LCD monitors and gaming

Sorry if this has been asked before, the search feature keeps giving me an internal error when I try to use it…

Anyway, I’m considering finally joining the ranks of LCD monitor owners, but I am concerned about features and their effect on my gaming. I see a lot of 19" and 22" widescreen LCDs on sale for the holidays, but haven’t a clue what to look for in response time and contrast ratio.

Is 8ms response time too slow for gaming?
Is 500:1 contrast crappy?

These are the features most of the “sale” monitors offer. The higher priced ones offer 5ms response time and 1000:1 or better contrasts. Advice?

I am no aficionado, but I I know some key features to look for are:

Time for a pixel to go from fully on to fully off as well as average time for a pixel transition. At 8ms, the maximum FPS you can get 125 without ghosting (glowing trails you used to see when you moved a mouse pointer quickly across older, slower LCD displays).

Viewing angle, typically 180 degrees is now standard, although none of them are actually quite that good. I have a Dell 24 inch wide screen LCD (I love it), and when standing at more then a 45 degree angle from the screen you definitely see the image contrast drop. It is still clear, but not nearly as crisp and bright as sitting right in front of it.

Brightness: The higher the better. I do not know what the numbers mean, but a level of 1000 is very, very bright. When I first got my monitor it was far too bright to look at and it was only set at 50%. My computer room has a cover over the outside window because my old CRT just was far to dim with the evening sun streaming in. I do not think my LCD would have any issues if I removed the window covers.

Contrast: 500:1 is quite good. Again, I do not know what that number really means, but 500:1 is quite good.

8ms should be enough; that’s equivalent to 120 frames per second.

As for a 500:1 contrast ratio: it depends. What’s more important than the contrast ratio is how “dark” the blacks get.

You can’t trust the MS rating on LCD monitors. It only measures grey-to-grey. So while gtg might be 8ms, red to blue might be 30ms. You really have to do your research on these things to make sure you don’t get screwed. Also, there’s a point at which super low MS ratings introduce more problems than they solve; some LCDs have an overdrive technology which force the pixel to change values quicker. But the result is often that it overshoots, and so instead of getting trailing blurs, you’ll get leading shimmering.

My advice is to always always always find the monitor and view it in a store before buying it.

PS: Always!

I’m very happy with my Viewsonic 22.1" widescreen that is sold at Costco. It claims a 5ms response time, but I’m not a FPS player so if there was any ghosting I probably wouldn’t see it. The colors are sharp and I’m digging it. The only negative I can think of is that the built-in speakers sound really tinny, so they’re not impressive. But they don’t take up much space (they are along the bottom edge) so if you decide to use a different set of speakers, it’s no big loss.

As an aside to any monitor makers who might be in the room: speakers on otherwise sleek flat panel monitors are an aesthetic nightmare. Please don’t.

Thank you.

And they almost always sound terrible, too.

8ms/500:1 is fine. My friend has a TigerDirect house brand 5ms/800:1 monitor, mine is a Samsung 4ms/500:1. Both look good, except that the TigerDirect house brand has a “smudged” effect for black text on grey backgrounds. Another friend has a decent, cheap Acer which is 8ms/500:1, and it looks great, and it’s perfect for him as he just surfs and plays WoW.

Both the TigerDirect and my Samsung are using DVI in, my 360 uses the VGA connection.

Cool, thanks guys. So what I’m getting here is :

8ms probably will do for my purposes (RPGs, RTS and MMO mostly).
500:1 is decent, but more is better if possible.
Check how it displays blacks.
Always always always see if I can demo the thing in store first.

The demo shouldn’t be a problem, as I’ll likely be buying from Best Buy since I have gift cards to burn. 19" Widesceen is what I’m looking at, though I’d love a 20" or even 22" if the price was right.

Which leads me to one last question: Is widescreen useful for anything besides DVD watching? I read somewhere recently that more games (and Vista) will begin supporting widescreen soon. Any truth to that?

Gateway’s new 24-inch is comparable to the Dell, but IMHO has somewhat better image quality. (The Dell has noticeable banding in color gradients that I don’t see on the Gateway.) It’s plenty quick for gaming. And the optional speaker bar, surprisingly, doesn’t suck. (Not as good as dedicated speakers, but comparable to your average $50 desktop speaker setup.)

8ms is more than “fine” for response time – it will be great for any time of game, including action shooters.

Widescreen gaming is really nice - I enjoy it much more than I anticipated. Almost all new games support widescreen resolutions already. The only ones that don’t, which I’ve seen in the past year, have been obscure European imports. All mainstream titles support it.

Widescreen is also really nice just for the additional workspace - having 2 documents open and visible at the same time, etc. I don’t know how I ever did without it, frankly, it’s a great productivity boost.

I don’t have a widescreen monitor and haven’t played the games but I understood that the two recent Battlefield games didn’t support widescreen resolutions.

BF2 supported widescreen for a bit with a commandline hack. It is however banned by Punkbuster as a cheat.

That said, BF2142 looks amazing in 1600x1200. Frame rates are a dog at 40ish median, dropping towards 20ish at times :( Tried at 1024*768 and it looks awful. Looks all washed out and ugly.

You’ll find info here on which games support widescreen gaming, either natively or thru hacks.

It’s too late to do you any good, Slainte, but Best Buy had this 22" Westinghouse on sale after Thanksgiving for $200. I picked one up: definitely a great bargain for that price; basic features, but lots of inputs (inc. S-video and component for hooking up your consoles) and good image quality. I also have a 20" Viewsonic which has better image quality.

If you’re not in any rush to buy, I’d keep an eye out for any bargains, especially after Christmas.

I’m pretty sure that if a game sports the “Games for Windows” moniker it has to support widescreen gaming also, so I think the situation can only get better as we move forward.

Have the gateway 2185wide and love it.

Returning the 24 for a host of minor issues. 1080p over component doesn’t work (and says it does on the website). Graphical artifacts on screen when using 1080 over VGA from 360. Color banding in blues. High pitched fan whine (also on the 22, but not nearly as bad). Twitchy touch controls (often register multiple presses). Noticeable “flashing” at times when the screen is redrawing (not really sure what this is, but it was distracting).

I stood in line at 4am Black Friday specifically for that monitor. I had 300 people ahead of me already and when they stopped letting people into the store with 100 people to go in front of me still, I gave up. The clerks told me later that 20 of those sold out in the first 10 minutes, so I never had a chance. I will be waiting until post-Christmas probably, hopefully to get a better deal.

Desslock : Thanks man, your post pretty much sold me on the widescreen. I had been wavering not knowing if it was worthwhile.

I had the high-pitched whine issue, but that was a power supply issue and haven’t seen it with the replacement. I haven’t seen the other issues you point out, but I haven’t connected the 360 to it.

You should’ve done what I did: bought in on Wednesday, price-matched it on Saturday. Sweeeet. 8-D