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Choosing Monitors For Gaming – A Deep Dive

by Lisa Hayden
Child Playing Games On Monitor

Choosing Monitors For Gaming – A Jargon free Beginner Friendly Deep Dive

If you are a serious gamer looking for an amazing visual experience of your gameplay, you probably have mulled over  upgrading your monitor. A monitor is perhaps one of the most important components thats often ignored in the gaming jigsaw. Think about its importance for a second; as a gamer, all you ever want is a monitor that perfectly displays any action you need-without subjecting you to the agony of  blurred images-Right? Then why we still choose to ignore such an integral part of gaming experience is anyone's guess.

Gaming monitors come in different sizes, flairs and varied price tags. It is surprising how some gamers spend thousands of dollars on gaming accessories and video cards and overlook the monitor. If you want to get the most out of your favorite game, then you must select your monitor with utmost care. We have spent countless hours of research effort on gaming monitors so if you’d like to have a better gaming experience with comfort, you know you can rely on our experience! Without further adeu, here is everything you need to know about choosing monitors for gaming – A true deep dive. 

What To Look For In A Gaming Monitor?

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Refresh Rate

The refresh rate of a monitor is measured in Hertz (Hz) and it’s the time the monitor takes to refresh the displayed image in one second. The refresh rate plays an important part in determining the number of frames the monitor can display per second. Monitors can have different refresh rates such as 60Hz, 144 Hz, and 240Hz. The higher the refresh rate the more it helps to reduce image blur and eliminates tearing, which in turn improves the gaming experience. 

Response Time

Pixel response time represents the time a single pixel requires to switch from black to white or between various shades of gray and is measured in milliseconds (ms). A monitor with lower response time leads to smoother camera movement and on the other hand, a high response time leads to monitor blur because the camera moves very fast and the pixels have no ample time to switch between colors. 

Resolution And Screen Size

It goes without saying that the bigger the screen the better the gameplay experience. However, the choice depends entirely on your preferences. The best sizes for gaming monitors range between 21 to 27 inches and to be precise, if you’re going for a 1080P monitor, a screen of 24 inches is a perfect choice. 

Connectors

When looking for a gaming monitor, it's important to consider the most crucial inputs and outputs such as;

  • DisplayPort 1.4: Convenient for video/audio transfer on PC
  • HDMI1.4/2.0: Transfers both audio and video and viable for mid-range solutions
  • 5mm Audio Out: Connects speakers/headphones directly to the monitor instead of the back panel of the motherboard or on the front panel of the case

Even though there are other types of connectors, the above are the most important. All you need to do is to consider whether there are any USB devices you may want to plug directly into your monitor and buy them accordingly. 

Panel Technology

Monitors rely on two main types of panels, that is, TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). Even though both technologies are great, one has an advantage over the other. IPS panel provides better all-around visual quality meaning that it's more vibrant and produces accurate color production and better viewing angles. The TN, on the other hand, supports faster response times. 

Price

The price of monitors differs significantly with the higher priced coming with excellent features and added functionality such as an adjustable stand, USB hub, as well as multiple digital video inputs. If you realize the monitor you intend to buy comes with a high price but no extra features, you should not consider buying it. 

What Is The Best Monitor Size For Gaming?

Now that we have already talked about response times and refresh rates, it’s time we dive into another important feature of a monitor; the size. When considering the monitor to buy, why should you consider the size? Let's find out. 

Standard Sizes

The size of today’s desktop monitor ranges from 21-27 inches and anything smaller than that is reserved for laptops while those bigger than 27 inches work best with higher resolution than 1080p. 21-24 inches diagonals work excellently for 1080p monitors as anything larger than that lead to aliasing and easily distinguishable pixels, especially when viewing the monitor close by. 24-27 inches diagonals work excellently in 2k and 4k, or UHD and QHD resolutions. 

Viewing Distance

It goes without saying that having a larger monitor allows you to sit further away to avoid eye fatigue and have an optimal viewing experience. The best viewing distance is the distance proportionate to the diagonal of your monitor. For instance if having a 24-inch monitor, ensure that your eyes are 24-48 inches away from the screen or even further away in case you have problems such as eye fatigue. 

Ultrawide Monitors

Ultrawide monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9 as opposed to the standard 16:9 with the extra horizontal space wrapping your peripheral vision to provide a wider field of view and great gaming experience. 

Best Monitor Size For Gaming

If you are still asking yourself the size of the monitor you should buy for gaming, the answer is that it depends on the viewing distance or resolution. However, it's important to consider 24-27 inches for UHD and QHD and 24 inches for full HD for the most ideal image quality. If you enjoy sitting in front of a desk, it is recommendable to consider 24 inches or below monitor because a larger size will make you uncomfortable. 

In A Nutshell

If you are only interested in monitor size, here is our recommendation based on monitor size/resolution.

  • 23-25 inches – 1080p
  • 27 inches – 4K or 1440p
  • 28-30 inches – 4k
  • 25-29 inch ultrawide – 2560x1080
  • 34 inch ultrawide – 3440x1440
  • 39 inch ultrawide – 3840x1600

Is A 144Hz Monitor Worth It For Gaming?

football player coming out of tv

As stated earlier, the refresh rate represents the number of frames a monitor can display in one second and therefore, it establishes the maximum in-game frames per second (FPS) you can get. Even though your GPU can generate more frames, the total number of frames displayed in real time is dependent on the refresh rate of your monitor. Before we answer the question of whether the 144Hz monitor is worth it for gaming, we will look at its advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantages

  • Higher refresh rates lead to higher frame rates
  • When more frames are displayed in one second, the gameplay experience becomes smoother and more responsive with less motion blur
  • High refresh rates provide a competitive edge, meaning that with more frames, more data is being shown per second leading to better reaction time

Disadvantages

  • 144Hz monitors use TN panels which are more expensive
  • TN panels are associated with limited viewing angles and poor color production

In A Nutshell

The 144Hz basically means that the monitor has the ability to refresh the image on the screen 144 times in one second. 144Hz monitors are quite a catch if you can get more than 60FPS in a game. This means that if you can get 120FPS with a 60Hz monitor, the display shows only half of the frames but a 144Hz monitor displays all of them.

The decision relies on what you prefer between performance and visual quality but if you love both, spending more than $600 on an IPS 144Hz monitor is worth it. Besides, I’d recommend 144Hz monitors to anyone playing multiplayer games and wants every advantage they can get. If you get access to high frame rates and good graphics, getting 144Hz is a great idea and a catch for your hard earned money. If you don’t have good graphics, make a choice depending on better graphics and high refresh rates. All in all, one thing to keep in mind is that monitors are replaced 4-5 years and therefore, make an informed decision. 

People watching Smart TV

How To Setup & Calibrate A Gaming Monitor?

Monitor Setup

  • Adjust light levels and the cleanliness of the screen: Ensure that there is no reflections or strong direct light reaching your screen
  • Check the screen resolution: Check the manual or ‘native’ resolution and choose the highest resolution that can help you see the images perfectly when playing your favorite game
  • Adjust the number of colors: You should set your monitor to a high color depth, which is the number of bits that are used to establish the color of every pixel
  • Continue as soon as your monitor is stable: After going through the above steps, ensure that the monitor has been on for about 30 minutes before you can begin the calibration, which allows your computer to reach its typical working temperature

Monitor Calibration

It goes without saying that monitors are far from perfect especially when it comes to brightness, color and motion blur calibration. If you’d want to see games as intended by the developers, you can fix them all and enjoy a fantastic gaming experience. 

Monitor calibration is simple. All you need to do is hang a calorimeter (measuring device) in front of the monitor and it will display a series of color swatches on screen. The main function of the calorimeter is to measure the swatches and ensure that the color on the screen matches its intended color. If there are any differences, the calorimeter will adjust the monitor to amend color accuracy. 

Set the brightness and contrast which are located on the front of your monitor or you can find them on-screen in your calibration controls. Follow the instructions on the screen and for the best gaming experience, the image on the screen should include four colors, that is, dark grey, black, white, and light grey. 

Given that the relationship between brightness and voltage is complex, it is recommendable to adjust to a linear pattern by the use of gamma correction. Most monitors use a gamma of 2.2 which lets you see your favorite games in the intended brightness range. Last but not least, adjust your white point which is otherwise referred to as color temperature to determine the color tint of your screen. 

In A Nutshell

Both MacOS and Windows computers have built-in calibration tools which make it easy and quick to use. For a quick calibration, here is what you should do while calibrating monitor in windows 10 and MacOS 

Windows 10

  • Go to the settings app
  • ​In the main menu, choose the system
  • Click on display and then advanced display settings
  • Once you scroll down, you’ll see color calibration and click on it

MacOS

  • In the dock, click settings
  • Choose display
  • Click color tab and then calibrate

4k Monitor Vs 1080p Vs 1440p Vs 144 Hz Vs Retina

4k is famously known as Ultra High Definition (UHD) while 1080p is High Definition (HD). Therefore, 4K UHD has a higher resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels than 1080P HD video which comes with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. When it comes to the image, a 4K image is twice as sharp as a 1080p image. The designation of the 4K is close to 4,000 horizontal pixels and 2160 vertical pixels while 1080p comes with 1080 vertical lines which make that high definition resolution. Therefore, the 4K monitor is better than 1080P as it provides sharper and clearer picture quality which allows you to view the game exactly as the developers would want and it allows the viewer to be positioned close to a large screen and enjoy a clearer picture. 

1440P is a Quad HD resolution which is calculated as 2560 x 1440 pixels. Compared to 720HD resolution, 1440P has four times more resolution and is mostly used for gaming monitors due to the refresh rate of the display that can be raised to 144Hz with any compatible graphics games allowing you to enjoy a smooth gameplay at a higher resolution than Full HD. 1440P works excellently on a monitor size of 27 inches and above which gives you an increased refresh rate but in any case you intend to use a monitor whose screen size is more than 27, 4K UHD would be the best investment.

A 4K display is usually 3840 x 2160 resolution despite the size of the display, but the retina display resolution changes based on the size of the display. The objective of retina display is to make the display of the images crisp, so pixels are invisible to the naked eye which improves your viewing experience. The pixel density differs on the screen size with the bigger screens having low pixel density simply because they are used from a distance. The following are the advantages of using a retina display;

  • A monitor featuring retina display has a good clarity
  • ​More display information is experienced for higher resolution
  • You don’t strain your eyes while playing your favorite game because the images are clearer and sharper

Final Thoughts

There is nothing better than playing your favorite game on a monitor that displays the images as they are; it gives you the morale to continue playing and look for other games. Your eyes are glued on the monitor and given that the monitors are replaced after 4-5 years, make the right decision today and buy one based on the above as well as your preferences and enjoy a flawless gaming experience. 

 

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