PC GAMER Custom gaming PCs

Building awesome gaming PCs since 2008

Monitors Explained

Your choice in monitor makes a massive difference to your PC requirements

The most common misunderstanding we see when discussing custom PC builds, is a general lack of understanding around how frame rates are effected by screen size (or resolution).

The first thing you need to do when making decisions about what components will go into your new PC is have a good hard look at what sort of pixel pushing power you will need form your new system.

How many pixels your PC needs to produce is 100% determined by your monitor resolution. 80fps at a 1080p resolution is 165,888,000 pixels per second.

The amount of pixels produced per second you demand from your gaming system is completely dictated by the size of your screen. Lets explore this in more detail below. 

Standard HD is 1080p

Without getting too technical your standard “HD” 1080p gaming monitor has a resolution of 1920 pixel wide by 1080 pixels high. This means your gaming pc needs to update a total of 2,073,600 pixels to fill the screen. The faster your PC can process this amount of pixels the faster it can move on-to rendering the next frame. 

The top end is UHD, 4K or 2160p

“4k” has gone through many marketing name revisions, but its all the same thing. This size is 3840 pixels wide x 2160 pixels high. Gaming at this resolution means your gaming PC needs to update a total of 8,294,400 pixels to fill the screen. The faster your PC can process this amount of pixels the faster it can move on-to rendering the next frame.. and obviously this is 4x the amount of pixels needed by a PC processing at standard HD (see above)

Comparing 1080p to 4K

Frame rate is everything to PC gaming and its the main thing that separates PC gaming form the consoles. Let’s be real, if you are playing games around the 60fps mark you may as well own a PS4 or Xbox.

Using the basic math examples above its easy to understand that a gaming PC designed to deliver a 120FPS experience at 1080p (2,073,600 pixels) is not going to be able to deliver the same 120FPS at 4K (8,294,400 pixels).

Be careful when buying a new screen

We see many gaming machines come in for upgrades because their owners have purchased a new screen only to suddenly experience much slower game play on their new shiny 4K monitor.

What's the Best?

THE BEST RESOLUTION ?

As usual providing a straightforward “what’s the best” type answer is not as easy as you think. But basically it can come down to this… 

Competitive frame rates +120FPS

For competitive player vs player online gaming… Doesn’t matter if its a shooter or a game like League you need to be gunning for an FPS starting at 120fps. 

This means you should be looking at a 1080p or 2K monitor setup as this resolution will allow your PC the best chance at achieving the high frame rates you want at a decent price point. 4K competitive gaming is not really a thing.

Decent PC frame rates +80FPS

If you are more about the experience of high quality PC graphics and playing games with all the details set to “ULTRA” quality… its only in this case that 4K gaming can be considered an option. 

However even in this scenario you need to be mindful of the investment required in PC hardware that can push that many pixels onto the screen. 

Refresh rates?

There is another whole discussion about refresh rates, but it really is a full on geek out. So for now its best to just follow these guidelines.

60Hz refresh rate

60Hz is what your TV can do. Its the speed that streaming services like Netflix aims for.. so forget that. 60Hz is for office / workstation monitors only.

75Hz refresh rate

OK so this is where a “real” gaming monitor starts. The old-school hack here is that running a game 150FPS (ie double the Hz) on a 75Hz monitor will give you an experience virtually identical to running 150FPS on a more expensive 120Hz or 144Hz monitor.

This old-school method of running your games at a frame rate of double your monitors Hz … ie 2:1 comes form the early days when PC monitors were transitioning from CRTs to LCDs (yes we have been building PCs for that long)  and is as true today as it ever was in 2004. 

Monitor Resolution Diagram