A Guide to Selecting a Gaming Monitor
It’s a common joke that even our cellphones nowadays are more advanced than the computers that NASA used to send men to the moon! Perhaps our phones have around 30,000 times the memory and a processor that’s 60,000 times faster than what NASA used. But that’s because our want our phones and computers to do things that they didn’t require in the Apollo program. Even when we watch a movie or play a game, we demand realistic picture quality. The best games nowadays demand at least 8 GB of RAM or more, and a graphics card that has its own processor. If you’re serious about gaming, your monitor will have to keep up with your computer. And that’s why there’s a niche in the market for gaming monitors.
We’ll go through some of the offerings in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best gaming monitors. You can even find a 27” monitor that’s quite affordable, and that can give you all of the advantages, whether you’re serious about gaming, or just want to enjoy movies with amazing color reproduction and flawless graphics!
What are some problems with the display that I can encounter when gaming?
Games nowadays can involve fast-paced action. It’s important that the monitor is able to keep up with the pace of the game. The refresh rate is the time interval that it takes for a frame to change. If a monitor has a fixed refresh rate, it refreshes the screen at a constant, specific time interval. This can lead to several problems:
Stutter: This occurs when the time interval has passed for the new frame to appear, but the computer’s graphics card (the GPU = Graphics Processing Unit) hasn’t loaded the new frame yet. (For example, if a monitor works at 60 Hz, that means that it refreshes the screen every 1/60 = 16.7 milliseconds. That is, the monitor is expecting a frame from the GPU every 16.7 ms.) The monitor is “stuck” on the old frame, redrawing the old frame twice.
Tearing: This is where the new frame mixes with the old frame. This is due to a phase difference between the source frame coming from the computer, and the frame coming up on the display. You’ll see a horizontal line in the middle of the screen, and the top and bottom halves look like a picture that has been torn and it wasn’t pasted back together in the right way.
Lagging: This is when the computer’s graphics sends a frame faster than the monitor is able to display it. (It’s the opposite of stutter, where the monitor is faster than the graphics card.) The new frame is ready to appear, but the time interval for the monitor to refresh hasn’t finished yet. The new frame shows later, after the time interval is up. It’s also called “latency”.
Ghosting: Another possible problem when playing fast-action games is ghosting, where a moving object leaves a visible trail as it goes across the screen. This can usually be corrected by adjusting the monitor’s settings.
The solution to many of these problems is having a monitor with a variable refresh rate: It matches the display’s refresh rate to be in sync with the graphics card’s frame rate.
What is the response time of a monitor?
The response time is how long it takes the monitor’s pixels to change color. If the monitor doesn’t have a fast enough response time, it will tend to smear the colors on the screen. A fast response time will reduce blurring of a moving image. You’ll see that monitors have a GTG (=gray-to-gray) rating, which indicates how long it takes for a pixel to change from one shade of gray to another.
What is the refresh rate of a monitor?
The monitor’s refresh rate is the number of times per second that your monitor changes the image on the screen. A higher refresh rate means that your monitor will display moving objects more smoothly, which is important in gaming and when watching movies. Many of the monitors we reviewed have a refresh rate of 165 Hz, or 165 cycles per second. You want to match your monitor’s refresh rate to that of your computer.
What is the resolution of a monitor?
A monitor’s resolution is usually measured in the number of pixels, This in turn is determined by the number of horizontal and vertical lines comprising the picture. Most of the monitors in Best Reviews Guide list are “Full HD (=High Definition)”, which means that they have 1920 horizontal lines x 1080 vertical lines. Some have “QHD” resolution, which stands for “Quad High Definition”, which has 4 times the standard HD resolution of 1280 x 720 lines. QHD has 1.7 times the pixel density of an FHD monitor. Smaller pixels mean far better picture quality.
Types of Gaming Monitors
Gaming monitors will differ greatly in their specifications, such as in the size of their screen, their response time, their compatibility with graphics cards, and more. But, generally speaking, we can distinguish between flat and curved screens:
Flat screen monitor: These will usually allow you the option of placing them on a table, or mounting them on your wall. An example is the Samsung 27” Odyssey G32A FHD Gaming Monitor. If you choose to place it on your desktop, you can adjust the height according to how you sit. There are also options to tilt and swivel the screen for optimal viewing.
Samsung 27” Odyssey G32A FHD Gaming Monitor
Curved screen monitor: You can also get a gaming monitor with a curved screen. The curvature is given in a number, such as 1000R or 1500R. The number indicates the curvature of the monitor as if it is part of a circle of radius 1000 mm or 1500 mm. Thus, the lower the number, the more curved the monitor will be. The Asus Tuf 23.6” Curved Gaming Monitor has a curvature of 1500R, which is a more gentle curve. Some gamers prefer a very curved screen, to get a more immersive gaming experience, where the monitor “surrounds” you.
Asus Tuf 23.6” Curved Gaming Monitor
The Crua 27” Curved Gaming Monitor has a curvature of 1800R. People may prefer less curvature, because then you can view more content on the screen without moving your head very much.
Crua 27” Curved Gaming Monitor
Portable gaming monitor: Some manufacturers make a portable gaming monitor that you can take with you, and hook up to any desktop or laptop computer, or to a gaming console or even a smartphone! An example is the Depgi 12.5” Portable Gaming Monitor for an Xbox game controller. You hook up a power cord and HDMI cable, and you can play wherever you want!
Depgi 12.5” Portable Gaming Monitor
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the gaming monitor that they purchased:
Option to mount the monitor: You’ll see many monitors have the option of the VESA mount. “VESA” stands for “Video Electronics Standards Association”, and they have a standard 4-hole mount. That way, if you have mounted a TV or monitor in the past with a VESA mount, you can reuse the holes for your new monitor. Other monitors have a tripod base, such as the Sceptre 25" Gaming Monitor, to sit on your computer table securely.
Curved monitors good if it’s wider: One customer said that he preferred a flat display if the aspect ratio is 16:9. For an ultrawide display that has a 21:9 aspect ratio, you’ll see that it will have a more faithful reproduction of the picture, especially along the edges.
Here are some tips to help you select a gaming monitor:
Adaptive sync technology: As we mentioned above, monitors employ a variable refresh rate, to adjust the speed at which the monitor refreshes the screen. It can vary anywhere from 30 Hz to 165 Hz. A variable refresh rate is a feature of what’s called “adaptive sync technology”. Different companies will have different names for their technology: Nvidia calls it “G-Sync”, AMD calls theirs “FreeSync”, and Qualcomm calls theirs “Q-Sync”.
Features to prevent eye strain: If you plan to be hours in front of your monitor, it’s important that you don’t strain your eyes. Many monitors will have features such as a filter to reduce blue light. This protects your eyes from eye fatigue and irritation. Other monitors will also have technology to reduce flicker.
Connectivity: Most of these gaming monitors will have several HDMI port as well as a Display Port, to hook up to your computer whether it’s a Mac or PC. You’ll see monitors that are suitable for Playstation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch.
sRGB color gamut: You’ll see monitors that advertise having a 99% sRGB color gamut. This means that it will reproduce the standard red-green-blue range of colors, with 99% accuracy between the input and output images.
We went through some of the features of the best gaming monitors nowadays, as well as providing a quick summary of the major technical terms and acronyms. Whether you’re into first-person shooter, real-time shooter, or role-playing games, you know that it’s essential that the display is able to keep up with the action. And a good gaming monitor can help you get more enjoyment out of your computer, whether it’s for work or recreation!