Some say that a monitor is the most important part of your PC. And they’re not wrong. Pretty much everything you do on your computer is tied to your display. It is something you stare at for hours on end. And if you play games, it is what defines your experience.
You can have the best processor or graphics card, but if you don’t you have a matching gaming display, you are missing out on the full experience.
It’s always worth it to spend the most you can on your screen, as a great panel will outlast your entire PC — maybe even two of your PCs.
That said, the monitor landscape is moving very fast right now, and new boards arrive every year that takes gaming to the next level. Whether by faster refresh rates, enhanced color reproduction, or better backlight management. It is essential to make the right choice here, as you’ll be using your monitor daily, for a few years straight.
Before we take a look at what your best choices are, here’s a little primer on what you need to know about landing your perfect screen.
Top Tips for Buyers
- Contrast ratio has a huge impact on quality of a display. The higher this ratio, the whiter the whites and blacker the blacks, and you’ll be able to see finer details in your games.
- If a display has poor viewing angles, you’ll need to sit straight on for the best picture quality. Its color accuracy may not be excellent either, in this case.
- When it comes to inputs, VGA is no more modern, while HDMI is now the common digital connection standard. DVI is also in the mix, but DisplayPort is becoming more popular these days. You’ll need a graphics card with DisplayPort output to use this on your monitor.
The Winds of Change
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, high-resolution displays came to tablets, smartphones, and tablets first, leaving desktop owners out there in the cold. Sure, there were 4K screens available a few years back, but it’s only in the last couple of years that these have these gone mainstream.
A large number of 4K monitors are now available, offering the mighty resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
With four times the number of pixels on a Full HD display, an Ultra HD monitors not only gives you a sharper picture with more detail but can also make PC gaming more comfortable. That said, while you can find some great deals on 4K monitors, there are also some excellent bargains to be had on the lower end of the spectrum.
The 1440p resolution is where all the best action is happening right now. Monitors with a traditional aspect ratio, and those that offer ultra wide gaming use this resolution. They also don’t require a beefy graphics card to push the pixels, making these QHD displays the best option for many.
We’ll get to the choices in a minute, but before that, let’s take a look at the key items of interest for when you go shopping for a gaming monitor.
What to Look in a Gaming Monitor?
There is no better way to determine how good a screen is for gaming, by playing games on it. Subjectively testing the gaming performance of a monitor will let you check the functioning specifications as well as the gamer-centric technologies that hardware makers build into their units.
The first thing that you will need to decide on is the screen size. Everything flows from there — including the resolution, panel type, refresh rate, and extra bells and whistles like speakers and adaptive sync technology. Size will also have a direct effect on the price of your purchase.
The bigger the screen, the more you should expect to pay.
While you can find gaming monitors in all shapes and sizes these days, things practically start at 23 inches. In fact, the most modern monitors these days are the ones that offer 24 inches of screen real estate.
Two other common screen sizes are 27 inches and 28 inches. A 32-inch monitor will look massive on a desk but is brilliant if you want the biggest display you can get.
Make mine wide, please
Size, these days, is also defined by the shape of the monitor. Or the aspect ratio, rather. There is a growing trend of ultra wide screen displays, and these offer an aspect ratio of 21:9 or even more in some cases.
The smallest such monitors worth your attention come in 25-inch screen sizes, though most offer 34 inches, with WQHD resolutions of 3440 x 1440 pixels.
An ultra-wide gaming monitor takes some getting used to, particularly for uses cases beyond gaming, but there’s a saying that once you go ultra wide, you don’t go back. Something like that!
Panel problems should not be an issue these days, but it is. OLED panels deliver the best picture quality, but we have been hearing about the miraculous promise of these displays for years. Actual hardware releases can be counted on one hand, with fingers to spare.
Only the Dell UltraSharp UP3017Q OLED stands tall here, but this 4K dream display is a $3,500 affair, which means that gamers are limited to the TN or IPS panels. Both of which are less than perfect, and come with their own set of issues.
You may already be aware of the washed-out colors of TN panels, and poor viewing angles. Things are improving there, however. We can't say the same with IPS Panel, which is accurate and vibrant, continue to suffer from backlight bleed and glow.
The takeaway is that TN panels, being the oldest display technology, are cheaper. IPS displays have the best color reproduction and viewing angles but don’t quite have the contrast ratio to match. VA panels offer a lot more contrast, but color accuracy suffers a little.
That Syncing Feeling
If you’re into gaming, then a monitor with adaptive sync technology is probably the biggest upgrade you can make. How it works is by having the monitor change its refresh rate on the fly to match the output of your graphics card to eliminate screen tearing.
You will find three primary standards here.
Adaptive-Sync is a VESA standard, but only AMD supports it. It improves picture quality but is not as flexible as the AMD FreeSync, which brings a few tweaks of its own to enhance performance and image quality. And then you have Nvidia with its G-Sync implementation.
As you can imagine, what graphics card you have will determine which adaptive sync technology you should go. G-Sync monitors work on only on Nvidia GPUs, and monitors that offer support for it are much more expensive.
AMD users, meanwhile, have the choice of several affordable FreeSync displays. Which brings us to the monitors, themselves.
Top Gaming Monitors Comparison Table
3440 x 1440
2560 x 1440
3440 x 1440
2560 x 1440
3840 x 2160
2560 x 1080
1920 x 1080
2560 x 1440
319 cd /m²
220 cd /m²
325 cd /m²
316 cd /m²
256 cd /m²
295 cd /m²
249 cd /m²
285 cd /m²
Below is a list of the best gaming monitors that are available for purchase right now, spanning the full spectrum. From budget buys to the most expensive ultra wide purchases, humble Full HD monitors to 4K Titans.
Some of these monitors also offer choices in screen sizes, or have variants with or without FreeSync, meaning you have an even wider array to select from, based on your budget and requirements.
1. ViewSonic XG2703-GS
When money is no issue, then there is nothing better than the ViewSonic XG2703-GS, a monitor that has been sitting atop the gaming displays mountain for quite some time now.
Its success is well earned, as ViewSonic has ticked all the right boxes with what is their flagship gaming monitor. If you’re looking for the best of the best in specifications, then this excellent display delivers it all.
You get a 2560 x 1440 IPS panel that rocks things along at 165Hz, a 4ms response time, with support for the Nvidia G-Sync technology. A thin bezel frame and an ergonomically designed stand with tilt, swivel, pivot, height adjustment, and wall mount capabilities complete the deal.
It ensures that you can always find your ideal viewing position, no matter the placement.
We did not notice any dead pixels on our test unit, though it had minor backlight bleed in the top right corner that is not visible in regular use. Whites are good, blacks are solid, and both gaming and general usage were top notch.
Although ViewSonic charges a premium for this model, it is still a hundred bucks less than what you would have to fork for a similar display in the ASUS ROG line. Besides, it is worth match this price if you want the best IPS panel with a speedy response time and lightning fast refresh rate.
2. LG 34UC79G-B
This curved 34-inch unit from LG offers you the ticket to ultra-wide gaming at a seriously remarkable price. The biggest reason for this affordability is the 2560 x 1080 resolution, which is lower than many of the other large, curved screens available on the market.
You will notice the pixels up close.
But it’s not all bad.
That’s because the lower pixel count means that you can easily power this screen with a midrange graphics card. FreeSync technology also makes it easier to achieve smooth frame rates. It goes a long way in providing tear-free gameplay.
Add to that the wider field of view, and you are guaranteed a lot more immersion in a variety of games, from shooters to racing titles, strategy and MOBA titles.
In fact, many will say that the ultra-wide resolution is a lot better than a standard 4K panel with reduced width and extra height.
Rounding up the delights is an IPS panel with excellent color accuracy, a sturdy stand that is easy to assemble, and a screen that is fantastically bright with good uniformity. The curve is gentle, and the price of this LG unit, softer.
You don’t get any speakers, but with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, this monitor delivers a lot of features while significantly undercutting the competition.
An excellent gateway to ultra-wide gaming, this.
3. LG 27UD58-B
If you would rather go for the clarity of the 4K, on the cheap, without that many fireworks, then you will have to think hard to come up with something better than the LG 27UD58-B. This 28-inch Ultra HD display comes with support for FreeSync at a price that has quickly made it a fan favorite.
You get an excellent resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
The limit of a 60Hz refresh rate may sound like a downer, but then again there are not that many AMD graphics cards that can offer this stable output at 4K resolution.
In fact, the previous generation, you would have to pair two of them together to put up a good show. But the newly launched RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56 lineup is capable enough to deal with the 4K resolution at $499 and $399 respectively. If you can find them at these prices right now, that is.
Let's get back to the monitor, the S-IPS panel provides for some excellent viewing angles, and a response time of 5ms keeps things breezy. The anti-glare coating does result in some light distortion when viewed from extreme angles, but that is a minor complaint.
As is the lack of an extra input — you only get three, 2 HDMI and a DisplayPort. And while the design will not turn heads, this still is a nice entry level 4K monitor that is good for gaming, and great at everything else.
4. Acer Predator XB321HK
Those of you that want to go all the way in ultimate gaming, then this Acer Predator is your best bet. Just like the notion of 4K gaming itself, this monitor is a premium endeavor. It's four figure price calls for an equally expensive graphics card.
Nothing less than the GeForce GTX 1080 or GTX 1080Ti would suffice. But if you have a super powerful rig at your disposal, then the XB321HK is worth the price and effort.
At 32-inches of screen size, this display gives you enough screen real estate to make it worth your while. The UHD 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 is put to good use here, and the IPS panel keeps color fairly vibrant from a most viewing angle. The 4ms response time is not the absolute fastest around, but plenty fast for a monitor of this caliber.
You are stuck with a 60Hz panel, though, as 120Hz and 144Hz 4K panels are still a year or so away from being readily available. But the fact that this Acer comes with the Nvidia G-Sync technology means that your gaming is silky smooth, even at lower framerates.
The built-in speakers are, rather surprisingly, loud and crisp, and you get the standard G-Sync deal of one hook up each of HDMI, DisplayPort and USB 3.0.
Ultimately, while the price of this beast is still a big hurdle to overcome, it is a 32-inch affair, nevertheless. That and all the extra bells and whistles of the Predator XB321HK make it a luxury monitor with green features for the luxurious gamer.
5. ASUS PG348Q
Anyone that wants the best monitor that they can buy just has to place the ASUS PG348Q at the top of their list. The stunning 34-inch display offers an ultra-wide resolution of 3440 x 1440 in a curved IPS package, and that’s just the start.
You also get G-Sync with up to 100Hz variable refresh rate.
The native resolution is an excellent compromise, as you will find it not to be as demanding as 4K. But it is the ultra-wide form factor that will dramatically change your gaming experience and in the best possible way. The screen almost fills your entire field of view, and this makes a big difference.
Something that the traditional 16:9 monitors just can’t match.
But all these excellent features don’t amount to much if the picture quality is not up to the mark. For what it’s worth — and it’s worth a lot — the ASUS PG348Q has excellent color reproduction, with high contrast ratio and good screen uniformity across the panel.
It is an incredibly high-priced display, and that is pretty much the only bitter pill you will have to swallow, if you want to play your favorite games in all their full 21:9 glory. It is a display that will keep you satisfied for the next five years at least. It has it all, and then some, and offers unmatched quality and the most immersive experience.
6. Dell S2716DG
It’s a Dell. And not just any Dell, the S2716DG is pretty much the most stylish display in this list. This sleek and slim G-Sync beauty had a lot of expectations riding on its back, and thankfully it largely lives up to them.
The Dell S2716DG is an absolute winner regarding physical design. The stand is fully adjustable, there is a proper rotating joint on the base, and the shallow profile of bezels just screams elegance. Plus, the muted dark metallic gray and black livery is proof that you don’t need fancy flash to make a great looking product.
A resolution of 2560 x 1440 gives it good pixel density for a 27-inch display, leaving you with the option of opting for a midrange Nvidia card to power it. It's a solid combination of low input lag, a 165Hz refresh rate, and 5ms response time makes gaming on this monitor a very smooth and responsive experience.
The only thing you can fault this one is its low contrast ratio of 674:1. Ideally, you want something around 1000:1 mark. Luckily, in use, it was not as noticeable as the figure suggests. Gamma meanwhile was solid, and there was plenty of brightness on tap.
Crucially, image quality does not drop even when running at the insanely high refresh rate that this Dell is capable. And this makes the Dell S2716DG nearly the perfect all-rounder. One that comes close to hitting almost every mark there is for the average gamer that seeks quality and style.
A great monitor, if you can afford it.
7. ViewSonic VX2457-MHD
How about something without all the glitz and glow? Finding a great budget gaming display is always difficult. You win some options, but lose out on other features. If you are forced to make comprises and want the best 1080p monitor for gaming, then the ViewSonic VX2457-MHD is where your search ends.
It offers immense value in for a Full HD FreeSync package, complete with a game mode hotkey. You can even customize the settings yourself, depending on your preference and the title you are playing.
You get a TN panel, and while its colors are washed out compared to the glory of an IPS panel, the inclusion of FreeSync makes this 75Hz panel a much better buy than most 60Hz 1080p displays. There are two speakers built in, and the stand is a black glossy finish that can be adjusted forward and back with tilt.
A 2ms response time seals the deal on this LED monitor with HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA inputs. It is pretty much the perfect package for the undemanding game.
Read Also: How to Adjust Screen Brightness?
8. ASUS MG279Q
Own an AMD graphics card, and want to know your best FreeSync bet? Look no further than the ASUS MG279Q, which is the only 1440p 144Hz FreeSync IPS display on the market right now. And its performance is neck and neck with some of the best monitors in the business.
The MG279Q delivers a fast response time of 1ms, making it an excellent buy if you are into eSports and competitive gaming.
And while it will not win any design awards, you want for nothing when it comes to features. The resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels works well enough with most mainstream AMD graphics card that is currently available.
And the difference in visual quality is night and day when compared to the run of the mill 1080p monitors. The contrast ratio is high, and the ability to support multiple inputs makes this screen an excellent choice for if you want to connect a second system or a console.
Gaming on this screen is perfectly good, and it handled all our test titles without any noticeable tearing or ghosting. With its robust design and excellent feature set, you are getting all your bases covered with the MG279Q.