Glossary

Screen tearing

An effect that occurs on a video source, e.g. monitor or TV, where two frames of a video are shown together in a single frame, causing a torn effect. The effect is most visible when straight objects, like for example trees, where the previous frame is behind the next frame when the camera moves along the x-axis. The reason screen tearing occurs is due to the fact that the frames being produced by a GPU are out of sync with the refresh rate of the display.

Screen tearing in a game
This is what causes screen tearing

V-Sync

Screen tearing can be avoided with V-Sync, which is short for vertical synchronization and is a rendering option for your GPU that prevents it from changing the display memory until the display is done with its current refresh cycle. Basically, it synchronizes the output FPS of the graphics card to the refresh rate of the monitor and thus eliminates screen tearing. This setting can however in most situations increase input lag and cause stuttering, and therefore a complete no-go for competitive players.

Input lag

Response time and input lag are NOT the same thing, but they can be tied together. Display manufacturers often do not advertise a display’s input lag anywhere, only the response time. Simply said, input lag is the delay between a button press or mouse event and the result occurring on the screen. This is the most important spec for competitive players, where every millisecond matters and they must have the minimal input lag possible in order to gain advantage over their opponents.

Stuttering

Stuttering, or micro stuttering in gaming context, is an rendering anomaly that occurs which causes the time between frames to vary noticeably. Stuttering on a game feels like a reduction of the frame rate. When you are moving around, it feels like it is not drawing every moment and skipping a lot of frames. V-Sync is known to cause stuttering in games when the frame rate drops, which is a reason why a majority of players do not use it.
How V-Sync causes stuttering

Refresh rate

The amount of times a display refreshes per second to show a new image. Refresh rate is a frequency and frequency is measured in Hz (hertz). By this definition, 144Hz means that the monitor refreshes 144 times per second to show a new image and 60Hz means the monitor refreshes 60 times per second to show a new image. If a game outputs more than 60FPS and you have a 60Hz display, you are not getting the full gaming experience, since the additional frames are not actually shown and it will just cause screen tearing if you do not cap it at 60FPS. A 144Hz gives you the ability to get faster and more responsive gameplay.
It doesn’t even have to be in games; regular usage, browsing, etc. will feel significantly better and you will find it hard, if not impossible, to return to 60Hz monitor after some time spent with a 144Hz monitor.
The 144Hz display is more fluid than the 60Hz display

Adaptive V-Sync

A solution by NVIDIA to solve stuttering problems with V-Sync. Adaptive V-Sync dynamically turns V-Sync on and off to reduce stuttering. It achieves this by turning off V-Sync below the V-Sync cap. The input lag problem with V-Sync still persist with this solution, however, and it is therefore not used by players who play competitive and every millisecond matters.

Adaptive Sync

Adaptive Sync is basically another word for dynamic refresh rates. In other words, it synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the frame rate of the GPU. NVIDIA G-Sync is an adaptive sync technology that eliminates all the disadvantages of V-Sync, but still has its advantages, and thus giving you a tear-free, clear and responsive gameplay that you could not achieve before. G-Sync does not lower your frame rates at all and tests have shown that it more than often actually increases it.
How G-Sync (Adaptive Sync) works. No stuttering, high input lag or screen tearing

Panel Type

The type of screen being used by the monitor. There are mainly three panel types being used by monitors today:

TN panel

Twisted Nematic panels have been the most common type of panels the past years for gaming monitors. They are cheap and gives great response times, but they have bad viewing angles and color quality.

VA panel

Vertical Alignment panels are middle of the road of LCD panels. They have better color quality and wider viewing angles than TN panels, but not IPS panels, and they have slower response times than both TN and IPS panels. On the other hand, they offer higher contrast ratios than both TN and IPS panels and thus produces better black levels. The biggest disadvantage of VA panels is color shifting, which means that the image shifts when viewed from different angles. It produces various uneven brightness levels across the display and can be so annoying for many users that they will not even consider buying a monitor with VA panel technology.

IPS panel

In-Plane Switching panels are generally considered the best type of LCD panel you can get. They offer superior viewing angles, color accuracy and image quality. They also offer low response times, although not as low as TN panels yet. IPS panels are great for gamers who do not participate in fast-paced competitive gameplay, and would like a better viewing experience.

Response Time

Response time is basically the time it takes for a pixel to change from one color value to another. Faster response time means less ghosting. Manufacturers often use the GtG (Grey-to-Grey) response time, which is the time it takes the display to change from grey to white and then back to grey. The BtW (Black-to-White) response time is often not specified, because this delay is longer than the GtG response time, and companies always use the best results in order to sell their products.

Resolution

A display is made out of pixels, which are dots that can represent a color. Monitor resolution is simply the measurement of the number of pixels that a monitor or any other display can show at any given time. The pixel width comes first followed by the pixel height, so “1920 x 1080” means that the monitor’s native resolution is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall. Higher resolutions mean higher amount of pixels and are therefore also sharper and have more screen real estate to work with.
4K (UHD) resolution is four times as big as a 1080p (FHD) resolution

Brightness

Brightness (or luminance) refers to the emitted luminous intensity on screen, which is measured in candela per square meter (cd/m2) or Nit. The higher the number is, the brighter the screen will be. Brightness is closely related to contrast ratio.

Contrast Ratio

In its simplest form, a display’s contrast ratio is the ratio between the brightest image the display can create and the darkest, or said in another way: white/black = contrast ratio, and usually expressed as a ratio of some number to one. The bigger the contrast ratio, the better the monitor can distinguish bright areas and dark areas, and manufacturers can increase the contrast ratio by increasing the maximum brightness or lowering the minimum brightness. A contrast ratio of 1,000:1 is fine — 2,000:1 is superb. The “dynamic contrast ratio” display manufacturers often use, which can be many millions to one is misleading and you should just ignore it.
How a picture would look on a monitor with high contrast ratio (left) versus low contrast ratio (right)

Aspect Ratio

The ratio between a monitor’s width in pixels and its height in pixels. 16:9 is the most common aspect ratio for today’s monitors, although some people prefer 16:10.
Most common aspect ratios

Viewing Angle

The angle measured in degrees from which you view the screen on, whether it is from the top, bottom or from the sides. It is worth mentioning that IPS panels offer the best viewing angles followed by VA panels, while TN panels offer the worst. When viewing a TN panel from an angle that is not perpendicular to the screen surface, the colors will wash out the further you move up, down or to the sides.

Backlight Bleeding

A phenomenon that occurs when light from the back of the LCD monitor is not blocked, allowing excess light to “bleed” around the edges. This results in areas of lighter areas on a dark or black background.
Backlight bleeding at the bottom right and top left corner

Ghosting

The term ghosting is used to describe an artifact caused by a slow response time. When the screen refreshes, the previous image can still be seen, resulting in a blurring or smearing visual effect.

Adjustability

How the monitor can be adjusted in order to give you the best possible viewing position.
Tilt, height, swivel and pivot monitor adjustability allows you to have the best viewing position possible

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