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How to choose the right gaming monitor

Lots of gamers struggle to decide which monitor is best for their requirements or what to look for in a gaming monitor. Its actually the most asked question we get sent, hence why we came up with this How to guide.

Looking for a gaming monitor isn’t an easy task, there are so many type, price ranges, resolutions and even features to choose from. Regardless of if your a hardcore gamer up all hours or just a casual gamer at weekends a dedicated monitor for gaming will make the world of difference. If you mostly play first person shooters, or any other fast paced game you will be looking for a monitor with great colours and perfect response times so you don’t get what is called ghosting or blurred motions. In this post we will help you decide what type type of monitor you need for your gaming preferences.

Panel Technology

The technology used for the actual screen is refereed to as panel technology and we have 3 options to choose from. IPS, TN and VA. 9 times out of 10 gaming monitors as IPS or TN and as discussed in a previous post of IPS v TN there are valid reasons for both. I suggest you read that post if you are interested in the differences, after you read this post of course.

In short TN stands for Twisted Nematic and is the most common type of panel due to its cheaper cost to manufacture. TN panels are also very popular with gamers due to the almost instant response times. In most cases response times for a TN panel can get as low as 1ms. The second most popular panel is IPS which stands for In-Plane switching is by far the when taking in to consideration the colours and general look and feel of games. That being said IPS does have a slightly slower response time at around 4ms to 8ms depending on the brand and model of monitor.

VA is fairly uncommon for gaming monitors but they are still used by some brands. VA (vertical Alignment) is in laymen terms the middle man between IPS and TN so the panel is considered to be cheaper than IPS, produce better colours than TN but it does suffer from slow response times.

Best Panel Technology for Gaming

This comes down to preference, I personally will always choose an IPS monitor with a 5ms response time as I prefer to have the games looking as best as they can – I also don’t play competitive eSports other than small tournaments.

  • If you are looking for the best look and colours from your games then IPS is better than VA, and VA is better than TN.
  • If you care more about blistering response times and you play fast paced first person shooters competitively then TN is by far the best, although there are some VERY expensive IPS screens that can get as low as 3ms and 4ms which might be worth a look.

TL;DR

IPS is for great looking visuals, perfect colours and making games look there best. 

TN is for a gamer that needs a fast response time, plays fast paced games and/or plays competitively

Response Time & Refresh Rates

You have probably heard of response time and refresh rates, but do you know what you should be looking for in a gaming monitor?

Response Time

You have likely seen many monitors stating 1ms, 2ms or even all the way up to 5ms – what does this mean? Basically its the time it takes for a pixel to change from one shade of grey to another, its called GtG for short. The lower the time the more responsive the monitor should be. Lower response times means the monitor will suffer from less motion blur and will provide a smoother experience. In general anything below 5ms is fine for gaming although the closer to 1ms you can get the smoother your experience will be. In most cases a casual gamer won’t see to much difference between 1ms and 5ms, but a gamer playing fast paced games or competitively will likely need a 1ms monitor.

When looking for a gaming monitor you should pay particular attention to the panel type as TN monitors generally have a 1ms or 2ms response time and IPS will generally have a 5ms response time. Of course, both panels have a catalogue of pros and cons so make sure you make an informed choice on picture quality and response times.

Refresh Rates

Getting the most frames per second from your gaming PC on the highest settings is what PC gaming is all about. That is only part of the problem though! If your computer can push out 120 frames a second but your monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate then your wasting your time optimising the game settings for that 120 frame rate. In other words a monitor refresh rate should in theory be as high as you can afford it to be, ideally 120Hz+ at least. Unless you are looking for a console gaming monitor then a 60Hz screen is perfect.

Screen tearing

Screen Tearing – [source]

A genuine problem connected with refresh rates is screen tearing. This is when you notice the screen with disjointed lines across it, as if it was showing you two different frames at the same time. There are v-Sync options in games where it will eliminate this by capping the frame rate and force the GPU to output up to that cap – not ideal, but it is effective at removing tearing.

G-Sync and FreeSync

In recent years both AMD and Nvidia have produced solutions for tearing. These two solutions are called FreeSync and G-Sync. Many newer gaming monitors will feature one if not both of these solutions which means the graphics card and monitor are synchronised for frames per second and refresh rates. In turn this makes for a very smooth gaming experience. Both of these technologies are by far the best solution for tearing and gaming monitors.

G-Sync FreeSync

Monitor Size & Resolution

When looking for a new monitor size matters and usually its a case of bigger is better, but not always.

Firstly, if your looking to get a 27 inch monitor you need to ensure your graphics card is powerful enough to handle what you are going to throw at it. With that being said, you also need to ensure you DO NOT get a 1080p monitor that is 27 inch – although at first glance they look OK the resolution of 1080p is far too low for a 27 inch monitor especially for gaming! If you are looking for a 27 inch screen then 1440p is the standard resolution you should be looking at.

If your looking to stay on a tight budget or don’t have a powerful enough graphics card then a 24 inch gaming monitor is likely your best option. We here at eSport Source actually use 24 inch screens and they are great for gaming. A 24 inch 1080p monitor is perfect for most PC gamers especially if your can’t spend hundreds of dollars on a monitor.

Some games like a Ultra-wide screen and some gamers hate them, I sit firmly in between as I love the look and feel of a curved ultra-wide screen but I have noticed some problems with them. Ultra-wide screens are great overall and for work, browsing the net and general tasks it means you have a lots of room to play with. Gaming on ultra-wide means your GPU will be under more load. The biggest draw back for me personally was some games I played had issues placing menus and the player HUD in odd positions due to the extended width, granted its not a problem in many games but it certainly is annoying when a HUD is placed over an important part of the screen!

That being said, there is nothing sexier or more immersive than a curved ultra-wide screen! So, if you have the budget, graphics card to run it and want lots of extra space then Ultra-wide might be an option for you.

Conclusion

  • Size matters and bigger is usually best
  • Resolution and screen size need to be considered – 27 Inch should be at least 1440p and 24 Inch should at least have 1080p.
  • Higher resolutions screens can work on less powerful graphics cards by down scaling the resolution of the games you play.
  • Ultra-wide screens look great, are fully immersive but can pose issues in games that have not been tested in ultra-wide setups.