Such is the importance of a gaming monitor nowadays that a lot of stock is put in them and buying one is, rightly, a big deal. It’s one of the gaming items that will likely last a long time so you want to be sure you’re making a good decision. So, in order to give you that peace of mind, sound advice, and reassurance, we take testing our monitors seriously so as to fully inform ourselves. So, how do we test screens when looking to see if they might be one of our best gaming monitors?
We examine them for their design and build quality
Straight out of the box we are able to start assessing how a monitor feels in terms of its build quality and its aesthetics. We can immediately see if it’ll be an eye sore or if it’ll look at home in a gaming room or office. We’ll give it a full look over once it's on our desks and over time, we’ll asses whether its subtle enough to blend in, picturesque enough to hold its own aesthetically or look awkward and garish. It’ll be left out on our desks for a fair stint and we’ll see how it holds up with wobbly desk surfaces, see if its legs can handle a bit of shock treatment and generally see how stable it is - the last thing you want is a great display that’s wobbling all over the place. Equally functional and part of the design is its ports and their accessibility, so we make sure that cables can be ran to and from it with ease and out of the way of the business face of the monitor.
We test with games; lots of games
Of course, we use them for lots of gaming. And we try to be as broad as we can with this while also intense as we can too. This naturally allows us to test what its made for, and we’ll get a good look at its functioning aspect ratio, native resolution (is it 4K?), refresh rates, response times (and so on) and any particular gamer-centric technologies they’re sporting. We’ll play a huge range of different ‘looking’ games and games that have different art styles to ensure we can get a hook into how the monitors do the brightest colours of a Kingdom Hearts to the dingiest grays and blacks of a Metro, and from the super detailed landscapes of a Red Dead Redemption 2 to the simple style of a Journey. And because of that desired spread, and where appropriate, we test monitors with both PCs and home consoles; this gives us a look at how versatile they are and how they could fare in a multi-system setup. We make sure to test them out with fast-response online games too, while also putting in a long play session where possible to see how it fares if an all-night session was pulled.
We'll use them for non-gaming stuff too
We know that, while gaming will be their primary use, you may well want the ability to use it for other things reliably and without any problems. Therefore we ensure we use the monitors for other tasks and with other media too. We’ll also make sure to test a handful of films and/or TV programmes on the monitor as its likely that you’ll want to kick back and use is as a TV screen, particularly if you haven’t got access to a normal TV all the time. You’ll almost certainly want to use the monitor for web browsing, emails and other more mundane tasks so we make sure to use it as our normal everyday monitor for a while, too. This will also help us to work out if the design of it matches your posture and seating, and whether you have to crane your neck or sit back from the display constantly.
We always consider value, not just price
Much like anything techy in life, more expensive doesn’t always mean better or more quality.And that’s particularly important as only a lucky few of us have the means to splurge out and pick all the components, etc. from the top shelves. And it’s equally important when looking at the lower end of the scale - it doesn’t always pay to go for the first monitor you see that’s in or below your budget. It’s incredibly important to figure out and assess value for money and you might find that you’ll get exactly what you want by trying to stretch a bit or not paying as much as you first thought you'd have to. A monitor that has a super-high price tag will have to show its worth it, and lower budget ones will have to show they can punch at their weight too to ensure you get a decent service and lifespan from them. Either end of the scale we keep it in mind when testing monitors so we’re happy with what we recommend. To delve into some of the more technical jargon you may find in our reviews, be sure to take a look at the displays section of our comprehensive hardware glossary.