The best gaming monitor 2019: Digital Foundry's favourites at every price point – Eurogamer.net
Choosing the right gaming monitor can be tricky. While some PC peripherals like mice and keyboards are mostly matters of personal preference, some gaming monitors are just objectively better than others, offering higher resolutions, faster refresh rates or more accurate colours. Monitors can also last a long time – often five years or more – and you’ll probably use them every day, whether you’re playing games or trying to get some work done.
That makes it important to choose the right monitor, but the options for brands, specs and features can be overwhelming. That’s why we are keeping it simple, to give you the gaming monitor recommendations you need with the bare minimum of jargon. Whether you’re looking for the absolute best monitor on the market, the best budget option or something in between, we’ve got you covered across a large range of different gaming use-cases.
Each person’s needs are different, so we tailored our picks towards specific scenarios – the best monitors for fans of single-player games, multiplayer games, console games and so on. We also chose monitors across a range of price points, so you’ll be able to find a reasonable recommendation no matter how big or small your budget is.
The most important thing to remember is that the higher your chosen monitor’s resolution and refresh rate, the faster your PC will need to be in order to make full use of the monitor’s capabilities. For example, you have little to gain by choosing a high-end 4K 144Hz monitor without a correspondingly powerful PC that can actually generate 144 frames per second at 4K.
Budget PCs and base consoles should target the most common resolution and refresh rate combination: 1080p and 60Hz. If your computer is mid-range or better, you might consider monitors that operate at higher resolutions, higher refresh rates or both. Only powerful PCs and upgraded consoles (the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro) can handle 4K at high detail settings. Your graphics card has the biggest impact on gaming performance, so check out our guide to the best graphics cards to learn more about that side of the equation.
In a rush? Here are quick links to each recommendation!
Best gaming monitor
Acer Predator XB271HUA: a strong 1440p and 144Hz all-rounder
This Acer Predator monitor is a solid choice for most PC gamers, combining a sharp 2560×1440 resolution with a responsive 144Hz refresh rate. That’s a step up from a standard 1080p at 60Hz monitor in two dimensions, so you’ll see benefits whether you’re playing fast-paced multiplayer titles or more relaxed single-player titles. This combination also isn’t too far out of reach for most mid-range to high-end gaming PCs, and there’s always G-Sync to fall back on for particularly challenging games. The XB217HUA also justifies its price with a nicely adjustable stand, thin bezels and the usual assortment of nice-to-have features: blue light reduction, several game modes, an on-screen crosshair and so on.
Alternative options: If image quality is of paramount importance, you might also consider the IPS version of this monitor, the XB271HU, which monitor costs about 20 per cent more, but provides better viewing angles and colour accuracy. You can also save a bit of cash by switching to FreeSync (and G-Sync Compatible!) XG270HU, but you do sacrifice that higher 165Hz refresh rate and get a less impressive stand.
Best 144Hz monitor
Samsung LC24FG73: an ideal monitor for fast-paced multiplayer gaming
For fast-paced multiplayer games, high refresh rate 144Hz monitors make it easier to track moving targets and hit those headshots. The Samsung LC24FG73 144Hz monitor we’ve chosen is built around a VA panel, and therefore offers better colour accuracy, viewing angles and contrast than more common TN alternatives. This model also comes with FreeSync support, helping to smooth out lower frame-rates on rigs with AMD graphics cards. The price for this monitor is a little higher than the popular BenQ XL2411P, but the newer panel used here more than justifies the extra expense. While 27-inch 144Hz monitors are also available, often at a relatively low premium, we prefer 24-inch models for this category as they offer better value, are easier to fit into your peripheral vision and look less grainy at 1080p.
Best 4K gaming monitor
LG 27UK650-W: a surprisingly affordable 4K monitor with HDR and FreeSync
The LG 27UK650-W is relatively modest for a 4K display at 27 inches, but within that small frame it offers quite a bit. It supports AMD’s FreeSync tech, which is perfect for smoothing out uneven frame-rates on the Xbox One, Xbox One X and gaming PCs with AMD Radeon RX graphics cards. The monitor is also technically HDR-capable, but its limited maximum brightness diminishes the effect considerably. However, the IPS panel still provides accurate colours and low input lag, making it a excellent choice at its less than $500/£450 price point.
Alternative options: The Predator XB321HK boasts an expansive 32-inch diagonal that makes better use of the 4K resolution, an IPS panel with excellent colour reproduction and G-Sync support to ensure that even low frame rates feel responsive. This latter item is particularly important, as all but the best graphics cards can struggle with 4K gaming at a sustained 60fps. Other nice features here include a powerful stand, a good selection of gaming modes and features and a stylish appearance with minimal bezels.
Best cheap gaming monitor: BenQ Zowie RL2455
The BenQ Zowie RL2455 is one of the best value monitors for budget PC gaming, and it should also suit gamers with a base model Xbox One or PlayStation 4. That’s thanks to the RL2455’s extremely low input lag, portable 24-inch span and an assortment of gaming modes and features. The black equaliser mode, which brightens darker areas of the screen, is particularly useful in shooters like Call of Duty and Fortnite, although the inclusion of several genre-specific modes ensure the monitor works well for many other games too.
Alternative option: Our second pick, the Acer KG251Q, adds FreeSync support and a higher 75Hz refresh rate, but loses many of the gaming features of the BenQ monitor. However, it is slightly cheaper.
Best ultrawide gaming monitor: Alienware AW3418DW
This titanic monitor provides a suitably immersive experience, with its 34-inch span wrapping into the corners of your peripheral vision. The IPS panel used here has no obvious weaknesses, with a relatively crisp 3440×1440 resolution, excellent colour reproduction and a fluid 120Hz refresh rate with extremely low input lag for an IPS panel. The ultra-wide resolution isn’t as hard on your PC as standard 4K, but you still have the option of enabling G-Sync to improve perceived performance below 60 frames per second. Good adjustability, a wide range of gaming presets and a stylish design complete the package.
Alternative options: If you’re really looking for that dual-monitor feeling without the usual centre bezels, the Samsung CHG90 series includes a 49-inch model with a staggering 32:9 aspect ratio and 144Hz refresh rate. In our testing, it provides extreme immersion – almost like VR without the usual downsides! – but its 1080p vertical resolution leaves a little to be desired. Meanwhile, the Asus XG35VQ is similar to the Alienware model, offering better contrast but a lower 100Hz refresh rate and worse colour reproduction, albeit at a lower price.
Best 1440p gaming monitor: BenQ GW2765HT
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a nice 1440p monitor these days. This 27-inch model from BenQ uses an IPS display for accurate colours, making it a good choice for creative work too. Response times are also impressive for an IPS panel, at 4ms. The GW2765HT also includes a height-adjustable stand and nice-to-have eye health features, including a low blue light mode and a flicker-free display.
Best 4K monitor for Xbox One X/PS4 Pro: BenQ EL2870U
While 4K TVs pair nicely with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, there are also some great monitors to consider that can offer a more responsive experience, thanks to lower input latency. One example is the BenQ EL2870U, a 28-inch 4K monitor that boasts a rapid 1ms response time, FreeSync support (which can be used on the Xbox One X) and even nominal HDR support. The EL2870U’s colour accuracy and image quality is limited by the TN panel used here and HDR is underwhelming, but the 4K resolution, FreeSync support and low price point keep this BenQ monitor in contention.
Best 240Hz monitor: LG 27GK750F-B
If fast-paced competitive games like shooters or MOBAs are your jam, 240Hz monitors like this one from LG are the undisputed performance champions. You’ll need a fast processor and graphics card to pump out enough frames but tracking moving targets in games like Counter-Strike or Fortnite is easier than ever. This LG monitor is the first 27-inch 240Hz monitor that we’ve seen, which can make enemies easier to spot. It’s also been available at a discounted price of £200 a few time, making it an excellent budget choice. However, the Acer XF270HA is sometimes the cheaper option. If you prefer a 24.5-inch form factor, the BenQ XL2540 is another great choice.
Best HDR gaming monitor: Asus PG27UQ
The PG27UQ and its brother-from-another-mother, the Acer X27, are by far the best gaming monitors ever made. The only problem is that they each cost over $2000. That immense price is justified by the inclusion of seemingly every bleeding-edge monitor technology: 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, G-Sync support, proper 384-zone HDR, a colour-accurate Quantum Dot IPS display and more RGB lighting than you can shake a stick at. That makes these monitors basically brilliant at everything from gaming to HDR movie watching and content creation, although for gaming you’ll need an incredibly powerful PC to even get close to 4K at 144Hz in most titles. Thankfully, 4K/120Hz and 4K/144Hz displays are slowly becoming more commonplace and should become more wildly available later this year.
Essential terms for monitor buyers
Picking up your first monitor? Here are some common specs and what they actually mean.
Resolution: How many pixels are on screen, given as horizontal x vertical. 1920×1080 (1080p) and 3840×2160 (4K) are the most common resolutions for both TVs and monitors. The higher the resolution, the crisper and more detailed a game tends to look.
Refresh rate: How many times the screen updates per second, given in Hz. Standard monitors and TVs refresh at 60Hz, while gaming models may refresh anywhere from 100 to 240Hz, with 144Hz being the most common choice for a high refresh rate monitor. The higher the refresh rate, the more fluid a game will feel.
Response time: This stat typically measures how fast a pixel can turn from grey to white and then back to grey again. Most gaming monitors sport response time figures of less than 5ms, with TN panels being the fastest and IPS or VA screens being a little slower. Low response times help to eliminate distracting smears in fast-paced scenes. Note that response time is distinct from input lag, which refers to the delay between an input (like pressing a button) and seeing the effect of the input on-screen.
G-Sync/FreeSync: These are both terms that refer to adaptive sync technology, designed to eliminate ugly screen-tearing while adding less input lag than traditional v-sync. G-Sync is Nvidia’s implementation, which normally requires a physical G-Sync module inside the monitor that can drive up prices. FreeSync is the AMD alternative, which doesn’t require a special module and therefore doesn’t add much to a monitor’s price. Recently though, Nvidia announced support for FreeSync displays on GeForce graphics cards, although adaptive sync performance may vary significantly from monitor to monitor. G-Sync requires a Nvidia graphics card to work, while FreeSync requires an AMD card.
HDR: High Dynamic Range allows for greater contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of an image, as well as a wider colour gamut. While a growing number of monitors are technically HDR-capable, most can’t hit the high peak brightness figures that actually make the feature worthwhile. We recommend sticking with monitors that hit stringent standards, like HDR10, if playing games or watching films in HDR is important to you.
IPS: This sort of monitors tend to be expensive to produce, but provide better viewing angles and improved colour accuracy compared to monitors using VA or TN panels. However, some IPS panels, particularly older ones, can suffer from slower response times, making them worse for fast-paced games. Another potential issue is ‘IPS glow’, where the monitor’s backlight is visible in dark scenes.
TN: The most mature display technology, TN panels are cheap to produce and offer some of the fastest response times. However, colour accuracy and viewing angles tend to be poor, sometimes resulting in a washed out look – particularly if you’re not viewing the monitor head-on. However, modern TN panels do well to minimise these drawbacks.
VA: A type of monitor panel which tends to occupy a middle-ground between IPS and TN in many respects. These panels generally offer the best contrast, backed with good response times and colour reproduction.