The best gaming monitor is a window to the high-fidelity future of PC gaming. It’ll be there for you through countless PCs and gaming consoles, so don’t regret splashing out on one that’ll hang around through and future-proof your gaming ecosystem. And for something that you’ll be seeing all the time, why not get one you like looking at?
A mediocre monitor will only act as a bottleneck. If it’s an Nvidia GPU you’re going for, make sure to bag a G-Sync or G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitor to get the most out of it. And if you’re looking to upgrade to any of the best graphics cards—that can handle 1440p and beyond—why hold it back with a 1080p FHD monitor?
With GPUs like the Nvidia RTX 3080 and AMD’s RX 6000-series pumping out great frames at any resolution, 4K gaming is becoming a reality. But if you want to save a buck and a bunch of time searching for stock, we still consider 1440p at 144Hz a reasonable target for a gaming monitor; these offer great performance at a reasonable price. We’re now seeing awesome 4K 144Hz monitors hitting the market, too. If you’re after the best high refresh rate monitor, we’ve got you covered.
If you don’t know your VA panels from your FreeSyncs, make sure you consult our handy jargon guide to explain common gaming monitor terms that’ll help you make the best buying decision.
4K gaming is a premium endeavor. You need a colossal amount of rendering power to hit decent frame rates at such a high resolution. But if you’re rocking a top-shelf graphics card, like the new RTX 3080 or RTX 3090, then this dream can be a reality, at last, assuming you managed to find one.
The LG UltraGear is the first 4K Nano IPS 1ms gaming monitor that’ll properly show off your superpowered GPU. This 4K 27-inch HDR monitor has a 144 Hz refresh rate, and 1 is response time, which is kind of wild for a 4K monitor. What is most impressive about this LG is the Nano IPS tech that offers a wider color gamut and stellar viewing angles.
The LG UltraGear 27GN950-B bags you a terrific panel with exquisite IPS image quality and, despite the lesser HDR capabilities, beautiful colors and contrast in your games too. G-Sync offers stable pictures and smoothness in games, and the speedy refresh rate and response times back this up too.
The G27Q proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune for a decent IPS 1440p display. At $330, Gigabyte’s 27-inches packs in many features but, more importantly, provides rich color and smooth gameplay. The 144 Hz refresh rate doesn’t hurt, either. The G27Q excels with a sharp and vibrant picture. The additional features are genuinely useful, and you get a lot of monitor for your cash.
The Gigabyte G27Q is a bit of a plain Jane when compared to other more pricey options. It’s a flat, 27-inch display with a 144 Hz refresh rate and a design that wouldn’t stand out in an office environment. But it’s actually one of the best gaming monitors I’ve had the pleasure of using. Not only does it have a gorgeous, vibrant panel, but it’s also HDR capable and packs plenty of useful features designed to enhance your gaming pleasure.
Read the full Gigabyte G27Q review.
The Pixio PX277 Prime is about as barebones as it comes in regards to gaming monitors. This 27-inch 1440p panel provides frames at a stable 165 Hz and is also FreeSync certified for a tear-free gaming experience with compatible graphics cards. The screen itself is advertised as anti-glare and holds up in most brightly lit environments, and the thin bezel is always a plus in our book.
The biggest selling point of the PX277 Prime, though, is its low price point. A great entry-level option for those looking for a larger screen with a high refresh rate and don’t want to be left totally broke.
While the build quality isn’t as robust as a higher-spec screen, the Pixio panel is perfect for the budget gamer who doesn’t mind missing out on some of the bells and whistles of higher-end monitor but is keen for top performance.
If your mantra for displays is ‘go big or go home,’ Acer hears you, and its Predator X38 is a massive 38-inch curved screen that looks stunning. It features a not-quite-4K QHD ultrawide panel with a 3840×1600 resolution. With an aspect ratio of 24:9, the IPS panel looks great, and the size means you have a lot of screen real estate for gaming.
The display also features G-Sync technology with up to 175 Hz variable refresh rates. That’s a huge boost over lower refresh rate curved gaming monitors. It’s a big, bold, and beautiful-looking display, and the zero-frame bezel-less approach is another welcome addition. If you’re looking for something to turn heads, this is one of the best widescreen gaming monitors out there.
It’s taller than the 27-inch 16:9 displays we’ve already mentioned and nearly half again as wide, but the higher resolution means the dot pitch is slightly lower than the lesser panels. And for games that properly support ultrawide resolutions, the surround effect of the XR382CQK is incredibly immersive—sitting at your desk, the 38-inch panel will fill your field of view.
Read the full Acer Predator X38 review.
Portable monitors have always existed as a novelty. Whenever you see one out in the wild, it’s usually attached to someone’s boring work laptop tasked with displaying mind-numbing spreadsheets. Portable monitors give you a second screen during travel without the fuss. The ROG Strix XG17AHPE takes that same portability but also adds the performance of a premium gaming monitor.
This thin and lightweight 17-inch IPS display has a 240 Hz refresh rate, along with a 3ms response time, making it the perfect gaming monitor for a LAN party. Shooters like CS: GO, and Apex Legends benefit from the buttery smooth refresh rate. The built-in 7800mAh battery will give you a couple of hours of gameplay. The XG17 is the ideal companion screen for work and play… assuming you’ve got $500 lying around.
Read the full ROG STRIX XG17AHPE Portable Monitor review.
It may have once been a niche, but 240Hz gaming has quickly become more widespread, and Alienware has set itself ahead of the pack with the gorgeous AW2521HF gaming monitor. While not the cheapest on the market, it has the style and performance to make you want it on your desk.
Gamers will dig the Alienware 25’s lightning-fast response time in games like Valorent and Destiny with little to no ghosting or artifacts. This 1080p IPS panel is bright and vivid too.
If you work or game in a bright room, the Alienware 25 handles even the most obnoxious glares. More importantly, the AW252HF has some impressive viewing angles regardless if you have it set in the middle of your desk for gaming or off to the side as a second monitor in portrait mode while you work. Our only real complaints are the lack of HDR support, along with having not the best contrast.
If you’re a fan of flat-out overkill, the ROG Swift PG259QN will check those boxes. This ludicrously fast 360Hz display even lets you analyze your gaming ecosystem to figure out which one of your devices affects your latency, thanks to Nvidia Reflex (if you’re using an RTX card). Seeing if your hardware or accessories gives you terrible input lag is good information and will keep you from making frivolous upgrades.
This monitor is a competitive gamer’s dream. Anyone looking for a competitive edge and values speed over anything else will be overjoyed with this Swift gaming monitor. If you already own a 240Hz monitor, you’re probably ok with what you have, but once you see this monitor in action, that’s a different story. Just make sure you’ve got a beefy enough GPU that’s capable of spitting out a high number of frames.
Best gaming monitor FAQ
Q. Should I go for an IPS, TN or VA panel?
A. We would always recommend an IPS panel over TN. The clarity of image, viewing angle, and color reproduction are all far superior to the cheaper technology, but you’ll often find a faster TN for cheaper. The other alternative, less expensive than IPS and better than TN, is VA tech. The colors aren’t quite so hot, but the contrast performance is impressive.
Q. Should I go for a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor?
A. In general, FreeSync monitors will be cheaper. It used to be the case that they would only work in combination with an AMD GPU. Same went for G-Sync monitors and Nvidia GPUs. Nowadays though, it is possible to find G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitors, if you’re intent on spending less.
Q. Should I buy a HDR monitor?
A. With a High Dynamic Range monitor, you can take advantage of the ever growing list of games and apps that feature HDR support. It offers more vibrant colors and greater contrast, but is going to drive up the price a little. Windows native HDR function also leaves a lot to be desired, and you may find you have to fiddle in the settings to get HDR looking like it should.
Q. What aspect ratio should I go for?
A. Most movies and games of today are best enjoyed in a widescreen format at 16:9 aspect ratio or above. In 4:3, those cinematic moments are going to look stunted with black strips along the top and bottom. There are a host of minute variations on each ratio, but at the end of the day choosing between these depends entirely on your personal preference.
And the very far out option, if you have a little extra cash to blow, is ultra wide aspect ratios like 21:9 and 32:9 and their variants. These will provide a much more immersive, encompassing experience. Or literally encompass yourself with a curved monitor. Up to you.
Jargon buster – gaming monitor terminology
Refresh Rate (Hz)
The speed at which the screen refreshes. For example, 144Hz means the display refreshes 144 times a second. The higher the number, the smoother the screen will appear.
Graphics tech that synchronizes a game’s framerate with your monitor’s refresh rate in order to help prevent screen tearing by syncing your GPU frame rate to the display’s maximum refresh rate. Turn V-Sync on in your games for a smoother experience, but you’ll lose information, so turn it off for fast-paced shooters (and live with the tearing). Useful if you have an older model display that can’t keep up with a new GPU.
Nvidia’s hardware exclusive frame synching tech that works with Nvidia GPUs. It basically allows the monitor to sync up with the GPU. It does by showing a new frame as soon as the GPU has one ready.
AMD’s take on frame synching uses a similar technique as G-Sync with the biggest difference being that it uses DisplayPort’s Adaptive-Sync technology which doesn’t cost monitor manufacturers anything.
When movement on your display leaves behind a trail of pixels when watching a movie or playing a game. This is often a result of a monitor having slow response times.
The amount of time it takes a pixel to transition to a new color and back. Often referenced as G2G or Grey-to-Grey. Slow response times can lead to ghosting. A suitable range for a gaming monitor is between 1-4 milliseconds.
Twisted-nematic is the most common (and cheapest) gaming panel. TN panels tend to have poorer viewing angles and color reproduction but have higher refresh rates and response times.
In plane switching panels offer the best contrast and color despite having weaker blacks. IPS panels tend to be more expensive and have higher response times.
Vertical Alignment panels provide good viewing angles and have better contrast than even IPS, but are still slower than TN panels. They are often a compromise between a TN and IPS panel.
High Dynamic Range. HDR provides a wider color range than normal SDR panels and offers increased brightness. The end result is more vivid colors, deeper blacks, and a brighter picture.
This refers to the maximum brightness (measured in nits) of a monitor or television.
Shorthand for monitors with aspect wider aspect ratios like 32:9 or 21:9
The number pixels that make up a monitor’s display measured by height and width. For example: 1920 x 1080p, 2560 x 1440p (2K), and 3840 x 2160p (4K).