Ok, here is the truth about contrast ratios: Every one of them is a lie.
First, Contrast ratios are simply the difference between the brightest whites, and the darkest backs. These numbers are very easy to fake by adjusting the AMBIENT lighting in the testing room.
Second, because they are a ratio against black, it is very easy to throw off the readings. For example, a monitor with a black level of .5 cdm and white level of 250cdm has a ratio of 500:1. If that level is off slightly (say bad calibration, ambient light, or even just a flawed or binned display for testing) you end up with screwy results. For example, a reading of .6 cdm black changes the ratio to 416:1, while a reading of .4 will give us 625:1. In the end, all of those monitors would look IDENTICAL to the end user.
Third, The typical PC display only actually achieves 500:1~750:1. High end displays can reach 1200~1500:1. The very best I have heard of can hit 2500:1. ANY number over 2500:1 is a flat out, bold faced LIE. Ignore that number.
The numbers that REALLY matter are the numbers you will never see posted. TYPICAL black levels (many monitors barely get below 2.0 cdm, very few can sustain < .8. TYPICAL White levels are also important, as that tells you how bright that monitor can be. Lastly, uniformity. Some displays are very sloppy, and have obviously brighter edges, or center. Others have very uniform brightness.
Again, you will never see these numbers. SO, your best bet, is to do what most of us do: poke through a decent number of reviews.
Go with an ips display if you can afford it (Asus and Samsung are trying to make them affordable). Get something in a "higher end" display. For Samsung, this means avoid '3' series, and move to '5' or even '7' series displays as an example.
I use Samsung now, and like it. But the next one, will likely be an Asus ips, like this one here
Lastly, the 1ms to 5ms times you are seeing are telling you how quickly a display can change color. The faster the change (lower number), the less ghosting you will see. Typically, anything under 8ms is considered decent. I doubt you will be able to notice the difference between a 1ms and 4ms, so don't focus too much on that.