In this article we'll share with you exactly what you need to know to confidently choose the best gaming monitor for your needs. If you don't know what to look for in a monitor things can get confusing real fast with the vast range of different models out there, all with different specifications that may sound like mumbo-jumbo.
Your monitor plays an important part in your overall gaming experience. If you build a fast gaming PC with a killer graphics card and CPU, but then you output that to an average or low quality monitor, your graphics experience will suffer.
I would say that the more powerful your PC, the more important it is to pick a quality monitor that will allow you to take full advantage of your expensive hardware to be able to view your games in clear, crisp detail minus any lag.
Also, you're likely to keep your monitor for years and years so you want to make sure to get a good one that will last to allow you to maximize your gaming experience. Ok, let's take a look at the different specs that you should be aware of when choosing the best gaming monitor:
The response rate of your gaming monitor refers to how quickly the screen updates and is one of the most important specs to look for when on the hunt for a good screen. The lower the response rate the better (lower response rates mean that the screen updates faster), and for fast-paced gaming you don't want to get a monitor that has a response rate any higher than 8ms.
6ms and under is even better, with 2ms and 1ms being the perfect situation. If you are playing fast-paced action game such as a racing or first person shooter, and your monitor has a slower response rate such as 10ms or above, you'll likely experience what is known as "ghosting" or lagging. Ghosting happens when the previous image displayed on the screen can still be seen as a blur for moments after the image has changed. The better the response rate, the less noticeable it becomes.
The size that you choose all comes down to your own personal preference, and how much you're willing to cough up for your new screen. Massive displays can cost an arm and leg, especially the high quality ones with great specs.
Another consideration is how powerful your gaming system is, because larger screens are viewed at larger resolutions and they require more powerful hardware to be able to be rendered quickly and smoothly.
Most gamers will be happy with the nice sweet spot of 23 or 24 inches which is large enough to be very immersive, but if you want an even better gaming experience then go for a nice 27" screen which is quite a popular size too. Just a word of warning though: if you ever start gaming on a huge display it's very hard to ever go back!
As for the resolution of your monitor, these days you don't want to go for anything less than full HD 1080p (which is 1920 x 1080). Most monitors will have this resolution but just make sure in case. The next step up is 1440p (2560 x 1440, also known as Quad-HD) which you'll find in screens 25 inches and bigger, and will require better hardware to run your games smoothly.
Then there's 4K (3440 x 1440) resolutions which requires even more power from your gaming PC so it's not for everyone. Plus, 4K monitors cost a lot and most people would do well to wait until they become more affordable, unless you have a ton of money to spend right now of course. Plus, not all GPUs support 4K resolutions.
Another thing you'll want to be aware of when choosing the best gaming monitor is the refresh rate. A higher refresh rate allows you to enjoy higher frame rates in your games without graphical tearing, which can happen when there's a discrepancy between your graphics card's frame rate and the refresh rate of your screen.
Standard monitors have the standard 60 Hz refresh rate, and that is fine if you're gaming on a budget and can't afford a more expensive monitor, but if you want the very best gaming experience you'll want to fork out a little more for a faster refresh rate screen such as 120 Hz or 144 Hz.
The difference between 120 Hz and 60 Hz is definitely noticeable, but if you do settle for a typical 60 Hz monitor then it's not the end of the world and you can still enjoy fast gaming so long as your response rate (explained above) is fast enough. But yeah, if you can, get 120 Hz or more and you won't look back!
LED monitors are the exact same as LCD monitors, except they use LED backlighting which provides some advantages such as a brighter and sharper display, thinner screen, and lower power usage.
LED monitors cost a little more than a standard LCD, but if you want the best gaming monitor then definitely make sure to get one. They're pretty much the standard these days anyway.
The contrast ratio of a monitor can be a helpful spec to generally compare picture quality between different monitors. In general, the higher the contrast ratio, the better the picture quality.
With high contrast ratios your screen can produce deeper black levels, which creates a more immersive and visually sharp experience. Keep in mind that the contrast ratio isn't always an accurate measure of image quality, so don't use it solely to compare two monitors as there's more to it than that.
If you look at an LCD monitor from an angle, you will notice that the image appears dimmer and the colors can look weird. At extreme angles the entire image can even disappear. The viewing angle of an LCD monitor is the angle at which you can still view the screen clearly, and is usually listed in the monitor's specifications list.
The greater the viewing angle, the better, but for gamers the viewing angle doesn't really matter because you are looking directly at the screen the whole time. But there are some people who will consider the viewing angle important, for example if you need to show presentations with your LCD monitor.
When it comes to buying the best gaming monitor you'll typically get what you pay for, but remember to be sure to get one that has a fast enough response rate (6ms and under is best), has LED lighting, a high refresh rate if you can afford it (120 Hz and above is best), and check customer reviews before buying to make sure the image quality is solid.
Check out our own top picks in our article The Top Gaming Monitors: Best Bang for Your Buck LED Displays if you need more help choosing a good model. We spent hours compiling the best value monitors on the market that are also perfectly suited for gaming. Good luck!