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What is a 3D Monitor

Dorian Smith-Garcia Profile image

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Updated June 27, 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • There are 3 main types of 3D monitors: active, passive, and glasses-free
  • Glasses-free 3D monitors tend to be used solely for commercial purposes
  • Passive 3D monitors are ideal for people that don’t want to upgrade their graphics cards

It seems like technology is always innovating and finding better ways to create the gadgets and gear we use regularly. And the same can be said for computer displays, that is, if you already know what a monitor is in regards to a whole PC desktop setup. Once relegated to CTR monitors, we now have a wide array of options ranging from traditional LCDs to more impressive OLEDs. But now, there’s even the option to use a 3D computer monitor. But aside from gaming or immersive entertainment content, who else could benefit from this technology?

What are 3D Monitors?

As their title suggests, 3D monitors are designed to support three-dimensional aspects when you need them. Depending on what you’re looking at, this means that you’ll get to enjoy content that has far more depth than you would with a traditional computer monitor screen. But the technology is by no means new. And this means that there are several options available to consumers who are thinking about upgrading to a 3D monitor.

Before you upgrade to a 3D monitor, it’s a good idea to check out the warranty and what it covers. For more info, see our resource article on the top computer warranty.

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Types of 3D Monitors

There are three types of 3D monitors that consumers can purchase — active, passive, and glasses-free. Depending on your preference, and specific functions and uses of a computer monitor, there are pros and cons for each.

Passive 3D Monitors

Passive 3D monitors work pretty much like you would expect 3D technology to behave. When you wear a pair of specialized glasses and view content on the screen, you’ll see in-depth. Typically, 3D monitors come with at least one or two pairs of these glasses.

In terms of affordability, passive 3D monitors are the least expensive option if you want a 3D monitor but don’t want to pay high prices. More importantly, if you’re thinking about this upgrade, they don’t require a specialized graphics card to work properly since the monitor is engineered to do that heavy lifting.

However, one of the biggest negatives of passive 3D monitors is the image quality. Specifically, the glasses required to view content can make images appear dimmer. While this might not be a dealbreaker for everyone, people who are particular about image quality may not like it.

Warning: the glasses required to view content can make images appear dimmer

Active 3D Monitors

Like passive 3D monitors, active 3D monitors also require that you wear glasses to use them. However, these glasses are battery-powered. This is because the glasses manage the process of adjusting the refresh rate and alternating the images being shown to the right and left eye.

One of the biggest benefits of active 3D monitors is image quality. Along with offering a wider viewing angle, the image itself is also brighter. Also, the glasses can work well with a wider range of monitors.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks is the price attached to an active 3D monitor. And there’s a good chance that you’ll need to upgrade the graphics card on your computer to support the high demands of this monitor. And if you try to cut corners with a cheaper card or setup, there’s a good chance you could experience ghosting on your screen.

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Glasses-free 3D Monitors

A glasses-free 3D experience would be the ultimate choice if you don’t like the idea of having to recharge your glasses or the risk of misplacing them. Officially known as autostereoscopy, the technology creates the illusion of depth and offers some of the widest viewing angles for 3D monitors. However, the glasses-free freedom comes at a serious premium which is why this type of 3D monitor isn’t commonly seen in the consumer use sector.

Warning: glasses-free freedom comes at a serious premium which


Aside from the entertainment industry, the biggest benefactors of 3D computer technology will likely be doctors, scientists, and engineers. (

However, there’s one way in which you can view 3D through a normal monitor: Anaglyph cyan-red 3D. This requires a pair of anaglyph glasses (pictured above), which are generally very cheap to buy. You’ll lose a lot of color depth, but you’ll see things in 3D. (Make Tech Easier)


What is a 3D Monitor FAQ

How do 3D monitors work?

These monitors work by relying on glasses with polarized lenses that filter lightwaves to create different dimensions that your eyes see.

Can I watch 3D movies on my monitor?

Even if you don’t have a 3D monitor, you can watch 3D movies by watching them through 3D anaglyph glasses.

How can I watch passive 3D on my computer?

Unfortunately, passive 3D content can’t be easily viewed on a computer that isn’t connected to a 3D monitor.
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