Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Gaming monitors

Everybody wants the best in current technology, but gaming is one area where having high-performance equipment matters. When the virtual bullets (or arrows, or psionic blasts) start flying, you need to be sure that you can see what you're doing and what's going on. When it comes to PC gaming, it may not be enough to buy the first generic monitors you find. You need a display that looks sharp, keeps you competitive, and has the features you need to make the most of your games.
Obviously, as with any display, size and resolution are chief concerns. A larger monitor will give you more display real estate, but too much can be a much of a detriment when gaming as too little. Most people find their sweet spot to be somewhere between 24 and 30 inches.
Resolution is a bigger concern, and full HD (1,920-by-1,080 resolution) is now the low-end for most gaming monitors. Other options include Quad HD, or WQHD, with 2,560-by-1,440 pixels, and 4K or Ultra High-Definition (UHD) with 3,840-by-2,160 resolution. These higher resolution displays have finally dropped to an affordable price range, like the Acer B286HK$470.61 at Amazon, but you may still spend a pretty penny on the graphics card, since many popular and more affordable GPUs don't even offer 4K support.
Unlike a normal display, where you may spend more of your time looking at text or viewing video in small windows, a gaming monitor must be able to handle fast moving, detailed images at full-screen sizes. If the monitor doesn't offer the sort of response time you need, you'll be faced with blurring every time the action gets intense—the moments in a game where you most need accuracy and clear detail. To find a monitor that won't smear fast moving images across the screen or introduce distracting display artifacts, look for a display that offers a response time of 6 milliseconds and under (black-to-white) or 2 milliseconds or less (gray-to-gray)
You'll also want to be cognizant of the refresh rate. A faster refresh rate will allow you to enjoy higher frame rates without graphical tearing, a phenomenon caused when only part of a rendered frame is displayed due to a discrepancy between your GPU's frame rate and the refresh rate of the display. While basic monitors have a standard 60Hz refresh rate, gaming monitors will often go much higher, offering 120Hz or more. Taking a more direct approach to tearing problems is Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which leverages a chip on the graphics card to synchronize the GPU output to the monitor's refresh rate, eliminating tearing entirely. Using G-Sync requires using both a current Nvidia graphics card and a G-Sync-compatible monitor, like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q$799.00 at Amazon.
Ideally, a good gaming monitor will also feature connections for multiple inputs, in case you want to use your monitor with a home theater system or game console in addition to your PC. The BenQ XL2720Z$449.99 at Amazon, for example, offers HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI input, giving you several connectivity options.
In some cases, a gaming monitor is more than just a nice display, with additional features that make the monitor easier to use, require fewer accessories, or just let you do more with it. Ergonomic stands let you adjust the height and angle of the display, letting you find a screen position most comfortable for you. The Acer XB280HK$756.45 at Amazon, for example, offers tilt, swivel, and height adjustment, whereas others only offer tilt or height. A few models, like the Viewsonic VX2452mh$188.10 at Amazon, also roll in audio, with either built-in speakers, an integrated headphone jack, or both.
Many monitors also feature built-in USB ports, allowing you to connect a gaming controller directly to the display, which may be more convenient than reaching around to the backside of your PC tower. The Philips Brilliance LCD Monitor with Nvidia G-Sync (272G5DYEB)$599.99 at Amazon, for example, has five USB 3.0 ports (one upstream, four downstream) built into the cabinet. 
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