Gaming monitors are an essential part of your gaming setup. They’re responsible for your gaming immersion by accurately displaying gaming content as the developer has intended. Because of this, they play an important role in your gaming enjoyment so it’s important to choose the right gaming monitor for your needs. In this article, we’ll discuss the factors you should consider when buying your next gaming monitor.
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Types of monitors
With so many monitors at your local Best Buy you may be wondering what’s the difference between computer monitors, smart monitors, and gaming monitors. When it comes to gaming monitors, they have premium features, software and hardware designed to provide players with the best gaming experience. We’ll discuss these features in more details below and talk about how these features can impact a gaming monitor’s availability and pricing.
1. Flat-panel monitors
Flat-panel monitors are the most common type of monitors you’ll find in the market. They use flat LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) or OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panels. These monitors come in a wide range of sizes and offer various features and price points. They are versatile and can be used for various tasks, including gaming, work, and entertainment.
2. Curved monitors
Curved monitors have a slightly curved screen, designed to provide a more immersive gaming experience. The curvature of the screen helps wrap the display around your field of vision, making it feel more natural and engaging. Curved monitors are popular among gamers, especially for racing and simulation games, as they enhance the sense of depth and realism.
3. Ultra-wide monitors
Ultra-wide monitors feature an extended aspect ratio, typically 21:9 or 32:9, compared to the standard 16:9 aspect ratio of flat-panel monitors. These monitors offer a wider field of view, which can significantly enhance your gaming experience, particularly in games that support ultra-wide resolutions. They are excellent for both gaming and multitasking.
It should be noted that manufacturers have their own production processes and features for their gaming monitors. Manufacturers will customize the specs and features of their gaming monitors to appeal to different markets. The result is that gaming monitors are rarely like-for-like, buyers should pay attention to the specs and features that meet their gaming needs.
Refresh rate and response time
The refresh rate and response time of a gaming monitor play a major role in the speed of a monitor and a player’s ability to react to what’s happening. Refresh rate determines how many times frames per second (FPS) a monitor can display while response time is how quickly a monitor’s pixels can change colours. A higher refresh rate and faster response time results in smoother gameplay and reduced motion blur. Games like Fortnite and Call of Duty require fast reaction from players and having a faster gaming monitors means that they’ll be able to react more quickly to what’s happening on screen. As technology improves gaming monitors are getting faster and faster, a 120Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time are ideal for gaming.
AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-SYNC
When it comes to refresh rates, you should consider if a monitor supports AMD’s FreeSync or NVIDIA’s G-SYNC. These are proprietary technologies developed by both AMD and NVIDIA to synchronize a gaming monitor’s frame rate with those of the computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU). For fast paced games like Fortnite and Call of Duty, FreeSync and G-SYNC are essential for preventing screen tearing and stuttering resulting in a smooth and clear gaming experience. Be aware that not all monitors support both FreeSync and G-SYNC, when looking for a gaming monitor check your computer’s graphics card manufacturer for the best compatibility.
Console players looking for gaming monitors should also be aware that the Xbox Series X supports gaming monitors with AMD FreeSync. This is because the Xbox Series X’s GPU is built by AMD.
Response time vs. input lag
As mentioned above, the response time of a gaming monitor is the time it takes for a pixel to change from one colour to another. A lower response time means less ghosting and motion blur. Most gaming monitors have a response time between 0.1ms – 5ms. If you’re playing a fast-paced game, look for a monitor with the lowest response time.
Input lag, on the other hand, is the time delay between when you press a button and when the action appears on the screen. A lower input lag means less delay and more responsive game play. Look for monitors with an input lag of less than 10ms.
Gaming monitor panel types
Another feature that you should look at when buying a gaming monitor is the type of panel that the monitor uses. This feature is important because a gaming monitor’s panel plays a large role in your gaming experience. When it comes to panel types there are four main options: IPS, TN, VA, and OLED. Each of these panel types come with their own advantages suited for different games and player needs. We’ll also discuss the general drawbacks of each panel below.
A point of consideration is that manufacturers will make customizations to the performance of their gaming panels. This means that while shopping you will find variations in the speed and colour accuracy depending on the manufacturer’s modifications.
IPS panels offer good colour accuracy and wide viewing angles. Along with TN panels, IPS panels are the most common type of gaming panels on the market. A drawback of IPS panels is that they can have slower response times when compared to TN and OLED panels. This means that IPS panels would be best suited for games that have rich worlds and colours like Mass Effect and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
TN panels are known for their fast refresh rates and low response times. This makes them ideal for fast-paced games as first-person shooters like Call of Duty and racing games like Forza Horizon. A drawback of TN panels is that they have limited viewing angles and colour accuracy. This means that TN panels aren’t ideal for local multiplayer games where several players are sharing one monitor. The limited colour accuracy also means that TN panels wouldn’t be ideal for games with large, beautiful open worlds like Destiny 2, Elder Scrolls, or Cyberpunk 2077.
VA panels have excellent contrast ratios, making them great for games with dark scenes or shadows. However, VA panels tend to have slower response times compared to TN and OLED panels. Similar to IPS panels, VA panels are better suited towards RPG and open world games like Pillars of Eternity, Elder Scrolls, and the Batman Arkham series.
OLED panels combine the advantages of other panel types while offering the best contrast ratios. Unlike TN, IPS, and VA panels, OLED panels don’t need a backlight to display the image. Instead, OLED panels control each pixel individually, resulting in high contrast ratios and better colours. OLED panels also provide fast response times, excellent viewing angles, and consume less energy compared to other panel types. Check out this example of a fast OLED gaming monitor. While it sounds like OLED gaming panels have a lot of advantages, they do have some drawbacks. First, due to their complicated production process OLED panels are not as abundant as other panels. Second, because of the complicated production OLED panels tend to be more expensive than other panels.
Screen size and resolution
When it comes to gaming, your screen size and resolution play an important role in your gaming immersion and details that you see. Generally, a larger screen covers more visible area providing you with a more immersive gaming experience. This is especially true while playing large open world games like Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077.
While a large screen size can create more immersion another important factor is the monitor’s resolution. A higher resolution screen delivers sharper, more detailed images. An example of a game that benefits from a large high-resolution screen is Tomb Raider. This game is known for its expansive world and immersive environments. A high-resolution monitor allows you to see all the details of the surrounding environment such as a blade of grass and the leaves on a tree. Keep in mind, higher resolution monitors have a higher cost and require more powerful computer hardware to render the details.
Curved vs. flat screen
Another area of consideration in your gaming enjoyment is a curved or flat screen gaming monitor. Flat screen monitors are the most common type of gaming monitor offering a more traditional and familiar gaming experience. A drawback of flat screen monitors comes down to their size. On larger flat screen monitors your ability to see what’s happening on the corners of the screen becomes difficult. To see the edges of the screen you’ll need to turn your head which can become tiring. This is where curved gaming monitors have an advantage.
Regardless of their size, curved gaming monitors offer a more immersive gaming experience. They do this through the monitor’s curve giving you the feeling that the screen is wrapping around you. This means that while playing games you don’t need to turn your head to see the corners of your screen. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Alien: Isolation have incredibly detailed environments. Using a curved monitor to play these games brings a whole new level of immersion.
PC gaming monitors vs. TVs
By now you may be wondering if your TV can be a good substitute for a gaming monitor. What’s the difference between a gaming TV and a gaming monitor? In general, TVs and gaming monitors are designed for different purposes. However, you can now find gaming TVs at Best Buy that incorporate features found in gaming monitors such as fast refresh rates, and support for FreeSync and G-Sync. While gaming TVs are a fantastic option, gaming monitors generally have lower latency, faster refresh rates, and more variety in aspect ratio. Check out our Gaming TV buying guide to learn what to look for in a TV for gamers.
Other considerations when selecting a gaming monitor
Types of games
When deciding on a gaming monitor you should also consider the types of games you play. If you like to play fast action games like Call of Duty, Halo Infinite, and Rocket League then you’ll need a monitor that has a fast refresh rate and low response time.
On the other hand, if you play games that have immersive worlds to explore like Tomb Raider or CyberPunk 2077 then you may have different needs. For example, an OLED or IPS monitor would produce the most vivid and rich colours bringing these worlds to life.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Gaming monitors that support HDR enabled games brings another level of immersion to games. These monitors can display more colour and contrast resulting in images with more detail. Be aware that monitors with HDR features will cost more and HDR enabled games require higher end computer components to run the games smoothly.
A monitor’s ergonomics and the ability to make customizations to your gaming monitor’s position plays a role in your physical comfort. You may play games by yourself or with other people in the room. Being able to make fine adjustments to the monitor such as tilt, swivel, and height is important for comfort during long gaming sessions.
Another consideration to make when choosing a gaming monitor is the connectivity options. Newer connectivity options like HDMI 2.1a, DisplayPort 1.4a, and Thunderbolt 4 offer higher bandwidth and can support HDR, high resolution gaming, and audio. Other connection ports that you may want to consider are a 3.5mm headphone jack and extra USB ports for your gaming peripherals.
When buying a gaming monitor there are a few things to consider. For starters, look at the games you play, your gaming needs, and budget. Knowing these things can help you select a monitor based on screen size, resolution, technology and speed. Other items that you may want to consider are curved vs. flat screen, connectivity options, and panel type.