A PC gaming rig is only as good as the monitor it’s working with; one which can competently express all that processing power going on under the hood with sharp, rich, dynamic images that hold up even when playing the higher-end line of titles out there. If you’re looking to upgrade your old monitor to something 4K, or are about to make the jump to PC gaming entirely, it’s important to exercise careful and well-researched judgement before purchasing one of the many amazing monitors on the market. These days, though, there’s so many factors to consider.
For example, if you’re on the fence about paying more for a 4K resolution, then you might not want to buy a 4K monitor. Even the most powerful gaming rigs out there can be slowed down by 4K gaming, and few of us are lucky enough to own a machine powerful enough to wrangle a consistent 60 frames-per-second (FPS) on Ultra settings. Unless you want a display that can also handle your 4K-capable consoles or UHD Blu-ray player, or you have some functional 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.
Equally, 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 time, and refresh rate, 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.
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 frame rates. 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... anyone that wants a capable monitor suited for almost every occasion
High Dynamic Range at a lower price
Screen size: 35” | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 100Hz | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 12ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 2500:1 | Features: HDR capabilities, 1800R curvature build, AMD freesynch
Originally viewed with scepticism as another tech industry gimmick akin to the 3D television, the curved screen monitor has slowly consolidated and evolved into a tempting and totally viable alternative for your gaming setup, offering a unique audio-visual experience that can really impress when everything’s working as it should be. Compared to other curved monitors, like the Samsung CHG90 also featured on this list, the EX3501R is a slighter more affordable choice, though it’s far from a budget option on the market. You’re paying to retain that crystal clear 2560 x 1080 resolution even with its wider 21:9 aspect ratio, but it’s so worth it for the results to your game playing and movie watching.
You can customise the display settings with ease if you’re using Windows 10, but attempting to view HDR media such as movies or TV is more complicated than it needs to be, and the results aren’t always worth the effort if you’re not watching something designed specifically for the format. This is a different case for HDR enabled games, where you can really tell the difference to the image quality thanks to the EX3501R’s high, 100Hz refresh rate and 8-bit colour depth. As HDR gaming becomes more widespread and accessible, the mileage you’re going to get out of this monitor is only going to grow.
Best for… High-end, HDR gaming
Acer Predator XB321HK
A G-Sync machine
Screen size: 32” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 at 60Hz | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 100,000,000:1 | 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
High performance with added bells and whistles
Screen size: 24.5” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 240Hz | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Contrast ratio: 1000:1 | Features: AlienFX RGB LED lighting, AMD Freesynch support
Alienware is a household name in PC gaming, so you know you’ll be the getting the good stuff when it comes to the company’s line-up of bespoke monitors. The AW2518HF is a particularly enticing option, with a focus on exceptionally fast response times and refresh rates which comes at a forgivable cost of visual resolution. That aforementioned refresh rate comes in at an impressive 240Hz, making the AW2518HF perfect for competitive gaming with consistently smooth imaging that rarely buckles under pressure.
But the drawback is the TN (Twisted Nematic) technology panel, which doesn’t allow for G-sync support and only offers full HD resolution. It still plays fast and smooth for what you’re paying for, though, and the AW2518HF’s gorgeous, expressive design build is ergonomically robust to ensure a safe and comfortable viewing experience at all times. It even comes rigged up with the AlienFX RGB LED lighting, which can be synced up to whatever’s playing on the screen, as well as the rest of your AlienWare hardware.
Best for… AlienWare enthusiasts with a love for the competitive eSports scene.
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
Asus ROG Swift PG279Q
Impressive results across the board
Screen size: 27” | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 at 165Hz | 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, blue light filter, genre-specific presets and overlays, built-in speakers
The PG279Q houses an IPS LCD panel capable of a maximum resolution of 2560X1440 at 165Hz. 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 PG279Q requires extensive calibration in order to achieve the best picture quality. The PG279Q’s G-Sync support is appealing but, like the Acer Predator XB321HK, only works if you’ve got an Nvidia graphics card installed, which is a bothersome limitation that might tempt you to look elsewhere.
Nvidia’s customary G-Sync premium applies to the PG279Q, resulting in a price tag on the wrong side of $700, 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’s a cheaper option for those who aren’t bothered about the 4K experience. All things considered, the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is an exceptional monitor that’s just about worth the steeper price range compared to the next jump up in visual hardware.
Best for… Enjoying the next best experience before making the jump to 4K
Immersive yet versatile
Screen size: 49” | Aspect ratio: 32:9 | Resolution: 8940 x 1080 at 144Hz | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 178° H&V | Contrast ratio: 3000:1 | Features: HDR ready, curved screen, arena lighting, FreeSynch 2 support
One look at the Samsung CHG90, and you’ll probably know whether it’s the monitor for you. With an ultra-wide, love it or hate it 49-inch screen, the CHG90 wields a 32:9 aspect ratio across a curved display designed to envelop you ever further into its crisp imagery. You can set up the monitor so that it displays one super large image, great for enjoying high-end games at cinematic quality, or you can instead split the screen into two 16:9 displays, equally useful for those times when you want to browse the internet or watch something else as you play.
You can even set up two different computers running as two split screens on the monitor, which is handy for users with separate work computers and entertainment systems. It’s easy to set up any of these options, too, and the screen itself is an undeniably jaw dropping visual treat, but that comes with an equally jaw dropping price tag. The processing power is nothing to be sniffed at either, mind you, with a 144Hz refresh rate and QLED technology that gives it an edge against similarly high-priced competitors on the market. Make no mistake, the CHG90 is a luxury product, but it lives up to that luxury in almost every sense of the word.
Best for… cinematic gaming with options for easy multi-tasking