Best gaming monitor 2018

We’ve tested the top 1080p, ultrawide, 144Hz, and 4K monitors to help you find the best gaming monitor

What is the best gaming monitor? That’s a tough question right now, because there are so many different kinds of screen around that it can be difficult to say what is the absolute best.

There are some serious questions you need to ask yourself first. Do you favour image quality over lightning-fast pixel response? Do you need Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync? 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? And, finally, how convinced are you by the prospect of high dynamic range gaming?

We’ve lovingly tested the best Samsung, BenQ, AOC, Acer, LG, and Asus monitors to find out who really stands atop the lot with the absolute best displays. And it’s important to make sure you get the best gaming monitor, because it’s likely to outlast every component in your PC.

For too long we’ve been severely limited in our choice of gaming display – previously we simply picked the largest screen with the highest 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. And that’s where we come in, with our expert eyes and obsessive hunger for the very best panels. you’re welcome.

The best gaming monitors are:

Check out the best gaming monitor prices at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Best gaming monitor - Asus ROG Swift PG279q

Winner: Best gaming monitor

Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

Approx. $689 | £689

Vital stats

Still the best gaming monitor you can buy, even with the 4K G-Sync HDR Swift finally seeing the light of day.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.2560 x 1440
  • Max refresh rate165Hz
  • Panel techIPS

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 in-game juddering I didn’t even know was bugging me before, but it was still running on a TN panel. And not even one of the improved TN panels which accompanied the first flush of affordable 4K monitors at that.

That’s a similar situation to the one I find myself in with the ROG Swift PG248Q and Zowie’s XL2735. Though they are at least targeting 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 has 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 sound 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 – 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 ludicrously priced $3,500 Dell OLED.

Best gaming monitor runner-up - Acer Predator XB271HU

Runner-up: Best gaming monitor

Acer Predator XB271HU

Approx. $500 | £556

Vital stats

Using the same basic panel as the Swift above it, the Predator is only very marginally behind the Asus.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.2560 x 1440
  • Max refresh165Hz
  • Panel techIPS

Unless you had this Acer Predator sat side-by-side with the Asus Swift PG279Q you’d 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 has been better set up out-of-the-box, though, with its stand and surrounds being more pleasing. But, 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.

Best gaming monitor runner-up - Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ

Runner-up: Best gaming monitor

Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ

Approx. $665 | £520

Vital stats

An outstanding FreeSync screen, with a vast 32-inch panel, that's capable of delivering silky smooth gaming.

  • Panel size32-inch
  • Native res.2560 x 1440
  • Max refresh144Hz
  • Panel techVA

The Asus Strix screen is one of the finest FreeSync gaming monitors we’ve ever tested. It’s VA panel is bright and colourful, with a crisp 1440p native resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate that makes gaming silky smooth.

It’s also cheaper than the IPS G-Sync screens surrounding it on this page, despite being a lovely, big 32-incher. And, y’know, it’s got all those lovely RGB LEDs on the rear of the monitor and shining brightly from under the stand. What more could one ask for? A curve? Well, it’s got that too.

Read the full Asus ROG Strix XG32VQ review.

Best gaming monitor runer-up - AOC AGON AG271QG

Runner-up: Best gaming monitor

AOC AGON AG271QG

Approx. $696 | £667

Vital stats

The AGON is almost as good as the 27-inch G-Sync Predator and Swift monitors, though not quite as vibrant a gaming display.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res. 2560 x 1440
  • Max refresh165Hz
  • Panel techIPS

The AOC AGON AG271QG is a great little monitor, very much in the same vein as the extremely 165Hz IPS similar monitors above. It’s also sporting an AU Optronics IPS-a-like panel, capable of outputting at 165Hz, so it might as well be an identical screen.

While it’s not quite as bright or vibrant as the others it is still a beautiful monitor with a lovely fluid motion to its gaming performance. It’s also a little bit cheaper than the others, possibly because of its slightly more basic design. But it’s still a 1440p IPS G-Sync panel so it’s never going to be cheap.

It’s also worth noting there is a FreeSync-based version, the AOC AGON AG271QX. Don’t assume that’s the same monitor, but without the expensive GSync electronics – it’s actually a 144Hz, 27-inch TN panel and it would probably have to be free for me to recommend it…

Read the full AOC AGON AG271QG review.

Best gaming monitor runner-up - Samsung C24FG70

Runner-up: Best gaming monitor

Samsung C24FG70

Approx. $275 | £200

Vital stats

There's a lot to be said for Quantum Dot screens. Samsung's QD tech may not be quite as deep and rich as OLED, but it's mighty close.

  • Panel size24-inch
  • Native res.1920 x 1080
  • Max refresh144Hz
  • Panel techVA

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 Sammy was 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 small  scale, but with a 144Hz refresh, 1ms response and AMD’s FreeSync support you get unbelievably smooth gaming performance from this Samsung monitor.

Read our full Samsung C24FG70 review.

Best 4K monitor - LG 27UD68P

Winner: Best 4K monitor

LG 27UD68P

Approx. $407 | £400

Vital stats

A genuinely affordable, decently sized, IPS, 4K gaming screen with FreeSync-y smoothness built in.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.3840 x 2160
  • Max refresh60Hz
  • Panel techIPS

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’s probably far more the monitor you would actually buy than the admittedly lovely PA32U.

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 FreeSync-capable cards get released or Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti gets replaced with some miraculously cheap and powerful new Volta GPU.

The LG 27UD68P is also a stylish device. 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 exciting options on the horizon, with FreeSync 2 now available, but at this current price, the LG is my pick for the best-value 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.

Best 4K monitor runner-up - Asus ProArt PA32U

Runner-up: Best 4K monitor

Asus ProArt PA32U

Approx. $2,000 | £2,000

Vital stats

Not quite the perfect 4K HDR panel you might be after for its two grand price tag, but one of the best professional-class panels I've used.

  • Panel size32-inch
  • Native res.3840 x 2160
  • Max refresh60Hz
  • Panel techIPS

I’ve fallen a little bit in love with Asus’ professional 4K screen. And yes, you’ll probably have taken a look at that price tag and spluttered out your coffee all over your keyboard, but hear me out – it’s probably going to end up a bit of a bargain. Relatively speaking.

Right now it’s around $2,000 / £2,000 where you can buy it (currently it’s out of stock in the US) but it’s been out since March and the new 4K G-Sync HDR monitors, from Asus and Acer, have just launched sporting similar price tags. That will possibly mean the price of this beauty actually comes down. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

The PA32U actually has a better panel inside it too, using genuine IPS instead of AU Optronics AHVA technology, yet still has the same 384 zones of local dimming, 1,000 cd/m2 peak luminance, and full Rec.2020 colour support. It’s a HDR panel too, with genuinely stunning clarity, colour, and brightness.

It took a little getting used to, as it’s got some bizarre sharpness setting as default, but once that was gone my desktop looked sharp and colourful. Unfortunately it’s not the perfect 4K HDR gaming screen because, like with the Asus PG27UQ, IPS and AHVA tech struggles with black levels. That means it can’t deliver much detail in the darkest HDR scenes.

It’s also limited to 60Hz, which might be a deal-breaker in terms of gaming, especially if you’re spending this much cash.

Best 4K monitor runner-up - AOC AGON AG271UG

Runner-up: Best 4K monitor

AOC AGON AG271UG

Approx. $395 | £579

Vital stats

A seriously well-priced 4K gaming monitor, especially when you add in the fact it comes with the pricey G-Sync module built-in.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.3840 x 2160
  • Max refresh60Hz
  • Panel techIPS

AOC’s gaming 4K monitor comes with a great spec, rocking both an excellent IPS panel as well as Nvidia’s G-Sync technology inside that unassuming chassis. It’s bright, crisp and clear and isn’t a bad price considering the premium that’s always added alongside the GeForce frame-synchronising hardware.

Our only real issue is that it’s still a lot of money to spend on a 4K screen that’s only 27-inches across the diagonal. At this high-end resolution you need a little more screen space to take advantage of the visual fidelity 4K gaming can offer.

Read the full AOC AGON AG271UG review.

Best 4K monitor runner-up - Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Runner up: Best 4K monitor

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Approx. $2,499 | £2,299

Vital stats

We were genuinely hoping the 4K G-Sync HDR panels would deliver us the perfect gaming monitors. Sadly, they're just not quite there yet.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.3840 x 2160
  • Max refresh144Hz
  • Panel techAHVA

In terms of the 4K gaming monitor with the most advanced technology inside it the PG27UQ takes the award. It’s using the first panel to offer Nvidia’s 4K G-Sync HDR technology, and is able to offer it all running at a baby poo smooth 144Hz.

And it offers a lovely image in both SDR and HDR, so long as you’re talking about colours. If you’re talking contrast then, like the beautiful-looking PA32U, it’s pretty dodgy. The PG27UQ is a bit better in-game, and doesn’t just lose all detail in the darkness, but there’s not a lot of definition.

And, while it does offer great colours and smooth gaming, it’s still only 27-inches, which is too small for a 4K gaming screen, and is the most expensive panel around. It’s also a first-gen option and that means it’s one for the 4K HDR early adopters only.

Read our full Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review.

Best ultrawide monitor - Samsung C49J89

Winner: Best ultrawide monitor

Samsung C49J89

Approx. £842

Vital stats

Probably the most useful gaming monitor if you're obsessed with Fortnite, giving you a broader field of view than most other monitors. Combined.

  • Panel size49-inch
  • Native res.3840 x 1080
  • Max refresh144Hz
  • Panel techVA

Okay, on the face of it a 49-inch monitor might seem overkill, especially if you’re stretching it out over a 32:9 aspect ratio, but if you’re going ultrawide then you might as well GO ULTRAWIDE. This Samsung screen sports a VA panel, a 5ms response time and a 144Hz refresh rate. But it’s not rated as a ‘gaming’ screen despite all that.

With a 1080 pixel high native resolution, however, it’s not particularly great on the desktop for productivity stuff, but where it excels is in-game and in-particular in competitive games such as Fornite where being able to see more than your opponents can be one hell of an advantage.

You’re not getting the FreeSync goodness or Quantum Dot HDR shizzle of the more expensive Samsung CHG90, but you’re not really missing out too much as the extra brightness of the other panel doesn’t really stand out. And if you’re sporting an Nvidia GPU you’re not getting the benefit of FreeSync anyways.

It’s a genuinely stunning monitor, and the only real issue is that it’s currently quite tricky to track down in the US. But it’s only recently been released so don’t worry, there is time.

Read our full Samsung C49J89 review.

Best ultrawide monitor runner-up - Asus ROG Swift PG348Q

 

Runner-up: Best ultrawide monitor

Asus ROG Swift PG348Q

Approx. $994 | £870

Vital stats

Using a 100Hz IPS panel, the ROG ultrawide delivers a genuinely stunning image across its full width.

  • Panel size34-inch
  • Native res.3440 x 1440
  • Max refresh100Hz
  • Panel techIPS

The G-Sync-toting Asus ROG Swift, with its 100Hz refresh rate and typically brilliant Asus monitor controls, was our choice for the absolute best ultrawide gaming monitor until Samsung went massive. It’s still mighty expensive, but with recent price drops, and the occasional sale price, it’s competitive with the best of the rest of the 34-inch brigade.

The slightly extra price-premium is easier to justify now, despite one of the Acer screens 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 especially if you’re a 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, it 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 overall screen, but the higher refresh rate of the 16:9 display just gives it the edge for me. Just.

But then there’s the ROG Swift PG35VQ – the G-Sync HDR ultrawide replacement for this beautfiul 21:9 display. That’s not coming until the end of the year – maybe even next year – meaning the PG348Q’s days around the top might well be numbered. Though fingers crossed it might be in line for a healthy price drop…

Read the full Asus ROG Swift PG 348Q review.

Best ultrawide monitor runner-up - BenQ EX3501R

Runner-up: Best ultrawide monitor

BenQ EX3501R

Approx. $849 | £625

Vital stats

It's delivering on its HDR promises, but the BenQ ultrawide is still a quality 21:9 gaming screen.

  • Panel size27-inch
  • Native res.3440 x 1440
  • Max refresh100Hz
  • Panel techVA

BenQ has produced one of the finest ultrawide FreeSync monitors around, but is holding back from calling it a gaming monitor because of its Zowie brand hogging all that limelight. But with the 21:9 VA panel, 100Hz refresh rate, and decent HDR chops, the EX3501R is a quality display for games.

Obviously you’re not going to get the peak luminance of the next-gen ultrawide HDR screens coming later this year… possibly… but it still makes a good fist of the vibrant colouring and contrast levels needed for acceptable HDR gaming.

BenQ has done a great job with the EX3501R. It looks great and its panel makes games look just as good. Probably better. Of course you have to pay for this wide a gaming screen, and especially if you want such a smooth experience, but it’s still likely half the price the ultrawide HDR G-Sync screens of the future will cost.

Read the full BenQ EX3501R review.

Best ultrawide monitor runner-up - Philips Brilliance 349X7FJEW

Runner-up: Best ultrawide monitor

Philips Brilliance 349X7FJEW

Approx. $566 | £644

Vital stats

A stylish-looking ultrawide, without the classic, aggressive, gamer aesthetic. Unfortunately it's not the best panel around right now.

  • Panel size34-inch
  • Native res.3440 x 1440
  • Max refresh100Hz
  • Panel techVA

The Philips Brilliance 349X7FJEW packs a 34” ultrawide 100Hz panel into a design that ditches the gamer aesthetic in favour of a sleek and professional white form factor. Despite the lack of gamer style, the 349X7 packs AMD’s FreeSync tech for a super-smooth gaming experience.

Thanks to a 3440 x 1440 WQHD resolution, the 349X7 avoids the awkward letterboxed feel often found with lower resolution ultra wide aspect ratio monitors. With only a slight curve to the screen, it also avoids any of the distortion extreme panel bends suffer from – great for when gaming isn’t the only priority.

The WQHD panel does suffer some weaknesses despite its impressive specs. For all the hertz and FreeSync goodness, the panel doesn’t arrive particularly well-configured out of the box. I spent the best part of an hour tinkering with the picture settings and I never quite got the panel to my liking. The panel’s contrast and brightness seem just a little muted.

The panel’s weakness knocks the monitor off the top spot compared to that crisp IPS found on the Asus ROG Swift PG348Q. But the Philips 349X7’s price tag slots the monitor into an entirely different pricing bracket than its IPS competitors. Without the price premium of Nvidia’s G-Sync tech, this monitor makes for a fantastic alternative for AMD users to the AOC AGON AG352UCG.

Runner-up: Best ultrawide monitor

AOC AGON AG352UCG

Approx. $820 | £881

Vital stats

The AGON comes mighty close to the image quality of the ultrawide ROG Swift, but just falls short. That wouldn't be a problem if it was also cheaper...

  • Panel size35-inch
  • Native res.3440 x 1440
  • Max refresh100Hz
  • Panel techVA

AOC’s latest gaming ultrawide monitor may not quite have the IPS image quality of the super-pricey ROG Swift up top, but if it was much less expensive that wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately it’s not. But in terms of the image quality it’s close enough you’d struggle to see it unless they were sat cheek-by-jowl on your desktop.

The chassis may also be a bit more shiny plastic and chunky than the Asus, but you won’t care about that when you’re paying more attention to the crisp visuals on this wraparound panel. It also takes advantage of Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, so if you’ve got a GeForce card capable of driving this panel at 100 frames per second, that 100Hz refresh rate is going to come in rather handy.

Read the full AOC AGON AG352UCG review.

Best cheap gaming monitor - BenQ GW2270H

Winner: Best cheap gaming monitor

BenQ GW2270H

Approx. $89 | £89

Vital stats

A good-quality, sub-$100 gaming monitor with a decent, non-TN panel. For a full HD screen you can't ask for much more.

  • Panel size21.5-inch
  • Native res.1920 x 1080
  • Max refresh60Hz
  • Panel tech VA

You can get some seriously cheap 1080p monitors these days, but our recommendation would be that youshouldabsolutely steer clear of anything labelled as a twisted nematic (TN) panel unless it’s one of the latest 25-inch versions. TN is 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 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.

Best cheap gaming monitor runner-up - LG 24MC57HQ-P

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming monitor

LG 24MC57HQ-P

Approx. $140

Vital stats

A pretty impressive price for a 24-inch full HD IPS panel, and that makes for a tasty budget gaming display too.

  • Panel size23.8-inch
  • Native res.1920 x 1080
  • Max refresh60Hz
  • Panel techIPS

This 24-inch LG screen may not be the sexiest screen around, but it’s a great price for a genuine IPS panel. The only issue you might have is the lack of inputs – it only comes sporting a single HDMI and one VGA connection.

It’s also not available in the UK either, but there is a similar LG 24MP58VQ available for just £130, which again comes with a 24-inch, 1080p IPS panel, but also gives you a DVI connection as well as HDMI and VGA.