When you think about buying a new gaming rig, the monitor tends to be right at the back of your mind. Well, it does for me at least. My eyes are usually ablaze with the thought of a new graphics card or powerful processor, and the very screen with which I will see all this pixel pushing performance is somewhat bizarrely right down at the bottom of the list.
But what a difference a monitor makes. At a fundamental level a new monitor could be your portal to greater screen resolutions. The majority of us game at 1080p resolution, but nowadays that's typically the absolute minimum you’ll find on a new screen. 4K is obviously the flavour of the month right now, but there’s even 5 and 6K monitors floating about at the extreme end.
Obviously a 4K monitor looks a heck of a lot crisper and clearer than 1080p, being effectively four times the resolution, but it comes with its own set of drawbacks. Not only is a 4K monitor considerably more expensive, but it also needs far more powerful hardware to take advantage of it. That said, it is a future-proofed investment that could pay off in the long run.
There’s there also the monitor type to think about, be it Twisted Nematic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA), In-Plane Switching (IPS) or Plane-to-Line Shifting (PLS) panels.
TN are the most common around and have the least accurate colour reproductions and the viewing angles are the narrowest, especially from above and below. However TN panels are typically faster than other panel types, which quick response times and high refresh rates. VA are similar but they have better colour reproduction and viewing angles, at a slightly higher cost.
IPS are the more premium panels with better quality displays, but their refresh rates tend to let them down. You’ll often find these screens in phone and tablets. A step up from here is PLS panels, which are similar but offer even better colour range and viewing angles.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you’ve also got to think about AMD and Nvidia’s FreeSync and G-Sync tech. These generally come at a price premium, despite AMD’s moniker, but do eliminate screen tearing and instances of stuttering.
Each and every one of these technologies comes with an associated cost, but how much do think it’s worth investing in a monitor? Is is the last thing on your list when shopping for a new rig, or are you using a 4K 32” monster?