Recently we've been reviewing more gaming monitors, and with that we've kept receiving more questions about recommendations and what you should get, particularly since the market has expanded to all sorts of display types and technologies. While we have covered gaming in our previous "Best Monitors" coverage, just like we did with other categories like motherboards (covering Intel and AMD, separately) it's time we had a dedicated section to gaming monitors and this article will provide you with 5-10 key monitor recommendations across a variety of popular categories.
But before we get to our picks, we’re going to talk briefly about how we selected these monitors and what qualifies for a recommendation. First, in most categories we’re looking for the ‘best’ gaming monitor, not the ‘cheapest’, so that means the best monitor specs, performance and other features. As a result, these recommendations are mostly for high-end models which naturally won't be the most affordable. But... we do love products that offer a great value, so when two or more monitors under consideration were roughly equal in terms of hardware and experience, we went for the least expensive of the group.
A big factor in monitor prices these days is G-Sync versus FreeSync, with G-Sync monitors universally costing ~$200 more for otherwise the same hardware. In making our picks, the primary focus went to G-Sync monitors as according to the latest Steam hardware survey, Nvidia has roughly 10 times the GPU market share among gamers as AMD. And if you’re an Nvidia user, you’ll want a G-Sync monitor to gain access to adaptive sync. But if you are an AMD GPU owner and are more interested in FreeSync monitors, we’ll also provide FreeSync alternatives for each product.
Another thing to note is we aren’t recommending monitors from ultra-cheap companies like Viotek, Monoprice or Pixio because we haven’t personally put any of their products to the test. We don’t want to recommend stuff from companies until we’ve had experience with their products to ensure we’re not telling you to buy something dodgy. With that out of the way, let’s get into the picks.
Best 1440p Gaming Monitor
When looking for the best 1440p gaming monitors, there are a class of displays that stand out from the pack. These monitors all use the same 27-inch AHVA IPS-type panel with a 165 Hz maximum refresh rate, which delivers great color performance to go along with excellent responsiveness. These displays are the best for gaming in the entire market right now, offering a great combination of resolution and refresh rate.
Our favorite option of the bunch is the G-Sync capable ViewSonic XG2703-GS, but it’s a little hard to find right now in some markets, though it’s readily available in Australia. If you can’t get this monitor, opt for the Acer Predator XB271HU, which shouldn’t be confused with the 271HUA or 271HA, or even the 270HU. Yep, it’s a confusing product line over at Acer, so make sure you’re getting the XB271HU to avoid either a TN panel or a 144Hz refresh.
We like the XG2703-GS for its superior build quality and ViewSonic’s better quality assurance, as reported by owners of these monitors, and we think that justifies the slightly higher price tag compared to the Acer option. But if you’re in North American where the XG2703 is scarce, grab the XB271HU as the next best option; it’s similar to the Asus PG279Q but at a lower price point.
Unfortunately for FreeSync owners there are no 165Hz 1440p monitors available, so the next best option is a 144Hz 1440p panel. Here we recommend the Asus MG279Q that offers these specs, along with a similar AHVA panel, for a great price.
Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitor
If you’re not thinking of grabbing a 1440p high-refresh monitor, a high-end ultrawide should be in consideration. Like with 4K monitors, new HDR-capable ultrawides with a 3440 x 1440 resolution and a 200 Hz refresh rate have been announced but they aren’t available yet, so our recommendations at this stage are for monitors you can actually purchase. The top ultrawide panels right now are either 34- or 35-inches in size with a 3440x1440 resolution and a 100Hz refresh rate or higher.
The best ultrawide display currently available is the Dell Alienware AW3418DW, sporting a 34" curved IPS panel, good out of the box calibration, G-Sync (of course), and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate when overclocked (100Hz is the default). Reviewers tend to agree that Dell's high-end monitor is as good as it gets for ultrawide gaming with great response times and zero lag.
This 21:9 ultrawide has been carefully designed so it will look good on your desk even if you're not a full-time gamer, with its large resolution, IPS-grade viewing angles and screen size, it's a productivity-ready monitor for use during the day as well. These features will cost you extra over the rest of the pack, but if you're after the very best, including Dell's excellent monitor support, the cost is worth it.
For a tad less, the value of the AOC AG352UCG is hard to ignore. It comes with a 35-inch VA panel, 3440x1440 resolution, a 100Hz maximum refresh, and G-Sync support, all for $770 right now. That’s almost FreeSync-level pricing for a G-Sync monitor, making it a steal for Nvidia GPU owners. Plus the VA panel used in this display is quite good and features an 1800R curve that works well for gaming with such a large, wide monitor.
Those after a FreeSync monitor should grab the Samsung C34F791, which uses an SVA Quantum Dot panel and supports a 100Hz refresh along with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. It is slightly more expensive than the Asus MX34VQ but you get a better panel with a larger gamut.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor
Maybe this is one category where waiting could pay off to either get a larger, or simply more capable 4K gaming monitor. Unfortunately the highly anticipated 144Hz 4K monitors with HDR support have not hit the market just yet, so the gaming options at 4K are still limited to just 60 Hz. The good news is that a 4K gaming monitor isn’t that expensive these days, and will end up costing you less than either the 1080p or 1440p options we’ve recommended so far.
Our pick here is the AOC Agon AG271UG, as it’s the cheapest monitor on the market to offer G-Sync, a 4K resolution at 27-inches, and an IPS panel. There are some other options around that give you TN panels instead, but IPS is better for viewing angles and color reproduction and the lower response times aren’t a huge issue at 60 Hz.
Ideally we’d like to recommend a 32-inch 4K monitor instead of a 27-inch option for the extra real estate, but the one G-Sync option on the market – the Acer Predator XB321HK – seems to be on the way out and costs an unreasonable $350 more than the AOC monitor we’ve decided on.
For FreeSync owners we like the look of the LG 27UD68-W, as it again provides a 27-inch IPS-type panel instead of TN, like many FreeSync 4K monitors. It is more expensive than the 27UD58-B, but the extra money goes towards a newer, superior panel and much slimmer bezels.
Best 1080p Gaming Monitor
We prefer 27-inch monitors over 24-inch, which are the two most popular sizes at this resolution, and 27-inch is pretty much the maximum size you’d want to use with this sort of resolution. It’s for this reason we’re recommending the Acer Predator XB272, a 27-inch 1080p TN monitor with a maximum refresh of 240 Hz and support for G-Sync.
This is actually the only monitor on the market right now, as far as we know, with these specifications and G-Sync support. This makes it a winner by default of sorts, though it’s still a decent option. We went with a 240Hz monitor over a cheaper 144Hz option purely for the extra smoothness during gameplay, which is especially handy if you’re playing fast-paced eSports shooters. As you upgrade your hardware over time, the additional refresh rate will also allow this monitor to stay relevant for longer.
That said, if 240Hz or the $600 price tag isn’t your thing, you can save some $90 opting for a 144Hz VA panel from Lenovo instead: the Lenovo Y27g. We think it’s worth spending the extra cash for the 240Hz monitor even though it ‘downgrades’ you from VA to TN, as these latest-generation ultra-fast TN panels are actually quite respectable in their color performance.
For those of you who want a FreeSync alternative, look out for the new Acer KG271B or the older XF270HA which are basically the same monitor without the G-Sync module.
Best Budget Gaming Monitor
The choices above fall in the middle to upper range of pricing. For a lot of you, that’s too much money, so in this final category we’re moving to the more budget end of the spectrum. Rather than recommending a dirt cheap 1080p 60Hz monitor, I’ve gone with a 1080p 144Hz display as these monitors are such good value these days.
While you mightn’t get the highest resolution or best display tech, having a high refresh rate does improve the game experience particularly if you can drive games at more than 100 FPS.
The monitor we’re recommending in this category is the AOC G2460PF, a 24-inch 1080p TN display with a 144Hz refresh and FreeSync, available for a touch under $200 from Amazon.
This is essentially the cheapest monitor available with this hardware and even packs features like a height-adjustable stand, VESA mounting and a 350 nit maximum brightness. Yeah, it’s not G-Sync, so it’s not adaptive-sync compatible with Nvidia GPUs, but $200 is the cost of just the G-Sync module so it’s not really possible to get a budget monitor at this price with G-Sync inside.