Shopping for a gaming monitor can make it seem like you are just looking at numbers all day. These numbers can be confusing especially for those who have never gone through this process. Even though gamers are often savvier than the average person, monitors have become so complicated that even gamers have a hard time sifting through all the numbers. To help you make sense of things, we will discuss the most important things you need to know to ensure you get the right monitor without too much hassle.
The monitor’s resolution is likely the first thing you will see when shopping for one. Here, you have a choice between 1080P, 1440P, and 4K. There are other resolutions available, but these are the main ones you will see when shopping.
1080P is on the lower end of high-definition resolutions. It is a great option for those with an old graphics card and can ensure a great gaming experience. Most 1080P monitors are also very clear, bright, and have vivid color, making them double as content consumption monitors.
1440P has become the most popular gaming resolution. This is because it does not put too much strain on your graphics card while also producing great images. Most 1440P monitors also have very fast refresh rates making them great for gaming.
On the high end, we have 4K. This resolution needs a very capable graphics card if you are to game at reasonable frame rates. 4K monitors have the sharpest image, are often brighter than most other monitors, and their clarity is unmatched.
If you play casual games with a lot of elements that you want to enjoy and do not mind the lower frame rates, a 4K monitor will serve you well.
A bigger screen is always welcome, especially if you are playing an immersive game where you need to see more of the gaming world. For most people, a screen size of 24 to 27 inches is ideal especially when playing competitively. This is because these displays do not push the graphics card too hard which makes for a better gaming experience.
For those who want a bigger monitor, a 32 inch gaming monitor is ideal. At this size, you will still be able to fit the monitor on your desk while also getting the immersion and entertainment you crave. Additionally, these larger monitors can also be used for content consumption and productivity.
Those who play on a console will also appreciate the bigger size. These monitors come with all the connections you need to game on a PC or console which increases their utility.
This is where gaming monitors start differentiating themselves from other monitors. A monitor’s refresh rate is a number that tells you how many times the image on your monitor changes each second.
A higher refresh rate translates into smoother gameplay and this is why gamers are always looking for those with the highest refresh rate possible.
Most monitors support 60, 120, or 144Hx. These days you can also find monitors with a refresh rate of 240 and even 360 HZ. Going higher than 144hz is not recommended though because your eye cannot see the difference at these refresh rates and the monitor will also be quite expensive. It would be better to use the extra money to invest in something like a better graphics card.
As you increase the refresh rate, fast-moving games are smoother, there is reduced tearing and ghosting, and the monitor is more responsive overall as long as your graphics card can keep up.
Response time goes hand in hand with the refresh rate and it refers to the amount of time it takes for a pixel to change from one absolute color to the next. It is measured in milliseconds and a low response time is great.
5 milliseconds is the standard, but some monitors go down to 1 millisecond, which often involves changing the monitor to gaming mode.
A low refresh rate helps with ghosting and blurring which happen when the monitor cannot keep up with what the graphics card is doing. A high refresh rate and low response time are ideal for fast-paced games and to always have a crisp image on the monitor at all times.
Variable Refresh Rate
If you have ever checked a gamer’s frame rate while you play, you will notice that it fluctuates a lot. When nothing is happening, the frame rate can be very high and then drop as soon as there is some action.
This often results in tearing from the massive difference as the monitor shows two different frames in one frame for a brief moment. To avoid this, manufacturers now implement variable refresh rate technologies.
In the past, monitors were instructed to wait for a full frame before switching. This introduced lag which is bad, especially for competitive gaming. Nvidia and AMD have different adaptive sync technologies, but they work the same by maintaining a smooth frame rate regardless of what is happening on the screen.
You will have to check your graphics card so you can choose a G-Sync display if you have an Nvidia card and FreeSync if you have an AMD graphics card.
High Dynamic Range
High dynamic range (HDR) improves the colors on a monitor ensuring a better image. HDR can make a bigger difference to the image quality than resolution and this is why many gamers shop for monitors with HDR.
HDR requires that the monitor has a minimum brightness of about 600 nits, but many monitors cannot hit this. The DisplayHDR option was created to allow monitors with a brightness of 400 nits to take advantage of the technology. DisplayHDR 400 is the minimum you should be aiming for when shopping for a monitor.
If this is a feature you want, you need to ensure that the graphics card and monitor both support it.
Those are the main details you should be looking at when shopping for a monitor. There are others like the inputs and outputs, but those are secondary after you have looked at the main features.