There comes a time in every gamer’s life where the thought of dealing with only 23-inches is unbearable. Bigger is better when it comes to PC screens, as long as you have the space to manage, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like rocking up to a LAN with the biggest screen of them all?
But which route is best? There are several ways to access large format displays for gaming, here is a brief overview of them and why you should and shouldn’t consider each:
Large computer monitors
The most popular way of upgrading to a large display is the traditional 27-inch PC monitor. These are available from a range of PC manufacturers and are purpose-built for computer use. They typically offer good specifications (including contrast ratio, response time, and viewing angles) and shouldn’t break the bank.
An entry level 27-inch monitor can be had for under R3,000 nowadays from online hardware retailers, with the more expensive units going for upwards of R6,000. These expensive units often offer less common features, such as 120Hz panels, 3D support, higher than full-HD resolutions, and IPS panels.
27-inch monitors with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a full-HD resolution have a pixel per inch (PPI) value of 81.58, which should be perfect for gaming at arm’s length away from the screen.
Monitors larger than 27-inches do exist, though these are typically made by companies such as Dell and HP, and have Price tags that are 3 or 4 times higher than a high-end 27-inch model. Value for money? . The ultimate computer monitors? For the time being.
Small TVs are also an option for gamers, one that more and more people are embracing.
32-inch Full HD models can be had for around the R4,000 to R5,000 mark depending on the panel type, back-lighting and brand. The better known brands such as LG and Samsung are great for gaming and watching media, however they do take up a large amount of space – something to consider if your current setup is already pushing the limits of your desk or room.
A full-HD resolution on a 32-inch TV gives a PPI value of 68.84, which is around the limit that most gamers are willing to accept. They do however work well if you sit slightly further back than you would with a 27-inch monitor, though having a very deep desk here may be essential.
40-, 42-, 46- and 47-inch televisions are also possible solutions to the monitor size problem, with many models coming up for sale at prices similar to those for high end 27-inch computer monitors. You will need to bear in mind that the PPI will be far lower than it would be on the 32 inch models, and the space requirements increase exponentially. Also bear in mind that televisions come with a TV tuner built in, which means you’ll need a South African TV license to buy a TV from local retailers.
What about projectors?
Projectors are an option when it comes to large format display gaming, however the list of cons is incredibly long.
First off, never buy a cheap projector for gaming. If it’s not capable of producing at least full-HD resolution video, it shouldn’t be considered. Also important is the brightness rating of the projector, measured in Lumens. A projector with a low Lumen rating will appear washed out in all but the darkest rooms.
Then you need to consider space. Sure, having a screen that is 2 metres wide is fantastic for gaming, but can you accommodate such a thing in your gaming area? Then you’ll need to consider projection screens, with motorized units costing into the thousands. You could just use a plain white wall, but are you really going to drop R10,000 on a projector and skimp on the projection quality?
Finally, bulb life in projectors is a huge concern, particularly for those who can rack up thousands of hours of gaming in a short time. Once a bulb has reached the end of its life and needs replacing, you’ll find that the cost for a replacement unit is nearly the price of a whole new mid-range projector. When the bulb has worn out, it’s probably worth buying a whole new modern projector with improved technology.
For all its downsides however, gaming on a 2 metre wide screen has no rival, though the drawbacks put it out of reach for all but the richest gamers.
For most gamers, the decision will come down to whether you want a large computer monitor or a small TV. Both retail for around the same amount, and each have their pros and cons, which will probably prompt the question: what is more important to you, 5 inches or a few milliseconds response time?