So, you need a really good gaming monitor, huh? A few months ago, I was in your shoes: researching the internet, listening to gamers on one side, programmers and multimedia consumers on the other… And I ended up even more confused. So, I started making my own research.
Luckily, I was in Germany at the time, where they had (and still have) a 30-day return policy for most of the tech stuff you can buy. I used that option far more than I’m allowed to tell. But, in the end, I got results – I decided to keep a monitor whose features are a mouthful, a 27″ G-Sync 144Hz IPS 1440p monitor, and honestly, I can’t be happier with it.
What does that mean for you, the reader? Well, I learned a lot, and in the next few thousand words I’m going to pour all my knowledge into one simple 144Hz IPS gaming monitor guide that will hopefully make your decision making and monitor-switching easier. For those readers who are still new to the game, I made a nice intro explaining all the current technologies, why they are here and why you should either buy or ignore. For those of you who are senior users, just skip to the recommendations part.
I hope you enjoy the article and, as always, leave this site a bit smarter. Let’s get going!
I’m a gamer, so I ignored the TN panel trend and got myself an IPS monitor – here’s why
When it comes to panel technologies, I remember that as a kid with a CRT monitor I actually didn’t need to know anything except the size I wanted. That is, until laptops came around and introduced me to TN panels. Those awful, washed-out LCDs caused so much eyestrain that every time I use one I imagine my mother yelling at me and saying I will lose my eyesight in front of these “stupid Nintendo games” (although I was playing Doom). But she’s not the topic of today’s article, so let’s get back to the “game of panels” in 2018.
TN is the cheapest solution for every producer and the worst for every gamer – that’s why they will aggressively market it towards us
TN panels are cheap, 1080p ones are even cheaper, and so you will see a certain marketing niche built around them, especially if you game a lot. They will charge us several hundred dollars more for a monitor that is labeled a “gaming monitor” with a few additional RGB lights, an awful TN panel and an 1080p resolution within a 27″ (or, God forbid, 32″) frame. Now, look – to each their own, right? But what I wanted to highlight with this article is this: I’m a gamer who plays shooters on a semi-professional level, and I actively tested TN, VA and IPS panels over the past six months. Same games, same maps. And although I can say that the TN panels HAVE improved a lot over the past 15 years, I truly do not see a proper reason to buy them over IPS ones.
TN monitors are now marketed towards gamers because they can push up to 240Hz refresh rate and have a 1ms response time. The addition of a lower price point compared to IPS and VA monitors ensures they end up in every “trusted review” site on the internet, made by authors who’ve simply read the manual that came with the monitor and the marketing materials. Armed with this knowledge, they tell us that it’s “better for competitive gaming”, lets you “destroy your opponents with 1ms”, is “the ultimate weapon” etcetera etcetera – you know what I mean, since you see these reviews regularly. Of course, they neglect to mention the downside of bleached viewing angels and the like.
Although I agree that the refresh rate of 240Hz plays a huge role, the TN’s 1ms response time in comparison to the IPS’s 4ms response time is a difference that, from my research, doesn’t matter for 99% of us . Look at it like this: you’re sacrificing your viewing pleasure for the majority of the time you spend in front of your computer just for those 3-5 hours of gaming per day. You do this because you believe that a 1ms response time will get you an advantage over someone who’s on a 4ms monitor which, according to my experience, is a complete lie. I would rather have a high quality IPS panel with 4ms that greatly improves my experience on the computer, paired with a 144hz refresh rate and a good internet connection for my gaming needs, than go against my eyes and use them up on a TN panel.
VA technology is mainly used in TVs – most bigger monitors will use them, with some exceptions
While I said that I couldn’t see an improvement with a few milliseconds more when you compare the speed between a TN monitor and IPS monitor, I definitely saw the difference between a VA’s 10ms response time and the 4ms response time of an IPS. As I said, the VA technology is mainly used within the TV industry because of its deep blacks and great contrast, but the response time can go up to 20ms in certain models. It’s the perfect choice for a home TV you watch movies on, but you don’t want that panel standing 10 inches away from your face when playing games and using your PC in general. So, basically, every bigger screen on the market will have a VA panel, and although some of them have a tad lower response time, I wasn’t too satisfied with the results and have found that gaming and other tasks done on a 27″ IPS monitor are far more enjoyable than on a 32″ VA monitor with the same or similar resolution. This of course changes if you’re on a budget and are searching for something with a better screen quality than a TN, but I will go deeper into this in the recommendations below.
IPS monitors were usually reserved for designers, but are now also marketed towards us
The technology improved so much in the past few years that, as of now IPS is the all-rounder and best choice for consumers who spend the majority of their time in front of the computer. With great colors, perfect viewing angels, high refresh rate and a beautiful build quality, the only reason why you would go for anything below IPS would be budget and/or hardware limitations. Even in that case, you can find used ones pretty cheap on Ebay and Amazon. Dell is still the leader among IPS monitors on the market, but other manufacturers are slowly getting closer. If you want to learn more about different monitor technologies and how they actually work, you can check out a great article from our friends at MonitorNerds, where they explained every little bit in detail: https://www.monitornerds.com/different-monitor-panel-types-a-simple-guide/
To continue with the 60Hz vs 144Hz refresh rate story…
In comparison to 60Hz, the 144Hz panels make a huge difference. 240Hz ones? Not so much
My first jump was from a 60Hz panel to a 144Hz one, and boy, was I in for a treat. I already felt the difference with the mouse pointer on my desktop, and after starting up CS:GO and Unreal Tournament I didn’t have those irritating lines anymore, my movement and shooting was smoother, I could see my opponents much clearer and all of a sudden it felt like I didn’t want to go back to 60Hz. I still wanted to try out the 240Hz models to get even more of this good feeling, but they turned out to be a disappointment. As a disclaimer, I’m not just saying this because there are currently no 240Hz IPS panels on the market. I sat down with a TN 240Hz panel and started gaming, but compared to the 144Hz panel it made almost no difference to my 30-year-old eyes. Coming back to 60Hz? Yes, you can see it. Comparing 144Hz to 240Hz? I don’t think it’s worth it, especially if the sacrifice means going from the IPS technology to the TN one. Check this video out:
G-Sync and Freesync are cool – I have them, I use them, but I turned them off for shooters. Why?
These two technologies can be seen as the deluxe and budget version of the same thing. G-Sync will try to squeeze the most out of your graphics card and monitor to improve your refresh rate and framerate, but it can also cost a pretty penny. G-Sync monitors can cost hundreds of dollars more because of the careful process that Nvidia goes through to guarantee performance.
Each G-Sync monitor has to go through strict quality assurance to get access to the technology and will fail the checkup if some of its parts aren’t up to standard. On the other hand, Freesync is open-source and cheap – it will rarely add much, if anything, to the price and will still provide lots of benefits. Freesync also works with a greater array of connectors and can be used with a HDMI port in addition to the standard DP used by G-Sync. However, AMD doesn’t have much in the way of quality assurance for Freesync-compatible monitors, meaning the manufacturer didn’t go that extra step to make sure your monitor doesn’t under-perform.
While I’ve had run-ins with defective and lackluster displays, I’m not sure I would justify Nvidia’s quality control as being worth several hundred dollars, especially when you can return the monitor in case of issues.In terms of connectivity, although some Freesync monitors can have multiple HDMI ports, I have found that one HDMI for my Nintendo Switch and one DP for my computer are more than enough to fulfill my needs, but maybe yours will be different.
Now, regarding usefulness.
Yes, you will see a difference if you’re not sporting a high-end graphics card because these sync technologies are doing their thing. However, there is one little thing I found to be true regarding both technologies, and yet people rarely talk about it: G-Sync and Freesync result in micro mouse lags. Having started to actively play Unreal Tournament after buying my G-Sync monitor, I quickly realized that something was wrong with my mouse pointer. I have been playing the same game for the last 15 years, so I know how the cursor should feel, and it didn’t. After a few hours of research and chatting with fellow G-Sync monitor owners, we all agreed: there is a problem that can only be solved by turning G-Sync off for whichever game is causing micro mouse lags.
“Having started to actively play Unreal Tournament after buying my G-Sync monitor, I quickly realized that something was wrong with my mouse pointer. “
So, G-Sync and Freesync are cool, but only for games that don’t ask for full mouse precision. In my case, I turned these off for my two main shooters, but left them on for every other game because it just felt smoother.
Let’s talk about resolution – it’s not about what you want, it’s about what your computer can handle
As a kid, I was gaming on a 20″ 1600×1200 CRT monitor. I don’t remember the exact brand , but it was probably something to the tune of Trinitron. From my monitor, in 2018, I expect a resolution that can handle more than gaming – I want enough screen estate for all my documents, multimedia, work and also to fulfill my gaming needs, which is why I went with 1440p over 1080p. Does that mean that some of my games need to be sacrificed in terms of visuals to fit the resolution and refresh rate? Yes, but as I said in the beginning, I would rather buy a monitor that’s less harsh on the eyes, offers good quality within and outside of gaming and can still be future proof than go for a TN 1080p monitor.
Why would I recommend 1440p? On one side, keeping G-sync in mind, you can run most of the modern games on mid to high settings with a GTX 1060 or GTX 1070, which can be found used for a couple hundred dollars. Plus, you can tinker with the resolution in the card’s own settings. If you’re an active CS:GO or UT player, you know that these games are, in most cases, played with every setting on low.
With everything on low, I get 144 frames on a 144hz monitor without any problems using a GTX 1060. Games like METRO: Last Light, Fallout 4 and similar need a bit of tinkering, but they still look amazing when adjusted properly. Such setup will not only cover your gaming needs but also provide a resolution that is pleasant for every task. You finished your gaming season and want to watch some Netflix or Hulu? Go for it – you have a beautiful screen in front of you. Working with three windows opened next to each other? No problem. Photo or video editing? More than enough space, my friend. Not all of that is possible on a 1080p monitor, on which I personally feel like I’m stuck in 2005.
– If you’re willing to take care of your eyes and invest in a monitor for future use, go for the IPS technology.
– Yes, there is a huge difference between a 60Hz monitor and a 144Hz monitor. I recommend the jump.
– I do recommend getting a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor, but keep in mind that there is micro mouse lag in shooters.
– I do recommend getting a 1440p monitor in this day and age, but if your budget or hardware can’t keep up with the latest tech, go for the one that fits your wallet and needs. No one will blame you as long as you’re having fun with it.
Let’s cover the facts that everyone forgets: The size of these behemoths, the transport, placement and getting used to them
Not in ONE gaming monitor recommendation article on the internet, not in ONE of them, did I see anyone covering these things, so I will now explain each of them to you in hopes that you can avoid making my mistakes. So, first of all, I had to move three times in the past year and it was a pain in the ### to carry all of my stuff along. And no, I’m not talking about winter clothes that can easily be stuffed into a bag or box and shipped wherever I’m moving next. I’m talking about my desktop computer, my monitor, keyboard and speakers. One month ago, when I moved for the last time (hopefully), I finally figured out why people are buying gaming laptops – they are just easier to move around.
Are you in a permanent room or not?
So, first of all, ask yourself this: will you be moving around a lot in the next few months or within the next year? If the answer is yes, I would recommend NOT to get a monitor that is larger than 27″ and to definitely keep the box from the monitor for transport. If have a steady job and permanent residence, then by all means, go for the behemoths, but before you actually buy one, go through the second question…
Is your current desk the right size to fit a stand from a 27″ or bigger gaming monitor?
Mine wasn’t, and I didn’t take the time to calculate it. If you own a big keyboard paired with a big mousepad, and you’re also in a rented home with a fixed desk that you can’t just break up and get a new one, check the specifications of the monitor you want to buy, find the stand size, take a piece of paper and put it on your desk with all your gadgets and see if it fits you. In my example, the Asus ROG didn’t fit on my desk, my keyboard was hitting the stand or had to be placed on it to actually fit anything. With the Acer AGON, however, everything was ok since the stand is a bit more wider.
Do you have space for a VESA mount and can you afford it?
This is a great option for people with limited desk space: you just get a VESA mount, put it on your wall and mount the monitor on it. The problem is that you need to work the wall whenever you’re moving, a.k.a. go through the hassle of removing the mount, so check your options.
Are you usually playing on the monitor’s native resolution?
If the answer is no, then I would definitely recommend that you check out this website: website. I had problems adjusting my aim in my shooters after upgrading, and it takes a few days of getting used to it and tinkering around with the sensitivity. Maybe it’s gonna sound stupid, but I didn’t think of the resolution as a big deal until I started playing and realized that I’m missing the shots that I would usually hit. I ended up having to tinker with the settings of the game and the mouse for a good two to three days before I could play it.
Be prepared to exchange monitors!
I can’t stress this enough. It’s your money and they cost a lot, so you have the right to give the monitor back in case you don’t like it. The most common issues I found with my first few monitors were excessive backlight bleeding, a refresh rate problem (it’s hard to explain, but I could see the monitor refresh itself and it was annoying and painful to my eyes), dead pixels and the like. Although the quality management of some brands is better than others, at the end of the day, I think most of them are sourcing the panels from the same producers, and mistakes can happen.
You don’t need a calibration tool even if the monitor isn’t calibrated, but it wouldn’t hurt to get one
First of all, they are expensive, and I spent the majority of my gaming career on monitors that weren’t calibrated, so this is just a bonus for those of us who like it a bit better. It isn’t necessary since most of the higher quality monitors come pre-calibrated within the sRGB gamut, but in case you have a friend who has this tool or a few members of your team all want to buy one, then go for it. It’s a great little gadget worth the shared price between team members or friends. You can check them out here: Datacolor official store
IPS monitors have IPS glow, TN monitors have backlight bleeding. Here’s the difference.
IPS glow is an effect where off-angle images can appear brighter or slightly washed out. This is a characteristic of all IPS and IPS-like panels. When you first look at the monitor, you may feel like the corners or edges are washed out and think “that’s backlight bleed!”, but if you actually move your head and closely inspect the edges, you’ll see that the effect disappears entirely. This is IPS glow, and you can reduce or eliminate it by viewing your monitor as close to straight-on as possible and increasing your viewing distance slightly. No amount of returning the monitor to the manufacturer will make that effect go away, nor will buying a different IPS display – they’re all going to do this in one way or the other.
OK, now that we’ve covered this, let’s go through my recommendations on the next page of this article: