ENERGY STAR certified monitors include computer monitors, digital picture frames and professional signage which meet stringent energy efficiency requirements in On, Sleep, and Off Modes.

For small monitors, the on mode power consumption limits are based on both viewable screen area and resolution. The on mode power consumption limits for large monitors are based on viewable screen area alone. In general, larger, high resolution monitors will have higher maximum on mode power consumption allowances than smaller, low resolution monitors.

On average, monitors that have earned the ENERGY STAR are 15% more energy efficient than standard options.

Current Specification Effective Date:  July 1, 2016

Monitors originally qualified for the ENERGY STAR label in 1992. The Version 7.0 ENERGY STAR Displays specification covers computer monitors and signage displays, including all products with touch screen functionality. ENERGY STAR certified computer monitors must meet a total energy consumption (TEC) requirement that takes in their power draw in On Mode and Sleep Mode and varies depending on screen area and resolution. Signage displays must draw 0.5 watts or less in Sleep Mode and Off Mode, while On Mode power requirements vary according to screen area and resolution. Additional TEC and power allowances are also provided for select features. External power supplies (EPS) packaged with displays must meet level VI performance requirements under the International Efficiency Marking Protocol and include the level VI marking.


Displays Key Product Criteria: ENERGY STAR

Learn How a Product Earns the Label

How to Save Energy with Your New Computer Monitor

  • Activate the sleep settings on your monitor. You can set your monitor to first dim and then enter a low power sleep mode when the computer is inactive. Please see
  • Do not use screen savers. Screen savers generally do not save energy and may actually prevent a computer from entering sleep mode. Screen savers were originally developed to prevent the permanent etching of patterns on older monochrome monitors. Modern display screens do not suffer as much from this problem, but screen savers are still used for entertainment. If you want to use your screen saver in conjunction with monitor power management, set the screen saver "wait time" to less than the period of time after which the monitor enters sleep mode. If your screen saver appears but your monitor never enters sleep mode, your screen saver may be the culprit: try disabling it.

Other Factors to Consider in Buying a Computer Monitor1

In addition to energy performance, there are many other important operating and convenience features to consider when shopping for a computer monitor.

Screen Size and Shape

Widescreen displays are now the norm and only a few squarer "standard" screens (4:3 aspect ratio) remain available, mostly 17- and 19-inch models. Some standard screens offer good value and may be preferred if horizontal space is limited or the extra vertical space is desired. In terms of the size of the screen, the following advice is offered:

  • 19- to 20-inch monitor offers a good amount of screen space for spreadsheet work or home photo editing.
  • 22 inch is the sweet spot for gamers and media fans
  • 24 inch or larger is for hard-core gamers and those looking for a big screen for watching movies and TV shows.


A monitor's resolution refers to the number of picture elements, or pixels, that make up an image. More pixels mean finer detail. Most monitors can display at several resolutions, generally from 640x480 to 1920x1200, depending on the monitor and the computer's graphics card. For productivity, more resolution means easier multitasking and more words in the same space. For movies and photos, more resolution means sharper appearance. In other words, higher resolution is always better.

The smallest desktop monitors come in resolutions down to 1366 x 768, but the vast majority offer 1920 x 1080 resolution, also known as 1080p. 1080p offers plenty of room to spread out your windows but more importantly, has exactly the right number of pixels for watching high-definition content like Blu-ray movies and high-definition YouTube content. A number of less common resolutions like 1600 x 900 also exist but stretching your budget to hit 1080p, even if it means stepping down in size a bit, may be worth it.

Stands and Mounting

Virtually all new LCD displays tilt up or down, for a quick adjustment. For extra flexibility, look for a monitor that telescopes up and down and swivels without moving the base.


Virtually all new monitors have the DVI (digital visual interface) ports to take advantage of higher-end video cards for a sharper image. However, not all monitors include the necessary DVI cable. HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) ports are becoming more prevalent to accommodate some newer computers and electronics equipment such as Blu-ray/DVD players. One of the advantages of the HDMI interface is it allows for video and audio to be sent over the same cable, which is useful if the monitor has built-in speakers. A Video Graphics Array (VGA) is important for older equipment. Multiple inputs can also be useful if you plan to multitask with a monitor, like using it in a dorm room as both a TV and computer monitor. Many monitors also include perks like a built-in USB hubs and headphone jacks. Most monitors accept the same universal power cord, but new ultra-slim models often use an external power supply like a laptop, which can be one more piece to keep track of and another brick under your desk.

Other Computer Monitor Considerations:

Response time: A measure of how long it takes for a pixel to go from white to black and back. Low response times means pixels can't switch fast enough and "ghosting" occurs (e.g., a football flying through the air look like it has a comet tail). Most monitors tend to average somewhere around 5ms, which most consumers find acceptable even for gaming.

Refresh rate: A measure of how many times a display can update the picture in a second, measured in hertz (Hz). A monitor with a faster refresh time, usually 120Hz, can often interpolate ?in-between? frames to smooth motion, to make things like scrolling look more fluid. Standard monitors refresh at 60Hz.

Contrast ratio: This is a measure of the difference between the brightest white and the deepest black. A higher contrast ratio can produce images that are more vivid and punchy. However, because the way manufacturers measure contrast ratio is not uniform, advertised figures are not reliable.

Viewing angle: A measure of the angles a monitor can effectively be viewed at, expressed in degrees (ex. 170º). Older LCDs typically had severe problems with viewing angles, but newer models seldom present a problem to seated viewers, making it less of an important factor.

Brightness: A bright screen is important if you're working in a brightly lit room. A measure of how much light a monitor can emit, expressed in candelas per square meter (cd/m2). Besides simply looking better, a brighter monitor is much easier to see in brightly lit surroundings. Ratings of 250 to 300 cd/m2 are common for many affordable monitors.

LED backlighting: LED monitors are simply LCD monitors that use an LED backlight. LEDs allow manufacturers to make monitors slimmer, brighter, and without the warm-up time of traditional compact fluorescent (CCFL) backlights.

Gloss or matte: LCD screen's coating, depending on lighting conditions, can make a huge difference. Glossy screen coatings tend to enhance contrast for a more vibrant look, but also reflect their surroundings more readily when powered down or displaying dark images. Matte monitors displays tend to look duller, but work better under challenging lighting conditions, like across from large windows.

Touch screen: Touch screen is a feature more computer monitors will have as Windows 8 becomes more prevalent. Windows 8 incorporates many touch-screen features into its new interface, which include a series of tiles that represent your applications, documents, and so on.