Throughout the year we’ve been reviewing and covering gaming monitors and putting together recommendations for distinct categories including 1080p, 1440p and 4K gaming monitors. In this guide, we’re going to go through everything we've learned so far and all the latest models we tested to give you comprehensive advice on gaming monitor shopping.

In the last year we updated our monitor testing methodology, testing nearly 60 displays of which over half were new for 2021. As we've discussed before, we tend to discuss and recommend only the monitors we’ve tested and know to be good, or monitors that are very similar to products we have tested (same panels, etc.). It’s always worth going back and checking out the dedicated monitor reviews we produce for more in-depth thoughts on each, but most importantly the recommendations below are the byproduct of our testing results and research.

We've grouped monitors in five main categories: 1080p, 1440p, 4K, ultrawide and HDR, with several recommendations on each, depending on the level of refresh rate you are targeting, display size and budget. We should note, we can’t test absolutely everything that's available on the market but since we have tested a ton of these, we're primarily discussing the monitors we've personally tested and know to be of top quality.

Masthead image credit: Allround-PC

 

Best Value 1440p Gaming Monitor

Gigabyte M27Q 27"

If you’re after a 1440p gaming monitor, the first question you need to ask yourself is what sort of 1440p monitor do you want, because there are a ton of products on the market today, covering many refresh rates, sizes, panel types and price points. This can make buying a 1440p monitor daunting, but also there are so many options that there should be something for everyone, including budget shoppers.

When you’re just starting out with a 1440p monitor, my recommendation would be to grab something 27" in size, using an IPS panel, with a medium refresh rate in the 144 to 180Hz zone. These products are currently the best bang for buck in the entire monitor market, and continue to drop in price.

Our go-to choice right now is the Gigabyte M27Q, which is available at an insane price below $300. It’s very difficult to go past the M27Q at this price point: it offers decent mid-range response time performance, a generous 170Hz refresh rate, a wide color gamut with an sRGB mode, great ergonomics thanks to a height adjustable stand, fantastic viewing angles and solid contrast for an IPS, plus neat features like a KVM switch. It delivers an astonishing mix of gaming performance and color quality at this price point, plus it’s come down in price by $80 since we reviewed it a year ago. The M27Q outperforms many other entry-level 1440p monitors with more of a mid-range experience, which is why it’s easy to recommend.

The main downside is the use of an IPS panel with a BGR subpixel layout instead of the conventional RGB layout. This has a small effect on text clarity in some scenarios, although I’ve personally found it to only be a minor issue in Windows applications after a run through with the ClearType utility. I’d recommend it regardless of this issue, or alternatively the Gigabyte G27Q might be worth considering at a similar price. I’d also look at the MSI Optix G273QF as an alternate option, though we haven’t tested it and it’s more expensive.

Two Great ~$350 Alternatives

If you want a better performing product then there are a couple of options that use LG Nano IPS panels instead, available for around $330-350. The LG 27GP83B would be my first choice, or alternatively, the Dell S2721DGF which is a tad cheaper. Both of these are a bit faster than the M27Q in terms of response times, and pack a wider color gamut with 98% DCI-P3 coverage versus 92%. They also use a regular RGB subpixel layout, so text clarity is pristine, and overall they are very impressive. We'd choose the 27GP83B over the S2721DGF as it features a great sRGB mode, whereas the Dell model is oversaturated at times.

The downside to going with an LG-based monitor is the contrast ratio, which is weak: just 811:1 in the case of the 27GP83B. That’s the sacrifice you make for lightning fast response times in this class, so it’s a toss up between speed or image quality. I think they are worth considering though as they do generally outperform the M27Q and pricing is fair.

If you have more like $400 to spend, then the outright best option is the MSI MAG274QRF-QD, which so far is the best performing monitor we’ve tested in the 1440p medium refresh rate class. It’s an IPS monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate; it’s fast, similar to LG’s Nano IPS panels so it delivers great motion clarity while gaming; and it doesn’t have the same contrast ratio downside, delivering over a 1000:1 result which is more what you’d want and expect from IPS technology – and 28% higher than LG’s variant. It’s also got an extremely wide color gamut, covering all of sRGB, DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB, giving it excellent versatility for both gaming and content creation – and MSI recently added an sRGB mode via a firmware update. It’s often only slightly more expensive than the 27GP83B, and would be my go to choice if you have a mid-range 1440p budget.

There's a myriad of great budget friendly options available for those after a 1440p gaming experience. For most buyers, the budget 1440p monitor I’d recommend is the Gigabyte M27Q. Typically available for just $320, the M27Q offers outstanding bang for buck and a great array of features for gaming. It’s a 27-inch 1440p 170Hz IPS monitor that includes a KVM switch and uses a Sharp panel, offering decent performance. Plus it tends to be widely available in many regions at an affordable price.

Naturally, the M27Q is a step down in terms of response time performance compared to the best 1440p monitors we have recommended above, but that doesn’t mean it performs badly. The overall balance between response time and overshoot puts it around 10% behind a typical LG Nano IPS monitor, which is not bad at all given the price difference. And it still includes features like low input lag, and backlight strobing which is below average but still functional.

The M27Q also holds up well in image quality. While the contrast ratio is nothing amazing compared to VA models, it’s better than average for an IPS. Viewing angles are really good, the panel is nice and flat, and there is wide gamut functionality with 93% DCI-P3 coverage. The only point of contention here is the use of a BGR subpixel array, not as optimal as the standard RGB, but on Windows with ClearType I find this to generally be of only minimal concern, and certainly not enough to detract from the otherwise excellent value proposition. There’s even a height adjustable stand here which you don’t get with every budget monitor.

If you want something a little better than the M27Q, another good choice is the Dell S2721DGF. In some areas this monitor is a marginal upgrade, offering slightly better response times, the benefits of a normal RGB subpixel layout, and better factory calibration for grayscale, in particular while retaining similar wide gamut support. However it lacks the KVM switch and also features inferior contrast. Generally speaking, the Dell S2721DGF at $350 is a great price, but like with many Dell products, this will vary by region. In Australia and in a few other countries the S2721DGF is often outstanding value, but less so in the US.

With the M27Q and S2721DGF covering most price points between $300 and $400, we don’t think it’s worth considering other options. For example, a monitor like the Pixio PX277 Prime which is $330. It’s a good product, but doesn’t perform as well as the Gigabyte M27Q while priced around the same mark. You’ll see similar issues with many other budget models like the Gigabyte G27Q and some of the Asus TUF Gaming displays.

With that, it looks like the price floor for quality 1440p IPS monitors with at least a 144Hz refresh rate is approximately $300. Anything below that and we get into VA monitor territory, and I honestly would not spend more than $300 on a budget or mid-range VA as they get smoked in response time performance by the M27Q and better IPS displays. Aside from the Samsung Odyssey G7, the VA panels we have today are simply not competitive at higher price tiers where IPS is dominant.

If you only have $250 to spend, VA finds its place in the market with a budget curved 1440p 144Hz VA or a 1080p 144Hz IPS, and for a lot of people the resolution difference makes the 1080p option a no go. Do note, at this price point you’ll have to deal with VA’s dark level smearing, inferior response times, worse viewing angles, less expansive gamuts and the abundance of curved panels – but as an entry level option, we still think they are reasonably good.

Response time performance is often not so far away from budget IPS, the difference mostly amounts to dark level smearing. You still get better viewing angles than TN monitors, excellent contrast ratios which are great for gaming in dark environments, and decent color quality overall. As for specific display options, most budget VAs use a variation of the same Samsung VA panels, so the difference between models like the Samsung Odyssey G5 and AOC CQ27G2 are small, and both are $260 or less.

Best 1440p Gaming Monitor @ 240Hz

Samsung Odyssey G7

If you want the best of the best at 1440p, you should be aiming for a 240Hz gaming monitor instead. A good number of products have been released in the last 18 months and they should all offer great longevity and future proofing. Granted, they’re more expensive than medium refresh rate options above, starting at around $650 for worthy options.

The Samsung Odyssey G7 in its 27-inch variant for $700 (discounted to $499 as of writing), has the fastest response times we’ve ever tested on a 1440p monitor, which combined with its 240Hz refresh rate and variable overdrive leads to excellent motion clarity – not just at 240Hz, but across the entire refresh range. Then, because it’s a VA panel, it also has great black levels and a high contrast ratio, making it well suited for gaming in a dark environment. Color quality is generally impressive as a result, including a decent wide gamut.

The main downside to the Odyssey G7 is its aggressive 1000R curve, which is a divisive feature, you tend to either love or hate it, and I’m more in the hate it camp. The curve limits its versatility – the Odyssey G7 is really only well suited for gaming; content creation and productivity suffers from curve-related distortion, the wide color gamut isn’t as wide as other options, and uniformity can be mixed.

How about IPS high refresh options?

If those downsides sound annoying to you, choosing an IPS panel instead might be the way to go. It will be more versatile and perform very well. We've been recommending the Asus ROG Strix PG279QM for a while, which is a truly excellent monitor with class-leading IPS performance and outstanding factory calibration. However, at $900 we do feel it’s a bit expensive when a similar alternative, the Acer XB273UGX exists at just $650. We haven’t tested this Acer monitor yet, but it appears to use the same panel and performance by all reports is still excellent. So that’s one to consider for sure.

Editor's note: We have a dedicated buying guide for the Best Gaming Monitors where we detail more options for 1440p and 4K gaming at different price segments, discuss esports, ultrawide gaming and budget options.

Over the past year, 1440p 240Hz monitors have come into their own with many options available. We don’t just have TN options anymore. Samsung’s Odyssey G7 gives us an excellent experience using a VA panel, while there are many new IPS options that also offer great gaming performance in this new high refresh rate category.

For pure gamers, the Samsung Odyssey G7 is an extremely compelling option. Samsung’s latest generation VA panels are mighty impressive, with class leading response time numbers. This display’s peak performance at 240Hz is 22% faster than any IPS alternative we’ve tested, and thanks to variable overdrive, it maintains excellent results at any refresh rate you throw at it. Overshoot is kept to a minimum and despite being a VA panel, dark level smearing is a non-issue. Throw in backlight strobing, and Samsung comfortably leads the pack in motion clarity while gaming.

The Odyssey G7 is also an outstanding choice for gamers that play in the dark. The VA panel delivers a contrast ratio at least double that of IPS competitors, which helps deliver richer blacks and better shadows. This is complemented by low input lag and a decent build quality – just make sure you update to the latest firmware when you get it to resolve any flickering concerns.

The main drawback to the Odyssey G7 is its versatility. While not a bad monitor for image quality, this display has a smaller gamut than its competitors, with an average DCI-P3 coverage of 89% and no working sRGB emulation mode. The aggressively curved 1000R panel isn’t for everyone, hurts viewing angles and can distort the image, which makes this display a poor choice for content creation. But for gamers, the Odyssey G7 is a great choice and it’s available in two sizes: 27” for $700 and 32” for $800, which is pretty fair for what it offers.

Better for Creators

If you need a better balance between gaming and image quality, you should consider an IPS monitor instead. The Asus ROG Swift PG279QM is a 27-inch 1440p flat IPS monitor that used a new AU Optronics panel that tops out at 240Hz. The feature set Asus offers is second to none and in my opinion this is an excellent alternative.

The PG279QM isn’t as fast as the Odyssey G7 in terms of response times, but it's among the fastest IPS monitors we’ve tested with excellent motion clarity. Unfortunately, there is no backlight strobing support, however it balances this with outstanding color quality, probably the best mixture of features and performance I have ever seen.

This is an extremely wide gamut monitor, with 96% DCI-P3 coverage, 100% Adobe RGB coverage and over 80% Rec. 2020 in total, the widest you can get from an LCD gaming monitor today. But it also features an elite implementation of an sRGB mode, reducing oversaturation when viewing standard content completely, and helping to deliver well above average factory calibration, unmatched by its rivals. It also uses a flat panel with excellent viewing angles, making it well suited to creative and productivity work without distortion.

The PG279QM is hard to find, it's often out of stock although it is a relatively new product, and it is expensive: $850, which is $150 more than the same size Odyssey G7. It’s a great monitor but it’s one of those cases you have to pay for the best.

Another alternative that is more readily available is the Alienware AW2721D which uses an LG Nano IPS panel. It performs very well, certainly befitting of a high end product, but it is a step down from the Asus in most regards, whether we’re talking response, color accuracy or wide gamut support; though it does have a better contrast ratio. The AW2721D isn’t much cheaper in the US, usually going for $825, but in other regions like Australia, you can find it for ~$600, which is a more compelling offer.

Best 32-inch 1440p Gaming Monitor

Gigabyte M32Q 32"

Most of the displays recommended above are 27" in size, which is a great size for playing games at the 1440p resolution. However, if you want something larger, in the 32-inch category, look no further than the Gigabyte M32Q.

The larger variant of the M27Q, if anything, is actually better than the M27Q in most areas: it’s faster in terms of response times, it doesn’t use a BGR subpixel layout, and it retains many of the 1440p 170Hz IPS qualities, just in a larger size.

It’s also highly affordable at just $360, almost half the price of the Asus ROG Swift PG329Q which is a great display in its own right, but is only marginally better and certainly not worth the added cost. High-end buyers should consider the larger version of the Samsung Odyssey G7 at $800 ($599 as of writing).

Best 1080p Gaming Monitors

Asus TUF Gaming VG259QM 24.5"

In numbers

The 1080p monitor segment hasn't seen many standout releases this past year, however the good news is that prices have crept back down to where they should be. Some of our favorite options that were out of stock for weeks are now readily available and at great prices. The main reason to buy a 1080p monitor in 2021 is you want something affordable, specifically for below $250, which is a market that 1440p isn’t servicing well yet. 1080p monitors are the cheapest you can get at a medium 144Hz refresh rate, and are far cheaper than 1440p options at 240Hz as well.

The most compelling 1080p monitor right now is the Asus TUF Gaming VG259QM, which is available on sale at some retailers for just $230. The V259QM is a 24.5-inch 1080p flat IPS monitor with a 280Hz refresh rate, and this is one of the cheapest 240Hz+ IPS monitors we've ever seen. This is a great entry point for high refresh rate gaming and is an awesome buy for esports gaming and competitive shooters in general.

We’ve reviewed the larger variant of this monitor, the VG279QM, and found it to be excellent with solid response times typical of current-generation IPS panels, great factory calibration with a no-fuss sRGB color gamut, and low input latency. The use of an IPS panel delivers far better color quality, viewing angles and contrast to that of TN alternatives, so even though it’s not as fast as the best TN monitors, it’s a better choice for everyday usage that might include stuff other than gaming. The 24.5-inch size of the VG259QM is also ideal for 1080p, and the build quality, including a height adjustable stand is solid.

Best of the Best at 1080p

If you want the absolute best of the best at 1080p, check out the BenQ XL2546K which has been specifically designed for esports gaming. It’s expensive at $500 and that will make it a niche buy, but the XL2546K has class-leading backlight strobing technology which when combined with its elite TN response times delivers unbeatable motion clarity. Literally, you will not be beating this with a different 1080p monitor, at least from what I’ve seen. If speed and clarity is the number one priority for you, and you have a large budget, look no further than this BenQ monitor.

Best Value 1080p Gaming Monitor

AOC 24G2 24"

The AOC 24G2 remains in the leading position for a value-oriented 1080p option. For $170, the 24G2 delivers an excellent experience, bringing a 24-inch 1080p 144Hz IPS panel that performs well and packs solid color quality – regardless if you get the original 2019 variant or the updated 2020 variant.

It also includes an ergonomic stand with height adjustment, often omitted from other budget 1080p monitors. The overall package AOC is offering is balanced between gaming performance and image quality, so I’m comfortable continuing to recommend it.

Other options considered included the MSI G242 and Gigabyte G24F, but both are more expensive and don’t appear to be offering anything better than the AOC. I’ve also liked the performance BenQ delivers with the EX2510. It’s a better all round package than the AOC 24G2, but it’s very hard to justify at $250 when the Asus VG259QM is just $230.

Is there anything worth buying if I have less than $170 to spend?

Unfortunately, the answer is mostly no. You can shave off around $10 opting for a curved VA panel instead, with 1080p 144Hz specifications. However, we’ve typically found these monitors perform much worse than the 24G2 with unsightly issues like dark level smearing, making them not worth the minor price saving. The same can be said about TN monitors that can be found for around $150, you will be sacrificing performance in general for a small discount.

These days monitors that top out at 144 to 165Hz are more medium-refresh rate, given the prevalence of 240Hz and above especially at 1080p. This is by far the most popular category for 1080p buyers, and there's a serious wealth of options to choose from, which makes picking one out quite tricky. For this reason, we're splitting this category in two brackets: the best quality IPS offering and the more budget oriented monitors for cash strapped gamers.

It should be noted that the best value option will vary based on your location and local pricing. And while this is usually the case, today there's more volatility in the monitor market and supply issues are affecting displays, just not to the same extent as other PC components.

For most people, our top recommendation for 1080p 144Hz is the AOC 24G2. The 24G2, and the larger 27-inch variant (27G2), include an IPS panel, adaptive sync and a refresh rate that tops out at 144Hz. We were impressed with the build quality that includes features like a height adjustable stand, not often found on more budget oriented displays. But one of the key features, especially of the newer 2020 variant, is response time performance, which is very strong and in some ways as good as higher-end 1440p monitors. The 24G2 is among the best 1080p IPS monitors we’ve tested for motion clarity, which makes it a great choice for gaming.

At some point we hesitated to keep recommending the 24G2, given that AOC silently changed the panel last year, without changing the name or informing customers. However, we bought the new variant and found that while it doesn’t perform the same as the older variant, in some ways it’s actually superior. Other aspects are solid as well, including its wide gamut support and contrast ratio, however the older 2019 variant is superior for contrast ratio and factory calibration, so it may be worth hunting the older model if you need those features. But in general this is a versatile monitor with a nice set of features and great performance at this price.

Two Alternatives: BenQ & MSI

If you are unable to find the AOC, there's a great alternative in the BenQ EX2510. While usually more expensive than the 24G2 for a similar level of performance, if pricing is similar to the 24G2 in your region then it’s also a good choice.Another option worth considering is the MSI Optix G242. It uses the same panel as the newer AOC 24G2 suggesting that performance should be similar in terms of response times and color performance, although MSI will use different overdrive settings. Based on previous MSI monitors that we have reviewed, they are competent at getting decent results from a given panel.

Going Larger or Cheaper

If you want something larger, in the 27-inch range, in addition to the AOC 27G2 we’d also consider Gigabyte’s G27F and M27F, which offer a classic 1080p 144Hz IPS experience. Gigabyte are mostly focusing on 27-inch 1080p monitors in their line-up, and these two options often have competitive pricing in the $220 range.

While products like the AOC 24G2 and MSI G242 can be quite affordable, there are cheaper options also worth considering. Both the Pixio PX248 Prime and the Asus VP249QGR are worthy affordable options. We’ve tested both the PX248 Prime and the Prime S version, and honestly we'd save the money to get the slightly cheaper non-S model, which retails for just $170. Response times are similar to the older version of the 24G2, and while factory calibration could use some work, it’s an acceptable panel overall.

What Not to Buy

What we'd steer clear from at the moment are 1080p VA monitors. The value proposition isn’t there compared to IPS, especially as most of these VAs use fairly mediocre panels with issues like dark level smearing and slow response times. The Asus VG24VQ, for example, is a particularly popular option, but it costs $180 – only $10 less than a decent IPS like the MSI 24G2 and $10 more than cheaper options like Asus’ own VP249QGR.

As for 1080p 144Hz TN panels, again the value proposition isn’t great. You can find some monitors with these specs below $150, like the Acer KG241QP, but many options we feel are overpriced. The LG 24GL600F was a great budget option on release, but the price squeeze on IPS places it around the same mark as budget IPS alternatives. You may want to consider one for backlight strobing technology, although finding a panel that does this well at 144Hz at an acceptable price is difficult.

Among gamers 1080p monitors are still extremely popular. While some will no doubt look to upgrade to a higher resolution with their next monitor purchase, if you only have around $200 to spend, you'll get by far the best experience going with something 1080p. There are several 1080p monitor types on the market, and we’ve been recommending VA or TN panels in this category depending on where pricing sits at any given time. But in 2020, with the release of several really high quality yet affordable IPS options, we believe the best bang for buck right now lies with this often premium monitor technology.

Currently the best budget 1080p monitor is the AOC 24G2. Not only is this the best 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor on the market overall, but thanks to a low $180 price, we also believe it’s the best bang for buck 1080p monitor you can get.

The 24G2 uses a 24-inch flat 1080p 144Hz IPS panel with adaptive sync and low frame rate compensation. The gaming experience is simply great due to a combination of factors. We get a high refresh rate, great adaptive sync implementation that works flawlessly with AMD or Nvidia GPUs, and fast response times due to its use of IPS technology.

A 5ms grey to grey average using its optimal overdrive settings is a good bit faster than equivalent VA panels, and approaches some TNs that typically retail for around the same price. Throw in a backlight strobing mode and the 24G2 delivers very good motion handling, which makes it ideal for fast paced gaming.

AOC backs this up with low input lag, a high contrast ratio for an IPS panel, low power consumption and an ergonomic design that includes a height adjustable stand, which is rare among budget oriented monitors. Even factory color performance is solid with the bonus of some wide gamut coverage.

This is nearly a complete package that nails all the key areas for a gaming monitor. With that low $180 retail price that puts it around the mark of several popular TN monitors, we see no reason to choose a TN panel over this IPS model. It’s a great buy.

A larger alternative, and even cheaper options

There are several other options that take our fancy in this market. If you want something larger, say 27-inches, the AOC 27G2 is the bigger brother of the 24G2 that retails for $210. We’d choose this over the similarly priced Acer Nitro VG271P, as the Acer model has a more limited stand and lacks adjustable overdrive when adaptive sync is activated. While we do believe both the 24G2 and 27G2 deliver the best bang for buck in the 1080p market, $180 might be on the upper end of your price range, and that’s understandable.

There are other 1080p 144Hz monitors available closer to $150, which is a decent saving of 17% or so. At this price point, you’re looking at a curved VA monitor, but you’ll still be getting a 144Hz display with adaptive sync performance. VA panels tend to be a bit slower than IPS and can suffer from an issue called ‘dark level smearing’, where slow response times for dark colors in particular can cause more blur than you’d like. But we think this issue tends to be overstated a bit given modern VA panels are pretty decent.

If you’d prefer to save some cash and spend $150, here’s what we’d recommend: for 1080p 144Hz VA options, we have the Viotek GN24CB which comes close to the performance we see from the 24G2. It’s available for just $150 in the US. It lacks a height adjustable stand and its performance isn’t as strong at lower refresh rates, like 60Hz.

If you can’t get the Viotek, or you want a height adjustable stand, our choice would be another AOC monitor, the C24G1. At ~$145, it packs the same height adjustable design as our top IPS recommendation although panel performance isn’t as solid, but it’s good enough for the price. Outside of these, we're not enthused by the value proposition of any 1080p TN monitors right now, so we’d just stick to the options we’ve mentioned.

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

Gigabyte M28U and MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD

In numbers
Price:

This is the category that’s seen the biggest suite of improvements, especially high refresh models that are better performing and more affordable than what was available in years prior. Most of our recommendations from our recent best 4K monitors feature is still relevant today, so we’ll keep this one concise and you can always go to the dedicated 4K article for more information if you need it.

Right now we’d split up the 4K choices in two category sizes: 27 and 32-inch, with the expectation of getting at least a 144Hz refresh rate to make them future proof and great for gaming. In the 27-inch category we’d look no further than the Gigabyte M28U, which offers excellent performance at an affordable price point of $650, much lower than previous years' best choices.

The M28U has very good response time performance, with an average transition of 4ms at 144Hz in our testing. It also offers good performance across the refresh range, so for those using adaptive sync variable refresh rates, you don’t need to tweak overdrive settings to get the best experience. Color quality is also strong, thanks to its IPS panel, so viewing angles are excellent and it does pack a wide color gamut – though not as wide as the best monitors of today. Factory calibration is above average, there’s a good sRGB mode for everyday use, and contrast is typical for an IPS panel. To top it off, Gigabyte includes a KVM switch and a height adjustable stand which are both neat feature additions.

An alternate option might be the Samsung Odyssey G7 S28 model, which is on sale at a similar price and uses the same panel, but we’re yet to test it so it doesn’t get a recommendation from us yet.

The LG 27GN950, and its newer variant the LG 27GP950, used to be my go-to choices. But I can’t justify the $800 to $900 price tag for what ends up being only slightly better performance. The same goes for the Eve Spectrum 4K and Asus TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A.

Larger 32-inch 4K Options

At 32" the quality of monitor offerings isn’t as good as it is at 27", however the additional screen real estate is something many people want, and yes, 4K looks great at this size, too.

For most people we’d recommend the Gigabyte M32U, which is the affordable and essentially identically performing version of the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U. This monitor has decent response time performance and color quality, it’s not a leader in any one area but I think it will suffice for most buyers as a solid all-rounder. It’s also not too expensive, at $800, which is cheaper than most other 32-inch 4K IPS 144Hz monitors.

If you want a step up in terms of performance and features, then the MSI Optix MPG321UR-QD is great. Occasionally, we’ve seen it for as low as $750, down from the usual $900, which is a great deal if you can get it and a clear winner over the M32Q.

It’s not as fast as the M32Q and response times aren’t its strength, but it makes up for this with excellent color performance including a very wide color gamut, multiple well-calibrated modes for sRGB, P3 and Adobe RGB, full bandwidth HDMI 2.1 and backlight strobing with adaptive sync support simultaneously.

The MSI model is a great choice if you want something decent for productivity and creative work that can still function well as a gaming monitor through its 144Hz refresh rate, while the M32Q is more of a gaming-first option.

If you’re buying a 4K high refresh gaming monitor right now, by far the best category to invest into is the 27-inch category. 4K monitors around this size deliver the best performance, and are the most affordable, making them great buys for a wide variety of use cases. But it’s also important to grab something from this current generation of 4K panels, otherwise you will be missing out on key features.

One key feature is HDMI 2.1. Only the latest 4K monitors include HDMI 2.1, and honestly I wouldn’t consider buying something that doesn’t have it. HDMI 2.1 is required for 4K at refresh rates above 60 Hz, so if you have a PC you want to hook up over HDMI, or more crucially, a current-gen game console, then HDMI 2.1 is essential. There are lots of older 4K monitors we haven’t considered because they fail this basic check.

The best 27-inch 4K monitor to buy is actually 28 inches in size, and it’s the Gigabyte M28U. The M28U is typically available for $600 - $650, making it one of the most affordable 4K 144Hz displays you can buy. This monitor does support HDMI 2.1, but crucially, it’s not a run-of-the-mill 4K contender with average performance; the M28U's Innolux panel is one of the best performers we’ve seen yet in this category.

The Gigabyte M28U has very good response time performance, with an average transition of 4ms at 144Hz. It also has good performance across the refresh range. For those using adaptive sync variable refresh rates, you don’t need to tweak overdrive settings to get the best experience. This IPS monitor delivers speed in the ideal range for the latest generation of IPS panels, so there’s no funny business going on here for motion performance, and this is complemented with great backlight strobing that works alongside adaptive sync. This is a better package than you get with some of our previous recommendations at 4K, like the LG 27GN950 and 27GP950.

Thanks to the IPS panel, color quality is strong and so are viewing angles, packing a wide color gamut -- though not as wide as the best monitors of today. Factory calibration is above average, there’s a good sRGB mode for everyday use, and contrast is typical for an IPS panel, no major issues there. To top it all off, Gigabyte includes a KVM switch and a height adjustable stand which are both neat additions.

Also consider...

Those buying a 4K monitor to use with a PlayStation 5, we’d recommend the Asus TUF Gaming VG28UQL1A instead. The Asus is very similar to the M28U, it isn’t quite as a strong performer and tends to cost more (about $800), however it has more HDMI 2.1 bandwidth that’s more compatible with the PS5, which gives it a leg up.

Also, if you need full DCI-P3 coverage for content creation, the Gigabyte M28U doesn’t have the best P3 coverage, even though it’s a wide gamut monitor. For this use case, you’ll be better off with the more expensive LG 27GP950.

There are several other variants that are quite similar to the Gigabyte M28U because they use the same Innolux 28-inch 4K 144Hz IPS panel, some of which may be worth considering depending on pricing in your region. Also, do note the M28U has terrible HDR performance -- it’s not really an HDR monitor at all -- so if you want proper HDR, that's not the monitor for you. Be aware that getting true HDR will cost you 2x to 3x the MSRP of this monitor. Don’t be fooled by fake HDR monitors that add this capability to the spec sheet without including the required hardware.

Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitors

Gigabyte G34WQC 34" Ultrawide Curved

If you want an entry-level ultrawide with a 3440 x 1440 resolution – the minimum I would recommend when going 21:9 – then VA panels are still your best bet. However I wouldn’t recommend spending more than $450 on this sort of monitor, as there are still a number of issues with the lower-end panels used in this segment. The primary concern is dark level smearing, which causes blur trails and ghosting in dark content on these basic VA panels, which is why we don’t normally recommend VA for gaming. The majority of today’s VA ultrawides all use some variant of Samsung’s SVA panel, occasionally AU Optronics gets used, but all have issues in this area.

Outside of this, you do typically get a great contrast ratio, in the 2500:1 range or better, which delivers excellent black levels among LCD monitors. A typical curve of 1500R or 1800R is well suited to ultrawide gaming, and color performance is decent. My pick of these monitors is the Gigabyte G34WQC or AOC CU34G2X, which are both priced around $450 and offer a very similar experience. Based on my testing, the Gigabyte model is a tad bit faster and had a higher contrast ratio so that’s probably what I’d go with. Depending where you live, you should also consider the Xiaomi Mi Curved 34” monitor which is surprisingly good.

However while these VA monitors aren’t too bad, they also don’t present a huge discount compared to today’s budget 3440 x 1440 IPS ultrawide monitors, such as the Gigabyte M34WQ or Acer XV340CK, which are priced in the $450 to $500 range. These are flat IPS panels which perform better and don’t have dark level smearing, due to their inherent use of IPS technology. Unfortunately we haven’t tested them yet to know where they sit, so this section comes with that caveat. It’s something to consider if you do your research and read other reviews.

Larger, more expensive ultrawides...

With these products in mind, I find it hard to recommend higher-end ultrawide IPS monitors like the LG 34GN850. The GN850 is great and performs well, significantly better than the VA ultrawides we’ve tested. But at $900, we feel going for a 32-inch 4K 144Hz gaming monitor or a high-end 1440p 240Hz display is simply better.

Then at the high end of the market, you’re typically looking at less mainstream ultrawide formats. One option are 3840 x 1600 monitors, like the LG 38GN95B or MSI MEG381CQR Plus. Performance from these panels is generally excellent and in line with the best IPS monitors of today, but also this larger ultrawide format is expensive, with products starting at $1,500.

Then we also have Samsung's family of super-ultrawides, like the Odyssey G9 and Odyssey Neo G9. The standard G9 is currently on sale at an attractive $1,100 price point, which is definitely worth considering if you want a 5120 x 1440 240Hz VA panel with top-tier performance, including class-leading response times and the deep blacks on offer with VA technology. It’s basically a wider version of the Odyssey G7 we recommended in the 1440p section, and I would choose this over products such as the 34GN850 and the 38-inch monitors from a moment ago, if you have the space for it.

Then we have the Odyssey Neo G9, which is great and expensive but due to Samsung’s quality control issues, we'd be a tad hesitant to recommend it here. Granted, there’s really nothing like it, so it’s impossible to recommend an alternative, but you should be well aware of the potential issues before dropping $2,500 of your hard earned cash.

What the Neo G9 does well is adding true HDR to the already great package of the regular G9. With a 2048 zone mini-LED backlight, it elevates the gaming experience to the next level – when it works properly, which to be fair has improved with recent firmware updates.

Best HDR Gaming

LG OLED C1 48"

If you want the best HDR gaming experience on PC today, you should check out the 48" LG C1 OLED. Until we get smaller OLED panels, or more affordable true HDR gaming monitors, buying a TV like the LG C1 is the best way to go and is also the cheapest option. Currently the LG C1 is available for just $1,090, down from its usual $1,500 asking price, which puts it at nearly a third of the price of the Asus PG32UQX (see below) for what is largely a superior HDR experience.

The OLED panel has self-lit pixels, meaning it can deliver impressive black levels and an effective infinite contrast ratio with no blooming or haloing issues from LCD-based local dimming. This leads to astonishing HDR performance with a level of contrast that LCD monitors simply cannot achieve. The C1 is also strong in terms of gaming features, with low input lag for a TV, a 120Hz refresh rate, plenty of HDMI 2.1 ports and all sorts of other potentially useful processing and TV-related features. The price tag is also very tempting.

However, as we detailed in our full review of the C1, there are drawbacks to actually using this as a monitor. It’s a massive display that requires a larger than normal viewing distance. The risk of permanent burn-in and low brightness levels makes it poorly suited to productivity and everyday desktop app usage; you should really only use the C1 for content consumption. It also only has HDMI 2.1 ports, so 4K 120Hz is limited to the newest graphics cards.

If you’re desperate for an HDR gaming display, we’d probably choose the LG C1 for that purpose only (gaming, not desktop work), but if that's not your case, I would genuinely consider buying something else and waiting for the HDR gaming monitor ecosystem to mature.

Beware of "HDR" monitors?

There aren’t many true HDR gaming monitors on the market today. The vast majority of displays that you see advertising "HDR" capabilities don’t have any meaningful HDR hardware, and therefore are fake HDR monitors. To give you a hint: if the monitor doesn’t tell you the amount of local dimming zones, or if the number of zones isn’t in the hundreds, don’t bother buying it for its so-called HDR capabilities, because the reality is that the HDR experience will be poor at best.

With that said, there are a couple of true HDR displays on the market. One of them is the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 we mentioned before. With the firmware fix applied, the Neo G9 is capable of great HDR, through its 2,048 zone full array local dimming backlight and respectable level of brightness. It’s also a strong performer overall with its superwide screen, 240Hz refresh rate and 1440p-class resolution. The same downsides over Samsung’s quality control also apply, so buy it with caution.

If you don’t want an ultrawide, the best 16:9 aspect ratio HDR gaming monitor is very expensive in the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX. It’s also, all things considered, not that amazing due to its slow response time performance by modern standards, something I would have expected to be improved given its monstrous $2,900 price tag.

It also lacks HDMI 2.1, limiting its compatibility with modern 4K HDR capable gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5. However the HDR experience is undoubtedly strong thanks to peak brightness that exceeds 1600 nits, 1152 zone full array local dimming backlight and very wide color gamut. It’s also a decent size at 32-inches, it uses IPS technology and features a 144Hz refresh rate. It's an expensive monitor if you have the cash to burn.

If you want the best HDR experience on PC and don’t want to pay $3,000 for the PG32UQX -- and who could blame you -- then by far the best choice is to get a 48-inch OLED TV. Although this is clearly not a monitor in terms of size and it won’t be suitable for all setups, the value proposition offered by OLED, as well as its performance in HDR games and content, totally destroys the LCD-based alternatives on the market today.

The benefits to OLED are based around its self-lit pixel technology. Because each pixel is individually lit, they can also be fully switched off to display black, leading to deep blacks, detailed shadows, and infinite contrast ratios. This is perfect for HDR where contrast is so important. With an OLED panel you don’t get blooming due to low backlight zone counts, and this looks stunning in practice. Once you’ve used an OLED it’s hard to go back.

The nature of OLEDs is also conducive to extremely fast response times, far faster than any modern LCD. Motion performance at the same refresh rate as an LCD is in the range of 5x better or more, and this allows for backlight strobing (or black frame insertion) that smokes what LCDs can do in terms of clarity. Today’s 48-inch OLEDs can reach 120Hz refresh rates which isn’t the fastest going around, but sufficient for a smooth, high refresh experience at 4K.

We’ve tested two 48-inch OLEDs for gaming and PC use, and our recommendation is to get the LG C1 OLED, or its very similar brother the LG CX OLED, depending on pricing and availability in your region. The C1 is a feature-rich TV with outstanding image quality, motion clarity, and HDR performance which is worth its asking price provided you have enough space for the large panel.

The LG C1 typically sells for around $1,500 which is not inexpensive, but not a bad value for what you're getting; it’s half the price of the PG32UQX and is better in almost every way. Just make sure you have an HDMI 2.1 capable GPU from the latest Nvidia or AMD GPU series, as there’s no DisplayPort on this TV – although the HDMI 2.1 ports are full bandwidth and support Dolby Vision, so the C1 is compatible with lots of other devices including media players and game consoles.

We have no trouble recommending the LG C1 to someone using it for content consumption or gaming, but there are some drawbacks that are worthy of mention. The first is the risk of burn-in, which is not that relevant for viewing mixed content, but is likely to happen if you are using the C1 as a desktop monitor. Static content like web browsers, the Windows taskbar, and other desktop apps are not ideal for OLED panels, and some of the panel protection features are ineffective or annoying for desktop use, like the automatic brightness limiter and pixel shifter.

These OLED panels haven’t been designed for desktop use. Their RGBW subpixel layout is not great for text clarity, the massive size is inconvenient for a lot of setups, and brightness is low compared to today’s LCDs (though acceptable for HDR content in the HDR mode). Again, amazing for content consumption, not great for desktop users.