Did you recently buy a new computer and now you’re wondering how to buy a monitor for gaming? If this sounds like you, read on. Not every monitor works well for gaming. Be aware of the different technologies, make the right purchase and avoid a costly mistake.
TN Panels = Great Response Times
I like Samsung, Sony and Asus LCD monitors. I research the available models because there are many different technologies used to make the screen known as the “panel” and they are not all equally good for gaming. Panel technologies gamers should avoid are IPS, PLS and VA. For gaming you should get a monitor with a TN panel. TN panels have a lower response time than other types of panels which is crucial for gaming. If the response time is too high, you will experience “ghosting” (blurry after-images) while gaming.
My last monitor had a TN panel with a response time of 5 ms (milliseconds). I played many different games with it and never experienced ghosting. Technology is constantly improving and modern TN panels usually have response times of 2 ms or less. Monitors can also be described as LCD or LED (also known as “LCD with LED backlight”). LED monitors are thinner, lighter, use less power and start faster than standard LCD monitors.
60Hz is the traditional refresh rate for LCD monitors. Some modern LCD/LED monitors have a refresh rate of 120Hz or even higher. A higher refresh rate makes the image smoother. If this sounds similar to what a low response time provides, you’re right. Both technologies contribute to a smoother image. My current monitor has a TN panel, 60Hz refresh rate and a 1 ms response time. I’ve played several different types of games on it and I find the image to be sharp and smooth – never any ghosting. On a 50” TV you would see an improvement in the picture quality when going from 60 to 120Hz. It’s possible that you could see the difference on a 26” monitor but it would be much more difficult.
Be wary of monitors labelled as “gaming monitors”. Sometimes, this is simply a marketing strategy aimed at uninformed users. Some people waste hundreds of dollars by buying a gaming monitor. Most gaming monitors are simply LCD or LED monitors with TN panels, low response times and refresh rates of 120 or 144Hz. As stated earlier, you might see a slight difference between a 60Hz and 120/144Hz TN monitor but at what difference in price? High refresh rate monitors cost a lot more. Some TN monitors even have a refresh rate of 240Hz. I don’t believe anyone can see the difference between 120Hz and 240Hz on a 26″ TN monitor. 240Hz TN monitors also cost at least twice as much as 60Hz TN monitors of the same size.
My opinion is based on my personal experience. I don’t believe the possible slight picture improvement provided by a 120Hz or higher TN monitor is worth the current price. Prices are always coming down so eventually 120Hz TN monitors will be priced where 60Hz TN monitors are now. However, for the near future, if you want an affordable monitor for gaming, I would recommend an LED with a TN panel, 60Hz refresh rate and response time of 2 ms or less and you’ll be fine. You could end up saving hundreds of dollars by not buying a gaming monitor. Sometimes, you might find a retailer selling a gaming monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate. That would be a good monitor for gaming and priced much cheaper than many other gaming monitors. However, don’t make assumptions just because it’s labeled as a gaming monitor. Always check the response time.
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