Picking the best gaming monitor is an investment in your PC gaming future—think of it like a gaming 401(k). While some components in your rig might get swapped out every couple of years or so, a great gaming monitor will likely last much longer. Ten years isn’t unheard of. That’s why it’s of the utmost important that you don’t settle for less, but instead grab one of the best—and that’s where we come in.
Down below you’ll find our carefully considered recommendations on the best gaming monitors to pair with your current hardware. You don’t want to buy a new 1080p screen if you plan on upgrading to one of the best graphics cards in a couple of months time. Something like an Nvidia RTX 3080 will deliver fantastic 4K gaming performance, but will be almost wasted on a 1080p panel.
But the flip side of that is there’s little point in picking up a spanking 4K gaming monitor today if you’ve only got an AMD RX 5500 XT humming away inside your rig and aren’t likely to find the cash for a 4K-capable GPU anytime soon. Sure, you can knock back the resolution in games, but modern panels look pretty unpleasant when they’re not run at their native res.
There are other things to consider too. Do you want to go for an ultrawide aspect ratio to give that real wrap-around aesthetic? Do you need a high refresh rate, and do you really need a IPS panel over a humble TN? The answer to all those questions should be a resounding: yes. Ultrawide monitors give an extra level of immersion to your games, though are sadly an unconscionably expensive luxury compared to a good 16:9 display.
High refresh rates are almost a given nowadays, however, and should definitely be on your new gaming monitor checklist. We would also always recommend an IPS panel over TN, too. The clarity of image, viewing angle, and color reproduction are all far superior to the cheaper technology. The other alternative, less expensive than IPS and better than TN, is the VA panel tech. Colors aren’t quite so hot, but the contrast performance is still impressive.
The best gaming monitors
Despite its age the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is still the best gaming monitor you can buy right now. It is a 27-inch monitor with a 2560×1440 resolution, which we currently consider the sweet spot for high-end gaming. It offers substantially more pixels than 1080p without being as demanding on your PC hardware as a 4K panel. That means games look sharp at 27 inches but it won’t bring a good GPU to its knees. Plus, you can still get higher than 60Hz refresh rates, which isn’t possible on a lot of 4K displays. You can also comfortably run at 100 percent scaling in Windows, something that isn’t always desirable with 4K panels.
Like its primary competitor, the Acer Predator XB271HU, the PG279Q is an IPS panel with a refresh rate that can overclock up to 165Hz, the difference between 144Hz and 165Hz is mostly negligible though. Inputs include DisplayPort 1.2a as well as HDMI 1.4 (one of each). Both displays also feature Nvidia’s G-Sync technology for variable refresh rates, assuming you’re using an Nvidia GPU.
The biggest drawback to such an excellent monitor, of course, is the price. The PG279Q will set you back a healthy $650, but we really do consider a monitor an investment. Don’t buy something cheap; you’ll want to replace it in two years. Buy a great monitor that will still be going strong half a decade from now, which is exactly what this 2015 screen proves. There are 144Hz IPS monitors similar to Asus’s offering, only with FreeSync instead of G-Sync, but the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the best choice and worth every dollar.
The Acer XB273K is a more recent variant of the Predator X27, a gaming monitor we loved until this usurper came and took its place. It offers all the quality, but is far better value. It’s not quite as strong on the HDR front, but otherwise matches the X27 punch for punch. And given that HDR on PC is still a bit of a mess that’s not exactly a feature you’re going to miss.
The XB273K bags you a terrific panel with exquisite IPS image quality and, despite the lesser HDR capabilities, beautiful colors, contrasts, and depths to games too. G-Sync is present to offer stable pictures and smoothness in games, and the speedy refresh rate and response times back this up too.
There is also a substantial range of ports available to you no matter what gear you’re packing. It might be a little on the pricey side still, but the value is undeniable. And, just in case you get spun out by the (edging on intentionally) confusing model names, you may see it listed as the XB3 or XB273KP depending on the shop and where you are in the world.
Read our full Acer Predator XB273K review.
The Pixio PX277 Prime is about as barebones as they come in regards to gaming monitors. This 27-inch 1440p panel provides frames at a stable 165Hz and is also FreeSync certified for a tear-free gaming experience with compatible graphics cards. The screen itself is advertised as being anti-glare and holds up in most brightly lit environments, and the thin bezel is always a plus in our book.
The biggest draw to the PX277 Prime 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 a higher-end monitor, but is keen for top performance.
When you’re building a PC, it’s tempting to invest all your resources into the guts of the machine. You want a system that can handle 4K graphics, with all the in-game settings ticked up. But equally important is the monitor needed to display your favorite games in 4K HDR glory. The BenQ EL2870U is a 28-inch gaming monitor that won’t break the bank.
Although it is constrained to the limited viewing angles of its TN panel, it more than makes up for this concession in other areas. Its native response time is a blistering 1ms, and the 4K TN panels are far better than the dodgy old 1080p TN fare. Meanwhile, unlike other monitors in its class, it touts a pair of integrated 2W speakers, perfect for late nights spent watching dumb videos on YouTube with your IRL best buds. Hey, monitors aren’t just for gaming!
Perhaps best of all, the BenQ EL2870U is graced with its 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don’t have to waste time scouring the area for a cable long enough to reach all the way from the back of your motherboard.
Lastly, the BenQ EL2870U features a hard-wired HDR button for toggling on and off the high-dynamic range. Because sometimes, we’ll admit, it’s more trouble than it’s worth taking a screenshot in Windows with HDR enabled. And since it regularly goes on sale for less than $500, we’re not too bothered by the fact that it foregoes Nvidia G-Sync in favor of AMD FreeSync. If you’ve got a little extra scratch, the 32-inch EW2780U is an excellent choice if you need something with a larger screen and 2.1 channel Sound.
Read our full BenQ EL2870U review.
If your mantra for displays is ‘go big or go home’, Acer hears you, and its XR382CQK 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 24:10 it’s slightly wider than the ‘standard’ 21:9 ratio seen on other ultrawide displays. The IPS panel looks great, and the size means gaming from the comfort of your couch is a viable option too.
Not content to end there, the display also features FreeSync technology with up to 75Hz variable refresh rates. That’s not a huge bump from a 60Hz panel, but it is genuinely noticeable. 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. And boy, is it broad.
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 that of 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.
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 a last-gen 2080 Ti, it’s only fitting to use an equally exquisite monitor.
Unfortunately, opting for 4K also means compromising on refresh rate (60Hz here), which might be an issue for people who have grown accustomed to 120Hz or 144Hz on lower-res displays. So, is a G-Sync 4K monitor worth the money or the effort? The Acer Predator XB321HK answers that question with a resounding yes. At 32 inches, the XB321HK gives you enough screen real-estate to actually put its 3840×2160 4K UHD resolution to good use. It’s an IPS display, so colors are vibrant, regardless of your viewing angle.
Overall, the Predator XB321HK is an absolute beast of a monitor. The price is still a big hurdle to overcome, but this is a luxury monitor with luxury features. It’s built for people that want the best. For mere mortals, I’d recommend sticking with a lower resolution screen like the PG279Q. That way you get great gaming frame rates and are better able to take advantage of the benefits of the 144Hz and G-Sync/FreeSync technology.
For displays, one of the most significant compromises is often giving up features to save money. The BenQ Zowie shows us that you don’t need to sacrifice speed to meet your budget. The XL2411P supports up to 144Hz refresh rates, all on a 24-inch 1080p TN display. An excellent display for PC or console gaming in a dorm room or a small desk environment.
The XL2411P keeps prices low by opting not to include any Adaptive Sync tech. TN panel doesn’t give us the best color when compared to the IPS panels we’ve selected elsewhere on this list, either. But not to be too dour, the 144Hz refresh rates make this a better choice for gaming than most 1080p display at this price range. For gaming on a budget or if you just want a no-frills fast monitor for competitive gaming, you can’t go wrong with the XL2411P.
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 in the performance of a premium gaming monitor.
This thin and lightweight 17-inch IPS display has a 240Hz 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 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.
240Hz gaming is becoming all the rage these days, Alienware has set itself ahead of the pack with the gorgeous AW2521HF gaming monitor. While not the cheapest on the market, it has got 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 or Destiny with little to no ghosting or artifacting. 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 of 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 in 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.
How we test gaming monitors
There are two main ways to test out our screens to determine the best gaming monitor. The first is by playing games on it. Subjectively testing the gaming performance of each panel isn’t necessarily going to give you the lowdown on the specifics of a particular screen. Still, it will let you test the functioning aspect ratio, native resolution, and any specific gamer-centric technologies they’re sporting.
Side-by-side comparative testing in this manner is also incredibly valuable for keying into the sometimes subtle differences between each panel. When you use a screen in isolation, it’s easy to become blind to its comparative faults as you simply get used to them. Testing screens back-to-back allows us to discover and highlight specific issues between them.
We also use a heap of standardised tests produced by Lagom in order to ensure levels and saturation are visually up to our standards.