Gaming Monitors 2021 Guide

Posted by: Amira Bird

October 07, 2021

With such a variety of PC monitors to chose from, it can be difficult to know which monitor is the best for gaming. This decision may not be as simple as it first appears as every element of your gaming rig needs to work together seamlessly and in harmony.  

Whether you game on a console or PC you can choose to use a gaming monitor as a display, but there are many different factors to consider and even more brands and pricing points to choose from. 

Resolution 

Arguably the most important factor when choosing a gaming monitor, is the display resolution. There are currently three standard monitor resolutions:  

  • 1080p 
  • 1440p 
  • 2160p 

More commonly these are known as Full HD, QHD/2K and UHD/4K. 

But what does a resolution do and why is it an important factor in choosing a gaming monitor? To put it simply, the resolution equates to the number of pixels on the monitor, therefore the higher the display resolution the more pixels on the screen and the clearer the picture will be. A higher resolution not only allows for a higher quality image but also enables smoother gameplay.  

The resolution of your display is completely dependant on the hardware sending the image to the display. Any hardware limitations need to be completely considered when choosing a gaming monitor. If the hardware GPU, graphic processing unit, cannot process a high resolution, the user will experience in-game lag. Due to this dependence on console or PC hardware, 1440p/QHD/2K is commonly the standard monitor resolution size for the average gamer, as only the most powerful modern GPUs are able to process 2160p. 

Just because your GPU may not currently be able to process high resolution, doesn’t mean you should write off higher resolution monitors. Monitors can be set to run on lower resolutions, so by investing in a higher resolution monitor, you are in essence future-proofing your gaming rig, ready for a new, more powerful GPU that can comfortably run a higher resolution. 

Refresh Rate and FPS 

Although refresh rate and frame rate are often used interchangeably, they are in fact different. Frame rate refers to the number of still images the GPU in the gaming PC can generate, this is measured in frames per second and whilst it relates closely to the monitor, it is a separate component.  

The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and accounts for how many times the monitor can refresh the displayed image per second.   

There are three different sizes of refresh rate:   

  • 60 Hz 
  • 144 Hz 
  • 240 Hz 

Often, these terms are used simultaneously because they pair together. A monitor with a refresh rate of 240 Hz can only refresh the image at this rate if the GPU can generate images fast enough. This pairing then also combines with adaptive sync technology, that patches up broken frames or hardware hiccups.  

Xbox and Play Station Hz Rate  

Most consoles, including both the Xbox One and PS4, currently have a maximum capacity of 60 fps. It is not just the consoles that have a limit, many games are locked at 30Hz.  

Next-generation games consoles have superseded the frames per seconds and Hz rate of their previous models. The Xbox Series X and S both support 120 Hz video, as does the PS5 with 4K resolution also supported.  

G-Sync on a FreeSync Monitor 

G-Sync and FreeSync are two adaptive sync technologies that are very similar. Most gaming monitors will come with one of these technologies pre-installed. The technology works to eliminate screen tearing in gaming monitors. Screen tearing happens when a monitor is working overtime, trying to display more frames per second than its refresh rate.  

The main difference between these two technologies is the price point. AMD FreeSync, as it says in its name, is free. Historically AMD FreeSync was only compatible with an AMD graphic card, however, in January 2019 Nvidia announced that selected AMD FreeSync monitors will be certified to run the adaptive sync technology, G-Sync.  

NVIDIA G-Sync typically adds a premium cost of around AUS$140-210 to the monitor and works best on NVIDIA graphic cards.  

Best Response Time for Gaming 

The response time of a monitor is measured in milliseconds (ms) and refers to how much time is needed for a single pixel to switch from black to white, or the time taken for the pixel to switch between two different shades of grey.  

Smoother movements are displayed on monitors with faster response times and monitors with higher or longer response times can cause motion blur. This is because pixels cannot change colours quick enough and when they fail to change, blur occurs.  

The panel technology used in a monitor can affect the response time experienced. Monitors can either feature TN panels or IPS panels. TN panels have a minimum response time of 1 ms response time and IPS panels can only reach a minimum of 4 ms response time.  

Which panel a gamer chooses for their gaming monitor depends on what they value most in their games. For gamers looking for visual quality with more vibrant colours and better viewing angles, they should opt for an IPS panel, whereas gamers not fussed about the accuracy of their colour reproduction, often choose the lower response time, TN panels, which eliminate motion blur. 

Screen Size 

Gaming and eSports displays come in sizes starting from around 21″ with no true cap on the largest size a gamer can go. For example, it is not uncommon for gamers to use a TV as a display and if they wanted to go larger still, they could use a projector to display their gaming.  

The layout of a gaming rig will greatly affect the size of the display best suited for game play. Some gamers like to sit 3-4 foot away from their display and therefore will often go for a large display that clearly shows everything, whilst other gamers sit much closer to their display, about an arms’ length away. This distance allows gamers to choose a gaming monitor that is the perfect balance between visual clarity and viewing comfort for which is normally between 21 inches and 27 inches. 

Monitor screen size usually goes together with resolution, with larger screens comfortably supporting higher resolutions. 

Ultra-Wide Screen Gaming Monitors 

Some gamers prefer to use an ultra-widescreen monitor as this allows them to have more information on the screen.  

Unfortunately, most games restrict the aspect ratio and prevent them from scaling to ultra-widescreen monitors as it gives a tactical advantage. Ultra-widescreen monitors show more on the screen and users are able to see more with a wider field of view than those not using an ultra-widescreen monitor. However, just because they can’t see more of the game doesn’t mean there is no advantage to an ultra-widescreen monitor. Gamers can include and easily see gaming stats and streaming platform information onscreen.  

Alongside ultra-widescreen monitors, some gamers opt for a curved monitor – this provides a more immersive experience.  

Would you like to know more about how gaming monitors and how they can enhance your gaming experience? Reach out and our friendly specialists will be able to help. 

Sydney ICT also works with a specialist gaming PC comapny, Joyrig, to bring you a PC customised to your needs and the games you play.

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