How to Buy a Gaming Monitor

There are plenty of monitors on the market, but gamers need gaming monitors that can produce the types of images and refresh rates that make gaming enjoyable and not frustrating. As soon as you decide that you’d like to get into gaming, it is wise to take a look at monitors. However, this can feel overwhelming! There are so many different types of gaming monitors that it feels like you’re drowning in choices. The truth is once you know what you’re looking for, you can weed out the gaming monitors that don’t fit your needs and focus on differentiating between the monitors that have everything you’re looking for.

Finding the right gaming monitor isn’t simply searching for the thinnest bezel monitor. There’s much more to it than that. What you’re looking for in a monitor is a device that can show crisp, clear images and refresh images quickly without losing quality. That seems easy enough, but there are several different things to look into when shopping for a monitor. Here are the key considerations when choosing a proper gaming monitor.

Best Gaming Monitor

Resolution

Gaming monitors come in a variety of resolutions, and generally the bigger the resolution the clearer in detail the picture is. This is because of the higher pixel count. Here are the different resolutions available in most gaming monitors:

  • 1080p: This is full HD; when shopping for televisions this is usually a selling point for most folks. However, the pixel count is small compared to the other two resolutions featured
  • 1440p: This is what’s commonly known as 2K. Notice how there are more pixels than full HD. This is a higher resolution which means your picture will have greater clarity than an HD monitor
  • 2160p: This is the highest resolution which is 4K. These monitors provide the clearest picture because of their high pixel count. You get more details in a 4K monitor than you can in an HD monitor

Naturally, the instinct would be to purchase the highest resolution monitor but be aware of hardware limitations. Monitors can only do as much as the GPU allows them to do. Most GPUs found on current computers are not all the way equipped for 2K and 4K gaming. That said, you can use a monitor for a long time, so purchasing a monitor that’s 2K or 4K allows you to get head of whatever future trends arise. Furthermore, if you decide to purchase a GPU compatible with 2K or 4K gaming, the monitor will do a great job bringing these resolutions to life.

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate is a simple concept – it simply shows how many times a monitor can refresh an image per second. The higher the refresh rate, the better the monitor. There are three refresh rates common on most monitors, they are:

  • 60Hz
  • 144Hz
  • 240Hz

Obviously, the highest refresh rate will show you more frames per minute than the lower rate. Again, your GPU will have a lot to say about the refresh rate. If it can run a high refresh rate, that’s great, but many GPUs are not quite up to 240 Hz just yet. Still, as with the resolution, if you’re future compatible, you can always get a GPU that will take advantage of the monitor’s high-end refresh rate.

Adaptive Sync

Adaptive sync reduces the amount of screen tearing that goes on. The key here is knowing what brand GPU you have. If you have an AMD GPU, then the adaptive sync you need is FreeSync. For Nvidia GPU’s, you need G-SYNC. The bad news is if your monitor doesn’t have the adaptive sync that meshes with your GPU, then you will be prone to screen tearing. Most monitors come with the adaptive sync included, so make sure you have the right one for GPU compatibility.

Panel Technology

Gaming monitors have two types of panels, twisted nematic (TN) and in-plane switching (IPS). It can get very technical to look into the differences between each type of technology, but the reality is you just need to know a couple things to differentiate the two.

TN panels support a faster response time but are not as visually spectacular, while IPS panels have a fantastic picture but their response time is lacking compared to TN.

Response Time

The key here is to get a low response time, and this is measured in milliseconds (ms). Think of it as watching something on television, with a low response time, you don’t see the camera move and there’s no blur. A high response time leads to blurred images, and if you’re playing sophisticated games, this can become quite frustrating. TN panels support 1 ms response times while IPS panels can only go as low as 4 ms. At that level, it is difficult to notice the difference but as the response times get larger, the difference is quite noticeable.

Screen Size

Most screens are between 21 and 27 inches, and the resolution will make a difference. For example, with 1080p, you don’t want to go larger than 24 inches because the screen will distort. The other resolutions work well with 27-inch screens. That said, don’t go above 27 inches because then the pixels will be stretched, and the image will be distorted.

Connection

There are two connector options, HDMI and DisplayPort. For better refresh rates along with audio/visual transfer, DisplayPort is the better option. However, if you have a GPU that isn’t as highly powered, then HDMI will work as well because you won’t notice much of a difference between HDMI and DisplayPort with a lower-end GPU.

Conclusion

Getting the right monitor for gaming seems difficult because of all the options. However, if you get the specs of your GPU and review that in conjunction with any future needs of a gaming monitor, you will definitely find yourself with the right equipment. Each item listed above helps you get exactly what you need for gaming. A recommendation is to get a monitor that is ready for future components, this way as you upgrade the rest of the system, you don’t need to upgrade the monitor.

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