Sim racing and flight simulators have seen a meteoric rise in popularity in the last couple of years, and the community now is bigger than it ever was.
Simulated racing can take you closer to the track with realistic racing gears and real-life competitiveness for circuit racing lovers.
Similarly, with flight simulators, the thrill of sitting in a virtual cockpit and getting to virtually fly an aircraft can be an exhilarating experience that many have craved since Microsoft first launched its flight simulator in the year 1982.
If you are a thrill freak and having life-like experiences of driving a race or flying an aircraft is your forte, then simulators are the way to go.
Hyper-speed car racing or flying an aircraft as we know, come with their own hazards, but with racing or flight sims you get to enjoy driving a new car or fly new airplanes every time you start the game. Contrary to the expenses involved in real-world racing or flying even a training aircraft, simulators can successfully emulate real-world racing and flying experiences to a considerable extent at a fraction of the costs.
A large portion of your research should be on choosing the ideal monitor (or monitor setup) and the specs of the graphics card to drive that setup.
You may run simulator games on virtually any monitor, but if you are in for the best that simulator games have to offer, you would need a monitor that is tuned and manufactured keeping such games in mind.
The focus here is on the field of view and to unlock the peripheral vision that racers and pilots have in the seat of a real-life racing car or the cockpit of an airplane.
Our focus today would be to help you pick the best monitor set up as per your budget and some recommendations at the end. Happy racing/flying.
Table of Contents
Types of Monitor Setups for Simulators
Broadly, there are three types of visual setups for simulators, and each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, we’ll go light on VR headsets in this guide because the focus is on monitors today.
The aim here is to empower the readers on how to pick the best monitor setup. The monitor (or monitors) you choose would depend on factors like the available space for the sim rig, the power your GPU has, and obviously, your budget.
Single Monitor Setup
Let’s imagine what the field of view would be like on a single screen sim rig. The monitor would be wide enough to display only what’s directly in front of you, and that is similar to the width of your car’s windscreen or your plane’s windshield.
You can manage to win some single-player races competing against the bots or fly a plane, but racing in close quarters and adjusting to the moves of the other racers in multiplayer or trying to land and turn an aircraft may be a bit awkward.
You can expand your field of view on the same single screen by choosing to go with an ultrawide or super ultrawide monitor. That experience, however, would still be inferior to having three screens side by side.
Widescreen Monitor Setup
The limitations of a single screen monitor can be nullified to some extent using Ultrawide monitors. They would cost significantly less than multi-monitor setups and offer an increased field of view, and the load on the graphics card would be much lower. A medium-range graphics card would be enough to drive the display.
However, for experienced gamers, ultrawide monitors are not immersive enough.
Super Ultrawide/Ultrawide Monitor Setup
These range up to 49 inches and do make up for multi-monitor setups to a large extent. Seasoned gamers going through space constraints, that won’t allow them a multi monitor setup, might opt for a super ultrawide gaming monitor for flight or racing sims rather than overhauling their gaming room.
These are still cheaper than multi-monitor setups, and a curved super-widescreen monitor does make up for the immersive experience lost in a single screen and widescreen displays. The field of view is much better and allows for a much cleaner, spacious and better gaming experience. The Samsung Odyssey G9, carrying an aspect ratio of 32:9, HDR 10 and 4K resolution, is an example of an excellent Super Ultrawide monitor.
Triple Monitor Setup
Single screen monitors are good, and some ultrawide options do improve your field of view.
However, the game changes if you can add two extra monitors to even a moderately sized 27-inch single monitor build. In that case, you are looking at a humongous field of view that virtually wraps around you and goes past your peripheral vision on the sides.
Everything would look a bit more natural in this large field of view and provide you with the best experience possible in simulator games. The windows and the side mirrors of the car would be in your area of sight now, and you would be able to see everything around the car, much like in a real car.
However, this increased immersion would ask a lot more of your graphics card as the card would need to drive three monitors simultaneously. You might have to go for SLI or Crossfire options if your graphics card is not a top-of-the-line card.
This might be the cheapest option if you decide to do away with monitors and focus on VR exclusively.
However, some have complained about VR detaching you from the real world completely when put on and hence prefer gaming on monitors.
Additionally, VR headsets are not versatile as they are not compatible with every game, and once in a while, you would miss your monitor if you choose to play some other games. However, if simulators are the only thing you live each day for, you could try your hands on the Rift for a solid entry-level VR headset or the Vive for a more complete but costlier package and race away.
Simulator Monitors: Decisive Factors – A Buying Guide
When we think of a simulator setup, the first thing that comes to our mind is a colossal monitor replicating the vision a race driver or a pilot has from the ‘hot seat.’ The field of view is around 180 degrees in front of the eyes.
Irrespective of the platform you may choose to game on, simulators would need specialized monitors that can display all that is in front of a real racer or pilot with excellent clarity and detail, which is impossible in small screen-sized monitors.
In addition to the monitor size, there are a host of other factors that should be taken into account while choosing a monitor you plan to game on.
Aspect Ratio and Screen Size
The most popular for monitors meant for simulation games is the 16:9 aspect ratio that gives an excellent 1080p natural resolution and is a good balance between width and height.
With single monitor setups, you might want to upgrade your display later and, in simulators, thinking long term might be an excellent option to avoid micro upgrades as you keep gaming. Hence, gaming on a 16:9 aspect ratio on multi-monitors would be a visually appealing experience.
For the widescreen setups, the aspect ratio would differ as the height would be reduced to compensate for increased width, and in such a case, a 32:9 or 21:9 aspect ratio would be more suitable.
Screen size between 27 inches to 32 inches is good for standard single-screen monitors when playing on the 16:9 aspect ratio. Anything bigger than 32 inches for 1080p gaming would stretch the pixels, and pixels per inch might not be enough for that big screen. With more giant screens, make sure you increase the resolution to at least 1440p.
Screen Type and Panel Type
It is a matter of preference, and if you have settled for a single screen setup, you might opt for a curved screen display, but curves are an odd choice for a multi-monitor setup as the curve won’t have continuity on the edges.
In this regard, a flat-screen multi-monitor setup would have a continuous flush curve where the screen curves at the sides and remains flat in the middle. Moreover, flat screens are cheaper than curved screens.
You can opt for VA monitors if you are looking for a balance between response time and visual quality.
For seasoned sim racers, TN panels are the best. However, IPS would be more suited for flight simulators. We would advise racers to check IPS panels thoroughly as they usually have lower response times, and high-performance IPS panels are the most expensive out of the three.
Frame Sync Technology
Most gamers advise disabling vertical sync with sim racing as, unlike FPS games, vertical sync in sim racing can create lag from the driving wheel and pedals. Hence, you can go for monitors with Freesync or G-Sync, which is more of a variable and adaptive sync option and replaces vertical sync.
For flight sims, however, vertical sync may work just fine. Moreover, your graphics card must be robust to hold the frame rate at the desired level, as with the graphic content becoming heavy in different racing circuits, the frame rates might start dropping, rendering the sync technologies useless.
Resolution and Brightness
The resolution could be determined by the monitor screen size. Let’s reiterate that 1080p gaming is acceptable and good enough for single-screen 27-inch monitors. At most, you might want to go for 2K resolution on a more prominent display and even multi-monitor and widescreen setups. Let’s leave 4K gaming for now, as driving 2K on multi-screens would already be a herculean task for any GPU.
One may think that being barely 20 inches away from the monitor would not make the brightness a factor, and that isn’t a topic to ponder on, but that is not the case. We recommend you avoid monitors with less than 300nits brightness as it may indicate an inferior display panel. Anything above 300 nits would be sufficient, and you could enter the HDR range if you opt for a 400 nits or higher display monitor.
Refresh Rate and Response Time
The de-facto standard for fast-paced motion games like sim racing is 144Hz, as anything below would just muddle the experience.
However, there must be a balance between the resolution and refresh rate. The GPU must be powerful enough to push 144 frames per second or more along with the pixels of the chosen resolution. An underwhelming GPU that can pump out a maximum of 80-90 FPS is just underutilizing the monitor’s 144Hz refresh rate.
For flight sims however, the frame rate could be slightly lower with more emphasis on the resolution.
Response time is the time a pixel on the monitor panel takes to change its color. Response time is an overly important factor, especially for sim racing, as it would reduce motion blur and ghosting. You would want to go as low as possible with the response time, with the minimum acceptable response time being 5ms.
Usually, HDMI is available on almost all monitors, but in the world of racing sims, the gameplay is fast, and you would need monitors with high frame rates and Display Ports with their support for higher frame rate may come in handy in the future and keep the display working for you for longer.
On the other hand, flight simulators are much more stable with their gameplay, with rare instances of fast-paced actions.
For many who choose to go with a single screen set up for now and wish to upgrade to a multi-monitor in the future, bezel thickness could be a deal-breaker. If the stress of thinking long term with simulators isn’t strong enough, let’s visualize the extra thick separators in the middle of the display you would be gaming on. Discouraging, isn’t it? As such, we recommend going with the thinnest bezels possible so that in the future, when you get two more monitors, the bezels don’t add up to form a thick black partition.
Monitors for Simulators – Detailed Overview of the Top Picks
With the basics sorted, let’s get to some of the best monitor picks for simulators. Our recommended list includes top picks from regular and widescreen monitors. For multi-screen setups, just get the desired number of standard monitors, and you should be good to go.
1. Samsung Odyssey G9 – The Best Super Wide Screen Curved Monitor on the Market
If you are looking for a single screen, huge and curved monitor to go racing with your buddies, the Samsung Odyssey G9 is your best bet. The G9 has plenty more to offer than its monstrous size. The 240Hz refresh rate, 4K resolution, certified HDR 1000 display panel, and a minimum 1ms response are top-of-the-line specs for any monitor. It is equivalent to putting together three medium-sized monitors side by side.
The Odyssey G9, however, is extremely expensive, but you do get superb value for what you pay for. The chassis and stand are made of plastic and carry a glossy and sophisticated finish. The G9’s stand is adjustable for height, tilt, and swivel. With simulator games, the point of focus is the peripheral vision as you should keep track of the car’s trying to overtake you or the runways you want to land on that are at an angle to the plane’s windshield, and the G9 scores good marks in dominating your peripheral vision. The panel is VA and carries an impressive 1ms response time.
In terms of brightness, there is plenty as the panel is VESA Display HDR 1000 certified along with a peak brightness of 1000 nits with 95 percent DCI-P3 color coverage and 2,500:1 contrast ratio.
The G9 does not disappoint in terms of connectivity as there are dual Display Ports (version 1.4) and a single HDMI 2.0 port. The 240Hz refresh rate is compatible with both Nvidia G-Sync and FreeSync.
- VESA Certified HDR 1000
- Responsive and Colorful VA Panel
- Immersive Experience
The Odyssey G9 is ridiculously expensive but does deliver as per the price. Its HDR performance can be pretty underwhelming at times, and you may find the SDR mode to be more suited for your gameplay. Its massive resolution is equivalent to driving two 1440p screens and needs some serious firepower from the GPU to drive this gigantic but immersive display.
2. Samsung Ultrawide CHG90 – The 2nd Best Ultrawide Gaming Option
With ultra wides dominating today’s game space, Samsung’s massive 49-inch monitor with HDR, 144Hz refresh rate, FreeSync 2 is here to offer a lot of what Odyssey G9 has to offer, albeit at a much lower resolution and price. The bezels are super thin on the sides, but the bottom edge is slightly thicker and features the embossed Samsung logo.The monitor has a deep 1800R curvature that fills the field of vision entirely and seemingly wraps all the way around the user.
Its curve makes it a perfect companion for sim gamers who have their navigation controllers set up around 20-25 inches away from the monitor.
The CHG90 uses a QLED Vertical Alignment (VA) panel that produces excellent color reproduction with High Dynamic Range (HDR) in compatible games. However, if sharpness is what you demand from your monitors, you would have to skip the CHG90 as the 3840 x 1080 resolution leaves a lot to be desired from its 1080p panel. The color gamut is comprehensive, and the brightness is adequate. The colors have a rich tone provided by HDR, while FreeSync 2 helps with screen tearing.
There are plenty of connectivity options on the CHG90 with two USB 3.0 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort (version 1.4), and a Mini DisplayPort. The max 144Hz refresh rate is supported only on the Display Ports, and there is also a 3.5mm audio port for headphones and mic in/out jacks.
- Extensive Connectivity Options
- Ultrawide Gaming at a Cheaper Price
- Excellent QLED Panel
If pixel density is not a concern, then Samsung CHG90 is an excellent monitor for sim racing due to its generous size and impeccable picture quality. In addition to the remarkable features, there is a detailed OSD menu with many game enhancement functions that improve the quality of your gameplay by quite a few notches.
The contrast ratio is enormous and offers a wide range of color shades and the response time is excellent to suit the fast-paced action of sim racing.
3. Dell S2719DGF – Excellent Flat Screen Entrant for Multi-Monitor Setup
The Dell S2719DGF offers an immersive flat-screen gaming experience and is suitable for going multi-monitor due to its excellent gaming performance. The picture quality is decent enough for TN panels, but it does not support HDR. Its 27-inch size and Full HD+ resolution pack enough pixels to display every little detail and boost your sim gaming experience.
Where the Dell monitor suffers is its mediocre picture quality. The native contrast ratio is underwhelming at 890:1, and the peak brightness is 350nits. Viewing angles are not great as in with most TN panels. The gray uniformity however is good, and the reflection handling capacity is exemplary. The colors are accurate, and the SDR color gamut is a spec to behold.An excellent flat screen monitor can double or triple up to form a superb multi-monitor setup.
The Dell S2719DGF is excellent at motion handling. Fast-paced games play out with buttery smoothness, and the panel is very responsive due to its high 144Hz refresh rate and low input lag. 1ms response time allows the pixels to change colors from one state to another swiftly, resulting in a crisp image with almost zero blur trail behind fast-moving objects.
Connectivity options include two HDMI ports (version 2.0 and version 1.4) and a Display Port (version 1.2), ample (four) USB 3.0 ports, and an upstream USB 3.0 port. Finally, there are two 3.5mm audio output ports: one compatible with headphones and a fixed volume line out.
- Exemplary Motion Handling
- Fast Response Time
- Superb Color Accuracy for TN Panels
The Dell S2719DGF monitor has some excellent gaming features that make it a favored option for both sim racers and sim pilots. They are fast response time, crisp pictures, and almost zero motion blur.
In addition to the already impressive 144Hz refresh rate and resolution, overdrive improves the display’s refresh rate to 155 Hz.
4. Acer Predator XB271HK – A Classy Flat Screen 4K Monitor for Multi-Monitor Setup
The Acer Predator XB271HK a reasonably capable entrant from the Acer’s Predator series gaming monitors. With 4K UHD resolution on an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, the monitor delivers excellent imagery and ultra-smooth gaming. Add to it Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, and you are looking at some of the best and life-like sim gaming on multi-monitor setups.
The Predator XB271HK looks sharp with its 27-inch panel and comes with a matte-coated housing that is almost bezel-less. The flexible build offers 5.9 inches of height and 40 degrees of tilt, and 30 degrees of swivel.4K resolution is a beauty to behold, but it is suitable only if the refresh rate is adequate.
The Predator is an impressive performer and delivers blur-free motions and a smooth gaming experience. With G-Sync enabled, you enter a different dimension of smoothness and fluidity that will entice the sim racers and sim pilots alike to go for this monitor. The red, green, and blue colors are deep and look realistic. The IPS panel has outstanding gray-scale performance coupled with standard 350 nits of brightness and delivers excellent highlight and shadow detail.
The connectivity front is where the XB271HK suffers because the offered video ports are limited to just two. A full-size DisplayPort (version 1.2) and an HDMI port (version 1.4). There is a USB 3.0 port for upstream and two downstream USB 3.0 ports, along with a headphone jack. Two additional USB 3.0 ports are housed on the left side of the cabinet.
- Excellent 4K Performance
- Rich Color and Detailing
- Attractive Bezel-Less Design
The new Predator is an excellent but expensive monitor for high-resolution gaming and needs a capable video card if you are planning to use it for multi-monitor setup and by capable, I mean something from Nvidia’s RTX line-ups.
The 4K performance is excellent, but connectivity options and refresh rate is where the Predator fails to catch its prey.
The caveats are strong enough to be a deal-breaker as even regular monitors have better refresh rates nowadays.
5. Lenovo G27c-10 – A Budget Performer in the World of Curves
The Lenovo G27c-10 is a budget gaming monitor with a matte black finish and sleek styling that can be easily mistaken to be an office monitor. The stand only offers some tilt and height adjustments and comes with a 27 inch, 1500R curved screen with a Full HD resolution. The panel has a high 165Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, and 350 nits of brightness.
The VA panel produces a 97% sRGB gamut along with immersive rich colors and contrast that are sufficient for gaming. The product is a solid entry-level sim racing display. The 2500:1 contrast ratio at even 50% backlight allows for deep blacks and excellent gray-scale performance. The brightness is sufficient for daylight circuit racing or daylight flight operation. The G27c-10 is an underrated Full HD monitor that comes with FreeSync and also works with Nvidia’s G-Sync.
Budget features like a single DisplayPort version 1.2, HDMI version 2.0, and a 3.5 audio port can be seen at the monitor’s rear panel, and overall, the display is bulky.
- Outstanding Budget Performance
- High Refresh Rate
- FreeSync/G-Sync Compatible
The Lenovo G27c-10 is a good budget option for gamers looking to try their hands on racing or flight simulators. It scores good marks in imaging and gaming performance, but it’s not the fastest monitor around. There is a guarantee of good visuals at a very low price point.
The design, though simplified, is functional, but there might be a bit of motion blur experienced by sim racers.
6. Acer Predator CG7 – The Best 4K Flat Screen 43 Inch Monitor
The Acer Predator makes a comeback with its CG7 monitor that sports a 43-inch 4K VA panel and is G-Sync compatible. The refresh rate is 120Hz with a 1ms response time, and there is support for VESA certified HDR1000. With its sheer size, sim gamers might just be tempted to opt-out of multi-monitor setups as the CG7 is a display with excellent contrast and vivid colors.
Although the maximum supported resolution is 4K UHD, 1440p is a more realistic segment to race on. The refresh rate can be overclocked to 144Hz and makes sim racing feel fast and responsive.
The Predator CG7 has perfect brightness, which means the images are vibrant.
The VA panel has good color coverage and produces highly detailed, crisp, and rich images. The colors are accurate with deeper blacks, and the grey shades are clearly distinguishable due to their above-average contrast ratio. This, in turn, results in spectacular landscapes in flight sims.
Port-wise, there is an abundance of connectivity options in the Predator CG7. The monitor comes with three HDMI ports, version 2.0, two Display Ports, version 1.4, a USB Type-C port, four USB ports (two each of version 2.0 and 3.0), and a USB upstream port.
- Responsive Display Panel
- VESA Certified HDR1000
- Can Double Up as TV
The Predator CG7, at times, may seem overkill for gaming and needs an excellent GPU to drive its 4K pixels. The response time from the VA panels is lightning fast and leaves little room for any motion blur or ghosting. The color reproduction is accurate, and the overdrive feature comes to the rescue when you want to push the boundaries of the monitor.
7. AOC CU34G2X – A Clear Winner among Mid-sized Flatscreens
In a crowded segment of ultrawide monitors, the AOC CU34G2X tries to get the ‘gaming’ monitor tag through its performance and not advertisement. The build is subtle, and the approach is a bit subdued thanks to a sleek red with black accent and a chassis built to survive. The base of the monitor is made of metal that gives the monitor good rigidity and balance.
The AOC CU34G2X is a 34-inch, frameless, ultrawide monitor with a QHD screen that works on a 21:9 aspect ratio and a widescreen 2K plus resolution.The refresh rate is perfect at 144Hz, and the VA panel has a 1ms response time that would please sim racers with snappy responses.
The panel is HDR compliant and has adequate brightness at 300 nits. The color reproduction is rich and vivid with deep shades. sRGB coverage exceeds 100 percent, resulting in impressive color saturation and life-like visuals on the monitor. The viewing angles are excellent, with a true-color depth of 8-bits.
AOC has blessed the G2X with abundant connectivity options that include two HDMI version 2.0 ports, two Display Ports version 1.4, a headphone jack, and five USB 3.0 ports (one with quick charging and one upstream).
- Excellent 1440p performance
- Extensive 3 Year Zero Dead Pixel Warranty
- Performance is Well Balanced
The AOC monitor is the best candidate for going multi-screen if you are in for high-performance sim racing on ultra-big screens. Its performance is spectacular in flight sim games with vibrant and natural-like landscapes. It is built to last and has extensive options in the OSD menu to enhance its already impressive picture quality further. FreeSync does well to handle tearing issues.
8. Philips 343E2E – Best Value for Money Option
Philips has opted for style with its 34-inch budget offering. The screen is wide enough for multiple displays and operates on a 21:9 aspect ratio. The base is sturdy, and the display is height adjustable with standard cable management features.
The display is VESA mountable but where it lacks is its maximum supported 75 Hz refresh rate, which is relatively low among gaming monitors.
The IPS panel works on 1080p resolution and provides clear and crisp graphics with well-defined margins and sharp image details. The panel comes with a broad color spectrum and excellent color accuracy. Sim racers would love the intricately detailed and life-like imagery they would get from their races. Viewing angles are amazing, and the 300nits brightness is just enough to view content at its full bloom. A 4ms response time keeps motion blur and ghosting within acceptable limits.
The monitor is equipped with bare minimum ports and leaves a lot to be desired. In addition to a Display Port version 1.2 and two HDMI ports version 1.4, there is also a Power Delivery enabled USB-C port. Although a headphone jack is included, there are no USB Type-A ports.
- Flawless FreeSync Technology
- Fast Response Time for IPS Monitor
- USB-C Option at Budget Pricing
If you take the price to performance ratio, the Philips 343E2E is an excellent choice with its superb picture quality that might leave you hooked to its vibrant colors. The lack of USB Type-A ports could be a concern for many. However, USB-C is a welcome option and perhaps the only monitor with such a feature at this price range. Some corners have been cut, like the underwhelming refresh rate, but overall, it is a good value for money package.
FAQ – Best Monitors for Simulators
Can regular gaming monitors double up as monitors for simulator games?
Simulator games, mainly sim racing, involve fast-paced actions, and the focus is to respond to overtaking attempts by the competing cars. Hence the most critical specifications of monitors meant for sim racing are low response time and high refresh rate.
Responsive monitors are good options for sim racing. Such a monitor won’t hurt flight simulation games, but the requirement is not as stiff in monitors meant for flight simulators.
Is a single monitor enough for simulator games?
The entire logic behind big screens and multi-monitors in simulators is having a more significant field of view that replicates the view a racer or a pilot has in front of him in a real car or aircraft. If you are simulating a race, you ought to have the peripheral visions a real racer has.
Of course, you could accommodate the full view on a smaller monitor, but that would mean compressing the side-views and cramping it up on the same screen as the main windscreen view. It would be a considerable downgrade, and it is sure to affect your gameplay.
What is the advantage of widescreen monitors in simulators?
Widescreen monitors allow for an expansive view area and accommodate a lot more on their wide display panels. These monitors have more screen real estate that would enable the full front view of the race through the car’s windscreen to be viewed plus additional side views. In the case of flight sims, a pilot’s view of the entire landscape could be displayed on widescreen monitors, which would let gamers view the scenes as they appear in real-life scenarios.
Can I create a multi-monitor setup with curved screens?
Curved screen monitors are protruding at the edges. If two curved monitors are placed side by side, the effect would be a wave rather than a continuous curve. Three such monitors would have two protruding peaks of the wave in the middle of the display, which some gamers might not favor due to the bizarre angle created.
What is the best size for multi-monitor sim racing setups?
The best size would depend on the available space. It must be kept in mind that simulator setups anyways need a bit more space than regular gaming setups, and hence you would need custom-sized tables if you are planning to go multi-monitor with big-sized displays.
What do monitors have anything to do with my performance in simulator games?
Monitors are an essential part of sim games as, unlike regular games, simulators replicate the actual visuals of a racer or pilot. The monitor shows what a racer or a pilot would see when racing or flying a plane in real life, and hence it helps if you invest in a quality monitor. If you want to excel at sim racing win some races, you ought to have a field of view similar to that of a racer.
A capable monitor does all that for you. It produces images and motion with excellent details so that you can be ahead of the pack all the time.