Most of us start our journey into gaming on a TV and stay there for quite a long time, especially if you are a console gamer. But now you can find out whether or not you need a gaming monitor to upgrade your gaming experience.
Is a gaming monitor better than a TV? Gaming monitors are much better than TVs because they support higher refresh rates, lower response times, and have support for more settings.
Let’s take a deeper look at why most gamers should have a gaming monitor and who should be getting a TV for gaming instead.
Is A Gaming Monitor Better Than A TV?
What’s The Difference Between OLED, QLED, LED, and LCD?
Before we begin there is some very important information you must know to fully understand what is being compared.
We are comparing gaming monitors to TVs, however, TVs marketed as LED TVs are technically LCD TVs.
LED is an acronym for Light Emitting Diode and is only one component of a display.
The function of an LED is to provide light, but then on an LCD TV or monitor it gets filtered through several layers to display a colored picture.
In addition to what is marketed as LED TVs, you also have OLED, QLED, and LCDs.
The difference between a regular LCD and a QLED display is Quantum-Dot technology.
Quantum-Dot technology was created by Samsung to create a better LCD with superior brightness and color accuracy.
It is called Quantum-Dot because they are using very small particles to emit several different colors of light which creates the benefits listed above.
That is the primary difference between what is called an LED and a QLED display.
The latest technology being used to create amazing displays with pristine color quality, ultra-thin designs, and much more is OLED.
OLED requires much less technology than the very old LCD tech that came before it.
OLED requires fewer layers to display pictures which allows the design to be much thinner. Each pixel in an OLED display can control its lighting.
This allows OLED displays to make perfect blacks with contrasting light colors in darker movie scenes or pictures. Every light can be as bright or dark as it needs to be creating much more accurate colors as well.
LCD left a lot up to chance since it had to use edge-lit LEDs. The problem with LCD was it couldn’t control the light nearly as much as OLED since each pixel couldn’t control its lighting.
The LEDs along the edge of the screen would emit light and then spread the light across the display, move it through several layers, then it could display the colors.
OLEDs have individual pixel-by-pixel control for their dimming to make every color on the screen look as accurate as it needs to be.
The highest scoring LCD in terms of native contrast ratio is 6888:1, according to RTINGS.com. On an OLED display, you can get an inf:1 native contrast ratio.
Now that you know the difference between the main display types, let’s talk about which one you should get for gaming.
Do Gaming Monitors Have Better Picture Quality Over TVs?
Gaming monitors are going to have better resolutions for gaming than TVs. Even then, there are only a few common resolutions for you to choose from.
The three main resolutions for gaming monitors are 1080p, 1440p, and 4k. Usually, you decide which you want by prioritizing either performance or picture quality.
Or if you don’t have a very powerful PC, then usually sticking with 1080p is a great choice because you can still get good picture-quality and better FPS.
Many TVs use resolutions of 1080p or 4k, with 4k being the wide majority. Although, 8k is also a newer resolution being sold for a premium.
Surprisingly, 4k TVs are quite cheap as you can get some models for as low as $300.
Which resolution you need depends on what your gaming machine is capable of running at a smooth FPS. If you have a low to mid-range, you’re better off at 1080p for the best performance.
However, if you have a higher-end PC, you will likely want that crisper image quality obtained from either 1440p or 4k.
A high-end PC should be able to reach 144 FPS at 1440p and somewhere near 60 FPS at 4k.
Lastly, if you own a console, going for a 4k TV is a fantastic option. The latest consoles are capable of running at 4k, 120 FPS in many games.
As a good rule of thumb, as you increase the resolution, the image quality will get sharper and look better.
However, for games, things like color quality and graphical settings play a larger part in making games look good.
Going from 1080p to 1440p is nearly 2x the pixel count or in other terms nearly 2,000,000 more pixels in the image.
If you are upgrading from 1080p to 4k, the difference is about 4x or in pixel increase about 6,000,000 more pixels in the image.
There is a clear boost in quality when scaling in resolution. However, some of the biggest impacts on image quality happen outside of resolution.
In my opinion, color quality can be more impactful on a display’s picture quality than even the resolution.
Color quality is measured using percentages based on a color gamut. LCD’s color gamut scores are greatly impacted by the panel type.
Although LCDs are a type of panel themselves, there are types of LCD panels known as VA, IPS, and TN. Each has its strong suit that makes them better or worse than the others.
If you want to see the full breakdown of the LCD panel types, check out our comparison of IPS vs TN vs VA.
OLEDs are also a display panel type, but it is separate from LCDs since it is a completely different technology.
OLED displays have superior viewing angles, color accuracy, and color range.
They also tend to be much thinner and have way better contrast ratios so darker scenes have much sharper, clearer images, and colors.
The color quality on OLED displays can be so much better because each pixel can control its lighting.
Whereas, with an LCD, the LEDs are mostly along the edges and then spread across the middle of the display.
The light cannot be as accurate, so neither can the colors.
LCDs require multiple layers to create colors and still require LEDs to provide light as they cannot do so on their own.
LCDs can appear brighter than OLED screens although either one will get bright enough to appear viewable during the daytime.
Another form of display is QLED, or Quantum-Dot LED. We described this tech at the beginning, but to reiterate it uses special particles to create a wider range of colors.
QLEDs are technically LCDs, but they have a superior color accuracy that makes them appear better looking.
QLED displays are better in brighter conditions, but when it comes to darker viewing, the color quality of OLED is still the best.
With all that being said, the ranking of picture or color quality goes like this:
Keep in mind, LCD represents the displays that many companies will advertise as LED displays.
Many people will confuse an LED display for an LCD. However, LEDs are one layer in an LCD that provides light to display pictures.
Now that you know OLEDs have better picture quality, it’s time to get into all the other categories that gamers will likely be more impacted by.
Do Gaming Monitors Have Better Performance Than TVs?
Gaming monitors will perform better than TVs because they typically have lower response times and significantly higher refresh rates.
Gaming monitors can reach impressive refresh rates such as 240 or 360-hertz refresh rate, which can only be reached by the most impressive of gaming PCs.
However, even the lower refresh rates can be as high as 144-hertz or 100-hertz. The average TV is going to be around 60hz although some much more expensive models can reach 120-hertz.
The danger of buying some TVs is misreading the intentionally misleading specifications that say the refresh rate is effectively 120-hertz.
This means, based on their calculations, that the TV will look like a higher refresh rate. However, in reality, the native refresh rate can be 60-hertz.
When reading the specifications, especially on TVs, look for the native refresh rate as that will be the true refresh rate.
If you are a console player this won’t matter as much. Currently, the common maximum for FPS on consoles is 60 FPS so a 60-hertz display is not bad by any means.
However, some games are getting support for 120 FPS so having a display that has a 120-hertz refresh rate would allow you to future proof your setup.
Next, we have response time, another important performance factor that is nearly a tie, with OLED TVs having a slight advantage.
Response time is the measure of how quickly a pixel can change from one color to another, typically from black to white.
The faster the pixel can change, the clearer the image looks when moving rapidly. If you have a slow response time of 10ms, you would notice a blur following a moving object, especially in video games.
The blur effect you notice at higher response times is called ghosting. Luckily, on many gaming monitors, they try to make them a 5ms or less response time to avoid this from happening.
However, when using higher response time settings in many monitors you can create a ghosting effect. This is why many reviewers will go setting by setting to find which has the least ghosting.
Some monitors can go as low as 0.5ms response time, although more commonly you will see them range from 1ms – 5ms.
1ms response time is the most ideal but typically is reserved for slightly more expensive monitors or cheaper monitors with lower picture quality.
Regular LCD TVs can have good response time, but many will not. Many LCD TVs can be beyond 10ms response time which isn’t ideal for gaming.
Before you buy a TV, especially an LCD TV, I would recommend looking up the response time beforehand.
If you want to learn more about the response rate you should be getting, check out our article on what response times are good for gaming.
OLED TVs are very impressive in terms of response time. Some even going as low as 0.1ms response time.
However, the interesting thing is they can still appear blurrier than a gaming monitor with a 3ms response time.
RTINGs.com says this factor is known as persistence.
The blur is caused by how long a frame is left on the screen before moving to the next one.
A lower response time helps reduce it, but a higher refresh rate can reduce it greatly because the time in-between frames are much shorter.
If there are 60 frames per second, that means there are 16.67ms between every frame.
If there are 144 frames per second, that means there are 6.94ms between every frame.
Every frame is a change in the picture for the display to show.
The more frequently you show frames, the smoother the image will appear and the less movement will happen in every frame.
Since frames are on-screen for much shorter in higher refresh rates, that will greatly improve the persistence and reduce the blur.
Lastly, we have input lag. This is often confused with response time, but these are two very different measurements!
Input lag is the time it takes for a keystroke or button press to show on your display.
Using the input lag measurements found on RTINGS.com, gaming monitors are the winners of this test, as they have a much higher native response time.
Input lag can be the difference between your move registering on-screen before your enemy’s and winning your team the game.
Unlike response time, lower input lag is better.
In a game like Street Fighter, when you press X to punch, the command will travel to your computer then to your monitor.
The person playing on the OLED TV at 60hz with 120ms of input lag will see their punch registered 115ms later than the opponent playing on a gaming monitor at 165-hertz refresh rate (assuming they both pressed punch at the same time).
Multiple factors affect input lag outside of refresh rate. Some other factors that can increase input lag are HDR, increasing bit-depth, and black frame insertion.
TVs will have much higher input lag by default, but some TVs do have a game mode that can greatly reduce it.
Typically, the input lag is still a good amount greater than many gaming monitors, but it will be significantly faster than it was before.
The drawback of game mode in TVs is there may be some type of visual downgrading that has to happen to reduce input lag.
The colors can look more washed out, but it varies depending on how well the TV has optimized their game mode.
All in all, gaming monitors are the winner in terms of performance. They are faster in many ways and when it comes to input lag, they can have snappy visuals without compromising as much visual quality.
Now, to balance things out let’s take a look at one of the huge benefits of having a TV!
Which Is The Better Size For Gaming, A Gaming Monitor, or a TV?
If you are a console gamer, a TV may be a much better choice for you. For one, you get a much larger screen that can be seen at any distance in your living room.
Gaming monitors may have performance, but they are better suited for use at a desk since most land in the 24-inch to 32-inch range.
Coming home from a long day’s work, laying back on the couch, and turning on your gaming console for some casual enjoyment is fantastic!
It’s also an activity better suited for a larger display, hence the reason why TVs are likely going to be better for console gamers.
If you are a PC gamer, a quality gaming monitor is going to be the better choice. Considering many PC gamers play on a desktop that already locks them down to a desk, that is the ideal situation for a gaming monitor.
The size of a gaming monitor is much better for close-range playing. If you tried to use a TV in the same range as a monitor, you would miss most of the details in the game.
Also, gaming monitors come in more ideal resolutions for gamers, such as 1080p or 1440p.
4k gaming is beautiful, but the performance hit is going to very noticeable over either of the previously mentioned resolutions.
1440p can provide a good balance, but to reach a 144-hertz refresh rate you would need a high-end machine.
1080p is the best performance resolution, but you lose out on the image sharpness and pixel density found in 1440p and 4k.
If you have a mid to low range machine and care more about performance over resolution, I would recommend getting 1080p.
The image quality can still be fantastic on a 1080p monitor.
If you get an IPS panel you can achieve great color quality, and you will be able to turn up the graphical settings higher at 1080p.
The next benefit that TVs have over gaming monitors is a superior experience for local multiplayer gaming.
The big size of a TV allows multiple gamers to gather around it for a fun game of Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, and other games of that type.
If you are planning on having multiple people do local play on your big new TV, I would recommend getting an OLED TV.
The viewing angles of an OLED TV make sure that no-one viewing from an off-angle is getting a much inferior visual experience than the person sitting directly center to the TV.
With gaming monitors, the experience is very much a single-player focused activity. You might be able to play with one other person if you had a larger 32-inch gaming monitor, but an OLED TV is still much better.
Are TVs Better Than Gaming Monitors For Watching Movies?
OLED TVs are the best choice for watching movies.
They provide superior viewing angles, a larger screen, a much higher static contrast ratio, and amazing color quality.
Don’t get me wrong, gaming monitors can still provide a great movie watching experience, but OLED TVs were built to be perfect for watching movies.
You also revisit the previous topic of size. If you are watching from bed or on a couch, you can see an OLED TV much better from a distance.
The much higher static contrast ratio OLED TVs have will provide a much clearer, better-looking image when in darker scenes.
The contrast ratio is the difference between the darkest black and the lightest white.
The higher the contrast ratio, the more colors will stand out and appear less washed out when light colors appear in a dark scene.
OLED TVs will have much more accurate colors that tend to make movies look a lot better than a regular LCD.
In terms of movie-watching, I would recommend going for an OLED TV if it’s something you prioritize over gaming or something you do more of.
Gaming monitors can look good, but typically the lower static contrast ratio can make darker scenes look poor.
If you have a VA panel it is a lot better than IPS or TN for contrast ratio, but you may not get as good color accuracy as IPS.
Another issue with watching movies with dark scenes on LCD monitors is backlight bleeding and IPS glow.
Since LCD monitors use edge-lit backlighting, when you are watching a movie in the darkness you may notice the edges of the screen appear brighter.
This is referred to as backlight bleed and it can vary in severity from display to display.
There is also another similar looking issue on IPS panel monitors referred to as IPS glow.
This has the same bright effect in dark scenes, but it takes place in the corners of the screen.
How much this bothers you depends on your tolerance for it, but for this reason alone you could say OLED TVs are better for movie viewing.
Are Gaming Monitors Better For Competitive Gaming?
Gaming monitors are much better for competitive gaming since they tend to be much faster and more responsive.
If you are into games like CSGO, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, or other competitive titles speed is crucial.
Having a monitor that keeps up with your quick motions and your enemy’s, is imperative to your team’s ultimate success.
With that being said, things like persistence, refresh rate, response time, and input lag can be all the difference between winning and losing.
Starting with the refresh rate, a higher refresh rate can greatly reduce input lag and the time between each frame shown on-screen.
This means when an enemy scatters across a doorway, you would see the enemy for longer because the image would refresh more frequently as they passed by.
Tracking an enemy with your cursor and movement, in general, is also smoother with a higher refresh rate.
This is because the image is refreshed more frequently, so the image has a shorter delay between reflecting both your and the enemy’s movement.
The caveat to refresh rate is that you have to have a machine capable of reaching an FPS equivalent to your refresh rate.
The refresh rate of your monitor is how many frames your monitor can show. The FPS is how many frames your graphics card can output in a single second.
To see the benefit of a higher refresh rate, your graphics card and monitor need to be equal in performance.
For example, if you have a 144-hertz refresh rate monitor, you need to be capable of reaching 144 FPS to feel the smoothness and decrease input lag.
The next important competitive feature is response time.
Here I will admit that OLED TVs may be better in many cases.
However, due to the persistence of the display, the image can still come out very blurry.
We described this earlier, but as a summary, the longer a frame stays on screen, the blurrier it will look when it changes frames, causing motion blur.
Response time is important to have lower because it removes ghosting and ensures the player you are looking at doesn’t smear across the screen as they move.
But if the persistence is too high, you may not experience ghosting, but you can experience motion blur.
This will make your enemy look blurrier as they move around the screen, and make them harder to see.
To lower persistence, you need to have less time in between frames, which is largely impacted by the refresh rate.
Going from a 60-hertz refresh rate to a 144-hertz refresh rate can cut the time between frames by nearly 10ms.
This will make moving objects look not only smoother as they move, but also clearer than an OLED TV with a 0.2ms response time and a 60-hertz refresh rate.
The next competitive feature that comes into play is size.
For competitive gaming, you are going to want a smaller monitor that allows you to see the whole picture.
TVs can be great for casual gaming, especially if you are playing a story-driven adventure like RDR2. However, in competitive gaming, it is a disadvantage to not see everything happening on the screen.
It is impossible to see everything happening on a 72-inch screen from 10-feet away when focusing on the center of your screen.
With a gaming monitor that is 24.5 to 32-inches, you can see everything on your screen while not being too small that you miss any details.
If anyone sneaks up on your left or right within your FOV, you have a much better chance of noticing it and reacting in time to save yourself.
Now we have input lag, the time from when you click to when it shows up on your display.
This is important in competitive play because any quick reaction you have should show up as quickly as possible so you can quickly follow-up on that action if it goes wrong.
Input lag is affected greatly by refresh rate, which is another reason to get a gaming monitor with a higher refresh rate over an OLED TV if you want the best performance.
Which Is More Expensive, A Gaming Monitor Or TV?
Now that you know many of the primary benefits or drawbacks you can get from either of these displays, it’s time for the pricing.
4k TVs start at around $400, but if you want game modes or a reduced response time you are going to spend much more.
If you are okay with spending more and are committed to a TV, I would recommend you go with an OLED TV.
With the better viewing angles, color quality, and a much slimmer frame they are the better option for a premium TV.
Unfortunately, OLED TVs are the more expensive option, since on the lower-end you are looking at more than $1,000.
With a gaming monitor, a better display that gets you all the features you need for premium gaming will cost you around $500, at a 1080p or 1440p resolution.
With the OLED TV, you get a better picture quality at a 4k resolution, but you lose in performance. Input lag, response time, refresh rate, and persistence are all going to be better on the gaming monitor.
The gaming monitor will have great color quality for a gaming monitor, but when compared to OLED TVs it doesn’t come close.
If you are a PC gamer that can take advantage of the refresh rate gain and prefer performance over visuals anyway, then the gaming monitor is perfect.
For a much cheaper price than the OLED TV, you can get a 240hz refresh rate, a 1080p resolution or even a 1440p resolution, a 1ms response time, and due to the higher speed, you will have much better input lag.
For $500 you can get an IPS panel too, which provides the best color quality of all the panels on LCD monitors.
For the value and performance, the gaming monitor is a much better choice, especially if you are a PC gamer that can use a higher refresh rate.
For the best picture quality and a higher budget, OLED TVs provide much better color quality and a higher resolution that makes movies and games look amazing!
For the best value for a TV and the size of a TV, LCD (LED) TVs will provide the size of a TV with a 4k resolution at about the cost of a higher-end gaming monitor.
So Which Is Better, The Gaming Monitor Or The TV?
Three types of gamers have three different paths when it comes to the display they should use for gaming.
For the best overall gaming experience, you should get a gaming monitor.
Gaming monitors will have a higher refresh rate, a better response time, the lowest motion blur, the lowest input lag, and great visual quality too.
Now, both console gamers and PC gamers can use higher refresh rates to enjoy games at a buttery smooth FPS.
Gaming monitors can provide much higher refresh rate options than TVs if you are a PC player.
If you are a console player, you can get the 120-hertz refresh rate you desire for a much cheaper price than a TV would charge.
For the best visual experience for both movie viewing and gaming, OLED TVs are an incredible new technology that provides shocking picture quality.
You can view an OLED TV from any angle and get a rich image, unlike many LCD TVs and monitors.
The contrast ratio on certain OLED TVs can reach infinite:1 providing beautiful colors and true blacks that we’ve never seen with LCD panels.
Movies will look better than ever. Story-driven adventures like God of War, RDR2, Ghost Of Tsushima, and many more will shine on an OLED screen.
You can comfortably relax every day, lounged back on your couch, playing games with the best picture quality on the market.
Lastly, we have LCD TVs that may not be as pristine as OLED TVs but can still provide a great experience for a much cheaper price.
An IPS LCD can give you decent viewing angles, and great colors, so you can enjoy any game you play.
You have a large size, so if you are a console gamer that prefers a reclined, relaxed position while gaming, an LCD TV can provide that.
I prefer to game at my desk where my PC is, so a gaming monitor is perfect for me.
A higher refresh rate, 1440p resolution, lower response time, and the rest is much better for the games I like to enjoy.
I also have a unique ultrawide resolution and form factor, which is perfect for many single-player experiences and strategy games.
If you want to check out the monitor I’m currently using, you can read all about it in our review of the Best Ultrawide Monitors.