Source: fi.pinterest.com/freetoplaymmorpgs.com

To study the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a gam­ing mon­i­tor, like any oth­er com­put­er com­po­nents, you just have to look at a huge num­ber of num­bers. This makes the buy­ing process very dif­fi­cult (unless, of course, you are a mega-geek who loves to com­pare long tables with num­bers and abbre­vi­a­tions).

Sure, gamers are, on aver­age, a bit more tech-savvy than aver­age users, but nonethe­less, mon­i­tors and the tech­nol­o­gy they use have become extreme­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed. Here you will find a quick guide to help you under­stand the basics and find the right gam­ing mon­i­tor for you.

When buy­ing a mon­i­tor for gam­ing, there are many char­ac­ter­is­tics to con­sid­er:

  • Per­mis­sion;
  • Screen size;
  • update fre­quen­cy;
  • response time;
  • the pres­ence of G‑Sync / FreeSync;
  • HDR
  • col­or spec­trum;
  • sock­ets and con­nec­tors;
  • matrix type.

Screen size and resolution

We have com­bined res­o­lu­tion and dis­play size in one para­graph, as they are relat­ed to each oth­er. The deci­sion on dis­play size depends on the size of your desk and avail­able space, how­ev­er, in gen­er­al, a 24″ to 32″ diag­o­nal is rec­om­mend­ed for a gam­ing mon­i­tor. In terms of res­o­lu­tion, you have the choice from Full HD to 4K. The high­er the res­o­lu­tion, the sharp­er and more detailed the image shows the mon­i­tor.

The screen size will most like­ly deter­mine the choice of res­o­lu­tion. If you’re look­ing for some­thing more com­pact, a 24-inch Full HD dis­play is fine. The sweet spot for most users will be a 27-inch mon­i­tor with a res­o­lu­tion of 2560 x 1440 (also referred to as 1440p or QHD). A high-end option would be a 32-inch dis­play with 4K res­o­lu­tion. Of course, there are oth­er options, such as 27″ 4K or 32″ QHD screens, as well as devices of oth­er sizes and res­o­lu­tions, but we want to keep this guide as sim­ple as pos­si­ble, so we won’t go into all the details.

Acer 27″ Nitro VG270UPbmiipx, 1440p

For gam­ing, 27-inch 1440p may be con­sid­ered the best option for many rea­sons, even com­pared to the the­o­ret­i­cal improve­ments that come with increased size and res­o­lu­tion:

  • A 27″ size is accept­able for most con­fig­u­ra­tions and tables.
  • 1440p is sharp­er than Full HD but less GPU inten­sive than 4K.
  • a 1440p dis­play can achieve high­er refresh rates.

Tech­ni­cal­ly, these ben­e­fits are even more pro­nounced if you go for a 24-inch Full HD dis­play, but the extra screen real estate on the 27-inch mod­els is well worth it in our opin­ion.

If you are still think­ing about 4K, you should also think about the addi­tion­al pow­er of the proces­sor and video card. All those extra pix­els need to be ren­dered, and that can make it hard for any sys­tem to work. Keep that in mind — some­times more pix­els don’t mean no bet­ter.

BenQ PD3200U 32″, 4K

You are not lim­it­ed to these types of dis­plays. Inter­est­ing options include ultra-wide and curved mon­i­tors. Ultra­w­ide mon­i­tors present oth­er poten­tial chal­lenges because they use non-stan­dard res­o­lu­tions, which in turn can lead to slow­er refresh rates and longer response times, which we’ll dis­cuss next.

Regard­ing curved mon­i­tors/­mul­ti-mon­i­tor con­fig­u­ra­tions:

  • If you need a larg­er dis­play, a curved screen makes sense to increase immer­sion.
  • Curved dis­plays have a non-stan­dard res­o­lu­tion and not all games sup­port a wide field of view.
  • Curved dis­plays don’t have seams, while dual-dis­play con­fig­u­ra­tions do, and this can be a prob­lem for gam­ing.

Update rate and response time

And now about the real gam­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. When you’re look­ing for a gam­ing mon­i­tor, you should def­i­nite­ly check out the refresh rate, which is mea­sured in hertz (Hz). The indi­ca­tor reflects how many times the mon­i­tor will refresh the screen every sec­ond. The high­er the num­ber, the bet­ter. Basic dis­plays and TVs oper­ate at around 30Hz, some up to 60Hz. For gam­ing, at least 60Hz is rec­om­mend­ed.

Why does a high­er refresh rate ben­e­fit gamers? The high­er the refresh rate, the more what you see on the screen match­es what is hap­pen­ing on the com­put­er. A 30Hz dif­fer­ence may seem like a very small amount of time — it is, but games require incred­i­ble accu­ra­cy, and a per­son can quite rec­og­nize this dif­fer­ence and respond to it.

AOC 27″ AG271QG, 165Hz

60Hz is now con­sid­ered the absolute min­i­mum for gam­ing mon­i­tors, and you’ll find plen­ty of 144Hz dis­plays on the mar­ket. This refresh rate is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed for seri­ous gam­ing. There are mon­i­tors even at 240Hz, although it is not known if there are ben­e­fits to casu­al gamers at that speed.

That being said, your graph­ics sys­tem and proces­sor must sup­port the screen’s refresh rate, oth­er­wise you sim­ply won’t get any ben­e­fit from its high refresh rate.


  • The high­er the refresh rate, the bet­ter.
  • 60 Hz is the min­i­mum, 144 Hz is a good indi­ca­tor.
  • 240Hz is great, but it’s unlike­ly to give as big a jump in per­for­mance as going from 60 to 144Hz.
  • You need pow­er­ful enough graph­ics to take full advan­tage of a fast mon­i­tor.

Source: bhphotovideo.com

Anoth­er time relat­ed para­me­ter is the response time. This means how long it takes each pix­el to go from one set­ting to anoth­er. It is usu­al­ly mea­sured in mil­lisec­onds from one shade of gray to anoth­er shade of gray (GtG). For gam­ing, you want less than 5ms, prefer­ably 2ms or even 1ms.

Response time is impor­tant because dur­ing fast motion, slow response times can result in motion blur or ghost­ing as the mon­i­tor can’t keep up with the game. And dur­ing the game, of course, you want the pic­ture to be as sharp and clear as pos­si­ble.

Things to remem­ber about response time:

  • The response time should be no more than 5 ms.
  • 1ms is a com­mon option that can be rec­om­mend­ed for gam­ing.
  • Fast response time min­i­mizes blur­ring and ghost­ing.

Adaptive Sync

If you’ve seen frame rate tests for games and gam­ing PCs, you’ve prob­a­bly noticed that frame rates fluc­tu­ate based on screen activ­i­ty. With a min­i­mum action, the frame rate increas­es sharply, and with an active one, it can drop sharply. With­out the help of spe­cial tech­nolo­gies, this can lead to screen tear­ing (the so-called screen tear­ing).

Screen tear­ing is when the mon­i­tor dis­plays part of one frame and the next frame at the same time. This is because dis­plays are con­fig­ured to run at a set refresh rate, and they don’t always know what to do if the frame data they receive does­n’t match the hard­ware set­tings.

One way to fix the prob­lem is VSync — ver­ti­cal syn­chro­niza­tion. This is an easy solu­tion because it tells the mon­i­tor to wait for the next full frame before tran­si­tion­ing. This is not a per­fect solu­tion as it can lead to lag which is very bad for the gam­ing expe­ri­ence.

AMD and NVIDIA have devel­oped their own adap­tive sync tech­nolo­gies, or vari­able refresh rates, that help mon­i­tors main­tain smooth play­back even when video cards are run­ning at non-stan­dard frame rates. AMD’s tech­nol­o­gy is called FreeSync, while NVIDI­A’s is called G‑Sync. Both do a great job of clos­ing gaps, but they require com­pat­i­ble hard­ware to do so.

View­Son­ic 27″ XG2702 with AMD FreeSync

AMD’s FreeSync tech­nol­o­gy is more wide­ly avail­able and cheap­er to use, so it’s often found in more bud­get mon­i­tors. NVIDIA G‑Sync, on the oth­er hand, requires cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and goes through qual­i­ty con­trol to ensure the per­for­mance it needs, which is why it’s more com­mon on high-end dis­plays. Most like­ly, you will have to choose based on your video card. If you have an AMD card, get a mon­i­tor with FreeSync. If you have NVIDIA, buy G‑Sync.

Are any of them bet­ter? Well, tech­ni­cal­ly, one could say that G‑Sync is bet­ter, as NVIDIA pro­vides per­for­mance guar­an­tees com­pared to open FreeSync, which allows for mon­i­tor-to-mon­i­tor incon­sis­ten­cies. How­ev­er, G‑Sync dis­plays are more expen­sive.

  • NVIDIA G‑Sync and AMD FreeSync address screen tear­ing with adap­tive sync.
  • G‑Sync mon­i­tors are com­pat­i­ble with NVIDIA graph­ics cards and are in the more expen­sive seg­ment, but per­for­mance is guar­an­teed on any mon­i­tor.
  • FreeSync mon­i­tors are com­pat­i­ble with AMD graph­ics cards and are in the more bud­get seg­ment, but may vary from mon­i­tor to mon­i­tor.


Many peo­ple think that the main way to improve a pic­ture is to increase the res­o­lu­tion. How­ev­er, an equal­ly effec­tive way to improve image qual­i­ty is a High Dynam­ic Range (HDR) dis­play. The extra sat­u­ra­tion and more vibrant col­ors that HDR dis­plays deliv­er is a huge leap over old­er dis­plays. If you haven’t seen an HDR dis­play yet, you should def­i­nite­ly take a look at how the pic­ture looks on it.

HDR on com­put­er mon­i­tors is still not very com­mon. True HDR requires a cer­tain max­i­mum and min­i­mum bright­ness to guar­an­tee the promised dynam­ic range, but many more bud­get dis­plays fail to achieve these goals. This led to the emer­gence of the Dis­play­H­DR stan­dard with alter­na­tive max­i­mum bright­ness. Dis­play­H­DR 400 or high­er is like­ly to be a rea­son­able enough choice to give the image more sat­u­ra­tion.

DELL 31.5″ U3219Q with Dis­play­H­DR 400 sup­port. Source: multitronic.fi

You will also need to make sure that your oper­at­ing sys­tem, graph­ics card, and mon­i­tor sup­port HDR. The game must also sup­port the for­mat.

  • High dynam­ic range (HDR) dis­plays offer more con­trast with brighter high­lights and deep­er darks while retain­ing detail.
  • HDR requires a com­pat­i­ble OS, graph­ics card, dis­play, and gam­ing set­tings.
  • HDR is becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar, so an HDR mon­i­tor could be a good start for the future.

Color spectrum

This is not an easy top­ic, so here we will man­age only the most gen­er­al rec­om­men­da­tions. You will need some­thing close to 100% sRGB cov­er­age. This is the basis that will pro­vide a good col­or suit­able for gam­ing.

If you also want to use this mon­i­tor for video edit­ing or watch­ing movies in HDR, good cov­er­age of Adobe RGB and Rec.2020 col­or spaces is also rec­om­mend­ed.


The three main stan­dards now are Dis­play­Port, HDMI, and USB Type C/Thunderbolt 3. How­ev­er, they may have dif­fer­ent ver­sions, you should focus on the lat­est.

The most pop­u­lar mon­i­tor con­nec­tors are HDMI and Dis­play­Port. It is worth choos­ing a mod­el with Dis­play­Port 1.4 or HDMI 2.0. Both options are very reli­able and have enough band­width for high res­o­lu­tions, includ­ing 4K, and refresh rates of 60Hz or more.

HDMI and Dis­play Port. Source: rtings.com

USB Type‑C/Thunderbolt 3 is a rel­a­tive­ly new alter­na­tive. Tech­ni­cal­ly they are dif­fer­ent con­nec­tors, but they look the same. Using adapters, both can car­ry essen­tial­ly the same for­mats as Dis­play­Port with HDMI. With the right com­put­er, you can use USB and/or Thun­der­bolt for data, video, and charg­ing using the same cable.

Oth­er things to think about include audio out­put, USB ports, and gen­er­al­ly how many con­nec­tors you need for a mon­i­tor. If you are going to use the mon­i­tor with only one com­put­er, you should not think too much about this top­ic, but if you want to con­nect sev­er­al dif­fer­ent devices to the same dis­play, you should think about it in advance.

  • HDMI and Dis­play­Port are the most com­mon and reli­able stan­dards.
  • It is worth tak­ing a mon­i­tor with HDMI 2.0 or high­er or Dis­play­Port 1.4 or high­er.
  • USB Type‑C and Thun­der­bolt can offer Dis­play­Port and HDMI sup­port via an adapter.
  • Con­sid­er in advance how many devices you plan to con­nect to the mon­i­tor at the same time.

Matrix type

Some pay spe­cial atten­tion to the type of matrix, but as long as your mon­i­tor meets the oth­er required spec­i­fi­ca­tions, you should not wor­ry too much. Here’s what’s worth know­ing:

  • IPS dis­plays offer good col­or qual­i­ty, con­trast, and fast response times, but advanced fea­tures come at a price.
  • TN pan­els will be cheap­er with faster response and screen refresh rates, but not as good in terms of col­or repro­duc­tion and view­ing angles.
  • VA pan­els offer excel­lent con­trast, but often lose out to TN and IPS pan­els in gam­ing-crit­i­cal per­for­mance, so mon­i­tors with these pan­els are not rec­om­mend­ed.

Source: digitaltrends.com

We hope that this guide will help you make a more intel­li­gent approach to choos­ing a gam­ing mon­i­tor. If you already own a gam­ing mon­i­tor, we’d love to hear about your expe­ri­ence in the com­ments.

* in prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resource bhphotovideo.com (Shawn C. Stein­er) were used.