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What is a Gaming Monitor?

By K. Schurman
Updated May 16, 2024
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A gaming monitor is a computer monitor constructed and designed specifically for use with video games. For gaming applications, it's especially important to use a monitor that offers a fast refresh rate. With many video games, the action on the display changes often and rapidly, meaning that monitors with a fast refresh rate will be able to handle the quickly changing images without negatively affecting game play.

When choosing a gaming monitor, either a CRT or LCD monitor is acceptable. CRT, short for cathode ray tube, is an older display technology that features a deep and heavy monitor case. LCD, short for liquid crystal display, is a newer display technology that features thin and lightweight monitors. For a gaming monitor, most people will select LCD, which offers sharp, vibrant images and large display sizes.

An average refresh rate for a gaming monitor is 8 milliseconds (ms) or less. Finding one with a refresh rate of 4ms or 2ms is even better. LCD monitors with slower refresh rates will be more susceptible to an effect called ghosting, where fast-moving objects on the display will appear to have a blurry shadow chasing them as they move across the screen. Ghosting effects only remain on the screen for a tiny fraction of a second, but they can be distracting, especially for someone playing a video game. CRT gaming monitors do not suffer from ghosting.

Another potential problem with choosing an LCD monitor is the viewing angle. Some LCD monitors have a limited viewing angle, while others can be viewed from almost any angle. If a lot of people will be playing a game simultaneously, sitting at varying angles to the monitor, be certain the LCD monitor has a viewing angle as close to 180 degrees as possible. Most CRT monitors offer a naturally wide viewing angle.

Finally, it's worth noting that the images on LCD gaming monitors look best when they are used at the monitor's native resolution. Each LCD monitor will have a resolution at which it performs best. When running at a resolution other than the native resolution, images on the LCD may lose some of their sharpness. Games that require a particular resolution might not look as good on certain LCD monitors. A CRT monitor does not require a native resolution.

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Discussion Comments

By bbpuff — On Oct 02, 2010

@turtlez - I think it really does circle around necessity and financial standing when it comes to making the choice of a shiny new Samsung gaming monitor (I love Samsung, of course and think it's the best) or a new graphics card.

Really, a new monitor in conjunction with a new graphics card is the way to go - finances permitting. Both boost the online gaming experience to it's maximum ability and it's great!

By turtlez — On Oct 02, 2010

@plaid - I know some graphics cards that cost a ton of money. Of course, there is the new 3d monitors out now and those can be costly as well. Really, it's not the monitor, but a video or graphics card itself. It's pretty amazing, though. I have had an LG gaming monitor for quite some time now and it's one of the larger ones and I absolutely love it. So I think it's really a matter of preference as well as financial standing.

By plaid — On Oct 02, 2010

@empanadas - You can actually find that the cost between buying a new widescreen gaming monitor and buying a new or current video or graphics card is relatively comparable. While some people would go for top of the line graphics cards, the truth is that you can get away with one that is a step or two down if you're not a hardcore gamer.

By empanadas — On Oct 02, 2010

Many gamers also choose to upgrade their video card as an alternative. A 19" gaming monitor is sufficient if you're not willing to make the upgrade, though.

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