Figuring out how to choose a monitor a gaming monitor can be a very difficult task. There’s so much choice when it comes to sizes, specifications, and types of monitor that it can be a little overwhelming. We’ve created a guide on what to look for in a gaming monitor in 2020 to help make the decision just a little easier.
Bigger is generally better when it comes to monitor size, but only to a point and for certain activities. There are also other factors to consider, such as the pixel density/resolution, refresh rate and response time. All of the aforementioned are directly affected by the size of a monitor. As a rule, unless you spend the big bucks, the larger the monitor, the worse the performance in other areas.
Monitors generally range in size from 19 inches up to 34 inches. For gaming monitors, most people, tend to choose either a 24 or a 27-inch monitor, with the sweet spot determined by their distance from the monitor. If you sit less than 3 feet from your screen it’s recommended to get a 24-inch monitor. A 24-inch gaming monitor is better suited to games like Counter Strike or other first-person-shooters, for the reasons mentioned previously. If you sit a little further away, say 4 feet from your monitor, then it is suggested to get a 27-inch gaming monitor.
Remember you should think about how much physical space the monitor will take up (and how much you have). It may be worth investing in a smaller specialist screen that delivers what you need over a larger screen. Ultra-wide monitors are good for games that create immersive experiences – such as simulators – but they aren’t so good for FPS games and other action games.
There are only three screen resolutions to consider with monitors; HD (1080p), 2K (1440p), and 4K (2160p). The next generation, 8K, is coming but it should only be invested in if money really is no object. The technology is too new to be available to the mainstream right now.
A higher resolution means a higher pixel count, which means a better quality image. As well as thinking about pixel quality, you should consider the refresh rate. This is how often the screen refreshes the desktop image per second. A higher refresh rate means smoother animations and more frames per second. Find a monitor that offers both high resolution and high refresh rate.
Just keep in mind that the more powerful the refresh rate, the more demanding the monitor. A huge monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate is pointless when connected to a computer that can’t handle it.
Panel Types and Response Times
Another consideration to make when choosing a gaming monitor is the panel type and response time. There are basically three main panel technologies used with monitors; VA, TN, and IPS. These all have their pros and cons.
Twisted Nematic (TN) monitors have the best response time. It’s down to 1ms. However, they aren’t as good at colour reproduction as the other types and they can cause issues looked at from an angle.
Vertical Alignment (VA) monitors have the worst response time of the three. Even with a high refresh rate, there are still problems with ghosting.
Then there are IPS monitors. These are considered the best in terms of colour reproduction. The downside is that they don’t offer as good contrast as VA monitors, but they do offer more viewing angles. Another downside is “IPS Glow”; which is when too much light passing through the panel can cause a glowing effect. It is more pronounced in dark rooms.
Inputs and Outputs Every Monitor Needs
Gaming monitors should offer some flexibility with inputs and outputs. They should be able to handle any potential expansions that you might make in the future. At the least, you want a monitor that has:
- HDMI 2.0
- 5mm audio input
- 5mm audio output
- At least 2 USB ports
- DisplayPort 1.4
There are other kinds of input and output ports to consider, but that is a list of the main ones. Even if you’ve got input and output jacks on your current internal soundcard, there’s no harm in having a few more attached to the monitor itself.
USB ports are an important consideration. It might seem okay to have just one, and you could always get a splitter, but they create latency. That’s why you should have at least two dedicated ports. Just remember, that with more ports means more cables, which means you should take a look at some desk cable management!
How To Choose A Gaming Monitor Summary
What you have here is a basic guide of everything to look for when considering a gaming monitor. There are some other considerations to make, but this is everything you need for a good one. Most of what you can get for your monitor will depend on the budget you have for it.
Be sure to shop around and find a good deal. In our opinion, the best compromise of resolution and refresh rate is the LG 27GL850-B, which comes with a 27 inches QHD (2560 x 1440) Nano IPS display and 1ms response time. A gamer’s dream! Look for the additional things mentioned in our guide and you should have no problem.