When considering gaming monitors, their response time is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While this is an important characteristic, a good monitor offers more than just rapid colour changes. Hardware.Info tested 12 gaming monitors, studied the principles behind overdrive, and demonstrates that a display which isn't as fast can still be of interest to gamers.
Marketing with numbers is typical in the world of ICT, and the way in which monitor manufacturers promote their wares illustrates this quite nicely. Without a doubt the best example of this is the number that indicates the response time in milliseconds, or rather, the time a pixel needs to change colours.
For gamers, this number is often decisive when purchasing a new monitor, and the marketing departments are well aware of this. As a consequence, you will now only see response times of 1, 2, or 5 milliseconds in stores, despite the fact that these values have little to do with actual performance. Unfortunately, the comments on our site also reveal that people often consider these numbers to be significant. That is a shame, because the specified numbers are, without exception, inaccurate. Furthermore, there are more aspects which influence the degree to which a display is suitable for games.
For the time being, however, it is true that we are referring to a display with low response times when we're talking about a gaming monitor. This is actually quite strange, because response times are only of particular importance for one genre of games: first person shooters, or FPS games. Things such as motion blur and ghosting, which are linked to higher response times, primarily manifest themselves in an annoying fashion when displaying rapid movements in a simulated 3D world.
For many other types of games, the problem is often less severe. Other characteristics that are important for a gaming monitor are its contrast and gamma value: the former to ensure that details in bright or dark areas of the screen are displayed properly, and the latter because accurate, saturated colour reproduction will result in a more immersive gaming experience than washed out, distorted colours.
Moreover, manufacturers equip their displays with additional features that can make gaming more pleasant or even simplify it. You should imagine things such as extra settings for certain games or genres, for example to reveal more details in darker areas, or an increase in sharpness which accentuates colour transitions, so you can spot your opponents more quickly. Simply adding more pixels, such as in WQHD and 4K displays, can also be beneficial: more detail enables you to look 'further' in a 3D environment, and offers increased clarity in 2D views.
That said, response times remain an important focus for gamers, which is why we will discuss these in greater detail.