Gaming monitor quick setup guide
Get up and running with your new display quickly with our five-minute setup guide.
“Gaming monitors also include built-in features such as on-screen crosshairs, game timers and FPS counters that are well worth trying.”
Plugging in a monitor and firing up your favourite game is easy, but actually getting the most out of all the options and settings is slightly trickier. To help out, we’ve put together this guide, ranging from the basic, through to the complex.
Most higher-end gaming monitors have very adjustable stands, but even with a basic model, it’s important to set it up well. When sitting in front of your screen, the top should be about level with the top of your head — or to put it another way, your eyes should be about 10cm from the top bezel. Place the monitor about an arm’s length away, and tilt it slightly back. Avoid reflections from behind, and adjust the brightness to suit your environment. Some monitors include a dongle for adjusting setting and switching modes, which also avoid bumping your perfect positioning reaching for buttons.
While VESA Adaptive Sync is GPU brand agnostic, in practice, it’s only supported by AMD, via FreeSync and Intel. Nvidia’s G-Sync can only be used with Nvidia GPUs. While using either is straightforward, some games or setups can make it fiddly. Make sure G-Sync or FreeSync is enabled in your GPU software first of all. In your actual game settings, make sure v-sync, and any framerate limiting, are turned off. For more in-depth tweaking (such as minimising input lag), do a Google search — there are entire guides online dedicated to specific games.
Few monitors are not improved by some manual tweaking of the settings, but what looks best can be very subjective. We tend to prefer a lower brightness, more contrast, and colours nudged further towards blue. Most decent gaming monitors have entire guides written about different tweaking methods — so as always, break out Google. Nvidia also has calibration guide that is a useful starting point ( goo.gl/37GcGP). Windows has a built-in colour calibration tool — head to ‘Display Settings > Advanced display settings > Colour calibration’.
Most monitors have presets for getting the best out of each game. While handy, we often find they are a bit extreme, but a good place to start your own manual tweaking. Another common option is a dark enhancer, which brightens shadowy areas enemies could hide in, without overexposing the entire scene. For FPS games, this can be very handy, but keep in mind it might ruin some of the atmosphere of scarier games. Gaming monitors also include built-in features such as on-screen crosshairs, game timers and FPS counters that are well worth trying.
Most gaming monitors have built-in speakers, but they are usually somewhat tinny and only good for backup use. But you may have noticed a 3.5mm audio jack, which outputs sound fed through the HDMI cable. This allows headphones to be plugged directly into the monitor. While not usually a big deal for PC gaming, it’s handy when using with a console. You can choose to output audio from your soundcard, or via HDMI to the monitor, through ‘Control Panel > Sound’.
The best gaming stands are fully adjustable and include indicators to make them easy to move back to your exact preferred position.
Some gaming monitors include a USB dongle that makes changing OSD settings and switching modes fast and easy. G-Sync uses a special chip built in to the monitor, and only works with Nvidia GPUs, but does an excellent job of eliminating screen tearing. Looking beyond HDMI and DisplayPort, monitors often have built-in USB hubs, and audio outputs for headphones.
Many monitors can pivot through 90°, which makes it easy to set up interesting multi-monitor setups for flight or racing sims.
Windows has a built-in colour calibration tool that can help tweak your monitor to improve the image.