Up For Debate - What to look for when buying a PC gaming monitor?

Written by Stuart Thomas on Sun, Nov 10, 2019 4:54 PM

Its time to look for a new monitor for your gaming PC. Today we explore how you might go and select a good screen for your gaming PC setup? And we want to hear in the comments section below all the things you consider when looking at getting a new gaming display for your rig.

Like most gaming hardware, monitors come with a bunch of statistics, but tonnes of monitors seem to have the same numbers as each other or very little difference between those numbers. So it gets pretty tricky to know how to choose between the monitor stats unless you know what they mean.

So I thought we could all do what we do best here on GD and get talking about our experiences of choosing the next best PC gaming monitor. What sort of monitor tech should we really care about, what matters to PC gamers. Including how to avoid buying the wrong screen for your hardware. Because we dont want to pay for a 4K monitor when our current gaming PC  graphics card, processor and RAM would only run Windows Minesweeper at 4K. Hmm, I wonder...

So when choosing your next screen we will be faced with questions about the importance of these techs, how does refresh rates and response times influence your gaming experience? Can you find a flicker-free screen and is it worth the extra cost, should you pay for low blue light mode, G-Sync and FreeSync and what do those techs do? And how are you using your monitor for professional or casual gaming, or perhaps you really just focus on desktop work applications and video processing?

Dont forget to take a look at our Best gaming PC for $1200, as this has us hunting out what we all consider to be among the best priced gaming PC monitor for our budget build.

Lets break this down. First, I will highlight a bunch of tech that comes in the monitor and explain a little about each. Then move on to a few things to consider about your use for monitor, that should point us towards which of the techs listed might be of importance when choosing your next gaming monitor.

Gaming monitor tech specs to consider when buying a new PC screen

  • Response times
  • Refresh rates
  • Manufacturer building the monitor
  • Graphics card specific 
  • Screen Dpi
  • General screen resolution
  • Physical screen size
  • Panel type
  • Image contrast quality
  • Curved Monitor
  • Monitor curvature

Monitor Response Times - First lets assume you game because if you dont use the monitor for gaming then you dont need to worry about response times. Response time is how long it takes to change pixels on the screen from black to white. If the response time is too slow then you may get ghosting/blurring of images on screen. Gamers are normally looking for around 0.5ms to 3ms, but discuss below what you think the importance is for Response Times.

Monitor Refresh Rate - The amount of times a monitor will refresh the screen with new imagery every second. This is higher the better. If your gaming system has the capability of running a game at 100 frames per second but has a refresh rate of 75 hertz (Hz) then you will only gain the benefit on your monitor's screen of up to 75 frames per second. Typical refresh rates for PC gamers are 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz and even up to 240Hz.

Monitor Manufacturer - This is personal preference but some people have good and bad experiences with different manufacturers that build their monitors. So get into the chat below and share your thoughts on which manufacturers make excellent monitors and offer tonnes for good value and which monitor manufacturers sound like they are good but are actually crap.

Graphics Card Specific Monitors - Some monitors come loaded with tech that favours AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. We often get people asking, what is G-Sync and what is FreeSync in a monitor used for? These techs are specific to Nvidia and AMD and aim to lower screen tearing and stuttering in games.

Nvidia G-Sync locks the frame rates to the high end of frames capable by the monitor, to help prevent screen tearing in games. 

AMD FreeSync will allow a graphics card to produce a higher in game frame rate even though the monitor shouldnt be able to handle it, assuming the games VSync option is turned off. Check out Monitor Refresh Rate above.

G-Sync monitors typically cost more than Freesync. But this may change as both techs become more standard in gaming monitors.

Screen DPI - Those letters stand for dots per inch. Basically how many pixels are you getting smooshed into an inch of your monitor screen size. A basic rule of thumb in gaming monitors would be, the higher the number of pixels there are in an inch of screen space, the better quality image you will get in that inch.

But this leads into the biggest but most common thoughts about monitor choosing. How big is the screen space of the monitor and what resolution is the screen? Because the highest DPIs are found on devices like your mobile phone screens, but you dont want to do your gaming on a 7 inch phone screen. So a good balance is normally around 110DPI for gaming desktops, but it depends on the physical screen size you go for and the screen resolution you want your GPU CPU and RAM to play your games at. 

Monitor Native Screen Resolution - Monitors have a set number of pixels on their screen. Your hardware (GPU/CPPU/RAM) is going to play your games best at a certain resolution. The current standard is known as 1080p gaming monitors (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high), but people are currently trending a little towards the bigger 1440p (2560 wide x 1440 tall, which is a 16:9 aspect ratio) gaming resolutions. In short, more pixels on a screen means more work for the GPU and your gaming computer when running games. This will influence the Physical Monitor Screen Size talked about in the next bit below and the DPI mentioned above.

Physical Monitor Screen Size - This is how many inches your monitor is from the bottom left corner of the screen to the top right corner of the screen. You can measure it yourself with a tape measure. Modern gaming monitors are normally around 24inches and often go up to around 36 inches. They can be more. More is not always better for all sorts of reasons.

Ok now take a look at the screen resolution section above. what screen resolution do you feel your gaming PC could deal with? Now take a look at the section above called DPI. Everyone share your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

Image Quality - This comes from your panel technology. These panel techs are TN, IPS and VA. A simplified way of looking at this is that a gaming monitor gets better image quality for a sacrifice for response times. And panels with better image quality normally cost more.

Roughly speaking

  • TN panel monitors are cheaper, faster response time, lower image quality
  • IPS panel monitors are a balance between response times and image quality
  • VA panel monitors have response times that make it hard to game with, have the best image quality but cost the most.

As I said that is a general rule of thumb but definitely discuss your thoughts below.

Monitor Contrast Image Quality - Image contrast is really the primary measure of image quality. When your monitor's display has a bigger dynamic range, the picture returned is better. VA panels normally offer around 3 or 4 times the amount of contrast levels compared to an IPS panel or TN screens. This can be best seen when you put brightness up and stand two monitors side by side, a VA monitor next to a TN for example. The VA will win. But to be honest its hard to really tell as you dont have these monitors side by side and as a gamer you are often more interested in a good image quality with a great response time. And that can be picked up with a TN or IPS monitor. Just pay more for better contrast levels in a TN and you are likely to not be disappointed. 

Curved Monitors - Today I often find myself thinking about a curved gaming monitor. This is where there is a slight curve to the screen so you can see the whole screen better from your single focal point. The screen and its pixels will enter your periferal vision better allowing you to absorb far more of your game without having to move your head or eyes from side to side. Therefore far more immersive, or so thats the thinking.

This is only really relevant if you have a monitor that is of a certain size and distance away from that beautiful face of yours. If you are too far back from your monitor then you will be able to see the whole screen anyway. A good curved monitor size feels to be around 30-40 inches. But it is based totally on personal preference and influenced by a lot of your own gaming PC setup factors.

These monitors can suffer from glare at certain angles and people forget about the aspect ratios that are normally default by games. So if you get a large (30+ inch) curved monitor it might stretch around ultra wide, but it may mean your game looks odd because it doesnt cater very well to the unusual width of the screen. A common one is that in game menu and game hud icons could be too small or oddly placed.

Also with the increased number of pixels on the curved monitor it often means higher hardware costs as your GPU/CPU/RAM etc gaming hardware needs to be more powerful to be able to cater to the native screen resolution. Or you end up having to lower 

Monitor Curvature - When you buy a curved monitor look out for the curvature specs, where it might say 1800R, which transaltes as the monitor having a curved radius of 1800mm and is therefore has an ideal max viewing distance of 1.8 meters. Because any further than that and the gamer wont be able to see all the pixels as they would be outside the optimum view point.

Things you should consider as you step into the research stage of finding your next PC gaming monitor, then I will list out a bunch of the monitor tech to consider when purchasing a new gaming monitor. Then it will be over to us as a community to discuss in the area below.

The following is not in any particular order and certainly not a definitive list of considerations, as you guys can talk about your approach to this below.

  • How well will games run on your CPU/GPU/RAM setup.
    • Knowing this will help you consider what resolution monitor you should focus on.
  • Are you looking to upgrade your CPU/GPU/RAM in the next year or so?
    • This might be with a view to running games at a higher resolution in the future. As you might want to think about how capable the new monitor will be at a larger resolution to avoid you having to replace your monitor during your next PC overhaul.
  • Are you going to use the PC gaming monitor for other things?
    • You could be looking to use your monitor as a TV or for console gaming, or perhaps you might do far more video processing or maybe use it just to surf the internet.
  • What type of games do you mostly play?
    • This could have an impact on the importance of some monitor tech specs over others. Maybe you like turn based strategy titles with low need for fast refresh rates but a higher need for screen resolution.
  • Where are you physically going to put your monitor?
    • If your desk or room is slightly on the small inched monitor could be a poor choice. Being a foot away from a 38 inch behemoth monitor would soon start to make your eyes bleeding. Not literally, although I am not a doctor, so dont quote me on that. Either way it is probably a little unhealthy to sit very close to a massive screen for any long period of time.
    • On the flip side, if your monitor has a smaller screen inch but you are putting it across the room from you you are obviously going to find it harder to see your games.
    • How deep would you want the monitors physical presence. Because again if your desk has not got a lot of space between you and the wall behind it then choosing a monitor with a deep profile might be a waste of desk space.

Also please suggest some great monitors for a variety of prices in your comments below and we will add them to this article.

Ok, thats it for now. We will update this article with more information based on what the discussion highlights below. Cast your votes as well to help share your thoughts on importance of gaming monitor tech in our modern gaming world.

Please note, you get 2 votes in this poll

2 most important techs to consider in a new PC gaming monitor?

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22:28 Nov-11-2019

I would say that priorities may wary, but main things that matter are price, resolution and refresh rate. And yes, price, because it doesn't matter how much you want it, you won't get it if you can't afford it or can't afford to drive it with good PC. Otherwise it is personal preferences. Also VA panels got a lot better than indicated by articles. Yes it is not TN level of performance,...

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22:30 Nov-11-2019

... but on newer panels, response times are good enough to even do high FPS gaming at 144hz and still have response time short enough to not bottleneck it. So you can easily game on them. Though do check proper reviews, like ones Hardware Unboxed does, to see if they actually are good. Personally I would prefer IPS or VA.

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21:49 Nov-11-2019

On topic, DigFoundry did a recent video about how CRTs are apparently amazing for gaming. About how it was without question the smoothest compared to any modern high refresh rate lcd/oled. And the cherry in top: because of how the tech works, you can game at significantly lower resolutions without a noticeable hit to image quality, unlocking super high fps for even the most demanding games.

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21:23 Nov-11-2019

Refresh rates, gotta appreciate the smooth frame rates tied to your gpu. Image quality, so I can see how crisp my game looks and runs. Maybe G-Sync, to increase performance gains.

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20:53 Nov-11-2019

As good as it is, and as amazing it looks, don't buy what I bought lol. I went purely for image quality since i also do editing work. I have a Dell UP3216Q Ultrasharp 4K 60hz monitor. The pixel depth/density, color accuracy, dynamic contrast ratios, etc are totally overkill for gaming. As is what I spent.

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17:32 Nov-11-2019

inches, res and collor quality thats all i need

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20:24 Nov-12-2019

That's what I go for as well. Most of what I play doesn't benefit from higher refresh rates(120+).

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16:16 Nov-11-2019

If so many are interested in monitors with high response times and refresh rates maybe analog tech displays could have a comeback? Since they are cheap and most importantly they are unbeatable at response times and even refresh rates compared to digital nowadays displays. Only con is the image quality

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16:22 Nov-11-2019

Some old (over 20 years old) CRT displays can display at refresh rate of 200 Hz and even 288 Hz if overclocked and because it is analog tech the response times are instant since "image" does't need to be processed for display to undestand like digital displays need. Imagine these displays made with nowadays based tech

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16:08 Nov-11-2019

I'm searcching for a 1440p monitor with a VA or IPS panel, preferably Freesync and 27", i was cheking the MSI MAG271CQR, but here in argentina that and others like the Samsung JG50 costs -U$S800 and the AORUS AD27QD U$S1000-1200

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11:13 Nov-11-2019

You could add HDR as an option, I really love it in for now very few games that support it. Ultrawide HDR is the way to go for me for gaming and movies.

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11:31 Nov-11-2019

Yeah big difference. Dunno if its worth paying for monitors and whether monitors produce good HDR (I play on a TV), but its definitely a big deal.

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13:41 Nov-11-2019

Though HDR isn't it's own separate category, HDR panel is still a VA, IPS or TN (or OLED )type panel.

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16:06 Nov-11-2019

yaaaas - getting the LG UWHD (2560 x 1080) IPS HDR freesync monitor with 75hz refresh rate.

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10:55 Nov-11-2019

if You are on budget then don't buy cheap IPS monitors. I had one. Yes it had a bit better image quality, but 5ms response time was really obvious. A bit of ghosting and just not smooth looking. Could easily feel that with lower framerates and when watching movies. Now I have 75hz TN (AOC G2460VQ6). Much better. Colors look great.

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13:47 Nov-11-2019

I think IPS have generally lower response time, the lowest being 4ms (ignore the fake 1ms advertised). I personally prefer TN as the color difference isn't that big when standing in front of the display and the response time along with higher refresh rates make it all worth it.

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09:55 Nov-11-2019

We forgot to allow 2 votes in poll. You Should be able to have a second vote now.

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09:26 Nov-11-2019

I play alot of singleplayer action/adventure games with Sim Racing happening alot offlate some co-op action as well but multiplayer has reduced alot. also watch alot of shows and movies. so i mostly prefer IPS screens that tend to have the

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09:29 Nov-11-2019

best Colour Quality and Contrast and image quality based features. my current Monitor is a AOC 24inch Passive 3d Monitor 1080p IPS screen 16:9 ratio. but with mobiles screens really getting crazy good and amazing to look at i am planning to

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09:31 Nov-11-2019

get a Samsung Tab S5e for movies and shows so the OLED screen blows my mind but then i can get a crazy monitor for gaming mainly.My GTX 1080 lets me try high Framerates so a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor makes most sense plus sim racing thats the

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09:35 Nov-11-2019

way to go. now i am looking to pick up a 32:9 Super Ultra wide (2x27inch monitors next to each other no bezel) monitor by Samsung Viotech or Lg with 144Hz refresh but only at 3840x1080 as my card can actually get those frame rates then. did

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09:43 Nov-11-2019

I mention they are all curved? the only problem is Pricing Starting at 70k INR VIOTEK and 150k for samsung and LG I can get a RTX 2080 super for 60k INR man there better be a good clearance sale coming up soon

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09:24 Nov-11-2019

"IPS panel monitors are a balance between response times and image quality
VA panel monitors have response times that make it hard to game with, have the best image quality but cost the most."


Is there a mistake there? Aren't VA and IPS supposed to be other way around?

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10:01 Nov-11-2019

yes !!!!

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11:05 Nov-11-2019

Dunno for sure.. IPS is typically seen as the ideal gaming monitor coz of viewing angles.. but VA panels have much better black levels and usually higher brightness. Dont know about response times and cost though.

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13:36 Nov-11-2019

Generally IPS screens have the higher response times and are more expensive than VA monitors, I'm almost certain there is a mix up in the article.

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09:17 Nov-11-2019

I’ve sold my old ROG SWIFT (1440P, 1ms, 144hz, g-synch, TN etc..) and bought myself a Vast 35" (3440x1440, 2ms, va, 100hz @oced to 110hz).


Really happy with my new curved ultrawide monitor. :-D

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06:42 Nov-11-2019

Resolution, refresh rate and monitor size matter to me the most so i would like to get a monitor that has 1440p, 120-144Hz, 24-27inch, 2ms (TN), 4ms (VA) or 6ms (IPS).


AOC AG241QX seems very good.


If anyone has any suggestions on other monitors, please share.

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05:50 Nov-11-2019

Was thinking of getting a 2nd monitor as currently am using


https://www.lg.com/us/monitors/lg-27UK650-W-4k-uhd-led-monitor


I got this for my laptop GE 62VR, when i used to game a little but were more focused towards my game development work and was in need of real estate both in Screen Size and Screen Resolution.


But now as i have got a gaming pc, i was thinking of getting a second monitor so that i can use that for gaming and work both besides the current monitor.


Can you guys help me in making a better decision and suggest a monitor?

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05:52 Nov-11-2019

Just to add, am not much fond of multiplayer/competitive games, i prefer single player campaigns and mainly racing games.

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05:50 Nov-11-2019

Order of importance to me:




  1. Image Quality




  2. Image Contrast




  3. Screen Resolution




  4. Everything else




Everything in #4 has little to no relevance to me. If the image quality looks good that's really all that matters. Also I consider response times to be a bunch of hog wash.


In regards to screen resolution, this has more to do with the field of view than the amount of pixels on the screen. Basically it's 4:3 vs 16:9 vs 21:9.


I have been using 16:9 for so long that the very idea of going back to 4:3 is completely unimaginable. I am considering going for a 1440p 21:9 screen but I am unsure.


My main screen is not actually a monitor but a large 1080p TV sitting on my desk that for some reason my computer reads as having a native resolution of 1360x768 but I am able to use up to 1440p anyway thanks to Virtual Super Resolution.

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04:11 Nov-11-2019

First the resolution, 4k should be in my opinion the best choice, i prefer watching my games in 4k 60 fps (in the future of course) rather than to play at 120 or 144 hz, because im not into online gaming, just enjoying good story games at 60 fps.Second the price, that should be under 300 bucks.

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13:53 Nov-11-2019

4K it's rarely the best choice in gaming as it is EXTREMELY demanding. You'd need an RTX 2080 TI to play newer games at high graphics but 60 fps isn't always expected. Look at RDR2 for example. Personally the best choice is the 1440k, great screen resolution for details and you don't need an expansive rig for 60fps

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03:06 Nov-11-2019

1440p 144hz freesync 27 inch ips/tn. People seem to underestimate response times that are in a high refresh rate monitor the factor of will it ghost or not also the number on the box could be what you get with fast/fastest response modes that almost always indroduse overshoot something to be wary of.

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22:37 Nov-10-2019

Got an 75Hz 21.5 inch freesync aoc monitor, it was cheap, and my gpu can deliver around those 75 hz so.... i'm fine.

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20:05 Nov-10-2019

I don't really care much about refresh rate, was really excited to get my laptop since it has a 120hz refresh rate but I can barely tell the difference between it and my 75hz monitor. Of course freesync would be nice and at least 1440p if I got a new monitor tho I'd probably need a new gpu too

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
| High, 720p
Core i5-2400S 2.5GHz Radeon R5 340 (OEM) 4GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 10GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i3-8100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 32GB
100% Yes [5 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti MSI Ventus 2X 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [6 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-10700F 8-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 970 Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-4770K 4-Core 3.5GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Xeon E3-1230 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-3470 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB 12GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 720p
Core i3-10100E 4-Core 3.20GHz GeForce GTX 750 Ti Asus OC 2GB Edition 16GB