What do my monitor specs mean?

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In this article, we'll be taking a dive into technical specifications for monitors and what exactly they mean.  At first many of these specifications can be intimidating, but this guide exists to help clear up some of this information.

For comparison purposes, this article will use the NZXT Canvas 27Q and Canvas 32Q monitors shown below:

  Canvas 27Q Canvas 32Q
Panel Size 27" 32"
Curved? No Yes, 1500R
Panel Type IPS VA
Pixel Density 108ppi (pixels per inch) 93ppi (pixels per inch)
Color Gamut DCI-P3 90%, sRGB 99% DCI-P3 89%, sRGB 99%
Contrast Ratio 1000:1 3000:1


What are Panel Size and Pixel Density?

Panel Size itself is rather self explanatory, this is the diagonal, corner-to-corner size of the monitor's screen which in combination with Resolution will play a part in determining the Pixel Density.  

Resolution is the number of pixels available on the screen, usually represented either by a name (i.e. QHD aka Quad-HD or "1440p") or by a number denoting the Horizontal and Vertical number of pixels on the monitor.  For example, the monitors we're looking at in this guide are the Canvas 27Q and 32Q monitors.  Both of these monitors are QHD monitors with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, however the 32Q is a larger panel.  Because these two monitors are the same Resolution but have different Panel Size, the picture on the 27Q is going to appear more clear and crisp because the Pixel Density (the number of pixels per inch) is higher.

Why are monitors curved, and what does the curve number mean?

When looking at monitors, you may notice some monitors are curved rather than flat panels.  Curved panels for many users offer a more immersive gaming experience and less eye strain during longer periods of use.  This is because when sitting properly in front of a curved monitor, the distance across the monitor to your eyes remains consistent and minimizes the need for you to turn your neck while gaming or for your eyes to actively adjust.  For longer gaming sessions especially, this an help reduce your overall fatigue.

But what does the number for the curve mean?  What's the difference between 1500R and 1800R?  The curve number refers to the monitor's radius in millimeters if it was part of a perfect circle.  This means if you were to get multiple 1500R curved monitors and connect them edge-to-edge until they form a perfect circle, the radius will be 1500 mm or a diameter of 3000 mm.

Tighter curves, that being those with smaller numbers work better at shorter distances and are seen as more immersive while wider curves are better for greater distances.


What does Panel Type mean?  What's the difference between IPS and VA panels?

Panel Type refers to the technology behind the panel's creation itself. The three most common players in the field are Twisted Nematic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA), and In-Plane-Switching (IPS). Below we'll look at the core ways between how these work and their advantages.

  • TN Panels are actually the first LCD technology to his the market and one of the most developed over the years. A TN panel consists of liquid crystals sandwiched between two polarizing filters. When an electric current is applied, the crystals twist and allow light to pass through them. Being an older technology, TN panels are cheap to manufacture but tend to have weaker viewing angles and lower color accuracy than its newer counterparts. If you're looking for a budget monitor, it's likely going to use a TN panel.
  • VA Panels are a newer technology that gets its names from the liquid crystals being aligned vertically with, perpendicular to a glass substrate rather than being sandwiched between polarizing filters. When current is applied, these crystals will tilt in a way similar to how TN panels twist crystals to allow light to pass through. This technology is becoming more common in curved, high refresh rate monitors like our Canvas 32Q. Another advantage VA tends to have is higher contrast ratios, which can result in deeper blacks and a better separation of grays into whites.
  • IPS Panels have been around for a while, and like a VA panel, the liquid crystals are aligned with a glass substrate. Instead of running perpendicular to the glass substrate, the crystals are aligned parallel to the substrate and are instead rotated in order to allow light through. This action is most similar to a shutter on a camera and delivers far greater color accuracy than TN and VA panels. The trade-off however is that higher refresh rate IPS panels tend to be far more costly than an equivalent VA panel.

For our Flat panel monitors like the Canvas 25F and 27F, or the Canvas 27Q you'll see that we utilize IPS panels while for the curved Canvas 32Q you'll see that we utilize VA panels.

What are Color Gamut and Contrast Ratio?

Color Gamut is a relative measurement of the colors that the monitor can reproduced when compared to industry standards.  For our monitors, we provide both sRGB standard as well as the Digital Cinema Initiatives, Protocol 3 or DCI-P3 standard.  This means that the monitors are able to reproduce colors to be as true to these standards as possible, however there will be slight variations due in part to the panel types.

Contrast Ratio works hand-in-hand with color reproduction, measuring the difference between the brightest whites and darkest blacks that can be reproduced on a screen.  A higher contrast ratio means that the overall difference between these colors will be far greater.  For our comparison, this means that blacks on the 32Q may come in much deeper and darker than the 27Q counterpart.


Do you have any questions not covered by this guide or need further assistance?  Please feel free to reach out to our Customer Support team and one of our friendly support agents will be there to assist you.

Are you looking to keep up on all things NZXT?  Go ahead and join the Official NZXT Community Discord to keep up to date on our latest products, upcoming sales, and join in on discussions on everything from PC hardware to gaming.

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