There are almost unlimited ways to give your gaming setup a boost. Whether it’s a new controller or a new headset, it doesn’t take much to get a small advantage. However, there’s one thing that every gamer needs to succeed — a high-quality display. After all, you have to be able to see your games to play them. Today, we’ll compare a gaming monitor vs a TV to help you decide which one to buy.
We’ll do our best to answer all of your big questions about both gaming monitors and TVs. Our goal is to cover the similarities and differences between the two and help you make the best purchase. Ready to get started?
Size and resolution
If you’re worried about size or using your display outside of gaming, then a TV is for you. It’s just far easier to find a massive TV for not too much money. You should have no trouble tracking down a 40-inch display, potentially with a 4K resolution, for just a few hundred dollars.
Unfortunately, budget-friendly TVs will probably come with a few sacrifices of their own. Most inexpensive TVs skip out on true HDR support and high refresh rates, which won’t do if you have your sights set on competitive gaming. Of course, you can kick your budget up a bit, and you’ll get almost all of the features you could ask for. After all, it’s easier to find a 75-inch decked-out TV than it is to find a comparable monitor.
It's easier to find a huge TV, but you may not find the same features.
If you choose a gaming monitor, there are tons of wide and curved options to go for, which is ideal if you plan to sit up close. They may not work quite as well for Netflix binges, but that’s probably not your goal. You’re most likely looking for a crisp 4K display either way, but it’s not a requirement.
TVs tend to stick with either 1080p or 4K displays, though 8K is slowly gaining a foothold. On the other hand, Gaming monitors can offer you 1080p, 1440p, 4K, and more. The slightly lower displays still look impressive, thanks to the tightly-packed pixels and the fact that you sit much closer.
Gaming monitor vs TV: Refresh rates
Even though TVs have a clear size advantage, they can’t hold a candle to the refresh rates you’ll get with premium monitors. Some top options have eclipsed the 300Hz mark, though you’ll pay dearly for them. It’s much easier to track down a 144Hz or 240Hz monitor, which is better for most people anyway. You would likely have a hard time differentiating between refresh rates past 160Hz, so why spend the extra money?
TVs are finally catching up, with 120Hz options making their way into the market from many top brands. They’re not cheap, but you’re probably also looking at an OLED display and other gaming-centric goodies thrown in.
You may also want to look into AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync technologies when hunting for your perfect refresh rate. Essentially, both technologies link your monitor’s refresh rate and frame rate with what your GPU can support, making everything look a little smoother. These are once again easier to track down on gaming monitors than on TVs, which can have a major impact on price.
Gaming monitors still hold the edge on response times, but TVs are catching up there too. Response times cover how long it takes for a single pixel to change colors, and lower numbers are obviously better. We’re now seeing TVs with response times as low as around 10ms, which is quite an improvement.
However, monitors can get as low as 1ms to around 5ms if you’re willing to splash the right amount of cash. Your eyes probably won’t be able to see the difference between the two speeds, and they’re probably only a necessity for dedicated eSports gamers.
G-Sync and FreeSync are important technologies when you’re looking at response times, too. They help to unify your refresh rate and response time for the best overall experience. However, you may see your response time slow down as the sync technologies do their jobs.
Gaming monitors vs TVs: Picture quality
TVs probably have an advantage when it comes to picture quality overall. After all, many shoppers still plan to use them to watch their favorite shows, not just for gaming. As a result, you’ll find some degree of HDR tuning for most displays. This helps to provide local dimming for blacker blacks and punchier colors. However, the HDR level does depend on which type of display you have, so read below to learn more.
If you’re hoping for true HDR on your next monitor, you’ll have to make sure that it has enough nits to make a difference. Screens with low nit counts and low brightness won’t be capable of local dimming, and their blacks won’t look quite so black. However, HDR support is growing, and panels with IPS (in-plane switching) help gaming monitors make up some ground.
The price you’re willing to pay can have a huge impact on the outcome of gaming monitors vs TVs. You can easily get more screen for less money with a TV, and you can spend thousands of dollars on an ultra-premium display as well. Less money in the monitor game likely means a small display without too many of the bells and whistles, or at least you only get a few.
If you decide to splurge on a high-quality gaming monitor, you’ll get just about everything you want. It’s easiest to get a low response time, crisp refresh rate, and sync technology to boot. However, it’ll cost you quite a bit of money, and you don’t have all of the flexibility outside of gaming that you would with a TV.
Gaming monitor vs TV: Which one should you buy?
Now, for the million-dollar, or at least a few hundred dollars, question — should you buy a gaming monitor or a TV? The answer depends on you. If you’re serious about your gaming and want to be competitive, you’re probably looking for a gaming monitor. Gaming monitors tend to feature faster refresh rates, sync technologies, and more useful curved designs.
If you’re into more casual gaming, you can go for a non-gaming monitor or invest in a TV. A TV is probably the better way to go for console gamers, as the latest consoles offer HDR support and 4K optimized content. You may also want a TV if you spend time on Netflix, and you don’t want to spend the entire time right up close to your display.
We’ve done our best to get you started on your quest. However, we can’t say which display is right for everyone. You may want to do some homework on your own before you make your decision.