Working on your computer or web surfing is better on high resolutions. Does the same rule apply to gaming? The higher your monitor resolution, the more graphics processing power your computer needs. Otherwise, you will get performance drops that will make your game uncomfortable. What parameters should you pay attention to when choosing a new gaming display?

Display resolutions

HD vs 4K

The first thing most buyers are aiming at when choosing the model of their new monitor is the resolution. According to the market statistics, the Full HD resolution (1080p) is still the most popular, but 4K is slowly crawling to the top and 1440p as well. Here is a list of display resolutions you will be looking into when getting a new display:

  • HD: 1280 x 720 (720p).
  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 (1080p).
  • Quad HD: 2560 x 1440 (1440p).
  • Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 (4K 2160p).
  • Full Ultra HD: 7680×4320 (8K 4320p).

The Ultra HD resolution is considered to completely replace the Full HD resolution in a few years to come. It has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution than 1080p, so it is understandable why you need a powerful graphics card to process intensive games or heavy applications. The number of pixels on the screen is quadrupled. The end result of choosing the 4K resolution on a weak machine will result in performance drops, especially noticeable in games. For comfortable playing, you need to have at least 60 fps (frames per second).  

Furthermore, not all monitors can handle higher frame rates equally. Most Full HD displays work with a refresh rate of 60Hz, while newer models can have 120, 144, and even 244 Hz. It means that a monitor with 144Hz can output 144 frames every second. Or you could buy a 1440p monitor with a 244Hz refresh rate, which will let you play with on a resolution higher than 1080p. Of course, if your processor, graphics card, and RAM have enough power to deliver the FPS needed.

Note: we have a 720p resolution on the list, but you should not even consider buying a 720p monitor today. It is an old, outdated resolution, and today a Full HD resolution is a basic level. Cheapest 1080p monitors are around $100 today. You can even find not very expensive models with technologies like AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-Sync for stutter-free gameplay.

Xbox One players should also pick a 1080p monitor. But if you have Xbox One S or Xbox One X, then you can switch to a 4K display. As for PC gamers choosing between Quad HD (1440) and Ultra HD (4K), it is debatable.

More pixels

More pixels

Today the 1440p resolution is becoming more popular because more gamers can afford powerful hardware. That is why getting a cheap 27-inch (or better) monitor with higher resolution and refresh rates seems a good investment as well. For example, AMD’s RX 480 from or NVIDIA’s GeForce 1060 can easily handle both 1080p and 1440 resolutions and also support VR gaming.  

You can test your computer’s performance at 1080p and predict how it will perform at 1440p. If you hit the barrier in the form of the refresh rate on your monitor (60Hz – 60FPS), then going for a 1440 display would be reasonable as it will enhance your gaming experience. If you cannot test your computer or just don’t know how to do that, you can search for a configuration identical or similar to yours on reputable online sources and check their tests. It is a good solution for analyzing how your graphics card and processor will handle extra pixels. Monitors with higher refresh rates also let your video card to refresh the content on-screen faster, thus eliminating blurring and tearing in dynamic games.  

What about 4K?

This resolution is a whole new world. It is extremely demanding for your hardware and should not be deployed without a powerful graphics card. Only high-end products in monster setups can deal with it. Even NVIDIA’s monsters from the previous generation – GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1080 TI had problems in some games at 4K. The NVIDIA’s 20 series promises to have enough power for modern video games on 4K, but the price tag on those units is far from being cheap. So, if you want to improve your gaming experience, you should go for higher FPS and optimized settings for higher resolutions. In other words, it is better to have 60+ frames per second on 1440p, then 20 frames per second on 4K.

If you really want to step into the Ultra HD gaming, you can try using multiple graphics card. Just remember that not all games are optimized for SLI. But if you don’t have a big display or don’t feel the urge to play in 4K, Full HD monitors are still good enough for diving into countless virtual worlds. This really depends on your personal preferences, your current setup, and your budget.

When choosing a new monitor, keep in mind that you need a model that will be covered by the computing power you have. Otherwise, you will end up with a display that cannot push all the pixels out. If you have a powerful graphics card that handles Full HD gaming without any problems, then it won’t have any issues at 1440p. Apart from the resolution, you also need to take into consideration factors such as response time, refresh rate, and a few others.

Monitors Resolutions

Response time

It is measured in milliseconds and lets you know how quickly the display goes from gray-to-gray. The response time is calculated and tested during the manufacturing process. The lower the response time, the better. But it should always be lower than five milliseconds. Otherwise, you will get ghosting (when the previously displayed image still can be seen on-screen due to the slow refresh rate). Ghosting can completely ruing gaming experience as it destroys immersion. Keep in mind that monitors will low response time are more expensive.   

Refresh rate

This parameter represents how many times per second an image on your screen is regenerated to neutralize the flicker effect for the human eye. In other words, if your monitor has the refresh rate of 144Hz, it means that the image is regenerated 144 times each second assuring an exclusive viewing experience. But you need to remember that you need a good PC to push as much FPS as your monitor’s refresh rate. Otherwise, you may have stuttering issues or may even see screen tearing when your monitor and graphics card go out of sync. Technology such as FreeSync by AMD and G-Sync by NVIDIA let you mitigate this negative effect.

The difference FreeSync and G-Sync

Both these technologies were invented to deliver smooth gaming experience and prevent screen tears as well as reduce the input lag. This occurs when your monitor and GPU communicate with each other trying to data the current refresh rate so what you see on-screen is synced with what the graphics card has rendered. When the monitor or GPU work out of sync, screen tears appear – you will see horizontal tearing on your display.

Today we see an ideal monitor for most gamers (not cyber athletes, of course) with 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate and minimal response time of 1ms. The resolution depends on your configuration. As for the screen size – your personal preference. Also, pay attention to additional features such as G-Sync or FreeSync when buying a new gaming monitor.