Best Gaming Monitor: Buyer’s Guide and Review

If you’re thinking about buying a new gaming monitor, then choosing the right one can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many different things to consider: size, resolution, panel type, refresh rate, G-Sync, Freesync, ports, and HDR. It’s a lot, but don’t worry, I’m going to explain to you everything you need to know.

Top 5 Best Gaming Monitor

ViewSonic XG2402 — Budget option

ViewSonic XG2402 - Best Gaming Monitor for people who shop on a budget

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The ASUS VG248QE used to be the best budget gaming monitor out there, but recently the ViewSonic XG2402 took it’s spot and managed to be the go-to monitor for people with a lower budget. This monitor is available in 2 different sizes: 24-inch and 27-inch, and both of them have the same specs. This model managed to be on our list because of its low price tag and feature rich specifications.

The ViewSonic XG2402 features a 1080p Full HD resolution with a one millisecond response time. Those two combined with the 144 Hertz refresh rate make it a great monitor for people that play fast paced FPS games such as CS:GO, Fortnite and more. Even though it lacks features such as G-Sync it still offers AMD FreeSync which provides smooth frame rates.

Another great feature that this monitor has to offer is the 22 levels black stabilization. It contains 22 levels of black stabilization controls for enhancing your visibility even in the darkest scenes in your games. This feature will give you an advantage in the game. As for connectivity options, it has 2 HDMI ports, a Display Port and a USB hub. That may not sound like a lot to you but, trust me, it’s enough to get the most out of your monitor.

ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ — Premium pick

ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ Gaming monitor

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Number 2 on our list is ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ, our choice for the best overall gaming monitor. The ASUS PG27UQ has a 27-inch display with a resolution of 3840 by 2160, giving you a detailed and sharp picture.

The integrated Aura Sync and ambient light sensor deliver excellent overall visual performance. This monitor’s Nvidia G-Sync gives you fantastic color contrast to improve your gaming experience. The Quantum Dot IPS display has a 99% Adobe RGB color gamut which means realistic colors and smooth gradation.

You’ll be able to tilt swivel and pivot this monitor to always get the best possible viewing angle. The height can also be adjusted, allowing you to maintain a comfortable view at all times.

There are numerous connectivity options, including Display Port 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0 hub. The local dimming features make start colors deep and vibrant for maximum visibility. This monitor can also be customized to your exact needs through several easy to navigate settings menus.

Read full review: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ

BenQ EX3501R — Best value

BenQ EX3501R

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Number 3 on our list is BenQ EX3501R. This monitor features a large 35-inch screen with an impressive 3440 by 1440 resolution. Its HDR technology gives a high level of brightness and perfect contrast for optimal image performance. You can adjust the height of this monitor up to 60 millimeters. The USB type-C connectivity will provide you with ultra-fast data transfer. You also get 2k video delivery with just one cable.

This monitor’s ergonomic design makes it easy to adjust the height and tilt for the best viewing angles. Intelligence Plus technology ensures that you are always comfortable. The AMD FreeSync provides you with smooth, flawless gameplay consistently. That means that you won’t have to deal with any annoying choppiness or broken frames.

It measures 17.48 x 8.82 x 32.83 inches with a weight of 21.28 lbs. It is a bit bulkier than some other models, so you`ll need to clear off some space on your desk for this monitor.

Dell D2719HGF

Dell D2719HGF

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The Dell D2719HGF has a 27-inch LED Full HD display with a native resolution of 1920 by 1080. It uses AMD sync technology to create a fluid frame rate to consistently smooth gaming. The LED backlighting makes this monitor energy-efficient so you can enjoy a great picture while saving a little on your utility bill.

One of the most important things about this model is it`s 400 nits brightness rating. It gives you a clear and sharp display that is great for gaming or streaming HD content online. 1000:1 contrast ratio means deep and accurate color reproduction. The two millisecond response time lets the pixels change colors quickly, which in turn means a better overall gaming experience.

You will have HDMI 2.0 and Display Port 1.2 inputs for optimal data transfer. It measures 24.15 x 17.35 x 7.74 inches. This monitor weighs a total of eleven 11.45 lbs. It isn’t huge, but it does take up a decent amount of space.

ASUS VG278Q

ASUS VG278Q

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This model has an impressive one millisecond and a beautiful 1920 by 1080 resolution. The 144-hertz refresh rate and game fast input technology ensures quick and smooth performance.

This monitor’s ASUS Eyecare technology keeps eyestrain and discomfort to a minimum even when you’ve been gaming for hours on end. You can adjust the height, tilt, swivel, and pivot to match your preference.

The G-Sync compatibility and Adaptive Sync eliminate the possibility of tearing. There are also exclusive game visual and game plus functions that deliver excellent color performance. These features will allow you to adjust the control exactly how you want.

There are numerous connectivity options, including Display Port 1.2, HDMI, and DVI. You will always have 2-watt stereo speakers that give you a full and rich sound. Measuring 24.4 x 2 x 14.3 inches, this monitor weighs just over 12 lbs. Well, it’s not the lightest model ever, but it’s also not bulk.

Panel Size & Resolution

Monitors can be anything from 20 up to 49-inches in size, but the two most common sizes for new displays are 24-inches and 27-inches. They provide a right amount of screen space for productivity and gaming as either a main or even a secondary monitor for your laptop.

Then we have resolution which refers to the number of horizontal pixels and vertical pixels on a screen. The higher the number, the sharper the image. Most 24-inch monitors will have a resolution of 1920 horizontal pixels by 1080 vertical pixels. That’s also known as Full HD.

27-inch monitors will have the same resolution, but because the screen is bigger, the number of pixels is spread over a larger area. That means the image can appear softer and fuzzier. The solution to this is to choose a higher resolution, such as 2560 x 1440 or Quad HD, which is standard on more expensive 27-inch models.

Next up, are 4K screens. These have a 3840 by 2160 resolution, so the image is very sharp and detailed. They’re particularly suitable for graphic designers or creative professionals. They are of course more expensive than Full or Quad HD monitors.

Gaming in 4K requires a seriously beefy PC. Unless you have a high-end graphics card like Nvidia RTX 2080 or better, then you probably won’t be able to use high settings in games and still get a consistent 60 FPS or above. You’ll also need to have the right display ports on your computer, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Design

Now, most monitors will be pretty boring to look at, but more expensive models can look pretty nice with brushed effect materials and metal stands. If you want a curved ultrawide then bear in mind, it won’t sit flush against a wall.

More important though is the stand. Some monitors offer height and tilt, and rotational adjustments, whereas others provide only limited movement. So if you do think you’ll be making some adjustments, then make sure you check the specs of the monitor. Also, if you’re planning to wall-mount it, then make sure that it is VESA mount compatible.

Screen Panel Type

This is pretty important as it will determine how good the image looks. There are four main types: TN, IPS, VA, and OLED, although this is still very rare, with the first two being the most common.

TN panels tend to be the most affordable but at the expense of image quality. TN offers fast response times, high refresh rates up to 240 Hz (although IPS monitors are catching up) and minimum input lag. On the downside, they do have the poorest contrast, lowest color accuracy, and the viewing angles aren’t perfect.
IPS screens are the next most popular after TN, and they provide the best overall quality with the improved brightness contrast, more accurate colors, and far better viewing angles than TN. Some manufacturers have their version of IPS. Samsung calls theirs PLS which they claim has some advantages, but for our purposes, I’m going to bomb all into the same IPS category.

IPS screens are best for design, photo, and video professionals who need image accuracy and quality. However, IPS panels tend to be a little more expensive and generally but not always, they have higher input lag. But they can also suffer from something called IPS glow where the backlight of the actual screen bleeds into the edges.

VA panels are quite a good compromise between TN and IPS, but there are fewer models available. These tend to have better colors, contrast, and view angles than TN but not quite as good as IPS. Although they do offer higher possible refresh rates, improved contrast, and potentially much higher brightness than IPS, which is why most HDR monitors do use VA panels.

However, they can suffer from color distortion and contrast loss when viewed from off angle. Also, the response time can be a bit higher, so with fast motion competitive games, you can see some slight blurring or ghosting.

The final type is OLED which is a great technology with the best contrast ratios, excellent response times and higher color accuracy but that said, they can suffer from temporary or even permanent image retention if the picture’s left on for an extended period. Also, they’re costly and also rare right now so I wouldn’t recommend one for the time being.

Refresh Rates

So we’ve already discussed on refresh rates, but what does it mean. Well, the refresh rate of a monitor is how many times the screen image is updated every second. The higher the number, the smoother the on-screen motion looks.

Refresh rates are measured in hertz, and most monitors will refresh 60 times per second. If you’re a gamer, you’ll prefer 100,120,144 or even 240-hertz refresh rate monitors for a much smoother and faster gaming experience.

But, a higher refresh rate usually also means higher cost and also remember that you’ll see the benefit of it if your PC has enough grunt to render all those frames every second. If you’ve only got a fairly average PC, you need getting like 80 or 90 frames per second. Then you’re not going to fully take advantage of that high refresh unless of course, you’re going to drop your graphics settings.

Adaptive Sync

So, for the smoothest possible gaming experience try to get a monitor that supports variable refresh rates or adaptive sync. That eliminates what’s knows as screen tearing. It has the effect of where part of the screen displays one frame and another part that’s slightly offset. It is especially obvious at lower frame rates below 60 FPS, and it can be pretty distracting.

An Adaptive Sync screen can synchronize its refresh rate to the exact number of frames coming from your graphics card, which means a cleaner, smoother motion. It also avoids the compromises of older workarounds like VSync, which would usually increase input lag and sometimes result in stuttering.

Response times/Input lag

Next up, we have response times and input lag. Now, sometimes these are confused as the same thing, but they are both important in their own way.

Response time is how quickly a pixel can change what it’s displaying. Usually from one shade of grey to another or greater gray response and it’s measured in milliseconds. Higher response time can result in more motion blur, which can be seen as ghosting those trails that follow fast-moving objects in games and videos.

Input lag, on the other hand, is not usually advertised by the manufacturer, but it is also worth checking, especially if you’re a gamer. It refers to the time between when the graphics card outputs an image signal and then when it’s displayed on the screen. For example, the time between clicking the mouse button and the gun firing in your game. So again, like response times, the less time this takes, the better.

Response time and input lag are often measured as a combined value, so anything under 50 milliseconds combined is pretty reasonable, although, under 11 is ideal.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Next up, we have High Dynamic Range or HDR enabled monitors, and these can look awesome. They have a higher contrast range between the brightest and the darkest parts of an image and a wider color range.

Games and programs that are optimized for HDR can look pretty impressive. Unfortunately, not all HDR is made equal, and an important measurement is the maximum brightness level of the monitor. We measure them in nits, and the highest score is better. So we have the display HDR standard which lists monitors under three tiers.

We have HDR 400, which gives you 400 minutes of brightness, and this is considered to be the baseline. Then you have HDR 600 and premium HDR 1000, 4000. But you can also find panels that are just listed as HDR 10 which refers to the 10-bit color depth, but they can have varying degrees of brightness.

Many people say that you “don’t get true HDR” unless you have 1000 nits and 10-bit color depth and anything less is fake. Well, be prepared to pay a lot of money if you want both of those in a PC monitor. Now, generally, VA panels offer the best HDR, and some of the high-end models will use quantum dot filters like Samsung TVs to increase the brightness further. OLED monitors are also great for HDR but given their cost and the scarcity I can`t recommend them right now.

Colors

Throughout this buying guide, I’ve been saying how TN, IPS, and VA panels all offered slightly different color accuracies. That can be measured against a range of color gamuts such as SRGB, Adobe RGB, and also DCI-P3. The closer the monitor is to match 100% of that color gamut, the more color accurate it is.

What can influence that is the type of panel used and also the color depth is at 6 bit 8-bit or 10 bit. Pretty much, everyone should avoid 6-bit. 8-bit is excellent for almost everyone, but if you are a professional color calibrator or photo editor, then you may want to look for a 10-bit panel.

Although you will pay more for that but also be careful because a lot of technical specs will suggest a monitor is 10 bit, but actually it’s only 8-bit and uses a technology called FRC to simulate that extra color artificially. So it’s not true native 10-bit, although it will be a bit of an improvement and that bit color depth indicates how many shades of color that monitor can display. But then how accurate that is as I say we test against things as SRGB and Adobe RGB.

Generally, for the average user, I would look for anything that’s over 90% SRGB and over 70% Adobe RGB. Although of course, the higher the percentage, the more accurate it will be.

Connections

The vast majority of new monitors will use an HDMI 2.0, Display Port 1.2 or 1.4 or USB Type-C as their main connector. Many will have both HDMI and Display Port connection, and with more expensive and newer models also offering Type-C.

You will need to check your graphics card or your laptop ports to see which connection type to use. If like me you’re outputting from your graphics card, then generally I would recommend using Display Port 1.2. It supports high refresh rates and 4K at 60 hertz, and the Display Port 1.4 supports up to 8K. And also we do have to consider HDMI 2.1 which is coming soon, and it’s going to offer even more bandwidth, higher resolutions and higher frame rates, but right now that is very very rare.

We also do have USB C ports which you’ll find on newer graphics cards and laptops. Some type C ports are also Thunderbolt 3 enabled, which is an even higher band technology. It means you can output to multiple high-resolution displays.

 

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