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How Much Should A Gaming Monitor Cost?

How Much Should A Gaming Monitor Cost?

So you’ve decided to get a gaming monitor. Great idea! You’re about to embark on an adventure of technical nature. Get ready for stats, figures, techno-babble, wild price discrepancies, and an all round confusing road ahead as different gaming monitor brands battle for your hard-earned dollar. 

As we’ve just joined the fray with our range of price-friendly yet high-performance gaming monitors, we thought we’d put together this handy guide to help you understand how much you should actually be paying for a gaming monitor. 

Ready? Let’s go. 

Contents:

  1. Why Are Gaming Monitors More Expensive?
  2. Can I Use A Regular Monitor For Gaming?
  3. Can I use a gaming monitor for regular tasks?
  4. Minimum Requirements:
    1. For casual gaming
    2. For online gaming
    3. For competitive gaming
  5. Should I Pay Extra For A Well-Known Brand?
  6. Closing Arguments

Why are gaming monitors more expensive?

No doubt you’ve already searched for gaming monitors well before you found this guide, and you, like many others, are having a hard time wrapping your head around why they can be significantly more expensive than a regular computer monitor. After all, they sort-of do the same thing, right?

Wrong.

Well, not entirely, but there are a number of key differences that separates gaming monitors from regular monitors, and it all boils down to the technology inside the screen. 

Regular computer monitors are made for a range of activities and for the most part, none of those activities relate to gaming. Check your emails. Look at spreadsheets. Organize meetings and pretend you’re working while you’re actually watching YouTube videos. Unless you’re working with high-quality video & imagery, nothing you do requires a computer monitor to be purpose-built. 

So it’s not. The picture quality of your emails doesn’t really matter, and the smoothness of a Zoom call will have no impact on your experience at all. Because of that, a regular monitor just doesn’t have the level of technology found in a gaming monitor, so they are usually significantly cheaper. 

Gaming monitors, on the other hand, are purpose-built. They have brighter screens with a greater colour & contrast range. They have much higher refresh rates & much lower response times to give you a buttery smooth picture quality. They are designed to show detail in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. They have firmware that makes sure your monitor is properly synced to your computer’s graphics card. 

All this technology comes at a cost, so you pay extra for it. It actually makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Think of it like the Holden Commodore sitting in your neighbour’s driveway. It’s pretty fast, but at the end of the day, it’ll be used predominantly used for commuting at 60kph. It doesn’t need top-spec performance parts designed for racing, and paying for them would be a waste of money.

On the other hand, your Holden V8 supercar is designed for speed and handling as it flies around Bathrust at 250kph. It’s a purpose built racecar, and it has specialised parts to match. For that, you’d be paying a cool half million dollars.

While not as extreme, the same logic applies to gaming monitors. They are specialised pieces of hardware built for a specific purpose, and that purpose comes at a cost. 

Can I use a regular monitor for gaming?

You can, and if you’re just casual gaming for fun and you’re not too bothered about having top-notch quality, a regular monitor will do you just fine. 

However, your experience will always be limited, and as games are increasingly produced to be played on screens capable of 2K and 4K resolution, you’ll find the quality simply doesn’t translate to lower resolutions such as those found on standard monitors. 

Can I use a gaming monitor for regular tasks?

Yes. If all you do is regular tasks, a gaming monitor would be overkill but if you work & play on the same monitor, a gaming monitor will be able to handle both. 

The Minimum Requirements

We understand that you’re reading this blog to find out how much you should spend on a gaming monitor, and so far, we’ve gone all ‘recipe-blog’ on you by giving you a heap of background for which you didn’t ask, but this next part is helpful. 

That’s because how much you should spend depends on what you’re going to be doing on your monitor. Competitive gamers taking part in esports will need a different setup to someone who enjoys a casual but stimulating experience. 

Below, we’ve laid out some minimum requirements depending on what type of gaming you’re going to be doing. 

Casual Gaming: $150 and $300 

Gaming is fun but you haven’t yet based a significant part of your personality on it. You play games for entertainment and stimulation, but you wouldn’t consider yourself a die-hard gamer. You just want a good gaming monitor that will enhance your experience without drilling a monitor-sized hole in your bank account. 

If this sounds like you, then good news. You don’t need to spend much on a gaming monitor to get great performance unless you want bragging rights. Here’s what will work for you.

Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080p (FHD)

This is the most popular screen resolution of all monitor types, including gaming. While it can’t display 2K or 4K graphics, generally the size of the FHD monitor still allows the pixel spacing to be reasonably small, creating a seamless picture for gaming. 

You could bump up to 2560 x 1440p (QHD), and you’ll have a slightly smoother & clearer image, but 1920 x 1080p will do you just fine.

Screen size: 24”

24” screens are popular for a few reasons:

- They are cheaper,

- When combined with FHD resolution, the smaller screen still gives an excellent picture quality,

- They are generally suitable for lower-spec gaming computers that can’t put out higher resolutions than 1920 x 1080p.

- As they are cheaper and smaller, it is easier to buy multiple monitors to create a panoramic setup. 

24” screens have long been a favourite of gamers, but recent times have seen a more notable prominence of 27” monitors as well. If you like a bigger screen, then investing in a 27” is a good idea. Just remember that the picture quality on a 27” FHD screen will not be as good as a 24” FHD because of the increased pixel spacing. 

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is a measure of how frequently a gaming monitor refreshes its image - the higher the refresh rate, the more the image refreshes and the smoother your picture appears. 

The minimum recommended refresh rate for gaming is 144Hz. That means the screen refreshes 144 times per second. You can go lower if you really need to stick to a budget, but there are plenty of good-spec monitors with healthy refresh rates for reasonable prices too. 

Response Time

Response time shows how quickly the pixels in a gaming monitor can turn from black to white and back to black again. The lower the response time, the faster your monitor can do this. This eliminates ghosting and trails, which are caused by pixels that slowly change from one colour to the next.

For entry level gaming, anything under 5ms should be fine if you’re just casual gaming. 

Panel Type

Panel type refers to the actual screen itself once you take away all the monitor housing and features such as buttons. There are three main types:

- Vertical Alignment (VA)

- In-Plane Switching (IPS)

- Twisted Nematic (TN)

Each panel type has its own strengths and weaknesses, but generally if you’re a casual gamer just looking for a good picture, VA or IPS will suit you fine. 

Colour, Gamut and Contrast

These three terms sound complex, but really it just indicates how well the monitor recreates colours, how many colours a monitor can produce and from which colour palette it can draw from, and then how much detail it can pull from the blackest blacks and the lightest whites. 

Without getting too technical about what all these figures mean, should should look for:

- NTSC greater than 75%

- sRGB greater than 100%

- Contrast ratio greater than 1000:1. 

If you want to know more about what all of these numbers mean, check out our Ultimate Guide to Gaming Monitors here

Summary:

So, if you’re a casual gamer looking to enhance your gaming experience but you don’t need top-spec or competitive gaming, you can choose a pretty mild-spec monitor with the following specs:

Screen Size

24 - 27”

Screen Resolution

1920 x 1080p

Refresh Rate

> 144Hz

Response Time

< 0.5ms

Panel Type

IPS or VA

NTSC

> 75%

sRGB

> 100%

Contrast Ratio

> 1000:1

And how much should you be paying for all this? Generally, you can find gaming monitors with this spec sheet going for between $150 and $300. 

If you’re struggling to find this online, we’ll make it easier for you - the ENGLAON LEDG70 24” and 27” meet this criteria (and go beyond) and you can pick up both today for under $300. 

Online Gaming

Any devout online gamer will tell you that your hardware matters. A glitch here or a delayed response there can be the difference between that kill streak and being the noob with a K:D ratio of 0:10.

There are a lot of parts to that. Your keyboard and mouse need to be ergonomic but responsive. You should also be able to easily touch & feel your way around the keyboard without looking, which is why chunky keywords & mice that are plugged into the computer via cables are popular amongst die hard gamers. Your RAM should be enough to run a game without freezing. Your graphics card should be powerful enough to produce the top-spec graphics that give you a competitive edge.

And your monitor should be good enough to show you a clear picture without trails, ghosting, and tearing. 

If you spend most of your time gaming online, you know that winning matters, so if you’re looking for that monitor that lets you top the online charts, here’s what you should be looking for.

Screen Size

A larger screen means smaller details are easier to see. Whether that’s a hidden power up or an enemy hiding in a tree, the bigger your screen, the more you can see. Having a better view of what’s going on around you can help you react quicker to challenges, enabling you to come out on top more often. 

Consider going for 27” at a minimum, and up to 32” if you really want that cinematic experience. 

Screen Resolution

For screens that size, you’ll want a monitor with smaller pixel spacing to ensure your image moves smoothly. While you can still opt for FHD in the 27”, you’d be better going for QHD (2560 x 1440p).

The higher resolution means that you have more pixels, and those pixels are closer together. This has the benefit of presenting a clearer and more detailed image.

Refresh Rate

tHe HuMaN eYe CaN oNlY sEe At 6o FpS!, cry console gamers. 

But you know better. 

That said, even console gamers can appreciate that once refresh rates go above 144Hz, the difference between refresh rates becomes harder to spot with the naked eye. 

If you like a smooth picture, then something around the 150Hz to 180Hz will suit perfectly. 

Response Time

You can’t really get a response time lower than 1ms, and slow pixels can be the difference between you seeing your target and missing it due to ghosting. Let’s not stand on ceremony here - choose a monitor with a response time of 1ms. 

Panel Type

IPS panels are the most popular in the world because of their versatility, while VA panels are lauded for their colour range & reproduction along with their high contrast ratios.

TN panes, however, are generally only purchased by competitive gamers taking parts in esports (more on that later). 

VA panels were created to be a middle ground between IPS and TN panels, and the quality of the picture they produce is better than both alternatives. However, IPS has larger viewing angles and better colour accuracy. 

That said, you probably don’t game at a 45° angle to your monitor, so viewing angles don’t really matter. And can you honestly say you can tell the difference between #FF0000 and #FF0002? 

In any case, an IPS or VA panel will serve you well, but with a VA panel you’ll get to enjoy those juicy contrast ratios that can pull more detail from shadowy or light areas. When playing games where your opponents like to hide in shadows, that could come in handy. 

Colour, Gamut and Contrast Ratios

The colours your monitor can produce don’t really have a great impact on your ability to win because all monitors can produce colours numbering in their millions, so choosing colour specs comes down to how vivid you want your experience to be. In that regard, you should be looking for ratings such as these:

- NTSC greater than 75%

- sRGB greater than 100%

- Contrast ratio greater than 3000:1. 

Summary

You’re ready to start taking on the big leagues of online gaming, and you’ve after the best bang for your buck. Here’s what you should look for:

Screen Size

27” - 32”

Screen Resolution

2560 x 1440p (QHD/ 2K)

Refresh Rate

150 - 180Hz

Response Time

1ms

Panel Type

VA

NTSC

> 75%

sRGB

> 100%

Contrast Ratio

> 3000:1

For all this, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $600 per monitor. If you’re more concerned about getting a great deal and less concerned about a well-known brand name slapped across the front of your monitor, you can choose either of these ENGLAON monitors and get all the recommended stats for under $350:

ENGLAON LEDG9027: $299.95 

ENGLAON LEDG9032: $339.95

Competitive Gaming

This is where this gets interesting, because it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a competitive gaming monitor needs to be top-spec everything. 

Competitive gaming needs lightning response times and refresh rates, but in the world of esports, the time it takes to move your eyes from one corner of the screen to another can put you out of the competition. 

For this reason, aspects like panel type and screen size actually become very important for competitive gaming. 

If you’re a professional gamer looking for a competitive edge, here’s what you should be looking for. 

Panel Type

We’ll start with panel type for this one, because this is a big factor for competitive gaming. While online and casual gamers can get by with IPS & VA, if you’re jumping into professional gaming, you need a TN panel. 

Fortunately, TN panels aren’t that expensive because they have some of the lowest NTSC and sRGB colour ratings on the market combined with a narrow viewing angle. 

What they do have is lightning fast response times and refresh rates that make them ideal for gaming where a microsecond delay can be the difference between you winning the prize money and crashing out in a position nobody will remember.

Screen Size:

You need to be able to see everything that’s going on in front of you, so while it may sound counterintuitive, a smaller screen size is actually better. It’s easier to take in the whole screen without having to significantly move your eyes, so the best screen size for this is 24”. 

Screen Resolution:

On a 24” monitor, you can choose from FHD or QHD. The pixel spacing on both options is small enough to produce a smooth and responsive image, so paying extra for that QHD resolution may not be worth it in the end. 

Refresh Rates:

Higher is better, so a refresh rate equal to or over 165Hz is a must. This shouldn’t be hard to find because TN panels inherently have a high refresh rate. A higher refresh rate makes sure your monitor is continuously refreshing that image. This means that when anything changes in your game, you know about it before anyone else.

Response Times:

1ms. There is no alternative you should consider. Like refresh rates, TN monitors have lightning fast response times that prevent ghosting and trails, so you won’t lose details behind slow changing pixels. 

As fast as you can possibly get, which is about 1ms. 

Colour, Gamut & Contrast

As mentioned, colour range and reproduction is well-regarded to be average on TN monitors. To give you an idea, TN monitors are often found on laptops, which you’ll agree generally don’t have amazing colour production. 

The one that really matters, however, is contrast ratios. You’re limited for choice here with most TN panels only going as high as 1200:1, so go as high as you can. This ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy deep blacks and bright whites without losing detail. 

Summary

Now you’re ready to jump into the big leagues and start competing for a paycheck, you’ll need a monitor that can go the distance with you. Here’s what you should be looking for? 

Screen Size

24”

Screen Resolution

1920 x 1080p

Refresh Rate

≥ 165Hz

Response Time

1ms

Panel Type

TN

NTSC

~ 75%

sRGB

~ 100%

Contrast Ratio

> 1000:1

Fortunately, TN panels are cheap, so you can find a monitor that fits this bill for under $300 quite easily. 

However, you’d only really buy a TN panel for competitive gaming. If you’re looking for a isually-stimulating experience, a TN panel will leave you wanting mor.

Should I Pay Extra For A Well-Known Brand?

It’s no secret that there’s a certain amount of bragging rights that come with gaming PC setups. 

Alienware. Razer Inc. Nvidia. MSI. These are all big brands with bigger reputations, and you don’t see anyone boasting about their Logitech game controller, do you?

But does that mean they produce better monitors? 

Simply put? No. 

The problem with gaming PC hardware from these bigger brands is that you pay extra for the name. 

Here’s an example. Alienware produces a 27” gaming monitor with QHD resolution and a 165Hz refresh rate. Response time is 1ms, and it uses AMD Freesync. It has an IPS panel, with 100% sRGB and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. 

You can pick one up online right now for a cool $639.10. 

Let’s compare that to ENGLAON’s LED27G90. You’re getting 27” QHD resolution and a 165Hz refresh rate. Response time is 1ms, and it uses AMD Freesync. It has a VA panel, but comes with an sRGB of 105% and a contrast ratio of 4000:1

You can pick one up now for $299.95. That’s less than half the cost for almost the exact same specs. In fact, better specs. 

Now the Alienware monitor does do some things differently like a slightly more advanced adaptive sync software, but is that worth the extra $330?

No. So what are you paying for?

Probably that Alienware logo that appears on the front. 

So to answer this question, no. Paying extra for a well-known brand doesn’t mean that you’ll be getting a better gaming monitor. If bragging rights are that important to you, go for it, but it won’t make you a better gamer. 

The Closing Arguments

So there you have it. A good gaming monitor should cost you anywhere between $150 to $600, but there’s a sweet spot around that $250 to $350 where you can get some seriously good hardware that’ll level up your gaming experience. 

The key is in knowing what you want, which will help you figure out what you need. Parting with $600+ for a gaming monitor you don’t need or that your computer can’t handle doesn’t make your overall gaming any better, so take some time to figure out what’s important to you.

If you’re having trouble decoding all the specs and technical jargon associated with gaming monitors, you can check out our Ultimate Guide to Gaming Monitors for a full rundown of what everything means.