Technology is becoming increasingly complicated. It is becoming harder and harder to understand what is good and what is bad. What has good value and what is overpriced. We noticed that gamers pay a lot of attention to the components inside of their computers (as they should) but often forget the peripherals.
Monitors are one of the most underrated and complicated technologies that goes into our computers. The more you look into monitors the more complicated you realize they are. While the GPU is where most of your graphics come from, it will suffer if you do not have a monitor that can properly display those graphics. It is important that you understand what is displaying those vivid images and how it is instrumental in displaying the worlds that we so love. A monitor is what determines the level of immersion that you experience.
For a long time my personal monitor was a 10 year old monitor simply because I didn’t see a monitor worthy of my money. I would spend hundreds of dollars on new Ice Hockey skates and spend money on keyboards and mice. But the money was a forgotten part of my build. Then one of my friends came to my rescue and gave me a gift card to Amazon and told me to spend it on a monitor. Only a monitor. So I did and haven’t looked back since. Since that day I cannot understand how I survived with having the cutting edge of screen technology. We firmly believe that monitors are important, while I dismissed them for days, I have since joined the way of thinking here at the team. They are crucial to immersion.
Luckily Moore’s law also applies to monitors. Moore’s law states that every 2 years technology should double. He was referring to CPU’s at the time but it applies to just about every other sector of tech hardware. Including monitors. They have been getting so much better so much faster that it is hard to keep up. Luckily you do not have to buy a monitor every 2 years.
A monitor is an investment. It is something that you will own for a long time. You should own it for a long time. A good monitor is not an insubstantial amount of money. The great thing about monitors is that they do not become obsolete. They get improved on and every year they get much better, but they are always capable of doing what they need to. That is why we consider a monitor an investment. A good monitor will last you for years. Monitors rarely die from use, they are sturdy and almost infinite machines. It is hard to kill a monitor through wear and tear.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Monitor?
The single most important features of a monitor is the panel type. The panel type sways the price, the refresh rate, the response time, the viewing angles. Just about everything. In my opinion, there are a handful of main features/specifications you need to look at when comparing monitors.
- Refresh rate
- Response time
- Panel type
- Free-Sync & G-Sync
Obviously, monitor size is a pretty straightforward specification to comprehend. And, the size of the monitor you want to get will depend on your own personal preferences.
Some people like to get the biggest monitor they can. Others, like me, would rather have multiple medium-sized monitors.
Monitor size will come down to how much you have to spend and what resolution you want.
Right now, monitors under 23″ are the most affordable options, but they are mostly limited to 1080p resolutions.
24″-28″ monitors are a little more expensive depending on what resolution you get, but they can come in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.
Monitors over 28″ are the most expensive and also range in resolutions from 1080p all the way up to 4K and beyond.
It’s important to note that the bigger the screen you get, the more detail you lose. So, for instance, a game will look a little worse on the best 27-inch monitor than it will on the best 23-inch monitor at the same resolution
That’s why if you’re going to get a bigger gaming monitor, it is always a good idea to also bump up the resolution as well.
Monitor resolution refers to how many pixels there are on your screen. The more pixels there are, the more detail and better graphics you can play your games in.
However, the more pixels there are (and thus, the higher your resolution) the more GPU power it will take to run your games at an ideal framerate.
So, just because you got out and get a 4K monitor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to enjoy 4K in all of its glory. The resolution you can choose will depend on how powerful of a graphics card you have.
Therefore, it’s very important that when you buy your gaming monitor, you choose something that will compliment your video card.
Currently, 1920×1080 (1080p) is the most popular monitor resolution available. However, 560×1440 (1440p) and 3840 x 2160 (4K) monitors are becoming more and more popular as their prices drop and GPU technology advances.
If you are are building a new computer, or if you have an entry-level to mid-level graphics card in your existing machine, you will be limited to a 1080p monitor. Even for a cheap 1440p monitor, you will probably need a video card in the ~$200 range or higher.
And, for 4K gaming you will want to consider spending at least $300 on a video card.
It should be noted, though, that just like how a high monitor resolution will take more power and require a bigger video card, so, too, will a monitor with a high refresh rate.
Monitor Refresh Rate
It wasn’t long ago that a monitor’s refresh rate was considered as being a kind of arbitrary specification. However, as more and more gamers have discovered, a monitor with a high refresh rate can provide a huge difference and a big boost to your in-game experience.
A refresh rate basically indicates how many images your monitor will show you per second. 60Hz is currently the standard refresh rate, which means that a 60Hz monitor will display 60 images per second.
So, a monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate will display 165 images per second.
And, what refresh rate effects in your in-game experience is the smoothness of the gameplay. Playing on a 144Hz monitor will feel much more smooth than playing on a 60Hz refresh rate.
For a lot of gamers, a high refresh rate is a luxury. However, for hardcore and competitive gamers, who rely on every split-second advantage they can get, a higher refresh rate can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
But, it’s important to remember that, just like having a higher resolution monitor will require more GPU power, so, too, will having a monitor with a higher refresh rate.
And, it’s doubly true that if you have a high-res, high-refresh-rate monitor, you will need an even bigger GPU to accommodate it.
As of right now, the highest refresh rate you can get (at least, practically speaking) is 165Hz. However, as there is not yet any support for 4K resolutions at refresh rates higher than 60Hz, the current pinnacle of gaming monitors are the handful of 1440p/144Hz monitors that are currently available.
There should be a 144Hz 4K monitor coming out within the next year, but if you are looking for the absolute best monitor for gaming possible right now, you will want to look into the 1440p/144Hz options listed above on this list.
From a practical point of view, refresh rates currently come in 60Hz, 75Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, and 165Hz.
Monitor Response Time
The response time for a monitor is basically the speed at which the pixels change from one color to the next (in order to switch to the next frame). The longer the response time, the more “ghosting” you will get.
Response times aren’t really as important as they used to be and that’s mostly because you don’t usually find a monitor now with such a bad response time as to hinder performance.
Most TN panels come with response times between 1ms-4ms and most IPS panels come with response times between 5ms-7ms. While 7ms is a bit on the high end, for the most part it is not bad enough to where you would notice a significant difference.
So, the bottom line is that, while response time is an important specification, the truth is that you won’t find a monitor that comes with a subpar response time.
Panel type is another feature you will want to consider. There are quite a few different panel types, but as of right now there are really only two main prevalent options available. They are: TN panels, and IPS panels.
TN (Twisted Nematic) panels are the standard options right now and, therefore, are much more affordable. And, while there are some IPS panel monitors with high refresh rates, there are plenty more TN panels.
TN panels also have faster response times.
However, where TN panels lack in comparison to IPS panels is in color quality, grayscale performance, and viewing angles.
For the most part, TN panels work better as gaming monitors, whereas IPS panels are better suited for professional use. Although, I should point out that that is a general rule, but it is not true in every case.
In fact, one of the best gaming monitors currently on the market is an IPS panel monitor that has a 165Hz refresh rate and a 4ms response time. So, it’s not that IPS panels can’t have high refresh rates and lowish response times, but that you have to pay a premium to get those features on an IPS panel.
FreeSync & G-Sync
There is a lot of hype over FreeSync and G-Sync technologies. Both are designed to provide a better gaming experience by eliminating screen tearing, and reducing input lag.
The result from these two technologies is a smoother gameplay experience.
To better understand how it is that FreeSync and G-Sync work, first you need to understand what screen tearing is and how it can affect gameplay.
Screen tearing is essentially when your GPU is not producing frames at a rate that is consistent with the monitors refresh rate. The result is that your game will “artifcat” and display wrong colors, static, stretched textures, etc.
One of the original ways around this was through V-Sync, a technology that forced your GPU to match your monitors refresh rate. However, that cause a handful of issues as well, including stuttering.
Where FreeSync and G-Sync differ from V-Sync is that instead of forcing your GPU to accommodate your monitor, they force your monitor to accommodate your GPU.
So, if you’re gaming and you’re framerate is bouncing around between a 60-70 FPS, with FreeSync and G-Sync your monitor will vary its refresh rate accordingly so as to eliminate screen tearing, stuttering, and input lag.
While both technologies are a bit different, and neither are perfect, the main takeaway here is that if you do get a monitor that is either FreeSync or G-Sync compatible, that you ensure that you get a video card to match it.
While it does appear that NVIDIA cards can utilize FreeSync to a point, AMD cards cannot utilize NVIDIA’s G-Synch technology. So, if you are planning on getting a monitor with either type of technology, you need to plan accordingly with the GPU you already have, or the one you are planning on buying.