There are a dizzying amount of display options for gamers these days. With varying refresh rates, resolutions, and special features, it can be hard to pin down which monitor is best for your setup. Let’s break down each element of a display, and what you should look for to find the perfect gaming monitor for your station.
Resolution is the number of pixels running left to right and top to bottom on a given display. It is perhaps the most obvious factor for a gaming monitor, but it isn’t as cut and dry as getting the highest resolution possible. While some games like
That’s why QHD/2K/1440p (2560 x 1440) has become the real sweet spot in PC gaming resolutions. A lot of modern cards can handle the resolution, and it’s a notable increase in pixels over 1080p.
For budget-conscious gamers, 1080p/FullHD is still a solid option. Virtually every card on the market (even cards from a generation or two ago), can handle 1080p, and you can get a quality FullHD gaming monitor for $200 or less.
Refresh rate is another key aspect of gaming
The refresh rate has a direct relationship with fps, at least in terms of the viewer experience. If you have a GPU that can throw out 240 fps but only have a 60Hz monitor, the monitor will effectively cap the fps. That won’t necessarily create performance issues, but it does create a bottleneck in your hardware. Conversely, if you have a high refresh monitor but a subpar or older GPU, you won’t get the most out of the monitor.
The most common refresh rates are 60Hz, 90Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, and even 360Hz. The higher the better, but remember that higher refresh rates will need higher fps (and beefier cards) to match.
Striking a balance between the GPU’s fps potential and the monitor’s refresh rate is crucial. If they are wildly out of sync, it could lead to screen tearing while you play. Screen tearing is essentially when two frames try to display at once, mostly through a horizontal split on the display. This can be pretty annoying and straight-up disruptive depending on the game you’re playing.
Enter Gsync and Freesync. These are special features developed by Nvidia and AMD respectively, and they are designed to reduce screen tearing. There are several different versions of the two, but they all basically create a variable refresh rate with compatible PC systems, which helps reduce the occurrence of screen tearing. Gsync is for compatible Nvidia systems, and Freesync is for AMD builds.
Response time is the amount of time it takes for a pixel to shift from one color to another. Lower response times lead to clearer images during fast motion, while higher response times can lead to motion blur and a ghosting effect.
The best response time for gaming
Input lag refers to the time it takes for you to click a button on your mouse, keyboard, or other input device, and see it represented on the screen. Although that involves your own reaction time, the speed of the peripheral, and your computer’s components, the speed the monitor displays that action is a factor too. Some
Display size is the clearest visual distinction between
You also need to consider the resolution as it relates to size. A 1080p display is fine at 24 inches, but will look blurry at 32-inches. A
Aspect ratio is also incredibly important to consider, especially when factoring in the size of a monitor. The aspect ratio is the ratio between the display’s width and height. For example, a 16:9 monitor will have 16 horizontal pixels for every 9 vertical ones. 16:9
However, 21:9 is also becoming increasingly popular, especially on larger displays. Commonly referred to as ultrawide, these
The panel type refers to the technology used to light up the display.
This is the cheapest type of panel, so it’s great for gamers on a budget. They also offer solid refresh rates and response times, but lack in color accuracy and viewing angles.
In-plane switching (IPS) panels have the best color accuracy and viewing angles. Traditionally, they don’t have response times as fast as TN panels do, though they are getting faster. All in all, though, this is the recommended panel type for mid-range gamers. They are more than fast enough and their vibrant color accuracy ensures all games look great. They’re also a great pick for professionals, thanks to their improved color accuracy.
Vertical alignment (VA) displays are the best all-around for gaming. Their response times and refresh rates don’t quite match TN panels, but they are still plenty fast. They have excellent color accuracy, even if they aren’t quite as good as IPS
Where the above panel types are all alternate versions of LCDs, OLED is another type entirely. With each pixel having its own OLED that can turn on or off at will, the contrast ratio on OLED
Color gamut support determines what kind of range of colors the monitor can display. A standard color gamut breadth might be 99% of the sRGB color space, while
Color gamut is heavily affected by the type of backlighting, so you can expect TN panels to have the lowest performance and OLED ones to have some of the highest.
Port selection is particularly important because it determines how you can connect your monitor to the PC. The most common modern examples are HDMI, DisplayPort, and
DisplayPort is less common, but it is actually a better option for gaming. DisplayPort connections have a higher bandwidth than older HDMI connections and are common on PC
Everything we’ve talked about above has to be factored into the question of budget. Yours will be different from someone else’s, and though you may have particular desires for a huge
Display prices come down fast all the time, too, so keep your eye on flagship
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