Uncover The Best Gaming Monitor: An In-Depth Monitor Comparison Guide
Since it’s not easy to choose a gaming monitor especially if you’re unfamiliar with the specifications like response time, refresh rates, panel types etc, we’ve set up a comparison chart here along with some of the more important aspects of a monitor that you should look at before you make your purchase.
Ultimate Gaming Monitor Comparison Guide
Now, there are definitely a ton more monitors out there that you could choose from but we’ve looked through virtually all the top and most recommended ones and compiled the best ones here. We’ll of course be adding individual reviews of more monitors in time. For now, these are certainly the top gaming monitors as of 2013.
If you wish to learn more about the monitor specifications, you can check out our glossary here: Monitor Terms.
Now, in selecting the very best monitor for gaming, the foremost factors that take precedence over any others would be:
- Response Time
- Maximum Refresh Rate
- Panel Type and Viewing Angle (we’ll be tackling these 2 together as they’re closely related)
The Best Gaming Monitor: 3 Top Factors To Consider
1. Response Time
Response time refers to the speed in which the pixels on the screen can change its colors to produce the display. In other words, this speed shows how fast an image on the screen can be redrawn. Naturally, the faster the response time, the more fluid and accurate the transition between images will be. This will have a direct effect on ghosting or smearing issues that are often encountered within certain games or movies where there are a lot of quick movements and things will seem blurry.
Back in 2005 or so, most of the monitors were terrible for FPS gaming as they came with a response time of 25 ms or more. Fast-moving figures would literally leave a trail behind them rather often. Nowadays, with monitors that have a response time of up to 1 ms, these ghosting/smearing issues can be eliminated completely.
An excellent illustration of a difference in response time is shown in this picture here. A lower response time means less image “smearing” and better picture quality.
This specification is particularly important for FPS games because there will be always be plenty of quick movements on the screen.
Generally, a gaming monitor with a TN panel would have faster response time whilst an IPS panel would suffer from a slower response time.
2. Maximum Refresh Rate
The refresh rate of the monitor refers to the number of times the screen refreshes the display every second. This is slightly different than the response time of a monitor but it also aids in reducing motion blur and provides smoother movement.
Most monitors come with a 60 Hz refresh rate with a select few producing up to 120 Hz. Here’s an illustration of the difference between a 60 Hz and 120 Hz monitor.
I’ve also uploaded a video here for you guys that shows the difference in gameplay on a 144 Hz and 120 Hz monitor placed side by side, but most importantly, it also shows the difference between 120 Hz and 60 Hz (this starts at the time 08:38).
Of course, as the refresh rate is directly dependent upon your graphics card, you would firstly need a sufficiently decent card that can output a frame rate of more than 60 in your games before you should even consider getting a 120 or 144 Hz gaming monitor.
3. Panel Type and Viewing Angles
The panel type of a monitor will affect the viewing angle as well as color accuracy of the display. The 2 most common types of panels being used today are the TN and IPS panels.
These viewing angles will determine how a particular image would look the further away you move from the ideal center point of the monitor screen. The image’s colors can turn lighter, darker or simply distorted depending on which angle you look at the screen from. In an ideal situation, an image should look exactly the same with no changes in color regardless of the angle and the position at which you’re seated in front of the screen.
As a general rule, the best panel types based on their viewing angles are as follows:
IPS (In-Plane Switching) > VA (Vertical Alignment) > TN (Twisted Nematic)
IPS stands for In-Plane Switching and they are superior to VA and TN panels in relation to their viewing angles, which in turn leads to very minimal color shifts. This means that no matter which angle you’re viewing the screen from, the color change will be virtually non-existent. Take a look at the example below.
As compared to this, most conventional panels of the TN technology would display inconsistent and inaccurate colors if you view them from the side or from the top or bottom. The further it is from the ideal center position in which you view the screen, the more apparent the color changes will be.
You should note however that the viewing angles as stated in the manufacturer’s specifications, especially in regard to TN panels are often misleading. A monitor with a TN panel is often quoted as having 160/160 or 160/170 viewing angles but in reality, they are much lower than that. An IPS’s (and occasionally VA’s) viewing angles of 178/178 are the only ones which are truly accurate.
Whilst significantly less noticeable than a TN panel, the VA panel is still likely to show a slight color or contrast distortion at certain angles. The IPS panels are the only panels that are free of these color inconsistencies and are the absolute best with regard to this viewing angles aspect.
Disadvantages Of IPS Panels
With that said however, there are a couple of drawbacks to an IPS panel. Its response time is generally slower (5-8 ms) compared to TN panels (fastest is 1 ms) and its refresh rate is also limited to 60 Hz as opposed to the 120 or 144 Hz that a TN panel can have.
IPS vs TN Panels For Gaming
To put it simply:
144 Hz TN panels > 120 Hz TN panels > 60 Hz IPS panels > 60 Hz TN panels
With all these factors in mind, we’ve concluded that the absolute best monitor from the list that we’ve compiled is the BenQ XL2420TE, followed closely by Dell UltraSharp U2412M.
Review of the Best Gaming Monitor: BenQ XL2420TE
The BenQ XL2420TE is the ultimate gaming monitor that has optimal performance in virtually every single aspect that’s important within the gaming niche. It comes with a 24 inch display which is the ideal size seeing as how anything above that would fetch a ridiculously staggering price.
Do not confuse this with the XL2420T or XL2420TX models however. The XL2420TE is the newer model that’s vastly improved in several aspects:
- Response time improved from 2 ms to 1 ms
- Refresh rate improved from 120 Hz to 144 Hz
- Enhanced color reproduction over the previous 2 versions
- Equipped with ZeroFlicker technology (as its name suggests, it’s flicker-free)
The best features of the XL2420TE are its response time of 1 ms and maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz, which means that the fastest moving images on your screen will be seen as they are intended and at the most fluid movement as is possible. Smearing of images will also be non-existent.
Needless to say, you’ll need a matching graphics card that’s powerful enough to keep up with the speed of refresh rate that your monitor is capable of handling i.e at least 60 frames per second. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking to the Dell U2412M. In terms of improving your gaming performance, this is as good as it gets.
Here’s a good picture of the BenQ in action.
The BenQ XL2420TE also has a maximum brightness setting of 350 cd/m2, which is simply overpowering. Of course, you’ll probably never get around to turning the brightness up to its actual maximum because that’s just a little too much. Anything above 250 cd/m2 is way more than sufficient already. Still, it’s nice to know that the option is available to you.
It uses a TN panel as opposed to an IPS panel though, so you should always be seated directly in front of the monitor for the best experience. If you like to lie down on your back while playing your other gaming consoles on this monitor, you’ll have to adjust the angles so that the color change will be minimal.
Adjustability & Connectivity
If you own any other gaming consoles or if you wish to use your home theater system with your monitor, you’ll be glad to know that this monitor can be used for any of those too thanks to the all-encompassing connectivity options that it is equipped with. HDMI, DVI, VGA, USB, DisplayPort. Whatever you need, this monitor has it.
This particular monitor additionally has great ergonomic features due to its flexible adjustability options. It can be tilted forwards and backwards, swiveled sideways, pivoted into portrait mode or have its height adjusted.
Used In Gaming Tournaments
The BenQ XL2420TE is also used as the official monitor in tournaments hosted by major gaming associations like eSports Entertainment Association, Major League Gaming and Intel Extreme Masters.
Here’s a video review by LinusTechTips that shows the unboxing and testing of the BenQ XL2420TE if that’s your thing. He says this and I quote:
“BenQ’s XL2420TE is frankly the best gaming LCD monitor I’ve seen. Its colour reproduction, while not on the same level as an IPS panel, is MUCH better than other high speed TN monitors that I’ve encountered, and there almost no discernable input lag or motion blur. This one’s a winner, folks.”
On the whole, the BenQ XL2420TE certainly has everything that a gamer could possibly want and more. If you’ve always been using a 60 Hz monitor, you owe it to yourself to try out a 120 Hz or higher monitor. Virtually all gamers who’ve switched over from a 60 Hz to a 120/144 Hz monitor have all agreed on one thing: that they’ll never go back to using a 60 Hz display. The fluidity is simply amazing and all your games will feel much smoother in comparison.
As a final reminder, make sure that you get the BenQ XL2420TE and not the older XL2420T or TX model because the price is more or less the same. In fact, as at the date of this post (18th Oct 2013), the newer Xl2420TE actually costs $40 cheaper than the XL2420T.
>> Click here to check out the latest price for the
BenQ XL2420TE monitor at Amazon.com