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The best 4K monitors for gaming for 2019

The best 4K monitors for gaming for 2019
(Image credit: Future)

The best 4K monitors for gaming are, simply, just becoming some of the best gaming monitors. Riding the technological advancement wave that we are lucky enough to be riding, the best 4K monitors for gaming are becoming more and more accessible and affordable—and more refined. We have definitely moved out of the age where 4K resolutions and High Dynamic Range (HDR) were only exclusive to the best 4K TVs for gaming. Now, PC gamers can take advantage of both screen techs, and end up acquiring not only one of the best 4K monitors for gaming, but one of the best screens for gaming that happen to be 4K HDR. This means enjoying the glorious visual quality that games can offer at excellently augmented levels. Particularly if you're packing one of the best graphics cards.

Best deal today

(Image credit: BenQ)

BenQ EL2870U 28-inch 4K HDR gaming monitor | $300 at Amazon (save 14%)
Our favorite budget 4K monitor for even less. To get such a high quality 4K monitor for just 300 bucks is a steal. It is discounted by a few pounds at Amazon UK too.

Unfortunately, turning that graphical fidelity and image detail up to 11 with 4K and HDR doesn't come with the fast paced refresh rates and pacey response times one might be used to. There is a tradeoff to be had here. If you really want the best of everything then be prepared to spend big and you'll nbeed to be the owner of a mega rig to get the most out of everything (if that's you, then I am very jealous). A very effective way to address the balance is to do it from a purely personal perspective: think about what games you play. This should inform you of your must-haves quite quickly and accurately. For example, if you're a keen story chaser, mainly playing immersive single-player games, then losing some refresh rate in order to obtain higher picture quality is a sensible approach. And, broadly speaking, a lot of games are enjoyable at slightly slower refresh speeds with those higher levels of fidelity. The true speed demons among us may have to look up the payscale to get something fast and 4K or wait and see what the next cycle or sale brings. However, increasingly, there is something for everyone, and if you’re browsing or looking for the best 4K monitor for gaming, here's the place to check.

Best 4K monitors for gaming

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1. Acer Predator XB273K

The best 4K monitor for gaming, offering quality and value

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 15.9 pounds

Brilliantly detailed pictures
Offers fast refresh and response times
Excellent value for a high spec monitor
HDR is not mind-blowing

A close cousin of the Acer Predator X27, once top of this pile, the XB273K is a seriously excellent 4K monitor. It harnesses everything the X27 has and does and
trades off very little in order to rehouse it in a far cheaper model. At around the 1000 dollar and pound mark, it is immediately more tempting than X27 and the only real change is in the HDR; the XB273K has a slightly lower quality of HDR. But that's about it.

You'll still get a truly excellent picture quality, with terrific colour quality, contrast and depth; the speed of the monitor means its great for faster shooters or online games too; G-Sync offering the best adaptive sync technology for your rig; a fine assortment of ports to have you covered; and offers such a well-rounded overall experience you'll have zero regrets. For reference, you may see it listed as the XB3 or XB273KP depending on the shop and where you are in the world.

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2. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

The best premium-price 4K monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 28 pounds

Cool design
Great image quality and includes Nvidia G-Sync technology
Wallet-destroyingly expensive
Requires a powerful machine to get best results

As the the Predator X27 demonstrates, packing many top-end features into a display means it’ll have a price to match its excellent quality and capabilities. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is similar in this as it is also an incredibly display but expensive. The difference here is yet more features are crammed in—one in particular—that perhaps set it slightly apart from the rest. As well as the ridiculously clear, bright and detailed images that the PG27UQ’s 4K and HDR-enabled 27-inch display shows off, this monitor also incorporates Nvidia G-Sync tech, making this an absolute behemoth of a screen. On the back, it’s a bit lean on the connections but you should have everything you need (present are an HDMI 2.0 input, DisplayPort 1.4, 3.5mm audio, and two USB 3.0 ports).  It’s also an incredibly well-designed bit of kit with the stand effectively funneling cables, as well as looking cool and having its own down-facing LED display. 

Providing you have the gutsy PC required to make the most of this beaut, it’ll give you some of the brightest, most vivid pictures going, a 144Hz refresh rate (in 4K resolution!), made smooth as anything by the G-Sync tech (provided you have a Nvidia GPU); it really is an astounding end product. The Iist price is very high, so might well put people off, but for those that take the plunge, it will not disappoint.

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3. Acer Predator XB321HK

A great 4K display without the HDR tech

Screen size: 32-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 24.91 lbs

Great size to soak up the 4K resolution
Vibrant colors and contrasts
No HDR to complement 4K; and lower refresh rate
Requires Nvidia graphics card to see the benefits of G-Sync

The above Acer and Asus monitors clearly show that 4K-resolution displays come at a premium. Not only is it likely, though not a dead cert, to cost you an arm and a leg, but it’ll also demand an enormous amount of power and grunt from your machine to make the most of it. You will need to be heading toward the top end of the cards such as the 2080s and 2080 Tis (and sometimes a dual-card setup) in order to consistently get the best of it all. 

The elephant in the room when considering 4K monitors is that it will, almost without fail, mean a tradeoff between resolution and refresh rate—and we’ll see that here with this monitor’s sitting at 60Hz. However, given this, the Acer Predator XB321HK comes to the show delivering an impressive offering. It’s a 32-inch, IPS panel, so its colours are bright and it has enough screen to easily put its 3840x2160 4K UHD resolution to good use - but without deploying HDR tech. The Predator XB321HK’s price tag is on the high side but it is cheaper than the X27 and so offers great value for 4K. And while the compromise in refresh rate and the lack of HDR may appear irksome at first, this is still a luxury monitor that’ll perform exceptionally well, leaving you very pleased—particularly if you’ve spent a chunk on powerful graphics cards, and maybe can’t quite warrant stretching even further to the X27.

Best graphics cards | Best gaming motherboards | Best CPU for gaming
Best DDR4 RAM | Best Gaming PC build | Best gaming monitor 

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4. BenQ EL2870U

A truly superb budget 4K monitor

Screen size: 28-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 12.6 lbs

Lovely 4K resolution and HDR tech
Overall picture quality is top drawer
Excellent price point
No G-Sync
Refresh rate only at 60Hz
Plain design

If you're on the lookout for a quality way in to the field of 4K monitors but haven't got the cash to throw at the situation, then the BenQ EL2870U is one for you to seriously consider. The picture quality, overall, is some of the best we've tested in recent months, and seen on a TN monitor. There's also a really nice balance to the capabilities and offerings of the EL2870U with all things considered. Crispness and detail, with good contrasts and tones are beautifully presented while it performs well from the lushest of environments on screen, to the dingiest.

As a budget-level monitor it does top out its refresh rate of its glorious 4K resolution at 60Hz, but that's fine for most, and certainly fine for the price and 4K-entry point it represents. Unfortunately there's no G-Sync, but FreeSync is present to help smooth out the experience, while a 1ms response time gives it a speedy edge. Also present are BenQ's original screen techs incorporated to aid users' eyes when using the monitor for long periods of time. The eye-care technology consists of the the Low Blue Light Technology, which removes harmful blue light that can damage eyes, and Brightness Intelligence + (B.I.+), which changes the brightness and color temperature of your on-screen images based on your surroundings. We can confirm that these are not just gimmicks and do benefit you. Combine these with the brilliant picture quality and speeds the EL2870U offers as a whole package, and this is an impressive point of entry to 4K monitors and offers amazing value with a impulse-purchase worthy price point.

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5. Acer Predator X27

An all-singing, all-dancing 4K HDR monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 120Hz (overclocks to 144Hz) | Weight: 27 lbs

Produces brilliant and convincing 4K HDR graphics
Has a high refresh rate that can be overclocked to go even higher
Response time isn't not the best
Incredibly expensive

This is a premium monitor in every sense of the word. Avoiding any trade off between technologies to get the best of everything, the Acer Predator X27 gives you, well, everything. The monitor is fabulous and has a 4K-resolution and is HDR-enabled so ticks the main future-proof boxes right off the bat. But it doesn’t stop there and also offers G-Sync, and a high refresh rate. Its IPS panel comes with a refresh rate of 144Hz (when overclocked), so it's a bursting-at-the-seams bright-as-anything look, but the integrated VisionCare technology will take care of your eyes (Acer says).

The monitor has G-Sync which enables it to refresh at a variable rate instead of being locked to its max of 144Hz and it also syncs the refresh rate to your in-game framerate, removing any chance of stuttering or tearing. So, in terms of high-spec screen tech, you can have total confidence in its capabilities. When it comes to connectivity, there are a number of ports and connection opportunities on the monitor’s back and left side. The rear sports two USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 out, and the side has another two USB 3.0 ports. Despite the very high asking price, the X27 is such a great monitor that we’d recommend you consider it if you can. If it ever goes on sale it’ll be an extremely tasty deal. 

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6. BenQ PD3200U

A well priced 4K monitor not built for gaming

Screen size: 32-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 19 lbs

Great value for 4K
Tremendous size
Design is a bit boring
Not really gaming-focused

Also embracing the 4K resolution-without-HDR approach, the BenQ PD3200U is, almost accidentally, a 4K monitor worthy of gamers’ consideration. It’s a wonderfully large 32-inch display that, while its allegedly aimed at designers and creatives more than gamers, is incredibly competent for high-end gaming too. Its IPS panel is wonderfully clear, and the image quality is fantastic, enhanced by being in that wonderful 4K resolution. Additional features include its own tech such as Low Blue Light and Flicker-free elements, which make using the monitor at night vastly more comfortable. And its connectivity is good, offering two HDMI 2.0 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2, mini DisplayPort, dual USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio port. The addition of an SD card slot is an extra bonus too. 

It's worth remembering that this isn’t necessarily directly aimed at those who game, and its refresh rate of 60Hz reflects that. But, having said that the 4K resolution and wonderful quality will negate that for most. This will also make it a prime screen for those who perhaps have a graphic design or video editing hobby or job, as well as those that have a console wired into their gaming room or setup, and its price will certainly tempt some to give it a try.

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7. Philips Momentum 436M6VBPAB

A PC-focused, TV-sized monitor

Screen size: 43-inch | Panel type: MVA | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 32 lbs

Robust and stable design
Great TV-esque size for a monitor
Basically too big for desk-bound gaming
Images appear grainy when sitting close

Very much appearing more like a TV than a monitor, the 43-inch 4K HDR Philips Momentum 436M6VBPAB is almost cumbersome, but still very much worth a look. Being such a size may present a challenge in making sure it can fit on your desk safely and well enough for effective use, but it is also weighty enough to give you no worries about its stability. 

It’s priced a bit higher than a regular 4K HDR TV of the same size, but it definitely seems to put gaming—and PCs—first. It has a good haul of ports covering HDMI 2.0, USB-C, DisplayPort, and mini DisplayPort, it has a backlight that glows according to what’s shown on the front of the screen (called Ambiglow), and its an MVA-type panel that boasts a 4ms response time. Given its size, it may appeal to those who also have a console hooked into their setup alongside a PC but its 4K and HDR qualities are undeniable and, teamed with its TV-size and decent price tag, will be very appealing—particularly to those who take a ‘more is more’ approach to displays.

Testing gaming monitors

There are two main ways to test out our screens to determine the best gaming monitor. The first is by playing games on it, obviously. Subjectively testing the gaming performance of each panel isn’t necessarily going to give you the lowdown on the specifics of a particular screen, but it will let you test the functioning aspect ratio, native resolution, and any particular gamer-centric technologies they’re sporting.

Side-by-side comparative testing in this manner is also incredibly valuable for keying into the sometimes subtle differences between each panel. When you use a screen in isolation it’s easy to become blind to its comparative faults as you simply get used to them. Testing screens back-to-back allows us to discover and highlight specific issues between them.

Objective testing can be great, but it's also far more difficult. To do it properly, you need hardware for testing the true latency, color accuracy, and other metrics. Most gamers don't have access to any of this, but you can do a semblance of objective testing using the LCD calibration pages here. This site offers several test screens you can bring up on any web connected panel to make some qualitative assessments. The days of actual retail space for such things are dwindling, but if you can get a look at a screen before purchasing it, plugging a notebook or such into it and checking out the Lagom pages is very handy.

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