Monitors

Adding a new monitor can buy you more desk space, a larger screen or better image quality. Back To Basics shows you how to connect and set yours up properly.

So far, in our Back To Basics articles, we've covered just about everything inside your PC from optical drives to graphics cards, sound cards to CPUs. But what about the outside? There's still a major part of your PC that we haven't looked at, and that's your monitor.

CRT and LCD

Computer monitors come in two types: CRTs and LCDs. CRT stands for Cathode Ray Tube, a term that describes the main component inside a conventional monitor. Despite being bulkier and less attractive than LCD monitors, CRTs are cheaper to buy, and are often better at handling colour and fast-moving objects, making them popular with gamers and graphics specialists.

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. Because LCDs don't need the bulky glass tube used by CRTs, they're much slimmer, making them more appealing to look and freeing up a significant amount of desk space. But they have other benefits too. A completely flat screen makes them less susceptible to glare, and they generally provide a sharper image than a CRT. Despite being brighter than conventional monitors, they also consume less power.

Making connections

Before attaching your monitor to your PC, the first thing to consider is the connection type. CRT monitors run from the standard analog signal that all graphics cards produce, and connect using a VGA cable, like this one.

In order to guarantee compatibility with your PC, you'll find that LCD monitors have VGA ports, too. But LCDs actually work best with a digital signal, so you may find that yours offers both a VGA and a DVI port.

DVI is short for Digital Video Interface, and uses an easily-recognisable connector like the one shown in FIGURE 1. Because it carries a digital signal, a DVI connection means that you'll avoid signal conversion errors like pixel jitter and banding, which can affect the screen's image quality.

If you intend to use DVI, you'll need to make sure that your graphics card supports it (most new ones do). If you see a port like the one shown in FIGURE 2 on the card's backplate, then it does.

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