Edited by Ben Jacklin
January 7, 2020
Best Gaming Monitors
Today, there are so many brands on the market, each offering a wide variety of monitor types and sizes: curved, widescreen, and ultrawide, cheap or expensive, portable and fixed, for PC and console gaming. The diversity is such that every type of gamer can be sure to find a monitor that has the right settings and is within their budget. But with this diversity comes complexity, and you have to know what to look for in terms of value to buy an affordable monitor without wasting your money for a piece of plastic that will break after a few months of use. It will also need to be compatible with your computer and the type of video games you play.
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How to Choose the Best Monitor for Gaming
The monitor is an essential component of your gaming set: what’s the point in buying an expensive graphics card, for example, if your monitor can’t support the quality graphics it provides? Why bother buying a powerful processor if your monitor’s response time can’t keep up with it?
But you have to know what you’re looking for because, in the end, you’ll have to decide what is most important, such as ultrawide screen or fast refresh rate. So, before we offer you our top picks for the best gaming monitors out there, here’s a quick overview of the key parameters to bear in mind when choosing a gaming monitor.
Screen size: The idea here is basically the same as with TV screens: the bigger the monitor, the more immersive the experience. So, big screens can enhance your experience dramatically if you’re a fan of open-world RPGs but be careful; an ultrawide screen will easily make you forget that pizza you left in the oven…
Aspect ratio: Aspect ratio defines the height and width of the display. Most gaming monitors today have a standard Full HD aspect ratio of 16:9. The older rectangular 4:3 format is rather outdated, but, on the other hand, ultra-wide 21:9 monitors are growing in popularity among gamers and multimedia editors.
4K vs. 1080p: Those are the two most popular screen resolutions for gaming. The choice depends on the hardware you use and the games you play. For a mid-range PC or console, a 1080p monitor will be more than enough. But Xbox One X and PS4 Pro both offer a 4K gaming option that requires a UHD display; the same goes for high-end gaming PCs – if you want to benefit from latest graphic technologies like ray tracing, or you’re playing immersive open-world games like Final Fantasy XV or The Witcher 3 on the highest settings, go for a 4K monitor. On the other hand, if you’re more into e-sports and FPS gaming and the smoothness of the picture is more important for you than its quality, opt for a 1080p or 1440p monitor, as they will provide faster framerates.
LCD type: There are three main screen types: TN, meaning “twisted nematic”; IPS, meaning “in-plane switching”; and VA, meaning “vertical alignment”. You’ll see TN panels more often, as they are usually cheaper, but they can still offer great refresh rates and response times. At the same time, they are known to mess with the picture when changing viewing angle and also they tend to offer worse color fidelity than IPS models. The latter are characterized by better contrast and colors, while reducing response times and raising prices. So, TN is the more common choice for competitive gaming and IPS is better for immersive experiences. As for the VA screens, they are considered a good compromise between IPS and TN: their viewing angle is slightly less than that of IPS screens, and they have a similar color range. They lag behind in terms of response time, usually about 5 milliseconds, but they are known to excel in contrast ratio.
Refresh rate: This is measured in Hz and determines how many frames per second a monitor can support. In other words, it controls the smoothness, which is important if you play, for instance, fighting games like Street Fighter V or Mortal Kombat 11. These games require a monitor with about a 144Hz refresh rate. But before getting ready to destroy your enemies in Apex Legends and buying an expensive 240Hz monitor, make sure you’ve got a GPU that can keep pace.
Response time: Basically, response time determines how quickly your monitor can react to input. The lowest response time among TN monitors is 1ms, while IPS monitors typically have response time around 4 ms. Response time and refresh rate are key parameters for e-sports gamers, CS:GO or Overwatch fans, as they determine the speed of interaction between the gamer’s physical reaction and computer system’s response.
Viewing angle: We’ve already touched upon this point while talking about LCD types: while people usually play right in front of the monitor, this can change if there is an audience, and the low variability of viewing angles will distort the image significantly. In short, the closer this parameter is to 180, the bigger the variability.
G-Sync, Free-Sync, and HDR: These are the three most important technologies you’ll want to understand when choosing a monitor. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync basically minimize input lag by enhancing the synchronization between the screen and the graphics card – that’s why they bear the names of the two main GPU brands on the market, AMD and Nvidia. Some monitors support both technologies at the same time to accommodate fans of both brands. As for the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature, this improves color quality and brightness and is supported by Xbox One X, Xbox One S, all PS4 models, and some PC graphics cards, although, frankly, HDR PC gaming is still rather limited and remains a niche thing.
Price: You can easily get a decent 1080p monitor for about $150, though it will probably lack G-Sync or FreeSync. A monitor with 2560 × 1440 resolution – kind of a middle ground for gaming enthusiast on a budget – will cost $300 to $500, depending on the other attributes. As for 4K models, you should be able to find one for around $400, but it won’t be a gaming one: a typical 4K gaming monitor with G-Sync costs between $600 and $800. Then, there are all kinds of curved and ultrawide monitors that can run way over $1,000.
Our Top 10 Picks
Screen size: 31,5" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 × 1440 | Brightness: 450 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Color support: 94% DCI-P3, 125% sRGB | LCD type: VA | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync 2 HDR
This monitor offers HDR gaming and supports AMD FreeSync 2 technology to provide an extra-smooth experience. Aside from the other specifications listed above, the monitor has a LED down-firing from the base, illuminating your desktop with whatever shape you choose to throw into the software. The monitor supports a great 450cd/m2 brightness that helped it get VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification; that is boosted even further by separate FreeSync 2 HDR support, promising a lot in terms of HDR gaming. The VA panel is rather impressive, with high levels of contrast at the upper and lower ends of the spectrum, due partly to the ShadowBoost feature that ads more detail to dark areas of the screen without overexposing bright areas. The only small drawback we could find is a bit of color change that becomes obvious while changing viewing angle across the vertical stretch.
Screen size: 49" | Aspect ratio: 32:9 | Resolution: 3840 × 1080 | Brightness: 350 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Color support: 95% DCI-P3, 125% sRGB | LCD type: VA | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync 2 HDR
This ultra-wide behemoth comes with a 49-inch screen and a 32:9 aspect ratio which is essentially twice the 16:9 format. The QLED Vertical Alignment panel is incredible, with excellent color reproduction and HDR support. It’s not the sharpest monitor you can get for the price, as its 2840x1080 resolution means it’s still a 1080p monitor. What QLED actually means compared to the standard LCD panel is that it has a wider color support range and increased brightness, which is especially valuable in combination with the HDR feature. The monitor software includes useful gaming presets for different types of games, and the 20-step Black Equalizer helps you better spot enemies in the dark zones of the screen. The curved shape immerses you in wide-open vistas which, added to the perfect 1ms response time, makes this monitor a great choice for professional FPS gaming. Also, the CH90 features an eye-saving mode which is good news, since long gaming sessions can put a serious strain on your eyes.
Screen size: 27" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 × 2160 (4K UHD) | Brightness: 350 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 4ms GtG | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 90% DCI-P3 | LCD type: IPS | Dynamic refresh rate tech: Nvidia G-Sync
This top-notch 4K IPS panel with G-Sync, offering High Dynamic Range and a high-speed response time, is without doubt a good choice for any type of gaming. It comes with three custom panels that can be added to the sides and top to block out light, but you might want to leave the top one out to be able to mount a webcam on the monitor. The Quantum Dot technology that comes with the panel makes it suitable for professional color correction and video editing that can be useful if you’re a streamer. And of course, being primarily a gaming monitor, Acer Predator includes many gaming features, such as the ability to overclock the display to 144Hz or the Dark Boost feature that resembles Samsung CHG90’s Black Equalizer. There’s also the possibility of adjusting the display’s overdrive to eliminate ghosting. Note that overclocking the monitor to 144Hz will cause some color information to go away, as full RGB output is supported only up to 82Hz.
Screen size: 24,5" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 × 1080 (FHD) | Brightness: 400 nits | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Response time: 1ms GtG | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 72% DCI-P3 | LCD type: TN | Dynamic refresh rate tech: Nvidia G-Sync
This is a herz-rich monitor, with a sky-high 240Hz refresh rate that makes it best suited for e-sports, where speed is of the highest priority – no surprise MSI is endorsed by Method, a gaming organization that founded one of the best WoW guilds and now actively competes in such games as CS:GO and PUBG. MSI claims that this is the monitor the Method team uses for all their training and tournaments. It is also one of the cheapest 240Hz monitors on the market. Like the Samsung CHG90, it has several gaming presets that you can choose from in the OSD: FPS, RTS, RPG or Racing. Otherwise, the OSD is minimalist and doesn’t let you change color temperature, gamma, hue, or saturation. Apart from the narrow viewing angle, there are almost no drawbacks to this monitor, as it excels in almost every performance test. The killer combination of the 1ms response time, G-Sync, and 240Hz refresh rate makes it the number one pick for FPS gaming on a budget.
Screen size: 35" | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3440 × 1440 (Ultra WQHD) | Brightness: 300 nits | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Response time: 1ms GtG | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 2,500:1 | Color support: 100% sRGB | LCD type: VA | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync HDR
This ultra-wide monitor with UWQHD resolution has excellent color quality and supports HDR mode, which makes it a great general-purpose multimedia monitor, although the lack of quantum dot technology means you won’t be able to make it bright enough to enjoy the HDR feature in all its splendour. As for gaming, a 100Hz refresh rate combined with AMD FreeSync provides a smooth gaming experience, although a 4ms response time can be a little bit too low for professional gamers. Measured with a Leo Bodnar Lag Tester, the input lag is 14.1 milliseconds, which is pretty good. An impressive 1800R curvature combined with a wide 35-inch screen plunges you completely into all those pixels provided by the UWQHD resolution, so this monitor really has it all when it comes to an immersive experience. Also, the monitor’s high contrast ratio means you’ll get better contrast and deeper blacks than with many of its competitors.
Screen size: 24,5" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 × 1080 (FHD) | Brightness: 400 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 102% sRGB | LCD type: TN | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync
Let’s say right from the start that we think this is the best gaming monitor under $200. Despite its modest price, it has all the key specifications you would expect from a good gaming monitor – a 1ms response time, a 144Hz refresh rate, Full HD resolution – and even more. For TN-skeptics, we have to say that it is not as bad as it sounds. The newest 25-inch TN models don’t suffer from unacceptable color ranges and viewing angles, and don’t have those washed-out colors we are accustomed to complain about in TN screens. Sure, they are still a bit below VA screens in color fidelity and don’t offer viewing angles as strong as IPS, but they also don’t suffers from the high price! And that is not to say that you have to accept everything for your $200 – the G2590FX’s display properties and color reproduction are actually enjoyable if you’re not too picky. The black levels are decent, there is no apparent banding, and the Shadow Control function is great at bringing out the dark areas of the screen. All in all, this is a great choice for those who are not ready to spend a fortune on a fancy monitor and a top-notch GPU, but still want to enjoy fast and efficient gaming.
Screen size: 24" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 × 1440 (QHD) | Brightness: 350 nits | Refresh rate: 165Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 95% sRGB | LCD type: TN | Dynamic refresh rate tech: Nvidia G-Sync
This is easily one of the best 1440p gaming monitors you’ll find for the price. It’s also a very ergonomic monitor: the display can be pivoted 45 degrees left or right, tilted 21 degrees back and 5 degrees forward. Also, you can raise or lower it by about 6 inches or even swivel it into portrait mode to use it as a secondary screen for your Twitch chat, for example. As for the specs, know that this is a great option for fighting games or FPS, as its TN screen coupled with 1ms response time provides lightning-fast response to input. We’ve tested it on Street Fighter V, and it performed brilliantly. Also, the colors of the Dell 24 are really vibrant, the movement is smooth, the details are as crisp as they can get. As with some other models we discussed earlier, the Dell 24 offers some genre-specific presets: FPS, RTS, and RPG.
Screen size: 34" | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3440 × 1440 (UWQHD) | Brightness: 300 nits | Refresh rate: 100Hz | Response time: 5ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 100% sRGB | LCD type: IPS | Dynamic refresh rate tech: Nvidia G-Sync
Here’s another Asus ROG model, this time an ultra-wide 34-inch. It offers the same cool LED projection on the desktop as the Strix model, although in this case you’ll have to put up with the default Asus logo pattern. The monitor is quite ergonomic, enabling height, tilt, and swivel adjustments, and the number of ports is impressive: one DisplayPort, one HDMI port, as well as four USB 3.0 downstream ports and one USB 3.0 upstream port. Also, there is a 3.5mm jack for your headphones. To take advantage of the model’s maximum refresh rate, you’ll have to use the DisplayPort, as the HDMI caps out at 50Hz. A subtly curved AH-IPS panel finished with an anti-glare surface offers great viewing angles and color reproduction. The OSD menu buttons are easily accessible and work also as hot-keys, enabling you to turn Asus’ features – such as crosshair overlays or turbo mode (it switches between 60Hz and 100Hz refresh rate) – on and off. And don’t be taken aback by the 1000:1 contrast ratio – while it’s not the greatest out there, the black levels are actually pretty nice and there is almost no white saturation.
Screen size: 25" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 × 1080 (FHD) | Brightness: 400 nits | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 100% sRGB | LCD type: TN | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync
Here’s another top-pick for the e-sports gamers out there. This Full HD monitor with a native 240Hz refresh rate and ultra-fast 1ms response time on its TN screen makes it a go-to model for playing twitchy shooters like CS:GO or Overwatch. The fact that the monitor comes with the AMD FreeSync integrated means that the screen allows synchronization at speeds up to 240 FPS. This really is as fast as you can get. Sure, that doesn’t mean much for mainstream gamers, but if you’re ambitious in your e-gaming goals, you may want to consider buying the XG2530, especially at such a great price. Full HD resolution is a sober optimum that is more than enough for FPS gaming and allows even mid-range GPUs to run games at high framerates. 1ms response time means there’ll be no ghosting, and the 400-nit brightness will illuminate those dark corners, where your enemies are likely to hide.
Screen size: 27" | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 × 1440 (QHD) | Brightness: 400 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 100% sRGB | LCD type: IPS | Dynamic refresh rate tech: AMD FreeSync
Gaming monitors are a new field for Gigabyte, which is better known for powerful motherboards and graphics cards. But this model shows that Gigabyte hasn’t approached the task lightly and that the company knows what gamers expect from a good gaming monitor. Just looking at the specs – a 27-inch IPS screen with a 1440p resolution, a 1ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate – you can see that all the prerequisites for a powerful gaming screen are there. The AD27QD supports 10-bit color up to 120Hz, and this with HDR enabled. By the way, it is Vesa DisplayHDR certified, so you can be sure of the color fidelity when using this monitor for HDR content. The 144Hz refresh rate is more than enough to provide a smooth gaming experience, and the AMD FreeSync compatibility makes it even better. What is really impressive in the AD27QD model is that it succeeds in combining an IPS panel with fast response times, which is quite rare and is the kind of win-win combination we’ve been looking for for years. Gigabyte proposes that you control all the settings through software without playing around with buttons. The software looks cool and is easy to navigate, and lets you set hotkeys and even key combos. It also offers some brand-specific features like Black Equalizer, Aim Stabilizer and three Overdrive options – none of these features is unique in nature, but they’re still useful and great to have.
That’s all for today! If you want to dig deeper, check out the articles below to find a keyboard and mouse to complete your setup and improve your gaming!