Gaming monitors are lying to us, and they have been for many years. Informed buyers know the tricks that brands play to sell the best gaming monitors, and they’ve learned to navigate the deceptive marketing. But these ploys persist, and 2023 is the year when monitors need to get a little more transparent.
Some of the key areas where gaming monitors mislead buyers have been running rampant for years, while others are fairly new. As we start a new year and look onto next-gen displays, consider this buying advice for picking up your next gaming display, as well as a call to arms to demand manufacturers do better.
Perhaps the biggest area of misinformation around gaming monitors is HDR, as well as all the specs that relate to good
The standard for
VESA explained to me that in tiers like DisplayHDR 1,000, it measures not only peak brightness in part of the screen, but also full-screen peak brightness. A representative said this is important for games where you may see a flashbang effect or something similar, requiring a quick blast of brightness.
However, multiple brands have piggybacked off of VESA’s standard with misleading
What’s the point of having a standard if nothing is standard?
There are more common and pressing examples, however, and Samsung is a key offender. Although some Samsung displays are certified with DisplayHDR, most use “
Similarly, Asus’ recently introduced Nebula HDR standard for laptop displays lists vague specs. The standard goes “up to 1,100 nits of peak brightness” and “can have hundreds, if not thousands, of separate dimming zones in a single panel,” but all panels use the same Nebula
I don’t have any issues with companies developing standards for their products, but when they’re designed to look like an established industry certification, they’re designed to mislead. At the very least, if companies are going to create their own
This is all the more important considering the specifications
Contrast ratio has the same problem. Both the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 (2022) and Alienware 34 QD-OLED list a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. However, the OLED panel and its self-emitting pixels on the Alienware 34 QD-OLED means it has a near-infinite contrast ratio, while third-party reviews show the Samsung monitor with around a 15,000:1 ratio. I don’t blame Samsung here, either. It wants to paint its products in the best light, but when these critical specs say so little, it’s hard to believe them at all.
Response time has long been an area of confusion and misleading specs for gaming
You won’t find a gaming monitor that advertises a response time over 1 millisecond, which makes response time a pointless spec. The vast majority of
The more telling spec is Moving Picture Response Time (MPRT), which measures the visibility of pixels. This number draws closer to the motion blur you actually see on screen, and motion clarity is the vital component that response time is attempting to track.
Response time is one of the most important metrics for gaming, and product listings do little to clarify how products stack up.
Ideally, manufacturers should list both. You may have a monitor with a 1ms GtG response time, but with a 60Hz refresh rate, the MPRT is 16.6ms. You’ll see blur on the vast majority of objects.
On top of that, monitor brands typically measure GtG response time at high overdrive levels. Pixel overdrive reduces the response time of the monitor and should, theoretically, produce images with more motion clarity. However, overdrive often produces ghosting and coronas, both of which are artifacts that look like motion blur in a moving image. Again, monitor brands usually don’t specify the overdrive level in response time metrics, adding even more confusion to this spec.
VESA is attempting to pull the curtain back on response times with ClearMR. This provides a Clear Motion Ratio (CMR), which is a measure of clear to blurry pixels in a set of tests. This is even more comprehensive than GtG and MPRT specs listed together. It looks at the final image, not just a test pattern, and it accounts for sharpening, overdrive, and the motion clarity techniques that gaming
ClearMR just launched last year, and only 33 displays are certified right now. Response time is easily one of the most important metrics for gaming, and for years, product listings have done very little to clarify how products stack up. Listing GtG and MPRT is a good first step, but standards like ClearMR encompass even more.
The main point here is that we could see some misleading branding with future gaming
It’s not an 8K monitor, though. The Rec.2020 standard defines 8K as a pixel count of 7,680 x 4,320. In addition, there are groups like the 8K Association that oversee 8K displays, as well as the ecosystem to power them with content. The new Odyssey Neo G9 has a resolution of 7,680 x 2,160. You’d need to stack two of them on top of each other for a true 8K resolution.
Samsung never claimed its monitor was 8K, but this an area rife for misleading branding going into next-gen displays. As we continue to see exotic aspect ratios and higher resolutions, I have no doubt that “8K” will be thrown around loosely. We’re seeing that already, and that’s with a single monitor from one of the world’s largest brands.
What gaming monitors can do
Gaming monitor brands need to do better, but that’s easy to say. In reality, brands in the business of selling gaming
That’s why third-party industry standards are important. DisplayHDR has already set a clear baseline for
Although I don’t have a clear path forward, the situation now isn’t working. Spec sheets say very little about how a gaming monitor actually works, and in a space rife with misleading branding, critical elements like
This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing biweekly column that includes discussions, advice, and in-depth reporting on the tech behind PC gaming.
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