For PC gaming, buying the right monitor is the ultimate investment, as the right product will work well for many years. When searching online or at the store, factors such as screen size and resolution are obvious places to start looking.
But the most vital and least discussed factor is also what sets these monitors apart from regular monitors – response time. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry about a thing: you’re not alone, and we’ve got you covered.
What Is Response Time?
Response time is the speed at which your monitor can keep up with all the changing colors (pixels). It is NOT the same as refresh rate, how many pictures your screen can render per second.
A solid refresh rate starts at around 75 Hertz, with the higher the rate, the better. Conversely, the slower response time, the better, as it increasingly reduces latency – in this case, blurry motions and ghostly silhouettes.
And it’s worth noting that for any other use, RT doesn’t matter. Using Word, everyday browsing, and even watching videos online doesn’t require such a rapid switching of colors by the millisecond.
But gaming does – which is why a specific monitor is necessary because regular monitors aren’t built with RT awareness. Without the right one, you’ll be doomed to lag painfully, cursing at the screen with the best of them.
Gamers should look for an RT of 1-5 milliseconds, with 1 being the ideal, only achieved by TN/VA panels. IPS panels can only go as low as 4 – meaning the technology you use greatly affects the rate available.
3 Types of Monitors
From afar, it seems that gaming monitors are just LCD panels – and few would fault you for such a belief. But there are three types of panels on the market, and which kind you choose will determine your visual experience.
TN (Twisted Nematic) screens are the oldest, but they are the most common, having the fastest response time. Unfortunately, they have poor color depth, but most gamers accept the eye candy trade-off in the name of game speed.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens are used primarily by graphic designers and photographers because they require a richer, more accurate color assessment. They are not primarily used for gaming, and any gaming IPS you can find will likely be very expensive.
VA (Vertical Alignment) screens are a more recent invention that attempts to bridge the two above options gap. But VA screens cannot match the viewing angles of IPS and tend to have greater latency issues than TN panels.
No matter which you buy, though, there will be a risk of dead pixels or black spots on the screen. Thankfully, since it’s such a prevalent issue, most manufacturers will specifically layout their policy on replacing monitors with dead pixels.
Ultimately, life is about making choices, which is especially true when you shift to computer games. But if you take a breath and set aside quality cash for a quality monitor, you’re in for a treat.