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What’s the Perfect Gaming Monitor? Where is it?

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Posted May 4, 2018 by Josh Jackson in Displays

What combination of features would constitute the perfect gaming monitor? Ideally, buyers could find the right elements that work together to give an experience on the level of some of the best monitors in the industry. Finding the right balance that doesn’t cost too much is the trick, but how do you know what specifications will matter the most? I’m going to try and help by giving you what I believe is the perfect amount of features for a great game viewing experience. The best part about this is that these features don’t have to cost a fortune either.

Panel Type and Size

IPS is the gold standard for panel types. It also costs more. If there is one panel I recommend staying away from, except in extreme budget situations, it’s TN. Those panels just look the worst. VA has always been great with colors, but sometimes can be too bright or have slow response times, until today. With massive improvements in these areas, VA is the perfect choice for balancing quality and price. After that, I highly recommend a 27″ panel as the perfect size for normal desktop sitting distance. Any larger and it’s harder to see the peripherals of the screen, but smaller is, well smaller!

Refresh Rate and Curvature

If at all possible, get yourself a 144 Hz refresh rate. Admittedly, AAA games may not benefit quite as much as competitive ones, but boy does that refresh range smooth out the visual movements. I also highly recommend getting the 1800R curvature. The first time I got to game on a monitor like that, I was hooked. It just makes seeing the whole area of the screen easier. I tried triple screen at one point, but I found the two outside monitors were hard to register that anything important happening visually. Just a curved 1080p is great for me!

FreeSync, HDR and Resolution

Now it’s time to bring it all together. FreeSync is an absolute must, but we want to upgrade to FreeSync 2 if possible. It has several quality of life improvements, especially in regards to HDR. Having the monitor sync with the actual frame your graphics card is outputting is great for stutter-free gaming, and FreeSync monitors are more affordable than G-Sync ones. Speaking of HDR, I’ve yet to see any one technology so drastically improve the quality of moving images on screen. HDR makes colors look phenomenal, while blacks stay dark and whites aren’t overly bright. I’m a huge fan and the only caveat worth mentioning is that game titles need to support the feature properly. Finally, I can make the recommendation of using 1080p resolution when combined with HDR. Since each individual pixel is able to better represent the color spectrum, the smaller resolution can sometimes look better than 4k screens that don’t have HDR.

Choosing a Monitor

As expected, you are probably ready for me to tell you what monitor covers all of these feature, which means I have bad news. There doesn’t seem to be a monitor in existence that has all these features exactly. My perfect monitor would be a VA panel at 27″, have a 144 Hz refresh rate with a FreeSync 2 range as low as 40 Hz, an 1800R Curvature, 1080p resolution and support for HDR. I imagine a display like this could fall in the $300-$400 range. In my opinion, you can still get better features, but there would be serious diminishing returns and the greatest news is that you could get amazing gaming quality using high settings, but still use a mid-range graphics card to get the job done. That’s my biggest complaint about higher resolutions, is needing to spend so much more on a top tier GPU to take full advantage of them. The good news is that there are several monitors that cover almost all of those feature though. In fact, the only major feature that’s missing is HDR.MSI Optix MAG27C

This might be my favorite pick in the bunch. The FreeSync range only goes down to 60 Hz and I’d prefer 40, but the 1ms MPRT response time is fantastic. The latter spec is probably more important to gaming and at ~$350 on Amazon, the Optix MAG27C makes an excellent choice for a gaming monitor, especially with that touch of design flair on the frame and base.Samsung CFG70

Coming in at a close second to MSI, is the CFG70. That’s because this monitor is probably the same thing panel wise. MSI actually sourced the hardware from Samsung, then proceeded to add their own form of gaming flair to the design. That said, Samsung does have a slightly larger FreeSync range, 48-144 Hz, than MSI does. The prices are extremely close on Amazon, but this design is fairly plain in comparison to other gaming monitors in the market.ViewSonic VX2758-C-MH

The VX2758 is a whopping $100 less on Amazon than the others so far, right at $250. Why is it 3rd on the list? While it has a great FreeSync range of 48-144 Hz, it also has a pretty slow response time, more in line with traditional VA panels. The GTG has a default of a whopping 21ms, but with overdrive enabled that trims down to a much more reasonable 5ms. Ghosting may not be an issue, and some of you might think saving that much cash is well worth the 5ms response time.

Asus XG27VQ

What does ROG Strix branding get you? A really cool looking monitor with some fancy base lighting. It also gets you a sub-par spec at ~$400 price tag on Amazon. The XG27VQ isn’t even eligible for Prime shipping. Asus didn’t manage to get a great response time with a 4ms GTG, but at least the FreeSync range is at the top with Samsung and ViewSonic.

Sceptre C275B-144MN

Sceptre ended up on the bottom of the list only because they aren’t a brand I’m incredibly familiar with. They probably deserve to be in third place though. The FreeSync range is slightly odd, coming in at 49-144 Hz, but I doubt that 1 Hz makes any difference from the others close to that range. The Response Time is 3ms GTG, which puts it a little ahead of both ViewSonic and Asus. What’s really cool is that the C275B is just under $340 on Amazon and even has Prime shipping. Sceptre is certainly a name I’ve heard of, and the customer reviews indicate that this guy would be a great buy.

There’s your fairly detailed guide to what I believe are some great gaming monitors. Considering none of those have HDR though, you might consider finding the 1440p variants that some of those models have. It might be a better image quality for those of you who really notice resolution differences. We hope this short guide helps out a bit and we’ll catch ya later!

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