For many who plan on building their own dream gaming PC rig or are looking to simply upgrade some components, the monitor is often one of the most overlooked parts. While the right processor, motherboard, GPU and RAM will give you that sweet spot of performance, it is crucial that you have a capable monitor that can actually make use of the performance the rest of your rig is putting out.
After all, the monitor is the output that you will be looking at the most during gaming sessions. If you’re in the market looking for a new gaming monitor, here are some pointers that will help you make the right choice.
The perfect monitor size
The right monitor size is very important and can affect your gameplay experience. Most people like putting in some extra money and going for a much bigger monitor than they need. However, note that the size of your pixels in a regular 1080p display (for example) is the same. Hence, a bigger 1080p monitor will have a lower pixel density than a smaller 1080p monitor. Getting a larger high-res screen also means your games must run at that resolution to make the most of it.
Hence, going too large will mean you will see lesser pixel density and the video output ends up looking not so good. Gamers often must find the right balance between pixel density and size. An ideal bet that should suit both sides is a 21-inch to 32-inch monitor that will be big, but not big enough to lose quality.
Higher Refresh rate, fast response times
A higher refresh rate monitor is not the most important bit in high-end work computers. However, if you plan on gaming, a higher refresh rate can be crucial. The more frames of data are shown to you every second, the better and smoother your experience will be.
If you have a good GPU and a decent processor and other components to go with, chances are you have already paid the money for the higher frame rate that your machine is already outputting. However, if you don’t have a monitor that supports that high refresh rate, you won’t be able to see that difference. A good gaming monitor will have at least 1080p resolution (Full HD) and a refresh rate of 144Hz. However, you can also go for 1080p monitors that offer a 240Hz refresh rate or higher-res 1440p monitors that have a 144Hz refresh rate.
You also need a display with a fast response rate to make those quick, split-second decisions in games. Monitors will have response times anywhere between 5ms to 0.5ms. The smaller that number will be on your monitor, the faster it will react to what’s happening in the game.
Wider aspect ratio, curved monitors
While most modern monitors will give you an aspect ratio of 16:9, gamers often use ultrawide monitors to extend their field of view. These super-wide monitors can go up to a 21:9 or even a 32:9 aspect ratio, which is literally the equivalent of two 16:9 monitors kept next to each other, minus the bezel in the middle and the extra cables.
However, before spending your money on an expensive ultrawide monitor, check if your favourite games are supported in wide resolutions. Some games even have mods that make them playable on wide monitors. But if your game is not going to make use of the extra screen real estate, there is no point in getting one.
Many gamers also look at curved monitors that have a radius and ‘curves’ the display output around players, offering a better, more immersive view than regular flat monitors. However, curved monitors are also pretty expensive and may not be for everyone.
TN panels vs VA panels vs IPS panels
When it comes to what kind of LCD panel you must look at when getting a gaming monitor, there are three common formats. These are the TN (Twisted Nematic) panels, the VA (Vertical Alignment) panels and the IPS (in-plane switching) panels.
TN panels will usually give users the fastest response times and low input lag. However, these are known to come with poor viewing angles and colour representation. They however are mostly found with high refresh rates, making them great for gaming, but not for multimedia purposes like watching a movie with a few friends.
On the other hand, IPS panels offer the best viewing angles and colour representation, at the cost of slower response times. They can also get pretty expensive. It is also hard to find IPS panels that have a high refresh rate. These monitors are mainly for professional use and are alright for casual gaming but nothing professional.
VA panels are great at contrast levels and will have higher refresh rate variants. However, they have the longest response times. Regardless VA panels are used by gamers because of the high contrast levels that might be handy in games where longer response times can be a little more forgiving.
How to choose the right monitor?
The bottom line is to look for elements that make sense for the games that you are going to be playing. Getting a gaming monitor that is good at everything is either going to be too unrealistic or too expensive.
If you’re going to play shooting titles like PUBG or CS: GO, a higher-res, high refresh rate, low response time display will be more important to you. However, if you’re going to be playing racing games or more casual titles, you might as well invest that money into a bigger screen or better viewing angles. Making the right compromises and focusing on the right bits should get you a good value-for-money deal where you’re not spending more on display features you won’t be needing.