What to Look for in a Gaming Monitor
If you’re a serious gamer who wants to get one up on your opponents, you know certain accessories matter. A high-powered graphics card can give you a better gaming experience, a programmable keyboard and mouse can give you an edge, and the latest and greatest gaming laptop or gaming desktop can pave the way to success. But finding the right gaming monitor is just as important.
The tech industry is awash with gaming monitors that purport to deliver the best experience for gamers. They tout refresh rates, industry-leading 4K, extra ports, and so many other features. And gaming monitor makers all try to build devices that look like they fit in a top-of-the-line gaming rig.
But with so many choices on the market, it may be hard to decipher what’s best and what’s not. You may also find that some of the jargon used to promote gaming monitors is difficult to understand.
To help you navigate the world of gaming monitors, Acer has compiled the following guide. From a look at screen size to considerations about refresh rates, the following look at gaming monitors will keep you informed — and help you find the best option.
The first thing to consider when deciding on your next gaming monitor is what resolution you’d prefer. Most monitors are available in a range of resolutions from 1080p (full-HD resolution) to a slightly better 1440p, 4K, and more recently, 8K.
For a gaming monitor, we wouldn’t recommend any 1080p or 1440p option. While they certainly have their appeal in certain use cases, for serious gamers who want the best video game experience, anything other than a 4K or 8K monitor doesn’t make much sense.
To put it in perspective, 1080p monitors have a resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. A 4K monitor has twice the pixel count with 3860 pixels by 2160 pixels. It’s an ideal resolution for gamers because it comes with far better clarity and detail than 1080p monitors and many of today’s games are designed for that resolution. High-end graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD also support the resolution.
Although 4K is established as the de facto resolution for gaming as of this writing, 8K monitors and 8K gaming is right around the corner. Few games actually support 8K, so it may be too early to invest in an 8K monitor, but all signs point to an increasing number of games and hardware supporting this resolution in the coming years. If you’re an early adopter, consider getting an 8K monitor in the somewhat near future — you might just be one of the first of your friends to experience 8K resolution that is four times greater than 4K.
The almighty refresh rate
Refresh rate really, really matters when it comes to playing video games on a PC. And having the right monitor with an outstanding refresh rate is critical.
Refresh rate tells you how often the monitor’s screen displays a new image and is measured in hertz. The faster the refresh rate, the more appealing the gaming experience because fast-moving content seems smoother and less jittery.
You’ll find a host of refresh rates in today’s gaming monitors, but for context, a 60Hz refresh rate means it can display 60 frames per second in visual content. A 60Hz refresh rate is considered a baseline option for most gaming monitors.
A more appealing experience is available in gaming monitors that offer much higher refresh rates like 120Hz or 144Hz. You’ll also find some 240Hz gaming monitors. Either way, keep in mind that the higher the refresh rate, the better.
One other note on 60 frames per second: most video games today can be played in 30 or 60 frames per second. You should always vie for 60 frames per second because of its smoother and more appealing visual experience. So be sure to choose a gaming monitor that can handle 60 frames per second.
Remember display size
While there’s no direct correlation between screen size and quality of gameplay, it’s an important consideration for any true gamer. Some players prefer slightly smaller screens of around 24 inches, though others opt for monitors that are 32 inches, 36 inches, or even bigger.
Screen size is important in the context of pixels per inch. The more densely packed the pixels, the better your screen experience. In order to arrive at a pixels-per-inch measurement, you’ll want to compare screen size and resolution. A 4K monitor with a 32-inch screen, for instance, will have more pixels per inch than a 1080p monitor of the same size. The 4K monitor will therefore deliver a better visual experience.
High dynamic range
High dynamic range (HDR) has become an important component in visual quality in recent years. HDR-compatible gaming monitors are superior to those that are not because they create more vibrant and colorful images on screen.
That’s not to say that you absolutely need an HDR-compatible monitor, but if you couple 4K resolution, a fast refresh rate, and HDR, you’ll undoubtedly find a superior gaming experience.
Adaptive sync considerations
Today’s gaming monitors also come with adaptive sync technology from either AMD or Nvidia. AMD’s option is called FreeSync and Nvidia’s is called G-Sync.
While there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes technology to deliver adaptive sync, it’s essentially designed to sync up your graphics card and display to deliver smooth video content. The more in-sync the graphics card and monitor are, the better a game’s visual representation.
Since adaptive sync works so well for video games, be sure to choose a gaming monitor with either AMD’s or Nvidia’s technology.
A word on design
Although design isn’t critical in getting an appealing gaming experience, it can help to round out the experience.
Most gaming monitors come with a design flair that you won’t typically find in a consumer-focused or business-focused monitor. They often feature backlighting to reduce the effects of staring at a bright screen in dark light. They also come with thin bezels around the screen to limit distraction and may have either a flat or curved screen.
Most importantly, be sure to choose a gaming monitor that fits your style. If you’re an avid gamer, you probably spend considerable time staring at your screen. Make sure it’s something you really want to look at for hours each week while you enjoy a superior visual experience.
Good looks and even better visual experiences make gaming monitors stand out from the crowd — and that’s why they’re so appealing to so many players.
Joe is a writer with a passion for gaming, technology, and language learning. Joe has a knack for turning complex tech jargon into easy-to-understand prose. He's a lifelong gamer, having grown up playing classic console games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, and now enjoys exploring the latest virtual worlds on PC. His interests don't stop there – he's also an avid language learner, currently studying French and Portuguese in his spare time. Whether he's writing about the latest gaming trends, reviewing cutting-edge tech products, or sharing language learning tips, Joe brings a fresh perspective and infectious enthusiasm to everything he does.