How to choose a proper monitor for gaming?
WRITTEN BY Johnny Chang
Posted on June 20 2018
Graphics are everything for gaming. Without the colorful, vibrant graphics, games become less convincing. Without a smooth, delay free display, a thrilling battle turns into an unbearable struggle. So, in order to avoid the problems mentioned above, you purchase the most powerful graphic card, and the next thing to do, is to find a perfect monitor. This article will show you the important things to consider when choosing a gaming monitor.
1. Panel types
All the monitors (including TVs you use for Netflix and chill) can be sorted to three main categories based on their panel types. They are TN, VA and IPS (As for what these terms mean, in short, they are related to how panels are designed). Each panel types has its own advantage and caters users with different needs.
TN: Fast response time, decent contrast ratio, average viewing angle, poor color production.
VA: Decent response time, best contrast ratio, good viewing angle, decent color production
IPS: Slow response time, decent contrast ratio, good viewing angle, great color production.
Basically response time matters if you are playing fast moving games like the first person shooter or sports (We will explain this later in better detail). Contrast ratio means the ability of the monitor to display black and the details of objects in the shadowed part. Viewing angle means the maximum angle where a display can be viewed with acceptable visual performance. And color production determines how vivid the display is.
As we can see from the chart, TN panel has the fastest response time while IPS having the slowest. As for viewing angle and color reproduction, it’s the opposite, TN being the worst and IPS being the best and VA is decent. To sum up, TN is favored by a lot of pro gamers who are willing to sacrifice the quality of graphics for more precise gaming experience. IPS, on the other hand, has the most stunning visuals, but its slow response time is a big bummer for gaming. After reading all the info above, one might find it surprising that MSI’s monitors are made of VA panels instead of TN. It is because 144that, with an intention for best gaming plus visual experience for gamers, MSI has developed a safe overdrive technique that compresses VA panels' response time to 1ms - same as TN panels', while keeping the better visual of VA.
2. Curved or not curved
Gaming is a way to take ourselves out of our ordinary lives and into a fantasy world. Not only is it a way for us to relax and to be entertained, it is also a vessel for us to see beyond, or to be inspired. Monitor, thus becomes very important as it serves as an intermedium between us and the game world. A perfect monitor, besides showing stunning visuals and vibrant colors, should be able to pull the user into the world that he is viewing. And that’s where the curved monitor comes into play. In short, curved monitor is all about making everything more immersive to the users, as it embraced the user with views similar to the real world. Compared to the flat screen, the curved screen gives you 4-6% more field of view (FOV) depending on the distance between you and the monitor (a data measured in 27 inch flat and curved monitor). So you not only get to immerse more into the game, you also get to see more when you are using a curved monitor.
|*The difference of user’s field of view (FOV) when using different monitors
Besides all the benefits of visual effect, curved monitor also creates less stress for your eyes. The distance between you and any point of the curved screen won’t change as much compared to using a flat screen, resulting less constant adjustment of users’ eyes. And for intense gamers who always play games using three screens, curved monitors connect seamlessly when putting next to each other, giving you even more immersive experience. Overall, curved monitor is no doubt the top choice when it comes to gaming.
|*Difference between curved and flat monitors when in multiscreen set up
3. High refresh rate
|*Frames shown on monitor per second when in different refresh rates.
Refresh rate means how many frames per second that your monitor is showing you. Basically, the higher the refresh rate is, the smoother the games can be, due to the fact that more frames are shown in the same period of time. If you go on youtube you will be able to find demonstration of games being played in different refresh rate. And the result should be noticeable. From 15 Hz to 30Hz, 60Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz or even 240Hz, there are always players who claim they can notice the differences. These differences become even more significant when we are playing fast moving games like car racing, first person shooting, and sports. When you are playing a racing game, you want to fully experience the blood boiling thrill when drifting through those narrow hairpin turns. And a monitor with high refresh rate (plus a good graphic card), will be able to give you just that by displaying smooth, realistic graphics. In short, without enough refresh rate (we truly recommend you to have a monitor that supports at least 144hz refresh rate), you can’t truly immerse in games.
Here is a graph showing you some recent games and their respective recommended refresh rate:
|*Fast moving games tend to require higher refresh rate for ideal gaming experience.
4. Response time
When talking about response time, there are mainly two ways to measure it, but before we get into more technical terms, the main principle we should keep in mind is – the slower the response time is, the longer the motion blur stays (an image condition where it gets blurred out when moving/changing). If the response time is fast, the change or moving of the image will be sharper and more realistic. So basically, there are two trending way of measuring response time, they are GTG (gray to gray) and MPRT (motion picture response time). In short, gray to gray measures the time it takes for the brightness level to change in one pixel on the monitor. The longer the GTG is, the easier your eye can notice the change (for example, the blurry part of a motion image is the result of pixels being unable to change colors in time). As for MPRT, it simply means how long the blurry part last from a moving image. In short, MPRT is a very good way to describe the response time, since it directly refers to how long it takes for those annoying blurry parts of image to fade.
|*Lower response time makes image sharper and clearer.
Since gaming involves a lot of change in images (as we are constantly moving inside of the games), just go with a monitor that’s low in response time. (A.k.a all the monitors coming out from MSI, they are all set to have 1ms response time/ MPRT).
5. AMD Radeon™ FreeSync
Some would think that as long as their graphic cards are good enough for games to run smoothly, they don't have to worry about their monitors. Unfortunately, these people might find themselves experiencing some tearing on screen while gaming. And the better their graphic card is, the worse the tearing can be. So why does this happen? Basically it is because the monitor's refresh rate doesn't match the frame producing rate of the graphic card. Let’s say your graphic card produces 100 images every second (aka 100 fps), but your monitor can only display 60 frames per second (aka 60hz), chances are your monitor will display images that contain the combination of different images, due to the fact that the source image keeps changing itself into a newer version. And the result is users seeing misalignments in the image on their monitor, also known as "tearing".
|*Tearing happens when the monitor's refresh rate doesn't match the graphic card’s producing rate.
Freesync is a technology developed by AMD. It can dynamically adapt the refresh rate of the monitor into a variable one. As we just mentioned, tearing happens when monitor’s refresh rate doesn’t match graphic card's frame producing rate. Freesync changes the refresh rate of monitor based on the constantly fluctuating rate of graphic card, meaning that both the monitor and the graphic card can work seamlessly so no tearing would occur. Hence we strongly recommended gamers to get a monitor with freesync enable (note that the freesync technology only works with AMD graphic cards).
Above are all the important things to consider when buying a gaming monitor. Hopefully after reading this blog you would have some clues about what kind of monitors you want. If not, our MSI gaming monitors might just be your next choice of monitor, as they tick all the boxes and are designed for gamers!