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Best gaming monitors for 2019

Best gaming monitors for 2019
(Image credit: Future)

Let's face it, picking up the best graphics cards is a good first step to showcasing the best graphical fidelity for your gaming PC. There's a wide variety of options out there to choose from. But you'll also want one of the best gaming monitors to let your games shine, and today's displays offer a bevy of options. 

It's important when searching for the right gaming monitor that you figure out what your priorities are. Are you looking for the highest resolution, going 4K or beyond for some gorgeous looking gameplay? Or do you need a blazing fast response time and refresh rate for silky-smooth gameplay? Hell, maybe you just need something you can easily mount up on your desk. Whatever the need, we found the best gaming monitors that'll last you for years to come, providing the picture and performance you need to be one happy gamer.

When deciding between panels, we like IPS panels instead of TN for the superior picture quality and viewing angles, though VA panels can be a close second. The downside is IPS monitors tend to have slower response times and refresh rates but make for great 4K gaming. If you play competitive games like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, you'll also want to aim for a 1440p display with a higher refresh rate.

Getting specific

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This is our guide to the best G-sync monitors, for those who only want, er, G-sync.

If you play more open-world games like The Outer Worlds or Final Fantasy XV and really want to go for the wow factor, a 4K or 1440p display is what you want to look for. There are other features to consider such as HDR or gaming presets for the types of games you play. The best gaming monitors don't come cheap, but you should treat it as an investment since a great gaming monitor will last you a couple of years. 

Below we have our top picks for the best gaming monitors with all the best bells and whistles you could ask for. Think about your budget and features and we've done all the leg work by finding the retailer who has it cheapest. 

Best Black Friday deals
We know that many of us (PCG team included) like to wait for the Black Friday sales in November to snap up cheap gaming stuff for less money. We've prepared this guide to help you get prepared, know where to look, and predict what will be on offer. While the below article lists the current best prices for gaming monitors, maybe you'll want to find something cheaper in November. If so, we've got your back.

Best gaming monitors

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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

1440p with 144Hz refresh rate, overclockable to 165Hz
Extremely fast refresh, low input lag for an IPS screen
Requires an Nvidia graphics card to use G-Sync
Expensive

The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the best gaming monitor you can buy right now. It 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.

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2. Acer Predator XB273K

A quality and value for money 4K and HDR gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | 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 the highest

This monitor is a relative of the Acer Predator X27, which previously sat on this list. However, the newer XB273K bumps it off as it offers almost the same excellence but for even better value.  It gives away only a slight decrease in HDR quality and but otherwise matches the X27 punch for punch. Plus its so much cheaper. Almost half the price (looking at retail prices).

The XB273K bags you a terrific panel with exquisite image quality and, despite the apparent lesser HDR capabilities, wonderful colours, contrasts and depths to games too. G-Sync is present to offer stable pictures and smoothness in faster games, the refresh rate and response times back this up by being speedy too, and there's a solid range of ports available to you no matter what gear you're packing. It might be a little on the dear side still but the value is undeniable. And, just in case, 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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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

Affordable path to 4K HDR
Built-in stereo speakers
Good response time
Subpar viewing angles
Low refresh rate

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. 

Best computer speakers | Best gaming headset | Best gaming laptop | Best wireless gaming headset | Best PC controller | Best capture card

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4. AOC Agon AG271QG

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

Reasonable price for G-Sync
Fast refresh rate and response
Inferior TN viewing angles

Few monitors are as shamelessly tailored to esports athletes as the AOC Agon AG271QG, 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 AG271QG 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 AG271QCX. 

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.

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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

IPS, 144Hz, 2560x1440
Very good picture quality out of the box
Adaptive refresh range is only 35-90Hz
No blur reduction mode

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.

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6. Acer XR382CQK

The best widescreen curved 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

Extra wide curved screen is immersive
75Hz FreeSync enabled
3840x1600 resolution requires beefy GPU
Expensive

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.

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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

IPS display offers vibrant colors and good viewing angles
Large enough to appreciate 4K resolution
Requires an Nvidia graphics card to use G-Sync
4K gaming requires a ton of expensive GPU power

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.

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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

Fast and affordable
Supports 144Hz
Uses a TN panel

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.

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9. BenQ EX3203R

The best curved gaming monitor

Screen size: 32-inch | Panel type: VA | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 18 lbs

Gorgeous curved panel
144Hz refresh rate
FreeSync support
Lower end of HDR support
No G-sync

If you're in the market for a big, bold, curved panel, look no further. BenQ's EX3203R is a gorgeous, vibrant 1440p display that's well specced for gaming. The 144Hz refresh rate means you'll likely never experience tearing or artifacting unless you're pushing absolutely obscene frame rates, though even in those cases, the thoughtful inclusion of FreeSync should mitigate all but the most extraordinary cases. 

Interestingly, BenQ has opted for a VA rather than an IPS (or, thankfully, a TN) panel. Compared to IPS, VA generally provides better contrast and probably contributes to the high refresh rate, though slightly sacrifices in the viewing angle and color accuracy departments. Unless you have an extremely well-trained eye, however, you're unlikely to notice the differences in panel tech, for better or worse. Also, of course, being a curved panel, viewing angles are less of a concern. This is an amazing monitor that provides stunning visuals and fantastic in-game performance.

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10. Pixio PXC273

Best budget curved 1080p 144HZ gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: VA | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 13.9 lbs

Cheap
144Hz refresh rate
VESA Mounts
Low default brightness
Feels flimsy
Few adjustment options

The Pixio PXC273 is about as barebones as they come in regards to gaming monitors. This 27-inch curved 1080p panel provides frames at a solid 144Hz and is also FreeSync certified. The screen itself is advertised as being anti-glare and holds up in most brightly lit environments, and the thin bezel is always a plus in our book.

The biggest draw to the PXC273 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 left completely broke. 

While the build quality is a bit flimsy, Pixio is perfect for the budget gamer who doesn't mind losing some bells and whistles of a higher-end gaming monitor but keeps the performance. 

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.

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 Law & Order: SVU.