4K resolutions and HDR technology are the latest advancements in display technologies, but long having been restricted to just the TV market alone, they are making waves in gaming monitors too. This is great news. However, there’s also bad news: perhaps a bit predictably, they’ve predominantly made their entrance at the more costly end of the spectrum. However, with monitors likely to outlast your PCs a fair bit chunk of your PCs components and probably cross the divide between an old rig and a new one, the high price tags but not seem too bad value after some consideration. One of the best 4K monitors for gaming is likely to future proof you even further than normal, so aiming big and saving for one of the big boys is a pretty smart move.
However, you will have to address the current elephant in the room when looking for the best 4K monitors for gaming: retaining refresh and response times while making the most of the new technology. If you want the best of all worlds—maximising frame rate and maintaining refresh rates, as well as getting the 4K and HDR glories—then you will definitely be looking at the premium models. But these largely justify their big initial price tag, and are mighty tempting when their price drops in deals or sales.
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However, if you can’t stretch to those mega high-end displays, but really want 4K and HDR in your life, then you’ll have to consider trading in some refresh speed, response time and frame rates. This isn’t as crushing as it may first sound, as you may prefer playing games offline and without the ridiculous fast speeds that online multiplayers’ often require and have, so you’d be well placed to trade off some of the refresh rates in order to get the better image quality through the glories of the higher resolution and belting color range. But, either way, there should be something here to interest you if you’re browsing or looking for the best 4K monitor for gaming.
1. Acer Predator X27
The best 4K monitor for gaming
Screen size: 27-inch | Panel type: IPS | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 4ms | Refresh rate: 120Hz (overclocks to 144Hz) | Weight: 27 lbs
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.
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
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.
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
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.
4. 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
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 have a console wired into their gaming room or setup, and its price will certainly tempt some to give it a try.
5. ViewSonic XG2700-4K
A brilliant Freesync 4K option
Screen size: 24-inch | Panel type: TN | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Weight: 24 lbs
If you really want to prioritize resolution over frames-per-second rates, and your high-end PC is loaded with an AMD GPU, the ViewSonic XG2700-4K is a great one to consider. Again, you’ll be compromising on refresh rate in exchange for the resolution upgrade to 4K, but chances are good that 60Hz will be smooth and quick enough for those wishing to embrace 4K, and that games in 4K, at least in the immediate future, will still look exceptional on it. The lower framerate, however, is mitigated by the monitor’s adaptive sync technology… if you have an AMD GPU to team it up with.
The ViewSonic XG2700-4K is FreeSync enabled, which will help keep those 4K games from tearing, assuming your machine can hit 40+ frames per seconds consistently—at 4K resolution. You’ll be well set with connections on this monitor, too, as it comes equipped with a DisplayPort, a mini DisplayPort, a normal 3.5mm audio out and a bunch of HDMIs and USBs—three of the former, five of the latter. Offering this many connections means you shouldn’t have any problems hooking this into your setup. The pricing of the monitor is actually pretty competitive too, putting itself in the region of, maybe slightly below, the Predator XB321HK. If you can’t quite stretch to that one, the ViewSonic XG2700-4K’s overall responsiveness, 4K quality and clarity make it a worthy one to consider.
6. 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
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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