If you’re going to invest your hard-earned time and money in building the ultimate gaming PC, then you’re going to want the best possible gaming monitor you can buy.
Go on, buy the gaming monitor that your PC deserves.
Luckily you’re in the right place to buy the best possible gaming monitor. With monitors from leading gaming brands such as ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Samsung and many more, you’ll be able to find a monitor that offers you the ultimate, immersive gaming experience at CCL.
If you’re not sure what you need to look for in a gaming monitor, read our buying guide below.
Gaming Monitor Buying Guide
There’s a lot that goes into buying the best gaming monitor for you and your system. But, we’ve set out a simple guide below which explains in clear terms what you need to know when buying a monitor for your gaming PC.
Let’s start off by looking at screen size.
Gaming monitor screen size
Shouldn’t you just go and buy the biggest monitor you can afford? Not necessarily.
When selecting the size of your new gaming monitor, think about where it will be situated in your home. Will it be sat on a desk? Will you be mounting it to a wall? How close will you be sitting to it? Will you want to use more than one monitor simultaneously?
These considerations, whilst mundane, are important to take into account when selecting the size of your gaming monitor.
The most common sizes for a gaming PC monitor tend to be between 24” to 27”. At this size, you’ll benefit from an immersive, high-quality gaming experience, but without being completely overwhelmed by an enormous screen.
In addition to the size of the screen, think about the shape of the screen too. For example, if you play a lot of driving/racing games or flight simulators, then you may benefit from a gaming PC with a curved screen.
Gaming monitor panel types
One of the most common things you’ll have to take into account when buying a gaming monitor is what type of LCD panel it has.
Each of these panel types has distinct properties and qualities. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of these distinct characteristics to ensure you buy a gaming monitor with the correct panel type for your purposes.
Below you’ll find more information on the three most common panel types.
TN (Twisted Nematic)
The TN panel type is arguably the most common panel type that you’ll find in gaming monitors. This is because TN panels are relatively cheap to manufacture whilst also offering great functionality.
TN panels are great for competitive gaming as they are able to change state very quickly. TN panels typically have extremely quick response times and good refresh rates. So, if you want to gain a competitive edge in your gaming, then a TN panel gaming monitor is an excellent choice.
TN panels do, however, suffer from poor viewing angles and occasionally experience problems accurately reproducing colours. If high-quality visual representation is your thing, then consider an alternative panel type.
IPS (In Plane Switching)
Should colour reproduction and viewing angles be your highest priority - for example, if you’re a graphic designer - then buy a gaming monitor with an IPS panel.
Whilst IPS panels are able to provide the most intense visual experiences, displaying games as their makers intended, the stunning visuals do come at a cost - performance. IPS panels are, in the main, not able to achieve the high refresh rates or fast response times of TN panels.
Having said that, there are IPS panels that offer high refresh rates and fast response times, but they almost always come with higher price tags than their TN equivalents.
VA (Vertical Alignment)
VA panels are often viewed as the ‘centrist’ panel type. They’re the ‘jack of all trades’ that sit somewhere in the middle between TN and IPS panels.
A gaming monitor with a VA panel will offer decent response times and refresh rates, as well as decent quality visuals. Note the use of the word decent though. You won’t get the lightning fast response times of a TN panel nor the stunning visuals of an IPS panel.
As we say, a VA panel is a good compromise between the two extremes of TN versus IPS.
VA panels do tend to be of a similar price to TN panels, so if you want a monitor that’s responsive, but has slightly better colour reproduction and viewing angles than a TN panel monitor, buy a VA panel monitor!
Hopefully those explanations have helped you understand the difference between the three main panel types.
So, aside from panel type, what else do you need to know when buying a gaming monitor?
Well, if you’re intending on playing games to the highest possible standard, you’ll need to know about both refresh rates and response times - which is what we’ll cover next.
Gaming monitor refresh rates
What does refresh rate mean? Put simply, it refers to the number of times an image on a screen changes in a second.
We don’t want to overstate this, but when you’re buying a gaming monitor its refresh rate is one of the most important things you should check. A high refresh rate will make the difference between having a juddery, blurry gaming experience, and a smooth, fast-paced one.
Refresh rates are measured in Hz.
Basic and standard monitors will typically have a refresh rate of 60Hz. Whilst this is generally fine for console or budget PC gaming, it won’t be sufficient if you’re aiming to enjoy AAA titles at their very best.
High-end gaming monitors will have refresh rates of at least 120Hz, with the very best models having refresh rates of as much as 240Hz. Note, however, that monitors with such high refresh rates will often come with hefty price tags!
Note - if you do intend to buy a gaming monitor with a very high refresh rate, then you’ll need to make sure that your computer’s hardware can handle it. For example, you need to match a suitably high-performance GPU, with a monitor with an appropriate refresh rate.
Gaming monitor response times
Response time measures the amount of time it takes for a monitor to change the colour of each individual pixel.
For gaming purposes, that means that the lower the response time, the better a monitor is for gaming; it’s able to change the colours of its pixels quickly, giving you a smooth, responsive experience.
Response times are measured in milliseconds (ms).
When buying a gaming monitor you should look for response times that are below 1ms (if you want the fastest possible response time). For the ultimate gaming experience choose a monitor that has a response time of 0.5ms.
If, however, you can’t quite stretch to a gaming monitor with a sub-1ms response time, a monitor with a response time between 1ms and 4ms will still be able to provide a smooth, seamless gaming experience (it just won’t be quite up to eSports levels of response).
Gaming monitor screen resolution
When it comes to bragging rights and gaming monitors, it’s screen resolution that most people will reference.
The most common gaming monitor resolutions are 1080p Full HD, 1440p QHD 2k and 2160p UHD 4k. However, there are gaming monitors with even more impressive resolutions beginning to appear on the market including 2880p 5k and 4320p 8k monitors.
If you’re not sure what screen resolution you should buy, then follow this general rule; the higher the screen resolution, the better the image quality.
Having said that though, it’s important that your PC’s hardware is actually capable of running games at your desired screen resolution.
Conversely, if you buy a very high-resolution monitor, then you’ll be futureproofing your monitor. As you upgrade your PC over time, you’ll be able to keep using the same monitor without having to replace it.
What’s the difference between UHD and QHD?
One thing that may have leapt out at you in the section above is the use of the terms UHD and QHD.
QHD stands for Quad High Definition and refers to a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. QHD monitors are sometimes referred to as 2k monitors - simply because of their widescreen dimensions.
UHD stands for Ultra High Definition and refers to a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. You’ll often see UHD monitors referred to as 4k monitors - however, and this is where things can get confusing, 4k can also refer to monitors with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels.
In other words, look carefully at the exact resolution of a gaming monitor before you buy, to ensure you get the right one!
Gaming monitor display inputs
Another thing to consider when choosing a gaming monitor is the type of input it has.
It’s important to note that your choice of gaming monitor may well be made for you depending on what type of device you’ll be connecting it to. For example, if you’re intending to use your monitor with a console, then in all likelihood you’ll be restricted to buying a monitor with a HDMI input.
However, if you’ll be connecting your gaming monitor to a PC, then you may have a wider range of inputs to choose from. We’ve outlined the most common inputs below.
DisplayPort has quickly become the input interface of choice amongst dedicated PC gamers.
Why? Because DisplayPort supports both high refresh rates and high resolutions.
DisplayPort is also able to support multi-display setups. So, if you want a two or three screen gaming experience, choose monitors with DisplayPort inputs.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface)
HDMI is currently the most popular and widespread input interface, and is used on a wide array of devices, from DVD players and consoles through to PCs and laptops.
Whilst HDMI does support good refresh rates and high resolutions, if you’re a PC gamer it doesn’t quite compare to the performance level of DisplayPort.
DVI (Digital Visual Interface)
DVI is an older input type, but can still be found on some monitors. It’s similar, in many ways, to HDMI in that it can transmit both visual and audio data.
In the main, you’ll only want to buy a monitor with a DVI input if you have an older computer or device that you’d still like to connect and use occasionally..
VGA (Video Graphics Array)
VGA is one of the oldest input types and dates back to a previous generation of PCs.
For today’s gaming purposes, VGA is redundant, however if you’d like to connect an old computer or device to your monitor, then a VGA input will come in useful (retro gamers, we’re looking at you!).
G-Sync and FreeSync
If there’s one thing that will help you identify a gaming monitor from a standard one is if it features G-Sync or FreeSync.
G-Sync and FreeSync are an absolute must have for dedicated gamers.
They are technologies which eliminate annoying things such as screen tearing and input lag. They do this by ensuring that the monitor’s display is synchronised with the data outputted by the graphics card (hence the word ‘sync’ in their names).
G-Sync is NVIDIA’s proprietary monitor technology and is only compatible with NVIDIA graphics cards. Monitors with NVIDIA G-Sync tend to be a little more expensive than other models. This is because G-Sync requires an additional module to be built into the monitor, which adds to the cost of production.
FreeSync is AMD’s proprietary monitor technology and is only compatible with AMD graphics cards. Whilst FreeSync offers a similar experience to G-Sync (e.g. elimination of screen tear and input lag), it doesn’t add any additional cost to a monitor.
Gaming monitor features
Finally, when selecting your gaming monitor, you should think about the additional features that you’d like it to include.
These features include everything from aesthetic features such as multiple colours and lights through to more functional features such as built-in USB hubs, built-in speakers, curved displays, VESA mounting, 3D ready and more.
The choice is nearly endless!