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Best gaming monitors in 2020

Best gaming monitors 2020
These gaming monitors will have you playing in style. (Image credit: Future)

Buying one of the best gaming monitors is a lot like entering into a long-term relationship. And this is one which will likely last throughout many different iterations of your gaming PC, gear, and peripherals—perhaps even new versions of Windows. Is that even a thing anymore? Anyway, it's always worth spending all you can afford on the best gaming monitor, because it's going to be around a good while, and you're going to be staring at it a whole lot. But that doesn't have to mean spending over the odds, because we've been keeping tabs on the best Black Friday gaming monitor deals to make sure you can find a great screen for a decent price.

Black Friday deals

Black Friday 2020 deals: the place to go for the all the best Black Friday bargains.

There's also the fact that a fancy graphics card means nothing if you're using it with a crappy display. You don't want to buy a new 1080p screen if you plan on upgrading to one of the best graphics cards in a couple of months time. Something like an Nvidia RTX 3080 will deliver fantastic 4K gaming performance. With AMD's RX 6000-series launching soon that 4K dream is only going to become more attainable as we head into 2021, too.

But the flip side of that is there's little point in picking up a brand spanking new 4K gaming monitor today if you've only got an AMD RX 5500 XT humming away inside your rig and aren't likely to find the cash for a 4K-capable GPU anytime soon. Sure, you can knock back the resolution in games, but modern panels look pretty unpleasant when they're not run at their native res.

There are other things to consider too. Do you want to go for an ultrawide aspect ratio to give that real wrap-around aesthetic? Do you need a high refresh rate, and do you really need a IPS panel over a humble TN? The answer to all those questions should be a resounding: yes. Ultrawide monitors give an extra level of immersion to your games, though are sadly an unconscionably expensive luxury compared to a good 16:9 display. 

High refresh rates are almost a given nowadays, however, and should definitely be on your new gaming monitor checklist. We would also always recommend an IPS panel over TN, too. The clarity of image, viewing angle, and color reproduction are all far superior to the cheaper technology. The other alternative, less expensive than IPS and better than TN, is the VA panel tech. Colors aren't quite so hot, but the contrast performance is still impressive.

The best gaming monitors

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1. ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q

Still our favorite gaming monitor

Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz (overclocks to 165Hz) | Weight: 15.4 lbs

1440p with 144Hz refresh rate, overclockable to 165Hz
Low input lag for an IPS screen

Despite its age, the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is still 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 on your PC hardware as a 4K panel. That means games look sharp at 27 inches but it won't bring a good GPU to its knees. Plus, you can still get higher than 60Hz refresh rates, which isn't possible on a lot 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 overclock 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). Both displays also feature Nvidia's G-Sync technology for variable refresh rates, assuming you're using an Nvidia GPU.

The biggest drawback to such an excellent monitor, of course, is the price. The PG279Q will set you back a healthy $650, but we really do consider a monitor an investment. Don't buy something cheap; you'll want to replace it in two years. Buy a great monitor that will still be going strong half a decade from now, which is exactly what this 2015 screen proves. 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. 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: 1ms | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Weight: 16.9 pounds

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.

This 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 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms 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, contrasts, and depths to games too. G-Sync is present to offer stable pictures and smoothness in games, and the speedy refresh rate and response times back this up too. 

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3. Pixio PX277 Prime

Best budget curved 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor

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

Cheap
165Hz refresh rate

The Pixio PX277 Prime is about as barebones as they come in regards to gaming monitors. This 27-inch 1440p panel provides frames at a stable 165Hz and is also FreeSync certified for a tear-free gaming experience with compatible graphics cards. 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 PX277 Prime 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 a higher-end monitor, but is keen for top performance.

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4. BenQ EL2870U

The best budget 4K HDR monitor

Screen size: 28-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 15.9 lbs

Affordable path to 4K HDR
Built-in stereo speakers
Good response time

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 up. But equally important is the monitor needed to display your favorite games in 4K HDR glory. The BenQ EL2870U is a 28-inch gaming monitor that won't 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. Its native response time is a blistering 1ms, and the 4K TN panels are far better than the dodgy old 1080p TN fare. 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, monitors aren't just for gaming! 

Perhaps best of all, the BenQ EL2870U is graced with its 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don't have to waste time scouring the area for a cable long enough to reach all the way from the back of your motherboard.

Lastly, the BenQ EL2870U features a hard-wired HDR button for toggling on and off the 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 $500, we're not too bothered by the fact that it foregoes Nvidia G-Sync in favor of AMD FreeSync. If you've got a little extra scratch, the 32-inch EW2780U is an excellent choice if you need something with a larger screen and 2.1 channel Sound.

Read our full BenQ EL2870U review.

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

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5. Acer XR382CQK

The best widescreen curved gaming monitor.

Screen size: 37.5-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 24:10 | Resolution: 3840x1600 | Response time: 5ms | Refresh rate: 75Hz | Weight: 23.6 lbs

Extra wide curved screen is immersive
75Hz FreeSync enabled

If your mantra for displays is 'go big or go home', Acer hears you, and its XR382CQK 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 24:10 it's slightly wider than the 'standard' 21:9 ratio seen on other ultrawide displays. The IPS panel looks great, and the size means gaming from the comfort of your couch is a viable option too.

Not content to end there, the display also features FreeSync technology with up to 75Hz variable refresh rates. That's not a huge bump from a 60Hz panel, but it is genuinely noticeable. 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 that of 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.

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7. 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: 3ms | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Weight: 2.3 lbs

Easy to use
Lightweight and thin
Speedy 240Hz 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 in the performance of a premium gaming monitor.

This thin and lightweight 17-inch IPS display has a 240Hz 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 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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8. Alienware 25 AW2521HF

Best 240Hz gaming monitor

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

Great viewing angles
Extremely fast response times

240Hz gaming is becoming all the rage these days, Alienware has set itself ahead of the pack with the gorgeous AW2521HF gaming monitor. While not the cheapest on the market, it has got 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 or Destiny with little to no ghosting or artifacting. 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 of 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 in 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.

How we test 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. Subjectively testing the gaming performance of each panel isn't necessarily going to give you the lowdown on the specifics of a particular screen. Still, it will let you test the functioning aspect ratio, native resolution, and any specific 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.

We also use a heap of standardised tests produced by Lagom in order to ensure levels and saturation are visually up to our standards.

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.