After another year's worth of testing and plenty of new product launches, it’s about time we give our recommendations for the best gaming monitors you can buy right now. As expected, for most categories we’re looking for the ‘best’ gaming monitor, so that means the best specs, performance and other features. However this time we're also throwing in several great value picks after spending a lot of time testing lesser known brands, with a few surprisingly good options for less.
Best 1440p Gaming Monitor
Hitting 60 fps at 4K resolutions is often a struggle except for the fastest of GPUs. For visually luscious gaming that doesn't end up looking like a slideshow, 2560 x 1440 resolution is perfect. Even with graphical settings turned up to high, you can push the coveted 60fps mark in 1440p on most games with a mid-range GPU.
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. Asus and Acer have been fighting it out in this category for a while, with both companies producing solid monitors that hit the sweet spot for gamers: a combination of IPS, G-Sync, and high refresh rate.
Our top pick, the Asus PG279Q is solidly built with a design that doesn't scream gamer as much as Acer's counterpart, the Predator XB271HU. At 27-inches, this monitor is big enough for all your gaming needs without feeling overwhelming or getting in the way of other things that may occupy your desk. Both monitors offer similar performance since are based on the same panel, with most agreeing that the Asus looks a bit better, but Acer is often found at a discount, which makes it the more compelling buy for many (usually a $100 difference).
The small joystick hidden behind the PG279Q makes adjusting the OSD easy, and there are plenty of options available, including preset display modes and overlays designed for games. You also get 1000:1 contrast ratio, 100 percent of the sRGB gamut, 178-degree viewing angles, and a snappy 4ms response time. The design is a big plus point, too. With its sturdy square base, thin bezel, and the ROG brand's splashes of red, the Swift has the look of a premium piece of hardware. There’s the full range of height, tilt, swivel and pivot adjustments available, and it even has a smart cable management system at the back to keep everything tidy.
If you had to pick faults with the PG279Q, it would be that it could use more inputs. The single DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI ports, along with two USB 3.0s, may be enough for most people, but many monitors pack more.
No G-Sync, Better Price
Although GeForce GPUs are more popular and dominate the high-end segment, you may be unconcerned about G-Sync support if you are running a Radeon-based graphics card. There are considerable cost savings to be had if such is the case. The Asus MG279Q and MSI Optix MAG27CQ are top 1440p / 144Hz refresh rate / FreeSync contenders.
Finally, for killer value options, check out two noteworthy 1440p monitor recommendations in the budget section of this feature, starting at just $350.
Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitor
Gaming monitors is such a broad subject that we could write an entire buying guide dedicated to it... so we did just that. Check out TechSpot's Best Gaming Monitors feature which details a number of options whether you're going after a 1440p, ultrawide, 4K or simply are looking for the cheapest monitor you can buy but that is good for gaming. As for the best overall gaming monitor you can buy right now, we’ve selected Dell’s Alienware AW3418DW as the pick of the bunch.
The best ultrawide display currently available is the Dell Alienware AW3418DW which sports a 34" curved IPS panel, G-Sync, and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate when overclocked (100Hz is the default). Since Dell's high-end gaming monitor was released, more competition has popped up, nevertheless with an IPS panel and good out of the box calibration, the AW3418DW remains one of the finest choices for ultrawide gaming with great response times and zero lag. Since we last recommended it, the Alienware has dropped in price to $800 making it an overall better value, too.
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 a bit extra, but it does include Dell's excellent monitor support.
For about the same price, also worthy of mention is the AOC AG352UCG. It comes with a 35-inch VA panel, 3440x1440 resolution, a 100Hz maximum refresh, and G-Sync support. 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.
A Value Ultrawide Option
Ultrawide monitors have seen significant price reductions across the board, so right now it’s possible to get a 34-inch 3440x1440 21:9 ultrawide monitor with FreeSync support and a 100 Hz refresh rate for less than $500, which is a great price for those specs. The monitor available at that price is the Viotek GN34C, which comes in a few dollars under $500, offering almost the complete package for a 21:9 display right now.
It’s got a 1440p class resolution, a fast 100 Hz refresh rate, it uses VA technology so you’re getting all the usual VA benefits like great colors and great contrast, and with an 1800R curvature for gaming. We’ve tested the VA panel the GN34C uses in the past, and found it to hold up well across our usual metrics. These days you can get 120 Hz IPS panels at a similar size and resolution, but the price increase for an extra 20 Hz simply isn’t worth it, and in many respects the VA panel used in the GN34C is better anyway. So really, it’s very hard to pass on the screaming value the GN34C offers.
One thing I will note is the GN34C is set to be replaced shortly by the newer GN34Cx, however the specifications are almost identical and the GN34Cx will also be available for $500. So really, once again Viotek is giving buyers some of the best value displays on the market right now.
Best 4K and HDR Gaming Monitor
If you’re specifically after HDR for gaming, there is a single option on the market we are comfortable recommending at the moment, and that’s the Acer Predator X27. The Predator X27 sports a 4K 144Hz panel with true HDR, so it supports up to 1000 nits of brightness, it has a 384 zone FALD backlight, and it has a wide color gamut. It also has G-Sync HDR and comes factory calibrated with excellent performance across most metrics.
A Word on HDR
Right now, the 4K + HDR category is reserved for those that have money to burn, or are specifically looking for an HDR monitor that can play games. The state of the HDR monitor ecosystem at the moment is not great, there are lots of monitors that claim to be HDR compatible, but ultimately don’t deliver a great HDR experience. This is either because brightness is too low, contrast isn’t good enough, or color gamut isn’t higher than SDR. There are a surprising number of monitors where all three factors are issues, and even more monitors where at least one of the three factors doesn’t reach the required standard for HDR.
This makes shopping for an HDR monitor extremely difficult, because often it’s unclear which will deliver a good HDR experience, or which merely have "fake HDR." Even popular monitors like Samsung’s CHG70 aren’t really up to scratch as far as HDR is concerned. So our advice for most people interested in HDR monitors, is not to bother for now. Within a year we’re likely to have much better HDR offerings on the market. It’s simply too early to jump in to the HDR ecosystem, and we’d hate for anyone to buy an expensive HDR monitor only to discover later that they got something with fake HDR.
With all that crucial information out of the way, there are some monitors that deliver true HDR: the Dell UP2718Q is a superb 4K desktop monitor for productivity that offers HDR. While on the gaming side, the Predator X27 is a top-end HDR gaming monitor, but there is the risk that the Predator X27 will be superseded with a better, more affordable version shortly, so you run into the typical concerns of an early adopter with this product.
4K @ 60Hz but with G-Sync
The Predator X27 is an early adopter's dream with its state-of-the-art panel technology, but if you need to go 4K, play games, and can't spend all that dough, you could check out the 32-inch Acer Predator XB321HK that offers G-Sync (limited to 60Hz) and an IPS panel.
The XB321HK has been around for over two years and earlier on its lifecycle it was criticized for not comparing favorably against productivity-oriented monitors when it came to color reproduction, however for gaming it should do the trick. Moreover, this monitor used to cost a lot more, but at ~$820 it's definitely worthy of consideration if you have the GPU power to play games smoothly at this resolution.
Best for eSports (240Hz)
The Asus ROG Swift PG258Q is a 24.5-inch 1920 x 1080 TN LCD monitor. Now you may be thinking this collection of specs isn’t hugely impressive – and by itself it certainly isn’t – but there’s one key feature to this monitor that is very attractive for fans of high-paced eSports titles: the PG258Q sports a whopping 240 Hz refresh rate, combined with G-Sync, for the ultimate low latency, high refresh experience.
Most basic 24-inch 1080p displays clock in around $100-150, and these days you can even get 144 Hz monitors in the $200 to $300 range. The PG258Q, however, is significantly more expensive at ~$600, and its direct competitors fall in the same price bracket unless you forgo some features (namely G-Sync).
Since 240 Hz monitors debuted over a year ago, there's been a debate on what's better: a larger, better quality panel that can do 144 or 165 Hz, or a smaller 1080p monitor that can be cranked up all the way to 240 Hz for buttery smooth gameplay in games like Overwatch and CS: GO. If you are an eSports fanatic or competitive player, there is no debate. This group of hardcore gamers will always go with the higher refresh rate. On the other hand, casual and "regular" gamers that use their monitors for more than just playing games 24/7, will want to look at the entire spectrum of offerings and probably prefer an IPS/VA panel and more expansive screen real estate.
We thoroughly reviewed the ROG Swift PG258Q last year and there's a lot to like here. It surprised us somewhat considering the TN panel used. Contrast and viewing angles aren’t fantastic by any means, which is not a surprise for this LCD technology, however default color quality is decent. Gamers should expect somewhat-near-sRGB accuracy out of the box and a very bright display, which leads to a good viewing experience with solid, vibrant colors.
All in all, the PG258Q presents the default, best for most 240 Hz monitor choice for gamers that know their hardware won't drop frames below 200 fps in the games they play competitively. Other popular alternatives in the 240 Hz segment include the Alienware AW2518H, often regarded as a better looking version of the ROG PG258Q, which surprisingly is selling at just $500 right now.
Then there's the much cheaper $330 ViewSonic XG2530 which does not support G-Sync, but does FreeSync, and the BenQ Zowie XL2540 ($450) which doesn't support either VRR technology. On the latter two, the notion is that if you're playing at over 200 fps, you don't really need variable refresh rate
On the other hand, G-Sync on the Asus and Alienware monitors can be an important inclusion for those with Nvidia graphics cards that play the less GPU demanding eSports titles, but also throw in other modern games that won't necessarily run above 100 fps at all times. For reference, Battlefield 1 is fairly demanding running at Ultra settings in 1080p, which results in frame rates in the 60 to 100 fps bracket if you are using a GPU slower than a GTX 1080.
Best Budget Monitors: 1440p and 1080p
This year has brought a lot of new releases and price cuts on 1440p monitors, making high refresh options more affordable and easier to recommend, with some great options around the $300 mark depending on the size. We have two key recommendations to make here because 1440p is well suited to both 27-inch and 32-inch sizes and that choice will be based on your personal preference. At 27" we're recommending the new Samsung LC27JG50 and at 32" the Pixio PX329.
Both of these are 1440p high-refresh VA monitors, with high refresh VA once again providing the best bang for your buck. The Samsung LC27JG50 can often be found at $300 as a 144 Hz curved monitor at 27-inches with FreeSync, while the Pixio PX329 is a steal at just $350 for a 32" 165Hz flat monitor, also with FreeSync support.
There are more affordable options but for gaming it’s not worth getting a 1440p 60 Hz monitor for a marginal $50 saving. Even if you don’t have the GPU horsepower to hit high framerates at 1440p, getting a high refresh monitor now will last you for years and will make it easier to justify GPU upgrades. If you’re like most people and won’t upgrade your monitor for 5 years, at this point it wouldn't be wise not to go high refresh, especially with current low prices.
In our tests we found the PX329 to be a strong contender across our performance metrics, and right now having come down in price by nearly $100 in just a few months, it’s the best bang for your buck monitor on the entire market in our opinion. The Samsung JG50 is also a great buy for those after a 27-inch panel, with both the Samsung and Pixio options offering the usual benefits of VA panels like deep blacks, great viewing angles, good contrast ratio and vibrant colors.
A Solid 1080p Alternative
For those on a tighter budget, a 1080p display may be the best way to go. We settled on the Viotek GN24C, which at $199 is one of the best value monitors on the market right now. It’s a 24-inch, 1080p, 144 Hz, curved VA display, and since we reviewed it a couple of months ago, it’s actually come down in price to now compete strongly with TN options offering similar specs.
There are a few reasons we’ve chosen this particular display. For one, 24" is the perfect size for 1080p. 27-inch options are also good value, but at 1080p, pixel density isn’t in your favor. Secondly, 144 Hz is the sweet spot for value. Sure, you can save around $50 opting for a 75Hz display instead, but for gaming, the difference between 75 and 144 Hz is large enough to justify the price difference, and it gives you room to grow as you upgrade your PC’s hardware down the track.
The big choice comes between VA and TN panel quality. The AOC G2460PF is a good choice at $180 offering a TN panel with similar specs to the Viotek GN24C, but it’s definitely worth spending the extra $20 to get the GN24C’s VA. You’ll get deeper blacks, a much better contrast ratio, better color performance and superior viewing angles. Response times aren’t typically the strongest aspect to a VA panel, but the GN24C is one of the fastest VA’s we’ve tested.
The only major downside to budget 1080p displays is factory calibration, the GN24C isn’t amazing in this regard, and neither are most other sub $200 monitors. However it’s not bad enough to significantly affect gaming, and can be corrected through calibration. It’s also worth mentioning the GN24C has FreeSync with low framerate compensation and an attractive design, making it our go to choice in this product category.