Even after the slightly strange year of many of us working from home almost entirely, the best portable monitors still have their place. These screens offer exceptional flexibility allowing you to set up and work - or play - pretty much wherever you please.
And the best portable monitors for gaming or home use are not just plain, simple screens made for spreadsheets only: you can find high refresh rates of up to 240Hz, HDR support, IPS image quality, low response times, adaptive sync - all can be found within portable monitors nowadays. And while they are inevitably small (typically measuring up to 17 inches), by most other metrics, portable monitors compare surprisingly well to conventional panels like the best gaming monitors and the best gaming TVs.
You may not get everything in a portable monitor, though, but it can be a great solution if you consider your options, know your parameters, and use a little due diligence. Then you can achieve a very sweet portable gaming setup. Adding high refresh or adaptive sync capability to an otherwise powerful laptop makes a lot of sense, and just being able to bundle a console with a truly portable screen into a shoulder bag or small backpack is pretty neat. The ability to game with those cutting-edge features purely on battery power is also a nice party trick. There are, in other words, a lot of reasons why you might want one of the best portable monitors; so here are five of them.
The best portable monitors 2022
Arguably the current daddy of portable gaming monitors, both in terms of stature and price, the Asus ROG Strix XG17 clocks in at 17 inches and around $600 / £600 depending on the configuration.
As standard, it’s a 1080p IPS display cranking out up to 240Hz refresh and comes with a tablet-style folding stand. For a little extra cash, you can have a folding tripod stand that allows for a full range of adjustability.
It’s pretty beefy at over a kilo for the display, to which you can add another 0.65kg for the optional tripod. But then it is 17 inches and sports a 7800mAh battery. That allows for up to 3.5 hours of mains-free use, though the display can also be powered over USB-C. In terms of video inputs, it’s USB-C or HDMI.
It’s a quality bit of kit with a metal chassis, 3ms response, wide color gamut coverage, a gaming-friendly 1080p native resolution, and a full range of OSD menu options including pixel overdrive settings. Unless you want to go 4K or need HDR support, this is probably as good as portable gaming panels get.
While several of these screens nail a particular remit, the Coprit 15.6-inch Full HD Portable Monitor makes for a great multi-device all-rounder.
It’s 1080p Full HD, which is a good match for everything, work, home-use or gaming (on PCs and consoles). It also sports USB-C connectivity, allowing you to turn a smartphone into a portable gaming rig. Another significant attraction of USB Type-C is the ability to drive this display and power it with a single cable, even if that’s only possible with a PC rather than a phone or console.
In this contender for best portable monitor, you also get IPS panel technology for top-notch colors and viewing angles. Despite the affordability, therefore: adaptive sync, high refresh, and an integrated battery are not part of the package. But you do have everything you need for a decent portable monitor experience that'll work with a wide range of devices and for a wide range of uses.
The AOC 16T2 portable monitor is based around a 15.6-inch IPS screen with added multi-touch capability, and is a worthy contender is the best portable monitor conversation given its qualities and who it's made by.
Connectivity options include HDMI and USB-C, the latter via a pair of ports either side of the chassis for maximum flexibility. It’s also the USB-C interface that’s required to enable the 10-point capacitive multi-touch functionality.
An onboard 8,000mAh battery is built into the slim chassis, contributing to a surprisingly hefty 0.99kg kerbweight. That said, bi-directional charging means this screen can double as a power brick, so you’ll have more than one reason to throw this screen in your bag. AOC reckons it stores enough charge to rejuice a typical smartphone twice. AOC also bundles both a magnetic clip-on stand similar to those often used with tablet computers and a 100mm by 100mm VESA bracket. So, fixed and portable installation options are well covered.
As for image quality, think entry-level IPS panel and you’ve got the idea. While the colours are decent and viewing angles good, at 250 nits, it’s not the brightest monitor dans le monde. Nor is it a great choice for esports addicts with its 60Hz refresh and a whiff of discernible latency. But as an allrounder to add multi-monitor support on the move or to combine with a console for maximum portability, the AOC 16T2 has plenty going for it.
G-Story is rapidly carving out a niche as a leading maker of portable monitors. The G-Story GSV56QM is probably its most appealing all-rounder with a 15.6-inch form factor, IPS panel, 1ms response, HDR support and both 165Hz refresh and both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync support. This gives it a great gaming edge, but also means it appeals for a whole range of uses beyond, too.
When it comes to both high refresh and adaptive sync, remember that currently these are PC-only as opposed to console features, though next-gen consoles will add compatibility soon.
Also note that with a peak brightness of 300cd/m2 and no local dimming capabilities, this is not a true HDR display, more a monitor that can process HDR content. Inputs are via a pair of USB Type-C ports and a single HDMI socket and it comes complete with an integrated stand that can be adjusted across a wide range and a soft carry case to protect the panel on the go.
Fancy some 4K action of the go? Then get yourself a Thinlerain Gaming Monitor. It’s a 15.6- inch panel with a fulsome 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. That’s eight million pixels and arguably overkill for such a small screen. But if you want the ultimate in image detail and sharpness, 4K is the way to go.
While 4K in a portable form factor doesn’t make much sense for esports or online shooters, it is pretty sweet for roomy work desktop space, productivity, and playing strategy games on the go. The high resolution could also come in handy if you want a portable monitor that can turn its hand to both gaming and productivity, including HD and 4K video editing.
This Thinlerain monitor also offers a wide range of connectivity, from HDMI 1.4 and 2.0, to USB-C and Mini Display port. SO it’s compatible with everything from smartphones to consoles and PCs.
So far, there’s been plenty to appreciate from our pick of the best portable gaming panels, including high refresh, adaptive sync, 4K, and more. But there’s just one thing missing, namely touchscreen capability. Enter the Prechen Portable monitor, which delivers multi-touch in a 15.6-inch, 1080p package.
The touch functionality operates over a USB-C interface, which also drives the panel and (if your device supports it) can power the screen, too. It’s a capacitive touch interface, so the same technology found in all modern smartphones. You can also connect via HDMI and then use micro USB to enable touch if you don’t have a USB port.
Exactly how much utility you’ll get out of touch for gaming is a reasonable question. But you might be surprised just how many PC games support touchscreens. Meanwhile, you get all the upsides of touch for non-gaming apps.
What makes a portable monitor good for gaming?
Well, a portable monitor can be good for gaming by allowing you to have a dedicated, take-it-anywhere screen that you can easily game on - that's what makes a good portable monitor!
But equally, what actually makes a portable monitor of any stripe great for gaming is going to be the similar specifications, features, and technical aspects that we judge all screens by. That is to say the usual suspects of refresh rate, response times, screen size, connectivity options, and screen type and contrast, and so on.
Though brand name and pedigree will definitely play a part, as will design and build - is it easy to carry? Is it heavy or light?. It's all much like judging the best monitors for gaming, but on a smaller, more compact scale.
Are portable external monitors worth it?
Depending on precisely what you're after, portable monitors are absolutely worth it. If you're looking to keep your working setup flexible as you move between home and office, then the extra screen space that you can slot into a laptop bag can be a godsend. If you're tight on space but want a 2nd screen then a portable monitor can be just what you need, and even if you're after a gaming-focused screen that you can plug into any gaming device, then you can find something among the best portable monitors.
Do portable monitors work?
Yes! And it's a resounding yes at that. The range of portable monitors now available is exceptional, and the depth of variety means there's often something for you - even if you didn't think so in the beginning of your search. Of course these are particularly great for working, as demonstrated from the last two years or so, but portable monitors are now equally adept as providing mobile gaming screens and extra screen space for entertainment. A great addition to any setup.
Can you play games on a portable monitor?
Yes! You absolutely can play games on the best portable monitors! You'll have to forgive the screens a few compromises due to, well, the portability they offer, but these can be life savers when you're gaming on the go and need to set up temporarily.
If you're happy to plug in your console to a laptop-sized screen - as the main compromise - then you can have great gaming experiences on a panel that you can throw in your backpack after. While only the most premium portable monitors will offer gaming specs, just having a solid, nice display at 1080p will suffice you for a temporary play - by default this is their niche and they own it.
If you do prefer your screens bigger then you'll need one of the best gaming monitors (opens in new tab) for your setup, or one of the best 4K monitors for gaming (opens in new tab). And if you're looking for something big and TV-shaped then head over to our best gaming televisions guide as well as our best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X, best OLED TV, and best 120Hz 4K TV guides which will all see you right.
And if you're more monitors, then browse our guides to the best PS4 monitors, the best 4K monitor for gaming, best G-Sync monitors, and best G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitors to complete your research.