Monitors, they’re important dammit!

In this article we will identify and explore the pitfalls of buying a monitor for gaming

The issue

As gamers we are spending a lot of our time in front of these things and most of us do not realise the benefits of operating with a monitor which fits our needs perfectly.
When buying or upgrading setups the monitor is often neglected. Normal procedure is using what’s left over in the budget after buying graphics card, CPU, RAM etc. and if there is nothing left, well – you already have a monitor. One magical box that changes colors is as good as the next one! Right?!

No, not the case as it turns out! Monitors are key components in any gaming setup and can greatly affect user experience. Having the right monitor will also up your game, so if you’re stuck in DMG/Elo hell/<insert excuse> maybe a new monitor is just what you need!

Truth: It’s not though, but it will let you suck with a much more fluid and comfortable feel to your games, enhancing your experience and giving you an edge!

Fine! How do we navigate this maze?

The age of flatscreens is a lawless time, especially compared to the CRT technology of our gaming forefathers. With TFT LCD monitors we have A LOT of factors to take into account, especially when using them for gaming, factors like refresh rate, input lag, response time, ghosting and the pros and cons of the many different types of panel technologies.

Let’s up your nerd game by discovering more about what these factors are and why they’re important

  • Refresh rate

    Commonly referred to and measured in Hz, refresh rate is the number of times pr. second a monitor displays the data it is receiving.

    This is important in a similar way that having high FPS (frames per second) in a game is, a higher refresh rate makes the monitor able to show more FPS thus making the game look and feel both more fluid and responsive.

    The pleasantness of a high refresh rate monitor in gaming cannot be understated, you will feel a tingling sensation down your spine the first time you go from a normal 60-75 Hz monitor to a high refresh rate unit with 120 or more Hz

    Imagine a perfectly straight row of doors, now imagine that each door is a frame (picture from your game), you go through the doors one at a time. A typical monitor will refresh with 60 hz, this means 60 different frames will be presented to you every second whereas with gaming grade hardware (if framerate allows) presents you with 120 or 144 new frames pr. second, for a graphical representation look below.

    Now you will have double the amount of opportunities to miss that Russian AWP

    So refresh rate, higher Hz = better – got it!

  • Input lag

    Not to be confused with response time, input lag (measured in ms (milliseconds)) is the lag between a graphic card generating an image and the monitor displaying it. In conventional usage input lag has not been in the spotlight, because when you are watching a movie or surfing, a high input lag does not take away from the experience eg. if you are watching a movie you will not notice it starting 25-50 ms slower, but with interactive media like games a low input lag is important for a responsive feel, you can’t shoot what you don’t see.

    Input lag, lower = better!

  • Response time

    Most have recognised the importance of response time but, as said earlier, monitors are treacherous waters. Response time, also measured in ms, is the time it takes the monitor’s pixels to change from one colour to another, treacherous as we have no agreed upon common method of measuring it, because of this most manufacturers report very generous results.

    Response time, lower = better (but take manufacturers numbers with a spoon of salt)

  • Ghosting

    Nope, not the three teenage douchebags on the same public server revealing your every move, believe it or not – a far more annoying experience. Ghosting is tied to response time and to understand this we need to understand the fundamentals of monitor technologies. No matter if you are reading this, watching a movie or playing a game every picture you see on your computer is a “still image” made fluent by stringing more together, as we learned with refresh rate more are better. Ghosting are the artifacts left over by the picture drawn before the current, it has always been a great challenge for flat screen monitors and for gamers it still is. You can test it on your current setup by clicking here.

  • Panel technologies

    We will briefly describe the main players, their advantages and trade offs

    TN – Twisted Nematic

    Pros:

    Affordable
    Fast response time

    Cons:

    Viewing angles
    Picture quality (Color and depth)

    IPS – In plane switching

    Pros:

    Picture quality (color quality)
    Wide viewing angles

    Cons:

    Response time
    Motion artifacts
    Expensive

    VA – Vertical Alignment

    Pros:

    Picture quality (high contrast, color quality, deep blacks)

    Cons:

    Ghosting
    Expensive


For a long time the TN panel, with its natively low response time and affordability dominated the markets, especially for gaming – but times are changing, the different panel types have advanced enough now that we are starting to see gaming monitors based on other panel technologies than TN, a situation many enthusiasts have been looking forward to. Before gamers had to make a choice, do you want a responsive game or do you want vibrant colors? For FPS gamers this choice is very easy, luckily now we can get the best of both worlds!

So, with the minefield mapped we are now able to navigate!


Get to know your next monitor, stay tuned for updates of our top hardware picks

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