Most PC gamers have spent countless hours researching the best components for their gaming PC, carefully choosing each one. If you opted to go the prebuilt route you still probably took your sweet time when deciding which gaming PC is right for you; and that's great.
Unfortunately most people don't spend the same amount of time choosing their gaming monitor. They might select the cheapest one they can find and call it a day. Well, what's the point of building an awesome gaming rig if you're using a low quality monitor? It's just as important if not more important to carefully consider which monitor is right for you.
Of course that's easier said than done. With a plethora of different gaming monitors to choose from, at times it can be difficult to make the right decision. What resolution do you want? Not to mention display size, panel technology, a standard or curved monitor, refresh rate, response time… I digress.
Looking at all this may make you think that you need to invest a lot of time to choose the monitor that is right for you and your gaming needs, it doesn't have to be that way though, considering that you can check out HotRate and make a more informed decision quickly. However, if you want to keep learning about monitors, you may want to continue reading this guide as it covers important aspects that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a gaming monitor.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider. This guide's aim is to steer you in the right direction based on your budget and what kind of games you like to play.
We're going to be taking a look at three different monitor types: a standard 1080p 27" display, a 1440p 27" display, and lastly a 34" ultrawide curved monitor.
Let's start off with the 1440p display. If you built a gaming PC, you're probably expecting superior graphics and framerates. If your gaming PC is up to par, you'll experience just that!
However, if you have a lower end rig, maybe less than $600-$700, you might not be able to enjoy 1440p the way you thought. After all, a 1440p monitor has 2160 x 1440 pixels as opposed to 1920 x 1080 pixels. We did the math, and it turns out that your GPU would have to render over 60% more pixels in 1440p than in 1080p.
Jumping from 1080p resolution to 1440p definitely takes a big hit on your rig. That being said you might not be able to run all games in 1080p if you have a lower end gaming computer. If your PC budget is $400-$600 you probably want to stick to a 1080p monitor. This will ensure the best performance. Don't worry, 1080p looks great! Better still, most games are optimized well for 1080p. 1440p gaming is still a ways away from becoming mainstream.
On the other hand, if you have a midrange or high end build, you shouldn't have any problems gaming in 1440p. If you fall into this category, a 1440p monitor is probably the best choice for you as it will deliver the best performance. After spending $700+ on a gaming PC I imagine this is what you're looking for. This is how setup for gaming is very easy.
Now let's delve into the realm of ultrawide gaming monitors. You can find these monitors in 1080p, 1440p and even 4K. They're usually quite expensive and deliver stunning images; yet, it might not be the best choice for you.
Ultrawide monitors, especially curved monitors, are advertised to provide the most immersive experience. I've tested one out and in my opinion, it's a great product. The picture quality was magnificent and having such a wide screen really improved my field of view.
Although it was a great experience, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. Aside from the high price tag, it's definitely not the best choice for competitive gamers. I'd recommend this monitor for gamers who enjoy adventurous, single-player games such as Skyrim, Fallout, etc.
When a competitive eSports title like Counter Strike, and even games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, you want to have the best reaction time. It's the difference between life and death, capturing or losing an objective, and more.
If you have a standard 27" monitor, its small screen allows you to stare in the center of the screen while at the same time seeing everything at once with your peripheral vision. On the contrary, a 34" ultrawide monitor is too big. You'll have to physically move your eyes around to see what's going on in different areas of the screen.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but competitive gamers know that every millisecond counts. If you react a split second faster than you'll opponent, odds are you'll come out on top.
At the same time, an ultrawide monitor is a great choice for gamers who aren't so competitive. They look awesome and are truly immersive.
Now I'd like to talk about a few of the extra features to watch out for. It's important to make sure your monitor can adjust its height to accommodate the user. You'll want to ensure it has a wide viewing angle. I'm sure you've experienced a display with a poor viewing angle: it looks fine head on, but as you move your head to either side the colors get distorted and you can't really see anything anymore.
Another thing to keep in mind is the monitor's sound system. Most monitors have built-in sound, but it may not be sufficient for gamers. Sound is an important part of most games, as you need to hear your opponents coming. We'd recommend taking a look at either a nice gaming headset or gaming speakers.
What about other monitor specifications like refresh rate and response time? Don't worry, they're pretty easy to understand.
Often you'll see response time listed under the specifications of any given monitor. It is pretty self explanatory: response time measures the amount of time between the input being registered and the display's pixels updating themselves. For example, when you move your mouse in your hand, the mouse icon on the screen moves with it.
Once again, as long as you're not a competitive gamer you shouldn't have to worry about this too much. Most monitors are under 6 ms which isn't really noticeable. If you're a competitive gamer I'd look for a monitor with a 1 ms response time. They're not much more expensive and offer better performance to give you the edge you need.
How about your monitor's refresh rate? If you take a look at any given monitor's specifications, you'll see refresh rate in the form of 60 Hz, 144 Hz, etc. The refresh rate is how many times per second the screen updates itself.
For example, if you aim to run your games with high-ultra settings, 1080p with 60 FPS, you'd want a 1080p 60 Hz monitor. You can think of FPS and refresh rate as one in the same, as they both measure pictures per second.
If you built a superb gaming PC capable of 100+ FPS then I'd recommend looking into buying a 144 Hz monitor. If you are achieving 100 FPS and your monitor only has a 60 Hz refresh rate, you'll only see 60 FPS despite what your FPS counter is saying.
The human eye is only capable of seeing around 30 FPS. Most movies have a framerate of 29.97 FPS for this reason; PC gaming is different. You're not just watching. You're playing, you're feeling the game responding actively to your input. Despite what some people may say, you can definitely feel the difference between 30, 60, and 100 FPS. This is why I'd recommend going for at least a 60 Hz monitor, if not more.
With this information in mind you're far better equipped to make the proper decision when it comes to your next gaming monitor. God speed!
Jacob is a computer enthusiast. He enjoys writing about gaming PC hardware, informing those new to the PC gaming space. When he's not working on his website, you can usually find him in the outdoors with his buddies.