Best gaming monitor

Best gaming monitor

The best gaming monitor is the display that's able to marry all the latest features together with a super sexy panel. And that's no mean feat. With all the different panel technologies and screen types it can be difficult to know exactly what the best gaming monitor is right now without spending hours testing them all individually. Which is where we come in...

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It's well worth doing your homework because without the best display it doesn't matter what graphics card you're rocking, your games will still look rubbish. And you want your games to look awesome, right?

There are some questions you need to ask yourself first though. Do you favour image quality over lightning-fast pixel response? Or are you into the pro-gaming, competitive esports world and crave the super-high monitor refresh rates of TN tech rather than a quality panel? Do you want a traditional 16:9 screen or have you been seduced by the ultra widescreen beauty of a 21:9 aspect ratio? Or does it absolutely, positively have to be 4K?

So many questions... But the fact there are so many different computer monitor options these days is as welcome as it can be bewildering. For too long we've been severely limited in our choice of gaming display - previously we just picked as large a screen, with as high a native resolution, as our bank accounts could cope with. Technology simply didn't move as quickly as the rapid iteration which followed almost every other component in our gaming PCs.

But as the technical options have grown it's now harder to know what the best gaming monitor is for you. So we’ve gathered our favourite screens together to give you a definitive selection of the best panels around in a select few different categories.

If you want to know what to look for when buying a gaming monitor, or want to know about specific categories, you can quickly jump ahead using the links below...

Best gaming monitor

 Best gaming monitor

Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

Size: 27-inch | Native res: 2560 x 1440 | Max refresh: 165Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $728 / £711

It may be horrifically expensive for a 27-inch 1440p monitor, but the Asus Republic of Gamers PG279Q comes rocking absolutely the best gaming panel ever made.

A few years back, when the original Asus Swift first appeared on my desk, with its 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync chops, I have to admit to actually feeling a little underwhelmed. Of course the silky-smooth 1440p resolution was stunning on the desktop, and the Nvidia frame synchronising tech eliminated the juddering I didn’t even know was bugging me in-game, but it was still running on a TN panel. And not even the improved TN panels which accompanied the first flush of affordable 4K monitors either.

That's a similar situation to the one I find myself in with the latest ROG Swift PG248Q and Zowie's XL2735 though they are at least targetting super-fast refresh rates and response times for competitive gaming as the raison d'etre for their TN leanings. A fast refresh rate can be great, but when you're being asked to spend almost the same amount of cash on a TN panel as you are for this excellent - and still speedy - IPS screen there's really no competition.

The biggest change with the current-gen 27-inch Swift from the original is this stunning IPS-type panel and the difference is massive. It’s not strictly speaking an actual In-Plane Switching (IPS) monitor, but that’s because of branding restrictions not technical limitations. The AU Optronics panel Asus have used is called an Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle (AHVA) display, but to all intents and purposes it performs exactly the same as an LG-manufactured IPS.

Which is to say it looks absolutely gorgeous. The clarity is excellent, colours are vibrant and accurate, the white levels are typically impressive for an IPS display and the black reproduction genuinely impressive. 

But it’s not just the panel which separates it from the rest - especially given that Acer’s also-impressive Predator XB271HU uses the same AUO screen - the slimline bezel frames the monitor beautifully, the stand is solid and the controls, via five-way joystick, are the best you can find in monitors today.

It’s also clocked a little higher than its Swift brethren too, coming in at a maximum 165Hz refresh rate and, before you say anything, you genuinely can tell the difference between 144Hz and 165Hz with the naked eye. And the PG279Q is still running G-Sync too.

So while you may baulk at the price, the 1440p resolution means you can hit blazing fast gaming speeds with a huge variety of graphics cards at different price points, and you won’t find a gaming panel as beautifully calibrated this side of a $5,000 Dell OLED.

The best Asus ROG Swift PG279Q prices we've found today:

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Best gaming monitor runner-up

 Best gaming monitor runner-up

Acer Predator XB271HU

Size: 27-inch | Native res: 2560 x 1440 | Max refresh: 165Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $769 / £642

Unless you had this Acer Predator sat side-by-side with the Asus Swift PG279Q you would be hard pushed to find any difference in the quality of image between them. That’s maybe not much of a surprise given they use the exact same AU Optronics panel. The Asus though has been better set up out-of-the-box, its stand and surrounds are more pleasing and try as I might I couldn’t get the Acer display to look as good as the Asus. That said, if you can find the Acer for significantly cheaper than the Asus, you’ll still have a beautiful monitor to game on.

The best Acer Predator XB271HU prices we've found today:

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Best gaming monitor runner-up

Best gaming monitor runner-up - Viewsonic XG2703

Viewsonic XG2703

Size: 27-inch | Native res: 2560 x 1440 | Max refresh: 165Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $700 / £699

The Viewsonic has jumped into the best gaming monitor list thanks to the fact it’s using an almost identical AUO IPS-a-like panel to the PG279Q and the Acer XB271HU. It’s got the same silky refresh rate, excellent motion clarity in-game and excellent detail in general. I’m not a massive fan of the chassis or controls, but the display is what you’re going to be looking at when you’re gaming, and that’s simply fantastic. The prices are incredibly close right now, but if you’re looking for the top gaming screen around right now it’s a pick of one of these three and whichever is cheaper at the time.

Read the full Viewsonic XG2703 review.

The best Viewsonic XG2703 prices we’ve found today:

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Best gaming monitor runner-up

Best gaming monitor runner-up - Samsung C24FG70

Samsung C24FG70

Size: 24-inch | Native res: 1920 x 1080 | Max refresh: 144Hz | Panel tech: VA

Approx. $350 / £280

A 1080p monitor for how much?! Yeah, I'll admit it would be a lot of cash were it just a standard 1080p screen but this new Sammy is one of the first Quantum Dot monitors to hit our desktops. As such the colours and contrast levels are as detailed and crisp as they are stunningly vibrant. The curved screen is practically irrelevant at this scale, but with a 144Hz refresh, 1ms response and AMD's FreeSync support you get unbelievably smooth gaming performance from this Samsung monitor.

Read the full Samsung C24FG70 review.

The best Samsung C24FG70 prices we've found today:

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Best 4K monitor

Best 4K monitor 

LG 27UD68P

Size: 27-inch | Native res: 3840 x 2160 | Max refresh: 60Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $566 / £400

If you were looking for an affordable 4K monitor until recently that meant opting for a TN panel. 4K IPS panels were thin on the ground and super-expensive. Things have changed though and this impressively-affordable 27-inch LG is a great 4K monitor at a great price. And, thanks to recent price cuts, LG's 27-incher is now even more affordable.

It uses LG’s own IPS technology to deliver the typically outstanding colour reproduction you’d expect from that panel tech, matching it with superb contrast levels too. Even more impressive is the fact its contrast performance doesn’t lead to the weaker black levels we’ve come to expect from a lot of IPS displays. The image the LG 27UD68P produces is excellent and with the vast amount of pixels at its disposal they are pin-sharp and crystal clear.

There is, of course, the issue that 27-inches feels a little small for a 4K display to really show the high-resolution imagery to its best. You can use Windows’ scaling to boost the size of text and icons, but I baulk at the fuzziness that can introduce. To me it feels counterintuitive to buy a monitor with such a high resolution and immediately nerf its clarity. But, for the money, the LG is still capable of delivering a great 4K experience.

The other bonus is it supports AMD’s FreeSync frame synchronising technology. That allows it to cut out the judder you get in-game with VSync - when using compatible AMD cards - and creates a beautifully smooth gaming world for everything you play on it. You will need a powerful graphics card (or indeed two) if you want to game at the screen’s native resolution, however, which is why I still can’t honestly recommend a 4K monitor as the outright best gaming display.

That may change when affordable AMD Vega cards or Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti get released, along with the stunning-looking Asus and Acer 4K G-Sync HDR screens too. I'm salivating just typing that...

The LG 27UD68P is also a rather stylish device too. The curved stand allows for a full range of monitor adjustment and the edgeless bezel makes for a very slimline surround for your games too. There’s nothing to distract your eye from the fast-paced action of Overwatch here.

There are some other exciting options on the horizon, with Philips set to launch a new curved 40-inch 4K monitor at the same price as their 32-inch offerings, but at this price right now, the LG is my pick for the best 4K monitor around right now. You can, of course, pay thousands for a super high-end option, but only those with very deep pockets can go down that route.

The best LG 27UD68P prices we've found today:

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Best 4K monitor runner-up

Best 4K monitor runner-up 

Philips Brilliance BDM3275UP

Size: 32-inch | Native res: 3840 x 2160 | Max refresh: 60Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $1,098 / £965 

For some reason the 32-inch Philips is tough to track down in the US for a non-insane price. There is availability on Amazon but for a lot more than it’s worth. Which is a shame as this 10-bit IPS monitor makes for a good big screen 4K gaming monitor, and in the UK is available for a decent price too outside of Amazon. Because of its 32-inches running without Windows’ scaling options is fine and that extra scale really shows off the fidelity of 4K gaming. It doesn’t have quite as good a screen as the LG, so that still gets my vote despite its smaller size.

The best Philips Brilliance BDM3275UP prices we've found today:

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Best ultrawide monitor

Best ultrawide monitor runner-up

Asus ROG Swift PG348Q

Size: 34-inch | Native res: 3440 x 1440 | Max refresh: 100Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $1,120 / £999

The G-Sync-toting Asus ROG Swift, with its 100Hz refresh rate and typically-brilliant Asus monitor controls, is now our choice for the absolute best ultrawide gaming monitor you can buy. It's still mighty expensive, but with its recent price drops and sale prices its competitive with the best of the rest of the 34-inch brigade.

The slight extra price-premium is easier to justify now, despite the Acer screen below using the exact same panel just without the extra 25Hz speed-bump and Nvidia frame-syncing silicon. The stunning Asus PG348Q will not disappoint, most especially if you're GeForce gamer looking for that G-Sync fix.

There is a slight curve to the 3440 x 1440 IPS panel and, combined with that extreme 21:9 aspect ratio, that makes this one of the most immersive gaming monitors you can buy right now. Given the choice I find it really difficult to decide between this and the excellent Asus ROG PG279Q as my absolute favourite, but the higher refresh rate of the 16:9 screen just gives it the edge for me. Just.

Though it does have to be said, Samsung's new CF791 curved ultrawide monitors look absolutely beautiful with their Quantum Dot filter boosting their colour gamut and GSync versions on the way next year... There is other competition coming to shake things up though, with LG offering the largest ultrawide display ever released to the consumer market - a 38-inch curved 21:9 monitor with a native resolution of 3800 x 1600. 

Read the full Asus ROG Swift PG 348Q review.

The best Asus ROG Swift PG348Q prices we've found today:

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Best ultrawide runner-up

Best ultrawide monitor 

Acer Predator XR341CK

Size: 34-inch | Native res: 3440 x 1440 | Max refresh: 75Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $834 / £995

The Acer Predator was once our favourite ultrawide monitor for the fact that it gave us almost as good an image as the beautiful Asus ROG panel, but at a much lower price. The image quality is still there, but the price differential isn't. Now they're so close in price I'd have to say the Asus is the one to go for. The Acer XR341CK is still a great screen with a 75Hz refresh and a lovely IPS, 3440 x 1440 panel, but it's ticket price needs to come down. Be careful of the Acer XR342CK though, I recently had the chance to check it out and there's something blurry going on with its display - not all Predators are equal...

The best Acer Predator XR341CK prices we've found today:

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Best budget monitor

Best budget monitor

BenQ GW2270H

Size: 21.5-inch | Native res: 1920 x 1080 | Max refresh: 60Hz | Panel tech: VA

Approx. $99 / £87

You can get some seriously cheap 1080p monitors these days, but our recommendation would be that you should absolutely steer clear of anything labelled as a twisted nematic (TN) panel. It’s the cheapest screen technology to manufacture, but also massively sacrifices image-quality over other options. This BenQ GW2270H is one of the best-value, non-TN, Full HD screens you’ll find and is capable of presenting an impressive image too.

The compromise here (there always has to be one in the budget zone) is the BenQ is a diminutive 21.5-inches across the diagonal. The trade off though is that you get a decent vertical alignment (VA) panel, the next best thing after a bona fide IPS display. The colour reproduction is not quite as vibrant as the pricier tech, but has much greater clarity and depth than you’ll get with even the best TN monitors, with none of the washed-out look which blights that cheaper screen technology.

Because it is only 21.5-inches the 1080p native resolution gives you a nice, tight pixel pitch, almost on par with the likes of a 27-inch 1440p monitor. You will need to do a little fiddling with the out-of-the-box settings to get the best image. The low-level contrast is a bit crushed, which will make it hard to make out the detail in darker scenes, but a little tweaking of the RGB range in your graphics drivers can alleviate a lot of the issues.

So, while the BenQ GW2270H isn’t going to set the gaming world alight, and will never produce the image quality you’ll get from the higher-end screens we’ve looked at, for the money it’s a fantastic li’l monitor. 

The best BenQ GW2270H prices we've found today:

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Best budget monitor runner-up

Best budget monitor runner-up 

AOC i2369v

Size: 23-inch | Native res: 1920 x 1080 | Max refresh: 60Hz | Panel tech: IPS

Approx. $110 / £128

If you want to pay a little more you can get up to the IPS level, and boost the screen real estate too. The AOC uses a 1080p, 6-bit IPS panel, and has a slightly longer response time and broader pixel pitch than the BenQ, but you do get the extra colour vibrancy. The AOC controls can be a little flaky, and don’t give you a lot of wiggle room when it comes to making your own adjustments, but this is about as cheap an IPS screen as you’ll find.

The best AOC i2369v prices we've found today:

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How to buy a gaming monitor

GTX Titan X Pascal

When it comes to pick a new gaming monitor it’s all about your graphics card, or maybe your next graphics card. If you’re looking to upgrade your old graphics card to something like the new Nvidia GTX 1050 there’s little point in dropping a load of cash on an expensive 1440p or 4K monitor. 

Likewise, if you’ve spent big on a graphics card like the $1,200 GTX Titan X, a 20-inch 1080p panel is not going to let your funky new GPU shine. Though if you are looking to upgrade your PC hardware at the same time, or shortly after your monitor purchase, it’s worth thinking ahead to what your next GPU purchase will be capable of.

The key here is making sure you’re able to play games at your monitor’s native resolution. Since the shift to flatscreen panel technology monitors are no longer able to pick and choose their resolution, and if you operate below a screen’s native res you end up with slightly blurry, indistinct images. This is why, if you’re not blessed with a super high-end GPU, it’s probably not worth making the step up to a 4K monitor yet. Sure, you can scale down your in-game settings so your system’s actually running at 1080p or 1440p, but you’re losing the fidelity you’d get from running natively on a 4K monitor.

Bigger is best, though not always...

If you are thinking of making the upgrade to a 4K screen then absolutely go for as big a screen size as you can afford. My best 4K experience was with an old 40-inch Philips VA panel, now discontinued. It used a display ripped straight out of one of their 4K TVs and the screen real estate meant that, at the native resolution of 3840 x 2160, you’re getting a pixel pitch (the physical size of the individual ‘dots’ that make up an image) which isn’t that different from a 27-inch 1440p panel. Philips is bringing a curved 40-inch 4K monitor to the party soon, and that curve could make a massive difference on such a large desktop monitor.

Best 4K experience

The first 4K monitor I used for long-term testing though was a 24-inch Dell. Despite having an absolutely stunning IPS panel, with beautiful colours and incredible clarity, running at 4K it was almost impossible to read anything. And back then Windows scaling was atrocious, not just generally bad, like it is today.

On the flipside though, going for a large screen with a low native resolution can also lead to blurry ol’ images too. With a 27-inch 1080p screen the pixel pitch ends up being rather large, losing the crispness of a more balanced panel. As in all parts of PC hardware, it’s a balancing act.

Panel technology

Picking the right monitor display technology comes on a climbing scale of pricing. The more powerful the panel tech, the more it costs to produce and the more those costs are passed on to the consumer. In this world of obscure acronyms though what do the different options offer?

  • Twisted nematic (TN): TN panels are the cheapest type of display tech you’ll find these days and, for the most part, it shows. Monitors using TN suffer from poor viewing angles (leading to weird colouration if you’re not sat directly in front), poor colour reproduction across the board and a general washed-out look. The later TN displays which arrived with the first affordable 4K screens were much improved, but still not a patch on more expensive panel technologies. We have started seeing e-sports-focused gaming displays being produced by the likes of Zowie and Asus which deliberately use TN panels for their monitors because of their high refresh rates and super-quick response times.
  • Vertical alignment (VA): This is the next step up, and is actually quite an advance over TN. You get much better colours and the viewing angles are excellent too, VA panels also generally offer the best black levels too, even over IPS screens.
  • Quantum Dot (QD): The Samsung-sponsored technology isn't really offering a different kind of panel - Quantum Dot monitors are still LED-backlit LCD screens - but they use a new kind of filter which enhances the colour depth of the display. That gives them a wider colour gamut with Samsung's latest QD monitors offering 125% of the sRGB colour space. Currently QD is only being applied to VA panels, but that allows them to have impressive blacks and better colour accuracy than other IPS displays.
  • In-Plane Switching (IPS): Until LG and Samsung actually find a way to manufacture OLED screens in an affordable manner IPS panels are going to be the top of the monitor tech tree. They offer the best colours and excellent contrast levels too, though can suffer from weaker black reproduction. As an LG-made technology they own the IPS branding, which has meant Samsung and latterly AU Optronics (two of the other big screen manufacturers) have had to create their own IPS-like tech - branded Plane to Line Switching (PLS) and Advanced Hyper Viewing Angle (AHVA) respectively. But all three essentially offer the same thing.
  • Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED): This is the absolute pinnacle of display technology and the holy grail for the future of gaming monitors. Though it’s a long way from being in any way affordable. OLED TVs have become a lot cheaper, but we’re still talking in the thousands here. The big thing about OLED is that it’s a self emissive technology - each individual pixel is its own light source. That means OLED displays need no LED backlighting. And that in turn means unrivalled contrast levels and true blacks, not just darker shades of grey. OLED screens ought to also have incredible fast response times too, potentially making them the best option for gaming.

Refresh rates

The refresh rate is the number of times per second the monitor will refresh the image displayed on the screen. So at 60Hz you get a new image 60 times each second. That seems like a lot, so can you really see the difference between 60Hz and 144Hz with the naked eye? The answer is an unequivocal yes. In fact you can detect even small boosts in refresh rate - a 75Hz screen is noticeably smoother than a 60Hz option, so a 165Hz or 200Hz panel is as smooth as a kitten wearing a velvet smoking jacket.

G-Sync or FreeSync?

G-Sync or FreeSync?

I didn’t even really register the little judder using VSync introduces to your gaming experience, until Nvidia’s G-Sync took it away; I’d gotten that used to it. VSync though has been a necessary evil, reducing the tearing you get when the monitor’s refresh rate is trying to keep up with the frames being spat out by the GPU. 

Frame synchronising technologies, like G-Sync and FreeSync, allow the GPU to communicate directly with the screen and will only deliver a completed frame to the display when it’s ready to show it to the viewer. That results in zero tearing and none of the judder you’d otherwise get using VSync. And it creates a beautifully smooth gaming experience too, one that’s hard to readjust to if you switch to a monitor without such support.

G-Sync is exclusive to Nvidia, and is also the more expensive option as it involves a licensed bit of Nvidia silicon being added into the electronics of a monitor. AMD’s FreeSync on the other hand ties into the Adaptive Sync feature of DisplayPort 1.2a so just needs the monitor to be compatible with that later spec. Both though do need a DisplayPort connection to function.

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Thanks to all the manufacturers and Overclockers UK for their help in sourcing the review samples.

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Rock1m1 avatarDave James avatarTim Edwards avatarDroniac avatarKrcun avatarTaiga Kagami avatar+2
Rock1m1 Avatar
298
7 Months ago

I'm saving money for the Asus RoG Swift PG279Q

4
Dave James Avatar
202
7 Months ago

It's a genuinely stunning screen.

2
Tim Edwards Avatar
514
7 Months ago

That's my monitor at home. It's beautiful.

1
Droniac Avatar
60
5 Months ago

Also looking at that PG279Q. A friend got one recently and they're sweet. Ridiculously expensive though.

I'll add a little something else on refresh rates too:

Higher refresh rates have the added benefit of making prolonged use less uncomfortable. At 60Hz you'll notice eyestrain or even a headache after an hour or two. Even at 80Hz that's already enormously reduced and at 120Hz you just won't notice it anymore. Which is another reason for me to get that PG279Q. Right now my secondary monitor is still 60Hz (and 1680x1050) :(

2
Dave James Avatar
202
5 Months ago

Great point about refresh rates!

I shifted from an old TN Swift at home, running at 144Hz, to a 60Hz panel because it was a 4K GSync screen. And I still really miss the high refresh...

5
Krcun Avatar
1
3 Months ago

I fully recommend AOC G2460PF.

24", Freesync, 144Hz and 1ms.

Compared side by side with very similar BenQ XL2411Z, it has a better image in just about every aspect (colors are uncanny for TN panel)

1
Taiga Kagami Avatar
2
3 Months ago

Dell has a TN panel that beats that ROG swift and its half the price this cyber monday of the Asus... you didnt do your research. IPS has a lottery and you will get the backlight bleed etc and lack nice blacks and response time. This Dell, its TN with colors as good as IPS with the Deep blacks, no lottery, no backlight bleed and 1 ms response on top. A review of the Dell is here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT6HOJzKj08&t=3s

1
Dave James Avatar
202
1 Month ago

I've never in all my years testing hardware found a TN screen with anywhere near the clarity, contrast or colour reproduction a good IPS or VA panel is capable of. The closest they've gotten have been some of the 4K TN panels.

I haven't seen the S2716DG in person, but I doubt the AUO TN can really beat the latest AUO AH-IPS panel. It might get close, but the IPS screen is truly beautiful.

1
DuoBlaze Avatar
56
1 Month ago

Do NOT buy an Acer XR341CK. After a year of constant complaints and troubleshooting customers were able to irrefutably prove the display is defective for all customers. Acer finally admitted this in late 2016. Just google "Acer predator freesync problems forum" and look at the length by thread where Acer admits the truth. The problem being that when using freesync with a refresh rate higher than 60hz users experiencing flickering. Acer refused to provide any fix or refund or warranty coverage or anything, instead simply stating it is a "display limitation". So essentially the XR341CK is not freesync 35hz-75hz, it's actually 35hz-60hz, then up to 75hz if you don't mind the flickering.

1
Dave James Avatar
202
1 Month ago

Odd, I hadn't experienced any flickering issue with the Acer during a month of having it as my main display in the office. I had subsequently tried the XR342CK and was really disappointed with display in comparison so retained this as my secondary recommendation.

1
0V3RKILL Avatar
252
1 Week ago

I personally prefer Benq monitors. Now the competition has catch up with benq's specs. But, for a long time benq had better specs than any brand out there and cost way the heck less too. Not only that but they look amazing, second to none. I bought one years ago and still going

1