As a burgeoning esports industry overtakes traditional competitive gaming, the best gaming monitors of today differ greatly from those popularized over a decade ago. A market once dictated by the pursuit of more pixels is now champing at the bit to make games faster and more responsive. Long gone are the days when 4K 60fps was the paradigm for PC gaming. Nowadays, the best graphics cards are designed to squeeze out the highest frame rates, therefore the best gaming monitors must accommodate the improved fluidity of our games by way of high refresh rates.
Of course, sluggish response times are another issue plaguing the monitors of yesteryear. Whereas the antiquated panels of the past maxed out at 15ms, it can now take less than 5ms for pixels to transition from one color to the next. As a result, we can game faster, absent concern for severe ghosting. That said, the lowest response times are typically reserved for Twisted Nematic, or TN, displays. Compared to an In-Plane Switching, or IPS, display, the viewing angles on a TN panel are inferior, though oftentimes they're cheaper and boast higher refresh rates as well.
Nevertheless, esports aren't for everyone. Some of us aren't equipped for the fame and glory of prestigious tournament wins, and that's okay. In fact, you might say some of us prefer the solitude of winding down after a hard day's work, grinding it out in a story-driven single player excursion, and that's okay too. If you're the type, we've tested plenty of 4K HDR 60Hz panels as well. No matter what kind of experience you're chasing, the dutiful PC Gamer hardware ensemble has you covered. Complete with specs, pricing and features, keep reading for the complete rundown of the best gaming monitors for 2019.
1. ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q
The best gaming monitor with G-Sync
Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz (overclocks to 165Hz) | Weight: 15.4 lbs
The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the best gaming monitor you can buy right now. For years, gamers have been forced to make a choice between picture quality and refresh rate. Cheaper, faster TN panels delivered fast refresh speeds up to 144Hz, while IPS screens offered more vibrant colors and dramatically better viewing angles, but at much slower refresh rates. But as monitor technology has improved, there are now monitors that pair an IPS screen with a 144Hz refresh rate.
The PG279Q is a 27-inch monitor with a 2560x1440 resolution, which we currently consider the sweet spot for high-end gaming. It offers substantially more pixels than 1080p without being as demanding as a 4K panel, meaning games look sharp at 27 inches but won’t bring a good GPU to its knees. Plus, you can still get higher than 60Hz refresh rates, which isn't possible on the current crop of 4K displays. You can also comfortably run at 100 percent scaling in Windows, something that isn't always desirable with 4K panels.
Like its primary competitor, the Acer Predator XB271HU, the PG279Q is an IPS panel with a refresh rate that can be overclocked up to 165Hz. (The difference between 144Hz and 165Hz is mostly negligible though.) Inputs include DisplayPort 1.2a as well as HDMI 1.4 (one of each), a nice addition over our previous best monitor pick. Both displays also feature Nvidia's G-Sync technology for variable refresh rates, assuming you're using an Nvidia GPU. If you're an AMD user, however, you won't benefit from G-Sync and should consider a FreeSync monitor instead. Our pick for that is below.
The biggest drawback to such a fine monitor, of course, is the price. The PG279Q can be found for less than $800/£700, but not by much. Having said that, we consider a monitor an investment. Don’t buy something cheap you’ll want to replace in two years. Buy a great monitor that will still be going strong half a decade from now. There are 144Hz IPS monitors similar to Asus’s offering, only with FreeSync instead of G-Sync, but the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the best choice and worth every dollar.
2. Acer Predator X27
The best HDR gaming monitor
Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 120Hz (overclocks to 144Hz) | Weight: 27.12 lbs
Up until recently, gamers had to choose between high resolution and high refresh rate. Monitors with 120Hz or higher refresh rates were limited to 1440p panels, while 4K screens topped out at 60Hz. That is until the Acer Predator X27 and Asus PG27UQ launched. Both monitors are absolutely fantastic, with 4K resolution, HDR, G-Sync, and a high refresh rate. They're also prohibitively expensive, at around $2,000 apiece.
Marrying an IPS panel to a refresh rate of up to 144Hz when overclocked, the Acer Predator X27 is a site for sore (or sensitive) eyes. Its integration of VisionCare technology, the company says, will prevent eye strain and tiredness during extensive gameplay sessions. G-Sync allows the monitor to refresh at a variable rate instead of being locked to its max (in this case, 144Hz). It syncs the monitor's refresh rate to your framerate in-game, eliminating microstutter or screen tearing when your framerate doesn't match up perfectly to that high 144Hz demand. In regard to connectivity, the Acer Predator X27 welcomes a number of ports on its left and rear. On the side are two USB 3.0 ports while the backside it home to an additional two USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 out.
Despite the high asking price, both the X27 and the PG 27UQ are absolutely worth considering, but we're giving the nod here to the Acer X27. The two monitors are nearly identical, but, trivial as it may seem, we like the stand on the X27 more. That said, if either monitor is on sale, go for the one with the lower price tag. They're both outstanding.
3. BenQ EL2870U
The best budget 4K HDR monitor
Screen size: 28-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 15.87 lbs
When you're building a PC, it's tempting to invest all your resources into the guts of the machine. You want a system that can handle 4K graphics, with all the in-game settings ticked all the way up. But equally important is the monitor needed to display your favorite games in 4K HDR glory. The BenQ EL2870U, as its name suggests, is a 28-inch gaming monitor that won't totally break the bank.
Although it is constrained to the limited viewing angles of its TN panel, it more than makes up for this concession in other areas. For instance, its native response time is a blistering 1ms. Meanwhile, unlike other monitors in its class, it touts a pair of integrated 2W speakers, perfect for late nights spent watching dumb videos on YouTube with your IRL best buds. (Hey, it's not just a monitor for gaming!) Perhaps best of all, the BenQ EL2870U is graced with its own 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don't have to waste time scouring the area for a cable long enough to reach your motherboard.
Lastly, the BenQ EL2870U features a hard-wired HDR button for toggling on and off high-dynamic range. Because sometimes, we'll admit, it's more trouble than it's worth taking a screenshot in Windows with HDR enabled. And since it regularly goes on sale for less than half a grand, we're not too bothered by the fact that it foregoes Nvidia G-Sync in favor of AMD FreeSync.
4. AOC Agon AG273QCG
The best gaming monitor for esports players
Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 165Hz | Weight: 17.98 lbs
Few monitors are as shamelessly tailored to esports athletes as the AOC Agon AG273QCG, a curvy 27-inch 1440p beauty from the makers of some of the most renowned professional-grade monitors for video editors and graphic designers on the market. In terms of color accuracy, AOC's screens are regarded highly, and the AG273QCG is no exception.
Certified for VESA DisplayHDR 400, its brightness and vibrancy is enough to put most screens to shame. Plus, it has G-Sync, which ought to take a load off your GPU in your continued effort to thwart screen tearing and jaggies, which suck. Of course, that's only if you're an Nvidia user. AMD graphics card owners will have to sit this feature out, but that's okay because there is a cheaper FreeSync model of this same monitor called the AOC Agon AG273QCX.
We're focused on the G-Sync version here because it's rare that we find a curved 27-inch QHD display featuring Nvidia's adaptive sync tech at such an aggressive price. Because its refresh rate is exceptionally fast, at 165Hz, it leverages a TN panel rather than an IPS one. But chin up, esports champ, there's more to life than wide viewing angles.
5. ASUS MG279Q
The best FreeSync gaming monitor
Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 15.9 lbs
Right now there's really no competition for the Asus MG279Q: this is absolutely the best monitor for AMD users who want a FreeSync display. It's a 1440p IPS screen that can refresh up to 144Hz, like our favorite monitor above. But because it uses the open FreeSync technology instead of G-Sync, it doesn't cost as much (though price differences have narrowed of late).
Thanks to that IPS screen, colors look great even from off-angles. The base is sturdy (and allows for lots of tilting, pivoting, and height adjustments) and the bezel is fairly thin, which is nice for a 27-inch monitor that’s already taking up a good deal of space. Like most other gaming displays, it also has a light anti-gloss coating, which I like; some older IPS displays went too heavy on the coating and affected image quality, but the MG279Q doesn’t have that problem.
The contrast ratio is also great, and the ability to support multiple inputs makes this screen better for people who might want to connect a second system, like a gaming console. This is thanks to the presence of the internal scaler, one of the main differences you'll find between G-Sync and FreeSync offerings. With no other IPS FreeSync displays that can match the MG279Q on specs, this is a great monitor and an easy choice for anyone with an AMD graphics card.
6. Acer XR382CQK
The best widescreen gaming monitor
Screen size: 37.5-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 24:10 | Resolution: 3840 x 1600 | Response time: 5ms | Refresh rate: 75Hz | Weight: 23.61 lbs
If your mantra for displays is to go big or go home, Acer hears you and its XR382CQK is a massive 38-inch curved screen that looks absolutely stunning. It features a QHD ultrawide panel with a 3840x1600 resolution, with an aspect ratio of 24:10 that's slightly wider than the 'standard' 21:9 AR seen on other UW displays. The IPS panel looks great, and the size means gaming from the comfort of your couch is a viable option.
Not content to end there, the display also features FreeSync technology with up to 75Hz variable refresh rates. 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 really turn heads, this is the best widescreen gaming monitor. And boy, is it wide.
The 38-inch (technically 37.5-inch) span across its diagonal results in a 35-inch width, with a 14.5-inch height, and that's not including the stand. It's taller than the 27-inch 16:9 displays mentioned above, and nearly half again as wide, but the higher resolution means the dot pitch is actually slightly lower than that of the lesser displays. 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 completely fills your field of view.
The cost for the best ultrawide display is steep, but at least you won't need to upgrade again for many years. Over $1000 for the XR382CQK may be a bitter pill to swallow, but the beauty of this screen will wash away the nasty taste in your mouth the instant you boot up your favorite games in 21:9 glory. And barring hardware failure, this display should keep you gaming happily until 2025.
7. Acer Predator XB321HK
4K without the HDR premium
Screen size: 32-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 24.91 lbs
Let's face it, gaming at 4K is a premium endeavour. You need a colossal amount of rendering power to game at decent frame rates and such high resolution. Even the high-end GeForce GTX 1080 Ti fails to consistently produce 60+ fps across all games—and with many games lacking support for SLI and CrossFire, dual GPUs isn't a clear solution. But if you're rocking a top-shelf graphics card, like the new RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, it's only fitting to use an equally exquisite monitor.
A good 1440p screen will generally offer around twice the framerate of a 4K monitor because of the demands it puts on your graphics card (assuming you're playing at native resolution). Unfortunately, unless you pick up the ultra-luxe Acer X27, opting for 4K also means compromising on refresh rate (60Hz here), which might be an issue for people who have grown accustomed to 120Hz or 144Hz on lower-res displays. So, is a G-Sync 4K monitor worth the money or the effort?
The Acer Predator XB321HK answers that question with a resounding yes. At 32 inches, the XB321HK gives you enough screen real-estate to actually put its 3840x2160 4K UHD resolution to good use. (There's also a slightly cheaper 27-inch variant in the XB271HK.) It's also an IPS display, so colors are vibrant, regardless of your viewing angle.
Overall, the Predator XB321HK is an absolute beast of a monitor. The price is still a big hurdle to overcome, but this is a luxury monitor with luxury features. It's built for people that want the best, and if you've shelled out on a pair of RTX 2080 or 2080 Ti cards, it's a fitting match. For mere mortals, until our graphics hardware gets to the point where you can run a 4K display from a modestly-priced single GPU, I'd recommend sticking with a lower resolution screen like the PG279Q or MG279Q we mention above. That way you get great gaming frame rates and are better able to take advantage of the benefits of the 144Hz and G-Sync/FreeSync technology.
8. ASUS VG248QE
The best 1080p monitor for gaming
Screen size: 24-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 12.13 lbs
Sometimes you're forced to make compromises, like not being able to run at high resolutions or maxed out image quality on older graphics cards. For displays, one of the biggest compromises is often giving up features in order to save money. You don't have to lose out on everything in pursuit of lower prices, however, as the Asus VG248QE still supports up to 144Hz refresh rates, all on a 24-inch 1080p TN display.
Finding a great budget gaming display is difficult. Features like an IPS panel and Nvidia's G-Sync technology come with a several-hundred-dollars price premium. The Asus VG248QE keeps prices low by opting to not include Nvidia's pricey G-Sync tech, and its TN panel gives washed out colors compared to the IPS panels we've selected elsewhere. But the inclusion of 144Hz refresh rates makes this a better choice for gaming than most 60Hz 1080p displays, and pairs perfectly with our budget build guides—both of which use AMD GPUs. It also comes very highly reviewed, with a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with more than 2,000 reviews.
If you want to save even more money, the 23-inch Viewsonic VX2370Smh includes an IPS panel and is only ~$150 online, though it's not without drawbacks and is harder to find in the UK. It's still an IPS bargain, which means there’s none of the washed out colors you get with a TN panel. Of course, going that route means you lose out on a fast refresh rate.
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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