What to Consider When Buying a PC Monitor in 2021

CyanCloud here! When in the market for a new monitor these days there’s so many variables to consider. How large of a screen to get? What panel type is best? Is 144Hz refresh rate really worth it? And what in the world is Freesync/G-sync? Therefore, we’ve done our best to provide you the answers you need to know when buying a new PC monitor in 2021.

What Monitor Panel Type is Best?

Currently in the market there are 3 different types of monitor panels you’ll come across: TN, VA, and IPS. Each has its own pros and cons differentiating from the others, as well as some price variation:=


TN: TN panels are considered the fastest and cheapest among the other display panels mentioned. Response times are low, refresh rates can be incredibly high, and input lag is seemingly non-existent. This is incredibly important and beneficial for competitive games where every millisecond counts for reaction time. However, that does come at the cost of poor viewing angles and color. If staring at the screen from a non-perpendicular angle, you’ll notice a dark tint making it difficult to read. Now this might not be a big deal for some, but if you’re making constant adjustments to your seating angle, then this may not be the panel for you. On top of poor viewing angles, the colors on TN panels aren’t as rich. This can really make or break an immersive experience when it comes between a lively environment with breathtaking colors, or mediocre wildlife that has little to be desired.

Pros: Cheapest, low response times, high refresh rates, best for competitive gaming.

Cons: Poor viewing angles, colors aren’t as vibrant as the other two panel options.

VA: VA panels are characterized as having the best contrast and image depth when comparing to the other two panel options. You’ll have a much better experience when it comes to having that immersive depth in a game's image quality due to the contrast grade. However, these panels do tend to experience longer response times meaning it'll take the monitor slightly longer to switch from one color to another. The delay times are miniscule, but can sometimes make a noticeable difference. Therefore, VA panels generally aren’t recommended for competitive gaming where color and visual response time accuracy is crucial.

Pros: Best contrast and image depth, better viewing angles than TN

Cons: Slightly slower response times

IPS: Lastly, IPS panels are very well known for their color accuracy and impressively wide viewing angles. You’ll be provided the best color range over the other two panels as well as little to no limitations in where you can sit/stand to view the monitor. This is fantastic for those doing video editing or graphic design where colors are incredibly important. However, similarly to the others, there are some drawbacks. IPS monitors do tend to have lower contrast ratios meaning the depth of black isn’t as good. Overall, IPS monitors tend to be a good option all around, but do generally come at a more expensive price.

Pros: Best viewing angles and colors, better response times than VA

Cons: Most expensive

What Refresh Rate Should You Get?


By definition, the refresh rate on a monitor is the amount of times the screen refreshes the image per second. As you are most likely aware, the measurement is in hertz (Hz) and the higher that number, the more times your monitor will refresh meaning a clearer/crisper image. The general baseline for most monitors you’ll find are at 60Hz and can range all the way up to 240Hz these days. For most people, 60Hz will be plenty, but for those looking for the smoothest and most satisfying gaming experience, many swear by the wonders of 144Hz+ gaming.

However, it's important to understand that if you purchase a monitor that can run at 144Hz+, then you need a PC that can run an FPS at that number or else you will not experience the full function of the monitor. For example, if you have a 144Hz monitor but are only running a game at 60 FPS, you will only experience the game at 60 FPS and vice versa. Therefore, if you’re planning on upgrading to a higher refresh rate monitor, make sure your PC can run your games of choice at a higher framerate to make the investment worth it.

Furthermore, it's becoming more normal to see 240Hz refresh rates. While the difference isn’t as drastic from 60Hz to 144Hz, there is still a noticeable improvement and can be well worth the investment if you’re willing to cough up the extra money. But again, the same applies if your computer can’t run at that high of a framerate, then it won’t visually be any different and therefore a waste.

What is Freesync/G-sync?

Freesync and G-sync are both referred to as Adaptive-Sync technologies for AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. What each technology does is ensure that the refresh cycle is fully synced with the graphics card for each frame. Games process each frame individually and the speed at which this occurs is based on the power of your graphics card. Sometimes the image can be processed by the monitor before the graphics card has finished rendering, causing what is known as a screen tear. This can heavily pull away from the visual experience of a game and most certainly can’t be happening during any competitive gameplay. That’s where G-sync and Freesync come into play. While being fully synced, the monitor won’t move on to another frame until it's completed, reducing any chance of screen tearing. This used to be a much bigger issue, but with so many more monitors these days including Freesync and G-sync technology, it's pretty close to a thing of the past. Regardless, it’s important to understand its role in a monitor's performance and knowing which technology the monitor carries in accordance to your own graphics card. There are some instances where a Freesync monitor will sync with an NVIDIA GPU, however that’s something that varies from product to product and should be referred to within the monitor’s reviews.

That about wraps it up for what to consider when buying a PC monitor in 2021 by understanding the couple components that are largely considered when making a purchase. Certainly size and resolutions are something to keep in mind, but that simply comes down to preference and need with not too much to discuss other than making sure that your computer has the power to support. Nonetheless, we hope you learned something and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!


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