Gaming is a billion-dollar business that serves consumers of all types. Whether you need a thin flat panel for casual games or a widescreen behemoth in the pro class, there are plenty of options to choose from. The best gaming monitors for fans of first-person shooters may not be the best choice for other genres, however. With that in mind, here are the buying guide and the top options whether you are gaming on a budget or want a top-tier machine.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Monitor
When looking for the best gaming monitor, it may be tempting to opt for one with the highest resolution. That is definitely one way to go although you may quickly find yourself in a pickle once you settle into a session of WoW or Fortnite. If you want to get the most bang for your buck and top-tier performance, you will want to hone in on these key areas.
Resolution is a major selling point for any consumer product sporting a display. That includes smartphones, television sets, and gaming monitors. It’s also easy to understand as the higher the resolution, the better the image quality. Unless you plan on running a retro machine, you will want to familiarize yourself with the resolutions below.
- FHD – Some gamers may be able to handle a 720p display, but FHD is the base level most gamers should shoot for. FHD stands for Full High-Definition and tops out at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. Before the rise of the next two standards, it was the best route to go and still looks great today. FHD monitors are generally more affordable as well if you are gaming on a budget.
- QHD – When you’re ready to kick things up a notch, QHD is the next step up. While the pixels don’t quite double at 2,560 x 1,440, there will be a noticeable increase in sharpness and overall clarity. Whenever you see a “W” in front of the QHD, it stands for widescreen which tends to be a popular option at this level.
- UHD – Consumers that want the best monitor for gaming have to seriously consider UHD. It is top of the line and provides 4K resolution at 3,840 x 2,160. The only drawback to a monitor of this caliber is the fact you need a strong GPU if you want to take full advantage of what it brings to the table. They are generally twice the price of an FHD monitor, but well worth it if you truly want the best.
While there are a few other oddball resolutions, these are the ones to keep on your radar. Just keep in mind any hardware limitations that may arise with your rig if you plan on jumping from an HD or FHD monitor to a 4K Ultra Widescreen display.
While resolution is easy to understand, the technology behind that glass panel can be a little more difficult. Manufacturers sometimes put their own on twist on things, but for the most part, these are the main types of displays you’ll encounter when looking for the best gaming monitor.
- TN – Twisted Nematic displays are a common option in the gaming and quite affordable. They tend to have the best response times out of the box which generally ranges from 1ms to 4ms at the high end. They don’t have the best viewing angles or contrast ratio however when compared to their counterparts.
- IPS – IPS is a popular tech found in television sets and monitors. It stands for in-plane switching and is ideal for gamers that appreciate bold colors and want better viewing angles. While the responsiveness isn’t as good as you’ll find on TN panels, plenty of high-end models allow for higher rates.
- VA – A vertical alignment panel isn’t the best choice for gaming in any particular area as it falls somewhere in the middle between IPS and TN. They have good low latency, responsiveness, and better color than TN panels. They can also have issues with ghosting and blurring compared to the others panels but are still a great option if you need a solid all-around monitor.
The refresh rate is measured in Hz and can range anywhere from 60Hz to 240Hz in the gaming world. It measures how many times a monitor can “refresh” the image on the screen and is a key element in first-person shooters and other styles of games. The faster the rate, the smoother the action generally is on screen.
This number fluxgates depending on the type of panel you choose although some manufacturers have found ways to increase those numbers through overclocking. Do you need a monitor clocked at 240Hz? Not necessarily as it comes down to your needs, and the types of games you plan to play. Unless you’re a Pro, anything over 144Hz might be an overkill.
Response time is another critical factor whether you need the best budget monitor for gaming or a curved gaming monitor. Measured in ms or milliseconds, the response time tells you how long it takes a pixel to change from one color to the next.
In this case, the lower the number, the better as 1ms is the best while 4ms is about average. Again, the number will vary from panel to panel, with TN being the most responsive by a relatively wide margin. In a nutshell, the quicker the response time, the less chance for smearing, ghosting or other issues during gameplay.
Other things to consider
The response time, refresh rate and panel type are just a few areas you should consider, but by far the most important. Aside from choosing between a matte or glossy display, the next thing to think about would be the ports.
While USB-C ports are common in the mobile world, they are not quite as popular on desktops. Every monitor will have USB 3.0 ports, but keep an eye out for USB-C if speed is important to you. Dual HDMI ports are another features that should be more common but can be hard to find in the mid to budget class.
12 Best Gaming Monitors to Buy in 2018
The Best 4K IPS Monitor
If you have an ample desktop at your disposal, you will be thrilled with what Alienware brings to the table with the AW341DW. It’s a widescreen monitor built for gamers that want the best and comes with some interesting features to go along with a speedy 4-millisecond response time.
Before we get to the specs, let’s talk about the design. This monitor lives up to the Alienware moniker with its funky design which features a swivel-hinge setup that quickly adjusts to suit your needs. The 34-inch screen has a 3-sided bezel and is curved with a 21:9 aspect ratio. It comes with six game modes as well to go along with a handy OSD.
Concerned about screen tearing as you’re racing around tracks or dodging bullets while running for cover? That won’t be an issue thanks to G-Sync and the overall speed of the panel. It’s listed at 100Hz out of the box, but can be overclocked to 120Hz. While it’s not cheap, it is well worth the money if you need a serious monitor for your rig.
- WQHD Resolution
- IPS Widescreen Panel
- AlienFX lighting system
- 3-year warranty
A Curved Beauty
Once you have been in the game world long enough, you realize many brands carry a premium price tag. AW, NVIDIA and AMD are a few names that stand out – AOC, not so much. That’s a good thing if you are looking for the best gaming monitor and want to save a few bucks for games or upgrade to a new graphics card for your machine.
When you break into the 4K realm, things get expensive. Nobody explained that to AGON as they still provide a 35-inch panel with a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440. While not at the top of the class, the refresh rate is solid at 120Hz with a 4ms response time. It’s also widescreen with the same 21:9 aspect ratio as the Alienware monitor although sporting a curve of 1800R instead of 1900R. Curves aside, it is a fast display that will not disappoint.
On paper, the tech specs are on par with the best monitors around, and it includes features like AOC Flicker-Free tech, Shadow Control, and the company’s low Blue Light mode are a few other features you’ll appreciate as well.
- Customizable LEDs
- Display Port 1.2
- 120Hz with G-SYNC
- 4ms GTG
- Reports of faulty panels
- Build quality
The Best 27-inch Monitor for E-sports
While 4K monitors are certainly the way of the future, they are not for everyone. You still need to have a GPU that’s able to handle those pixels, or it’s all for naught. Gamers on a budget will love the responsiveness of the BenQ ZOWIE, a monitor geared towards serious gamers.
While not as fancy as some of the high-end monitors currently available, the BenQ ZOWIE is a Pro caliber monitor. Its main claim to fame is speed which is outstanding considering it has a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz. It is only 1080P although it’s optimized for dark scenes and combats eye strain, flickering, tearing and other visual issues with ease.
Whereas some monitors are made to dazzle you with bold colors and millions of pixels, the ZOWIE takes the opposite approach. The minimal design and speed help keep your head in the game, and it’s hard to argue with the price point given its responsiveness.
- 144Hz refresh rate
- 1ms response time
- A wide variety of inputs
- Great black levels
- No “Sync” tech
A Great Ultrawide Gaming Monitor
ASUS has made quite the name for themselves in the gaming world, and that’s partly due to their ROG lineup of products. The ROG Strix GL503VS is a popular option with gaming laptop enthusiasts, and the XG25VQ is the ideal companion for any desktop rig.
The ASUS ROG Strix XG25VQ is in the UWQHD class with an eye-blistering resolution of 3,440 x 1,440. It’s an “Ultra Wide” monitor listed at 1800R with a 178-degree viewing angle on its sleek, curved VA panel. The grey-to-grey response time is listed at 4ms, which is par for the course with this type of display. It’s certainly not bad by any means, but far from the 1ms response time you’ll find on different panels.
ASUS packed plenty of tech into this monitor so you’ll get features like Eye Care, Low Motion Blur, and the nifty Aura Sync lightning system. The company also carries the Strix with a higher refresh rate of 240Hz or 144Hz if you prefer a smaller panel between 24 and 31-inches.
- ASUS Eye Care tech
- GamerPlus & GamerVisual
- Aura Sync RGG Lighting
- Customer Support
The Best Budget Gaming Monitor
The best gaming monitor can set you back over a grand or cost just a few hundred bucks – it all depends on your needs. The ViewSonic XG2402 is another budget-friendly monitor in the 1080p class and one that’s very responsive given its price.
To say this monitor is speedy would be a bit of an understatement. That’s because it has a refresh rate of 144Hz and sports VESA Adaptive-Sync tech. Tearing will be a thing of the past, and you can say the same for lag. The ViewSonic XG2402 has a 1ms response time which makes it the perfect 1080 gaming monitor for consumers that need a responsive, but affordable option.
This is an excellent monitor whether you play dungeon crawlers in the dark or racers prone to motion blur. The array of ports are nice for the price as well with two HDMI ports, a USB hub, and a DisplayPort.
This particular model is available in four different sizes depending on your budget and overall needs.
- Very responsive
- 22-level Black Stabilization
- 3-year warranty
- Bland design
A Pint-sized Powerhouse
At first glance, the Acer Predator XB271HU may seem familiar. There’s a good reason for that as it’s essentially a smaller version of the XB321HK. It’s a nice alternative for consumers in need of a smaller display and one with plenty of speed.
There is a lot to like with the Predator XB271HU, but it all starts with the IPS panel. It supports a resolution of 2K at 2,560 x 1,440 and is five inches smaller than its larger sibling at 27-inches. It has the same style, stand and basic tech although this one clocks in at 144Hz with a response time of 4ms. That’s impressive, and so are its overclocking capabilities.
You can set this monitor to 165Hz when overclocking through the display port if you decide to kick things up a notch. It’s a little light in the input department but comes packed with tech to ensure a smooth gaming experience across the board.
- 3-year warranty
- 4ms response time
A Great choice for Gaming and Movies
BenQ has monitors to suit any gamers needs including those that prefer resolution of response time. This widescreen beauty has several features that help it stand out from the pack and is one of the better options for movie aficionados as well.
At 35-inches with a curvature set at 1800R, the BenQ EX350IR is going to require some space on the desktop. It’s worth it, however, especially if you are in the market for a 4K monitor with HDR. That’s not a feature widely available yet, and the same can be said of the USB-C connection. As for the refresh rate, it’s only average at 100Hz although FreeSync will help keep things running smoothly.
HDR and the USB One-Cable system are the highlights of this VA panel from BenQ. Other technical specifications include a response time of 4ms, 8-bit color, and a DCR of 20,000,000:1. It’s an excellent option for the 4K gaming monitor as well given the price for its size and resolution.
- 3,440 x 1,440 with HDR 10
- 1800R curve
- Free Sync
- Color could be stronger
- The price
The fastest 2K monitor
If you like to immerse yourself in games through lighting and prefer a 2K gaming monitor over UHD, ASUS has just the thing for you. While not as large as the 35-inch ROG Strix, the ROG Swift has one feature that puts its big brother to shame.
A name can say a lot about a product, and in this case, it says it all. The ASUS ROG Swift PG27VQ is a 165Hz display with a response time of only 1ms. That’s tough to beat, and you won’t have to sacrifice resolution or too much real estate. The monitor clocks in at 27-inches with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 or WQHD.
This miniature version of the ROG Strix is nimble and sports the company’s cool Aura Sync lighting system. On the other end of the spectrum, it also has an ultra-low blue light to keep your eyes fresh during long gaming sessions.
- 1ms response time
- LED projection stand
- Backlight bleed
Another hit from the Predator lineup
Acer went with an IPS panel for the XB321HK, and it’s a sight to behold. At 32-inches, it’s a great size for almost anyone and has a solid response time of 4ms. The resolution clocks in at a cool 3,840 x 2,160 while the aspect ratio is listed at 16:9. On the downside, there aren’t as many display ports on this one although there are five USB ports and dual 2-watt speakers. Connectivity shouldn’t be an issue for most users, but something to consider due to the panel style and price.
A somewhat minor feature we feel you’ll be fond of is the V-stand. It can tilt, rotate up to 90-degrees, or you can adjust the height a total of 5-inches. If you need to save desk space, this one is extremely easy to mount and weighs in at only 24 pounds.
- 2-watt speakers
- Array of ports
- Adjustable stand
- The price
A Huge Display with Amazing Color
Most companies produce gaming monitors in the 30-inch range, but Samsung tends to do things differently. They went big for this monitor from the CHG90 series as the monstrosity has been deemed “Super Ultra-Wide” measuring a whopping 49-inches.
This monitor could easily double as a mini-movie screen consider its size and the aspect ratio of 32:9. Despite its size, it only consumes 113-watts and delivers a refresh rate of 144Hz. That is very nice, and you can easily dial it down to 60 or 120Hz as needed. Throw in features like FreeSync 2, Eye-Saver mode and Audio-Aligned Arena Lighting, and you’ve got yourself an option for the best 144Hz gaming monitor.
It’s safe to say this monitor will not be for everyone. The size alone will rule out it for some, but it’s one to consider if you have enough space and dig Sammy’s QLED displays. You won’t be disappointed by the speed, and HDR technology is the icing on the cake.
- 3,840 x 1,080
- 1.07 Billion Colors
- 144Hz w/ 1ms MPRT
- Short warranty
- Quality control
4K with a Fast Response Time
This monitor doesn’t come from the Predator lineup, but that is not a negative for the XR382CQK. With a 1mprt response time, it is a lightning-quick 4K display which is wide enough to provide you with a full view of the action.
Whenever you raise the resolution on a gaming PC, there is always a chance you’ll have to deal with lag or other issues. Acer covered all the bases with this monitor considering it has a resolution of 3,840 x 1,600 but still maintains a response time of 1mS (MPRT). That lovely panel is of the IPS variety and sports a 21:9 aspect ratio along with PiP and DTS audio. That’s impressive, even when the refresh rate isn’t.
This 37.5-inch beast has an array of ports including a high-speed USB Type-Connector. Other features to keep in mind include HDR, a blue light filter, and a couple of speakers that sound surprisingly clear for their size. As you’d expect, several variants of this model are available depending on your needs.
- Accurate Color
- USB-C port
- Ambient lighting effects
- 75Hz refresh rate
An Accurate and Speedy Panel
LG produces plenty of consumer tech and is known for their big, bold OLED panels. While the LG 34UC79G-B doesn’t have one of those, this IPS monitor will bring your games to life with vivid colors and has an excellent refresh rate to boot.
The LG 34UC79G-B measures 34-inches and is curved with an aspect ratio of 21:9. It has a clean design that’s easy on the eyes, and it’s extremely fast as well. LG went with a 144Hz refresh rate for this one and a response time clocking in at 1ms. There is no need to worry about motion blur between the tech specs and FreeSync.
The usual bells & whistles are present on this model including a Black Stabilizer and Dynamic Action Sync. The company’s “crosshair” feature is unique however as it’s said to increase your accuracy in FPS games.
- Affordable Ultra-Wide monitor
- Very responsive
- Gaming crosshair feature
- Warranty & Support