Gaming Monitor Buying Guide
Modern day gaming is evolving at explosive speed. Technologies are fast evolving. Gaming is becoming ever-more immersive. Gaming hardware needs careful evaluation before a choice is made. This article focuses on important metrics a gamer must be aware of when choosing a monitor for gaming.
Monitor Size and Resolution
As a gamer I prefer larger monitors with high resolution. However there is a balance that needs to be struck between the Monitor size and the optimal monitor resolution for seamless gaming.
If you are on a budget then perhaps 24” with full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution is not a bad choice. The image quality is good. A high fps game can easily be supported with these specs by a decent quality graphics card.
Monitor size of 27” is perhaps the most viable option when it comes to budget gaming. Firstly it allows you to go for Quad HD 2560 x1440p resolution which is superior to Full HD 1920 x 1080p. Secondly the panel size is adequate to allow the gamer to enjoy superior, sharper, detailed image courtesy of the extra pixels and the extra real estate this panel size offers. Thirdly modern graphic cards can handle Quad HD resolution without getting overloaded. Effectively supporting high fps gaming.
Quad HD is perhaps one of the best resolutions to go with for gamers as of now. Panel size in the range of 27” to 32” max is recommended.
Finally 4k gaming is a reality. But before you make that jump to a 4k 3840 x 2160p monitor make sure that your PC is powerful enough to support 4k gaming. 4K gaming requires lots of processing. 8 million pixels for just one frame need to be processed by the graphics card. A moderate game would require at least 60 frames per second. And as of now a majority of the 4k gaming monitors are limited to a refresh rate of no more than 60Hz. The price is for you to imagine.
A final note: It is too early to jump into 4K gaming right now.
These are the 3 technologies to choose from. TN, IPS and VA.
TN monitors have the fastest response time and are cheaper as compared to other technologies. This is the preferred technology choice for a majority of the gamers owing to the fast response times.
The IPS technology however offers superior colors and wider viewing angles.
The contrast is not as great as the VA technology. The difference between white and black is not as stark as in the VA technology. The IPS response times are not as good as TN. However IPS has gained good ground in terms of faster response time recently making gaming a viable option if not the best.
VA panels have the best contrast. Because of high contrast ratio the blacks are deeper and whites are richer. But VA technology is prone to ghosting effects which is pretty troubling for a gamer.
Response Time and Refresh Rate
Gaming obviously requires fast pixel response and high refresh rates. A fast pixel response time results in smooth transitions of moving images. Even budget monitors these days come with pixel response times of around 5ms which is great for gaming.
Refresh rate is the number of times a display is refreshed on the monitor screen. Each time the refresh takes place a new image/frame can be displayed on the monitor screen.
Keep in mind that for a high action game involving movement and fast action, the images need to change quickly on the screen. And for that to happen the monitor needs a high refresh rate.
60Hz is a common refresh rate for a majority of the monitors available in the market today. Fast moving images sometimes appear blurred at 60Hz. Tearing may also be observed.
A 144Hz monitor is the best choice for high fps gaming. Any improvements from refresh rates beyond 144Hz go unnoticed by the human eye.
Modern monitors come with HDMI and display ports, whilst some may also include DVI and VGA ports.
HDMI connectivity is fine to support Full HD monitors and even Quad HD monitors.
For a 4K gaming setup, both the 4k monitor and the graphics card need to have a HDMI 2.0 connection to support 60fps gaming. Display Port 1.2 is capable of handling 4k at 60fps.
G-Sync or Free Sync Monitors
These are adaptive sync technologies from NVIDIA and AMD respectively. These ensure that the monitor and graphics card are synchronized i.e. both the Graphics Card and the Monitor refresh at the same time. This reduces motion artifacts like image tearing, stuttering and jerkiness for smooth game play.
G-Sync is costly as compared to Free-Sync. G-Sync can be used with NVIDIA graphics card only and Free-Sync can be used with AMD graphics cards.
If you are a professional gamer then a G-Sync or Free-Sync Monitor is a must have.