THE CHOICES & WHY
At Sim Dynamics I am privileged to have used and worked with a massive array of hardware. This article on monitors will, I hope help some of you out there make the right informed choices to suit you.
First let us have a look at the facts of use on a simulator:
The number one factor with monitor choice is not what you want or think you want, it is what your PC performance will allow you to run now or in future. The fact is technology by its nature is always advancing and whatever you run now, in 2 to 5 years will not be a patch on what is to come so lets not get carried away with the numbers and instead look at the values for use.
First thing to consider with a monitor is the more pixels your monitor needs to show, the more pixels your PC Graphics (GPU) needs to push out. Software updates and hardware are always asking for more load as the manufacturers develop more detail. Unlike a film or PC Game, the response time of multiple inputs (steering, sound, monitor, pedals... as a minimum) are being re-calculated and processed by the PC every millisecond before it can send that info to the GPU for rendering to the monitor.
What this means as an example, is a PC that can run 3 x 1080 monitors at 160 frames per second (fps) could be running below 90 fps with 3x1440 monitors and that is now, in 2 or more years where will it be with the software updates? What that fps change means is you now have stutters, blurring or jumps in your image negating the value of having a 1440 resolution. To compensate we can cut graphics features such as shadows and numbers of cars being seen but what was the point in improving resolution to then lose detail!
The key thought must be what do I really need for my best purpose with my budget, you can always add the frilly bits later when it is more relevant and cheaper.
What should we be aware of in monitor choices to meet budget and goals?
Width is king, not size, but width. The best monitors for simulation are either 32" triples or 49” Ultra wides and definitely not a large TV, 4k or otherwise! Hight is useless on a simulator because we need to look width ways not up and down when driving. So all hight offers is increased initial impact and a degree of additional immersion.
The bigger overall we go with our monitor the bigger or more disproportionate the cockpit render becomes plus we demand more from our PC to fill space with graphics that are of no use to anyone, therefore hiking the cost of ownership… and for what? I’ll tell you for what, first impression, that’s all, you won’t go faster with bigger, and you won’t feel more immersed because you will notice the dashboard and steering wheel are way bigger than ones you are sat holding, it just looks more bling on face value. Once done though it is difficult to step back, we are human after all!