Tech of the Week: How to Pick Out The Proper Gaming Monitor (10/1/21)

Nathaniel (Fox) Prewitt, Feature-Editor

While the gaming industry grows exponentially, the market is becoming more confusing every year. For someone who is just beginning to get into gaming, picking the proper equipment for their needs can overwhelm them. Even if you have the best computer that can push maximum graphic performance, it won’t even matter if you have a crappy 720p monitor that lacks color coverage. Having a bad monitor can make or break your gaming experience. Monitors are not only for making a game look more beautiful but they can also help you win the round. With monitors varying in speed and refresh rates, it can affect your reaction time in your competitive game. Picking out the proper gaming monitor can be stressful so let this article help you with what you should look out for and some of our recommendations. 

 

Monitor Panels

When picking out the proper monitor for you the first step would be looking at the monitor panel and picking the one that suits you best. There are three types of monitors to choose from TN, VA, and IPS panels. TN panels are the oldest of the three and have only one pro compared to the other monitors. The TN monitors have the fastest response times that could be under one millisecond response time. A TN monitor would be a great choice for a competitive shooter like CS:GO where reaction speed is vital. The cons of the TN panel are that it has poor color compared to the other two panel types and its contrast ratio is subpar with poor viewing angles. TN panels are cheap and have reliable response times going all the way up to 240Hz or even 360Hz. The next panel is a VA panel, it is slower than the TN panel with an average response time of 4 milliseconds but there are some pros to this type of panel. VA panels have good color coverage but their best feature is the contrast ratio. TN and IPS panels have a contrast ratio of 1000:1 while a VA panel has a ratio of 3000:1. When talking about contrast ratio the number means the brightness of a white image is whatever the number the times of the number greater than a completely black image. For example, if it’s labeled 1000:1 then the white image is 1000 times brighter than a black image. Finally, the IPS panel is the newest display and it’s the best of both worlds. It has the best color coverage and contrast ratio of around 1000:1, it also has a decent response time between 1 millisecond to 5 milliseconds. When buying a monitor I recommend getting an IPS Panel because of the large coverage of colors giving it the best immersion in games. 

 

Color Gamut

When picking out a monitor, finding one with a larger color coverage is recommended because it will not only make gaming more immersive but also gives you the ability to accurately photo or video edit and it makes watching movies more enjoyable. When defining color gamut is the color range that a certain device can cover. There are 5 categories of color gamut to rate a monitor panel. The first and most common one is sRGB. The other are Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, NTSC, and lastly Rec.2020. When looking at a monitor on a website or a store they are most likely rated by one of these color gamuts.

 

sRGB

The first and most common color gamut is sRGB, most video games and movies are based on sRGB. This color gamut coverage is also the smallest of the five. When buying a monitor I recommend getting one with at least 90% sRGB color gamut to have the best viewing experience. Having a higher color gamut percentage means that the screen will more accurately represent the colors making whatever you are displaying feel more alive. 

 

Adobe RGB

When looking at a monitor with an Adobe RGB rating then it is most likely a professional-grade monitor. These monitors are usually more expensive than standard sRGB monitors. If you are someone who works with photo editing, then I would recommend getting a monitor with higher Adobe RGB to have accurate colors for your editing. But if you are just looking for a gaming monitor I would not recommend this type of monitor. 

 

DCI-P3

DCI-P3 would be the next step above sRGB with color availability. It covers more greens and yellows. If you want a display to look more immersive during movies, I would recommend getting a monitor with high DCI-P3 coverage. Overall if you have a limited budget going for anything other than sRGB is not recommended.

 

NTSC and REC.2020

NTSC is almost identical to Adobe RGB, it covers almost identically to Adobe’s coverage but it covers less green and covers more red. Rec.2020 is the largest of these color gamut, this gamut is mostly used by professionals, and monitors that have a high REC.2020 are very expensive and outside of a basic consumer’s budget. Overall for the basic consumer sRGB or Adobe RGB is the best option due to the fact of value for what you get.

 

Screen Resolution 

When looking at the screen resolution is mainly based on the specs of your computer. If you have a powerful computer, you can get a higher resolution. Screen resolution is the number of pixels for the X and Y-axis that can be displayed on a monitor. The main resolutions of monitors today are 720×1280, 1080×1920, 1440×2560, and 3840×2160. When buying a monitor, the majority of monitors will be one of these resolutions. To find out if your computer can run these screen resolutions, you can look up the limit of your computer specs. 1080p monitors are a great cheap option and they don’t look bad. If you are willing to spend a little more I would recommend getting a 1440p monitor for your final monitor. Buying a 4k monitor or 3840×2160 in my opinion is a poor idea. Only the new 30’s series Nvidia graphics cards can run a game smoothly in 4k resolutions. Also having a 4k monitor less than 3 feet away from your face is not worth the price gap between a 1440p monitor. Overall picking a resolution I would recommend buying a 1080p monitor if you are on a budget but if you have a powerful computer, I would recommend upgrading to a 1440p monitor.

 

Refresh Rate

When purchasing a gaming monitor one of the most important factors is the refresh rate. If playing a competitive game, you get an edge on the other players in your game. The refresh rate means how much a display can refresh in a second. For example, if a monitor has a 60Hz display, then it refreshes the display 60 times per second. Someone with a higher refresh rate will have more time to react to something on the screen and it also helps make the game look a lot smoother. The average refresh rate in gaming monitors is 144 Hz refresh rate, a cheaper monitor is around 60Hz, and a higher spec monitor can be up to 360 Hz. 

 

Response Time 

Lastly, one of the most important features of a monitor is the response time of the pixels. What this means is how fast a pixel can shift between colors. It is usually measured by how long it takes a pixel to go from black to white in milliseconds. While gaming in a high-paced game, having a slow response time can make the game blurry and unenjoyable. The main problem of a slow response time is that it causes ghosting. Ghosting is the trail of pixels behind an object that hasn’t fully converted to the colors on the screen. The range of gaming monitors is between .5 milliseconds up to 5 milliseconds. At the slower end of the response time of 5 milliseconds, you can notice a little bit of ghosting between black to white transitions. If you are worried about trails behind objects I would recommend getting a 1 millisecond response time panel. Response time is an important factor in deciding on a monitor and can bring the gaming experience to the next level. 

 

My recommendation

With all these other factors it can be very stressful to pick the proper gaming monitor. If you can’t decide on which one you want, you can decide between these recommendations. For a good budget-friendly monitor, I recommend the Acer KG251Q Jbmidpx. This monitor comes at $200 on Amazon. It has a TN display giving it a high refresh rate of 165 Hz and a fast response time of 1 millisecond. It has a 24.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1080p. It has a standard contrast ratio of 1000:1, it also has a range of 16.7 million colors or 100% sRGB. Having a monitor like this will be a great addition to a beginner setup due to the number of features for the price. For a mid-tier monitor, I would recommend the LG 27GL850. This is a great display that can elevate your gaming experience. It has an improved 27 inch Nano IPS display that was developed by LG in 2019. This monitor has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a color gamut of 98% of the DCI-P3 color space making this a gorgeous display for gaming and media use. This monitor also has a refresh rate of 144 Hz and a one-millisecond response time. This monitor has a midrange price of $500 but on Amazon, it is on sale for $379. For an end-game monitor, I would recommend the ROG Swift PG32UQX. This 32-inch monitor is an absolute beast of a display and will have the best features but for a pretty penny. This display has a 4k resolution with a color coverage of 98% DCI-P3 color space or 160% sRGB. The display has a 144Hz refresh rate. One of the downfalls of this monitor is that it has a response time of 4 milliseconds. This is because the display is 4k, which makes it difficult to have a fast response time. If you want to have a faster response time you can sacrifice the 4k and go down to a 1440p monitor. Overall this monitor is a great IPS panel that delivers a large color coverage in 4k with a fast refresh rate and a bright display. To get this top-of-the-line monitor it will take a large chunk of your wallet with a price of $3,000. Overall I would recommend getting the LG 27GL850 because for the price you get a 1440p color-accurate monitor that has top-of-the-line refresh rates and response times.