The time has come to buy a new gaming monitor for your PC and consoles. There’s a whole bunch of things to take into account. Resolution, screen size, refresh rate, response time, panel type, curved or flat…we could go on. So, we’ve decided to try and help by compiling a quick but definitive guide to give you a clearer idea of what’s out there in the realm of gaming monitors. We’re confident this will help you find a good display for your gaming needs, be you a professional competitive multiplayer gamer bent on the fastest frame rates or a single player campaign fan that loves immersing in every pixel.
The most fundamental aspect of a monitor, and likely the most important because it affects nearly every facet of the display other than sound, maybe. There are three main varieties of LCD monitors in use, with different characteristics. However, all of them have merit and the differences may not necessarily be night and day.
TN (twisted nematic): still the fastest panel type, so if you see a 360Hz monitor, it’s almost certainly TN. For the highest refresh rates and quickest response times, TN panels do not disappoint. On the downside, they still suffer from the narrowest viewing angles and least appealing color reproduction. Black levels and contrast are OK, though.
VA (vertical alignment): great all-rounders. Excellent contrast, respectable response time, good colors, and better viewing angles than TN. VA panels are somewhere in the middle and that’s why they’re so popular, particularly for bigger monitors and TVs. They have a slight tendency to suffer from ghosting, but improved technology has largely banished this flaw. Not as fast as TNs but definitely close.
IPS (in-plane switching): considered the most competent in terms of color performance and viewing angles. Response times and refresh rates are similar to VA, so slower than TN but still OK for most needs. The biggest advantage of IPS technology is color presentation, which is by far superior to the other two varieties of LCD, although IPS has a reputation for less than great contrast and black levels.
While monitors in general range in size from 22” to over 50”, the most popular gaming monitors are in the 25” to 35” band. Resolutions have stabilized over the past six years, settling on 1920 x 1080 (full HD 1080p), 2560 x 1440 (QHD or 2K), and 3840 x 2160 (4K or UHD). There are also ultrawide versions of these resolutions. When considering screen size, you also should think of aspect ratio. “Regular” screens are 16:9, while ultrawide monitors come in 21:9 or 32:9 flavors.
In the balance of size and resolution, you should strive for a pixel density of around 100-120 pixels per inch. This will give you the clearest, sharpest image. Thus, 1080p looks best on 25” or 27” monitors, 1440p on 27” to 35”, and 4K on at least 32”. Sure, you can do 1080p on 32”, but it’ll be a little blurry. Conversely, 4K on a 25” screen will look too dense and tiny.
Broadly, 1080p 25”-27” monitors are best for gamers that want speed and response. Larger monitors provide more comfortable viewing from further away, so you don’t have to sit so close, and graphics look impressive on bigger displays. Despite advances in technology, larger panels still have lower refresh rates, slower response, and more likelihood of ghosting. Nothing terrible, but not as neat as smaller screens.
Check out the reasons 1440p works so well on a 27” monitor, and why we think your 1080p gaming will look brilliant on these monitors. Want 4K? This is what you should be aiming for, especially if you want PC and console on the same monitor.
The proverbial golden standard of gaming monitors. The faster the better. While once 60Hz was fine, now monitors with hundreds of frames per second are normal. Higher refresh rate support on a screen does many things. Games and the desktop become responsive and fluid. Your graphics card can fully express itself without being bottlenecked by a slow monitor. And overall input lag is reduced because the monitor refreshes frames faster than you can press a button.
To be fair, you don’t need a crazy fast monitor, because most games demand a lot from GPUs and won’t run at 240Hz or 360Hz, except for titles like CS:GO or Rainbow Six Siege. Considering PC and the current generation of consoles, most games operate in the 60Hz to 120Hz bandwidth, and thus a 144Hz or 165Hz monitor will serve you well with room to spare.
Together with refresh rate, a monitor’s response time determines how fluid and smooth your gaming experience will be. Any discrepancy between your graphics card and the monitor will cause stutter and tearing. And a monitor with slow response incurs greater input lag, which may become noticeable in-game, especially in fast paced titles. Typically, manufacturers use grey to grey (GtG) and moving picture response time (MPRT) to express how speedy a monitor is. MPRT is more useful for measuring a monitor’s odds of showing blur or ghosting. GtG is useful as an overall measure of a display’s response, as it reflects the ability to change pixel color quickly. You want to be as close to zero in both, but that’s not possible. For GtG, anything less than 4ms is acceptable. When looking at MPRT, go with 1ms if available.
Technologies like FreeSync and G-Sync, known as variable refresh rate, help sync your monitor with your GPU to avoid screen tearing. However, for total input lag (the time between you pressing a key or button and the corresponding action showing on-screen) you mostly depend on your monitor’s internal features.
Most gaming monitors are flat, hence the term flat panel. They work great with any game genre and style, and are the default for the industry. Curved panels have become more popular in recent years as manufacturing improves. More accommodating of the natural depth of human eyesight, curved monitors provide that coveted “immersion” factor everyone’s talking about. This is a matter of personal taste, so we recommend you try a curved monitor before making your decision. The depth of the curve is expressed with a number followed by an R, for radius. So a 1000R monitor is 1000mm edge to edge, 1900R is 1900mm and so on. The lower the number, the closer the edges and the more “aggressive” the curve.
Since curved monitors are almost always 21:9 ultrawide, they have a bigger field of view than their flat counterparts. This proves useful in any game or application, because you simply get more viewing per frame. Lower field of view (FOV) means needing to move the screen (and your head) around to see beyond the edges of the frame. If you’re especially interested in simulation gaming, like racing and flight sims, then an ultrawide curved monitor may be the best choice. It’ll definitely offer a more realistic and engaging viewing experience than a flat panel. For other game types the difference isn’t as striking.
While the basics of gaming monitors may be very similar across manufacturers, you should also look into specific and exclusive features that may be of interest to you. For example, BenQ HDRi goes beyond basic HDR specifications. It works alongside custom picture modes and ambient light sensors to deliver a bespoke high dynamic range experience that’s much more tailored to your preferences. Reactive, intelligent HDR is what HDRi offers, and we describe it in more detail in this article.
Extended gaming sessions may take a toll on your eyes. Plain, basic monitors don’t do much to help in this department. BenQ gaming monitors with Eye-Care technology filter out harmful blue light and eliminate flicker to ensure extended viewing comfort. And of course, our gaming monitors feature durable anti-glare screens to prevent annoying reflections that threaten to ruin your gaming pleasure.
Sound is often overlooked by many monitor manufacturers, but not so with BenQ. Our treVolo team of audio engineers gifts monitors with powerful 2.1-channel audio out of dual speakers and a subwoofer. This isn’t the tinny sound you may know from off the shelf monitor speakers. These are custom audio setups designed for powerful game sound. We do recommend you use headphones so as to not disturb others while gaming.
Finally, BenQ gaming monitors offer you more options for fine tuning image quality to your liking so you’re not limited to just “as is” visuals. Color Vibrance has 20 levels of color intensity to try, while Black eQualizer and Light Tuner optimize dark and bright areas of the screen to make sure no detail is lost. Those two are extremely helpful if you’re an avid first person shooter player, as opponents hiding in overly-dark areas is a known problem. Likewise, sections of the screen that are too bright cause details to vanish, and BenQ monitors have the tech to stop this from happening.
Role playing, story-heavy games, exploration, and narrative games: these need good color and higher resolution, as opposed to sheer speed and response. The EX2780Q is what you’re looking for when getting into the swing of a new adventure.
Twitchy first person shooters: frame rate and response above all else. Typically played with lower settings and resolution, so a nice and fast 1080p monitor is what you want. Go with the 165Hz and 1ms MPRT MOBIUZ EX2510S/EX2710S.
Racing and flight sims: as mentioned above, ultrawide and curved is a great combination for simulation buffs. Take a closer look at the EX3415R, EX3203R, and EX3501R. They’re all beautiful panels with 100Hz to 144Hz refresh and fast response, plus impressive audio.