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Does Your PC’s Monitor Affect Performance?

Does Your PC's Monitor Affect Performance?
Illustration: Gordon McAlpin

So you’re thinking about a new widescreen LCD monitor, or even multiple monitors, and you’d like to know if such a purchase will cause your PC’s performance to take a hit. The short answer is no, not really.


A single monitor LCD upgrade from your old, heavy picture tube monitor will have little to no effect on PC performance, unless you also up your screen resolution in Windows to take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Higher resolutions tax your PC and graphics card a bit more than lower resolutions. But at the same resolution, your new monitor won’t affect things. And it’s likely to use a lot less power, which the environment (and your electric bill) will appreciate, and also be easier on the eyes.


Replacing one monitor with two, or adding on a second monitor, can affect PC performance, especially if you’ve got heavy 3D graphics on both screens at the same time. You’re effectively making your graphics card work twice as hard to display graphics on two screens at once.

However, for most normal Windows usage, a second monitor won’t make much difference. If you are seeing sluggish performance after adding a second monitor, it’s likely your performance was bad before the upgrade. In this case, upgrading a video card can be very inexpensive and will make a significant difference. Since newer cards support two monitors in the first place, you may need to upgrade anyway in order to use dual monitors.


Even adding an external monitor to a laptop won’t impact the laptop’s performance, because, naturally, the built-in screen won’t be used at the time, so the tradeoff is roughly equivalent. You may find, however, that the external monitor might drain the battery more quickly than the built-in, smaller screen, so keep that in mind.

I should also note that having more screen real estate can improve your productivity work and game-wise, so any slight loss to PC performance is going to be offset by how much more you get done with two screens (or just a wider single screen than before)!

So upgrade away, since LCD prices are at an all-time low, with no worries!

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