Gaming Monitor buying guide

Gaming Monitors

Our brief guide describes the key elements you'll
want to consider when buying a gaming monitor.

This guide aims to briefly describe the key elements you'll want to consider when buying a gaming monitor, you may not be able to check every box within your budget, but it's important to ensure you're getting what you feel you need for the money you're spending.

How to choose a gaming monitor?

Panel size and resolution

Bigger is better but you may need more powerful hardware for the latest games. A 24" montior is very adequate for gaming on a pc and looks good at 1080p. 27" feels noticeably bigger but benefits from a higher resolution (any bigger than this and 1440p or 4k is a must if you are sitting close, say within a few feet of your monitor).

Panel technology

TN panels are affordable; they offer minimal response times but can be subject to colour shifting and viewing angle issues. Viewing angles aren't really a problem if you're playing straight on at a desk but become more of a problem for couch use if you're sharing a monitor (i.e. sitting off centre).

IPS panels offer great colour reproduction but have a reduction in pixel response times; they can also be subject to motion artifacts in lower end models.

VA panels provide a good middle ground between IPS and TN panels and have good black levels; they can be prone to noticeable ghosting in some models.

Although IPS and VA monitors are constantly improving on their disadvantages but are generally more expensive that TN panels.

Response Times

The monitor you’re looking for should have low response times (the faster the better). You’ll certainly want lower than 5ms grey-to-grey for an adequate gaming experience however, monitors boasting 2ms and lower are common place amongst gaming monitors.

Refresh Rates

You’ll want to ensure you’re looking for a high true refresh rate. 60 Hz is very common amongst monitors and can provide a great gaming experience however, the higher this number the smoother and more responsive your game will be (assuming you can achieve the frame rate in your games). Higher refresh rate monitors refresh themselves more often every second and are therefore capable of displaying more frames per second.

Adaptive Sync

There are currently 2 new competing technologies on the market that are aimed at removing screen tearing. Screen tearing is less common when running at a stable frame rate close to your refresh rate of your monitor, but is still visible even on some of the best current monitors and gaming machines around.
FreeSync is AMDs answer to this and had been adopted as an optional component of the VESA Adaptive Sync standard. It requires a FreeSync compatible graphics card in your computer and currently requires the use of DisplayPort. Its royalty free meaning it adds very little cost to the price of the monitor.
G-Sync is Nvidias solution to screen tearing. It requires a G-Sync enabled graphics cards, which is common on most new Nvidia graphics cards and requires the use of DisplayPort. Unfortunately this feature is not royalty free and can add between £100 and £200 on to the cost of a monitor.

Other considerations

There are many more things you wish to consider when buying a monitor:

  • Panel Manufacturer - who manufacturers the display technology
  • What other features does it offer? - do you need a particular connection type, output, speakers, curved screen etc
  • Cost - it's all well and good finding the perfect 4K 144hz IPS 1MS Monitor, and it may simply be time to start saving, but if the monitors out of your budget it it may be time to consider other options or decide what features you can live without
  • Aesthetics - what does the monitor look like? Is there a particular style you're after? Does it fit in with the other items you have on your desk?