PC monitor questions (buying advice)

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#1 Edited by paulmako (1934 posts) -

Here's the deal. I'm going to be getting a PC built around a GTX 980 from my brother and need a screen to go with it. His advice is to aim for playing at 1080p with that card, so that's what I am going to do. However I've never actually bought a monitor or a PC with gaming in mind and have always just gone along with whatever screen was bundled with a PC. Until now! I guess my budget would be up to $400. I have a few basic questions about this whole thing:

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1. Should I get a 1080 x 1920 monitor if I am only aiming to run games at 1080p? Does playing games at 1080p on a 1440p monitor look weird?

2. Does 1080 x 1920 look bad on any monitor larger than 23"?

3. Do refresh rate and response time matter outside of competitive /quick reflex gaming?

4. TN vs IPS Leading on from above, is the difference between display technology a notable factor? From what I have seen, TN screens seem to be 'faster' for refresh rate but IPS screens apparently have better colour?

5. The last question is about the future. I'm not going to upgrade the graphics card for a little while. However, if I am going to upgrade this thing in a few years, when we get whatever the equivalent of an 1180 or 1280 is, is it worth getting cutting costs and getting a real basic 1080p monitor for now and saving the money to get a fancy 1440p (or maybe even 4k one) in the future? Or would it benefit me to get a 1440p monitor now and just play the games through it at 1080p until I upgrade.

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I say it's confusing because of all the variables, and there doesn't seem to be a clear standout from my googling. There are plenty that look fine but just say 'great for working from home'. Is that just marketing trying to push gamers into buying more expensive screens that they need? I apologise if this stuff is all basic but again, this is my first foray into the market!

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#2 Edited by GundamGuru (730 posts) -

@paulmako:

  1. Yes and a bit. When you don't have a 1:1 mapping of pixels, only a few are duplicated, and that looks odd.
  2. 1080p only starts looking bad at monitor distances (2-3 feet) around 27 inch. For TVs at couch distance (10 feet typically), you want out of 1080p around 55-60 inch. The measurement here is pixels per inch, for monitors you want around 96 ppi for Windows to look "normal."
  3. Higher refresh rate looks nicer to some people. Some people think it gives everything a "soap opera" look. Response times nowadays are really a function of what refresh rate you want to hit. 1 second / 144 frames = 7 milliseconds per frame. You want to spend most of your fame time at the target color, not transitioning. These days, 1ms response times are not expensive.
  4. Yes, absolutely. It's not the end of the world using a TN panel, but the color quality advantages to the IPS tech can't be denied. And it's not just about viewing angles, either. Color accuracy, contrast ratios, and gamut volumes are just higher across the board with IPS. It's why alternatives to TN tech were developed in the first place.
  5. 1440p isn't that big of a quality leap, and I'm saying that as someone who had a 1440p monitor that burnt out and went back to a 1080p one.

Basically, at lower price points you have to choose between high refresh rate and a good display tech (like IPS). Money's no object, and you can get both. Whether you prefer one or the other is up to you and the types of games you play, but I will say this: a 144Hz monitor isn't helping you any if your graphics card is only putting out 60 fps or less. With a 980, you're increasingly going to have to lower settings to up performance. If you asked me, I'd just get the biggest 1080p 60Hz IPS screen I can, and call it a day.

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#3 Posted by Craigieboy (47 posts) -

I'm not a certified monitor expert but I can help a little here.

1 - There shouldn't be any negative to playing 1080p on a 1440p monitor other than you paying extra for it.

2 - My monitor is 24 inch at 1080p and I think it's perfectly fine, I'm sure they'd be a nice improvements with higher resolutions but it certainly isn't bad.

3 - From what I understand, refresh rates are pretty important to a "gaming" monitor as it makes for a smoother gaming experience. For sure you'll probably notice this more on quick reflex games but it will also be noticeable on everything else too.

4 - Not too clued up on this myself, maybe someone else here can fill you in on that.

5 - Me personally I'd stick with a 1080p monitor and wait for 1440p and 4K displays to drop in price. 4K gaming is still in it's early stages so it's still a bit of a premium to have it at the moment.

Hope that helps a bit.

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#4 Posted by CrazyBagMan (1426 posts) -

I say pick up a 1080p monitor. With a 980 you'll be able to pretty much max out any game at 60fps, but that gets less consistent as you go higher res or refresh rate.

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#5 Edited by dagas (3609 posts) -

I'm using a cheap 150 bucks 23 inch 1080p screen with a GTX1070. It looks fine. I don't notice much difference in color compared to my much more expensive TV.

I think it is only worth getting a 4k or 1440p monitor if you have a 1080Ti or TitanX or something. Even with my 1070 that is more powerful than a 980 (it is about as good as a 980Ti) I can't run Witcher 3 on ultra with the hair physics at even 60fps so a 144hz display would be wasted unless you play CS or Overwatch or some other game that runs on over 100fps.

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#6 Posted by Zelyre (1817 posts) -

1080 on 1440 is not going to look as good as 1080 on 1080. Some folks notice this, some don't.

As a test, try running you some games at 1600x900 resolution. That isn't going to scale cleanly and you'll get an image quality that's not native resolution. If you think that looks fine to you, then 1080 on a 1440 display will probably look fine as well.

At this price range, you'll probably see free-sync monitors. Since you're running a 980, this is a moot point. Don't let that be a deciding factor unless you're going to go with an AMD graphics card in the future. If you want fancy tear free monitors for your nVidia card, you'll looking for G-sync and that's stupid money.

I'd probably do a cheaper 24" 1080p IPS display now. In the future, when you jump to a new card, get a nice 4k display and use your 1080p monitor as a second monitor for watching videos while gaming.

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#7 Posted by dafdiego777 (292 posts) -

@paulmako:

1. No, stick with a with a 1080p monitor. the up-scaling will suck.

2. You could do a 27", but I've had good luck with 24 inches and smaller.

3. high refresh rate makes everything smoother. I've been on the 144 fps train for a couple of years now, and it makes most game types better. Most monitors are going to be fine with regards to input lag, so unless you specifically need something, I wouldn't make a purchasing decision around it.

4. If you mainly play shooters, get a high refresh rate TN panel. If not, go IPS.

5. I would get a nice 1080p monitor now. It's not going anywhere. You could move directly to OLED/HDR/HRF/4K when those monitors become more mainstream in 3-5 years ( the first one is coming out this year I think).

I just went through this whole thing in the spring and got a HRF 1440p gsync TN monitor, so if you need any purchasing help PM me.

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#8 Posted by Ezekiel (2257 posts) -

I have a 2560x1440 monitor and only a GTX 780. But I play more than just new AAA shit. QHD is nice.

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#9 Edited by Casepb (333 posts) -
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#10 Posted by Ezekiel (2257 posts) -

@casepb said:

I'd just say don't go with a TN, the color is horrible. I went from an ASUS this one here https://amazon.com/gp/product/B005BZNDS0/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 To a VN and it was just super bad looking.

I've been told TN can look great, but I wouldn't know. I got an IPS because I was dissatisfied with TN. I was gonna use my old monitor for a dual setup, but the IPS made the TN look bad, so I gave it away.

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#11 Edited by 49th (3727 posts) -

1. I wouldn't bother with a 1440p unless you are looking to upgrade your PC in the near future.

2. No, but I prefer 24" monitors as you can see more at once.

3. Not exactly. They are great for competitive games but the majority of single player games will usually only run at 60FPS which offers no benefit. I do really like my 144Hz monitor for Overwatch and similar games though, so it depends on what you mostly play.

4. I have a BenQ Zowie xl2411 which is a TN panel and the colours really do look like shit. The 144Hz refresh rate is great but I was disappointed with the colours when I got it although there are a few tweaks to make it look better. My previous monitor was also a TN panel but the colours were much better and it looked pretty good. If you want the best looking screen definitely go with an IPS though.

5. I would save your money and stick with a 1080p monitor for now. 1440p screens are still kind of expensive right now especially if you want 144Hz.

Avatar image for clagnaught
#12 Posted by clagnaught (1879 posts) -

@paulmako:

  1. For your current situation, I would just get a 1080p monitor. Unless you are upgrading soon-ish (More comments on this in #5)
  2. Not necessarily. Bigger monitors do tend to have a higher resolution though, whether that is full 1440p or 4K, or something closer to 1920x1200. Some bigger monitors do have a higher price tag though. The price increase from a 23" to a 30" or whatever is a lot steeper than going from a 30" to a 36" TV.
  3. Higher refresh rates don't necessarily add a benefit to everything. They are nice for multiplayer games, but it is not necessary for single player games.
  4. The primary issue is viewing angles. If you look off to the side (like imagine you are sitting to the left of someone who is using a computer) the image may appear more green-ish. There are a couple of minor things like that. If you want to stay on a budget, TN monitors may be a good option, because they can be cheaper than IPS monitors. Artists and other people who use Photoshop heavily should probably buy an IPS. I currently have a TN monitor, and I don't even notice 90% of the time. When I do notice it, it is primarily with extreme viewing angles.
  5. If you are going to get whatever the next line of 1060/1070/1080 GTX graphics cards, a 1080p, 60 Hz monitor is not necessarily going to cut it. I have a 1080 GTX that can run every game on max setting anywhere from 60 to 100 FPS at 1440p. Using a 1080 GTX on a 1080p, 60 Hz monitor would be overkill. You are limited by both the resolution and refresh rate. If someone is just interested in 1080p graphics for whatever reason, that's fine. In fact the plus side is they could pretty much run max everything out for a long, long time. At the same time, they could have just bought a 1060 or 1070 and have a comparable 1080p experience.
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#13 Posted by OurSin_360 (5746 posts) -

Get a 1080p monitor with higher refresh rate. I have only ever gamed at 60hz but everyone tells me that 144hz helps even of you're not getting 144fps, so if you can afford it go for it. Now if you plan on updating at some point then 1440p will look fine scaled down but i don't think most monitors have good downscaling like tvs(i could be wrong). And i had a 42 inch 1080p tv hooked up a while back and it looked fine to me.

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#14 Posted by LinkXLinkOTP (13 posts) -

just spend $80 on a 1080p monitor

if you aren't willing to go all in on ips, 144hz, gsync, 1440p just get something cheap

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#15 Edited by BasketSnake (1803 posts) -

I went from using TN all my life to the https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=asus+MG279Q and I wasn't all that impressed by the colors or viewing angles. I haven't done a side by side comparison though. The only reason was I wanted 2k and this also had very low response time and 144hz. I don't care about freesync. I get very high framerates on most games with my 1500mhz oc'd msi 970. I also got it at a good price.

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#16 Posted by forteexe21 (1924 posts) -

I have a 1440p 27" 16:9 monitor and 1080p looks terrible during normal use especially with text. 1080p gaming on it isnt that bad though.

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#17 Posted by SarcasticMudcrab (365 posts) -

I just got the low end samsung curved monitor (£150) and it's amazing, I recommend it for gaming it has been the best upgrade I've ever made.

Avatar image for lyncathia
#18 Posted by Lyncathia (6 posts) -

Look for a monitor with..

IPS Panel

1080p or 1440p = some games still can't support 4k resolution so it will be a waste of "pixels"

144hz with 1ms refresh rate

Nvidia G-sync = to prevent tearing of pixels...

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#20 Posted by DusteeGiant (4 posts) -

Refresh rate: as a video editor I'd say it depends on what game you play. At about 25-30fps the scene is more lika 'cinematic' view, all movies in cinema are in 30fps, 60fps will ruin 'the feels'. For example I'll play Tomb Raider with 30fps and try my best to play like I'm in the scene, FPS games however, 60fps is better.

1080p fits 23" monitor perfectly, I once got a 27" since it was good for work also, but nooo.. atleast for my desk. 4K is a different story, but a 23" monitor should not cost more than $150 https://thegreatsetup.com/best-gaming-monitors/under-100/

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