With the increase in population and relocation of masses from remote, rural areas to the urban concrete jungle, playgrounds and parks have become a fable.

But that should not stop a 21st-century human being from indulging in some leisure activities. Computer gaming is the present day’s field to play any game of your choice.

gaming monitor buying guide

It can be playing in an arcade, adventure game, real-time strategy, action game, stealth game etc. One thing common in all the above games is that they all need a Gaming monitor, without which, there can not exist a virtual world of computer games.

Hence we can say that the monitor is the playground of this virtual reality. It becomes essential to use a good quality gaming monitor to get the real-life effect and ease to play.

Let us be au fait with the important characterises of a Gaming monitor that you have to account for when picking to pay for the best product.

Resolution

The amount of pixels that a display uses in length and height is measured in resolution. The more number of pixels means the monitor has better resolution, which in turn increases the picture clarity and gives a sharper display.

It is important to consider this, that a higher graphical power is required to back the higher resolution.

source: gamingscan

Typically gaming monitors can have 3 ranges of resolutions, being:

  • Full HD, having 1080 pixel
  • Quad HD, having 1440 pixel
  • Ultra HD, having 2160 pixel
As a buyer, the aim is to purchase a monitor that gives satisfying frame rate at an affordable price, which means having a strong graphics card and processor.

The current scenario in the market is that the majority of the gaming setups are able to maintain a frame rate of 30 FPS. While Ultra HD can cross the pace of 30FPS and take a crack to reach 60FPS. But UHD needs an extremely powerful graphics processing unit.

Hence prior to deciding on the resolution of the gaming monitor, you would like to purchase, consider the graphics processing unit and question if you’d like higher performance or higher visual quality.

Refresh rate

As the name suggests, refresh rate is the number of times the monitor can refresh the image displayed per second. It basically means the number of times the monitor updates the new information. It also measures the number of frames the monitor will be in a position to display per second. The refresh rate is measured in Hertz.

On an average, a monitor can have any one of the following refresh rates:

  • 60 hertz
  • 144 hertz
  • 240 hertz

Reading this suggests that higher the refresh rate better is the performance of the monitor. Faster refresh rate undoubtedly gives lesser broken images. But one must bear this in mind that to fuel a higher refresh rate; an enormous graphics processing unit is required. Hence ensure that your graphics card can execute the games at such a high rate of frames.

Adaptive Sync

To break it down- Adaptive means the monitor’s refresh rate adapts to the FPS of the video card and sync means to integrate.
When the frame rate is slow, it starts stuttering and when the frame rates are high, the screen tends to tear.

In simple words, adaptive sync is a way for your monitor and the graphics to work together in harmony. This gives a lag-free usage.

Many gaming monitors that have been manufactured recently already have adaptive sync integrated into themselves. But the others have to pick one among the following for a smooth gaming experience:

  • AMD’s Free Sync
  • NVIDIA’s G-Sync

Using either of the above provides customizable refresh rates which help the monitor in changing the refresh rate dynamically as per the Graphics Processing Unit.

To manage the refresh rate of the monitor, FreeSync uses the video card’s functionality by using the adaptive sync built into the DisplayPort Standard.

On the other hand, G-Sync is enabled by embedding a chip in the construction of the monitor. The major difference here is that G-Sync is closely guarded and FreeSync is openly shared.

FreeSync

Pros
  • Reduced tearing and stuttering
  • Shared
  • Economical
Cons
  • Cases of ghosting
  • Can have extremely narrow adaptive refresh range

G-Sync

Pros
  • Tried and tested to be superior to FreeSync
  • Smoother in real world situations
  • More skilled and practised
Cons
  • Flickering at low frame rates
  • Requires company’s permission for use

Panel Technology

Panel displays in today’s world are mostly flat screens viewing technologies that are used to display images videos etc.

A panel consists of multiple layers of glass, places in front of the backlight to illuminate what is being played. The most common type of flat screen that we all know of is LCD (liquid crystal display). But gaming monitor needs specialized screens to offer the complete range of experiences that the game has to offer.

There are three types of panel technology:

  • Twisted Nematic(TN)
  • Vertical Alignment(VA)
  • In-Plane Switching(IPS)
Twisted Nematic

These are the most commonly used monitor panels in the market. TN has one of the best response time, making it ideal for the purpose of gaming.

However, the image quality can be unsatisfactory as it gives a washed out. These monitors are a good choice for someone who is competitive and is looking for a great response time while he is willing to pass the eminence of the picture.

Vertical Alignment

In stark contrast with Twisted Nematic, Vertical alignment providers the user with vivid details of the pictures and has better viewing angles. But, they are also accused of having the pits when it comes to its response time.

It is also said that VA panels have visible ghosting even at high refresh rates. So to wrap it up, VA is not suitable for a competitive gamer who plays fast-paced games.

In-Plane Switching

It can be said that IPS is a cross between Twisted Nematic and Vertical Alignment. It gives a decent response time while delivering the most accurate colours. Also, the issue of ghosting found in VA is corrected here.

The only drawback there is, is that it emits what is called as an IPS glow. It means that the excess light passes through the panel causing the blaze especially noticeable at the corners of the screen.

IPS is a great choice for someone looking for good response time and is not willing to compromise on the picture quality.

Panel Type  Efficiency  Display CostUse
TNBest response time and refresh rate, minimum input lagUnsatisfactory picture qualityEconomicalBest suited for gaming
VAWorst response timeBetter picture quality and viewing angle than TNEconomical to mid rangedWide-ranged use
IPSTake longer time to respond compared to TN but less compared to VABest image quality and gives best viewing angleExpensiveProfessional

Response Time

Simply put, response time is the time it takes for a task to be performed. Pixel response time is the time it takes for a pixel to change from black to white and vice versa. Good response time is anything less than 5ms. Response time is measured in milliseconds.

What role does response time play in a gaming monitor?

A low response time, as in when the monitor responds quickly, the camera movement is smoother. When the response time is long, we encounter something called as the ‘motion blur’. This is because the pixels do not have enough time to catch the input with the movement of the camera and switch between colours.

As we read earlier, TN provides excellent response time which is 1ms, but disappointing picture quality. While VA gives impeccable picture quality, it takes up to 4ms to respond.

As a buyer, weigh the pros and cons of both the types of panels in accordance with your needed pace for response time and purchase the monitor.

Screen Size

In general, a user considers the visual experience due to the size of the screen and the space it occupies. A size between 22-24 inches is, therefore, most commonly suggested.

Anything bigger than this requires the user to view the screen from a distance to get the bigger picture and anything smaller will require the user to come closer, giving away the benefit of high resolutions.

Currently, there has been an increase in the demand for ultra-wide and widescreen.

Compared to an average 24 inches screen, an ultra-wide screen has the size of 21:9 aspect ratio, while a widescreen has a 16:9 aspect ratio. This, as a result, gives a better gaming experience.

These wide screens are advantageous when in the game an enemy comes from the corner; wide screens let you keep an eye on such events. The newer games that are being released support 21:9 aspect ratio.

If you are a competitive gamer who does not want to settle for a regular screen then, you can opt for either the ultra-widescreen or the widescreen to get the ultimate real-life gaming experience.

Connectors

It basically speaks of the different ports the monitor has. It is important to ensure that your gaming monitor has proper inputs to match the computer it will be connected to. A gaming monitor has the following inputs:

Display port 1.4
 This is used to transfer audio/ video files on the computer.
HDMI 1.4/2.0
This does not support refresh rate that well in higher resolutions as Display port 1.4 does. But it can be used for moderated level solution. This also transfers video/audio files.
5mm audio out
 These ports are made so that the headphones or speakers can be conveniently connected to the monitor instead of the connecting it to the motherboard’s back or front panel.
VGA or DVI
These are used to connect the new computer to the old computer
mDP i.e, mini Display Port
 this is found only in high-end monitors. It carries both audio and video files and can also handle 4Kcontent at high refresh rates. This makes it ideal for cut-throat and aggressive gamers and video editors.

Motion Blur

As the name suggests, the haze caused due to movement of objects in a photograph or video is said to be motion blur in lay man’s language. A technology has emerged in order to cope up with this pest in the game called blur reduction technology. Some of the top names in this category are:

Motion blur reduction

This is one of the oldest motion blur technology that isn’t as widely used in the current market scenario due to better technologies mentioned below.

LightBoost by NVIDIA

These monitors have strobe backlight feature that completely eliminates motion blur for 2-D to give a sharp finish to the pictures where objects are in motion.

ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) by NVIDIA

This technique uses strobe backlights in order to reduce motion blur. ULMB is most commonly found on almost every modern gaming computer.

DyAC (Dynamic Accuracy) by BenQ ZOWIE

This technology is mostly used on the higher end gaming monitors. With the basic idea of using the backlight strobing, DyAC also uses an algorithm to prevent fast moving objects from blurring.

ELMB by ASUS

ELMB produces fast and clear during gaming. But you also need a strong graphics card to churn out frames that matches its rate.

VRB (Visual Response Boost) by Acer

This is a blur reduction technology owned by Acer and is used in the Acer Nitro VG0 and RG0 series of monitors. Thus, enabling them to produce crisp images.

MotionFlow Impulse by Sony

It’s a CRT-style strobe backlight that does not use interpolation. This makes it video gaming friendly and almost completely eliminates motion blur.

1 ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time) by SAMSUNG

Tt is a precise representation of visible motion blur. Its exactly equal to the time period of a refresh cycle, this gives an enriched gaming experience.

1 ms Motion Blur Reduction by LG

Here, motion blur reduction strobes the backlight to hide the display transitioning from one frame to another. This may cause the brightness to decrease.

Motion blur depends on a lot of external factors as well, such as system rig, the monitor, the video game, picture/driver settings etc.

Games look soomther only when the refresh rate and the frame rate are in accord. But it isn’t easy to achieve a refresh rate equal to frame rate as motion blur cannot function at the same time as Freesync or G-Sync’s refresh rate.

A gamer can adjust the VSync on or off according to the game.

By this, we can understand that one can not entirely eliminate motion blur but only tweak to get satisfactory results.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

HDR speaks about the quality of the screen. A high density of resolution means a higher number of pixels on the screen making the image clearer and crisp. HDR captures the bright and dark areas of the pictures as they are in existence; giving the best results of contrast.

It aims are producing pictures with enough luminosity that ensures that the picture is exactly what a human eye would register in real life.

HDR comes in various forms. Let’s break down the different formats available in the market.

HDR10Dolby VisionHybrid-Log Gamma (HLG)Advanced HDR

This is an open standard for HRD that can be used by manufacturers without the need to make any payment to Dolby. By default the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disks use HDR10. The brightness provided by HDR10 is 1,000 nits and gives 10-bit colour.

Unlike HDR10 Dolby Vision is not given out in the open. It requires the device to be specifically designed with a Dolby Vision hardware chip. For which fees must be paid to Dolby. It has a nit limit of 10,000 and gives 12-bit colour giving the user the best HDR experience.

HLG has been newly developed by the BBC and NHK broadcasting network. HLG works akin to regular broadcasting but it simply includes additional information about HDR for the sets to implement.

Advanced HDR is the latest development in the field of HDR. It was mainly built for broadcasting but it is compatible for almost all HDR hardware. In simple terms, advanced HDR gives enhanced features of an HDR giving the best image result that there can possibly be. 

Curved or non- curved monitors

Along with the other features as mentioned above, a buyer should consider if he would like a flat screen or a curved screen.

Curved screens have been around in the market for a little while and people often consider it to be a passing fad, but they actually give the user a very high level of immersion and it gives a peripheral vision. It makes the whole experience of viewing a screen more realistic as it bends around the viewer’s field of view.

On the other hand, a flat screen has been in the market since ages and has been tried and tested to give a blameless viewing experience to the users.

The biggest downside of a curved monitor is its price. They are much more expensive compared to a flat screen.

So, as a user, you need to pick a screen that gives to the best experience at the same time does not burn a hole in your pocket, unless you are willing to pay the premium.

Keep the above points in mind and decide as per your current and future needs to make a smart purchase!

Source: Gamingscan, Tomshardware

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