How to Choose a Gaming Monitor – Simple Guide
No matter how great the graphics of a game are, you can never enjoy them to the fullest unless you get a reliable gaming monitor.
But choosing the right one can be a little overwhelming as there are many specs to take into consideration.
If you're lost as to which model to choose and whether it suits your needs, this article will help.
In this guide, I’ll thoroughly explain all the specs you’ll find on a monitor and how they can differently affect your gaming experience.
Getting a clear idea about everything will help you narrow down the options and choose the right one for you.
Screen Size and Resolution
In the world of gaming monitors, bigger doesn't always mean better. What you need to focus on is the pixel density of your screen.
If your monitor has a low pixel density, the image will look pixelated and lack many details.
On the other hand, if it's too high, there'll be a lot of screen space and details, but you'll have to enlarge images for smaller texts to be big enough to read.
While you may be okay with the idea of scaling your images, some apps or games don’t give you the freedom to do so.
That's why you should always check your scaling options before you go for a specific pixel density.
What Monitor Size Should You Get?
The most common size is 27-inch screens. And the ideal resolution for that is 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) –resulting in a pixel density of around 109 pixels per inch.
This gives you enough room to view your image at a good quality without losing any details.
Of course, you can still go for 24 inches or smaller with a 1920 x 1080 resolution or 34-inch ultra-wide ones with a 3440 x 1440 resolution.
But make sure that your CPU/GPU is capable of handling the enhanced resolutions at its maximum refresh rate.
The refresh rate refers to the number of times that your display hardware updates its buffer in one second.
Higher refresh rates mean clearer motion effects. But to get that, you have to make sure that your FPS (Frames Per Second) rate can keep up with the pace.
While the difference between a 60Hz and a 120Hz is quite noticeable, however, that's not the case with the difference between 144Hz and 240Hz.
That’s why I’d recommend getting a 120Hz or 144Hz for the ultimate combination between affordability and clarity.
Some monitors focus on that combination and provide you a 75Hz refresh rate or a 100Hz one with an ultra-widescreen for an immersive experience.
You'll find three main panel technologies: TN, VA, and IPS.
TN (Twisted Nematic)
TN panels have color reproduction abilities and viewing angles that are inferior to those of VA or IPS panels.
So in terms of visuals, they're not the best, and their images may look a little washed out.
However, they have the fastest response time that reaches 1ms GTG (Grey-to-Grey).
This means that it virtually eliminates ghosting, motion blur, or trailing during fast-paced action games.
They’re the perfect choice for competitive gamers.
IPS (In-Plane Switching)
When it comes to color reproduction and viewing angles, consistency of colors, IPS are the best.
However, their performance isn’t as good as TN panels, so you’ll probably face some ghosting.
Moreover, IPS panels have a glow that shows around the corners of the screen and which can be a little distracting if you’re using your laptop in the dark.
VA (Vertical Alignment)
Finally, we have VA panels. While they boast the best contrast ratios that make their images look vivid, they have the worst performance.
Even at higher refresh rates, you’ll probably notice some ghosting. And this ghosting deteriorates with the increasing darkness of the picture.
So Which One is For You?
If your main focus is on the performance of the monitor and you’re going to use it for competitive gaming, you should go for a TN panel.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the graphics and scenery of your game as well as play from different angles, opt for an IPS panel.
Finally, if you want a sort of combination between both things, you can go for a VA.
Response Time and Input Lag
First things first, these two terms should not be confused.
Response time refers to the time your monitor needs to switch from one color to another. On the other hand, input lag refers to the time the monitor needs to register and display your commands.
And while your manufacturer mentions the former, the latter isn't.
A typical IPS panel will have a 5ms GTG response time while a TN one will have a 2ms one, which is why TN panels display less ghosting and smearing.
AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync
Both of these technologies provide you with variable refresh rates that change the monitor's own in a dynamic way according to the GPU.
In other words, they synchronize the monitor’s refresh rate with the compatible graphics card’s frame rate (FPS). Consequently, they reduce visual stutters, tearing, and input lag.
The difference between the two is that G-Sync monitors have a built-in module that guarantees a wide dynamic refresh rate range and significantly reduces input lag. However, it also makes the monitors quite costly.
Freesync, on the other hand, has a royalty-free standard, so it doesn't increase the monitor's price.
Furthermore, it works over HDMI and DisplayPort. Unlike G-Sync that works over the latter only.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
If your monitor supports HDR, this means that it will provide you with higher brightness, contrast, and a wider color gamut for compatible content.
However, I wouldn’t strongly recommend it as most of the market’s content doesn’t support HDR yet.
If you can find an affordable model for yourself that does support HDR, I'd opt for it. Even if you don't benefit from it right away, it'll be a pretty good investment.