This series of articles has two purposes at the same time: educational and commercial. They will try to explain as clearly as they are what the various PC components are and at the same time they will guide you in choosing the best components for your purposes.
To be able to use your computer you need to have an external device that can show images that we can interpret and manipulate. The consoles are designed to be connected to TVs and are calibrated to make the most of the technologies that they bring into the living room. PCs are by definition flexible and their viewing partner is the monitor. Today there are many monitors built with the most diverse technologies because each of them fulfills a different purpose. Today we will try to clarify the terminology of the field.
LCD: Abbreviation which means Liquid Crystal Display. This identifies the whole series of panels, for TV and Monitor, which uses the property of liquid crystals to alter the light that passes in their matrix. The technologies with which the LCD panels are made are numerous, the main ones are explained below:
TN: This symbol denotes the panels with Twisted Nematic technology. This is the oldest technology still on the market. It continues to be present because it has advantages. Economically they tend to be the cheapest, but their real strength lies in their responsiveness. They have response times that can be 1ms and can reach very high refresh rates. These are undoubted advantages if you play on a competitive shooter. Unfortunately, TN panels offer a lower color quality than the more modern technologies, in addition to worse viewing angles. They don't support HDR to say. So they are less suitable as work monitors and more gaming at 360 °.
IPS: IPS exploit a different alignment of liquid crystals to achieve remarkable improvements in color quality and viewing angles. They are excellent panels for work and all-round gaming.
VA: The VA panels have their own vertically aligned crystals. They are often defined as a "middle ground" between the IPS panels and the TN. This is because they can achieve performances similar to those of the TN, with 1ms response and 144hz update, maintaining a color quality similar to those of IPS. They have the best black-and-white contrast of the group, but they have the slowest response times, making them the least suitable for competitive gaming.
OLED: OLED technology is different from that of LCDs and is common in TV panels, while PCs have not yet found their way. Despite being a technology able to offer extremely thin panels and amazing color renditions, it has a substantial defect: the danger of burn in. Each panel, including LCDs, may suffer from this defect. When a static image is shown for a long time, it remains imprinted on the monitor. If for television use, this defect is minimized; think of your PC desktop, present practically forever. This is one of the reasons why OLED monitors do not exist in practice. But nothing prevents you from connecting a PC to your superTV to enjoy it while you play!
PWM: Pulse Width Modulation is a technique used in the world of monitors to adjust brightness. When the brightness is below the 99%, the digital controller that sends voltage to the panel will start to operate in an on-off state, to decrease the actual brightness of the monitor. At low brightness, if the controller has an on-off frequency that is too low, some people may have eye problems, nausea, fatigue. This problem often occurs not on fixed-screen monitors, but on laptops, which are used at different brightness levels depending on the environment and the remaining battery. If you have physical problems at low brightness, be aware that they are due to PWM with too slow switching.
Resolution: The monitor resolution indicates the number of minimum color units that can be controlled by the monitor. The resolution is usually indicated by the number of pixels horizontally by the number of pixels vertically. Often, in the common convention, only those in vertical are indicated, assuming that the rest are calculated according to the common aspect ratio. The higher the resolution of a monitor, the more detailed the image will be. At the same time, more graphics power will be required to process the higher resolution. The most common cuts in 16: 9 are 1920 × 1080 (FullHD), 2560 × 1440 (QHD) and 3840 × 2160 (4k).
Aspect Ratio: The aspect ratio of a display indicates the proportion between its width and its height. An 16: 9 display, will have a number of horizontal pixels in proportion to the vertical ones exactly as 16 is in proportion to 9. Several form factors are more suited to certain contents. The common form factor from 2008 to today is precisely the 16: 9. In the past it was the 4: 3. Now the 21: 9 is spreading. Some modern laptops offer monitors in 3: 2.
RGB color field: The RGB color space represents the set of colors that can be obtained by combining the colors red, blue and green in an additive way. There are two RGB color fields commonly used as standard: the SRGB and the Adobe RGB, with the second having a much wider gamut (set of colors) than the first.
When a monitor is described as "covering the 90% of the sRGB space and the 70% of the Adobe", it means that it can reproduce that amount of color variation on your monitor. This is a feature that is very important if you need to work professionally with graphics.
HDR: This abbreviation indicates the High Dynamic Range, or the ability to show colors in a greater intensity range than the standard range. In order to perform the HDR to the best of its ability, a monitor must have a panel with individual pixels capable of transferring 10 color information bits and having a peak brightness of 1000cd / m ^ 2. At the moment, these features are often lacking on monitors, while they find more adoption on TVs and many monitors with HDR support actually offer "halfway" support, without considering that even games must support this feature.
"Visual density": What really matters in the perception of quality of an image is not the resolution of the screen. Or the size of the diagonal. Or the visual distance. But all three of these things together. They work together to determine the density of information that comes to our eyes. For this reason, even on an 4K monitor, you may notice graphic imperfections. This Page of Nvidia allows us to realize this phenomenon of visual density.
Response time: The response time of a monitor indicates how long, in milliseconds, the pixels use to change color. The value often indicated is the one that indicates the GtG transition, that is gray to gray. This value is extremely ideal because it calculates an extremely short route. Going to verify in reality, the response time of a monitor will never be the one advertised by the parent company, but it will be higher. However, one monitor with 1ms GtG will generally be faster than another that has 4ms GTG.
Update frequency: The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz) and indicates how many times per second the monitor updates with new information. This feature is the most indicative of the fluidity of the image and the response to your input when you are playing. In an 60hz monitor, each image remains on screen for 16.6ms. In an 144hz monitor, only for 6,9ms. Be careful, because the refreshrate is not the same as the framerate. The framerate is generated by your graphics card, while the hz are on the monitor and are fixed. Ideally, to avoid artifacts and / or images that are not very fluid, your configuration should guarantee a number of fps equal to the monitor frequency, neither more nor less.
ghosting: Take the two definitions above. When the response time of their liquid crystals is not fast enough to be completely changed when the new image arrives in the update window, the previous and next image merge, creating a wake, or ghosting effect. To avoid this, you need to have monitors with real response times that are much faster than refresh rates.
Variable update frequency: The technical limit of the monitor is how its refresh rate is fixed while the framerate of a game is very variable. To overcome this problem, different solutions have been implemented to synchronize the two worlds, but going to increase the lag between input and response on the screen. A solution was therefore found: technology VRR. A display equipped with this technology is able, within a predetermined range, to adjust its refresh rate to the framerate generated by the graphics card. This allows you to always have an optimal experience. This feature is implemented in different ways:
FreeSync: Freesync is an adaptive technology developed by AMD and then officially adopted by the VESA association, which determines the standards of video technologies, in the specifications of the DisplayPort 1.2a connection and later HDMI. This technology is supported by AMD video cards and the latest generation Nvidia cards, even if they are in "compatibility" mode, presenting artifacts. The first generation Freesync has reduced ranges and not really excellent performances. The Freesync 2 removes all the defects of the first implementation and also supports HDR.
G-sync: G-Sync is VRR's proprietary Nvidia technology. This makes use of a hardware module inserted inside the monitors, leading to a considerable cost increase.
Like any electronic market, manufacturers of basic components are relatively few, while assemblers are many. Among the most established manufacturers, there are Samsung and LG for example. Despite the fact that there are few producers, the quality of the panels varies so much that it allows the creation of products on a very large price scale. Rightly manufacturers like Samsung and LG, who do everything at home, produce excellent products in general, but the most famous handymen brands, such as Asus, Acer, Dell and HP have remarkable product lines.
How to choose
"A monitor is forever". In reality it is not really true, but I am of the idea that it is perhaps the component that ages more slowly than the whole machine. The monitor is very sensitive to the budget. More than anything because there does not seem to be a real mid-range. If you settle for the base, just an 100 €. Looking for something decent, they leave at least 400 € as if nothing had happened.
If you are a competitive player on titles like Counter Strike, Rainbow Six, Fortnite, Overwatch and similar games, you should aim for monitors that offer excellent response times and high refresh rates to minimize input lag. Consider, however, that the true difference of such a set-up can be appreciated by fully dedicating it to high levels. Moreover, the expense of the PC becomes demanding, since not only a powerful GPU is required to maintain high framerates, but also a CPU capable of forcing it in a way.
If instead you play a little at all, your wallet will be more grateful, because the choice is wider. Starting with Full HD IPS monitors to have good colors and more than worthy performance, ending with monitors that combine higher resolutions with high refresh rates and VRR technologies. Taking a monitor that cannot be fully exploited is a pity, but it could also be seen as a "long-term" investment that can absorb 1-2 upgrades to the PC over time.
Buy on Amazon.it
If you want to spend little, you can expect functional stuff. High response times, low frequencies and resolutions at Full HD. The HP is an 22 ″ IPS, the Samsung an 24 ″ VA curved, and the Acer another IPS. They are excellent products if you are looking for something to stick to a normal PC. You can play in tranquility very well above. If the dimensions of the HP or Acer seem minimal, there are larger variants.
360 Gaming Monitor
Buy on Amazon.it
Price: EUR 197,32
Above you can find a set of monitors of various price, technology, resolution and size. They range from cheaper panels in Full HD, to 1440p panels in VA technology from Samsung or TN from Asus, both at 144hz. To give you a general idea with good models for truly generic use. The only thing in common that all these have is the presence of Freesync technology and the compatibility with nVidia's G-Sync, so they will be able to adapt to the best even if you are not able to always use them to the maximum.
Competitive Gaming Monitor
Buy on Amazon.it
ASUS ROG STRIX XG258Q 25 "(24.5") FHD (1920 x 1080) eSport Gaming Monitor, 1 ms, 240 Hz, DP, HDMI, USB 3.0, FreeSync, G-Sync compatiblePrice: EUR 477,99From: EUR 539,99
Do you want to fly to 240hz? Take one of these two. The presence of Freesync / G-sync variants makes it possible to make them functional even when you can't get close to 240fps in games.
Productivity / Immersivity 21: 9
Buy on Amazon.it
The 21: 9 format allows you to enjoy many things. Have extended desktops to work with multiple windows in comfort. Film without black bars. Games that support the native 21: 9 are extremely more immersive. Make sure you have enough space on your desk. Above you will find models of various ranges and prices, including one from AOC gaming.
Economical 4k monitor
Buy on Amazon.it
Price: EUR 279,00
Good 4K panels. As usual the AOC tries to combine different features to hit the mark between price and performance. 4K with Freesync and 1ms response? It's TN. As well as the Samsung. The LG carries an excellent IPS panel and is one of the best for the price.
The best of the best
Buy on Amazon.it
Price: EUR 2.118,00From: EUR 2.529,99
4K. IPS. G-Sync. 98Hz with HDR. 120Hz without HDR. 144Hz with color compression (in game it matters little, but the texts will be more annoying to read). To accompany a PC made with real battle components.