Time for a new gaming monitor – 4K? G-Sync? Halp!

I’m looking to upgrade my gaming experience, and I’ve decided that the first decision for me to make is to select a nice monitor for my desktop-to-be. Unfortunately, I’m not as tech savvy as I once was, and I’m already getting fairly whelmed as I look at my options. So I turn to you fine folks to help me sort out some points of confusion.

Is it pretty much a no-brainer to aim for a 4K monitor, since I’d like for my new system to be as “future-proof” as possible?

How important is it that the thing be G-Sync compatible?

What about screen size? I’m feeling especially lost on this aspect of the decision. So far, the info I’ve come across seems to regard a 27” monitor as being “big”. Is there some special reason not to go much larger (like the 40” TV we bought last year)? What about dual or even triple monitors?

Actually, I have over a dozen questions on size, which indicates that I probably just need some basic guidance on how to best ensure that I’ll be getting a nice, immersive, “wow factor” monitor. Oh, and I’m willing to spend up to a grand on just the monitor if it’s worth it to do so – I could be convinced to spend even more, but I’m not looking to get ridiculous about it (think Audi, not Lamborghini).

Are there any other questions that I should definitely be asking if only I knew to ask?

Which games do you play?

Right now the sweet spot for a single-GPU general gaming monitor is 34" 3440x1440 21:9 aspect ratio with adaptive sync. Pair with a Radeon 390X or Geforce 980 Ti. There is as yet no single graphics card that can max out a 4K / UHD monitor with the most recent games - older games are fine. I have a pair of Titan X GPUs and The Witcher 3 can still bring my system to its knees if I have Hairworks turned to the max. If you specialise in one type of game, then the sweet spot may be different.

G-Sync is one of two competing adaptive synchronisation standards - AMD’s FreeSync is the other. Choosing one ties you in to the respective manufacturer. I have no personal experience with either but pretty much everyone who’s used it thinks adaptive sync is wonderful. From what I’ve read, G-Sync seems to be preferred and has a wider frequency range but is significantly more expensive.

If you read the press you will read about forthcoming innovations: new graphics cards, Displayport 1.3, superMHL, VR, etc, etc. The truth is that we’re in a period of rapid innovation: you can always wait, or you can buy now and have fun now.

I recommend you spend some time physically looking at monitors in stores. A monitor is one thing on which you should absolutely not skimp.

Something else to consider: over here, Acer have a very poor reputation for quality control, and Asus have a poor reputation when it comes to returns. Dell are good at the former and ace at the latter, but have lapses: on another message board, one poster said it took 4 monitors for him to get one of acceptable quality.

I just recently upgrade to a 4K IPS Dell monitor myself and had to refresh myself with some of the new specs. These info may not apply to you specifically if you already have a high end system, but it’s helpful in general for others looking at switching to 4K:

Make sure your devices have the right display interface specification to support 4K resolution at desired frames:
HDMI 1.4 = 4K @ 30Hz
HDMI 2.0 = 4K @ 60Hz
DisplayPort 1.2 = 4K @ 60hz
DisplayPort 1.3 = 4K @ 120Hz

So make sure your graphic card’s capability, both your Monitor and PC’s physical video ports all supports 4K @ 60hz. This is not a problem with desktops since you can easily get a 4K compatible video card. However, pretty much all 2015 laptops and older and most 4K monitors available right now, even though they have DisplayPort 1.2 or newer, only comes with HDMI 1.4 ports. So with laptop you either have to get one with a DisplayPort 1.2+, or use HDMI 1.4 and settle with lower resolution in order to get 60hz output. 30hz will be laggy and will even make videos playback jerky.

I bought a Dell 27" 4K IPS display. To my eyes, 27" is the ideal minimum size for 4K. If you’re getting any thing smaller, then I think 4K is overkill and should look at 1440p instead. I chose to go with Dell brand since they have a durable, adjustable stand and USB 3.0 ports.

My IPS display have 9ms response rate, so there are some visible ghosting for gaming. If you are into gaming and especially “online fps noobs owning” I guess you can benefit from a G-Sync 144hz 1ms 1440p monitor. These lower refresh rate monitors are likely going to be TN panel, which is 6bit colors with dithering, so you sacrifice color accuracy and viewing angles. I understand newer generation TN panels don’t have as poor viewing angle as they’re used to.

Let’s try this in the Game Room to see if you can get more tailored advice for your specific situation. Thread relocated.

Pretty much agree with Quartz, but just wanted to point out that Gsync and Freesync are GPU driven technologies - that is the GPU tells the monitor when to refresh, rather than the GPu having to sync to the display.

“Adaptive sync” is a specific technology (sometimes utilized by console games and available on PC via your GPU control panel) which is a very different thing (and sucks too - even if a necessary evil on some titles).

But yeah, if you’re going for a new monitor, there is no reaosn not to go G-sync of Freesync. If you own or plan on owning an an Nvidia GPU, you’ll need to pick Gsync.

My dream monitor is a 3440x1440 Gsync 120hz refresh Non-TM (preferably IPVA or OLED - I can dream damn it!) panel. If you can find something similar, that’s probably going to be one of the best upgrades to your gaming life ever.

The ultra wide screen aspect ratio is something that most new games support, the pixel real estate is wonderful for productivity, Gsync means no worries about inconsistent frame rates, and well, your games are going to look amazing, and won’t require high end cards in SLI to run most games very well (though a single high end GPU is probably going to be what you want).

I think a 2560x1440p 16:9 panel would be a good alternative if the price of the above is too much for you.

I’ve already sold my kidney and placed the funds on an interest accruing account. I should be able to get my dream monitor before retirement :slight_smile:

Doesn’t that mean you’re feeling comfortable & satisfied? :cool:

I play a variety of games, but 3rd person RPG’s like Witcher are my favorites. I haven’t picked up Witcher 3 or FO4 yet, but I’d love for them to look pretty and run smoothly when I do. I tend not to get into the online FPS games, so I don’t feel like I need to spend several hundred just to shave a few fractions of a ms off of response rate.

Thanks so much for the responses so far. There’ve been some excellent suggestions, and I appreciate the effort greatly. I’m feeling more comfortable about aiming for a 4K with G-Sync. I’d still love to hear more about screen size, if anyone has further suggestions or recommendations. And of course I’d welcome anything else pertinent (for instance, I’m now going to pay close attention to ensuring the display ports are optimal).

It means I’m keeping my head above water, but just barely. :wink: This tech stuff is stressful for me, because I put a lot of pressure on myself to be far more adept and knowledgeable than I reasonably can be.

Just one opinion, but I felt that my last 27 inch monitor was too big, and my current 24 inch is perfect for me. I get less headaches from moving my eyes around the screen less and I feel that I have slightly more awareness in the types of games I favor such as Moba or RTS games since everything is closer in terms of peripheral vision.

I’d have to say I think 27 inch is as big as you want for a PC gaming monitor, unless you are sitting back on a couch and playing with a controller. If you’re up in front of the screen with mouse and keyboard 27 inches is plenty big enough to fill your field of view.

I’ve got to disagree. I have three monitors - two 24" and one 28", with the 24" monitors in portrait - and can track two adjacent monitors simultaneously, but not all three.

Nah I’ve seen my dream 34 inch 3440x1440 21:9 inch monitor… it’s just right :stuck_out_tongue:

4K isn’t a no-brainer at this point. It’s not like 2-3 years from now, it’ll be the norm. The display market is moving fast so I’d be wary of plunking down a big chunk of cash on one feature. Perhaps a big screen 1440p could be a good compromise.

What kind of GPU do you have now? If it’s a good one, you might wait until AMD and Nvidia release their next generation of GPUs later this year. If you plan to get a current-generation GPU, I agree with much of what Quartz said except the recommendation of the R9 390X; It’s a little more performance than the 390 for a lot more money. If you want to play 4K, I’d go with a 980ti or two R9 390s. For 1440p, a 980Ti, two 390s or two GTX 970s: http://candytech.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Nvidia-GTX-980-Ti-Vs-Nvidia-GTX-970-SLI-800x461.jpg.pagespeed.ce.tNT7w6jBQS.jpg

The 390 and 970 both have such outstanding performance/dollar that they’re arguably an exception to the rule that you should get the most powerful single GPU you can before looking to use 2.
And yeah, I understand the stress/yearning to get the very best option you possibly can. I feel the same about arguably getting the 2nd or 3rd best choice for my GPU. Still, out of all the possible options out there, getting anything in the first tier of optimal options for your use case is pretty good.

Yeah, after the comments here and some more research today, I’m thinking 4K might be a bit more than I’m willing to risk/pay for at this point in time. Mostly, I’m just looking to build a system that will add a big “wow factor” to my games, and considering I’m currently chugging along with a 4 yr old low/mid-range Dell and a 20" screen, any of the monitors mentioned in this thread (attached to an appropriate desktop) would feel like quite a boost.

I’m also thinking I like Quartz’s suggestion to look at monitors in stores, in order to make a more confident choice about the size I want.

Thanks again to all of you for the tips and suggestions. I very much appreciate it. I’ll be sure to start a new thread when I’m ready for advice on building my PC. :slight_smile:

Keep your old monitor if it works well, even if it has a few burned pixels. Having a good quality monitor for video/image and another older monitor for another task is surprisingly handy.
As for the features: 21:9 aspect ratio, curved screen, OLED, 4K/5K, 120Hz+, Free/G-sync. Am I forgetting anything? No monitor combines them all and the first one to will likely cost more than you’re willing to pay.

Looking at monitors in store: Keep in mind that their brightness will be considerably higher in store than you’ll want at home. That might matter for comparing them.

I haven’t yet gotten to any stores to look at monitors, but the ultra-wide ones seem pretty drool-worthy to me at this point. So, I did some fooling around with PCPartPicker, and came up with a preliminary build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($227.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($82.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($70.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 390X 8GB Tri-X OC Video Card ($373.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($84.99 @ Directron)
Power Supply: EVGA 850W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($117.99 @ NCIX US)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM (64-bit) ($89.88 @ OutletPC)
Monitor: Acer Predator XR341CK 75Hz 34.0" Monitor ($941.83 @ Amazon)
Total: $2200.61
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2016-01-14 06:21 EST-0500

I’d be grateful if anyone would like to critique the build. I’m specifically concerned about whether the GPU is sufficient to drive that monitor, or if I’d need to double up. Please also feel free to point out any glaring errors, embarrassingly noobish choices, or any selections that could be improved upon. Or if maybe I’m so far off the mark overall I should go do more research before trying again.

The i5-4690k seems like a pretty good choice, it’s what I’d get. I don’t know how much you want to overclock it, how much you want spend on an aftermarket cooler and how important noise is to you.

A smaller SSD would be sufficient to run your OS and some very commonly used big programs. Unless you have specific needs for 500GB, I think I’d get half that and reallocated the money where it can deliver more benefit.

I’d replace the HDD with a hybrid drive (SSHD). Here’s a good explanation of what an SSHD is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEIp1jgKnv8 It’s amply worth the small premium over a HDD.
GPU: I’m really not sure about the GPU with that monitor. 3440 x 1440p is a lot of pixels and if you want to run that at high quality and 60FPS over the next few years, a 390X seems insufficient.

I’ll reiterate that I think the 390X is a bad deal, just as much as the GTX 980 or the Titan X*. I’d urge you to look at the framerates of the 980Ti, 390, 390X, 970 and 980 and you’ll see that the 980Ti, 390 and 970 give you better value for money. You usually pay through the nose for the premium version of a chip; Usually, the best option is to get the rejected chips that were repackaged as the GPU that’s one notch lower e.g.: a 980Ti rather than Titan X, 970 rather than 980, 390 rather than 390X.

I’ve found that Nvidia GPUs have a strong tendency to have more overclock potential and have more regular framerates**. You might want to either get a 980Ti or wait until the next generation of GPUs.

More generally, I think your budget could be better portioned. If you’re going to spend more than 2000$ on a PC, 40% of which on the display and your goal is for the image to look better, spending more than 20% of your budget on the GPU is sensible. The GPU and display are the most important parts of a gaming PC.
Case: I’ve heard of cases that have noise-absorbing material inside. I don’t know if that can be bought and installed on its own but it seems interesting.

PSU: Believe it or not, the days of needing bigger and bigger PSUs may be over. 850W is likely more than you’ll ever need unless you get two overclocked GPUs. I’m not sure how much money you’d save by getting a less powerful PSU, though.

Monitor: You want more wow and that monitor should deliver. Make sure you get a vendor with a generous returns policy otherwise you might get stuck with a new monitor that already has burned pixels.

Although, if you could find a 2560 x 1440p with Freesync or G-sync (depending on your GPU), you might find that easier to run and you would have much smoother framerates. Remember that without Free/Gsync, if your GPU can’t supply 60FPS with Vsync on, you’ll drop down to 30FPS even if your GPU can do 40 or 50. The best would be to combine 3440 X 1440p with curved screen and Free/Gsync, right? I can only find one monitor that has all 3, the Acer XR341CK http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824106002
Ok, I’ve gone on enough. My post because I recently did a good amount of research to upgrade my GPU and would have appreciated someone giving me a crash course.

  • Unless you have unusual use cases.

** By that I mean that the framerate of the same GPU in the same game will vary less. Gamers Nexus does a good job of showing that by comparing the average framerate with the 1% lowest and 0.1% lowest framerate which is more representative than looking at the very lowest FPS.

In the following graph, you can see that the 980 and 390X have roughly equal average FPS but the 980 has higher 1% and 0.1% lowest FPS. Same thing for the 970 vs 290X: http://media.gamersnexus.net/images/media/2015/game-bench/fallout-4-gpu-bench-1440-ultra.png I encourage you to look at more of their AVG/1%/0.1% FPS comparisons, you should see a similar pattern.

Over here the R9 390X is only £50 more than the R9 390, so it’s a no-brainer to go for the former if you have the budget.

I’ll reiterate what I said earlier about Acer and quality control.

See if you can find a similar monitor with Gsync (or freesync if you’re going AMD) on it. It’s really going to improve your gaming experience when the inevitable performance drops hit at those high resolutions.

Man I would love to have one of those, just for productivity’s sake! Wonder if I could expense it…

MichaelEMouse, thank you so much for the excellent feedback. Better than I had hoped to get!

I’m really proud of myself. That was mostly a blind guess. I’d read some advice that the hyperthreading on the i7’s didn’t do much for games, and I took a stab at selecting 4690k as what looked like the best Haswell available.

Buuut, I’m not looking to overclock. I’m reluctant to do so in general, and I was thinking that it wouldn’t make much difference, really, especially on the CPU since all I do is game and browse. I could be convinced to learn about overclocking if otherwise is the case.

For that matter, if it turns out that hyperthreading is going to be a big thing in games this year or next, I’d look into upgrading to an i7. I don’t mind spending the money if there’s bang in the buck.

I’ll look into both of those options. IIRC the 250GB wasn’t that much cheaper, especially when compared with the more crucial components, but I’ll give it another think.

I’ve crammed so much in my head about components in the past day or so that I spaced about the 390 v 3090X discussion! I’ll drop down one and double it, or maybe go for the Fury (the site doesn’t have any listed, but I’ve seen them out there).

I went with AMD for the better price points, even just on the monitor - hundreds of dollars difference between the G-Sync and Freesync Predators, the only 34" with that option. Also, I noticed people were claiming that AMD will perform better under DirectX 12, but I don’t know if that’s rumor. I will do more research before I rule out the G-Sync.

The reviews for the case I picked noted that it had some noise abatement and was very quiet for the price (and roomy). The price break on the PSU wasn’t harsh at all, and I figured it was fairly likely I’d be adding a second card sooner or later.

That’s very similar to the one on my list, both listed as XR341CK bmijpph, but a little different in price.

I’ll look into the 2560 x 1440 options, as I may well find the Predator too large for how close I’ll be to it.

Thank you so, so much for your input.

Quartz: if only someone besides ACER had the sync technologies for that size! I may be playing return roulette for a while if I do end up deciding on the 34".

Kinthalis: I picked the Freesync one, yes! There were much cheaper options at without adaptive sync, but the Predator is the only one I know of that has it at that size.

The pricing I was looking at over here in the US had the 390 as $110 less than the 390X. At that difference, I was looking at the 390 as an upgrade to my system with the potential to double up later. At only £50 more ($70-$75), I think it becomes much less clear. Both are good bang for the buck. For myself, I’d go with the 390 and leave the option to add one later. Lord knows that 850W power supply should be able to handle two cards. If you wanted the best card for the price now and can reach to the 390X with your budget, it makes sense at the £50 differential.