Competitive gaming requires the right equipment and skill to get the job done. You never want to come face to face with an opponent without being prepared. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to gaming gear. Because competitive games are so action-packed, it is imperative your screen has a high refresh rate or you could be ghosting and find yourself killed. With this guide, we will get into some of the specifics of TVs vs. monitors so you can make an informed choice.
What Should You Know About Refresh Rate?
As with many aspects of purchasing gaming gear, there is often a lot of confusion revolving around refresh rate and its importance. This is a feature that doesn’t do anything to the picture quality or color and goes unnoticed if it is working as it should.
So, what is the importance of the refresh rate? Before we delve much deeper into the subject, it is important to understand exactly what the refresh rate is and then we can get into more details on why it matters.
Refresh Rate – The refresh rate is the number of times the screen updates its buffer in any given second. The refresh rate is measured in hertz. What this means is the more times the screen refreshes each second, the smoother the image. If you are into fast action games, you will notice if the refresh rate is too low.
Low Refresh Rates = Problems
Low refresh rates generally equal problems when it comes to graphically demanding games. Being aware of the common problems associated with lower refresh rates will help you to better understand why this is an important consideration when choosing between a TV or monitor.
Motion Resolution is easily one of the most noticeable problems when it comes to low refresh rates. Motion resolution is the ability of the screen to properly display moving images. The lower the refresh rate, the more blurring will occur and this can be detrimental, especially in a live competitive match.
Screen Tearing can be extremely frustrating for gamers. This happens when the refresh rate and frame rate are not compatible. If your graphics card is putting out frames at a rate your monitor or TV cannot handle, it will often split the frames, leading to screen tearing. This issue is very distracting in a match and can have you pulling your hair out with each kill suffered as a result.
Input Response can also be affected by lower refresh rates. While some gamers may not even notice a minor problem with input lag, it can be extremely frustrating in a highly competitive match. In its basic terms, an input response lag is a delay that occurs between the monitor or television receiving the signal and it being displayed. While a few milliseconds of lag might not seem like much, it could mean the difference between you obliterating your opponent or being taken out.
Is a Higher Refresh Rate Always Better?
It would seem the higher the numbers, the better the results, right? While this is most often the case, as we discussed above, there are sometimes problems with the compatibility of the frame rate and refresh rate.
Even with games that are not graphically demanding, the frame rate can rise over 100 FPS. Let’s say you have a monitor or television that is only refreshing at 60Hz. This means there is no way your monitor can keep up with the FPS and you are going to experience frame tearing.
Now, if your monitor refreshes at 120Hz, this means it will refresh twice as fast as a 60Hz monitor and will be able to properly display a game that has a frame rate of 100 or slightly above. A 240Hz refresh rate is going to be able to handle highly taxing games without motion blurs, frame tearing, and input lags.
To get the best results, it would be wise for you to purchase a monitor that has a refresh rate of 120Hz or 144Hz. These displays will be able to handle most games and competitive play should not be interrupted with major lags and annoying frame tears.
Why Not Replace Your Monitor with a TV?
If you find a TV that has around the same refresh rate as some of the best gaming monitors, it would seem that would be a fair trade, but there is more to consider. Yes, there are gamers who use televisions as their display for PC gaming, but we are here to tell you this likely is not the best idea.
Yes, HD and 4K televisions are now going for insanely good prices. You can sometimes get a huge television for less than the price of a high-end gaming monitor. Unfortunately, there is a problem.
No matter how big the TV, how awesome the refresh rate, or how good the price, the vast majority of televisions only have inputs of around 60Hz. With the input at 60Hz, the TV then goes to work to try to achieve a double refresh rate from the input, going up to 120Hz or trying for even higher.
The way a television achieves a higher refresh rate is through a process called motion interpolation. What happens during motion interpolation, is the display attempts to speed up the frame rate to the TV’s maximum rate.
What Is Motion Interpolation?
To make it easier to understand, let’s break motion interpolation into its simplest of terms. This means the TV will add what is called a predictive frame. It takes the frame before and after and creates a predictive frame to make the motions more fluid and lifelike. While this may seem like a good thing on the surface, it may not be the best for competitive gaming.
So, you are playing a highly competitive online game, using a TV display. The picture looks great and it’s huge, so you are able to see all the competition. As the frame rate begins to rise, you start seeing strange frames in the mix. What you think is a tree turns out to be an opponent. It is easy to see this is not what gamers want!
Even with highly intuitive motion interpolation, your TV can miss and create a frame that is slightly confusing to the eye. While this may not be such a big deal when watching a movie or television show, it is not something you want during a competitive match.
Before you totally rule out using a television to play, you will likely find slow-paced games with immersive storylines are beautifully displayed on a large television. Games like Witcher 3 and Mass Effect are going to be more enjoyable spread out across an HDR or 4K television display.
If you are not a competitive gamer, you likely will not notice the minor frame interruptions that can occur with a high level of motion interpolation. If you mostly play games like God of War, then using a TV as a gaming display will make these games come to life.
Bottom Line – A TV is not going to give you the frame and refresh rates that are needed for highly competitive gaming. No matter how good it looks, don’t try it or you will end up discovering your losses greatly increase.
How to Choose the Right Gaming Monitor for Competitive Gaming
Now that you know competitive gaming just cannot happen on a widescreen television, you are likely wondering how to choose the right gaming display. The right monitor can mean the difference between you getting annihilated every time your character revives and being able to dominate them at every turn.
As we have discussed, there are a few different areas you will need to focus on when choosing a gaming monitor. So, let’s dive right in and discover some key areas that can make a huge difference in competitive gaming.
If you love playing competitive games like PUBG, Call of Duty, or Counter Strike: Global Offensive, you know just how important every second is during the battle. One slight blur or shadowing can spell disaster for your character.
There are a few refresh rates for gaming monitors.
Before you go out and purchase a 240Hz monitor, take a look at the graphics card you are using. Nvidia and AMD make graphics cards that can handle higher refresh rates. As we briefly mentioned above, your graphics card and refresh rate need to be matched as much as possible, or you will be wasting the capability of both.
Another factor to consider when purchasing a gaming monitor is response time. The simple definition of response time is the rate at which each pixel on the screen can change colors. When it comes to response time, lower is always better. Most gaming monitors come with really low response time rates, but it never hurts to check out this spec before you buy. It is important to choose a monitor with no greater than a 6ms response rate. There are even some monitors on the market that offer a 1ms response rate.
Another thing you will need to consider when choosing a gaming monitor is the video inputs. Many gamers overlook this important aspect because they do not realize its sheer importance. There are two main types of video inputs you will see on gaming monitors.
When searching for gaming monitors, you are likely going to find a lot of them offer HDMI connectors. This seems to be the new standard in gaming monitors because they can be hooked up to computers and consoles, depending on the type of gaming you prefer. Unfortunately, HDMI connectors cannot handle a high refresh rate so they can be limiting, especially if you like competitive gaming and want to stay ahead of your opponents.
DisplayPort connectors are the best video inputs for gaming monitors, especially those used for competitive gaming. They can handle fast refresh rates which is what you want in an online competitive match. If your video input cannot handle such high refresh rates, you are going to notice many problems that we have discussed above. The most common version you will see in today’s gaming monitors is DisplayPort 1.2. These can support refresh rates up to 60Hz and resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels.
Many people are surprised to learn the panel can have a lot to do with their refresh rate. There are three main panel types and they include the following.
TN Panels – These panels are the least expensive, and they also offer the lowest refresh rates. If you are a competitive gamer, you do not want a TN panel.
VA Panels – While these offer great views, they tend to have ghosting issues that can be problematic for competitive gamers.
IPS Panels – These panels offer the best picture quality, with the highest refresh rates. While IPS panels are the best for competitive gaming, they are also the most expensive. Even when choosing an IPS panel, it is wise to still check the specs to ensure the panel offers the lowest response time.
While it may seem reasonable to switch out a gaming monitor with a TV, this can be problematic. With televisions only offering video inputs of 60Hz, it really is a waste of time for competitive gamers to use a television display.
If you love competitive gaming and want to get all the kills and win the game, you need a good gaming monitor. If you take time researching and look for monitors with the above specs, you will find your competitive gaming experience will be more immersive. With the right refresh rates and response times, along with the best video input, competitive gaming will be free of the problems that take away the fun.
While televisions are ideal for slow-paced story games, they can spell disaster for an online competitive match. No one wants to be deep in a game, only to find their monitor just is not up to speed. Looking for the specs above will help you to make a perfect choice.