Many gamers still don't know for sure whether its time to upgrade their monitors. With a plethora of options out there, it’s extremely frustrating trying to decipher monitor marketing jargon that’s thrown around. We simplify one of the key technical specifications of any monitor you plan to buy in this guide – resolution.
What is Resolution?
A pixel is the smallest unit of display; think of it as a small bright dot of color that lights up when the computer instructs it to. When a collection of these dots lights up, they form images on a display. Resolution is simply a notation that indicates the number of pixels that are lit horizontally and vertically on any monitor. It is denoted as the “number of horizontal pixels” x “number of vertical pixels.”
Although monitors do support multiple resolutions, there is one native resolution for every monitor out there. This native resolution indicates the maximum number of pixels it can accommodate when displaying an image.
For example, a Full HD monitor has a native resolution of 1920x1080, i.e. it supports a maximum of 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels. This resolution is also called 1080p – another popular way of referring to a certain resolution. In this notation, you write only the height of the resolution and add a ‘p’ next to it.
Popular Resolutions (Various Notations)
How Does Resolution Affect Screen Sizes?
Directly, it doesn’t. A monitor’s size is an independent specification that isn’t affected by its resolution at all. This is why you can easily find relatively smaller laptop screens with much higher resolutions than considerably larger desktop displays.
That said, you should still maintain a fine balance between screen size and resolution when you’re looking for a gaming monitor.
Unlike people who mostly consume movie and music content, gamers tend to sit close to their screens. Opting for and gaming on a huge monitor with a low resolution is immediately noticeable at that short a distance and will affect clarity and crispness – substantially degrading your gaming experience. On the flipside, the visual upgrade you get when investing in higher resolutions reduces substantially on smaller screen sizes.
So, what sizes and resolutions provide the best value in terms of budget and a great visual experience?
In our opinion, and this does seem to align with the opinion of most gamers who care about a premium gaming experience, a screen size of 23-24 inches is perfect when going for a Full HD (1080p or 1920x1080) monitor. Meanwhile, when you’re opting for a screen size of around 27 inches or higher, a 1440p resolution (2560x1440 or WQHD) is considered ideal.
Can you opt for a 24-inch 1440p monitor if you want, or a 24-inch 4K monitor? Of course. Will it look better than a 24-inch Full HD monitor? Yes. But the difference in clarity won’t be immediately apparent when compared to a quality Full HD display of the same size at the same viewing distance is all.
What about 4K? Is it a Good Resolution for Gaming Yet?
The NVIDIA RTX 2080Ti is currently the best graphics card on the market (as of March 2019). Although we are starting to see consistently high FPS when gaming on 4K with the RTX 2080Ti, some games still refuse to hit a steady 60+ FPS. Especially if you’re a gamer who doesn’t like compromising on graphics quality.
So, we still can’t recommend a 4K monitor from either a value or a premium gaming experience standpoint. Playing with higher quality settings on a lower resolution will result in a better visual experience compared to settling for lower quality settings because of a higher resolution.
1440p Gaming Monitor- The Current Gaming Sweet Spot
Since graphics cards haven’t matured to handle 4K gaming yet (and in the cases where they do, they tend to break the bank), we take a small step back to 1440p.
The WQHD resolution is considered the sweet spot for gaming now. Some of you might be concerned about the FPS drop when gaming at a higher resolution like 1440p. However, with the release of the latest 20 series graphics cards from NVIDIA, not only can you easily push games to the desired 144 FPS number but you can also enjoy an elevated, more gorgeous visual experience as well.
What's more, you can easily find WQHD(1440p) monitors with a 144Hz refresh rate, whereas finding 144Hz monitors remains an almost impossible task for those who want to enjoy a 4K gaming monitor even today (Q1 2019).
▼See more about 1440P and in-depth benchmarks of different resolutions in the video.
Resolutions and Graphics Cards
Having a top-notch high-resolution monitor does improve your gaming experience, provided your system can keep up with it. In this section, we assume that 60+ FPS at any resolution is a ‘desirable framerate.’ Yes, you can still play games at lower framerates, but the experience will deteriorate the lower you go.
Hence, simply grabbing the best monitor/resolution out there won’t necessarily result in a great gaming experience. In fact, if your PC doesn’t pack enough compute and graphics power, you’ll end up with a worse gaming experience compared to someone with the same setup as you but with a lower-resolution monitor.
That said, do remember – for enjoying the full benefits of high refresh rate -144 Hz, your system should be capable of pushing close to right around 144FPS in the games you play frequently.
▼Here’s the graphics card benchmark of Apex Legends on 1440p.
The release of the NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti did slightly upend the GPU market and topple a few previously-amazing value proposition buys. As of now, if you’re looking to maintain a steady 60+ FPS on 1440p at the highest quality settings, we still recommend grabbing one of the RTX graphics card releases ( RTX 2060 or higher).
Of course, this will vary from gamer to gamer. You can opt for more budget options (GTX 1660 Ti /GTX 1060 or even an RX580 /RX 570) if you’re willing to turn down graphics settings for a smoother gaming experience. Also, if most of your time is spent on competitive games like CS:GO, Dota 2, Overwatch, League of Legends, World of Tanks, and so on, even then a mid-range graphics card should be able to hit the high FPS numbers you need.
MSI WQHD Gaming Monitors – Optix MAG271CQR and Optix MAG321CQR
We believe that gaming hardware and peripherals should be crafted to create the best possible gaming experience, even when on a budget. Since we’ve already established that 4K gaming isn't as mature as we'd like it to be, we set our focus on the resolution that hits the sweet spot for both great performance as well as eye-catching visuals – 1440p or WQHD.
As the names might suggest, the Optix MAG271CQR is a 27” display while the Optix MAG321CQR is a 32” monitor. We designed our range of monitors with the modern gamer in mind. Both these monitors are equipped with the premium gaming features that both enhance gameplay and elevate the gaming experience.
Not only does it feature the sought-after WQHD resolution (1440p) but it also boasts a 144 Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, curved design, anti-flicker, and elegant RGB for adding that extra flair to your gaming station. See below for more information about MSI MAG series Curved Monitor.