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Monitor vs. TV for console gaming: which one is the best?

BenQ
2018/12/10
A good monitor for amazing gaming experience

More and more console gamers have made the switch to a dedicated gaming monitor to pair with their Xbox One or PS4 to take advantage of what once were exclusive PC gaming features. TVs have the upper hand in terms of size and, depending on the technology, image quality. However, gamers have prioritized the fast, smooth, and responsive gaming experience that only monitors provide. Let us discuss three of the most significant differences between TVs and monitors for console gaming.

Input Lag

One of the main advantages of playing console games on a monitor instead of a TV is the improved input lag, which is the time it takes for the signal received by the display to be processed and shown on the screen. Televisions tend to rely heavily on filters that improve image quality when watching TV, like noise reduction and upscaling, but this takes extra time and translates into input lag. However, none of these features are desirable when playing console games, as image quality is largely controlled by the console and game engine. Any added processing on the TV side simply adds latency. 

Lag or latency slows down your gaming experience with a noticeable delay between button presses and actions seen on the screen. Monitors, on the other hand, do not suffer from severe input lag. They take the digital signal from the console and directly send it to the screen without much processing, providing quick visual response to button presses on your controller. While some TVs have a Game Mode which can reduce lag from 60 milliseconds to around 20, it is still very far from a monitor’s benchmark of 10 milliseconds.

If you are into competitive gaming or want the best performance, a monitor offers the most noticeable improvement over traditional TVs. The rule is: the lower the input lag, the better, which is especially true for fast-paced games like shooters. Be sure to check this review of the BenQ EL2870U monitor with its 9 millisecond input lag. 

Response Time

Faster response time with clear image and with no image smearing

Another spec that is worth paying attention to is response time. Also measured in milliseconds, it refers to how fast pixels on the display switch from one color to another.  Faster response times result in better viewing experiences during fast-paced scenes, while slower response times can result in ghosting or blurring of the image. 

Response time relates closely to the type of panel technology used in displays: twisted nematic (TN), vertical alignment (VA), and in-plane switching (IPS). While you do not need to understand their technical differences, it is worth mentioning their pros and cons for gamers. TN panels tend to have the best response times while trading off picture quality. IPS panels are the opposite with great colors and viewing angles but slower response. VA panels offer the best of both worlds with good response times and color reproduction.

Overall, modern TVs have much higher response times than monitors, which might result in ghosting and worse picture quality. Casual gamers are happy with a response time of about 10 milliseconds, while competitive and professional gamers usually target something closer to 1 millisecond.

Refresh Rate and Adaptive Sync

monitors have a higher refresh rate so no blurry images and tearing. TV only has lower refresh rate

The third aspect that is different between monitors and TVs is the refresh rate. Televisions typically change the image on the screen 60 times every second, generally referred to as a 60Hz refresh rate.

Because most consoles were initially designed for TV usage, the refresh rate used to be a less critical factor. However, Xbox One received an update in 2018 that allows it to work at up to 120Hz, taking advantage of a monitor’s capability to run at refresh rates higher than 60 frames per second (FPS).

Additionally, Xbox One supports a feature usually reserved for PC gaming called variable refresh rate. This technology, commonly found in the form of AMD FreeSync (or NVIDIA’s proprietary G-Sync), allows the video source and monitor to communicate and dynamically match the FPS of the source to the refresh rate of the display for smooth and tear-free gaming.

Gaming monitors like the BenQ EX3203R support AMD FreeSync 2 and a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming free of screen tearing. 

Conclusion

Spec TV
Monitor
Spec
Response Time
TV
Slow
Monitor
Fast
Spec
Refresh Rate
TV
Low
Monitor
High
Spec
Input Lag
TV
High
Monitor
Low

Summing up, monitors have lower input lag, faster response times, and higher refresh rates than TVs. They are more responsive and allow you to enjoy competitive console gaming. Additionally, monitors are excellent bang for your buck if you would like to play both PC and console games. TVs, on the other hand, are usually larger in size and more affordable and are more suitable for gaming in large spaces.

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