Get the best display on your monitor – guide to screen size vs pixels

With ever increasing various screen resolutions, aligning the best display view on your monitor is getting complex. However, the fundamentals lie in understanding screen size of your monitor or display device and the respective pixels resolution it can accommodate to. No matter which OS – Windows, Linux, Mac or even Android OS on your PC, you want to adjust the display monitor on, the OS first automagically tries to choose the best display settings for the monitor. However, there are many events in which you want to change or restore the default settings of monitor screen size and pixels.

How to determine the best fit native resolution for your monitor?

Windows 8 help and support center states, it’s a good idea to set your monitor to the resolution it was designed to display (called the native resolution). To see your monitor’s native resolution, open Control panel and check the display settings which read as “change the appearance of your display”. The Recommended is the native or default resolution for your monitor, it is also the best fit resolution.

Changing appearance display screen pixel resolutions in Windows 8
Changing appearance display screen pixel resolutions in Windows 8

Do note that monitors can support resolutions that are lower than their native resolutions, however the text and images won’t look sharp and the display might be small, centered on the screen, edged with black, or stretched. Once you open apps, you realize how it looks to use a large monitor or screen size with so little pixel size.

Most of us forget the recommended or best pixel resolution for various monitor size. Just to say, the best resolution in pixels for a 19-inch standard ratio monitor is 1280 x 1024; similarly for the the screen size of 17 inch widescreen laptop, the recommended resolution in pixels is 1680 by 1050.

However, depending on users preference and the amount of DPI (virtually magnifying dots) used on your screen, the display on the monitor might be changed. For example, people with large display often see too small text, since they can’t increase the resolution (which can only be decreased!) hence they can increase the DPI or change the size of all items like a magnifier.

Recommended screen resolutions in pixels for Monitor, laptop, & tablet

Monitor size Recommended resolution (in pixels)
19-inch standard ratio monitor 1280 × 1024
20-inch standard ratio monitor 1600 × 1200
20- and 22-inch widescreen monitors 1680 × 1050
24-inch widescreen monitor 1920 × 1200
Table summary: Table showing recommended resolution for several monitor sizes (standard & widescreen)


Laptop screen size Recommended resolution (in pixels)
13- to 15-inch standard ratio laptop screen 1400 × 1050
13- to 15-inch widescreen laptop screen 1280 × 800
17-inch widescreen laptop screen 1680 × 1050
Tablet screen 1360 × 768
Table summary: Table showing recommended resolution for laptop & tablet monitor sizes
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