The aspect ratio is an important yet often overlooked entry on a monitor’s specification sheet. Today, most people tend to fixate on the display resolution, the refresh rate, and even the response time, while the aspect ratio remains more of an afterthought.
But for some people, the aspect ratio will be the first thing they focus on before considering the rest. In this article, we will focus on answering this question: what is the best aspect ratio for gaming?
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What Aspect Ratios Are There?
Displays have been coming with various aspect ratios over the years, although the selection is not very wide today – at least if we’re talking solely about gaming monitors.
Today, there are two main aspect ratios that we see in gaming monitors:
- The regular widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio
- The ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio
Of course, other aspect ratios exist, but they are not ordinary when it comes to gaming monitors. For example, there are 4:3, 5:4, 16:10, 18:9, 32:9, and others. Yet, monitors tend to stick to the two above standards in the vast majority of cases.
Advantages of a Larger Aspect Ratio
As you can tell, a greater aspect ratio usually means that the monitor itself will be wider, while the height remains more or less the same. So, what benefits does a wider monitor offer?
Well, for one, there is the bigger display surface, which can make multitasking a more enjoyable experience. However, when it comes to gaming, a larger aspect ratio offers a particular advantage: a wider field of view (FOV).
In most games, this means better peripheral vision, constituting an advantage in multiplayer, although not all games support ultrawide monitors.
While some older games or console ports simply may not support a 21:9 aspect ratio, others (such as Overwatch) deliberately disable ultrawide support to prevent some players from having an unfair advantage over others.
Disadvantages of a Larger Aspect Ratio
Having a larger aspect ratio can’t possibly be a bad thing in itself. When disregarding all other factors, there is no disadvantage to picking a 21:9 monitor over a 16:9 one. However, these two types of monitors differ in pricing and in terms of the features that they offer.
- The resolution, is the first and most obvious difference. A wider monitor will also come with a higher resolution. As such, the higher pixel count may be problematic for those with weaker GPUs, as it may lead to a noticeable performance drops.
- The refresh rate is another vital aspect of a gaming monitor, which is the maximum FPS that a monitor can display. Today, 60Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz are the most common standards. Now, while there are ultrawide 21:9 monitors that support a 144Hz refresh rate, they start at a higher compared to their 16:9 counterparts. Plus, there are still no 240Hz 21:9 monitors.
- The price, which is the most crucial factor to consider for the budget-conscious. Today, ultrawide monitors are not that expensive, and you could easily get one for under 200$. However, a 16:9 monitor will offer better value and more features than a similarly priced 21:9 one, especially in the lower price ranges.
Conclusion – What Is The Best Aspect Ratio For Gaming?
Keeping all of the above in mind, we would recommend a 16:9 aspect ratio. For most gamers this is the best aspect ratio. Why?
The 16:9 aspect ratio is currently the most common one, meaning that it is also universally supported. Additionally, a 16:9 monitor will inevitably offer better value and, potentially, features that aren’t available in the more affordable 21:9 monitors.
Of course, there are several more important factors to consider when buying a monitor than the aspect ratio itself, such as the resolution, the panel type, the refresh rate, and even pixel response time.
At the end of the day, however, unless you’re a PC gaming enthusiast or you like having multiple windows open at once on your desktop, going with a 16:9 aspect ratio is the safest bet. And as mentioned above, not all games support 21:9 displays, so if you plan on getting one to get an edge in competitive multiplayer, make sure the game you’re playing can support it first.