Gamers can be a passionate group; PC gamers all the more so. In contrast to console gamers, PC enthusiasts have a much greater range of choices to make in order to suit their preferences and budget. With the advent of computer monitors made specifically with gaming in mind and the corresponding advances in technology, the choices are many and can be confusing to sift through. This post will attempt to be a guide to those who feel overwhelmed by this abundance of options.
The basic specs to look at when shopping for a gaming monitor is an optimum balance of, in no particular order, refresh rate, viewing angle, resolution, color quality and panel size. The first thing to consider, though, is what kind of GPU you have or are planning on getting. In order to get the best value from a higher-end monitor, for instance, one with a 144Hz refresh rate, 1440p resolution, 27″ and up panel size and G-sync or Freesync capability, you’re going to need a powerful GPU to fully utilize these features. If you use an AMD GPU, make sure to select a monitor that supports Freesync, and alternatively, if you use Nvidia you should get one with G-sync support.
G-sync and Freesync are, respectively, Nvidia and AMD’s adapted solutions to the problem of screen tearing, the traditional solution to which, known as Vsync, posed a tough choice to gamers of either turning Vsync “ON” and dealing with some input lag, or “OFF” and suffering through screen tearing. This ugly flaw is caused by an out-of-sync output from your GPU (known as the framerate and which is always variable) to your monitor’s constant refresh rate.
Jonas from Armchair Empire said, “Monitors with higher refresh rates, from 120Hz and up, will suffer much less input lag with Vsync turned “ON”. However, it is clear that, although it adds to the price of your monitor (especially Nvidia’s G-sync) and requires compatible GPU’s, these new technologies make for an overall better gaming experience.”
Another point to consider is what type of monitor technology would best suit your needs. There are two main panel types to choose from. These are Twisted Nematic, TN for short, or In-Plane Switching, known as IPS. TN is popular among PC gamers due to their fast pixel response time and high refresh rates, and their relatively low cost. The disadvantage of TN monitors is their subpar viewing angles (meaning that if the viewer isn’t looking dead-center at a totally perpendicular screen, the picture will look washed out), and less vivid color representation. IPS screens generally have the superior color accuracy and better viewing angle but can be susceptible to motion blur.
A simple question to ask yourself when choosing between IPS or TN monitors is whether you desire to play highly competitive games, in which case a TN monitor would aid you with a faster refresh rate and pixel response time, or if you prefer slower paced games with more vibrant colors, which would point you towards an IPS monitor.