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Best gaming monitor 2021

Best gaming monitors 2021
These gaming monitors will have you playing in style. (Image credit: Future)

The best gaming monitor will be a great investment in the future of your gaming setup. It'll be there for you through countless versions of your PC components, as any good gaming monitor should. With that in mind, splashing out on one of the best gaming monitors is worth it. It's going to be on your desk for a while, and you're going to be staring at it a whole lot.

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First, your choice of best gaming monitor needs to complement your graphics card. If you want your GPU to hit it's true potential, match it with a monitor that can actually unleash it. A mediocre monitor will only act as a bottleneck. If it's an Nvidia GPU you're going for, make sure to bag a G-Sync or G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitor to get the most out of it. And if you're looking to upgrade to any of the best graphics cards—that can handle 1440p and beyond—a 1080p monitor probably isn't worth considering. 

With GPUs like the Nvidia RTX 3080 and AMD's RX 6000-series pumping out great frames at any resolution, 4K gaming is becoming a reality. But if you want to save a buck and a bunch of time searching for stock, we still consider 1440p at 144Hz a reasonable target for a gaming monitor; these offer great performance at a reasonable price. If you really want to future-proof yourself set up, we're now seeing awesome 4K 144Hz monitors hitting the market, too.

Consider whether you want to push that refresh rate up for more fast paced, competitive gaming, as well as whether you want an ultrawide aspect ratio to give that real wrap-around aesthetic, before you buy. You should also consider if you can afford a little extra for an IPS panel over a TN, or whether you're good to settle for VA tech.

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LG

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LG

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LG

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1. LG 27GN950-B

The fastest, most responsive 4K gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: Nano IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | Weight: 16.9 lbs

Bright vivid colors
G-Sync/FreeSync compatible
Excellent Response time for a 4K monitor

4K gaming is a premium endeavor. You need a colossal amount of rendering power to hit decent frame rates at such a high resolution. But if you're rocking a top-shelf graphics card, like the new RTX 3080, then this dream can be a reality at last.

The LG UltraGear is the first 4K Nano IPS 1ms gaming monitor that'll properly show off your next-gen GPU. This 4K 27-inch HDR monitor has a 144 Hz refresh rate, and 1 is response time, which is kind of wild for a 4K monitor. What is most impressive about this LG is the Nano IPS tech that offers a wider color gamut and stellar viewing angles.

The LG UltraGear 27GN950-B bags you a terrific panel with exquisite IPS image quality and, despite the lesser HDR capabilities, beautiful colors and contrast in your games too. G-Sync offers stable pictures and smoothness in games, and the speedy refresh rate and response times back this up too. 

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GIGABYTE

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GIGABYTE

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GIGABYTE

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2. Gigabyte G27Q

The best FreeSync gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 144 Hz | Weight: 20.9 lbs

Fantastic Picture Quality
Excellent gaming performance
Lots of useful utilities

The G27Q proves that you don't need to spend a fortune for a decent IPS 1440p display. At $330, Gigabyte's 27-inches packs in many features but, more importantly, provides rich color and smooth gameplay. The 144 Hz refresh rate doesn't hurt, either. The G27Q excels with a sharp and vibrant picture. The additional features are genuinely useful, and you get a lot of monitor for your cash.

On paper, the Gigabyte G27Q is rather a plain Jane. It's a flat, 27-inch display with a 144 Hz refresh rate and a design that wouldn't stand out in an office environment. But it's actually one of the best gaming monitors I've had the pleasure of using. Not only does it have a gorgeous, vibrant panel, but it's also HDR capable and packs plenty of useful features designed to enhance your gaming pleasure.

Read the full Gigabyte G27Q review.

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3. Pixio PX277 Prime

The best budget 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: VA | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 165 Hz | Weight: 16.3 lbs

Affordable
165 Hz refresh rate

The Pixio PX277 Prime is about as barebones as it comes in regards to gaming monitors. This 27-inch 1440p panel provides frames at a stable 165 Hz and is also FreeSync certified for a tear-free gaming experience with compatible graphics cards. The screen itself is advertised as anti-glare and holds up in most brightly lit environments, and the thin bezel is always a plus in our book.

The biggest selling point of the PX277 Prime, though, is its low price point. A great entry-level option for those looking for a larger screen with a high refresh rate and don't want to be left totally broke. 

While the build quality isn't as robust as a higher-spec screen, the Pixio panel is perfect for the budget gamer who doesn't mind missing out on some of the bells and whistles of higher-end monitor but is keen for top performance.

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ACER

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ACER

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4. Acer Predator X38

The best widescreen curved gaming monitor

Screen size: 37.5-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 24:9 | Resolution: 3840x1600 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 144 Hz (175 Hz overclocked) | Weight: 21 lbs

Expansive resolution
Quality, responsive IPS panel
175 Hz Refresh rates

If your mantra for displays is 'go big or go home,' Acer hears you, and its Predator X38 is a massive 38-inch curved screen that looks stunning. It features a not-quite-4K QHD ultrawide panel with a 3840x1600 resolution. With an aspect ratio of 24:9, the IPS panel looks great, and the size means you have a lot of screen real estate for gaming. 

The display also features G-Sync technology with up to 175 Hz variable refresh rates. That's a huge boost over lower refresh rate curved gaming monitors. It's a big, bold, and beautiful-looking display, and the zero-frame bezel-less approach is another welcome addition. If you're looking for something to turn heads, this is one of the best widescreen gaming monitors. And boy, is it broad.

It's taller than the 27-inch 16:9 displays we've already mentioned and nearly half again as wide, but the higher resolution means the dot pitch is slightly lower than, the lesser panels. And for games that properly support ultrawide resolutions, the surround effect of the XR382CQK is incredibly immersive—sitting at your desk, the 38-inch panel will fill your field of view.

Read the full Acer Predator X38 review.

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5. ROG STRIX XG17AHPE Portable Monitor

Best portable monitor for gaming

Screen size: 17.3-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Response time: 3 ms | Refresh rate: 240 Hz | Weight: 2.3 lbs

Easy to use
Lightweight and thin
Speedy 240 Hz display
Decent battery

Portable monitors have always existed as a novelty. Whenever you see one out in the wild, it's usually attached to someone's boring work laptop tasked with displaying mind-numbing spreadsheets. Portable monitors give you a second screen during travel without the fuss. The ROG Strix XG17AHPE takes that same portability but also adds the performance of a premium gaming monitor.

This thin and lightweight 17-inch IPS display has a 240 Hz refresh rate, along with a 3ms response time, making it the perfect gaming monitor for a LAN party. Shooters like CS: GO, and Apex Legends benefit from the buttery smooth refresh rate. The built-in 7800mAh battery will give you a couple of hours of gameplay. The XG17 is the ideal companion screen for work and play... assuming you've got $500 lying around.

Read the full ROG STRIX XG17AHPE Portable Monitor review.

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6. Alienware 25 AW2521HF

The best 240Hz gaming monitor

Screen size: 25-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 240 Hz | Weight: 7.8 lbs

Great viewing angles
Extremely fast response times

It may have once been a niche, but 240Hz gaming has quickly become more widespread, and Alienware has set itself ahead of the pack with the gorgeous AW2521HF gaming monitor. While not the cheapest on the market, it has the style and performance to make you want it on your desk.

Gamers will dig the Alienware 25's lightning-fast response time in games like Valorent and Destiny with little to no ghosting or artifacts. This 1080p IPS panel is bright and vivid too. 

If you work or game in a bright room, the Alienware 25 handles even the most obnoxious glares. More importantly, the AW252HF has some impressive viewing angles regardless if you have it set in the middle of your desk for gaming or off to the side as a second monitor in portrait mode while you work. Our only real complaints are the lack of HDR support, along with having not the best contrast.

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ROG SWIFT 360Hz PG259QN Gaming monitor

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7. ROG Swift PG259QN

The best 360Hz gaming to date

Screen size: 24-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Response time: 1 ms | Refresh rate: 240 Hz | Weight: 7.8 lbs | Variable refresh rate: G-Sync, FreeSync compatible

360Hz refresh rate
Excellent response time

If you're a fan of flat-out overkill, the ROG Swift PG259QN will check those boxes. This ludicrously fast 360Hz display even lets you analyze your gaming ecosystem to figure out which one of your devices affects your latency, thanks to Nvidia Reflex (if you're using an RTX card). Seeing if your hardware or accessories gives you terrible input lag is good information and will keep you from making frivolous upgrades. 

This monitor is a competitive gamer's dream. Anyone looking for a competitive edge and values speed over anything else will be overjoyed with this Swift gaming monitor. If you already own a 240Hz monitor, you're probably ok with what you have, but once you see this monitor in action, that's a different story. Just make sure you've got a beefy enough GPU that's capable of spitting out a high number of frames. 

Best gaming monitor FAQ

Q. Should I go for an IPS, TN or VA panel?

A. We would always recommend an IPS panel over TN. The clarity of image, viewing angle, and color reproduction are all far superior to the cheaper technology, but you'll often find a faster TN for cheaper. The other alternative, less expensive than IPS and better than TN, is VA tech. The colors aren't quite so hot, but the contrast performance is impressive.

Q. Should I go for a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor?

A. In general, FreeSync monitors will be cheaper. It used to be the case that they would only work in combination with an AMD GPU. Same went for G-Sync monitors and Nvidia GPUs. Nowadays though, it is possible to find G-Sync compatible FreeSync monitors, if you're intent on spending less.

Q. Should I buy a HDR monitor?

A. With a High Dynamic Range monitor, you can take advantage of the ever growing list of games and apps that feature HDR support. It offers more vibrant colors and greater contrast, but is going to drive up the price a little. Windows native HDR function also leaves a lot to be desired, and you may find you have to fiddle in the settings to get HDR looking like it should.

Q. What aspect ratio should I go for?

A. Most movies and games of today are best enjoyed in a widescreen format at 16:9 aspect ratio or above. In 4:3, those cinematic moments are going to look stunted with black strips along the top and bottom. There are a host of minute variations on each ratio, but at the end of the day choosing between these depends entirely on your personal preference. 

And the very far out option, if you have a little extra cash to blow, is ultra wide aspect ratios like 21:9 and 32:9 and their variants. These will provide a much more immersive, encompassing experience. Or literally encompass yourself with a curved monitor. Up to you. 

Jargon buster - gaming monitor terminology

Refresh Rate (Hz)
The speed at which the screen refreshes. For example, 144Hz means the display refreshes 144 times a second. The higher the number, the smoother the screen will appear.

V-Sync
Graphics tech that synchronizes a game's framerate with your monitor's refresh rate in order to help prevent screen tearing by syncing your GPU frame rate to the display's maximum refresh rate. Turn V-Sync on in your games for a smoother experience, but you'll lose information, so turn it off for fast-paced shooters (and live with the tearing). Useful if you have an older model display that can't keep up with a new GPU.

G-Sync
Nvidia's hardware exclusive frame synching tech that works with Nvidia GPUs. It basically allows the monitor to sync up with the GPU. It does by showing a new frame as soon as the GPU has one ready. 

FreeSync
AMD's take on frame synching uses a similar technique as G-Sync with the biggest difference being that it uses DisplayPort's Adaptive-Sync technology which doesn't cost monitor manufacturers anything.

Ghosting
When movement on your display leaves behind a trail of pixels when watching a movie or playing a game. This is often a result of a monitor having slow response times. 

Response Time
The amount of time it takes a pixel to transition to a new color and back. Often referenced as G2G or Grey-to-Grey. Slow response times can lead to ghosting. A suitable range for a gaming monitor is between 1-4 milliseconds.

TN Panels
Twisted-nematic is the most common (and cheapest) gaming panel. TN panels tend to have poorer viewing angles and color reproduction but have higher refresh rates and response times. 

IPS
In plane switching panels offer the best contrast and color despite having weaker blacks. IPS panels tend to be more expensive and have higher response times. 

VA
Vertical Alignment panels provide good viewing angles and have better contrast than even IPS, but are still slower than TN panels. They are often a compromise between a TN and IPS panel. 

HDR
High Dynamic Range. HDR provides a wider color range than normal SDR panels and offers increased brightness. The end result is more vivid colors, deeper blacks, and a brighter picture. 

Peak Brightness
This refers to the maximum brightness (measured in nits) of a monitor or television. 

Ultrawide
Shorthand for monitors with aspect wider aspect ratios like 32:9 or 21:9

Resolution
The number pixels that make up a monitor's display measured by height and width. For example: 1920 x 1080p, 2560 x 1440p (2K), and 3840 x 2160p (4K).

Jorge Jimenez is a Hardware Writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, you can find Jorge streaming bad games with his dog or binge-watching an irresponsible amount of superhero TV shows.