Shopping for a Gaming Monitor
This category is much narrower. A gaming monitor is a monitor with a low response time. Of course, you may play Pacman or Dwarf Fortress, but monitors for such games should hardly be given a specific category.
Today, TN matrixes are the fastest, but only if their specified response time is not 5 milliseconds. As a matter of fact, TN-based monitors with a specified response time of 2 and 5 milliseconds differ 3 to 5 rather than 2.5 times in reality. Why? Because their specified speed is measured in two different ways. For 2-millisecond models, the average response time for all halftones is measured (the so-called GtG method). For 5-millisecond models, the white-black-white transition is measured only. If a 5-millisecond monitor is tested using the GtG method, its response time will be 13 to 15 milliseconds, which indicates its real-life speed.
So, monitors with a specified response time of 5 or more milliseconds are no good for gaming. All 2-millisecond monitors are fast even if the GtG abbreviation is not written in their specs.
Choosing between 2-millisecond models is not easy. You must base your choice on test results. The RTC mechanism, which ensures those 2 milliseconds GtG, may be set up differently in different monitors. For example, in some monitors from Samsung, which are currently leaving the market, RTC does not work on black-to-gray transitions, preferring halftone transitions. The level of visual artifacts provoked by RTC (they look like white trails or rainbow patterns behind moving objects) may vary, too. Basing on my personal experience, I can recommend you Samsung’s P series which is currently available with diagonals from 20 to 24 inches (here is our review).
But if you are a truly devoted gamer and are ready to give everything, or at least a lot, for a monitor that is as fast as possible, you must not pass by the new models with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. They are formally designed for Nvidia’s 3D glasses, but can work without them just fine. For the glasses to work without unpleasant artifacts, the monitor has not only to support the high refresh rate but also offer a highly optimized RTC mechanism. Our tests (here and here) proved that these models are practically the fastest of all available monitors. Again, you don’t have to buy Nvidia’s stereo glasses for them (even though the glasses themselves are an exciting device). You only have to set the refresh rate at 120 Hz in your graphics card driver.
There are only two drawbacks with the 120-Hz monitors: there are too few of them and they are rather expensive. At the current moment, there are only two officially released models: Samsung’s SyncMaster 2233RZ (read our review) and ViewSonic’s VX2268wm (selling as VX2265wm on the US market; read our review). Both have a screen diagonal of 22 inches and a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels, which is too low for premium-class products today.
Acer GD245HQ: 120 Hz and FullHD
Fortunately, 120-Hz monitors with a diagonal of 23 and 24 inches are coming out this spring. Acer is about to roll out its GD245HQ (the exact size is 23.6 inches) also known as GD235HZ on the US market. Other makers will follow soon, so gamers and users interested in stereo imaging will have a wider choice in the summer.
The other criteria for choosing a gaming monitor are the same as for choosing a home one. You can ignore the specified viewing angles and contrast ratio as these parameters are going to be measured in different ways, bearing no indication of how the monitor will perform in reality. The optimal size of the screen is 23 inches at a resolution of 1920x1080. You should only buy a smaller monitor if your budget is really limited. A DVI or HDMI input is highly desirable to eliminate the very possibility of problems with image sharpness.