PC CPU capabilities seem to have stalled for the past few years, which has prolonged the life of my current PC. The rig has a pair of Samsung monitors and one of them, in particular, has a very poor colour display that has caused problems in print and design work. That was more acceptable when I bought them but things have moved on, so I’m considering adding the latest tech and culling the bad monitor.
I’m looking for a jack of all trades monitor for a middling price so the only hard requirements are that it be good for gaming and good for graphics:
- An IPS panel with high sRGB compatibility
- 7ms response time or less
Ultra Wide Screens
You probably won’t be able to drive an ultra-wide screen with an old graphics card, so if you’re thinking about it, check your card’s capability first. It might save you a lot of time.
Some people make a hobby out of upgrading PC components and I’m not one of them. There have been some expensive and time-consuming problems in the past, so the current plan is to find a similar display with an improved colour and refresh rate. At a later date, a complete build can be purchased with a large single monitor or a spread of slowly evolving single monitors.
Individual small screens are cheaper to replace in the event of failure or for tech advances, and upgrades can happen one at a time, which spreads the cost and brings the primary display up to the latest spec more frequently..
IPS vs TN Monitors
Where IPS = In-Plane Switching, TN = Twisted Nematic. YouTuber The Tech Chap, has produced a solid review of an IPS vs TN monitors using the same manufacturer and model (click here).
What you will clearly see are the colour differences and the colour changing effect that viewing angle has on the TN model, making an IPS model a necessity for the sort of work I do.
Response Times and Refresh Rate
There is no standard for a response time, leaving a lot of latitude for misleading claims. The response time is the minimum time taken for a pixel to change from one value to the next, so black to white is going to be slower than grey to grey.
From YouTube, icy3001 has made a decent assessment of the differences in response times between 2 and 5 ms monitors (click here). He is a good player and has measured a typical in-game situation – to notice, turn and fire on an opponent took 1434 ms against which the 3ms difference in response time represents 0.2% of the total manoeuvre. In other words, it’s not going to be the main reason you might lose a battle.
The refresh rate determines how often the monitor image can be rewritten per second. The frame rate is the speed that the images are being transmitted to the monitor. The difference between the two can cause frames to be lost or duplicated onscreen, which is why frame syncing technology exists.
If you aren’t sure what refresh rate you should use as a minimum for gaming, 60 Hz is not good enough, 100Hz+ would satisfy most people and 140Hz+ would be plenty. Its tough to find an IPS panel with a high refresh rate at a reasonable cost.
Finding the Right Monitor
Go to uk.pcpartpicker.com (click here) and look under the Individual Parts menu in order to find a monitor and filter the results. Alternatively, go to Amazon, type in ‘monitor’ and then use the filters to narrow the result. Either way, I always need a spreadsheet to record the details.
Go to www.lagom.nl to find a comprehensive set of test images that you can use to examine your existing system with or calibrate a new system if that isn’t an intrinsic part of the monitor already.
If I were to spend £200 on a replacement monitor the best improvement I could get without changing the graphics card is an improvement in the SRGB colour space. Mid-range IPS monitors mostly operate at or near 60 fps, which I have already even though the monitor is 7 years old. To get an improvement I’d have to go up to the £500+ level and possibly get a GeForce GTX 1060 for £280, so it seems that the £700 might be better spent on a completely new rig at a later date.
Care has been taken to keep the information in this article as accurate as possible but errors are possible, so be aware of the full disclaimer here.