What makes a “gaming rig” is more than just a high-end CPU and powerful GPU; the monitor you choose will impact your gaming experience quite a bit too. Sure, you could just buy an affordable monitor – or hook it up to your TV – but if you really want the best gaming experience, investing in a proper gaming monitor is worth it.
In this article, we’ll outline several important aspects of a gaming monitor. Hopefully, these will help you choose the best gaming monitor for yourself.
There are three main types of LCD display panel: IPS, TN, and VA. Out of the three, an IPS (in-plane switching) display has the best image quality. It has better colours, viewing angles, and generally, a lot more pleasant to look at.
However, an IPS panel does have a few shortcomings. For one, it has the worst response time (more on that later) compared to TN and VA displays, making it less ideal for competitive gaming. Aside from that, the refresh rate of IPS panels are usually not as high as the other two display technologies. In terms of cost, IPS monitors are usually more pricey too.
Next, we have TN (twisted nematic) display, which is – most of the time – the fastest panel technology. Not only does it have the best response time, its refresh rate can go very, very high too. In fact, only TN monitors can offer a 240Hz refresh rate right now.
What’s the downside? Well, TN panels have the worst image quality. Viewing angles aren’t great, colours will look washed out, and if you’re using a TN monitor for anything other than gaming, you won’t enjoy the experience very much. This is especially the case if you’re a designer who needs accurate colour reproduction.
This is only TN displays in general, of course. It’s very possible to find high quality TN panels with great colour reproduction and what not, but these are usually a rarity.
Last but not least is VA (vertical alignment) display, and it can be considered as a hybrid of IPS and TN panels. It has better image quality than TN panels (but not IPS), and it has faster response time and refresh rate over IPS panels (but not TN).
In short, a VA panel is not as fast as TN, and its image quality is not as good as IPS – it’s the middle ground.
Depending on what you want out of your gaming monitor, either one of these panel technologies will suit your needs. Strictly speaking, TN panels will be the best for competitive gaming with its high refresh rate and response time. But if you don’t need a ridiculously fast monitor, an IPS panel will be much more pleasant to look at.
If you want a buttery smooth gaming experience, you’ll need a monitor with a high refresh rate. Basically, if your monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate – that’s the refresh rate of the average monitor – it can display 60 frames per second. Hence, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother your games will look like, though this will depend on how powerful your GPU is.
Generally, a 144Hz monitor is more than enough for the average gamer, and you have a variety of panel technologies to choose from. Yes, there are even IPS monitors with that high of a refresh rate in the market now.
Ideally, you’ll want to find a gaming monitor with the lowest response time. What is response time? It’s the amount of time each individual pixel of a monitor takes to change from one colour to another. As far as gaming is concerned, a low response time is very important.
If a monitor has a high response time, you will notice ghosting in fast-moving scenes. As its name suggest, ghosting happens when there’s a trail behind moving objects. Yes, it can be very distracting, and yes, it will impact your gaming experience negatively.
Last but not least is resolution, and the rule of thumb is: the higher, the better…in most cases. If your system is powerful enough, you’ll definitely want a high resolution monitor to reap the most benefit. Gaming in 1080p can be sufficient for some folks, but gaming in 1440p, or even 4K, is a completely different experience.
But going with a higher resolution monitor does have its downsides, and one of the most obvious disadvantages is a lower refresh rate. From what we gathered, the highest refresh rate a 4K monitor can go is 144Hz. This is still plenty fast for the average gamer, but if you want, say, a 240Hz monitor, you’ll have to settle for 1080p resolution.
A proper gaming monitor will make all the difference in your gaming experience, and even though some of them can be quite costly, it will be worth it. After all, a good monitor will most likely outlast your PC by a couple of generations, and that’s worth investing in.