TECH DEN / CHOOSING A GAMING MONITOR

GAMING MONITOR BUYING GUIDE

A short on guide on what to look for when buying a gaming monitor
Written by Darren | 10 minute read
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BUYING A GAMING MONITOR IN 2019

Gaming monitors come in a variety of sizes, refresh rates, resolutions, and features. While a lot of these elements are subjective, and ultimately down to personal preference, they will greatly affect the price tag.

In this guide, our aim is to help you identify which gaming monitor will offer you the best value for your money.

We won’t be delving too deep into the technical aspect of each of the elements in this guide. Instead, we will be covering what you should look for in your next gaming monitor.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY MONITORS

SCREEN SIZE

Gaming monitors generally come between 24 and 34 inches, with sizes above 32 inches being curved or a wide format.

Consider how far away you’ll be situated from your monitor, as larger screens won’t necessarily benefit you if you’re not using a higher resolution, or your desk has limited space.

You’ll probably be using your monitor for extended periods of time so choosing the right size will help with your viewing comfort.

It’s recommended to take the resolution into account when choosing the size. We’ll cover this in the next section.

gaming monitor screen size

RESOLUTION

In this guide, we will be focussing on monitors using a 16:9 format with the following resolutions:

  • 1920 x 1080 (1080p Full HD)
  • 2560 x 1440 (1440p QHD)
  • 4096 × 2160 (2160p UHD/4K)

Resolution, measured by width multiplied by height, refers to the pixel count on your monitor. This means a 1920 x 1080 monitor will have a total of 2,073,600‬ pixels on the screen.

A higher pixel count will provide both better image detail as well as allowing more content to fit on the screen. However, bigger is not always necessarily better when choosing the right gaming monitor for you.

Your current hardware should be carefully considered when choosing a monitor. Try testing with your current games to see what type of FPS you’re getting on your preferred settings. Alternatively, you can take a look at reviews online using a similar setup and compare the results.

QHD is gradually becoming the new standard, so if your budget allows, 1440p would be a more “future-proof” option.

If you decide to go with a 1080p monitor, however, 24 inches is recommended since a lower pixel count won’t make as much of a difference when compared to 1440p.

Most graphics cards will be able to hold a consistent 30 – 60 FPS on mid settings at a resolution of 2560 x 1440.

monitor resolution guide.png

REFRESH RATE

A monitor’s refresh rate, measured in Hertz (Hz), measures how many times per second the monitor can refresh the image on the screen.

So if you’re running a game at 75 FPS, you would want a monitor that could handle at least 75Hz.

Refresh rates range between 60Hz and 240Hz, but it’s important to note that there is no benefit to higher refresh rates if your PC can’t handle it.

When choosing a monitor, make sure that your computer can run the games that you want to play at these higher frame rates.

gaming monitor refresh rate
Image source: LG Electronics

ADAPTIVE SYNC TECHNOLOGY

Adaptive sync eliminates screen tearing and stuttering caused by a dip/spike in frame rate, providing a smoother on-screen experience.

AMD FreeSync is only compatible with AMD graphics cards, while NVIDIA G-SYNC only works with NVIDIA. Monitors will include only one of these technologies, with G-SYNC being the more expensive of the two

Both will eliminate screen tearing with a very minor cost to overall performance. G-SYNC also removes VSync-related input lag.

adaptive sync comparison
Image source: LG Electronics

PANEL TECHNOLOGY

Gaming monitors will be either a TN (twisted nematic) or IPS (in-plane switching) panel.

Technical differences aside, both have their own set of pros and cons when it comes down to gaming.

TN panels support faster response times, generally having a 1ms response time, but the viewing angles and colour quality won’t be as good as with IPS panels.

IPS panels will have a better overall picture quality with more vibrant colours and better viewing angles, but this comes at a cost of response time. The lowest they offer is 4ms.

RESPONSE TIME

Measured in milliseconds (ms), response time represents the time taken for a single pixel to switch from black to white, or between different shades of grey.

Lower response times mean less blur when moving your cursor, as the changes on screen are processed faster.

If you’re looking for ultra-responsive performance for esports titles, 1ms is the best option. If it’s ultra-quality you’re after, the 4ms of an IPS panel won’t be noticeable unless you’re comparing them side-by-side.

CONNECTORS & FEATURES

Gaming monitors will generally come with both DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 1.4/2.0 to connect to your PC.

The DisplayPort offers higher refresh rates at higher resolutions from that of an HDMI port, but both are able to transfer audio.

Most monitors will include a DisplayPort cable, but if they don’t it’s an inexpensive investment.

Other features may include motion blur control, colour profiles, USB hubs, 3.5mm audio inputs, and a few other extras that aren’t totally necessary if you’re sticking to a budget.

Modern graphics card will all include both DisplayPort and HDMI ports.

displayport cable
DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
hdmi cable
HDMI cable
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