The best gaming monitor 2020: Digital Foundry's picks for PC, PS4 and Xbox

Including high refresh rate, high resolution and ultra-wide options.

Choosing the right gaming monitor can be tricky. While some peripherals like mice, gamepads 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.

We've split our picks by resolution - 1080p, 1440p and 4K. If you're not sure which is right for you, check out our monitor buyer's guide or just start with 1080p. For now, let's get right into the picks!

What's the best monitor for PS5 or Xbox Series X? Right now, no monitors are available with HDMI 2.1, a new connection standard that unlocks 4K 120Hz HDR gaming over HDMI. If you're not interested in high refresh rate gaming, then any of our 4K monitor picks below will serve you just fine. Otherwise, we recommend hanging on for a little while longer or checking out our recommendations for the best 4K TVs for gaming, including several models with HDMI 2.1.

Best gaming monitor 2020

The best 1080p gaming monitors are easy to drive even with an entry-level gaming PC or games console, with some also offering the highest refresh rates for competitive gaming. Here are three great options at different refresh rates:

The best 1440p gaming monitors are right in the sweet spot between price and performance, offering a sharper image than 1080p models plus the option for higher refresh rates at a reasonable premium. Here are several solid choices, including ultra-wides:

The best 4K gaming monitors offer the best visual fidelity, thanks to their higher pixel counts, but require a very powerful graphics card or enhanced console. Some even boast high refresh rates. Here are a series of top recommendations:

Best 1080p gaming monitors

The vast majority of PC and console gamers are playing at 1080p, as this offers a good standard of visual fidelity while still being easy to achieve solid frame-rates even in the most recent games on entry-level hardware. Here are our selections, which now begin with a cheap 144Hz monitor, before we move onto some more expensive models that offer better features and/or faster refresh rates.

Best cheap gaming monitor: AOC C24G1

c24g1
Size: 24-inch | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Panel: VA

High refresh rate monitors used to be seriously expensive, but as of mid-2020 they've become as cheap as some of the 1080p 60Hz monitors we recommended before. One example is the AOC C24G1, a slightly older gaming monitor that still delivers very respectable performance for less than £150/$150.

This monitor uses a curved VA panel, providing improved colour accuracy and substantially better contrast than you'd expect from a TN monitor, which is great for games with darker scenes or playing in dark rooms. Combined with the fluid 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync variable refresh rate support, you've got a great budget monitor ideal for PC gaming, especially fast-paced titles like racing or shooters. Next-gen consoles may be able to take advantage of the higher refresh rate, while for current-gen models you'll likely be limited to 60Hz.

Alternative options: If you're buying a monitor for console, you might prefer the faster pixel response times of the BenQ RL2455S. This monitor uses a TN panel, making it better for fast motion, but it's limited to 60Hz - not an issue for current-gen consoles but a bit limiting for PC users. Another option is the Acer KG251Q, has a higher 75Hz refresh rate and adds FreeSync support (40-75Hz).

Best 144Hz monitor: AOC 24G2U / 24G2

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

For fast-paced multiplayer games, high refresh rate 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 240Hz monitor: Alienware AW2521HF

aw2521hf
Size: 24-inch | Resolution: 1920x1080 | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Features: G-Sync Compatible (20-240Hz) | Panel: IPS

The Alienware AW2521HF is by far the best 240Hz monitor we have tested, thanks to its modern Nano IPS panel which combines the traditional strengths of IPS - wide viewing angles and great colour accuracy - with the high refresh rates, quick pixel response times and low input lag (only ~2.5ms!) you'd normally associate with TN panel monitors.

These qualities make the AW2521HF well-suited to fast-paced competitive games like CSGO, Valorant or Call of Duty Warzone, while still being a great choice for slower and more cinematic games. VRR is supported too, with FreeSync for AMD and Xbox users and G-Sync Compatible for users with Nvidia graphics cards. If you're currently playing on a 60Hz, 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, you will definitely notice the increase in responsiveness when switching to a 240Hz model like this one.

The only real downsides to this monitor are its brightness (~450 nits) and contrast (~1200:1), which can make black tones appear grey, and its lack of HDR support. However, neither are big issues for competitive gaming, which is this monitor's intended purpose, and SDR content looks just fine thanks to this monitor's colour accuracy, gray uniformity and wide viewing angles.

Alternative options: The AW2518HF offers broadly the same features as the AW2521HF, but uses a TN panel rather than IPS. This results in improved motion clarity, but viewing angles and colour reproduction are worse. If this monitor will be used for fast-paced gaming exclusively, it could be a better choice.

Meanwhile, the Samsung CRG5 is a 240Hz monitor with a curved 27-inch VA panel, providing excellent contrast that improves the appearance of dark scenes. However, its viewing angles and colour accuracy are worse than the IPS AW2521HF, and its pixel response times are slower than the TN AW2518HF. It's still a good monitor, especially for playing more cinematic single-player games that can take advantage of the high contrast ratio. The AOC C27G2ZU is another promising candidate that uses the same curved VA panel as the CRG5, but it's available for a lower price - around £300 in the UK.

Best 1440p gaming monitors

If you're looking for a sharper screen that provides more detail at a comfortable distance, then a 1440p screen is a great shout. The higher resolution panel means you won't need to look at a grainy image, but it does require more horsepower to drive. Again, we'll start with a 60Hz option suitable for slower-paced games and content creation, with more expensive but more fluid 144Hz monitors coming afterwards. We'll also cover 3440x1440 ultra-wides, which provide an extra-immersive gaming experience.

Best value 1440p gaming monitor: MSI Optix MAG272CQR

mag272cqr
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Refresh rate: 165Hz | Panel: curved VA

You don't have to spend a lot to get a nice 1440p monitor these days, with the MAG272CQR from MSI offering a 165Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support and rare USB-C connectivity with an RRP below £350 (though monitor prices have soared worldwide due to the current human malware epidemic!). The curved VA panel here offers excellent contrast and good colour accuracy, with the monitor performing well in our testing of both game and content creation.

However, there are some downsides to be aware of - as typical for a VA panel, viewing angles are a little narrower than equivalent IPS displays and maximum brightness is relatively low at around 300 nits. That means that this monitor's HDR support is nominal at best; we recommend a monitor with at least the DisplayHDR 600 specification for meaningful HDR support. Note that Nvidia hasn't certified this monitor as being officially G-Sync Compatible, but we didn't spot any issues running this display with FreeSync enabled on an Nvidia graphics card.

We can easily forgive these minor shortcomings given the level of value provided here; it's rare to find such a potent combination in this price bracket.

If you don't play fast-paced games, consider our previous pick, a 60Hz IPS monitor from ViewSonic.

Best gaming monitor overall: LG 27GL850

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. For a deeper look, take a look at our in-depth LG 27GL850 review.

If you're considering the 27GL850, the ViewSonic Elite XG270QG also deserves a mention. It uses the same 1ms IPS panel, but packs in a 165Hz overclock, full-fat G-Sync and convenient features like a built-in mouse bungee. It's normally more expensive than the 27GL850, making it harder to recommend, but if the prices are similar the ViewSonic Elite is the better choice.

Best gaming monitor runner-up: Asus VG27AQ

vg27aq
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Refresh rate: 165Hz | Features: G-Sync Compatible, FreeSync (48-165Hz) | Panel: IPS

The Asus VG27AQ is another strong 1440p/144Hz monitor to consider with a unique selling point. 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.

Another strong 1440p 144Hz alternative is the AOC AG273QX, a DisplayHDR 400 certified option with a flat VA panel. Contrast and colour accuracy are strong points here, but response times are slightly higher than our other recommendations. Still, this is a solid monitor for anyone that wants the impressive dark room performance provided by VA panels. (In the US, this monitor isn't available at a competitive price, so we've kept our previous MSI MAG271CQR recommendation instead which offers similar specs and a curved screen.)

Best 1440p 240Hz monitor: AOC Agon AG273QZ

ag273qz
Size: 27-inch | Resolution: 2560x1440 | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Features: FreeSync (48-240Hz + LFC), DisplayHDR 400 | Panel: TN

The AG273QZ is part of a new breed of monitors which marry a 2560x1440 resolution with an extremely high 240Hz refresh rate, allowing them to shine in a wide range of games, from fast-paced shooters to leisurely turn-based strategy games.

This particular model uses a TN screen, which offers excellent motion clarity with a quoted 0.5ms MPRT pixel response time. This is augmented with FreeSync, so you can enjoy variable refresh rate support on Xbox One and PCs with AMD graphics cards. (You can also enable G-Sync on PCs with Nvidia graphics cards, even though the monitor lacks an official G-Sync Compatible certification.) TN monitors aren't normally known for their strong colour reproduction or wide viewing angles, but this modern display actually fares pretty well here, even if SDR/HDR media and web content still look better on equivalent IPS monitor.

There are a few other features of note here. The metal stand is excellent, offering a good range of tilt, swivel and rotation, and the thin bezels make this a good choice for multi-monitor setups. The OSD is also comprehensive, with a wide range of game modes and features available.

In our testing, we found this monitor offered a noticeable competitive advantage over more ordinary 144Hz and 165Hz monitors, while offering a much sharper picture than 1080p 240Hz options. That's definitely a winning formula, and therefore we're happy to give the AG273QZ a warm recommendation.

In the US, the AGON monitor sadly isn't available. Therefore, we're recommending another 1440p 240Hz monitor that uses a similar panel and therefore offers broadly comparable performance: the HP Omen X 27.

Best value ultrawide monitor: AOC CU34G2X

cu34g2x
Size: 34-inch | Resolution: 3440x1440 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Features: FreeSync | Panel: VA

Our pick for the best value ultrawide is the AOC CU34G2X. 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 144Hz, making it ideal for both slower-paced and fast-paced games. We were particularly impressed with this monitor during night scenes in Metro Exodus, with deep inky blacks that really sold the experience of creeping through a mutant-infested wasteland on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The ultrawide 1440p resolution falls somewhere between standard 1440p and 4K, making it possible to drive with a mid-range PC, and you still have the option of enabling FreeSync to improve perceived performance below 60 frames per second on both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards.

Alternative option: Our previous pick, the MSI MAG341CQ, offers largely the same performance at a similar price, but can only achieve a 100Hz refresh rate.

Best premium 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 1440p 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 4K gaming monitors

With enhanced consoles in the wild and the next generation coming at the tail end of 2020, 4K gaming is more viable than ever before. Here are our picks for the best 4K monitors for gaming, including a 60Hz pick ideal for enhanced consoles and PC gamers interested in slower-paced fare, plus premium 4K 144Hz options for PC gamers that are willing to pay for the ultimate gaming experience - and have the high-powered PCs to match.

Best 4K gaming monitor: Acer Nitro VG280K

vg280k
Size: 28-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Features: HDR10, FreeSync (40-60Hz) | Panel: IPS

The Nitro VG280K is relatively modest for a 4K display at 28 inches, but it packs a punch. It supports AMD's FreeSync tech, which is perfect for smoothing out uneven frame-rates on Xbox and PC, plus HDR capabilities - although unfortunately the set's limited brightness of 300 nits means the HDR effect isn't as compelling as it could be. We really like this monitor because it uses an IPS panel, so its colour reproduction is excellent with 90 per cent of the DCI P3 colour space and 100 per cent of the more commonly used sRGB gamut. This makes it a strong choice for colour-sensitive work, like film production or image manipulation. Viewing angles are also strong, while input lag is competitive with other monitors of this refresh rate.

Alternative options: In the US, we're recommending the our previous pick, the LG 27UK650-W, as the VG280K isn't available yet. The 27UK650-W is very similar to the our main pick though, with an IPS panel that provides great colour reproduction, wide viewing angles and very low input lag. The monitor also comes with FreeSync, making it ideal for Xbox One and PC gamers with AMD or Nvidia graphics cards.

Another alternative is the cheaper BenQ EL2870U, which uses a TN panel. This means its colour reproduction isn't as strong, but its pixel response times are faster, which can be handy for faster-paced gaming.

Best Xbox One X and PS4 Pro monitor: Asus CG32UQ

cg32uq
Size: 32-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Features: DisplayHDR 600, FreeSync (40-60Hz), ambient backlight | Panel: VA

The best monitor for 4K consoles we've tested so far is the Asus CG32UQ. This 32-inch monster packs in basically everything you could want: extremely low input lag, good motion handling and excellent contrast thanks to its VA panel. The monitor is also DisplayHDR 600 certified, elevating it above most other monitors in terms of its colour reproduction and brightness, so it's great for watching TV or movies as well. This is a FreeSync display, meaning variable refresh rates are supported on Xbox One and PCs with AMD graphics cards between 40 and 60Hz. (The monitor hasn't been certified as G-Sync Compatible, but we didn't spot any issues when manually enabling G-Sync to get variable refresh rate support on PCs with Nvidia graphics cards.)

As well as offering strong fundamentals, the Asus is also a well-designed monitor with plenty of added features and design flourishes - like a flat base and convenient USB ports for charging your controllers, a remote, ambient RGB backlighting and the fanciest on-screen display for choosing your settings that we've ever seen. Its large size, at 32 inches, also means it's possible to sit on a bed or sofa and still make out details on the screen - something that would be impossible on a 27-inch set. Overall, it's a great choice - the only issue being that UK availability is poor as of the monitor's launch in early 2020.

Alternative option: The catchily named Philips Momentum 326M6VJRMB is a great alternative, offering the same core features - a 32-inch 4K image generated by a modern VA panel plus ambient lighting - at a significantly lower price. However, the Philips monitor doesn't include the console-friendly stand, charging ports and advanced OSD of the Asus monitor and is hard to find in the US. Ultimately, the choice may be determined by availability, but both monitors performed well in our testing across a range of PC and console games.

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 below 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!

Best 4K HDR gaming monitor: Acer Predator X27P

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

The Predator X27P 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 and RTX 2080 Ti, 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 TV-sized 4K gaming monitor: Asus XG438Q

xg438q
Size: 43-inch | Resolution: 3840x2160 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Features: FreeSync 2 HDR, DisplayHDR 600 | Panel: VA

The Asus XG438Q has been something of a revelation. This 43-inch display supports 4K at 120Hz with DisplayHDR 600 over DisplayPort 1.4, making it perfect for both slow-paced games with lots of eye candy (Assassin's Creed Odyssey) and fast-paced, competitive shooters (Call of Duty Warzone, Valorant). It's a proper monitor, not a TV, so input lag is extremely low and you have all of the usual genre-specific display modes and gaming-focused features, like a setting that will lighten dark areas to help you spot enemies lurking in corners.

At 43 inches, the Asus monitor is well suited for smaller living rooms, but also works on a desk if you're able to sit back a bit. The large size of the screen means that you can get away with 100 or 125 per cent scaling in Windows, in comparison with smaller 4K monitors which demand 150 per cent scaling or higher, so you can really make use of the massive amount of screen real estate that 4K provides.

The XG438Q uses a VA panel, which has a familiar set of strengths and weaknesses. Contrast is fantastic, rated at 4000:1, and peak brightness is a strong 600 nits, so both dark scenes and bright highlights in HDR content are well reproduced. Colour accuracy is also a strength, with 90 per cent of the DCI P3 gamut covered. That makes this monitor a reasonable choice for colour-sensitive work like video editing, with only the most modern IPS or OLED screens providing a better experience. The only real downsides to report are middling motion resolution - the quoted 4ms GtG pixel response time means fast action can sometimes appear a little blurry - and mediocre viewing angles. There's also no HDMI 2.1 here, so next-gen consoles won't be able to take advantage of this screen's higher refresh rate.

Even with these limitations in mind, the Asus ROG Strix XG438 remains a terrific choice - especially given that smaller monitors like the Predator X27P often cost far more!

Of course, if you want a very large monitor for playing PC or console games, modern 4K TVs are another great choice. The usual issues with input lag and connectivity have largely fallen by the wayside, particularly with the latest range of 4K 120Hz TVs that support the next-gen HDMI 2.1 standard, and you will often end up paying less for a TV than a monitor of the same size. For that reason, we recommend taking a look at our best 4K TVs for HDR gaming recommendations if you're interested in this category!

How to choose the best gaming monitor

Choosing the best gaming monitor is a simple process that starts with working out what sorts of games or other applications you plan to run.

Generally, fast-paced and competitive games like shooters, real-time strategy or racing games will benefit from higher refresh rate monitors, while slower-paced games like role-playing games and turn-based strategy games are best played on a higher-resolution monitor.

Resolution is normally given as the number of horizontal pixels (eg 1080p, 1440p), while refresh rates are given in Hz and correspond to how many times per second the screen is redrawn (eg 60Hz, 144Hz). For example, the standard specification for entry-level monitors is 1080p 60Hz (a 1920 pixel wide and 1080 pixel tall screen that updates 60 times per second). Meanwhile, the current gaming monitor sweet spot between price and performance is 1440p 144Hz (a 2560x1440 screen that updates 144 times a second). To learn more, read our guide to essential monitor terms here.

If you're not sure what resolution and refresh rate to choose, a good starting point is to identify the strength of the graphics card inside your PC using our GPU power ladder.

monitor
The most common monitor resolutions: 1080p, 1440p and 2160p (4K).

In broad strokes, an entry-level PC will be best used with a 1080p 60Hz monitor, while a mid-range PC can stretch to a higher resolution (1440p), a higher refresh rate (144Hz) or both. Finally, high-end PCs are a good fit for 4K. Bear in mind that the real situation is more complicated than this, as some games are more demanding to run than others and it's often possible to turn down graphical fidelity settings in exchange for a higher frame-rate.

For consoles, things are a little simpler. High refresh rate screens aren't supported, so you just need to choose between 1080p monitor and 4K. If you're on a base console - an Xbox One, Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 - then a 1080p monitor makes sense. If you've got an enhanced console such as the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro, then you should opt for a 4K monitor.

The current sweet spot between price and performance are monitors with a 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. In slower paced games and content creation, you'll appreciate the extra visual fidelity and screen real estate, while in faster esports titles the higher refresh rate will make hitting flicks or skill shots easier. That's why we've selected a monitor that fits this specification as the best gaming monitor overall. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives too!

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.

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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.

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