Finding a gaming monitor isn't easy, especially if you’ve never had need for a gaming-optimized monitor in the past. Listings for screens on Amazon, Newegg and elsewhere are overflowing with model numbers, acronyms, ratio figures and what appear to be measurements in milliseconds, but rarely (if ever) is there any explanation as to what any of it actually means. And how, out of all of that, are you meant to pick the best gaming monitor?
First and foremost, if you’re not positive that 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) is worth the extra money, don’t buy a 4K monitor. Even high-end gaming rigs are challenged by running games at 4K, and few out there have a machine powerful enough to wrangle a consistent 30 frames-per-second (FPS) on Ultra, let alone 60. Unless you want a display that can also handle your 4K-capable consoles or UHD Blu-ray player, or you have some unique need to simultaneously display multiple inputs on the same monitor, you’ll have a better overall experience with a WQHD (2560 x 1440) or FHD/1080p (1920 x 1080) display.
It’s also important to know that response time (measured in milliseconds) is better when low, and refresh rate (measured in hertz) is better when high. Any response time at or under 8ms should be fine for the average user, though anyone intent on using their monitor for competition will want to stay under 4ms. A refresh rate of 60Hz is the minimum, since anything less than that can’t display 60FPS.
There’s more to each monitor than just its resolution, response and refresh, of course, but you can let us worry about all that. All you need to do is read our comprehensive list of the best gaming monitors available today, and pick out whichever best suits your needs.
1. ZOWIE XL2430
Jack of all trades, master of fun
Screen size: 24” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 144Hz | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170° H, 160° V | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: TN panel, Black eQualizer 2.0 color engine, Motion Blur Reduction 2.0
The ZOWIE XL2430 combines an incredibly fast panel with fantastic blur reduction and a very high refresh rate, making it ideal for those seeking a low-latency/high-FPS solution for competitive gaming, or anyone who wants a great gaming monitor at a reasonable price. The former will especially appreciate the XL2430’s 1ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate, which translate to extremely low input lag and the ability to display up to 144FPS, provided your GPU is up to the task. It also features genre-specific presets, a nifty handheld remote for changing the settings and a handful of other smart conveniences.
Since the XL2430 uses a TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD panel, its viewing angles aren’t quite as good as the other monitors found on this list. The XL2430 also tops out at 1920 x 1080, which most modern machines can push past while still maintaining playable framerates. The trade off, then, is in price and capability -- that TN panel keeps costs reasonable and the refresh rate at 144Hz. It also allows BenQ to cram in useful extras, like their superb motion blur reduction technology. The only thing that could reasonably improve the XL2430 is AMD FreeSync support, but given the price and how good the panel is otherwise, we can’t really complain.
Best for... competitive gamers and anyone that wants a capable monitor suited for almost every occasion
2. BenQ VZ Series VZ2470H
Beautiful and under budget
Screen size: 23.8” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz | Brightness: 250 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Features: AMVA panel, Ultra-thin bezel, flicker-free/low-blue-light mode
In addition to easily being the most attractive monitor on our list, BenQ’s VZ2470H also features a gorgeous panel with industry-leading contrast and excellent color accuracy, all for under $200/£200. The VZ2470H’s AMVA (Advanced Multi Domain Vertical Alignment) LCD panel touts a typical contrast ratio of 3,000:1, which means that the brightest colors will be 3,000 times more luminescent than the darkest. This is positively tremendous considering that a typical contrast ratio of 1,000:1 is considered very good for most monitors. (As a quick aside, feel free to ignore “dynamic” contrast ratios when shopping for a monitor, as these figures are largely marketing fluff. The “typical” or “static” contrast ratio is what matters, and the VZ2470H knocks it out of the park.)
Like the XL2430T discussed earlier, the VZ2470H is limited to a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080, but unlike the XL2430T, it is also limited to a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. This means that regardless of how dope your GPU is, the VZ2470H can only display a maximum of 60FPS. Considering how good the color reproduction and contrast are, however, it’s a quantifiably gorgeous 60FPS. Plus, thanks to the flicker-free LED backlighting, you’ll be able to enjoy it while limiting eyestrain. The VZ2470H may not be as fast as its TN-panel siblings, but for how good this thing looks and how little it costs, we think the trade off is well worth it, making it one of our best gaming monitors.
Best for … gamers on a budget, or anyone looking for something with a little style and excellent image quality.
3. Asus MG279Q
Fast, full of features and FreeSync ready
Screen size: 27” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 at 144Hz | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: IPS panel, AMD FreeSync, flicker-free backlighting, blue light filter, genre-specific presets and targeting overlays
If you’ve got a fairly serious gaming PC decked out with an AMD graphics card, the Asus MG279Q is a big, beautiful, fast display with a boatload of features and support for AMD’s screen tear reduction technology, FreeSync. Screen tearing happens when a computer’s GPU produces frames at a rate that is out of sync with the monitor’s refresh rate, resulting in an image that is clearly split, or “torn,” into multiple segments. Technologies like FreeSync (and Nvidia’s competing “G-Sync”) let the monitor and GPU communicate, allowing for coordination between when frames will be delivered, and when they’ll be displayed. This can prevent tearing entirely under ideal circumstances, and greatly reduce it otherwise.
The only real caveats are that FreeSync only functions over DisplayPort 2.1a, and in the case of the ASUS MG279Q, between 35 and 90Hz. This means that, in order to display framerates above 90FPS, you’ll have to disable FreeSync. This also means that you’ve got a computer capable of rendering games at a sustained 90+FPS, and since the non-FreeSync limit of this monitor is 144Hz, screen tearing shouldn’t be that big of an issue above 100FPS. Beyond FreeSync, the Asus MG279Q also offers an IPS (In-plane Switching) LCD panel capable of a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440, with a 4ms response time. IPS panels are generally considered to have the best viewing angles and color accuracy of all LCD panel types, without sacrificing much in the way of response time or contrast ratio.
We wish the MG279Q featured some kind of blur reduction technology similar to what is offered by BenQ or Acer, but it does come equipped with plenty of genre-specific color/balance modes and Asus’ hardware-level aiming reticules and timers. If you’ve got a serious computer, a serious AMD card and want a serious monitor to match, the MG279Q is tough to beat.
Best for … the AMD gamer with a great computer and a sizeable budget
4. Acer Predator XB271HU
The greatest G-Sync monitor yet
Screen size: 27” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 at 144Hz | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: IPS panel, nVidia G-Sync, flicker-free backlighting, Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB), built-in speakers
The Acer Predator XB271HU is the Nvidia user’s answer to the Asus MG279Q, and it features many of the same benefits: a vibrant, flicker-free IPS panel with 144Hz refresh, excellent viewing angles and built-in screen tear prevention technology. Like AMD’s FreeSync, Nvidia’s G-Sync lets the GPU and monitor coordinate their efforts, reducing or eliminating screen tearing. Unlike FreeSync, which is part of the DisplayPort 2.1a standard and is free to include in any applicable monitor, G-Sync requires a proprietary Nvidia chipset in the display, which usually incurs a $200 premium over comparable monitors equipped with FreeSync, and even more versus monitors with no adaptive sync support.
The upside is that since Nvidia has total control over the standard and its implementation, there’s greater assurance that a G-Sync monitor will work as advertised, while FreeSync quality can vary between manufacturers and from model to model. G-Sync monitors also tend to support a wider range of applicable refresh rates, as well as better anti-ghosting than FreeSync monitors.
True to form, the Predator XB271HU is G-Sync capable between 30 and 144Hz out of the box, up to a maximum of 165Hz if you’re the overclocking type. Most modern computers, even the kind you buy a $700+ monitor for, can’t render a steady 144+ frames-per-second, so right now that much G-Sync headroom isn’t especially useful. As an investment, however, the Predator XB271HU makes a strong argument, as it’ll graciously provide for not only your current GPU, but the next couple of upgrades as well.
Best for … the Nvidia user with a high-end rig and no plans to switch to AMD
5. BenQ ZOWIE RL2455
A brilliant lag-free budget option for consoles and PC
Screen size: 24” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 60Hz | Brightness: 250 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: Black equalizer, low blue light, Flicker-free
If you're not particularly interested in levelling up to 4K gaming just yet and looking for a solid, dependable monitor for either your PC or console, the BenQ ZOWIE RL2455 makes for an ideal - not to mention budget conscious - choice. Developed with console esports in mind it's impressively lag free with a response time of 1ms, making it ideal for Crucible chaos in Destiny. Or at least you won't have anything to blame but yourself when your KD ratio falls. The contrast already looks great out of the box but tweak the brightness and sharpness settings and you'll quickly find some truly exceptional visuals and vibrant colours for this price point.
Like the VZ2470H above, the RL2455 is flicker free so you can spend long hours eyeball pain free and if you want something a little bigger, its also available in a 27" version. It's not really a major thing as you're probably plugged into a gaming headset but the money here has clearly all gone into the screen quality as the speakers are pretty terrible. You'll definitely want a decent set of cans on your ears to cancel out any need for going anywhere near them. Overall this is a supremely solid offering for both PC and consoles with a solid build and punching way above its price point with brilliant image clarity. If you're packing your next LAN festival kit, this is a great choice.
Best for.... Lag-free gaming at a great price point
6. ViewSonic XG2700-4K
FreeSync support for the 4K enthusiast
Screen size: 27” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 5ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: IPS panel, AMD FreeSync, Black Stabilization, simultaneous multiple input display, genre-specific presets, flicker-free backlighting, blue light filter
With the steady march of GPU progress and the burgeoning UHD-capable gaming console market, springing for a 4K monitor might make perfect sense in some cases. Maybe you already own a UHD blu-ray player, or have your eye on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Perhaps you’re running dual Radeon 480s in CrossFire, or for some reason you need to display four unique inputs simultaneously on the same monitor. Provided that you have the means to invest in 4K right now, that you want to prioritize 4K over maximum FPS, and your high-end PC is equipped with an AMD GPU, the ViewSonic XG2700-4K is the monitor for you. You’re giving up the ASUS MG279Q’s 144Hz refresh rate in exchange for the resolution bump to 4K, but chances are very good that 60Hz will be more than enough for games at 4K, at least for the immediate future.
The ViewSonic XG2700-4K is FreeSync enabled, which will help keep those 4K games from tearing, provided your computer can render a steady 40+ FPS at that resolution. That’s no small feat, even with modern GPUs running in tandem, so PC-only gamers that aren’t on the absolute bleeding edge are heavily encouraged to opt for the comparatively priced ASUS MG279Q. Speaking of price, the only real downside to the XG2700-4K is the fact that it’s more expensive than LG and Samsung’s FreeSync-enabled 4K IPS displays. It’s also a lot newer, and given the overall responsiveness and clarity of the panel, we find the XG2700-4K’s entry fee understandable, albeit a bit of a bummer.
Best for … high-end AMD users who are ready to take the 4K plunge
7. Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ
The 4K king of G-Sync
Screen size: 27” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Features: IPS panel, nVidia G-Sync, flicker-free backlighting, blue light filter, genre-specific presets and overlays, built-in speakers
As stated in our rundown of the ViewSonic XG2700-4K above, a 4K monitor is still a very niche product for a very small segment of the market, and as such we only recommend them for gamers that know exactly what they want, and exactly what they’re giving up to have it. So, with that said, know that the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ is as radical a 4K display as the Nvidia power user can currently buy.
Like its FreeSync equivalent, the PG27AQ houses an IPS LCD panel capable of a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz. Color depth and gamma quality are excellent, as is to be expected of a high-end IPS panel, though reviewers (both consumer and press) disagree as to whether the PG27AQ requires extensive calibration in order to achieve the best picture quality. The PG27AQ’s G-Sync support covers 30 to 60Hz when paired with a GeForce GTX 980 or newer, which translates to tearing reduction/elimination starting at 30FPS. While still a tall order for most GPUs, 30FPS at 4K is more consistently achievable than the ViewSonic XG2700-4K’s FreeSync minimum of 40FPS.
Nvidia’s customary G-Sync premium applies to the PG27AQ, resulting in a price tag on the wrong side of £800/$800, which is more expensive than many of the computers that’ll be paired with the monitors in this guide. It also isn’t anywhere near as pricey as 4K displays can get, if you can believe it, so while still very expensive, it could be a lot worse. All things considered, the Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ is an exceptional monitor for a select group of affluent early adopters.
Best for … hardcore Nvidia purists with ample cash and a thirst for extreme resolutions