Getting ahold of computer components has been a challenge for the past few years. To increase your gaming experience, you can't get a video card unless you're prepared to buy from a scalper. But, you can get a quality gaming monitor right now and improve your game. And, some of the prices are really reasonable compared to what we have seen over the past few years. Here are some of the best gaming monitors you can get right now and how to pick the right one for you.
The short answer is, only if you are playing games at over 60 frames per second (FPS). Casual gamers might not know what framerate is, or may not understand how it can affect your gameplay. When it comes to frame rate, it's all about how frequently your monitor refreshes the picture on the screen. But, it also can represent how often the game refreshes what you're doing. A higher frame rate can give you more fine-grained control over your environment and, most importantly, be the difference between getting the shot and missing.
Today, to classify as a gaming monitor, it must have a refresh rate of at least 120 FPS, though the current standard is no lower than 144. That is far higher than the consumer average of 50, 60, or 75. But, the monitor won't be your only condition in getting the game to refresh faster. You also need a video card that supports a faster refresh rate. Without that, you won't get a lot of the benefits of an advanced monitor.
Ideally, you'll want a video card with adaptive sync technology. This would be either AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC, depending on the card brand. That technology syncs the refresh rate of your monitor with the refresh rate of the game. Since games fluctuate that rate depending on the state of the hardware, this allows the monitor to not try and do more than the game is currently capable of. It also prevents the game from working harder than the monitor is capable of, refreshing the game more frequently than the screen. Both of these situations can lead to dropped frames and poor game performance.
You'll also want to take into consideration the panel type. You'll traditionally find 3 labels for the panel: TN, IPS, and VA. TN panels are going to be the fastest refresh rate, but are also going to have very poor viewing angles and bad color reproduction. Going this way may save you some money, but you'll have to be sure to place yourself directly in front of the panel. And definitely don't tell your friends. IPS displays are a little slower in the refresh department but improve the overall viewing experience. The colors will get better, the viewing angle will be improved, but they're still not great. VA is really where you want to be - it may be the slowest in terms of refresh, but the actual picture quality is going to be far superior to the others.
The Top Pick right now is the Dell S3220DGF (or S3220DGM). It's a 32" monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 (2K) and a refresh rate of 165 Hz. Depending on where you can find the monitor, you can sometimes find it for under $400. The Gigabyte G27F is also a good choice for more budget-minded buyers. This one is 1920x1080 (FHD) with a refresh rate of 144 Hz, but is also a bit smaller at only 27". It comes in under $300 most of the time.
If you're looking to go all out, though, the MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD is a great choice. It offers full 4K resolution, 144 Hz refresh, and comes in at 32". It even features Quantum Dot technology, like the higher-end televisions. The color reproduction is fantastic and it only has a 1ms response time. If you can find it, you'll be spending around $900.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.