What to Look for in a Gaming Monitor?
As gamers, we tend to get caught up with what goes inside our PC case and overlook one important peripheral – the monitor. The monitor is just as important as the rest of your hardware especially when we talk about gaming. It can make or break the whole experience. So, we’ve come up with a guide to help you choose the right gaming monitor for your gaming needs.
This is the most important factor to consider when making your decision. Gaming monitors come in three different resolutions: 1080P, 1440P, 2160P. Some might label them as Full HD, Quad HD, and Ultra HD. The last two are commonly referred to as 2K and 4K resolution.
A higher resolution monitor has more pixels. This means you’ll get a more detailed image on your screen. Does this mean you just choose the highest resolution you can afford and be done with it? Not necessarily. If you’re buying a monitor for gaming, you need to consider hardware limitations.
When your game isn’t running at the optimum framerate, the first thing you’ll usually do is lower the resolution. You’ll see the effects of this tweak right away as the high resolution is very demanding on your hardware.
Right now, 2K resolution is becoming the standard. This just means most gaming setups will handle this resolution at a stable 30 frames per second. Playing games at 30fps is simply not enough for most gamers. Just imagine what 4K resolution will do to your hardware. Only top-tier graphics cards will be able to handle 4K at a decent framerate.
So before making a decision, you need to determine how powerful your GPU is and whether you prefer visuals or performance. With monitor prices coming down, we strongly suggest you get a monitor with at least 2K resolution. They are future-proof and you will have an upgrade path later on.
Most gaming monitors come in 24, 27, and 32 inches. There are a few things we need to mention when choosing your screen size. A 32-inch monitor might be too big if you’re gaming up close so it should only be considered if you’re gaming at a distance. Because of lower pixel density, a 1080p gaming monitor at 27-inch or higher will look pixelated especially up close.
To understand the refresh rate, we first need to talk about the frame rate. Frame rate or fps is the number of images your GPU can render in one second. The refresh rate, measured in hertz, refers to the monitor’s ability to refresh in a second. To put it simply, it is the number of frames your monitor will be able to display in a second.
So even if your GPU can support over 144 frames per second but your monitor has a refresh rate of 60Hz, you’re still essentially gaming at 60fps. If that’s the case, you’ll need to lock the frame rate at 60 or you’ll get screen tearing. This happens when your monitor can’t handle all the frames coming in from the GPU.
Most monitors will come in 60Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz refresh rates. The 60Hz refresh rate is on its way out and shouldn’t even be considered when gaming in 1080p resolution. If you’re considering a 144Hz or 240Hz refresh rate monitor, make sure your GPU can get the most out of them.
To address the screen tearing problem mentioned above, a gaming monitor typically needs to refresh when the GPU sends a new signal or image. Both AMD and Nvidia have come up with their own technologies. To maximize your AMD GPU, you’ll need a monitor with FreeSync. For Nvidia GPUs, look for a monitor with G-Sync. Most monitors come with one or sometimes both of these technologies built-in. However, it’s worth mentioning that G-Sync technology will cost you around $100-150 extra while AMD’s FreeSync won’t add to the cost.
Currently, we have three main panels for gaming monitors – TN or twisted nematic, VA or vertical alignment, and IPS or in-plane switching. IPS monitors offer better visuals – including better viewing angles, color accuracy, and vibrancy. TN panels offer better response times (although IPS is catching up). While VA sits somewhere in the middle. If your budget allows, I say that you go for IPS panels.
Response time refers to the time it takes for a pixel to turn from white to black or in some cases, from one shade of gray to another. You might have seen this being referred to as gray-to-gray or gtg. Measured in milliseconds, this number is crucial to gamers. A lower number means you’ll have a smoother overall gaming experience. In contrast, higher response time can result in motion blur and ghosting during quick movements.
Modern gaming monitors will commonly have a display port and HDMI. Both are capable of video and audio transfers but the display port offers faster transfer rates. Some monitors offer an audio output jack as a convenient way to connect your headphones or speakers. If you plan to plug several USB devices on your monitor, make sure it has the necessary number of inputs.
We hope this guide will help you make the right decision when making your next gaming monitor purchase. On a final note, monitors often go on sale. So if you’re on a tight budget you should be on the lookout for those.
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