Blog updated Feb 2023
Gaming’s a thriving industry. In 2022, the number of global gamers topped an estimated three billion. And audiences are projected to increase steadily throughout 2023 and beyond.
A growing market is good news for consumers because it drives the development of new and ground-breaking products. Which means more choice. But having more choice isn’t without its challenges.
One of the most common product-related decisions gamers face is whether to invest in a monitor or a TV for their gaming screen. Gaming platforms (PCs and consoles) are compatible with both options, so the answer isn’t obvious. Each solution comes with its own pros and cons. And, thanks to continued advances in tech, the line separating the two is becoming increasingly blurred.
So, gaming monitor vs TV…what factors should you consider when making that choice? Let’s take a look.
When it comes to screen size, gaming monitors still can’t compete with TVs - although they’re certainly edging closer.
When we first published our ‘Gaming monitor vs television’ guide in 2019 the average size for monitors was between 21 and 27 inches. Three plus years later and tech giants like Samsung, Dell and LG are raising the bar higher (and wider).
More large-screen monitors (40 to 50 inches) are being manufactured with some exceeding even that range. Currently making waves is Samsung’s next-gen, 57-inch Odyssey Neo G9 monitor, an ultrawide (32:9) upgrade on the 55-inch Odyssey Ark released in 2022.
True, these supersized screens aren’t for everyone. A more affordable and practical option, 32 inches is now considered one of the best monitor sizes for gaming. Offering more space while still preserving the 16:9 aspect ratio, it’s slowly pushing the 27-inch model out of the frame.
But 32 inches is still a long way off the average screen size for TVs. Between 60 and 75 inches has become the norm for many, with some luxury versions pushing well over 100 inches.
But when it comes to gaming on a monitor vs TV is bigger really better? In a word, no.
Some consumers, for example, choose TVs because larger screens are better suited to split-screen, multiplayer games (on a smaller, gaming monitor, finer details tend to get lost).
Some gamers prefer to sit further away from the screen to reduce eye strain and fatigue. And, for them, TVs are a better choice because they work best when viewed between 3 and 5 feet away.
Then some gamers prefer to sit closer to their screen. This group tends to find TVs and large monitors difficult to use as they can’t see the entire screen up close.
In the end, it comes down to a personal preference between visual clarity and viewing comfort.
Arguably the most important aspect of any screen is the display resolution. Higher-resolution screens have more pixels on the screen. This results in smoother gameplay and clearer picture quality. Resolution sizes usually include the following:
1080p Full HD
In terms of resolution, the big difference between a gaming monitor and a television is that TVs don’t tend to offer the popular 1440p QHD/2K option. Preferred by high volumes of gamers wanting mid-level resolution on a budget, 1400p is still the standard monitor resolution size for the average PC gamer. Yes, growing in popularity and reducing in cost, 4K TVs are starting to compete. But when it comes to resolution, Quad HD monitors appear to be standing firm.
That said, televisions rival monitors in other important aspects of image quality. High dynamic range (HDR) content demands more in terms of colour, brightness and contrast. And most mid-priced TVs offer a better range in all three of these areas. They’re also more likely to come with OLED panels or mini-LED backlights.
So far, the balance appears to be evenly split. Until you consider the technique called chroma subsampling. Designed to reduce pressure on bandwidth, chroma subsampling compresses colour information in a TV signal. A feature of many televisions, it can impact levels of sharpness and clarity, making monitors a better option for many gamers.
Gamers want a display that delivers on performance. But what does “performance” in this context actually mean? In short, it comes down to three elements: response time, refresh rate and input lag (or latency).
The response time of a display is measured in milliseconds (ms) and determines how quickly a pixel changes from one colour to another.
Low response times (1 to 4 milliseconds) equal smooth movements and better-quality images. Higher response times (up to 10 milliseconds) often result in motion blur and ghosting when pixels are slow to change from one colour to another.
Response time is closely linked to the type of panel technology used in a display. There are three types of panel technology used in gaming monitors. These include in-plane switching (IPS) panels, twisted nematic (TN) panels and vertical alignment (VA) panels.
TN panels tend to have the best response times but poorer picture quality. IPS panels are slightly slower in terms of response but have better colour performance and viewing angles. VA panels excel in terms of contrast and offer a more even balance between response times and colour reproduction.
There’s less transparency around response rates for TVs. Not designed with gaming in mind, manufacturers don’t tend to highlight this type of product information. The general perception used to be that TVs generally have a higher response time (usually over 10ms). But recent developments in OLED TVs are changing that. Given that OLED has an almost instantaneous response time, some TVs are now able to compete with monitors in this previously one-sided category. But be warned, OLED TVs are currently only available in larger (42-inch plus) sizes.
Expressed in hertz (Hz), the refresh rate of a screen is the number of times an image is refreshed every second. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the motion on-screen. The current baseline is 60Hz and in this category, monitors have a clear edge on TVs. Most budget gaming monitors reach at least 144Hz, compared to an average of 60Hz for TVs. As we move forwards into 2023, the gap’s getting even wider. A ground-breaking 540Hz model has just been released. And, while some more up-to-date 4K TVs are now hitting 120Hz, most mid to high-end gaming monitors are peaking at 360Hz.
Also referred to as latency, input lag is the time it takes for an action performed on a keyboard or gamepad to be replicated on screen. The lower the input lag, the better the gaming experience. Historically, most gaming monitors have had a far lower latency than televisions (a few milliseconds compared to over 100 milliseconds for some of the worst-performing TVs). But television latency is on the up. Many models, such as the LG C2 OLED 4K TV released in 2022, are on par with gaming monitors in this important category.
From connectors to controllers, gaming monitors and TVs have different features and functions to offer.
When it comes to connectors, gaming monitors support a wider range of inputs. These include USB, HDMI and DisplayPort, and on older models, DVI and VGA. TVs just use HDMI inputs.
However, TVs come packed with other features that gaming monitors lack. With TVs, users can smooth out motion, dip in and out of game and HDR modes, and adjust image quality. They also come with integrated speakers and a remote control. An overlooked but game-changing addition to the user experience, a remote control allows the user to customise features and functions with ease.
What TVs can’t offer is the ergonomic sensitivity of gaming monitors. Most TVs (even high-end models) have a basic, fixed stand. This means the viewing angle is often compromised. And integrating with multiple screens isn't seamless. Gaming monitors, however, are designed to be used at a desk and in conjunction with other display units. And they all come with an adjustable stand which allows the user to alter the height, swivel, pivot and tilt the unit.
In this category, the best choice depends on how you intend to use your device. For all-or-nothing gamers, a gaming monitor offers the full package. For gamers looking for a device that offers additional entertainment options and a more integrated experience, TVs are hard to beat.
Gamers come with different expectations in terms of their “rig” (display and any other peripherals). And these expectations are usually closely linked to budget. A budget PC gamer will spend between £650 and £750 on their complete set-up, whereas the average PC gamer will spend at least double that.
Generally speaking, gaming monitors offer more high-performing gaming features in the lower price bracket than TVs. For example, the cheapest gaming monitors (£200) still come with a high (144Hz) refresh rate and adaptive sync. Televisions in the same price bracket don’t. Even “small” (42-inch plus) TVs with the right technical gaming spec are still around £1000
It’s clear there is lots to consider when making a decision about gaming on a monitor vs TV. Technical specs are changing all of the time. And there’s no permanent or obvious, one-size-fits-all answer. With detailed and up-to-date product knowledge, our experts are here to help you navigate this ever-changing landscape. So, if you need more info or simply want to talk things through, get in touch to find out more.
Chris Newark, SFD Product Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org