Over the years we’ve been covering a lot of gamer-specific hardware, ranging from headsets to exercise equipment. There is now a broad market for gamer-specific mice, keyboards and other equipment out there, and of course there have “always” been computer cases with designs that cater to gamers’ needs. We’ve recently seen quite a few “gaming monitors” hit the market, so we’re taking a look at what makes these screens different.
Refresh rates and response times
The most striking feature that all of these gaming monitors have in common is a combination of extremely high refresh rates and very low response times. Why does this matter to you as a gamer? Well, high refresh rates mean that your monitor can handle more frames per second, resulting in an extremely fluid gameplay experience. An added bonus is that you’ll see a clearer image as well, though the leap may not feel as big as it did when we went from 50 or 60hz TV screens to 100hz flatscreen panels. Most gaming monitors currently on the market have a 144hz display though, which almost doubles the industry standard for monitors of 75hz.
What this means for you is that if your graphics card can output graphics at a rate of over 75 frames per second in the game of your choice, a gaming monitor will have no trouble keeping up. Sure, the untrained eye may not see much of a difference, but that seems to be nature of many ‘gaming’ products (including mice with high dpi ratings and keyboards with mechnical switches). The same can be said for low response times, but when playing competitively it can literally mean the difference between life and death. This comes into play when looking at a factor like input lag, where your keyboard of mouse command takes a fraction of a second before you see its results on screen. Shave 50% of that response time and you could be looking a deciding difference in battle.
Aside from offering improved refresh rates and response times, gaming monitor producers try to differentiate their products by adding custom functionality as well. Since these are often model-specific we’ll be discussing these in some upcoming product reviews, but if this is the only article you’re reading on the subject than it’s worth pointing out there is more variety out there than you might expect. Sure, most gaming monitors will boast high refresh rates and low response times, but be sure to compare their specific features before you make a choice strictly based on price.