Definitive Buyers Guide To the Best Gaming Monitors.
From 144hz and 1440p Monitors to 4k Gaming Monitors, G-sync and Freesync plus much much more!
When building a PC, most gamers skimp on the computer monitor, purchasing whatever looks the biggest and best at the electronics store. After all, as long as it displays a decent looking picture, that’s all you need, right? Wrong. A high-quality gaming monitor will not only present a stunning picture but will also take your gameplay to the next level. There’s a reason why professional gamers cite their monitor as a valuable tool in their arsenal, and it’s not just because they want their games to look good. In this ultimate buying guide to gaming monitors, we’ll show you exactly what you need to look for when choosing your new display.
The Different Types of Gaming Monitors
Despite the fact that most gaming monitors look remarkably similar on the outside, on the inside, there is a world of difference. You can classify most gaming monitors into one of seven categories:
- 4K, best described as an ultra-high resolution, which guarantees a beautiful picture
- Quad HD, or 1440p, a slight step down from 4K
- A curved monitor, where the screen is in a crescent shape
- FreeSync/G-Sync, two technologies that guarantee a smooth picture
- 144Hz, a monitor with a higher refresh rate than your average monitor
- UltraWide, a monitor that displays 25 percent more picture than your average monitor
Keep in mind that most gaming monitors do not slide neatly into one category and are usually a combination of three or more. For example, you can have an UltraWide curved Quad HD monitor or a 4K 144Hz monitor that uses FreeSync technology.
The first step to choosing a gaming monitor is deciding which of these categories is important to you and which you don’t need based on your personal gaming habits.
Which Gaming Monitor Should You Buy?
The gaming monitor that is best for you is largely dependent on the type of games you’ll want to play on it. For example, fans of RPGs won’t need a 144Hz monitor while indie gamers won’t necessarily benefit from an UltraWide gaming monitor. Knowing which gaming monitor suits your playstyle will help you maximize its benefits.
4K and Quad HD monitors are excellent for all gamers, as every game can benefit from increased visuals. RPGs, in particular, look stunning on a 4K monitor
Curved monitors are ideal for those who game with friends, due to the increased viewing angles ensuring that everyone sees the same great picture 144Hz and FreeSync/G-Sync monitors are perfect for fans of RTS, FPS and MOBA games. UltraWide gaming monitors are perfect for fans of FPS, action and adventure games
Some types of PC games, such as RPGs, don’t need extra features like a higher refresh rate or a wider view in the crucial way that genres like the MOBA and FPS genres do. If you don’t see your preferred genre on this list, such as turn-based strategy or independent games, then you’re safe to buy whichever style of monitor you prefer.
Understanding the Specs of a Gaming Monitor
Now that you know which categories you’re looking for in a gaming monitor, you’re ready to begin the arduous task of actually picking one out. Unfortunately, narrowing down the overall categories still leaves you with hundreds of gaming monitors to choose from, with each one boasting about specifications such as high refresh rate and low response time. Knowing in-depth what each specification means can help you purchase a gaming monitor that is ideal for you. These are the seven monitor specs that you need to know about when looking at any gaming monitor:
The refresh rate
The pixel response time
The contrast ratio
The display lag
The proprietary technology inside each monitor
The type of panel the monitor uses
Let’s break down each of these specifications so you know what you’re looking at when checking out any gaming monitor.
In simple terms, the refresh rate is the number of frames your monitor can display per second. The more frames your gaming monitor can display, the more you’ll see and the faster you can react. The measurement used for refresh rates is hertz and the higher the number, the better the refresh rate. In first-person shooters, a 144Hz gaming monitor is an essential purchase, as it gives you a huge advantage over opponents with a 60Hz or even a 120Hz monitor.
The refresh rate is also where the FreeSync/G-Sync technology comes into play; when your graphics card sends too many frames for a monitor to render, the result is a grotesque flickering of the displayed image, often called screen tearing. The FreeSync/G-Sync technology forces your monitor and graphics card to work together, eliminating screen tearing altogether.
Pixel Response Time
If the refresh rate is the most important factor to guaranteeing a smooth picture, then the pixel response time is a close second. The pixel response time is how fast a colored pixel turns white and then back to a different color. A high pixel response time can result in things like ghosting, smearing and motion blur, especially among fast-paced games such as first-person shooters and racing games. The lower the milliseconds, the better the pixel response time, with a 1- or 2-millisecond pixel response time being ideal.
The contrast ratio is the difference between the darkest black and the brightest white on a monitor. A high contrast ratio means that your gaming monitor will have crisper blacks and whites than a display with a lower contrast ratio. For example, a monitor with a contrast ratio of 5,000,0000:1 will look much better than a monitor with a contrast ratio of 5,000:1.
Display lag, also called input lag, is the fourth most important feature to look for on a gaming monitor. In basic terms, input lag is the amount of time it takes for a button press to display on your screen. A high input lag means that there is a noticeable delay from the time you push a button to when the action appears on the screen; in a twitch-based game like League of Legends, this means you’re at a huge disadvantage as fast actions mean the difference between victory and defeat. Like the pixel response time, manufacturers measure the display lag in milliseconds, with a lower number preferable to a larger one.
Simply put, your screen resolution directly correlates to how detailed your image looks. For example, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 will show far more details than a resolution of 640 x 480. The standard resolution on most gaming monitors is 1920 x 1080, with the maximum being four times number for 4K monitors. However, don’t just buy the monitor with the biggest resolution that you can afford: Your computer’s hardware also dictates screen resolution as well. For example, to correctly display a 4K image, you need a beefy graphics card and tons of RAM; otherwise, your game is going to appear is a choppy, unplayable mess. While most modern gaming PCs can easily handle a 1920 x 1080 resolution with mid-range gaming hardware, make sure you have newer, powerful hardware before buying a monitor that supports a higher resolution than that.
How Important is Proprietary Technology?
A lot of gaming monitors, especially high-end ones, share a lot of the same specifications. Ultimately, the decision on what gaming monitor to buy will come down to a brand’s proprietary technology. For example, BenQ has the Black eQualizer technology, a feature that lightens shadows without washing out the rest of the color, and ASUS has the GamePlus feature, a set of onscreen reticles that will help you aim more efficiently. As you’d expect, there isn’t a lot of overlap in proprietary features, so weighing the pros and cons of each one is crucial before making a final decision.
What Panel is Best for a Gaming Monitor?
When it comes to gaming monitors, there are two different types of panels used for the screen: TN and IPS. While many experts prefer IPS over TN, both have their advantages and disadvantages.
TN panels are often used by eSports gamers for FPS games due to their fantastic refresh rate and low response time, but it comes at a cost: mediocre color and poor viewing angles. Viewing a TN panel at any angle other than directly from the center will cause the color to become washed out, making the TN panel an awful choice for family movie night or local multiplayer games. If you’re planning on being the sole user of the monitor and staring at the screen directly from the center at all times, however, a TN panel is an excellent choice.
IPS panels are the opposite, offering superior color and viewing angles but slightly weaker refresh rates and response times. If you’re the sort of gamer who plays mostly single player games like The Witcher 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, then you’ll love how an IPS panel makes your games pop. However, for professional eSports gamers who mostly play FPS and MOBA games, an IPS panel will end up being a detriment.
What Brands are the Best?
While there are a wide variety of gaming monitor brands, three stand out among their peers: BenQ, Samsung and ASUS.
Founded in 2001, BenQ has quickly risen to the top of the pack when it comes to computer gaming monitors. Not only do their monitors sport some of the best refresh rates and color accuracy but their proprietary features are among the best. One example of these excellent exclusive features is the auto-brightness setting, a feature that automatically adjusts your display’s colors based on the current scene in your game.
As one of the oldest gaming monitor companies still in existence today, Samsung packs years of experience and knowledge into every gaming monitor they make. Their gaming monitors typically feature more video connections, a superior Game Mode display setting and a lightweight, thin frame.
Most companies prefer to make a one-size-fits-all gaming monitor, though hardware manufacturer ASUS goes in a different direction: Monitors that tailor themselves to specific genres. For example, an ASUS monitor for FPS gamers focuses more on speed over picture while a monitor for RPGs focuses more on providing a stunning image. ASUS also places a big emphasis on safety, with their monitors sporting less blue light output and more ergonomic features than the competition.
Plan on Buying Standalone Speakers
Nearly every gaming monitor sold today includes a pair of built-in speakers, conveniently located on either side of the monitor’s screen. However, if you’re thinking of saving a few bucks and using these as your primary source of sound for PC games, you may want to think again. The built-in speakers in most gaming monitors are around 2W each, which makes them substandard speakers compared to standalone speakers, which usually average 50W. Built-in speakers on a gaming monitor typically produce a sound that has no bass and a very monotone feel, which makes it tough to pinpoint where sounds are coming from on the battlefield. Even if you’re a casual gamer, you’ll want to invest in buying a pair of standalone speakers as soon as possible.
25 of the Best Gaming Monitors Available Today
Below, you’ll find an extensive list of the 25 absolute best gaming monitors available on the market today. We’ve covered every category possible to appeal to a broad range of gamers; no matter what type of PC gamer you are, there is a monitor on this list for you.
Best Gaming Monitors 1440p IPS 165Hz G-SYNC
If you’re a competitive gamer who obsesses over first-person shooters, the Acer Predator XB271HU 27-Inch NVIDIA G-Sync Widescreen Display is an ideal fit for you. With a whopping 165Hz refresh rate, this monitor will let you get the drop on your enemy before he even has a chance to react. The G-Sync technology will ensure your picture is smooth as butter while the larger screen will let you view all angles of the battlefield at once. The IPS panel provides excellent viewing angles and a stunning degree of color accuracy and, while the IPS panel isn’t ideal for FPS games, the 165Hz refresh rate makes up for the panel’s deficiencies.
Best Gaming Monitors: Below $300
Even though the BenQ RL2455HM 24 inch Console Gaming Monitor specifically states it’s for consoles, PC games will find a lot to love in this monitor as well. This 1080p monitor features an RTS mode specifically designed for games like League of Legends and StarCraft II along with a 1ms response time to ensure that you’ll dominate the competition. Console gamers will love the fact the BenQ RL2455HM 24 inch Console Gaming Monitor sports two HDMI slots, letting you hook up both your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to it at the same time.
If you’re looking to break into the first-person shooter competitive gaming scene, the Atron Vision AVF240 24-Inch 144 Hz FHD Gaming Monitor is the perfect monitor for newcomers. This 144Hz monitor features a 1ms response time, letting you sneak up on an enemy and get the killing blow before he even knows you were there. The 1920 x 1080 resolution provides a clear picture that is free of ghosting, blurring or motion blur, letting you see even distant enemies easily.
Budget Monitors: Under $150
If you’re a gamer on a budget, the HP Pavilion 21.5-Inch IPS LED HDMI VGA Monitor is an excellent choice. This monitor, typically retailing for $90 to $100, offers a vibrant picture with minimal ghosting thank to its IPS screen and 8,000,000:1 contrast ratio. With both HDMI and VGA ports, you can use this monitor for your PC and console alike. The thin profile of the HP Pavilion 21.5-Inch IPS LED HDMI VGA Monitor allows you to place it in even the tightest of spots, such as on a kitchen counter or a cluttered desk.
At only $150 and boasting a 2ms response time, the ViewSonic VX2457-MHD 24-inch 1080p Gaming Monitor is an excellent gaming monitor for gamers without a lot of disposable income. In addition to a small response time, this monitor also includes AMD FreeSync technology, little input lag, Game Mode visual settings and integrated dual speakers. Lastly, the ViewSonic VX2457-MHD 24-inch 1080p Gaming Monitor includes blue light filter technology to ensure that you can pull off an all-nighter without dry eyes or headaches at the end of the night.
Best Cheap Everyday/Gaming Monitors
If you’re a casual gamer who dabbles in all genres of gaming, you likely don’t need a gaming monitor that includes things like a 144Hz refresh rate or UltraWide monitor technology. The Acer G226HQL 21.5-Inch Screen LED Monitor is a cheap gaming monitor for casual gamers and offers the following:
An LED screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution
A 5ms response time
DVI-D and VGA inputs
A 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio
A sleek and slim design
The LG Electronics UM57 25UM57 25-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor is a budget monitor designed to make all PC games look great rather than focusing on one particular genre. The 2560 x 1080 resolution makes the colors pop off the screen while the IPS panel ensures this gaming monitor has fantastic viewing angles. The LG Electronics UM57 25UM57 25-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor includes two HDMI inputs, making it an ideal monitor for both PC and console gamers alike. With a 5ms response time, this isn’t a monitor that professional players will flock to, though casual gamers shouldn’t notice the input lag in their games.
Best Entry-Level Newbie Gamer 144Hz Monitors
If you’re looking to see what all the buzz is about with 144Hz refresh rates, then you’ll want to check out the Acer GN246HL Bbid 24-Inch 3D Gaming Display. This 1920 x 1090 monitor has a 1ms response time to ensure smooth images, quick reactions and a beautiful picture. Not only is the Acer GN246HL Bbid 24-Inch 3D Gaming Display perfect for PC gamers but even console gamers can enjoy it thanks to the included HDMI video connection.
The Asus VG248QE 24-inch Full HD Ergonomic Backlit LED Gaming Monitor is packed full of features, all designed to complement its speedy 144Hz refresh rate. ASUS puts your health first with this ergonomic gaming monitor, allowing you to tilt, swivel and pivot the screen to the right height for your neck and eyes. It’s no problem if you’re running short on desk room, as you can just attach this monitor directly to your wall. Without a doubt, the Asus VG248QE 24-inch Full HD Ergonomic Backlit LED Gaming Monitor is one of the best 144Hz gaming monitors available under $300.
Best Entry-level Newbie 1440p Monitors
If you’re ready to make the jump from 1080p to 1440p, then the ASUS PB258Q 25″ WQHD LED Monitor makes a great monitor for beginners. In addition to a stunning 1440p picture, this gaming monitor also offers the following features:
A 178-degree viewing angle
The proprietary ASUS Eye Care technology to reduce blue light emission
HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort video connections
The ability to mount the monitor on the wall
A stand with tilt, swivel, pivot and height adjustment function
While the Acer G257HU 25-Inch WQHD Widescreen Monitor may not have as many features as other 1440p monitors, it still offers a fantastic picture that will make even the tiniest details in your games and movies stand out. The 4ms response time is ideal for gamers who don’t plan on doing a lot of competitive gaming while the 100,000,000:1 contrast ratio provides extremely dark blacks and bright whites. With both an HDMI and DVI video connections, the Acer G257HU 25-Inch WQHD Widescreen Monitor is compatible with a broad array of gaming devices.
Best 1440p Overclocking Display
The BenQ XL2730Z 144Hz 1ms 27-Inch Gaming Monitor was built with professional eSports gamers in mind, offering a smooth, vibrant picture with no input lag. BenQ designed this monitor for eSports players who often travel, with features allowing you to setup and dismantle this display in under a minute. The 1ms response time is ideal for the biggest eSports genres, including the FPS, RTS and MOBA genres. The Black eQualizer feature gives you increased visibility in dark areas while the motion blur reduction makes even the quickest movements as smooth as silk. With features like these, it’s no surprise that gamers around the world praise the BenQ XL2730Z 144Hz 27-Inch Gaming Monitor as one of the best gaming monitors available today.
Best Budget 4K Monitors (less than $500)
If you’re looking for a 4K resolution without needing to empty your bank account to afford one, you’ll find that the Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor P2415Q 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor is an excellent budget 4K gaming monitor. Dell offers a guarantee that their factory settings are so accurate, that you’ll get a clear image and vibrant colors without even needing to tweak any display settings. Keep in mind that the Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor P2415Q 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor does not include any built-in speakers, so be sure that you have a pair of standalone speakers before purchasing this budget 4K monitor.
Like the Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor P2415Q 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor, the ViewSonic VX2475SMHL-4K 24-Inch 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor is another excellent budget 4K gaming monitor. This gaming monitor packs the same amount of features as monitors twice its price:
A vivid 3840 x 2160 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate
Wide 178-degree viewing angles
Technology that reduces both flickering and blue light
Proprietary display modes that offer better color accuracy than other 4K monitors in its price range
A PLS screen that provides crystal-clear images
Best Budget G-Sync Gaming Monitors (less than $400)
The Acer Predator XB241H 24-Inch NVIDIA G-Sync Display prides itself on offering a smooth picture free of motion blur, ghosting and screen tearing thanks to the G-Sync technology nestled inside of it. With a response time of 1ms, your button presses will display onscreen almost instantly, letting you get the drop on nearly any opponent. With a refresh rate of 144Hz, this monitor is perfect for first-person shooters such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and Doom.
Best Budget FreeSync Gaming Monitors (less than $200)
FreeSync is one of the most important features a gaming monitor can possess, as it guarantees a smooth picture no matter how hectic the action is on the screen. The ViewSonic VX2257-MHD 22-inch 1080p Gaming Monitor allows even gamers on a tight budget to enjoy FreeSync technology, with this monitor coming in at the low price of $129.99. In addition to FreeSync technology, the ViewSonic VX2257-MHD 22-inch 1080p Gaming Monitor also features low input lag, technology to reduce blue light and flicker and pre-calibrated display settings for your video games.
If you’d rather spend your money on video games instead of your monitor, the AOC G2460PF 24-Inch Free Sync Gaming LED Monitor gives you all the features of a high-quality gaming monitor at a low price. The AOC G2460PF 24-Inch Free Sync Gaming LED Monitor packs the following features:
A 144Hz response rate
AMD FreeSync technology
A 80,000,000:1 contrast ratio
Four USB ports
DisplayPort, DVI, VGA and HDMI video connections
A 1ms response time
4K G-Sync Monitors
It’s one of the most expensive gaming monitors on the market today, but the Acer Predator 34-inch Curved UltraWide QHD NVIDIA G-Sync Widescreen Display is worth every penny. Not only does this monitor feature G-Sync technology but it also includes a curved screen that is 25 percent bigger than the competition. You can overclock the 60Hz refresh rate to 100Hz, perfect for those times when you’re itching to play an FPS game. The 21:9 aspect ratio is perfect for both games and movies alike, with the wide viewing angles ensuring that no matter where you sit, this monitor will treat you to an amazing picture.
Best 1440p G-Sync Gaming Displays
With its 1440p resolution and curved screen, the Acer Curved 34-Inch UltraWide QHD Display presents a crystal-clear picture with gorgeous colors. This monitor can change its color settings to match whatever is on the screen, perfect for games with day-to-night cycles like Grand Theft Auto V. While most gaming monitors struggle with low-quality speakers, the Acer Curved 34-Inch UltraWide QHD Display boasts two 7W DTS speakers that rival the speakers you’d find on most HDTVs. With five video connections, including HDMI and DisplayPort, you can connect nearly any device to this gaming monitor.
Best 1440p FreeSync Gaming Displays
At a light 8.5 pounds and sporting a proprietary Zero Frame design, the Acer XG270HU 27-Inch WQHD AMD FREESYNC Widescreen Monitor is a gaming monitor that, despite its larger stature, can fit almost anywhere in your home. You’ll want to find a location for this gaming monitor as soon as possible to take advantage of features such as a stellar 1440p display, FreeSync technology, minimal flickering and a 1ms response time. The Acer XG270HU 27-Inch WQHD AMD FREESYNC Widescreen Monitor is one of Acer’s most expensive gaming monitors but its worth every penny.
Best UltraWide FreeSync Monitors
With 29 inches of display space and a beautiful 2560 x 1080 resolution, the LG 29UM68-P 29-Inch 21:9 UltraWide IPS Monitor presents an eye-catching picture that is nothing short of mesmerizing. The IPS panel combines with the FreeSync technology to offer one of the smoothest images possible: You’ve never experienced racing games until you’ve played them on the LG 29UM68-P 29-Inch 21:9 UltraWide IPS Monitor! This gaming monitor also features three preset display modes for games and the ability to display multiple video sources at one time.
Best UltraWide G-Sync Monitors
The first thing you’ll notice after turning the ASUS ROG SWIFT PG348Q 34-Inch Curved IPS G-SYNC Gaming Monitor on is its wide, magnificent 1440p picture. However, this gaming monitor offers more than just a breathtaking display and G-Sync technology:
An IPS panel with a 100Hz refresh rate and wide angles
A 21:9 aspect ratio
A curved screen that enhances immersion
ASUS Eye Care technology that reduces blue light and flicker
A menu system controlled by a 5-way joystick
Proprietary ASUS GamePlus technology that will give you an edge in any PC game
Best UltraWide Curved Monitors
Whether you’re watching movies or playing games, the Dell UltraSharp U3415W 34-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor delivers an outstanding picture courtesy of its 3440 x 1440 maximum resolution. With the Picture in Picture feature, you can have a walkthrough open at the same time you’re playing a video game, perfect for those instances when a tricky puzzle is stumping you. The 21:9 panoramic view lets you see the whole battlefield at a glance, meaning that in an FPS game like Overwatch, you won’t need to worry about enemies sneaking up on you. With both an HDMI and a DVI port, the Dell UltraSharp U3415W 34-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor is a perfect fit for both console and PC gamers alike.
Samsung is known for their high-quality gaming monitors, and the Samsung S34E790C 34-Inch Curved WQHD Professional LED Monitor is no exception. This gaming monitor boasts a 21:9 curved panel that is capable of a maximum resolution of 3440 x 1440. The ability to display multiple video sources on one screen lets you watch a movie or television show while you grind in an MMORPG, turning a tedious task into a fun one. In addition to two HDMI inputs and a DVI port, the Samsung S34E790C 34-Inch Curved WQHD Professional LED Monitor also offers four USB ports for your flash drives and other devices.
Best UltraWide Curved 144Hz Monitor
When you want to be the best player on the professional FPS eSports circuit, you need the best hardware, like the BenQ XR3501 35-Inch Curved UltraWide Gaming Monitor. With its 144Hz refresh rate, Black eQualizer technology, 21:9 aspect ratio and minimal input lag, this gaming monitor not only lets you see your enemies even in the darkest hiding spots but also destroy them before they even knew what hit them. The BenQ XR3501 35-Inch Curved UltraWide Gaming Monitor is one of the most expensive BenQ gaming monitors available, but you’ll agree that the price is worth it when you start quickly ascending the virtual rankings.
With these monitors boasting features ranging from a speedy response time to a beautiful 4K resolution, you’ve never experienced PC gaming like this before. It’s worth upgrading your monitor as soon as possible; without one of these high-quality monitors, you might as well be gaming on a CRT. As long as you follow this ultimate monitor buying guide, we guarantee you’ll get the perfect monitor for your gaming needs.