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What should one be looking for when comparing monitors?

draemn

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I used to know quite a bit about "fake" marketing to make one monitor sound better than it is... people used to also say you can't get an ISP monitor for gaming with good response time, etc.

I've been out of the monitor game for a long time and it's a bit daunting to get back into it as it seems there is a lot less consistency in marketing and specs. It feels crazy when I look up stuff and all the new technology that's going into monitors.

Any help or links to good resources would be much appreciated. I want to shop around for a new monitor that's > 60hz and (preferably) an ultra-wide without breaking the $1,000 mark (after tax). The Dell AW3420 is highly suggested, but a little high on the budget and not FreeSync so locked into nvidia GPUs (not the worst problem).

Here's some of what I've figured out:
  • VA panels offer a great middle ground between IPS quality and TN price but often come with the drawback of slightly worse viewing angles and (more importantly) slower response times, which can lead to ghosting in some cases.
  • Any display port free-sync monitor should work with nvidia and amd gpus for variable refresh rate
  • HDR is a gimmick as if you're spending under $1400 you're probably not getting HDR, but just HDR signal processing. If you want true HDR, you need to find a local dimming array, which is extremely expensive.
  • Backlight strobing is a great technology for blur reduction, although most monitors don't support it with variable refresh rate being used and I've read that you might want to only turn it on for gaming to avoid monitor flicker. Additionally it typically only works a 1 or 2 frequencies on the monitor, so it will look like garbage if your GPU isn't able to keep up with the required frequency (refresh rate) as it gets out of sync with the frames.
  • Cheap(ish) IPS panels aren't going to give the same great viewing angles that IPS is known for, so again reading the reviews is important if this is big for you. If you want an IPS for amazing viewing angles, image quality, and fast gaming, you probably want to spend more than $700 for an ultrawide
  • Response time is still a bit misleading in advertising, so you just need to look at a review for the monitor to find out if the response time is going to give you the performance you expect, especially blurring with VA panels
  • Some VA panels are/were poorly done and have many issues with ghosting, but the technology has come a long way and good VA implementations don't have these problems. Again, seems you're stuck just reading reviews for individual monitors and taking them with a grain of salt (they are extremely critical, so what they call a problem might not be visually noticeable to you)
  • Variable refresh rate can be an issue on some high refresh rate monitors, providing only a small window they can run at. Not all handle the low frame rates (i.e. <50) that well, so read the reviews and user feedback (some might even exhibit flickering)
  • The biggest thing that's still bugging me is how much to put weight into the image quality "flaws" that review sites find as some of these low scores are common across every monitor or they aren't visual problems to the average user (i.e. some people can't see any ghosting/smearing that reviews talk about).

Here are a few ultrawide options I've got sitting in my "maybe" list. My thoughts is 29" is fine for 1080p and 34-35" should be 1440p:
29" 1080:
34" 1440:
35" 1440:

I haven't found any reviews of IPS ultrawide that put them any better than VA panels that cost less. Typically, the better IPS are either not ultrawide or are over $1000.

Here are a couple ones that I have struck off the list:
  • Monoprice 138035 - some people love it for the competitive price at $709, but I'm not one for buying off brands with little support
  • Asus TUF Gaming VG35VQ - I had it on my list for quite some time, but after looking at user feedback, a lot of people felt this monitor didn't justify it's price tag vs the competition
  • Gigabyte G34WQC - great value monitor, but I found multiple complaints online about flicker and it's sold out everywhere
  • Acer Z35 bmiphz - 200hz refresh rate made me look at this one a 2nd time. I forget what research I did on it, but never ended up marking it down
  • LG 34GL750 - 144hz IPS, but only 1080p resolution
 
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Sagath

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rtings.com should have everything you're looking for, including by use case of your monitor. Its my go to stop for most A/V things.
 

JD

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These guys are usually my go-to for monitor reviews: https://www.tftcentral.co.uk/

The AW3420 usually goes on sale at a decent price though (and any Dell monitor really), plus the 10%OFFMONITOR coupon generally works too. Sometimes you can get a little more if you have Perkopolis/Venngo/WorkPerks/etc programs through your workplace. It might also be worthwhile to use the chat or call Dell to see if they can offer a better price too.

IMO, if not the Alienware, then my next choice would be LG. I'm not a fan of the "gamer" looks of the Acer or ASUS models, but that's up to you. AOC probably has the cheapest options.

Start with some basic criteria though - 34" ultrawide? 3440x1440? 120Hz+? G-SYNC? FreeSync (that's G-SYNC compatible)? That will help you limit your search.

VA panels are a lot better than the used to be, but generally found in the "cheaper" monitors. They do offer better contrast ratio than IPS, so blacks will be blacker and colours will have more "pop", but usually they suffer a bit in response time (minor ghosting). I'd generally lean towards IPS if you can afford it.
 

clshades

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I grabbed a Dell S3220DGF. Runs well for gaming / bang for buck. It's a VA panel and it does look much better than my IPS benq 144hz. No complaints. It's not 4k but it's still much better than 1080p. G-sync compatible. The blacks are waaaaay better than IPS. No question.
 

Lysrin

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I grabbed a Dell S3220DGF. Runs well for gaming / bang for buck. It's a VA panel and it does look much better than my IPS benq 144hz. No complaints. It's not 4k but it's still much better than 1080p. G-sync compatible. The blacks are waaaaay better than IPS. No question.

How do you find the curve when using that monitor @clshades ? And you said G-Sync compatible, have you used it running G-Sync?

I have a 3440x1440 ultrawide at home. Recently at my work one of my PCs was upgraded to a 32" 2560x1440 Philips monitor. And I have to admit, I am really likely everything about that resolution at that physical size. Considering something like that for home, but with gaming chops like the Dell you bought. But I don't want to give up G-Sync.

Here is the rtings.com review of the Dell. Certainly lots of info there! https://www.rtings.com/monitor/reviews/dell/s3220dgf They state they tested G-Sync and it worked but only over DisplayPort; not an issue for me since that is what I am running now. Their biggest complain is viewing angles.\

Right now with the sale and the 10%OFFMONITOR code that JD mentioned you can get this Dell for $494.99 CAD + tax. And you can get 2% Rakuten if you have that. Tempting...
 
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sswilson

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Right now with the sale and the 10%OFFMONITOR code that JD mentioned you can get this Dell for $494.99 CAD + tax. And you can get 2% Rakuten if you have that. Tempting...

Don't forget Rakuten (it's only 2% @ Dell, but that's still $10 that looks better in our pockets than it does in Dell's). :)
 

Lysrin

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Hijacking this thread a little, but is it nuts to be considering the Dell when I already have a 100 Hz g-sync ultrawide? I know subjective but curious.

Just seems the physically greater height of a 32" 16:9 at 1440p feels more immersive than the 21.9 at 1440p. But of course I can't actually game on the one from work to know for sure ;) It just seems more satisfying somehow but you would lose that extra width obviously.

Going up to something even larger at 4K would be another option, perhaps 43", but that would be a lot more expense for the monitor and because it would likely drive a replacement of the 1080 Ti and honestly I am not unhappy with the gaming experience at 1440p.
 

draemn

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I really can't justify spending more on a monitor just because I'll have it for a long time/investment. Even $900 is stretching the upper end of the budget I've set for myself. The AW3420 is like $1900 regular price and I think I was told around $1300 on sale. Right now I own 3 x 24" monitors @ 60h 1080p but they really need an upgrade as the image quality/colour reproduction is on the lower end and I've been wanting to see what all this 100-144 hz hype is all about.
 

draemn

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I grabbed a Dell S3220DGF. Runs well for gaming / bang for buck. It's a VA panel and it does look much better than my IPS benq 144hz. No complaints. It's not 4k but it's still much better than 1080p. G-sync compatible. The blacks are waaaaay better than IPS. No question.
The price is definitely a very compelling reason (right now it's $550 freesync), what other thoughts? How are viewing angles, how does it support/run at lower refresh rates?
 
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