Having the right hardware for your PC can make all the difference when it comes to playing games – whether you’re a casual gamer or hardcore. In order to get the most out of all the latest and greatest games, in particular fast-action games like racing games and FPS (first-person-shooter) games, you need a great gaming PC and graphics card, but also a great monitor. You need to be able to see the action without being hit with problems such as screen tearing, blurring, flickering, and other issues. This guide will help you understand how to choose the right monitor for gaming.
Screen Size and Resolution
Bigger is generally better with gaming. If you’ve got the room for it, then having a 27-inch screen offers a lot of screen real estate. It gives you the chance to go beyond what you get with Full High-Definition (FHD), which has a maximum resolution of 1920×1080. Many of the latest 27-inch models are Wide, Quad High-Definition (WQHD) that have a maximum output of 2,560×1,440 pixels.
That might not sound like much of a difference, but it leads to much clearer and sharper pictures than you get with FHD. Having a higher resolution also means needing a more powerful graphics card and engine that can keep up with these high resolutions. It’s especially important for players that like to play with all the graphical settings at the max.
If you don’t have the free real estate on your desk necessary, there are lots of solid 24-inch monitors available. They just don’t offer the capacity to go beyond 1,920×1080. If you’ve got the room – and the money – then consider investing in a 30-inch Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) monitor. These monitors can deliver 3,840×2,160 resolution and incredible visuals.
Monitors are powered by all kinds of technology, and there are pros and cons to using each one. Twisted Nematic (TN) monitors are the most affordable and they are popular with gamers because they offer good refresh rates and pixel responses. The problem is that they have to be faced straight or they are prone to color shifting.
Vertical Alignment (VA) panels provide a high native contrast ratio, incredible colors, and an ability to showcase deep blacks, but they have been shown to have ghosting effects that impair gameplay.
In-Plane Switching (IPS) provides the best all-around color quality, wide viewing angles, and great gray-scale performance, but they aren’t able to match the pure pixel response of TN panels. They have also been prone to motion artifacting.
Refresh Rates and Pixel Response Times
A gaming monitor needs to have both a good refresh rate and a good pixel response time. The most common pixel response spec is to monitor gray to gray. This measures how quickly a monitor can go from one shade of gray to another and is measured in milliseconds. Low pixel response can eliminate the smearing caused by moving images and offers an overall better picture than you’d get with a high pixel response. The ideal response is a gray-to-gray response of under 2 milliseconds. 4 milliseconds is considered acceptable.
The refresh rate is how many times – per second – a monitor is able to redraw the entire screen. This is measured in Hertz (Hz). In general, an LCD monitor comes with a refresh rate of 60Hz, meaning that the screen is refreshed 60 times per second. This can cause fast-moving images to become blurry and it can also lead to screen tearing. This is when the monitor displays multiple screen images at the same time. Aim to find a monitor that offers 120Hz or higher to reduce blur and tearing. 120Hz is also needed for the latest active 3D technology. One of the best gaming monitors available right now is the well-reviewed LG 27GL850, one of the first IPS monitors with 1MS response time, 144hz and a whooping 2550x1440p display.
Video Outputs/Other Features
Gaming monitors need to have a range of video inputs that allow you to connect to different PCs and gaming consoles. It’s best to find one that has more than one HDMI port as all major consoles are equipped with HDMI. Some of the best gaming cards include DVI and DisplayPort connectivity. Look for USB ports too as these ports make connecting to controllers, thumb drives, mice, and other peripherals much easier. Buying a monitor that has a speaker system built in (complete with subwoofer) will take your gaming experience to the next level while also preserving desk space. Last but not least, having a stand that lets you adjust the height and tilt of the monitor allows for ergonomic comfort when pulling an all-nighter.
Finally we come to the price, which is determined by all the other features. The bigger a monitor is – and the more it has packed into it – the more expensive it will be. You should be able to find a decent 24-inch monitor with TN technology and a solid gray-to-gray pixel response for around $170, but it won’t have much else. A full 27-inch monitor that has everything you could possibly need can cost $500. For a full 30-inch UHD monitor you can expect to have to pay up to $3,500.