, even if I increase to 400% things are still blurry, yeah I can read them but they are blurry AF. It doesn't help that I wear progressive lenses too, so the top part of my lenses are which causes me to lean my head back to read stuff at the top of the screen, which would be even higher up with either monitor... so yeah fuck... I think next glasses won't be progressive. Don't get old kids, that's my advice!
So you usually use the computer while wearing glasses? I see. Based on that, it sounds like with your current glasses you would want an ultrawide monitor that doesn't set the screen any higher than the monitor you have, but gives you more horizontal space that's easier to use without leaning your head back.

I think the best thing would be to try and find a place where you could try different monitors out to get a feel for them before you buy them, though. Buying a TV or monitor sight unseen is one of the worst things about purely online shopping, IMO. You can't just watch a video review to see how good a new monitor is going to be, for obvious reasons. The problem is, you're not going to know how the monitor feels for you until you're sitting in front of it.

I would still say the 32" is a safer bet, because a bigger monitor is almost always an improvement, it's $40 cheaper, games will run better at native resolution, and ultimately it's what I would pick for myself if I had to pick between those two monitors.
 

sfsuphysics

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Yeah I've seen the size monitor at Costco, not the actual monitor but the 1080 versions of it etc, and well yeah it really doesn't give me a sense of size when it's on those racks they have. I could go to Best Buy as they typically have monitors setup, and on, but not necessarily the models that I want. The upside with Costco, I can order online and easily return in person.
 

sfsuphysics

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BTW I thought about ultrawides before, but how do games scale if they don't support it those resolutions? I can imagine one being distorted AF, or can you put black bars up?
 
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BTW I thought about ultrawides before, but how do games scale if they don't support it those resolutions? I can imagine one being distorted AF, or can you put black bars up?
Yeah, I believe games usually have black bars on either side if you set them to a normal 16:9 resolution on a wider monitor. I have definitely seem them have black bars on a 4:3 monitor and a 16:10 monitor, and I've heard they do it on the sides with ultrawides as well. The great thing about a 1080p ultrawide is I think it would be just like a 1080p monitor when gaming, if you can ignore the black bars.
 

criccio

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Been an ulttawide user since early 2017 (34" 3440x1440 PG348Q) and I'll never go back to 16x9. Never really had a bad experience in any game outside of Overwatch where ulttawide resolutions are considered a competitive advantage and cropped.
 

Ors

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So pixel density is related to how big text would be, I get that, so the 32" 1440p which actually has less pixel density than my 23" 1080p would natively make everything look bigger (text), but games actually would not look as sharp if at native 1440? Where as a 28" 4k the pixel density is quite a bit higher, so text would be smaller so more scaling factor is necessary which negates the need for a 4k display, but things would look sharper at native resolution, i.e. a game or something that where everything is scaled to fit the screen so characters, UI, etc would be "normal sized" but sharper. So text reading vs gaming?
Text reading vs gaming, yes. High res is best for text (closer to print quality and much easier on the eyes with the correct scale applied so it's not smaller). Games will benefit less and will be much harder to drive by the GPU.
I'm actually kinda making fun of the people who like to use 200% display scaling on a small, high resolution monitor so their work space is the same size as a 1080p monitor
You can make all the fun you want, for someone who works with text all day the laughing matter is the 96 PPI standard, which is abysmal. 200% scale fixes that and also is backwards compatible (programs that don't support PPI settings properly you can just integer scale by 2x that is what apple does, so it won't look worse than before while those that support it look way better). No gain in extra work space when it's a shitty one. I use 32" 4k at 150% scale and I find it to be enough at a normal monitor view distance of 1m, but I wouldn't say no to 5k either so I can run my games in 1440p integer scaled.
 
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You can make all the fun you want, for someone who works with text all day the laughing matter is the 96 PPI standard, which is abysmal. 200% scale fixes that and also is backwards compatible (programs that don't support PPI settings properly you can just integer scale by 2x that is what apple does, so it won't look worse than before while those that support it look way better). No gain in extra work space when it's a shitty one. I use 32" 4k at 150% scale and I find it to be enough at a normal monitor view distance of 1m, but I wouldn't say no to 5k either so I can run my games in 1440p integer scaled.
Well, that's all really subjective. That was more of a tongue-in-cheek comment. I get that some people like high PPI, but that's not for everyone and some of us just see it as a waste of pixels that introduces a load on the system for an improvement that's barely noticeable. Especially if your vision isn't that sharp to start with. To me the high PPI thing makes even less sense with text... I've worked with documents in Microsoft Office for hours just fine on an old 17" 1280x1024 monitor up until it died fairly recently and I had to replace it with a 1080p one, and it wasn't a bad experience for me. It seems like you'd really notice high PPI most with things that are in motion, so having high DPI to have text look more like a printed page seems like something only certain kinds of artists, writers, or desktop publishers need to care about.

If anything, I kinda have a soft spot for retro-style 8-bit fonts that can be used at low resolutions effectively. I'm not that sensitive to seeing pixels, and I don't hate the way computer monitors have historically rendered text so much that I felt like printing things out to read them until high DPI monitors came about. On the other hand, I do know people that were printing their e-mails out so they wouldn't have to look at a computer screen while reading and the high DPI solves things for them. It's just... not a problem I can sympathize with really. Different strokes for different folks.
 
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