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How to Choose the Right Monitor for Gaming

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/26/2008

Buying a new computer monitor this holiday season? Do you play computer games? Here are some things to look for when trying to get the right monitor for gaming.

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    Monitor Evolution

    It was years before the average gamer jumped onto the LCD bandwagon. The monitors were expensive, they did not have the kind of imagery that was practical to most gaming needs, and they were simply better for casual uses like watching videos. Today LCD is the standard, but there are still specific things to look for when choosing a monitor for gaming.

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    Size Matters

    The first basic thing should be obvious to most gamers: get is big and wide. Make sure that you get a screen that is large enough, and has the widescreen ratio (16:9 ratio). This will make certain gaming, especially action intensive first-person-shooters, more involving. You will be able to have a better view of the action, mostly because a large widescreen monitor mimics the perspective that you see in normally. When scanning left to right you will be able to stay with the monitor without altering your instinctual visual patterns.

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    Give It a Check Up

    Make sure to look at the monitor before you buy it. Check to make sure it interprets an analogue signal well, and it does not give any shakes on grays or integrated color schemes. If there are dimness or brightness issues at the edges of the screen this is a good sign that you should move on.

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    Resolution and Refresh Rates

    The main reason that gamers had a tough time jumping from the traditional CRT to LCD was its response time and refresh rate. The LCD screen simply did not run as fast with refreshing three-dimensional images in real time as its CRT counterpart. Even today, the LCD has a better time with text than it does with visual imaging. The image quality will still be better on an LCD, but since it re-pixelates for changing images it can be slower. Try to find a high refresh capable LCD monitor and then change the refresh settings in the control panel to the highest possible settings. This will shorten the life on your LCD, but it is a necessary sacrifice. The resolution is important in this same vein. LCDs have native resolution, which means that they have a built in resolution quality that they are able to handle. Check the specifications of the monitor against you computer and make sure you have enough power to actually get a good enough image out of the monitor.

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    Viewability

    Always look at the viewable space on a monitor before purchasing. The simple dimensions or “inch space" can be a deceiving number, so actually look at how much viewable space there is. LCD monitors tend to have a large viewable space out of the total size, especially the widescreen models.

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    Cheapskate

    If you are really low on cash you can get a very large, high-resolution CRT monitor for relatively cheap. It will not be as impressive as the LCD, but it may run even faster. The choice you have to make is really based on the type of games you want to play and whether you prefer speed or image clarity.