Trying to decide which monitor you need? Here are some guidelines to help you choose.

What You Need in a Gaming Monitor

When you’re in the market for a new gaming PC, you’re probably spending a lot of time researching rigs and specs for the graphics card, CPU, processor, and various other hardware components. Another often overlooked part of your gaming experience is the monitor. While you technically can keep using that monitor that came with your last PC, it might be better to upgrade.

Refresh Rates

If you’ve spent any time researching gaming PC monitors you have probably heard the term “refresh rate.” It’s the number of times your monitor refreshes the picture on screen, and the higher your refresh rate, the smoother your images will appear. For many people that translates into a better overall gaming experience, although not everyone can see a noticeable difference with higher refresh rates (it also can’t improve your own personal reaction times or your shooting accuracy). Monitors come in a variety of refresh rates—measured in hertz (Hz)—from baseline up to super speed:

  • 60Hz is the minimum you want for any gaming use
  • 75Hz offers a slightly better refresh, but for most people the difference is negligible
  • 120Hz is a significant step up but most people skip this and go to the next level
  • 144Hz is probably the most popular standard available, and offers a great refresh rate without paying a premium for the highest level
  • 240Hz is the ultimate refresh rate available today, and while it’s likely to offer the smoothest experience, there is a caveat: not all games support this refresh rate, so you may be paying a premium for a feature you can’t really use

Most people don’t really have a sense of what a higher refresh rate can mean, so it’s best if you can check out a few monitors in person before you decide.

Monitor Size

Getting a larger screen doesn’t always translate to a better gaming experience. Since you’ll be right next to the screen to play, you won’t need one as large as a TV that is across the room. Plus you have to consider the available space on your desk, which is why most people go for a screen size around 24 to 27 inches. Anything larger can make it hard to see the entire screen from your seat just 24-36 inches away without straining your neck.

Resolution

Screen resolution is also a consideration, with three options to choose from:

  • 1080p
  • 1440p
  • 4K

A 1080p resolution, while the low end of the list, can support pretty much any setup and games that you want to play. As you upgrade to 1440p or 4K, you will need specialized hardware to get the full benefits. In addition, not all games can take advantage of 4K right now, although if you’re trying to “future-proof” your monitor and you can afford it, 4K could be worthwhile.

The Bottom Line

While there isn’t a specific monitor that is perfect for everyone, it’s important to understand the different features and benefits so you can find one that fits your budget and provides you with the best PC gaming experience. Check out our lineup of monitors with every custom gaming PC you build at Xidax, and let us know if you have questions about which one is right for you.