These are the two best types of screens for playing PC games — here’s which one you should choose

Maybe you’ve stashed away a little extra cash for a cheeky gaming PC upgrade. What do you get?

Unless you’re in dire need of new parts, you should look into the fancy new options of computer monitors to make your games take on a fresh new look.

The two most common and best options is to go big, or to go wide.

I tried a 32-inch behemoth gaming monitor and a sleek ultra-wide 21:9 model, and there are upsides and downsides to each. At the end of the day, I can only pick one.

Check out which of the two has a place on my desk:


Switching from a paltry 24-inch monitor to a giant 32-inch slab of screen was like getting a bigger TV. Everything is bigger and better.

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Modern Vintage Gamer/YouTube

MOAR please.


But because the screen is so big and I’m sitting about three feet away from it, my eyes tended to focus on certain parts of the screen at a time rather than the whole thing. I had to actually move my neck to look at something in the top corner.

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Kevin The Tech Ninja/YouTube

A friend who plays StarCraft said he didn’t like the bigger screen because he had a greater distance to look when looking at areas around the screen’s edge.

It’s the same thing with my first-person-shooter (FPS) and third-person-shooter games, as I noticed more difficulty looking around to spot opponents than with a smaller screen. It was especially noticeable when looking towards the top corners.


It was easier to see the whole screen with my dinky old monitor.

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Kali Muscle/YouTube

But still, playing games on a bigger screen is amazing.


And watching YouTube videos on a dramatically bigger screen is better, too. It was almost strange at first, but in a good way.

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MS Tech/YouTube

Factor in that the many larger screens bigger than 28 or so inches come with 4K resolution, which makes games look incredible. You just need to make sure you have a PC powerful enough to run games in 4K.

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BitWit/YouTube

Ultra-wide screens with a 21:9 aspect ratio are very cool, too.

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HardwareCanucks/YouTube

The height of the particular ultra-wide monitor I was testing is about the same as my old 24-inch monitor. But it adds some extra horizontal width, which gives me extra “computer” on either side.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

It was easier to scan my eyes horizontally than with the big screen, which tested the limits of my eyeball rotation.

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HardwareCanucks/YouTube

That’s probably because the ultra-wide monitor I was using had a slight curve to it, which looks fantastic.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Ultra-wide monitors come in varying resolutions, like 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. Make sure your PC is powerful enough to run games at the monitor’s resolution.

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HardwareCanucks/YouTube

A normal 1080p 16:9 monitor has 1920 x 1080 pixels. But a 1080p 21:9 monitor has 2560 x 1080 pixels due to the extra width, which means your graphics card needs to work harder to push a game’s graphics to more pixels than you’re used to on a 16:9 monitor.


Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t look great when you’re watching videos that don’t support 21:9, as you get those black bars on either side.

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Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

It does looks great if the video you’re watching DOES support 21:9. More video is being supported in 21:9, and there’s software out there that can tweak video to fill an ultra-wide screen.

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LinusTechTips/YouTube

Just note that consoles like the Xbox One and PS4 don’t support 21:9, only 16:9. That means you shouldn’t really use ultra-wide screens with consoles, on PCs.


So which is it?

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Skye Gould/Business Insider

The big screen gives me a little bit more of both height and width compared to than my old 24-inch monitor, whereas the ultra-wide only gives me a bunch extra width.

But when I switched back from an ultra-wide 21:9 monitor to a regular 16:9 monitor, I found that I missed the extra width from the ultra-wide monitor.

I’ve been playing a third-person-shooter game called “DayZ” a lot these days, where I’m constantly scanning the screen for an opponent. The extra width from an ultra-wide monitor was perfect for this.

At the same time, I also love how games look on the big screen, and videos fill the whole screen without the black bars you’d normally see while watching videos on the ultra-wide screen.

With all the pros and cons considered I went for…


It’s the ultra-wide.

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LinusTechTips/YouTube

The ultra-wide gives games and compatible videos a whole new look, and it’s very, very nice.

I’d switch to the big screen and be wowed by its overall size, but whenever I switched back to the ultra-wide I noticed how much I missed having the extra screen screen width on games.

It’s like getting enhanced vision. Ultra-wide lets you see more of your games that you never knew you had because you’ve been stuck in the confines of 16:9. You might say that it can give you an advantage as you have a wider field-of-view than any opponent with a 16:9 monitor, but it’s somewhat minimal.

Don’t get me wrong, the big screen is also fantastic, but it’s only making everything look bigger rather than giving me extra, like the ultra-wide.

Going ultra-wide also seems like a more natural progression than a bigger 16:9 monitor. You might remember just a few years ago when the standard aspect ratio for monitor was 4:3, which was almost like a square. Then, the wider 16:9 aspect ratio became the new standard. Now 21:9 is becoming more and more popular, and it looks absolutely stunning.


At the moment, it’s either or. You currently can’t find monitors that combine both the benefits of a big screen as well as the extra width. If you want to go big with ultra-wide, you might have to look at ultra-wide TVs.

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HDTV News/YouTube

Which monitors did I use?

I happened to have two monitors from Acer at the same time, in the same place:

Predator X321 big screen.

Predator X34 ultra-wide.

Those are great and insanely expensive because they have high-end displays and chock-ful of technology for super-smooth gaming. There are much cheaper options out there, like this big screen from LG, or this inexpensive ultra wide from Dell.

They’re probably not as good as those special expensive Acer monitors, but they’re affordable and they’ll get the job done.