How to Choose a Gaming Monitor

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A high-end CPU, done. Graphics card, done. Full/Micro-ATX motherboard? done.

This is a usual check-list for most of the PC gaming enthusiasts who’re either building their first ever gaming PCs, or upgrading their old ones.

But there’s another important thing yet to be added in this checklist (which sadly, many of them don’t).

A Gaming Monitor.

Yep, a gaming monitor is not a gimmick, and is way more important than you think.

Actually, if I had to choose 3 most important PC components/accessories for gaming, a decent gaming monitor would be one of them, along with the CPU and graphics card.

Why is it so?

Well, think of it this way. Your graphics card do trillions of back-end calculations to process the high-res graphics of the latest games. But it is your monitor that actually displays the result of those calculations.

So, even if you have a 1080 Ti graphics card, it’s worthless if your monitor can’t properly display those high-resolution graphics and RAM

Luckily for you, in this post we’ll discuss what makes one gaming monitor better than the other.

In other words, we’ll tell you about the factors you need to consider before choosing a gaming monitor.

Gaming Monitor Panel Type

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As far as the type of display panel is concerned, there are various technologies available and each of them has pros/cons of its own.

First one are the Twisted Nematic, or TN, panels. These panels are popular due to their reasonable price and fast response rate, but they have low color quality as well as bad viewing angles.

Then comes the VA, or Vertical Alignment panels. While these panels are noted to have an extra contrast ratio and robust colors, they are also prone to image burn-in (also known as ghosting effect) and are more expensive than the TN panels.

As you can see, there are some problems in both of the above two panel types.

If you want have a good all-round panel, then there’s one more type: In-Plane Switching, or IPS. These panels have good color accuracy as well as strong grey-scale performance, and wide viewing angles. That being said, these panels can’t match to the TN displays, in terms of their refresh rate.

Screen Size And Resolution

There are different screen sizes available for gaming monitors.

I think it really depends upon your desk space. If you have a large desk, spacious room and, big budget, there’s no reason for not going for bigger sizes like 27, or 32-inches. These bigger screens usually have a higher resolution, which is always a plus point.

More wider screens often give you wider field-view, thanks to their 21:9 aspect ratio as compared to the 16:9 aspect ratio in smaller screens. Of course, these bigger screens will take more space and money. On top of that, you should have a heavy-duty graphics card to provide those crispy graphics on these screens.

On the other hand, if any one of your desk space and budget don’t allow you going bigger, there’s nothing wrong in going for a slightly smaller screen. Yes, it’ll have less resolution, but it would be accommodated in smaller space and will cost less.

The second thing we’ll discuss here is the screen resolution. Here are the 3 most common screen resolutions in gaming monitors.

  1. 1080p (also called HD)
  2. 1440p (also called QHD, or 2K)
  3. 2160p (also called UHD, or 4K)

More resolution means more pixels, which makes the graphics more stunning, but it also depends on your GPU.

Input Lag

Input lag is also called display lag. It’s the time taken from the moment you move/click a cursor to the moment when that movement appear on the screen. Although 30ms input lag is good for most games, some people keep it as low as 10ms. One thing worth mentioning that this metric is usually not written on the specs sheet of any monitor.

Response and Refresh Rate

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Response rate and refresh rate are two metrics related to the efficiency of a particular gaming monitor.

Response rate is the time a single pixel takes to change its shade. A less response time will eliminate the smudges on screen when the pixels are changing their shade. This leads to an overall smooth screen transition.

Although there’s no industry standard, the response rate is measured in grey-to-grey transition (some manufacturers use black-to white transition though). The ideal response time is 2ms, but even if you get a display with 4ms response time, it’ll be good for gaming.

Unlike response rate, refresh rate is number of times a display redraws/refreshes the entire screen, in one second. It’s measured in Hertz (Hz). A 120Hz means that a particular monitor refreshes the entire screen 120 times, in a second.

A high refresh rate is important for fast-moving images. For gaming, there are many 120Hz, and 144Hz monitors available in the market. Although, I think being over 90Hz can do the job, and you don’t necessarily need to go higher.

G-Sync and FreeSync

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G-Sync (by Nvidia) and FreeSync (by AMD) are the two latest technologies found in modern monitors.

Both of these technologies are used to reduce tearing as well as reducing input lag. These modules gives the control of screen’s refresh rate directly to the GPU (instead of monitor itself). This enables the GPU to have variable refresh rate according to the situation.

But here’s a catch though. To make these features work, you’ll also need a compatible graphics card, and DisplayPort 1.2 output.

Connectivity and Other Options

Nowadays, monitors come with a wide range of connectivity options like HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort. DisplayPort is currently the best option to transfer audio/video. On the other hand, if you want to connect your monitor to your gaming console, make sure that that monitor has an HDMI port.

There are some other uncommon features found in some monitors, such as USB ports and built-in speakers. While these features are good to have, they don’t really make a big difference.

Final Words

So now that you’ve learned most of the ins and outs related to gaming monitors, it’s time to get started.

First you have to set you budget. Then you need to go to any online store (such as amazon), and look around monitors that are close to your budget. Reading reviews is also very important here.

Yes, it will take some important time of you but if you’ve researched well, the end result of this will be a good-looking gaming monitor that’ll serve you for years to come.


This post was contributed by

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