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Gaming Monitors: How to Choose the Best Monitors for your Simulator

sim rig featuring triple monitors
Featured image: VRS

Broadly speaking, sim racers have three options when it comes to gaming displays: one single monitor, a triple-screen setup, or a virtual/augmented reality headset, such as the Valve Index.

While each of these options has its advantages and disadvantages, in this guide, I’m going to be setting aside the VR headsets and focusing purely on monitors. Picking a new gaming monitor can be challenging because there’re lots of confusing numbers being thrown at you by manufacturers, as well as some discrepancies with regards to marketing terms.

Acer 49″ 32:9 Super Ultrawide (image source)

My aim here is to empower you to know how to pick the best monitor for your circumstances. The monitor or monitors you choose will be based on factors like how much space you have, how much power your GPU has, and your budget. I’ve covered aspects that I think are essential and shed some light on the technical jargon that surrounds display units, such as top resolution, refresh rate, etc., so hopefully, this will help you choose the best display solution for your rig.

Acer Predator X34
One of our favorite picks for single or triple sim racing use, the Acer Predator Gaming X34 Curved 34″ UltraWide QHD with NVIDIA G-Sync technology

Should I choose single, triple-screen or ultrawide gaming monitors?

Whether you plan to go down the single or triple-screen route is your call. One thing I would like to point out, however, before we get started is that triple-screen monitor setups help increase a sim racers immersion and their awareness of their surroundings by increasing the size of the visual field around them.

triple screen racing simulator
A triple screen gaming monitor setup (image source: how to build a sim racing rig)

To demonstrate, you must imagine what the correct field of view would look like on a sim rig with a single screen. You will likely only be able to see what’s directly in front of you, and your view will be limited to the width of the car’s windscreen. It’s drivable, but racing in close quarters is a bit awkward, to say the least.

If you add in two extra monitors, everything looks a bit more natural. You can see the side mirrors and generally have a better sense of what’s around you in the car, much like in a real car.

However, that increased immersion always comes at the cost of performance. It s also possible to expand your field of view with a single screen by choosing an ultrawide or super ultrawide monitor, and I’ve covered some of them below, however, you still won’t reach the levels of immersion three screens can offer.

The current darling of the sim community and definitely one for the top budget crowd: Samsung’s Odyssey G9 Curved Gaming Monitor, 49 Inch, 240hz, 1000R, 1ms, 1440p.

Tech Corner

Screen Resolution

One of the significant factors to consider when choosing a new display is the screen resolution. The best resolution (and subsequently, best computer monitors) for sim racing depends on what GPU you own and how much budget you have available for buying a new one to handle more advanced monitors.

The current sweet spot for sim racers is 1440p, with more now looking to adopt 4K; however, 1080p remains the most popular configuration used today. 1440p and 4K are slowly acquiring market share but often require the best graphics card options.

Here is a breakdown of the screen resolutions you’re likely to see advertised when you begin searching for a new monitor:

ResolutionManufacturer monitor category name
1280×720HD / 720p
1920×1080FHD (Full HD) / 1080p
2560×1440QHD/WQHD (Quad HD) / 2K 1440p
3840×2160UHD (Ultra HD) / 4K 2160p
7680×4320FUHD (Full Ultra HD) / 8K 4320p

4K is considered the true successor to 1080p as it doubles the horizontal and vertical resolution, so you can begin to understand just what’s being asked of your graphics card when you throw an intensive application or game into the mix.

As noted above, it depends on what your PC and your GPU can handle.

Frame Rate and Refresh Rate

Frame rates are measured in frames per second (FPS). This is the frequency at which consecutive images called ‘frames’ appear on a screen. Ideally, you’ll want to aim for a steady 60 FPS as an absolute minimum for smooth gameplay.

The refresh rate of a monitor is measured in hertz (Hz) and is the number of times per second an image displayed needs to be regenerated to prevent flicker when viewed by the human eye. This is independent of frame rate, which describes how many images are stored or generated every second by the device driving the display. If your GPU can regenerate an image to a 120Hz monitor 120 times each second, you’ll enjoy an excellent viewing experience. However, if your PC isn’t able to power through a demanding game, you will see stuttering and possible screen tear as the monitor and GPU become out of sync.

ASUS TUF Gaming VG259Q Gaming Monitor – 25 inch (24.5 inch viewable) Full HD (1920×1080), 144Hz, IPS, Extreme Low Motion Blur™, Adaptive-sync, 1ms (MPRT)

Response time

Another number you will find advertised with monitors is the response time. Measured in milliseconds (Ms), this figure represents how quickly the monitor in question can go from gray-to-gray, as calculated and tested by the manufacturer. It’s recommended that you have a response time of five Ms or lower to help prevent ghosting. Having a monitor with a high response time could lead to image ghosting issues, which is just another hurdle on the road to absolute immersion. Of course, the lower the response time, the more expensive the price tag will be.

FreeSync and G-Sync

These are systems developed by AMD and NVIDIA, respectively, that offer smoother gameplay, help prevent what is known as screen tearing, and also reduce input lag. What essentially occurs is the monitor and graphics card communicate with one another to adapt the current refresh rate to ensure what’s being displayed on-screen is in sync with what’s being rendered. If the monitor or card is above and beyond the other, this can cause screen tears to appear, which will come in the form of horizontal tearing across the screen.

Tech Summary

An ideal monitor for sim racers would be the chosen resolution and screen size to fit your budget and spatial requirements, with 120Hz or higher refresh rate, and two Ms or lower response time. Plus, either FreeSync or G-Sync support. Of course, when you begin to enter into the 2K and 4K market, finding screens with these stats is going to get very pricey.

While AMD GPUs support FreeSync and NVIDIA GPUs work with G-Sync, NVIDIA has begun certifying specific FreeSync monitors to work with its GPUs. Lastly, I’d like to mention that while some 8K monitors are starting to appear on the market, the response times and refresh rates of these screens is still relatively low. So, in my personal opinion, when it comes to selecting a monitor for sim racing where split seconds can make all the difference, it would be better to hold off on buying one of these until the technology catches up to that of their lower-resolution counterparts.

Single Screen Monitors

A considerable advantage to single screen monitors is their simplicity. By that, I mean, they require little to no configuration when compared with a triple-screen setup. Should you decide to opt for a single screen, your main choices are going to between flat or curved screens, and of course, all the technical specifications in our tech summary above.

There’s also the choice between regular, ultrawide, and even super ultrawide aspect ratios, plus flat-screen or curved screen options.

Here are my recommendations in each category:

Single Screen Gaming Monitors

Asus VG259Q


Price: $249 (view)
Size: 24.5″
Resolution: 1080p
Refresh: 144 Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD FreeSync
Curvature: Flat

AOC C27G1


Price: $349 (view)
Size: 27″
Resolution: 1080p
Refresh: 144Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD Freesync
Curvature: Curved

Dell S2719DGF


Price: $400 (view)
Size: 27″
Resolution: 1440p
Refresh: 155Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD FreeSync
Curvature: Flat

Acer Predator XB271HK


Price: $468 (view)
Size: 27″
Resolution: 4k
Refresh: 60 Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 4Ms Response Time
Sync: NVIDIA G-Sync
Curvature: Flat
Acer’s Predator series monitors

Ultrawide Gaming Monitors

LG Ultrawide 34WL50S-B


Price: $515 (view)
Size: 34″
Resolution: 1080p
Refresh: 144 Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 5Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD FreeSync
Curvature: Curved

AOC CU34G2X/BK


Price: $862 (view)
Size: 34″
Resolution: 1440p
Refresh: 144Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD Freesync
Curvature: Curved

Super Ultrawide Monitors

Samsung LC49HG90DMUXEN


Price: $998 (view)
Size: 49″
Resolution: 1080p
Refresh: 144 Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD FreeSync
Curvature: Curved

Samsung Odyssey G9


Price: $1,699 (view)
Size: 49″
Resolution: 1440p
Refresh: 240Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: NVIDIA G-SYNC and Free Sync
Curvature: Curved

Triple-Screen Monitors

Setting up triple monitors for your sim racing rig isn’t all that complicated, and it doesn’t require too many parts, but getting the right parts is pretty much crucial. First of all, you’re going to need three single screen monitors, and ideally, these should be identical. It is sometimes possible to use different models, but you will likely run into issues with color and refresh rate matching across your screens. Also, you may find that correcting for mismatched bezels is difficult, and honestly, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Aside from the usual things that people look at with computer monitors like refresh rate and response time, you need to think about resolution and size a little more critically if you’re setting up triple monitors on a sim racing rig. The larger your screens are, the further away you’ll need to place them, which takes up more space, but if your screens are too small, you won’t get the benefits of immersion.

The prevailing wisdom is that achieving a roughly 180-degree field of view (FOV) is optimum. Essentially this means that the far edges of your two side monitors should be in line with your eyes.

The next consideration is the resolution. 1080p is still the default when it comes to triple screen setups, but 2K and 4K screens are becoming a lot more commonplace. You may be tempted to look at those options. Still, you need to be aware that small increases in screen resolution multiply to create relatively large increases in the total number of pixels that your video card needs to render.

Samsung CJG5 Series 27-Inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) 144Hz 4ms Curved Gaming Monitor

A triple 1080p setup has roughly 6 million total pixels, while three 1440p monitors weigh in at nearly twice as much, and three 4k monitors have over two times the number of pixels of a 1440p setup. The relationship between frame rate and the number of pixels isn’t linear, but you can make some educated guesses. If your rig manages say 80 FPS on a single 1080p monitor, then it’s going to struggle to render 12 times the number of pixels on a triple 4k setup. The takeaway from all this is that if you want to run a triple-screen monitor setup above 1080p, you’re going to need a rather powerful GPU (likely an RTX 2080 ti or higher).

On the topic of GPUs, having one that provides enough ports to drive three monitors is a must, so make sure to check the connectivity of your GPU before you decide to go ahead and buy yourself three new monitors.

Here’re some great options for a triple-screen setup:

ASUS VG248QE


Price: $249 x 3 = $747 (view)
Size: 24″
Resolution: 1080p
Refresh: 144 Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 1Ms Response Time
Sync: AMD FreeSync
Curvature: Flat

Samsung LC27JG50QQNZA


Price: $379 x 3 = $1,137 (view)
Size: 27″
Resolution: 1440p
Refresh: 144Hz Refresh Rate
Response: 4Ms Response Time
Curvature: Curved

Monitor Stands

The next consideration is how you’re going to mount your monitors. If you race at a desk, this is likely something you won’t need to think about too much, but if you have a standalone rig, you’re going to need a monitor stand. These come in several shapes and sizes, but in general, they’re designed to stand over your rig and allow you to adjust the height, spacing, and angle of your monitors.

Sim Lab Triple monitor mount (19″ – 42″) VESA (image source)

This is an area that’s going to vary a lot depending on your requirements, and it’s something that I would put a reasonable amount of time into during the planning stages. It’s essential to make sure that whatever stand you choose can cater to the sizes of your screens. With that said, here are some great choices on the market to suit different types of setups.

GT Omega Simulator Triple Monitor Stand

  • Price: $249.95
  • Fits up to three 27″ Monitors
  • Multi-Adjustable arms allowing for rotation and height control

Sim Lab VESA Triple Monitor Mount

  • $299
  • Fits up to three 49″ Monitors
  • High-grade aluminium profiles with no flex

Next Level Racing Free Standing Monitor Stand

  • $399
  • Fits up to three 65″ Monitors
  • Lockable castor wheels allow for portability