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We report on the improvement of several selectively oxidized vertical-cavity surface emitting laser characteristics by introducing a long monolithic cavity. The samples compared are grown with various cavity lengths using solid-source MBE. The 980 nm-regime is chosen as emission wavelength to facilitate growth by using binary GaAs cavity spacers. A record high single-transverse mode output power of 5 mW at a series resistance of 98 /spl Omega/ is obtained for a 7-μm aperture device with a 4-μm cavity spacer. Using an 8-μm cavity spacer, devices up to 16-μm aperture diameter emit 1.7 mW of single-mode power with a full-width at half-maximum far-field angle below 3.8/spl deg/.