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G-Sync is a powerful hardware-based technology that can eliminate screen tearing and stuttering to give you a silky-smooth gaming performance. If your PC has an Nvidia graphics card, you can utilize the G-Sync built into the monitor to upgrade your visual experience.
For some people, this isn’t that big of a deal because they’re able to reliably stay at or around their monitor’s max frame rate, or they are just heathens that suck the screen tearing up… not judging though. Totally not judging.
For instance, if you want to stop being a heathen, we are more than willing to help you, which is why we put together this guide. We will cover everything you need to know in order to purchase a Nvidia G-Sync monitor for yourself at the bottom (if you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around exactly what G-Sync is, then check that section out).
Features to Look for in a G-Sync Monitor
If you are a heavy gamer, then a decent monitor is necessary for less lag, faster response times, and better graphical fidelity. There are many monitors on the market, so it is important to look for the following features before buying.
Why Get A G-Sync Monitor?
While G-Sync monitors tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts, they make up for their price with, well, G-Sync… Of course, this is assuming you are using an Nvidia GPU, if you aren’t then you won’t get any use from G-Sync.
Normally, if your GPU outperforms your monitor, it will send frames to it at a higher rate than the monitor can display, which causes screen tearing, (where 2 frames are displayed at the same time).
G-Sync eliminates this. In layperson’s terms, within each G-Sync monitor, there is a chip that stores frames before sending them to the monitor. Then the software uses these frames to sync up your graphics card with your monitor, making games appear much smoother.
A monitor’s resolution tells you how many pixels wide and tall it is. In general, the higher the resolution, the more pixels per unit area there are and the better your picture quality is. Most monitors nowadays run at least in HD (1920 x 1080). However, many monitors allow for 2k/QHD (2560 x 1440) and 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160) resolutions. A monitor with a good resolution can be a great help keeping your bearings while in a match, as it lets all elements on the screen pop and be clearly defined.
If you pick a monitor with a high resolution, make sure you have a powerful enough GPU to handle it. Most mid-range gaming rigs nowadays can maintain at least 30fps at 2k/QHD resolutions or even potentially higher depending on other settings. However, only the more powerful high-end gaming rigs can push over 30fps on 4K/UHD resolution.
PPI stands for pixels per inch, which is pretty self explanatory. In general, the higher the PPI the better, as that results in a sharper, clearer image. The amount of pixels per inch is based on a monitor’s resolution as well as its overall size. Higher resolution and lower size correlates to higher PPI.
Another thing to take into consideration when looking at PPI is the distance you’ll be sitting from the monitor. The closer you are to the monitor, the higher the pixel density you’ll need in order to not see individual pixels. On the other hand, if you sit far away, you won’t need a very high PPI to see a sharp image.
The refresh rate of a monitor refers to how many times per second the monitor refreshes the image on the screen. Every moment you are playing a game, visuals on the screen are being refreshed. The faster the refresh rate, the smoother the picture is and the less screen tearing occurs during movement.
Most standard computer monitors have a refresh rate of at least 60Hz meaning that they can update the display up to 60 times per second. While this is pretty quick, it is sometimes not fast enough for dynamic applications, such as video games. Hardcore gaming is assisted by a faster refresh rate for smoother visuals and faster response times. Most gaming-dedicated monitors have a refresh rate double that of normal monitors, so around 120Hz-144Hz. Coupled with a good resolution, a high refresh rate contributes to better graphical fidelity and smoother gameplay.
Once again, if you get a monitor with a very high refresh rate you need to make sure you have a GPU that can take full advantage of it. Make sure your graphics card can run the games you want at the settings you desire.
The response time of your monitor refers to how quickly each pixel changes colors. In general, response times are measured from going from black to white to black again. Response time is not to be confused with the refresh rate. The refresh rate is how many times per second the monitor displays a new image. Higher refresh rates are desirable, while lower response times are better.
Normally, monitor response times are not a big factor for most regular computer applications. Surfing the web, sending emails, watching videos, editing photos, and downloading files are not affected too greatly by response times.
The main exception is when gaming. For gamers, every millisecond counts. The difference between landing a hit or getting crushed by your opponent is on the order of a few milliseconds. That is why gaming monitors typically have very quick response times; somewhere in the area of 1-5ms. If you play a lot of games that require ultra-precise timing like Overwatch, Fortnite, or Rocket League, then look for a monitor with very low response times.
Another important feature is the panel type. The panel type refers to the specific configuration of LCD cells in your monitor and affects how your monitor renders images and colors. Nowadays, there are 3 major kinds of panel types you will find in about 99% of gaming monitors.
- TN (Twisted Nematic). TN panels are generally the least expensive and the quickest but are the lowest quality kind of LCD panels. TN panels normally have low response times and higher refresh rates but do not have impressive color range or viewing angles. As such, they are great for games that require quick movements and timing (ie competitive games) but not so much for games that have to render a lot of detail and color.
- VA (Vertical Alignment). VA panels are a type of LED display. VA panels arrange their liquid crystals in such a way that they appear the same color from multiple angles. They also use special polymer stabilizers to lessen the amount of power that monitor uses. In general, VA panels have slower response times and average refresh rates. However, they have probably the best contrast and depth of field. They also occupy a nice middle ground in pricing, with some lower end models costing as much as TN panels.
- IPS (In-Plane Switching). IPS panels are probably the most versatile among the common types of monitors. IPS panels are known for producing the best colors and viewing angles. They typically have lower refresh rates and higher response times than either TN or VA panels, yet they balance this shortcoming with the high-quality picture. IPS can have higher refresh rates but it costs significantly more than an equivalent TN panel; however, they cap out at around 4ms response times.
Many gaming monitors today come pre-equipped with adaptive sync protocols. Sometimes when gaming, screen tearing occurs because the monitor’s frame rate does not match its refresh rate. In other words, screen tearing and stuttering are the result of the graphics card rendering images faster than the monitor can keep up.
Adaptive sync lessens screen tearing and stuttering by matching the monitor’s display rate to your graphics card rendering rate. There are two major kinds of adaptive sync out there: AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync.
AMD FreeSync adds little to no extra cost to the monitor but is mostly only compatible with AMD brand GPUs (although there are some exceptions). NVIDIA G-Sync typically bumps the prices up by about $100-$150 and only works with NVIDIA GPUs.
For the most part, you will determine what monitor you will get based on your GPU. AMD FreeSync is pretty good, most often found on cheaper monitors, and since some of the best value GPUs are AMD, it can be significantly cheaper in some situations to go that route.
However, G-Sync is a little better. NVIDIA is known for its incredibly high-quality graphics technologies and offers frequent software updates to make their G-Sync faster and compatible with newly released games. Whether this is potentially worth adding a hundred or more dollars to your build is completely up to you.