What Makes Good Gaming Monitors Different from Regular Displays?

BenQ
2022/08/19

Gaming monitors differ greatly from general purpose monitors in many ways. In other words, if your priority is gaming, you should get a monitor designed for games, rather than try to get by on a cheaper general purpose display. Sure, you can still enjoy gaming on one of those, but it won’t be the same. Gaming monitors are better than “regular” monitors for gamers, that’s a simple and true statement to make. They are designed from the ground up to be optimized for video game performance, whether on PC or console. In this article we’ll look at the many features manufacturers add to a display to qualify it as a gaming monitor that’s better for gaming than a regular display. 

gaming image of a man in a cave with a ufo
Contents

Quick Response Time Enables Gaming

While general use monitors may have slow response that makes gaming unenjoyable, displays designed for games offer fast response. Extensive testing and engineering result in low response times of 1ms, measured either in “gray to gray” (GtG) or MPRT (moving picture response time). GtG means the time it takes a pixel to change shades of gray, while MPRT measures how long it takes an image to move across the screen. Achieving fast response in either test requires quite a lot of precision engineering work compared to regular, non-gaming screens. Those often have response times of 8ms and higher. Sensitive gamers will notice the difference, and the slower response certainly affects gameplay in faster paced titles, especially competitive shooters, sports games, and fighting games. We have more on response time if you’d like to read on about the topic. 

Reduced Image Processing for Lower Input Lag

The concept of input lag is different from response time, but the two are related. Total input lag means the time it takes the screen to show an action after you pressed a button on your controller or other input device. So if you hit the right trigger to shoot, total input lag is the time in milliseconds it will take your on-screen character to begin firing their weapon. The more input lag there is, the less responsive games feel. Total lag in the hundreds of milliseconds makes games unplayable and is a problem for streaming services. Likewise, extensive image processing done on the display adds latency. Every processing layer requires time and leads to more lag.

Non-gaming displays have lots of image processing to supposedly enhance picture quality. That’s because they’re aimed at productivity or perhaps entertainment, like video content. Gaming monitors operate in something that’s very similar to Game Mode on TVs, only faster. Even with processes like smart HDR and dynamic brightness and contrast, good gaming monitors have enough processing power to make sure these add almost no input lag. In any case, with a good gaming monitor you’ll be below 10ms total input lag in 4K 144Hz, for example. That’s much faster than a regular monitor, and not noticeable to gamers. If you want additional info about input lag as compared to response time, take a look here

Refresh Rate and Adaptive Sync Make Play Smooth

Thanks to advancements in hardware, high refresh rates are now more possible than ever before. Refresh rate means the number of frames per second, also measured in Hertz (Hz). Essentially, it’s how many times per second the monitor fully refreshes the screen, measured in frames. The concept is similar to movies, where slow is like a slideshow, and faster looks realistic. The problem with general use monitors is that most of them are 60Hz, which is not enough these days. It was fine ten years ago, but with current consoles aiming for 120 frames per second (or 120Hz) and PCs easily going up to 144Hz and higher, 60Hz is too obsolete.

If you’re getting a monitor for gaming, you need something with at least 120Hz and ideally 144Hz or more. Monitors like the BenQ EX2710U and EX3210U combine crisp 4K with 144Hz panels so they have your PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC covered. A simple 60Hz monitor would prove too much of a bottleneck and would deny you the joy of smooth, responsive high refresh rate gaming.

But having high refresh isn’t enough on its own. The monitor should also have excellent frame pacing or timing to evenly spread out the refresh over each given second. Games also need to do this on their own, but if the monitor has trouble maintaining frame rate consistency, then games won’t feel as responsive and may suffer from stutter. There’s also the issue of syncing the frame rate of the monitor with that of the graphics hardware on your PC or consoles. Without good syncing, the frame rates don’t match and you get screen tearing and stutter. That’s where adaptive sync technologies, or variable refresh rate (VRR) come in. Gaming monitors ship with AMD FreeSync to ensure variable refresh rate support that eliminates screen tearing and also reduces lag. General use monitors don’t support variable refresh rate or adaptive sync and are very prone to frame rate issues, including tearing, stutter, flicker, and increased input lag. 

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Great Looking Image and HDR

The days of gaming monitors delivering bland visuals are over. You can now easily find a good gaming monitor with image fidelity that rivals top-shelf TVs. A big factor in this is high dynamic range, or HDR, which allows for better colors, more brightness, and increased detail in every game. Make sure to choose a gaming monitor that supports HDR with official DisplayHDR certification. Peak brightness is important. You should look for monitors with a peak brightness of at least 400 nits, but ideally choose a monitor with 600 nits peak brightness, which is the sweet spot for HDR content.

Wide color gamut is related to HDR, and in many ways enables it. This refers to the range of color a monitor can display. Regular monitors typically stick with sRGB and have 8-bit panels that can only produce around 16 million colors. Good gaming monitors use 10-bit panels, are capable of over 1 billion colors, and cover the much wider DCI-P3 color space, which is becoming increasingly popular in game development. The net result for you are game visuals that will leave you really impressed, unlike the very understated results you’ll get from a regular monitor.

Connect to a New Generation of Gaming

As far as connections and ports go, you really need to pay attention. Cheap general use monitors may give you HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2, and those are definitely not sufficient for modern gaming. Even HDMI 2.0 is showing its age, and thus we recommend you choose gaming monitors with HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4. However, HDMI 2.0 is still fine for most console gaming, as it supports 4K 60Hz. It’s not ideal for PC use. That would be HDMI 2.1, which can do 4K 120Hz and even 8K 60Hz. HDMI 2.1 also has better support for variable refresh rate and auto low latency mode thanks to its massive 48Gbps bandwidth (compared to just 18Gbps with HDMI 2.0).

A monitor with dual HDMI 2.1 ports and a DisplayPort 1.4 connection allows you to hook up a PS5, Xbox Series X, and a PC to the same display. That’s a lot of gaming even if you have limited space. And it’s certainly not possible with regular monitors.

As a side note, we should remind you that HDMI 2.1 is required for VRR on PS5, while on Xbox consoles HDMI 2.0 is sufficient, due to their different operating system architectures. 

Speaker Quality Makes a Difference

Having options is always good, and even if you plan to do most of your gaming with a headset, a monitor with good audio saves you the need to get external speakers and allows you to have people over for a gaming session that doesn’t sound mediocre. General monitors usually have very basic audio, if they have speakers at all.

Good gaming monitors use custom-designed audio systems that rival standalone sound setups. Look for monitors with 2.1-channel sound, meaning two speakers and subwoofer. That covers the entire sound range, including good bass. Of course, gaming monitors also have 3.5mm jacks if you want to connect external audio devices. As we said, options are good, and gaming monitors give you more of those.

Longer and Healthier Gaming Sessions with Eye Care Designs

Gaming monitors designed for serious players include specific features that reduce eye strain, so you can game more and longer without feeling like your eyes are drying out afterwards. Now, this is not a replacement for taking regular breaks. But, with general monitors and all of their image issues when it comes to gaming, even a 30-minute session will have negative impact on your eye comfort.

Technologies like flicker elimination, glare prevention, and blue light reduction all contribute to a more comfortable gaming experience, and help protect your eye health in the long run. Comfortable eyes result in more gaming enjoyment and also increased precision if you’re into competitive gaming. Now, not all gaming monitors have these features so do your research.

Exclusive MOBIUZ Advantages

We keep referring to good gaming monitors, but what makes one especially good? In addition to specs like resolution, refresh rate, and response time, there are the added benefit features. We already covered some of those, but a closer look might help you make the right decision.

For example, with regards to HDR, MOBIUZ monitors go beyond standard delivery, and use smart HDRi technology that automatically adjusts brightness, contrast, and color range based on the type of visuals on the display, and in accordance with ambient lighting in your room thanks to a built-in sensor. This prevents the bland or overly saturated HDR look you sometimes get when less advanced gaming monitors can’t properly depict content. Similarly, Light Tuner and Black eQualizer work to enhance details in bright and dark areas of the screen, respectively. That way you don’t have to worry about black detail crush or bright detail washout. This is very helpful for spotting intricate details in first person shooters and also open world exploration.  

The powerful 2.1-channel audio we mentioned above maintains this spirit of adding refinement to as many features as possible. MOBIUZ gaming monitors don’t settle for just great sound hardware. The user side of things gets a boost, as well, and you can choose from several sound modes to find one that best suits your taste in games. Whether first person shooter, racing, or sports, you can tinker with audio to optimize your enjoyment. 

One-Click Game Audio Modes

ex3210u fps mode provides full audio intensity
FPS

Full Audio Intensity

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u racing game mode brings eye-popping engine revs
Racing Game

Eye-Popping Engine Revs

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u pop/live mode provides pitch perfect fidelity
Pop / Live

Pitch Perfect Fidelity

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

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ex3210u cinema mode provides mind-blowing realism
Cinema

Mind-blowing Realism

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u sport game mode gives you crystal-clear sportcasts
Sport Game

Crystal-Clear Sportscasts

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u fps mode provides full audio intensity
FPS

Full Audio Intensity

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u racing game mode brings eye-popping engine revs
Racing Game

Eye-Popping Engine Revs

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u pop/live mode provides pitch perfect fidelity
Pop / Live

Pitch Perfect Fidelity

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

.

ex3210u cinema mode provides mind-blowing realism
Cinema

Mind-blowing Realism

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

ex3210u sport game mode gives you crystal-clear sportcasts
Sport Game

Crystal-Clear Sportscasts

Generic built-in stereo speakers

MOBIUZ integrated 2.1-ch design

Great for Console Gaming

Many plain gaming monitors focus on PCs and leave little room for enjoying console games on them. Maybe they have only one HDMI 2.0 port, or maybe none at all. Consoles don’t work with DisplayPort natively, and adapters cause lag and other issues if they work in the first place. Best go with a gaming monitor designed to accommodate PC and consoles on the same display. We described this above, but it’s worth repeating. Really good modern gaming monitors ship with dual HDMI 2.1 ports and DisplayPort 1.4, so there’s no issue having two current gen consoles and a PC connected at the same time. And with VRR, wide color gamut, fast response, low lag and so on, these monitors are great for all serious gaming on every major platform. This is because PS5 and Xbox Series X/S are more similar to PC in terms of gaming than any previous generation of consoles, and so it makes sense to get a display that’s optimized for all of them.

Especially if you like having all of your gaming platforms in one space and possibly on one desktop, such a capable monitor is what you need. You don’t need to spend on multiple displays, nor commit to a lot of cable hassles and messes. A one-stop gaming monitor that allows your consoles and PC to shine is a great thing, indeed.

And for Work, Too!

Just like the days of 60Hz are over, so are the days of gaming monitors being rather useless for work and productivity. If you choose the right display, you get an all in one package that offers superb gaming performance without pushing out other applications.

So yes, gaming monitors are good for general purpose work from home type scenarios. Emails, documents, basic graphics work, video conferencing, and many other kinds of productivity all benefit from the higher specs offered by gaming monitors compared to basic office displays. For example, video calls take advantage of the excellent audio and smooth refresh of good gaming monitors. And extended work sessions are easier on your eyes if the monitor has been designed for lengthy gaming marathons, because eye fatigue principles are nearly the same in both.

Of course, if you do photography, video editing, or design for a living you should get a monitor specifically made for color-accurate work. Gaming monitors will not suffice here, as they are not as well calibrated and are designed with game visuals in mind. Also, photographers and designers don’t benefit from high refresh rates and low response, and may actually prefer a 60Hz panel since those are closer to “real life” than the hyper-fast panels popular in gaming.

People that should look at good gaming monitors are streamers and influencers. First of all, if you upload videos regularly, you want good color performance, and gaming monitors of the class we have in mind deliver more than enough for your needs. Also, if you stream gaming content then you don’t need multiple displays cluttering your desktop. One top-tier gaming monitor is all you need.

Is it Worth Getting a Gaming Monitor?

Generally, if you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is a big yes. Because it means you have an interest in gaming, and if so, then you need a gaming monitor. Going for a regular, basic display is just too restrictive. Even if it’s cheaper, you’ll be wasting your money and pretty soon start looking for a gaming monitor again anyway. Gaming as a hobby and a set of technologies requires very specific features to make it work right, and only good gaming monitors provide that. Other types of displays will force you to compromise and lead to far less enjoyable gaming. The primary difference between a gaming monitor and a regular monitor is focus. While gaming monitors offer hassle-free enjoyment of your games, regular monitors aim for a broader common denominator and are not focused on gaming at all.

With current technology, advanced gaming monitors have picture, sound, and interface quality on par with very pricey TVs. But they’re faster, and of course more compact if space is an issue. You can easily use a good gaming monitor for TV and movie content, streaming Netflix or Prime Video etc. from a console, or hooking up your 4K Blu-ray player via HDMI 2.1. In fact, the higher pixel density of monitors and closer viewing distances typically create more impressive and immersive visuals when watching TV and movies.

Does this sound like a good deal? Yes, because it is. If you choose the right gaming monitor, you’ll enjoy every type of game better, whether on console or PC, while also getting a great display for general purpose entertainment and even remote work. It’s an easy choice.

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