Should I go for an IPS, TN or VA panel?
We would always recommend an IPS panel over TN. The clarity of image, viewing angle, and color reproduction are far superior to the cheaper technology, but you’ll often find a faster TN for cheaper. The other alternative, less expensive than IPS and better than TN, is VA tech. The colors aren’t quite so hot, but the contrast performance is impressive.
Should I go for a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor?
In general, FreeSync monitors will be cheaper. It used to be the case that they would only work in combination with an AMD GPU. The same went for G-Sync monitors and Nvidia GPUs. Nowadays, though, it is possible to find G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitors if you’re intent on spending less.
Should I buy an HDR monitor?
With a High Dynamic Range monitor, you can take advantage of the ever-growing list of games and apps that feature HDR support. It offers more vibrant colors and greater contrast but is going to drive up the price a little. Windows native HDR function also leaves a lot to be desired, and you may find you have to fiddle in the settings to get HDR looking like it should.
What aspect ratio should I go for?
Today’s movies and games are best enjoyed in a widescreen format at a 16:9 aspect ratio or above. In 4:3, those cinematic moments will look stunted with black strips along the top and bottom. There are a host of minute variations on each ratio, but at the end of the day choosing between these depends entirely on your personal preference.
And the very far-out option, if you have a little extra cash to blow, is ultra-wide aspect ratios like 21:9 and 32:9 and their variants. These will provide a much more immersive, encompassing experience. Or literally, encompass yourself with a curved monitor, up to you.
Gaming Monitor Terminology
Refresh Rate (Hz)
The speed at which the screen refreshes. For example, 144Hz means the display refreshes 144 times a second. The higher the number, the smoother the screen will appear when you play games.
Graphics tech synchronizes a game’s framerate with your monitor’s refresh rate to help prevent screen tearing by syncing your GPU frame rate to the display’s maximum refresh rate. Turn V-Sync on in your games for a smoother experience, but you’ll lose information, so turn it off for fast-paced shooters (and live with the tearing). Useful if you have an older model display that can’t keep up with a new GPU.
Nvidia’s hardware exclusive frame synching tech that works with Nvidia GPUs. It basically allows the monitor to sync up with the GPU. It does by showing a new frame as soon as the GPU has one ready.
AMD’s take on frame synching uses a similar technique as G-Sync, with the biggest difference being that it uses DisplayPort’s Adaptive-Sync technology which doesn’t cost monitor manufacturers anything.
When movement on your display leaves behind a trail of pixels when watching a movie or playing a game, this is often a result of a monitor having slow response times.
The amount of time it takes a pixel to transition to a new color and back. Often referenced as G2G or Grey-to-Grey. Slow response times can lead to ghosting. A suitable range for a gaming monitor is between 1-4 milliseconds.
Twisted-nematic is the most common (and cheapest) gaming panel. TN panels tend to have poorer viewing angles and color reproduction but have higher refresh rates and response times.
In plane switching, panels offer the best contrast and color despite having weaker blacks. IPS panels tend to be more expensive and have higher response times.
Vertical Alignment panels provide good viewing angles and have better contrast than even IPS but are still slower than TN panels. They are often a compromise between a TN and IPS panel.
High Dynamic Range. HDR provides a wider color range than normal SDR panels and offers increased brightness. The result is more vivid colors, deeper blacks, and a brighter picture.
This refers to the maximum brightness (measured in nits) of a monitor or television.
Shorthand for monitors with aspect wider aspect ratios like 32:9 or 21:9
The number pixels that make up a monitor’s display measured by height and width. For example: 1920 x 1080p, 2560 x 1440p (2K), and 3840 x 2160p (4K).