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The Best Monitor for You: LCD vs. LED

What's the difference between LCD and LED monitors? Which is better for laptop screen? Which is better for your eyes? Which better for gaming? Here's how to decide which is right for your needs.

The Best Monitor for You: LCD vs LED

In today's technology-laced world, people spend more time than ever before in front of a computer screen. From desktops to laptops, for work or for gaming, eyes are glued to a screen for a large portion of the day. But those eyes get tired, especially if the monitor is older, getting fuzzy and losing the clarity that you need.

If you are spending a lot of time in front of a monitor, it is important to make an informed decision when purchasing a new one. High-quality monitors can relieve eye strain, improving employee experiences or getting you further in your favorite game. So, as your system needs to be updated, the question becomes: is an LED or LCD monitor better? Which monitor is better for eyes? Which monitor is better for gaming? What is the difference between LCD and LED monitors? Consider these key points to determine which technology makes sense for your computer use.

HP EliteDisplay E243i - LED monitor

Which Is Better
 an LCD or LED Monitor?

To understand which type of monitor is best for your situation, you must first understand what makes them different.

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors feature a layer of liquid held between two pieces of polarized glass. The LCD monitor does not produce its own light. Instead, additional lighting behind the screen shines through the glass and illuminates the crystals. LCD monitors are usually backlit by fluorescent lamps.    

Light Emitting Diode (LED) monitors also feature a liquid crystal display, but the backlighting is produced by LEDs, not fluorescent lamps.

It's slightly confusing. LCD monitors could be called fluorescent monitors if you wanted to name them according to their backlighting technology, which is how LED monitors are named. LCD = fluorescent backlighting. LED = LED backlighting.

Pros and Cons of LCD Monitors    

As flat screen televisions came into existence, "LCD" was a term that everyone knew. Now that it extends to computers, it is important to assess the pros and cons of LCD monitors in relation to your wants and needs.

Pros of LCD Monitors

Lifespan of 30,000 hours (eight years of use at 10 hours per day)

A lower price point due to being on the market for a longer period of time

Burn-in is not really an issue, making LCD monitors good for gamers since heads-up display (HUD) elements in some video games can lead to image retention

Cons of LCD Monitors

Slightly thicker and heavier than LED monitors due to different backlighting

Many monitors cannot support 4K

Inclusion of mercury causes pollution when the monitor reaches the end of its lifespan

Consumes a lot of power and runs hot

Lower contrast results in a less clear picture

Pros and Cons of LED Monitors

As new technology is introduced to the marketplace, everyone assumes that it is better. But is it really? The pros and cons of LED monitors can help you determine if one fits your needs.

Pros of LED Monitors

Lifespan of 50,000 hours (15 years of use
at 10 hours per day)

Better contrast and color quality for a
sharper image

More energy efficient, making them cheaper
to run over time

Thinner design takes up less space on your
desk or other furniture piece

4K resolution allows you to play the
latest games or run the latest programs without issue

Fast response time makes them ideal for
serious gamers

No pollution issue as LED monitors do not
include mercury

Cons of LED Monitors

Higher initial price point

Higher risk for image retention/screen

HP 24uh 24" LED-backlit LCD

Is LCD or LED better for your eyes?

Many office jobs include spending eight or more hours every day in front of a computer screen. If you have to keep looking away from the computer due to issues with the monitor, your productivity is seriously decreased. Monitors that reduce eye strain, provide consistent color and offer enhanced contrast can help keep employees focused on the task at hand.

If you’re particularly sensitive to blurriness, LCD screens that operate at 120Hz or more can help you keep your vision clear. LCD monitors also tend to offer a wider variety of viewing angles for better comfort. On the other hand, especially if you work long hours, LED monitors tend to offer better dimming options without sacrificing picture clarity. Eye strain can occur in as little as three hours, so if that’s your top concern, an LED monitor is better for your eyes.  

Is LCD or LED better for gaming?

Monitors aren't just for work; they can be part of an awesome gaming  setup. You want to have a clear picture as you battle bad guys and race for the high ground. The best gaming monitors will offer low response times, low lag and a high refresh rate. Response time refers to how quickly pixels switch from one image to another. Lag is the delay between pressing a button on your controller and seeing that action on screen. And refresh rate is how often the screen updates what’s being shown. PC games in particular are coming to rely on Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), so the best gaming monitor will need to support VRR or risk screen tearing. Overall, even if you’re a casual gamer, a monitor that is prone to screen burn, does not support high resolution, or has a slow response time isn't going to be of any use to you.

OLED vs. QLED Monitors

Want to get more granular in your choice of LEDs? New screen technology typically hits the TV market first, but trickles down to computer monitors in short time. Two new such monitor types are OLED — Organic Light Emitting Diode — and QLED — Quantum Light Emitting Diode.

Every pixel in an OLED monitor is its own miniature LED light. Unlike regular LED monitors, OLED monitors aren’t technically backlit because each pixel produces its own light and color. If an individual pixel doesn’t receive electricity, it will appear dark. OLED technology offers amazing picture contrast as a result. And because each pixel is individually lit, OLED has an incredibly low response time — 0.1 millisecond — that is great for crisp images and gaming.

QLED monitors use nanoparticles called quantum dots that act as color and light filters. Millions of quantum dots can produce stunning displays of brightness and color. QLEDs offer full color saturation even in brightly-lit rooms. But the downside is that QLEDs have to dim their backlights for dark colors, which makes it difficult to produce a pure black effect like on an OLED. QLED monitors are also best viewed from dead center, so they might not be the best choice for workspaces that need wide viewing angles. 

The Bottom Line

As you try to make the best choice for your professional and personal monitor needs, consider what features are necessary and most important to improving your work space and/or your gaming space. In many cases, an LED monitor holds the advantage due to its longer lifespan, better picture quality, thinner design, fast response time and more environmentally friendly construction. These qualities offset the higher initial price point that might have you considering an LCD option. But if you are looking for something cheaper just to get you through a workday with some spreadsheets, the LCD could be for you. While LED monitors are most likely better for serious gamers, an LCD might be your choice if you are worried about screen burn.

Take your time and weigh the different options that make sense for your needs. Pay attention to the resolution, response times, inputs, and more listed for each monitor. Any monitor will "get the job done" but not all of them will "get the job done right."

Ready to select an LCD or LED monitor?