The importance of a choosing a great gaming monitor
A gaming setup is not complete without a proper monitor. Even the best GPU and CPU combined are worthless without a great monitor to take advantage of that horsepower. Gaming on a great monitor is very important and you should never undervalue the importance of having a monitor according to the components you have in your system. Getting a GTX 1080Ti, for example, without having a 1440p 144Hz or 4K monitor is like owning a Ferrari without gas. The Ferrari may be one of the best cars in the world but without gas it is useless. Choose your gaming monitor wisely and always in proportion with your PC components and budget.
How to choose the proper monitor for your PC
Before finalizing your decision on your next monitor, there are certain things you need to evaluate and understand first. A plethora of gaming monitors are available on the market and choosing the best one for you can prove difficult especially if you are a first-time builder and new to PC gaming. Take a look at what I consider to be the best monitors in 2018 for every budget and preference, at this link.
5 important things to consider before choosing your next monitor are:
What resolution are you planning to game on? The higher the resolution the better the experience but price goes up as well because you have to choose a better graphics card in order to keep up with your monitor’s resolution. If you are on a tight budget you should exclude 4K and even 1440P (2k). You can always upgrade later down the line.
The refresh rate is as important as resolution and for competitive gamers or even those of you who enjoy first-person shooter games, the refresh rate will have a big impact on your gaming experience. It would be wise to invest in a 144Hz monitor, a vastly superior experience to the 60Hz refresh rate standard of most monitors. While you pay a price premium for the higher refresh rate, the investment made will be worthwhile as the game feels and looks much more fluent. Once you are accustomed to the high refresh rate, going back or even experiencing 60Hz for the first time will be unbearable. A monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate has the ability to refresh an image 60 times/second. A monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate has the ability to refresh an image 144Hz times/second. That means that the 144Hz has more than double the capacity to receive frame outputs from the GPU and display them on screen resulting in a much more fluent and enjoyable gaming experience. Everything is perceived as moving faster as more images succeed each other every second. In order to fully understand the difference between standard 60Hz and 144Hz, check out the video below:
The sweet spot nowadays is 1440p 144Hz gaming. You get the perfect balance between resolution and refresh rate and 1440p 144Hz monitors are not that much expensive if you do some research. Check out a great 1440p 144Hz at an affordable price point, at this link.
To learn more about refresh rate and how it affects gaming performance, check out this link.
Monitor Display Technologies
Depending on what you aim to do with your PC, there are two types of screen technologies worth considering: IPS and TN.
IPS panels are the better choice because they offer better color accuracy and viewing angles. The downside is that IPS monitors are much more expensive due to their superiority so if you are purely gaming in addition to being on a budget, IPS panels are not for you. TN panels, on the flipside, are much cheaper. You can find a 144Hz TN monitor for a great price but you have to sacrifice color accuracy and definitely on viewing angles. When observed from an angle, TN panels display washed-out colors that are inappropriate for anyone who wishes to use their computer for professional graphical work besides just gaming.
This does not mean that TN panels are bad, it just implies that they lack in comparison to IPS technology monitors. The monitor I am writing on right now is a TN panel and I have never been disappointed by its performance. Again, it depends on what you are used to and what you aim to do with your monitor. For graphic designers and professionals in general, the higher price of an IPS panel is ultimately justifiable.
Response time is another factor to take into consideration before choosing your monitor. A good gaming monitor should normally come with a response time below 4ms. A lower response time will increase the responsiveness of your monitor and improve your gaming experience. Most high refresh rate monitors (100Hz+) usually have a response time of 1ms, so chances are that the high refresh rate gaming monitor you are looking at is equipped with the desired response time.
Monitor Sync Technologies
Apart from resolution and refresh rate, monitor sync technologies are very important and will have a huge impact on your gaming sessions. There is a total of 4 monitor sync technologies. 2 of them are built into the games’ settings, one of them depends solely on your graphics card while the other two can be found on specific monitors. Sync technologies’ role is to synchronize the FPS output of your graphics card with your monitor’s refresh rate. Below I will list them all and will explain how each one of those monitor sync technologies affects gaming performance and what each does.
V-Sync is technology built into every game’s settings. V-Sync limits the FPS output of the GPU to a fixed amount. When the GPU is not able to output the desired frames, V-Sync cuts the refresh rate of the monitor in half. For example, if the GPU is able to display 60-90 frames in a specific game, V-Sync sets the monitor’s refresh rate to 60Hz. However, if the GPU cannot reach the 60fps threshold, the refresh rate gets locked down to 30Hz. The only positive aspect of V-Sync is that it completely removes screen tearing as the refresh rate is constantly tied to a specific number. The game experience will be fluent although input lag will increase as the graphics card has to wait until the next image is displayed by the monitor.
That is the main reason why many gamers turn off V-sync completely and play without sync. Screen tearing will be a substantial problem if the monitor does not support FreeSync or G-Sync, but at least input lag will reduce significantly. Another problem with no Sync technology are the sudden frame drops and the tearing that happens when the frames suddenly drop. Personally, before investing in a FreeSync monitor, I used to play with V-Sync for a period of time and found the game unplayable. Try it out for yourself by turning on V-Sync in the game and see if you are happy with the results. In general, both V-Sync and No-Sync are not the best options as you have to compromise between disadvantages on both sides. For a better gaming experience, I would suggest investing in a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor.
Check out the video below by DudeRandom84 to see the difference between V-Sync and no sync and make sure to subscribe to his channel for awesome game comparisons with different GPU setups and FPS performance testing:
All credits to Battle(non)sense
GPU in cooperation with monitor developers acknowledged that V-Sync does not offer the best gaming experience and decided to come up with a solution to fix the high input lag while still getting rid of screen tearing. And that is how they came up with FreeSync and G-Sync. Those two technologies do the same job. Instead of adjusting the GPU’s FPS output to the monitor’s refresh rate, FreeSync and G-Sync do the opposite. The monitor’s refresh rate adjusts itself to the FPS output of the GPU. For example, if the GPU can output 50 FPS at a specific point in the game, the refresh rate becomes 50Hz. Again, if the GPU can output 100FPS, the monitor’s refresh rate bumps up to 100Hz, given the fact that the monitor can support a refresh rate up to 100Hz.
FreeSync and G-Sync offer the advantages of V-Sync and, at the same time, eliminate the input lag since the GPU does not have to wait for the monitor’s output but the monitor adjusts in a matter of seconds to the fluctuations of the frames being output by the graphics card. FreeSync and G-Sync usually have a range from 30Hz-144Hz. Even if you framerate dips into the low 30’s, the monitor refresh rate will adapt immediately to the abrupt frame dip and provide a tear and lag-free experience.
The only disadvantages of FreeSync and G-Sync are that FreeSync only works with AMD while G-Sync only works with NVIDIA. Moreover, FreeSync and G-Sync monitors are quite expensive when compared to a regular monitor, G-Sync in particular. Before blaming both companies for their greedy marketing practices, it is important to point out that AMD’s FreeSync is a free code that can be implemented by any monitor manufacturer including NVIDIA. NVIDIA, however, chooses not to because they have their own sync technology in place and they profit heavily from it, resulting in a much heavier price tag on G-Sync monitors than FreeSync. In other words, using an NVIDIA GPU on a FreeSync monitor will not work, as those GPUs like the GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 are incompatible with it. That does not mean that the monitor will not work, it just means that the Freesync technology will not be applicable on an NVIDIA GPU.
Another disadvantage is that FreeSync and G-Sync do not work above the monitor’s refresh rate in case your GPU’s output exceeds the monitor’s refresh rate. Truth is that you need a pretty powerful GPU in the form of a GTX 1080Ti or at least a GTX 1080 in order to reach the 144FPS mark and take advantage of the high refresh rate. If you own an NVIDIA GPU (most of us do let us be honest) but have found a great high refresh rate monitor which supports FreeSync, do not hesitate to buy it as you can still take advantage of a sync technology built into NVIDIA GPUs.
Fast Sync is a great compromise for gamers owning an NVIDIA GPU but are “stuck with” a Free-Sync monitor like myself. Fast Sync is a technology built into NVIDIA’s Pascal GPUs (10- series) and once enabled removes tearing completely when the FPS output exceeds the monitor’s refresh rate. In case the frame rate is below the monitor’s refresh rate, it will not work, however. FastSync is great for high-end GPUs like the GTX 1080Ti and GTX 1080 able to output a good amount of frames in almost any game. For example, if the refresh rate is 144Hz and your graphics card is able to output 150 or 160 frames, FastSync, if enabled, will discard the additional frames beyond the refresh rate and sync the FPS output with the monitor’s native refresh rate.
Do not use FastSync if your GPU cannot output the necessary frames to at least match the refresh rate because it will not have any effect at all. Nonetheless, FastSync is a great alternative to FreeSync and G-Sync. The perfect sync combination would be FreeSync or G-Sync with FastSync. FreeSync and G-Sync sync the GPU’s output with the monitor’s refresh rate when the FPS output is below the refresh rate while FastSync activates once you exceed the refresh rate. In any case, you will enjoy gameplay with no lags and tear no matter if you are playing at 40 or 160 FPS if you own an NVIDIA GPU and a G-Sync monitor.
Do not combine V-Sync with FreeSync or G-Sync
FreeSync and G-Sync work the best when V-Sync is turned off. Both V-Sync and FreeSync or G-Sync do the same but the latter eliminates the high input lag of V-Sync. If you have both turned on simultaneously, you eliminate the benefits of FreeSync and G-Sync due to the fact that the input lag will be significantly higher when V-Sync is turned on for reasons I have explained above.
Check out the video below by Battle(non)sense on a detailed analysis on the various sync technologies available and why you should never combine V-Sync with FreeSync or G-Sync. Also, make sure to subscribe to his channel, as he successfully dives into the details of many gaming aspects like input and network analysis.
Before concluding this post, I would like to tackle some of the misconceptions and misinformation regarding gaming monitors. A lot of fake information is floating around and much of it is unintentional. Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to clarify some of those false rumors.
5 Facts we got wrong about gaming monitors
1. TN Panels are of bad quality
This assumption is totally wrong. TN Panels may not offer the best color accuracy and viewing angles compared to IPS panels but they cannot be considered bad quality. It is no coincidence that many gamers have chosen and still choose TN Panels including me and are satisfied with their choice. It more or less depends on your needs, budget and what panel you are used to working or gaming on.
2. High-refresh rate gaming is not beneficial
This debate has been going on since high refresh rate monitors flooded the market a few years ago. This is definitely not true. The perception of difference from one human to another is different indeed but every person should be able to distinguish between a 60Hz and 144Hz refresh rate panel. It is a fact, although, that the perceived difference in frame rates diminishes as we move closer to 144Hz (or even 240Hz). As a matter of fact, the biggest difference is between 30 and 60Hz. From 60 to 100Hz the difference is less noticeable, way less than the jump from 30 to 60. From 100+Hz the change in game fluidity is even less perceivable. That does not mean, though, that you cannot tell the difference between 100 and 144Hz. You will, however, have a hard time telling the difference between 120 and 144Hz, for sure. The more you are exposed to high refresh rate gaming the more you will be able to distinguish between them. High refresh rate monitors are a game changer but you have to convince yourself for that by trying it out. Slowed-down Youtube videos are helpful but not ideal. Go to a local computer store and see the difference yourself.
3. The human eye can perceive an “X” number of frames
Totally wrong. First of all, the eye does not see in frames. We are not computers and our eyes do not operate like computers. There is no fixed amount of frames our eyes can perceive and different parts of the eye operate differently. Besides that, our eyes distinguish between the perception of movement and light. Our eyes have the tendency to create fluidity when a set of images are displayed consecutively. But no one has been able to determine the exact amount of frames our eyes can perceive since our eyes cannot be measured like that. Find out more regarding this issue at the video below by Techquickie:
4. Full HD (1080p) gaming is not the norm anymore
This statement might be true in a few years but for now, 1080p is still the standard resolution for most gamers. The reason? A perfect combination of graphical performance and fidelity. The higher the resolution the more of a beefy GPU you need, the higher the amount of money you have to spend. While 1440p gaming is indeed the sweet spot, 1080p is still the standard resolution for gaming. That, however, will probably change in a few years once 4K monitors become affordable and gamers will move to 1440p monitors due to heavy price drops. 1080p by then will probably be supported only by a minority of gamers.
5. Anything below a 1ms response time will be detrimental to gaming performance
This statement might derive from the fact that most “high-end” gaming monitors are advertised with a 1ms response time. Yes, there is a somewhat noticeable difference between 1ms and 10ms but you will have a hard time finding a 10ms monitor in 2018. Most monitors come with a 1-4ms response time anyway and if you can actually tell a difference between 1/100th and 4/100th of a second you are most likely a superhuman. Do not get upset if your favorite gaming monitor has a 4ms response time, you are not going to notice a difference anyway. The resolution, refresh rate and monitor sync technologies are far more important than response time. Just keep that in mind.
Gaming on a monitor has way more things to take into consideration than it initially seems. The huge variety of monitors on the market certainly do not make the choice much easier, either. The aspects that should be taken into consideration are refresh rate, resolution, response time and monitor sync technologies. Additionally, there a lot of misconceptions that have arisen regarding gaming monitors due to misinformation and I tried to clarify what I considered the 5 most common facts we all got wrong about gaming monitors. Choosing the right gaming monitor is utterly important and the significance of combining your GPU with a monitor being able to keep up with your GPU is undisputable. Just like the GPU and CPU should be on par, your monitor has to match, too. A GTX 1080Ti should not be combined with a 1080p monitor, as that would be overkill. On the other hand, a GTX 1060 will not keep up with the graphical demands of a 4k monitor. Balancing your system out is crucial. The ultimate factor for most gamers, including me, is budget. Choose something you are comfortable with and can afford. In the end, you want something that you can enjoy without having second thoughts about whether you made the right choice from a financial standpoint.
What monitor do you have sitting on your desk? Are you thinking of upgrading or are you satisfied with what you have? Let me know by dropping a comment in the comment section below.
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