Up For Debate – What to look for when buying a PC gaming monitor?


Its time to look for a new monitor for your gaming PC. Today we explore how you might go and select a good screen for your gaming PC setup? And we want to hear in the comments section below all the things you consider when looking at getting a new gaming display for your rig.

Like most gaming hardware, monitors come with a bunch of statistics, but tonnes of monitors seem to have the same numbers as each other or very little difference between those numbers. So it gets pretty tricky to know how to choose between the monitor stats unless you know what they mean.

So I thought we could all do what we do best here on GD and get talking about our experiences of choosing the next best PC gaming monitor. What sort of monitor tech should we really care about, what matters to PC gamers. Including how to avoid buying the wrong screen for your hardware. Because we dont want to pay for a 4K monitor when our current gaming PC  graphics card, processor and RAM would only run Windows Minesweeper at 4K. Hmm, I wonder…

So when choosing your next screen we will be faced with questions about the importance of these techs, how does refresh rates and response times influence your gaming experience? Can you find a flicker-free screen and is it worth the extra cost, should you pay for low blue light mode, G-Sync and FreeSync and what do those techs do? And how are you using your monitor for professional or casual gaming, or perhaps you really just focus on desktop work applications and video processing?

Dont forget to take a look at our Best gaming PC for $1200, as this has us hunting out what we all consider to be among the best priced gaming PC monitor for our budget build.

Lets break this down. First, I will highlight a bunch of tech that comes in the monitor and explain a little about each. Then move on to a few things to consider about your use for monitor, that should point us towards which of the techs listed might be of importance when choosing your next gaming monitor.

Gaming monitor tech specs to consider when buying a new PC screen

Response times Refresh rates Manufacturer building the monitor Graphics card specific  Screen Dpi General screen resolution Physical screen size Panel type Image contrast quality Curved Monitor Monitor curvature

Monitor Response Times – First lets assume you game because if you dont use the monitor for gaming then you dont need to worry about response times. Response time is how long it takes to change pixels on the screen from black to white. If the response time is too slow then you may get ghosting/blurring of images on screen. Gamers are normally looking for around 0.5ms to 3ms, but discuss below what you think the importance is for Response Times.

Monitor Refresh Rate – The amount of times a monitor will refresh the screen with new imagery every second. This is higher the better. If your gaming system has the capability of running a game at 100 frames per second but has a refresh rate of 75 hertz (Hz) then you will only gain the benefit on your monitor’s screen of up to 75 frames per second. Typical refresh rates for PC gamers are 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and even up to 240Hz.

Monitor Manufacturer – This is personal preference but some people have good and bad experiences with different manufacturers that build their monitors. So get into the chat below and share your thoughts on which manufacturers make excellent monitors and offer tonnes for good value and which monitor manufacturers sound like they are good but are actually crap.

Graphics Card Specific Monitors – Some monitors come loaded with tech that favours AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. We often get people asking, what is G-Sync and what is FreeSync in a monitor used for? These techs are specific to Nvidia and AMD and aim to lower screen tearing and stuttering in games.

Nvidia G-Sync locks the frame rates to the high end of frames capable by the monitor, to help prevent screen tearing in games. 

AMD FreeSync will allow a graphics card to produce a higher in game frame rate even though the monitor shouldnt be able to handle it, assuming the games VSync option is turned off. Check out Monitor Refresh Rate above.

G-Sync monitors typically cost more than Freesync. But this may change as both techs become more standard in gaming monitors.

Screen DPI – Those letters stand for dots per inch. Basically how many pixels are you getting smooshed into an inch of your monitor screen size. A basic rule of thumb in gaming monitors would be, the higher the number of pixels there are in an inch of screen space, the better quality image you will get in that inch.

But this leads into the biggest but most common thoughts about monitor choosing. How big is the screen space of the monitor and what resolution is the screen? Because the highest DPIs are found on devices like your mobile phone screens, but you dont want to do your gaming on a 7 inch phone screen. So a good balance is normally around 110DPI for gaming desktops, but it depends on the physical screen size you go for and the screen resolution you want your GPU CPU and RAM to play your games at. 

Monitor Native Screen Resolution – Monitors have a set number of pixels on their screen. Your hardware (GPU/CPPU/RAM) is going to play your games best at a certain resolution. The current standard is known as 1080p gaming monitors (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high), but people are currently trending a little towards the bigger 1440p (2560 wide x 1440 tall, which is a 16:9 aspect ratio) gaming resolutions. In short, more pixels on a screen means more work for the GPU and your gaming computer when running games. This will influence the Physical Monitor Screen Size talked about in the next bit below and the DPI mentioned above.

Physical Monitor Screen Size – This is how many inches your monitor is from the bottom left corner of the screen to the top right corner of the screen. You can measure it yourself with a tape measure. Modern gaming monitors are normally around 24inches and often go up to around 36 inches. They can be more. More is not always better for all sorts of reasons.

Ok now take a look at the screen resolution section above. what screen resolution do you feel your gaming PC could deal with? Now take a look at the section above called DPI. Everyone share your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

Image Quality – This comes from your panel technology. These panel techs are TN, IPS and VA. A simplified way of looking at this is that a gaming monitor gets better image quality for a sacrifice for response times. And panels with better image quality normally cost more.

Roughly speaking

TN panel monitors are cheaper, faster response time, lower image quality IPS panel monitors are a balance between response times and image quality VA panel monitors have response times that make it hard to game with, have the best image quality but cost the most.

As I said that is a general rule of thumb but definitely discuss your thoughts below.

Monitor Contrast Image Quality – Image contrast is really the primary measure of image quality. When your monitor’s display has a bigger dynamic range, the picture returned is better. VA panels normally offer around 3 or 4 times the amount of contrast levels compared to an IPS panel or TN screens. This can be best seen when you put brightness up and stand two monitors side by side, a VA monitor next to a TN for example. The VA will win. But to be honest its hard to really tell as you dont have these monitors side by side and as a gamer you are often more interested in a good image quality with a great response time. And that can be picked up with a TN or IPS monitor. Just pay more for better contrast levels in a TN and you are likely to not be disappointed. 

Curved Monitors – Today I often find myself thinking about a curved gaming monitor. This is where there is a slight curve to the screen so you can see the whole screen better from your single focal point. The screen and its pixels will enter your periferal vision better allowing you to absorb far more of your game without having to move your head or eyes from side to side. Therefore far more immersive, or so thats the thinking.

This is only really relevant if you have a monitor that is of a certain size and distance away from that beautiful face of yours. If you are too far back from your monitor then you will be able to see the whole screen anyway. A good curved monitor size feels to be around 30-40 inches. But it is based totally on personal preference and influenced by a lot of your own gaming PC setup factors.

These monitors can suffer from glare at certain angles and people forget about the aspect ratios that are normally default by games. So if you get a large (30+ inch) curved monitor it might stretch around ultra wide, but it may mean your game looks odd because it doesnt cater very well to the unusual width of the screen. A common one is that in game menu and game hud icons could be too small or oddly placed.

Also with the increased number of pixels on the curved monitor it often means higher hardware costs as your GPU/CPU/RAM etc gaming hardware needs to be more powerful to be able to cater to the native screen resolution. Or you end up having to lower 

Monitor Curvature – When you buy a curved monitor look out for the curvature specs, where it might say 1800R, which transaltes as the monitor having a curved radius of 1800mm and is therefore has an ideal max viewing distance of 1.8 meters. Because any further than that and the gamer wont be able to see all the pixels as they would be outside the optimum view point.

Things you should consider as you step into the research stage of finding your next PC gaming monitor, then I will list out a bunch of the monitor tech to consider when purchasing a new gaming monitor. Then it will be over to us as a community to discuss in the area below.

The following is not in any particular order and certainly not a definitive list of considerations, as you guys can talk about your approach to this below.

How well will games run on your CPU/GPU/RAM setup. Knowing this will help you consider what resolution monitor you should focus on. Are you looking to upgrade your CPU/GPU/RAM in the next year or so? This might be with a view to running games at a higher resolution in the future. As you might want to think about how capable the new monitor will be at a larger resolution to avoid you having to replace your monitor during your next PC overhaul. Are you going to use the PC gaming monitor for other things? You could be looking to use your monitor as a TV or for console gaming, or perhaps you might do far more video processing or maybe use it just to surf the internet. What type of games do you mostly play? This could have an impact on the importance of some monitor tech specs over others. Maybe you like turn based strategy titles with low need for fast refresh rates but a higher need for screen resolution. Where are you physically going to put your monitor? If your desk or room is slightly on the small inched monitor could be a poor choice. Being a foot away from a 38 inch behemoth monitor would soon start to make your eyes bleeding. Not literally, although I am not a doctor, so dont quote me on that. Either way it is probably a little unhealthy to sit very close to a massive screen for any long period of time. On the flip side, if your monitor has a smaller screen inch but you are putting it across the room from you you are obviously going to find it harder to see your games. How deep would you want the monitors physical presence. Because again if your desk has not got a lot of space between you and the wall behind it then choosing a monitor with a deep profile might be a waste of desk space.

Also please suggest some great monitors for a variety of prices in your comments below and we will add them to this article.

Ok, thats it for now. We will update this article with more information based on what the discussion highlights below. Cast your votes as well to help share your thoughts on importance of gaming monitor tech in our modern gaming world.

Please note, you get 2 votes in this poll