The best gaming monitor 2019: Digital Foundry's favourites at every price point

Including 4K gaming monitors, 240Hz monitors and much more.

Choosing the right gaming monitor can be tricky. While some PC peripherals like mice and keyboards are mostly matters of personal preference, some gaming monitors are just objectively better than others, offering higher resolutions, faster refresh rates or more accurate colours. Monitors can also last a long time - often five years or more - and you'll probably use them every day, whether you're playing games or trying to get some work done.

That makes it important to choose the right monitor, but the options for brands, specs and features can be overwhelming. That's why we are keeping it simple, to give you the gaming monitor recommendations you need with the bare minimum of jargon. Whether you're looking for the absolute best monitor on the market, the best budget option or something in between, we've got you covered across a large range of different gaming use-cases.

Each person's needs are different, so we tailored our picks towards specific scenarios - the best monitors for fans of single-player games, multiplayer games, console games and so on. We also chose monitors across a range of price points, so you'll be able to find a reasonable recommendation no matter how big or small your budget is.

The most important thing to remember is that the higher your chosen monitor's resolution and refresh rate, the faster your PC will need to be in order to make full use of the monitor's capabilities. For example, you have little to gain by choosing a high-end 4K 144Hz monitor without a correspondingly powerful PC that can actually generate 144 frames per second at 4K.

Budget PCs and base consoles should target the most common resolution and refresh rate combination: 1080p and 60Hz. If your computer is mid-range or better, you might consider monitors that operate at higher resolutions, higher refresh rates or both. Only powerful PCs and upgraded consoles (the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro) can handle 4K at high detail settings. Your graphics card has the biggest impact on gaming performance, so check out our guide to the best graphics cards to learn more about that side of the equation.

In a rush? Here are quick links to each recommendation!

Best gaming monitor

LG 27GL850-B: the ultimate all-rounder

27gl850_larger
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Features: G-Sync Compatible, FreeSync (48-144Hz) | Panel: IPS

While there are plenty of monitors in the popular 2560x1440 144Hz category, the 27GL850 is the best example we've ever tested thanks to its advanced Nano IPS panel. This combines the wide viewing angles and excellent colour reproduction of IPS screens with the 1ms response time, superior motion handling and extremely low input lag (4ms) we'd normally associate with a high-end TN panel. The combination is stunning to behold, particularly when you consider this monitor is cheaper than many of its competitors. Whether you prefer fast-paced multiplayer games or slower single-player experiences, the 27GL850 excels.

The 27GL850 also incorporates other modern standards. The monitor is G-Sync Compatible, so you'll be able to eliminate judder and screen tearing without the excessive input lag of traditional v-sync on both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. HDR is also supported, but the relatively low 350 nit typical brightness figure means this monitor doesn't meet the more stringent DisplayHDR 400/600/1000 standards that really make HDR worthwhile.

In terms of OSD options, you can expect the usual gamer fare accessed via a convenient joystick: multiple modes designed for different genres, on-screen crosshairs, automatic brightening of dark in-game areas and so on. Thin bezels, a highly adjustable stand and a wealth of connectivity options, including a two-port USB hub, complete the package.

Note: 27GL850 availability in the UK remains poor, so you may find it useful to order from Amazon.de in the meantime.

vg27aq

Alternative options: The Asus VG27AQ is another strong choice. While its pixel response times aren't as fast as the 1ms 27GL850, rated at 4ms GtG, the Asus monitor is unique in that FreeSync/G-Sync can be used simultaneously with ELMB, a backlight strobing technology that combats motion blur. This results in better motion handling at higher refresh rates (e.g. 80 or 120Hz) than the LG monitor, but worse handling at lower ones (e.g. 60Hz). While we preferred the LG overall in our testing, the VG27AQ is sometimes cheaper and overclocks to 165Hz.

Our previous best monitor selections, the MSI MAG271CQR and Acer XB271HU, are also strong picks for the 1440p/144Hz category. The MSI monitor is a curved VA monitor with FreeSync; the Acer is a flat IPS model with full-fat G-Sync.

Best 144Hz monitor

AOC 24G2U / 24G2: an ideal monitor for fast-paced multiplayer gaming

24g2u
Size: 24-inch | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Features: FreeSync (48-144Hz) | Panel: IPS

For fast-paced multiplayer games, high refresh rate 144Hz monitors make it easier to track moving targets and hit those headshots. The AOC 24G2U 144Hz monitor we've chosen is built around an IPS display, and therefore offers better colour accuracy and wider viewing angles than more common TN or VA alternatives. The downsides of an IPS display manifest in relatively low brightness (250 nits), only moderate contrast (1000:1) and slightly higher pixel response times (4ms GtG) compared to TN alternatives. Still, for mixed use that includes web browsing, content creation and gaming, it's hard to argue against IPS as the best mix of features, especially as these panels have become more affordable.

Ergonomics are a strong suit too, with options for tilt, swivel, rotation and height adjustment. The 24G2U also comes with FreeSync support, helping to smooth out lower frame-rates on rigs with AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. The price for this monitor is a little higher than the popular BenQ XL2411P, but the newer panel used here more than justifies the extra expense. While 27-inch 144Hz monitors are also available, often at a relatively low premium, we prefer 24-inch models for this category as they offer better value, are easier to fit into your peripheral vision and look less grainy at 1080p.

Alternative options: The Samsung LC24FG73 is another strong pick, with its curved VA panel resulting in better contrast but worse viewing angles and a smaller FreeSync range. The ViewSonic XG2402 is a good choice if you prefer the fast pixel response times typical of modern TN displays. It also packs in low frame-rate compensation (LFC), which prevents tearing below the 48Hz minimum for FreeSync. Testing has also shown the XG2402 also works well with Nvidia graphics cards.

Best 4K gaming monitor

LG 27UK650-W: a surprisingly affordable 4K monitor with HDR and FreeSync

27uk650
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Features: HDR10, FreeSync (40-60Hz) | Panel: IPS

The LG 27UK650-W is relatively modest for a 4K display at 27 inches, but within that small frame it offers quite a bit. It supports AMD's FreeSync tech, which is perfect for smoothing out uneven frame-rates on the Xbox One, Xbox One X and gaming PCs with AMD or recent Nvidia graphics cards. The monitor is also technically HDR-capable, but its limited maximum brightness diminishes the effect considerably. However, the IPS panel still provides accurate colours and low input lag, making it a excellent choice at its less than $500/£450 price point.

Alternative options: The Predator XB321HK boasts an expansive 32-inch diagonal that makes better use of the 4K resolution, an IPS panel with excellent colour reproduction and G-Sync support to ensure that even low frame rates feel responsive. This latter item is particularly important, as all but the best graphics cards can struggle with 4K gaming at a sustained 60fps. Other nice features here include a powerful stand, a good selection of gaming modes and features and a stylish appearance with minimal bezels.

Best 1080p 240Hz FreeSync monitor: Samsung CRG5

crg5
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Features: Curved, G-Sync Compatible (48-240Hz) | Panel: VA

This curved 27-inch Samsung monitor is a strong choice for competitive gamers playing esports titles like Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six Siege, as even mid-range PCs can make full use of its 240Hz refresh rate. Happily, the CRG5's extremely high refresh rate is matched by its wide VRR window, ensuring tear-free images from 48 to 240Hz. The monitor also comes with some handy gaming features, such as the ability to brighten dark areas in games or overlay a better crosshair. Input lag is also very low, as you would hope.

As this monitor uses a more advanced VA panel instead of TN, it is able to hit an impressive 3000:1 contrast ratio while maintaining good colour accuracy. However, this choice of panel technologies does have a downside, with a relatively high pixel response time of 4ms - we'd expect 1ms or lower from an equivalent TN monitor. The stand provided is also very basic, with no height adjustment, but a 75x75 VESA mount can be used if ergonomics are important to you. Overall, the CRG5 offers reasonable value at its $370/£300 price point - just be aware of its limitations and take advantage of this monitor's strengths.

Alternative option: Our previous pick, the Dell Alienware AW2518HF, is a better value-for-money choice but is a smaller screen at 24.5 inches. However, the design still includes thin bezels, a height-adjustable stand, FreeSync support for AMD and Nvidia graphics cards. A full-fat G-Sync model is also available, the AW2518H, but it does cost significantly more.

Best cheap gaming monitor: BenQ Zowie RL2455

rl2455
Size: 24-inch | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel: TN

The BenQ Zowie RL2455 is one of the best value monitors for budget PC gaming, and it should also suit gamers with a base model Xbox One or PlayStation 4. That's thanks to the RL2455's extremely low input lag, portable 24-inch span and an assortment of gaming modes and features. The black equaliser mode, which brightens darker areas of the screen, is particularly useful in shooters like Call of Duty and Fortnite, although the inclusion of several genre-specific modes ensure the monitor works well for many other games too.

Alternative option: Our second pick, the Acer KG251Q, has a higher 75Hz refresh rate and adds FreeSync support (40-75Hz), but loses many of the gaming features of the BenQ monitor. However, it is sometimes slightly cheaper.

Best ultrawide gaming monitor: Acer Predator X35

x35
Size: 35-inch | Resolution: 3440x1440 | Refresh rate: 200Hz | Features: G-Sync, DisplayHDR 1000 | Panel: VA

The Acer Predator X35 is the best ultrawide we've tested... but it costs a massive £2200/$2500. For the money, you get a super-smooth 200Hz display that is perfect for fast-paced shooters and racing games, a comfortable 3440x1440 resolution and full G-Sync support to eliminate tearing and judder without the extra input lag associated with standard v-sync. The monitor also supports DisplayHDR 1000, with gorgeous colour reproduction, good contrast and extremely high peak brightness. The X35 is the ultimate peak at the future of display technology, but it'll be at least a few years before you'll find similar specifications on a more affordable panel.

Best value ultrawide monitor: Samsung LC34J791

samsung
Size: 34-inch | Resolution: 3440x1440 | Refresh rate: 100Hz | Features: FreeSync, G-Sync Compatible | Panel: VA

A more affordable ultrawide pick is the Samsung LC34J791. This titanic monitor provides a suitably immersive experience, with its 34-inch span wrapping into the corners of your peripheral vision. The VA panel used here provides excellent contrast, a crisp 3440x1440 resolution and a good refresh rate of 100Hz - enough to be of considerable benefit in fast-paced games, without costing as much as 120Hz, 144Hz or 200Hz alternatives. The ultrawide resolution isn't as hard on your PC as standard 4K, but you still have the option of enabling FreeSync to improve perceived performance below 60 frames per second on both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards.

Best 1440p gaming monitor: Viewsonic VA2719-2K

viewsonic
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Panel: IPS

You don't have to spend a lot to get a nice 1440p monitor these days. This 27-inch model from Viewsonic uses an IPS display for accurate colours, making it a good choice for creative work as well as slower-paced gaming. Response times are also reasonable for an IPS panel, at 5ms, but we'd recommend a 1080p 144Hz panel - see our recommendations above - if competitive titles are more your thing.

Best 4K monitor for Xbox One X/PS4 Pro: BenQ EL2870U

el2870u
Size: 28-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Features: HDR, FreeSync (40-60Hz) | Panel: TN

While 4K TVs pair nicely with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, there are also some great monitors to consider that can offer a more responsive experience, thanks to lower input latency. One example is the BenQ EL2870U, a 28-inch 4K monitor that boasts a rapid 1ms response time, FreeSync from 40 to 60Hz (which can be used on the Xbox One X) and even nominal HDR support. The EL2870U's colour accuracy and image quality is limited by the TN panel used here and HDR is underwhelming, but the 4K resolution, FreeSync support and low price point keep this BenQ monitor in contention. The 32-inch EW3270U is also worth considering.

Alternative option: The AOC G2868PQU is another inexpensive 4K gaming monitor with a 28-inch TN panel, offering FreeSync (from 40 to 60Hz), good colour reproduction (thanks to a factory calibration) and around 12ms of input lag (low for a 60Hz display). The inclusion of height adjustment on the VESA 100x100 stand was also appreciated. However, the monitor is only "HDR-ready", thanks to its relatively low 300 nits maximum brightness figure. Still, if you can find it at its £319 RRP, it offers incredible value as a gaming display or for workflows that don't demand perfect colour accuracy. Sadly, the monitor is only available in the UK and Europe.

Best HDR gaming monitor: Acer Predator X27

predator_x27
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Features: G-Sync HDR | Panel: IPS Quantum Dot

The Predator X27 and its brother-from-another-mother, the PG27UQ ROG Swift, are by far the best gaming monitors ever made. The only problem is that they each cost more than $1000. That immense price is justified by the inclusion of seemingly every bleeding-edge monitor technology: 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, G-Sync support, proper 384-zone HDR (DisplayHDR 1000), a colour-accurate Quantum Dot IPS display and more RGB lighting than you can shake a stick at.

That makes these monitors basically brilliant at everything from gaming to HDR movie watching and content creation, although for gaming you'll need an incredibly powerful PC with one of the best graphics cards to even get close to 4K at 144Hz in most titles. In our testing with an RTX 2080, we were able to enjoy esports titles at 4K/120Hz, with modern releases like Metro Exodus at closer to 4K/60 with DLSS. Even if you turn down settings in some games, 4K at 27 inches still allows for crisp text on the web and detailed 4K videos.

Best 4K 144Hz gaming monitor: Acer Nitro XV273K

xv273k
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Features: FreeSync, HDR | Panel: IPS Quantum Dot

The Nitro XV273K is the best 4K 144Hz monitor for most people, providing most features from the Predator X27 above at about half the price. The 4K IPS Quantum Dot display is great for high fidelity gaming and productivity, aided by a wide colour gamut and excellent colour accuracy, while the 144Hz refresh rate ensures that fast-paced games appear fluid with minimal input lag. There's even factory colour calibration, ambient light sensor and a shading hood, making this a great choice for colour-accurate photo or video work.

The major sacrifice here is HDR; without the FALD backlight of the Predator X27, you're left with only nominal HDR support (DisplayHDR 400, to be exact). However, that means no fan is required to cool the monitor, making it entirely silent. Acer have also included FreeSync instead of G-Sync, which now works on all modern gaming PCs and the Xbox One too and is active between 48 and 144Hz. If you're not fussed about VRR, you can also connect two DisplayPort cables to run the monitor at 4K 144Hz with full 10-bit colour - something not possible on the Predator X27!

Essential terms for monitor buyers

Picking up your first monitor? Here are some common specs and what they actually mean.

Resolution: How many pixels are on screen, given as horizontal x vertical. 1920x1080 (1080p) and 3840x2160 (4K) are the most common resolutions for both TVs and monitors. The higher the resolution, the crisper and more detailed a game tends to look.

Refresh rate: How many times the screen updates per second, given in Hz. Standard monitors and TVs refresh at 60Hz, while gaming models may refresh anywhere from 100 to 240Hz, with 144Hz being the most common choice for a high refresh rate monitor. The higher the refresh rate, the more fluid a game will feel.

Response time: This stat typically measures how fast a pixel can turn from grey to white and then back to grey again. Most gaming monitors sport response time figures of less than 5ms, with TN panels being the fastest and IPS or VA screens being a little slower. Low response times help to eliminate distracting smears in fast-paced scenes. Note that response time is distinct from input lag, which refers to the delay between an input (like pressing a button) and seeing the effect of the input on-screen.

G-Sync/FreeSync: These are both terms that refer to adaptive sync technology, designed to eliminate ugly screen-tearing while adding less input lag than traditional v-sync. G-Sync is Nvidia's implementation, which normally requires a physical G-Sync module inside the monitor that can drive up prices. FreeSync is the AMD alternative, which doesn't require a special module and therefore doesn't add much to a monitor's price. Recently though, Nvidia announced support for FreeSync displays on GeForce graphics cards, although adaptive sync performance may vary significantly from monitor to monitor. G-Sync requires a Nvidia graphics card to work, while FreeSync requires an AMD card.

HDR: High Dynamic Range allows for greater contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of an image, as well as a wider colour gamut. While a growing number of monitors are technically HDR-capable, most can't hit the high peak brightness figures that actually make the feature worthwhile. We recommend sticking with monitors that hit stringent standards, like HDR10, if playing games or watching films in HDR is important to you.

IPS: This sort of monitors tend to be expensive to produce, but provide better viewing angles and improved colour accuracy compared to monitors using VA or TN panels. However, some IPS panels, particularly older ones, can suffer from slower response times, making them worse for fast-paced games. Another potential issue is 'IPS glow', where the monitor's backlight is visible in dark scenes.

TN: The most mature display technology, TN panels are cheap to produce and offer some of the fastest response times. However, colour accuracy and viewing angles tend to be poor, sometimes resulting in a washed out look - particularly if you're not viewing the monitor head-on. However, modern TN panels do well to minimise these drawbacks.

VA: A type of monitor panel which tends to occupy a middle-ground between IPS and TN in many respects. These panels generally offer the best contrast, backed with good response times and colour reproduction.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Jump to comments (95)

About the author

Will Judd

Will Judd

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2.

Related

You may also enjoy...

Comments (95)

Hide low-scoring comments
Order
Threading