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Best gaming monitors for 2020

Best gaming monitors for 2020
These are the best gaming monitors that will have you playing in style. (Image credit: Future)

It takes the best gaming monitor to effectively showcase your graphics card's graphical power. We've put together this list of our favorites to help you decide which one best suits your needs—and not leave any performance on the table.

When shopping around for a new gaming monitor, you should try to narrow down your priorities. Are you aiming for the highest resolution and a crispy display with 4K or beyond? Or maybe a super-fast refresh rate and response time for a smoother gameplay experience is more in line with what you need. Whatever your preference, some of the best gaming monitors available should cover most bases, even with a high-end gaming PC.

Getting specific

(Image credit: Future)

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

For panels, we prefer IPS displays over TN for their superior picture quality and viewing angles, though VA panels come pretty close. But if you're into competitive games like Counter Strike or Call of Duty, you might want to look for a higher refresh rate with a 1440p display. One drawback of IPS monitors is that they often have slower response times and refresh rates, so here's where a TN panel would come in handy.

On the other hand, if open-world games such as Final Fantasy XV or The Outer Worlds are more your style, a 4K or 1440p resolution display would be a perfect choice for the utmost visual fidelity. Gaming presets or HDR for your favorite types of games are other features you might also want to consider if you mind spending a little extra cash, as with most things, investing in a better panel now should last you several years and outlive a few key components in your rig.

Now that working from home is becoming more commonplace these days. People care more about, especially if they plan on working all day and gaming all night on the same screen. Reminders to take a break and built-in blue light filters are thoughtful features to protect your peepers. 

We've detailed our top picks below, and we've done our best to highlight the key features to help you find the right panel for your gaming needs.

Best gaming monitors

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1. ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q

Our favorite gaming monitor

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
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 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), an excellent 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 an excellent monitor, of course, is the price. The PG279Q can be found for less than $800/£700, but not by much. We 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. 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

The best 4K/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, it's 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, beautiful colors, contrasts, and depths to games too. G-Sync is present to offer stable pictures and smoothness in faster games, and the refresh rate and response times back this up by being speedy, too. There are also a substantial 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 get spun out by the (edging on intentionally) confusing model names, you may see it listed as the XB3 or XB273KP depending on the shop and where you are in the world.

Read our full Acer Predator XB273K review.

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3. 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 stable 144Hz 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 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 the left wholly 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 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: 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 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 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 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 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 half a grand, we're not too bothered by the fact that it foregoes Nvidia G-Sync in favor of AMD FreeSync. If you 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. 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 tailor 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, there's a reason people love Agon monitors, and the AG271QG is no exception. 

Certified for VESA DisplayHDR 400, its brightness and vibrancy are 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 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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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 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 turn heads, this is the best widescreen gaming monitor. And boy, is it broad.

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 slightly lower than that of the lesser shows. And for games that properly support ultrawide decisions, the surround effect of the XR382CQK is incredibly immersive—sitting at your desk, the 38-inch panel fills your field of view.

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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 endeavor. 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 RTX 2080, 2080 Super, or 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 2080 Ti GPUs, it's a fitting match that you'll occasionally be able to make the most of. 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 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. BenQ Zowie XL2411P

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: 12.70 lbs

Fast 1ms response time
Supports 144Hz
No FreeSync/G-Sync Support

For displays, one of the most significant compromises is often giving up features to save money. The BenQ Zowie shows us that you don't need to sacrifice speed to meet your budget. The XL2411P supports up to 144Hz refresh rates, all on a 24-inch 1080p TN display.  An excellent display for a PC or console gaming in a dorm room or a small desk environment.

The XL2411P keeps prices low by opting not to include any Adaptive Sync tech. TN panel doesn't give us the best color when compared to the IPS panels we've selected elsewhere on this list, either. But not to be too dour, the 144Hz refresh rates make this a better choice for gaming than most 1080p display at this price range. For gaming on a budget or if you just want a no-frills fast monitor for competitive gaming, you can't go wrong with the XL2411P.

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 Law & Order: SVU.