Imagine you've spent hundreds of dollars in a good graphics card to render the finest details from texture to 3D effects but you have settled on an average quality HD monitor that cannot display those fine details and doesn't provide smooth motions in fast-paced games. How would you know the picture quality on the monitor will meet you expectations? Continue reading to find out....
Beside size, resolution and price there are some other features such as response time, refresh rate, sharpness, response time, input lag, contrast ratio, black levels, viewing angle, colour gamut and bit depth(accuracy), G-Sync or FreeSync, screen surface coating and height and pivot adjustment that greatly affects the gaming experience on your screen. Based on the technology implemented, the monitors divide into different categories including;
- CRT (Cathode Ray Tubes)
- LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
- TFT (Thin film transistor) LCD
- TN (Twisted Nematic) TFT LCD
- IPS (In Plane Switching) TFT LCD
- LED (Light-emitting diode) LCD
- TFT (Thin film transistor) LCD
- OLED (Organic Light-emitting Diode)
The OLED monitors are very expensive but they offer very low response time (less than 0.01 ms) and high refresh rate providing end users with extremely high picture quality. The down side with OLED technology is the limited lifespan of the organic materials and screen burn in. Now let's have a look at these features and how they can improve your gaming experience.
Size and resolution:
For ultimate gaming experience, a big screen with higher resolution is what every enthusiast aims to achieve, however, there are other drawbacks to higher resolution and bigger screens. Let's look at the common display resolutions*:
4K UHD: 3840×2160
8K UHD: 7680 × 4320
Generally speaking, higher resolution means more details but it doesn't count for picture sharpness. The sharpness of your screen should be measured by pixel density which is the ratio of the resolution to screen size (which is also known as Pixel Pitch), smaller pixel pitch means the pixels sit closer to each other which results in more sharpness. For example, the image on a 24" 1080P screen will look sharper than a 27" screen with similar resolution. to reduce the impact of high pixel pitch, you should sit further away from your monitor so the images will not look pixelated to your eyes.
Display resolution is usually shown by "i" and "p" for vertical pixel counts which refers to interlaced and progressive scan technology, however there is a huge difference between these two.
As we know, most high-end graphics card can provide smooth gameplay up to 1600p resolution, however, when it comes to UHD resolution, the single card will struggle to output the minimum 60 frames per second for smooth gaming experience which is a big concern for game enthusiasts, therefore, you'll have two choices; lower the graphics quality on the game menu (which is not a reasonable option) to increase the frame rates, or to look for a second pair of graphics card to configure in SLI/CrossFire to gain extra FPS in games.
A monitor with longer response times displays a blur around fast moving objects making them unacceptable for action and fast paced games. The response time should be measured in Time of Raise and Time of Fall cycle (BTWTB) which is the amount of time it takes for one pixel to go from active (black) to inactive (white) and back to black again, but monitor latency is now measured in Gray to Gray (GTG) which is another method of measurement but doesn't show the true latency of a monitor.
If you have watched a sport game, let's say a car racing you can clearly see that there is some blur for fast moving objects or panning when the camera moves quickly to track the object. This can appear as the monitor has a hard time accurately displaying the moving object. To lessen the motion lag and side panning problem, manufacturers started to increase the refresh rate from the standard 60Hz to 120Hz, 144Hz and 240Hz, however, there is a drawback to increase the FPS beyond 120Hz.
What is the monitors input lag? The input lag basically means the amount of time it takes for monitor to display the content rendered by the graphics card on the screen. This becomes more notable when you play a fast paced FPS games where quick actions are required. The average input lag for a modern gaming monitor should be below 40ms.
Color Gamut and bit depth(accuracy):
Various standards are used to show the color gamut of a monitor such as sRGB, Adobe RGB and NTSC. A good gaming monitor should provide at least 90% sRGB color gamut. Adobe RGB and NTSC color gamut standards are mainly used to indicate color gamut in professional IPS monitors which are mainly used for graphic and video editing. These monitors can display wide color gamut in high 8-14bit color depth which eliminates color banding, however, the OS, application, graphics card's driver and input/output port also should be compatible to produce high color bit depth. Moreover, the input lag and response time are higher on IPS panels which may not be suitable for professional gamers. For best gaming experience a full HD TN panel is still preferable even though their color gamut is not as good as IPS panels.
Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync, synchronize the refresh rate of a compatible monitor to the framerate of a graphics to reduce or fully eliminate stuttering/juddering/tearing during gaming and video playback.
Glossy vs Matt Screens:
Having a glossy or matt screen is more of a personal preference. When it comes to vibrancy and clarity of the image on your screen, the glossy screens are true winner here. If you intend to play games in a darker rooms where there isn't much of a direct light sources striking the monitor then I recommend buying a glossy screens otherwise the matt screens are the best choice where there is above average ambient light in the room, because the anti glare coating on matt screens will diffuse ambient light and significantly reduce reflections on the screen. Beware that some monitors have aggressive AG coating that will deteriorate the text and image quality and may impact on contrast and colour vibrancy which ultimately will lead to eye strain.