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Gaming PC monitors provide the primary window for engagement with the world of your game. Gaming monitors have a variety of technical specifications, from refresh rates to adaptive sync rates, that you should consider if you want to choose the right one for your needs.
Adaptive Sync technologies, seen in both NVIDIA-optimized G-Sync gaming monitors and AMD-optimized FreeSync gaming monitors, alleviate screen tearing. Screen tearing is a form of visual artifacting wherein visible horizontal lines, or tears, appear onscreen, breaking up the image. Tearing often occurs when the frame rate is inconsistent or much higher than the refresh rate of the image and is the result of different parts of the display rendering different frames.
Typically, fixing screen tearing requires the application of V-Sync, a setting that forces GPU synchronization at the cost of increased input latency and more severe performance drops whenever FPS dips. FreeSync and G-Sync fix this by synchronizing the monitor with the GPU by using dedicated hardware or updated DisplayPort/HDMI implementations, which eliminates screen tearing without negatively impacting latency or performance. The framerate does still need to stay within a specified VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) range, which will vary by monitor spec. In most cases, the VRR range starts at around 40 Hz and continues to the maximum refresh offered by the monitor. Higher-end implementations may start even lower, around 20 to 30 Hz.
According to a variety of sources, including eSports professionals, LinusTechTips, and even NVIDIA, playing games at a higher refresh rate offer a tangible advantage over other players in competitive titles. Couple responsive high refresh rates with a gaming headset for an intense gaming experience.
Displays from ultra-wide monitors to the standard desktop use a 60 Hz refresh rate. While refresh rate and frame rate (FPS) aren’t the same things, they are closely related in the sense that you can’t see a visual difference when your FPS exceeds your refresh rate. For instance, 144 Hz panels will allow you to see up to 144 FPS, whereas 144 FPS on a 60 Hz panel would only be as fluid as a 60 FPS signal. 144 FPS on a 60 Hz panel will also exhibit screen tearing unless the gamer uses some implementation of V-Sync.
When buying LED gaming monitors, there are three main panel types to take into consideration: TN, IPS, and VA.