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17 gaming monitors round-up: which one is the ultimate gaming monitor?

We put to the test a string of gaming displays

Speed isn't everything of course. A monitor still needs to have decent colour rendering and be reasonably priced. The BenQ XL2420T is far from cheap, but you can adjust the height, rotate it, and it comes with many connectors and an integrated USB hub. In terms of response times, it scores the best. It has a 120 Hz refresh rate, and the other test results are also very good. See also: Group test: what's the best display?

If you enjoy playing shooters, you care less about perfect colour rendering or energy-efficiency and more about fast response times without blurring and ghosting. Hardware.Info asked 14 manufacturers to send their best gaming monitors, and in the end tested 17 different screens with lots of different results.

How you define a good gaming monitor depends on who you ask. It also depends on the type of video game you play, and whether you are sensitive to imperfections. One person might scoff at even the possibility of ghosting, while another couldn't care less about an input lag of a few milliseconds. Thanks to the 3D revolution, there are 120 Hz monitors now in addition to the typical 60 Hz ones. Some gamers won't use anything else, while others are completely indifferent.

There is one requirement for gaming monitors everyone can agree on, and that's a fast response time so rapid movements don't cause ghosting. Response time is how long it takes for a monitor to change the colour of a pixel, and is indicated in milliseconds. You can measure this in a variety of ways. You can measure from all-black to all-white, but also from 79 percent grey to 80 percent grey. Manufacturers tend to use the method that gives the most favourable results, a reason why you only find 2 ms and 5 ms nowadays.

To gain a more accurate picture, Hardware.Info measures four different colour transitions. From all-black to all-white and back, and from 20 percent grey to 80 percent grey and back again. Then the individual results are combined, which is also actually the official way of determining true response time. Many monitors are very fast when you measure one direction, but are quite slow in the opposite direction, so it's not surprising that manufacturers only put one of the numbers in the monitor's specifications.

Input lag is also a factor. This is cause by slow hardware that causes a delay between the time the signal is received and when it is displayed on the screen. None of the participants in this round-up suffered from input lag.

The various methods manufacturers use to improve response time are called "overdrive". Overdrive causes a pixel to go beyond the intended value, only to fall back to the end result. This will use up more energy in theory, which is why many brands disable the overdrive feature by default, even if it's just to get approval for European markets. Where possible, each monitor was tested with overdrive enabled and disabled. Not all monitors have this option, and for some monitors it had no influence on response time, while for others it made a huge difference.

Hardware.Info tested monitors from Acer, AOC, ASUS, BenQ, Dell Alienware, HP, Iiyama, LG, Medion, Philips and Samsung. To find out which monitors came out on top, read the full review on Hardware.Info.

BenQ XL2420T

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