How to Connect your Monitor to your PC

An important consideration when buying your new monitor is what type of connectors it has. These are the input sockets on the monitor, so that you can connect it to your PC. You'll see these letters a lot:


Here's what they mean.


DVI is short for Digital Video Interface. Your new monitor should come with a DVI cable. One end plugs in to the monitor, and you plug the other end in to the graphics card of your PC. At least, you do if your graphics card has a DVI socket. If it's a modern graphics card, it will have a DVI socket; but the older graphics card won't have one. Make sure before you buy the monitor, as it means you'll also have to buy an analogue to digital converter. The image below shows what you are looking for at the back of your computer:

Monitor Connections


The image above shows what a DVI connector looks like, and the older VGA sockets.

In a monitor specification list, you may see the letter I or the letter D after the DVI part. DVI-I means that the monitor can accept Digital and Analogue signals, while DVD-D accepts only Digital signals.



A Video Graphics Array input on the monitor means that it will connect to any PC. VGA is also know as D-SUB because of the shape of the socket. Look again at the image above and you'll see the D-SUB socket (VGA). You'll definitely have one of these on your PC, and so at the very least will be able to connect you new monitor with a VGA cable. VGA is analogue technology, though, so it means the signals have to be converted to digital. Using the DVI cable supplied should results in a better image than using the VGA cable, but sometimes it's hard to tell!


The new monitors coming on to the market also have a HDMI connector. HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. This means that it accepts a High Definition signal for your HD movies and HD content. The problems is that you need a graphics cards with an equivalent HDMI socket in it, if you want to connect it to a PC.

And there's also a thing called HDCP (High-Bandwidth Definition Copy Protection). A HD movie, for example, will be encrypted. A HDCP compliant monitor will be able to decode the signal coming in, and display it as High Definition. A non-HDCP compliant monitor won't be able to decode the signal from a HDCP encrypted DVD. So it will display the movie in standard DVD quality, not High Definition.
So if watching HD movies is important to you, look out for a monitor that is HDCP compliant.



Look out for USB connectors when you're buying a monitor. This means that you can plug in things like a digital camera, and see the images on the screen straight away - no need to load them to the PC first!


In the next part, we'll reveal our recommended flat-panel monitors. There's also an exercise to have a go at, so that you can test your knowledge about monitor specifications.

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