Best Gaming Monitors

Best Gaming Monitors – Best Gaming Monitor Buyer’s Guide

As a true gamer you are on the bleeding edge of computer technology. You push your processor to the max and you may consider your video card as your single most important component. So, as a Gamer choosing a computer monitor you’re thinking about one of those sleek and sexy LCD monitors! Right?

We don’t want to burst your bubble, but in the case of computer monitors, the latest and greatest may not be your best choice. Use this guide to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional CRT (cathode ray tube) technology and the new LCD flat panel monitors.

LCDs vs. CRTs Checklist
LCDs and CRTs are completely different technologies. Here’s a quick look at the differences between the two.

Feature LCD CRT
Desktop footprint Small Large
Weight Light Heavy
Cost High Low
Resolution Looks best in native resolution Looks good in all resolutions
Video Quality Live action dependent on the Pixel Response specification Great
Color Purity Acceptable Better
Flicker Not an issue Can be an issue
Text Sharper in native resolution A function of dot pitch and CRT quality
Image Quality Very bright, good contrast Not as bright but better at displaying subtle color changes especially in dark colors

Native Resolution
CRTs are great at scaling to various resolutions while keeping the image clear and sharp. Unlike their CRT cousins, though, LCD monitors use a matrix of cells that define the native resolution of the display. If this were software we would might say “resolution is hard coded into LCD monitors.” Physically you can still change the resolution on a LCD monitor and graphics might look alright but text will look either fuzzy or choppy. In our opinion, running a LCD monitor outside of its native resolution is extremely disappointing for all but the half blind.

In general the table below relates monitor size to native resolution.

Size Native Resolution
15-inch 1024 x 768
17, 17.4, 18.1 and most 19-inch 1280 x 1024
Some 19-inch, all 20-inches and larger 1600 x 1200

Since LCD monitors have a fixed number of cells or pixels across and down the screen, the electronics in the monitor must scale the image up or down when the game switches the resolution off of the native resolution. The mathematical rounding errors of the scalar create fuzziness or clarity problems you will see.

The scaling affect will be much less noticeable in games, animation and applications where there is movement on the screen. However it will be very noticeable with static images like a document with text.
Even if you don’t physically change the resolution to run a game, the game may be changing the resolution for you. Many games allow you to control what resolution is displayed, but low resolution games (800×600) are still popular because they are easier to produce and tend to draw fewer resources which improves overall performance.

While you might be lusting after those LCDs in our opinion most serious gamers will prefer a CRT monitor over a LCD monitor for this reason alone.

Video Quality

What you don’t want to see on a LCD monitor is ghosting when there is no ghost in the game’s plot. Well that can be a problem with LCD monitors that have slow pixel response times. Essentially the game moves faster than the pixels can change.

The key specification is called Pixel Response time. Most manufactures publish the total response time (Rise Time + Fall Time = Pixel Response Time) measured milliseconds (ms). This represents the amount of time it takes for a point on the screen to go from completely white to completely black. You can think of pixel response time like a camera shutter opening and closing.

A good gaming monitor should have a pixel response time of 25ms or better (smaller). We’re comfortable with a 30ms specification and have heard some gamers report no problem at 45ms, but look for that 25ms specification!

Typically that’s a rise time of 15ms and a decay time 10 ms or less. Look for monitor with a fast decay time. The decay time is what your eye is most likely notice. Slow fall time will create those unwanted ghosts.

All LCD monitors have a pixel response specification. The problem is that not all manufacturers publish it. If the manufacture does not publish this specification best to stay way from that model.
Hey, if you really want to impress your friends you might want to consider a monitor with a 1ms pixel response time. These monitors really rock when it comes to video quality. What’s the catch? Well you have to buy a CRT monitor to get that kind of video performance!

Color purity / Viewing angle
There is no such thing as perfect color because everyone perceives color a little differently. At least that’s what the experts say. Most would agree that CRTs produce the best overall color saturation and if subtle changes in color is important (like it might be in digital photography) then you should probably think CRT.

CRT monitors use phosphors to create the colors we see, where LCD use color filters. To put it simply phosphors have a much greater color gamut (saturation) range than LCD filters do.

Viewing angle can also impact color. Whether you view CRT monitor straight on or at an angle the colors stay bright and clear. Because the light emitted from an LCD is channeled through small cells that have walls, some of the light might not be visible at extreme angles. The result is a noticeable color shift or darkening of the colors as you view the screen from an angle. Even when viewing an LCD head on, LCDs with small viewing angles can appear to have inconsistent color and brightness.

We’ve always learned that a higher refresh rate is better. That’s true for CRTs but LCDs work best with extremely low refresh rates (60Hz) that in a CRT would create an annoying flicker. Why is this? CRTs use an electron gun to illuminate colored phosphors. As soon as the electron beam moves to the next pixel the phosphor starts to fade. Thus, to keep a constant image on the display, the electron gun must continually return to re -excite the phosphor. Sort of like that act where the guy tries to keep all the plates spinning at the same time!

LCDs on the hand turn on and off. They’ll stay “on” until you tell them to turn off. The bottom line is that the computer doesn’t need to work nearly as hard to power an LCD monitor.