If you are considering purchasing a brand new gaming monitor, you may have one question on your mind. What is the best aspect ratio for gaming? Don’t worry. We are here to help.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The two primary aspect ratios for gaming are 21:9 and 16:9.
  • 16:9 is the most common aspect ratio, as it has been in use for decades.
  • Ultrawide 21:9 displays are great for increased immersion and for offering up more screen real estate.

What is an Aspect Ratio?

Before you can suss out the best aspect ratio for you and your gaming setup, it can be particularly helpful to understand what aspect ratio is in the first place. The aspect ratio of a display is the ratio of its width to its height. It is usually expressed as two numbers separated by a colon.

What Aspect Ratios are There to Choose From?

Throughout the 20th century, 4:3 was the most common aspect ratio in films, television screens, and even computer monitors. That all changed when widescreen HDTVs entered the market. Nowadays, the 4:3 aspect ratio is primarily used for artistic and stylistic purposes.

When it comes to modern gaming monitors, you basically have two aspect ratios to choose from. For decades, the main aspect ratio used in computer and console games was 16:9, though recently monitors have begun adopting the 21:9 ultrawide format. Remember that.

Insider Tip

The aspect ratio of a display is the ratio of its width to its height. It is usually expressed as two numbers separated by a colon.

What is the Best Aspect Ratio for Gaming?

There is no absolute correct aspect ratio for gaming, as user preferences constantly shift, as do computer and console games. There are some benefits to each of the most common monitor aspect ratios. The best aspect ratio will also give you the best benefits of dual monitor gaming.

Benefits of 16:9 Aspect Ratios

Here are some of the key advantages of choosing a computer monitor with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Tried-and-True Technology

Monitors have been using a 16:9 aspect ratio to display computer games for decades now. In other words, the technology has been run through its paces (and then some.) Most games will reliably integrate with this aspect ratio and you are very unlikely to ever run into any resolution issues. Remember that using the best monitor settings for gaming can also help you get a smoother image as you play. You can also typically swap between TV and gaming without any need to adjust the aspect ratio, as most television programs can also easily be displayed in 16:9.

Insider Tip

For decades, the main aspect ratio used in computer and console games was 16:9, though recently monitors have begun adopting the 21:9 ultrawide format. Remember that.

Versatility

If you do perchance run into a game that was designed to be played in a different aspect ratio, it is very likely that a monitor running a 16:9 aspect ratio will be able to ape the effect. 16:9 is a highly versatile aspect ratio that can decently display content that was made in other aspect ratios, such as 4:3 and 21:9. You may encounter some empty space on your screen when you do this, but there should be no other obvious issues.

Benefits of 21:9 Aspect Ratio

The ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio comes with its own share of key benefits.

Broader Field of View

Ultrawide monitors with a 21:9 aspect ratio offer a broader field of view than standard 16:9 monitors. This can increase immersion and increase accuracy as you play competitive computer games. Some ultrawide monitors are even curved, offering even more immersion during gameplay or while watching your favorite Hollywood blockbusters. However, be aware that some competitive games will limit the aspect ratio to 16:9 to ensure that no players have an unfair advantage.

More Screen Real Estate

Ultrawide 21:9 monitors offer more screen real estate, which can be used however you see fit. You can use the whole screen to play a game, for immersion, or you can get creative and go with a screen-in-screen setup. These setups will allow you to have a game going at the same time as a web browser is open or another piece of software is being used. 21:9 monitors offer the advantages of a multi-screen set up without all of the frustration of setting it up.

More Ports and Add-ons

The added screen real estate with a 21:9 display also means more room on the back and the sides for ports and related added features. Modern ultrawide monitors typically include a whole lot of useful ports, integrated speakers, and more.

Warning

You may encounter some empty space on your screen when you do this, but there should be no other obvious issues.

F.A.Q.

What is monitor resolution?

Monitor resolution describes the number of pixels on the screen, otherwise known as the visual dimension. The higher a display’s resolution is, the more detail will be displayed on the screen as you play your favorite games.


So the higher the pixel density the better right?

Yes and no. While ultra-high pixel densities will result in a more detailed image, it will also be more taxing for your CPU, GPU, and monitor. Refresh rates could stall and input lag could increase.


What is DPI/PPI?

DPI refers to dots per inch, which measures how many dots per inch are displayed on a screen. PPI is similar, meaning pixels per inch. This metric measures how many pixels can be displayed per inch of a monitor.



STAT: 4K is undergoing a much faster adoption rate than that of 1440p, with a 50%+ US market share expected by the end of the decade. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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