Best PC Monitor Settings for Gaming (7 settings + 1 bonus)

Video games have changed a lot over time. Nowadays, they’re so real and interactive that it’s like being inside the game itself.

To get the best experience, you have to set up your gaming screen the right way. This is because when you buy a monitor, it doesn’t come ready for gaming straight away.

For the best monitor settings for gaming, you’ll need to fine-tune various settings like resolution, pixel density, aspect ratio, brightness, contrast, color temperature, gamma, and refresh rate. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all; each monitor is different. So, feel free to experiment and find what works best for you!

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to get your monitor game-ready, ensuring you get the most out of every gaming moment!

Why should you calibrate your monitor for gaming?

Calibration isn’t just about making your games look good; it’s about enhancing the overall gaming experience, ensuring accuracy, and reducing eye strain.

Calibration means fine-tuning your monitor to get the best possible picture. This includes changing things like how bright the screen is, the balance between light and dark (gamma), and the difference between colors (contrast).

When you calibrate your PC monitor, the colors match better with the room’s light. Plus, the right settings can keep your eyes comfortable during long game plays.

Benefits of Calibration for Gamers

  1. Optimal Visual Experience: Games today are designed with intricate details, dynamic lighting, and realistic graphics. Proper calibration ensures that you see these details as the game developers intended.
  2. Reduced Eye Strain: Gaming sessions can be long and intense. Incorrect brightness or color settings can strain your eyes, leading to discomfort or even headaches. Calibration helps in setting the right balance, ensuring you can game for longer without fatigue.
  3. Competitive Edge: For competitive gamers, every detail counts. Seeing an enemy a split second earlier or detecting movements in the shadows can be the difference between victory and defeat. Properly calibrated monitors ensure you don’t miss out on these details.
  4. Long term satisfaction: As a screen ages, the LED backlight will begin to degrade. Regular recalibration will allow you to restore your monitor’s output for accurate color reproduction.

Gaming monitors might show slight variations in brightness, contrast, and color across different areas. But these changes are subtle, so gamers usually don’t need to worry about them.

List of 7 Monitor Settings for the best gaming experience

Optimizing your screen for gaming is simpler than it sounds. Before diving in, it’s good to get acquainted with the various settings available.

Below is a comprehensive guide to the essential gaming screen settings you might want to fine-tune:

1. Screen Resolution

The term screen resolution describes how many pixels are displayed on your screen, measured by pixels per inch. This is crucial as it directly influences the sharpness and clarity of what you see.

Opting for a higher resolution will give you crisp and detailed visuals, whereas a lower one might make things appear fuzzy. For instance, a Full HD screen will have a resolution of 1080p, translating to 1920×1080 pixels.

When choosing the right resolution for gaming, it’s all about balance with your computer hardware possibilities. A 3840×2160 resolution, commonly known as “4K”, offers breathtaking detail and wider vision but you need to ensure your console or PC can handle it.

For a smoother gameplay, 1920×1080 (Full HD) might be the sweet spot.

Remember, the ideal resolution also hinges on the size of your monitor and your viewing distance. We’ll discuss this in more depth later.

To tweak your screen resolution, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the “Control Panel” on your PC.
  2. Select “Appearance and Personalization”.
  3. Choose “Adjust screen resolution”.
  4. Use the slider to pick your preferred resolution.

2. Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is all about how fluidly your screen updates its images. It’s measured in how many times the screen refreshes every second.

While the typical monitor refreshes at 60Hz, gaming enthusiasts might opt for screens that offer up to 240Hz. This ensures ultra-smooth transitions and movements. However, it’s worth noting that for the majority of games, a 120Hz refresh rate strikes a good balance between performance and visual appeal.

Frequency (Hz) Typical Use
60 Hz Standard for most monitors and TVs
75 Hz Higher quality computer screens
90 Hz High-end smartphones and virtual reality
120 Hz High-end TVs, tablets, smartphones
144 Hz PC gaming screens
165 Hz High-end gaming screens
240 Hz Professional gaming screens
360 Hz Ultra-high-end professional gaming screens

The reality is, the faster the refresh rate, the harder it is to notice the difference. Moving from 30Hz to 60Hz is a noticeable improvement. But going from 120Hz to 240Hz isn’t as discernible.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you need the hardware (graphics card, etc.) to support your screen’s refresh rate!

Remember, it’s not always about the highest numbers. Investing in a 120Hz monitor doesn’t make sense if your graphics card can only handle 60Hz.

To adjust your monitor’s refresh rate, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click anywhere on your desktop.
  2. Choose ‘display settings’ from the context menu.
  3. Scroll down and select ‘advanced display settings’.
  4. From the dropdown, pick the monitor you wish to adjust.
  5. Click on ‘display adapter properties’.
  6. In the new window, go to the ‘monitor’ tab.
  7. Use the dropdown under ‘screen refresh rate’ to select your preferred rate.

3. Image Format (Aspect Ratio)

It’s easy to mix up aspect ratio with screen resolution, but they serve different purposes. While resolution tells us the number of pixels, aspect ratio reveals the proportional relationship between the screen’s width and height. Commonly, TVs use a 16:9 ratio, while smartphones often use 9:16.

For an immersive gaming experience, it’s essential to get the aspect ratio right. Most games are designed for a 16:9 ratio, but if you’re gaming on a broader or 4K screen, you might want to explore the 21:9 ratio.

Adjusting the aspect ratio on Windows 10 can be a bit tricky since it’s typically managed by your graphics card’s software. Here’s a guide to help you out:

  1. Right-click on your desktop background.
  2. Choose ‘Graphics Settings’ from the menu.
  3. Head over to the ‘Scaling’ option.
  4. Select ‘Customize image format’.
  5. Now, tweak the settings to match your preference.

4. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast

The right balance of brightness and contrast can make or break your gaming experience. While some gamers lean towards ultra-bright displays, others find a middle ground between brightness and contrast to be ideal.

Your choice can greatly influence the overall look and feel of your game. Overly bright screens with low contrast can lead to headaches and eye discomfort, whereas screens that are too dim can diminish the vibrancy and excitement of the game.

For an optimal gaming experience, aim for a brightness level between 250 to 350 cd/m2) (candela per square foot) and a contrast ratio of 70-80%.

Tweaking these settings is simple. You can either use your monitor’s built-in menu or adjust them directly from your PC.

On the monitor:

  1. Press the menu button on your monitor.
  2. Choose the brightness option and set it to your liking.
  3. Next, select contrast and adjust to your preference.

In Windows:

  1. Open the settings on your PC.
  2. Head to the display settings section.
  3. Use the provided slider to adjust brightness and contrast levels.

5. Color Temperature

Color temperature is a measure of how warm or cool a color appears, based on the Kelvin scale. Think of it like heating an object: as it gets hotter, it changes color from red to blue. A lower color temperature gives warmer colors, a reddish hue like in summer or mars, while a higher one leans towards colder colors like blue and winter colors.

For gaming, the color temperature can greatly influence the visual experience. Most gamers opt for a default setting of 6500K, but depending on the game’s ambiance and your personal preference, you might want to tweak it.

How to adjust the color temperature:
  1. Press the menu button on your monitor.
  2. Go to the color settings section.
  3. Choose from the preset options or customize individual colors to your liking.

To get a clearer understanding of color temperature and kelvins, take a moment to watch this video:

6. Gamma Settings

Gamma is a crucial setting that controls the rate at which an image transitions from dark to light shades on your screen. It’s all about balancing the brightness of an image, ensuring that it’s neither too dark nor too washed out.

For those who enjoy a more shadowy ambiance in their games, a higher gamma setting is ideal. Conversely, if you’re into brighter visuals, you’d want to lean towards a lower gamma value.

For the best gaming visuals, a gamma range of 2.2 to 2.4 is recommended. Adjusting gamma can be a bit technical, but with the following steps, it becomes a breeze:

  1. Open your computer’s control panel.
  2. Click on “display.”
  3. Go to Advanced Display Settings.
  4. Find display adapter properties.
  5. Click on the color management tab.
  6. Select “calibrate display.”
  7. Start calibrating.
  8. Adjust gamma using the slider.

7. Adjusting Sound

Many monitors have built-in speakers, but their quality can vary. Sound enhances your gaming experience, so it’s essential to get it right.

Consider using external gaming speakers or headphones for better sound. Here’s how to set up your monitor’s speakers:

  1. Connect and power on your monitor and PC.
  2. Press the monitor’s menu button for display settings.
  3. Ensure the built-in speakers are active and not muted in the audio menu.
  4. On your PC, right-click the speaker icon in the taskbar.
  5. Choose playback devices.
  6. Set your monitor’s speakers as the default from the list.

8. Bonus: Viewing Distance

The optimal viewing distance isn’t a screen setting, but it significantly impacts your overall gaming experience.

It refers to the distance between the screen and your seat, allowing the best view without straining your eyes.

Gaming can be exciting and captivating, meaning you’ll likely spend hours behind the screen doing what you love.

However, sitting too close to the screen is bad for your eyes, so you should maintain the recommended viewing distance.

The ideal range depends on the screen size and set resolution. The general rule is to sit at a distance equal to 1.5 times the screen size.

For instance, if your screen size is 55 inches, you should sit around 82.5 inches (or about 6.9 feet) away.

Here’s a table detailing the best screen resolution, considering both display size and viewing distance:

Screen Size Full HD (Recommended Distance) 4K (Recommended Distance)
24 inches 2.9 to 4.9 feet 1.9 to 3.3 feet
27 inches 3.3 to 5.9 feet 2.6 to 4.3 feet
32 inches 3.9 to 6.6 feet 3.3 to 5.2 feet
40 inches 4.9 to 8.2 feet 3.9 to 6.6 feet
55 inches 6.6 to 10.8 feet 4.6 to 7.2 feet
65 inches 7.9 to 12.8 feet 5.2 to 8.5 feet
75 inches 9.2 to 14.8 feet 6.2 to 9.8 feet
85 inches 10.5 to 16.8 feet 6.9 to 11.2 feet

Quick Calibration for Gaming Screens

If diving deep into individual settings isn’t your thing, there’s an easier way. Use the on-screen display (OSD) for a quick calibration.
Most recent monitors have an in-built menu for basic adjustments.

Within this menu, there’s often a gaming section where you can tweak display modes and resolutions.

Additional features like overdrive (to combat ghosting), blue light reduction (for eye comfort), and black equalizer (for optimal black levels) can also be found and adjusted.

To navigate the OSD, simply press the menu button on your monitor and use the + or – buttons to make your preferred changes.

Final Thoughts

Every monitor is unique. Even if you compare two monitors from the same brand, they will differ in aspects like color warmth, brightness, and gamma.

This implies that your gaming settings for one monitor might not be as good for another one. The trick is to tweak and test settings incrementally. And remember, a seamless gaming experience isn’t just about the screen; a stable internet connection, a high bandwidth and a top-notch router play crucial roles too.

Once done, enjoy your gaming to the fullest!

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