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. Read the guide below to get started, or scroll on to our best gaming monitor 2020 recommendations.
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.
Above: the three most common monitor resolutions: 1080p, 1440p and 4K. Note that 3840x2160 (4K) requires drawing four times as many pixels as 1080p, making it considerably more challenging for even advanced graphics cards.
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 can be updated (eg 60Hz, 144Hz). For example, the standard specification for monitors and TVs is 1080p 60Hz (a 1920x1080 screen that updates 60 times per second), while the current 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.
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.
Without further ado, let's get into the recommendations - either click the links below to skip ahead, or keep scrolling to read on!
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:
- Best value 1440p monitor
- Best gaming monitor overall
- Best gaming monitor runner-up
- Best value ultrawide monitor
- Best ultrawide gaming monitor
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 4K gaming monitor overall
- Best 4K monitor for Xbox One X/PS4 Pro
- Best 4K 144Hz monitor
- Best 4K HDR gaming monitor
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, starting with a great 1080p 60Hz pick then moving onto faster monitors better suited for competitive gaming.
Best cheap gaming monitor: BenQ Zowie RL2455
If you want a good monitor for gaming on PC or console, then a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 60Hz is the natural place to start. We recommend the BenQ Zowie RL2455 as it offers extremely low input lag, good motion handling 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 144Hz monitor: AOC 24G2U / 24G2
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 FreeSync monitor: Samsung CRG5
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 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
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 at under £350. 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
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
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 value ultrawide monitor: AOC CU34G2X
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
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
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 slightly older VG270K as the VG280K doesn't appear to yet be available. Also consider the cheaper BenQ EL2870U, which uses a less colour-accurate TN panel, and our previous pick the LG 27UK650-W, which is similar to the Acer monitor but is normally more expensive.
Best Xbox One X and PS4 Pro monitor: Asus CG32UQ
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
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
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.
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.