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Published May 20, 2022 7:00 PM

With TV and monitor makers focused squarely on 4K screens, it’s easy to forget 1080p is still the baseline resolution for PC gaming in 2022. Using a monitor that maxes out at this tried-and-true resolution, players get stability and high frame rates at a more affordable price. While it may not allow for the most immersive experience, the best 1080p gaming monitors are exactly what you want for playing fast-paced competitive games like Fortnite, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Apex Legends.

How we picked the best 1080p gaming monitors

To pick the best 1080p gaming monitors, we relied on my mix of hands-on testing, user recommendations, and professional reviews. We focused on the core specifications we look for in gaming monitors, including resolution, frame rate, connection options, and price.

As a critic covering games and gaming peripherals, I’ve written about computing and monitors for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and NBC Select. I’ve researched, tested, and reviewed dozens of gaming monitors, and have a strong sense of which specs are important, and which are not.

What to consider before buying a 1080p gaming monitor

It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds when comparing monitors. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of intricate technical specifications. Meanwhile, poorly named models with long strings of letters and numbers make it hard to distinguish between various models. We’re narrowing things down to a single resolution, but there are still plenty of qualities that you’ll want to keep an eye on.

Resolution and size

Most people think of screen size and resolution as two unrelated monitor specs, but it makes sense to think of them as linked. Resolution indicates the number of pixels your monitor can show: All things being equal, the higher the resolution, the sharper and more detailed your image will be. As your screen gets bigger, though, you’ll need more pixels to achieve the same level of pixel density and, by extension, detail.

We’re focusing on a single resolution in this list: 1920 x1080 pixels, more commonly called 1080p or “Full HD.” Right now, 1080p is widely considered the baseline resolution for modern monitors. That said, it’s a high floor: Unless you’re playing AAA games on a high-end gaming PC or new console, 1080p usually looks pretty good.

That said, it looks a lot better when on a smaller display. Our usual recommendation for balancing size and resolution is to avoid going over 1080p with any monitor smaller than 27 inches, upgrade to 1440p for a 27-inch monitor, and spring for 4K with a 32-inch monitor or larger. We’ve included some 27-inch panels on this list because they are still great monitors and cheaper than their high-res counterparts, but we think you should at least consider springing for a 1440p display if you have your heart set on that size.

Refresh rate

Refresh rate, measured in Hertz (Hz), refers to the number of times your monitor can draw a new image every second. Refresh rate is especially important for gaming since your monitor’s refresh rate effectively sets your maximum frame rate. In competitive circles, a high refresh rate may take priority over resolution: In fast-paced competitive games like Fortnite or Apex Legends, having the smoothest, fastest frame rate can give you a competitive edge. 

In general, we recommend a refresh rate no lower than 144Hz for gaming monitors. That goes double for 1080p monitors since the lower resolution opens the door for esports-grade displays with 240Hz-360Hz refresh rates.

Response time

Every computer you use has a slight delay between input and output. While most of this delay has to do with processing time, some of it can be attributed to your screen. Response time measures the amount of input lag generated by your display.

Most gaming monitors advertise a very low response time, usually 1 millisecond or less. As with frame rate, competitive players will want the lowest possible response time since even a single frame can be consequential. Most of the monitors we recommend have a 1ms response time or lower.

Panel type

The physical screen of a monitor, the display panel, comes in three different types: Twisted Nematic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA), or In-Plane Switching (IPS). Without getting too technical, each one has strengths and weaknesses, but most of our recommendations feature an IPS panel. IPS panels do not create the darkest blacks but do offer impressive colors at fast speeds.

Variable refresh rate

Variable refresh rate is a display feature that allows your monitor to sync its refresh rate with the output of the PC or console to which it is connected. Using it delivers smooth images devoid of any hiccups like screen tearing or visual artifacting.

Gaming monitors rely on one of two variable refresh rate formats, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. These technologies, particularly G-Sync, were designed to pair with graphics cards made by Nvidia and AMD, respectively. That said, there is an increasing amount of cross-compatibility between the two.

Make sure you know whether a monitor supports variable refresh rates and, if so, whether it features G-Sync or FreeSync. We generally recommend getting a G-Sync monitor if you use an Nvidia graphics card.

The best 1080p gaming monitors: Reviews & Recommendations

The best 1080p gaming monitors come from a wide variety of name-brand peripheral manufacturers, including Dell, ASUS, Acer, ViewSonic, Gigabyte, and more. Our elections range from 24 inches to 27 inches and produce a smooth, detailed image. Whether you’re focused on 1080p monitors to keep costs down, to push frame rate up, or simply because that’s what makes sense for your PC, there’s an option on this list for you.

Best overall: ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM

Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: A 280Hz display combined with fast response times and a highly adjustable stand make this monitor an easy recommendation.

Specs

  • Size: 27 inches
  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Refresh rate: 280Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 (2), DisplayPort 1.2, audio out
  • Ergonomics: Height adjustable, swivel, pivot, tilt, VESA mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: NVIDIA G-Sync compatible
  • HDR: HDR 400

Pros

  • 280Hz refresh rate
  • G-Sync compatible
  • Highly-adjustable stand

Cons

  • Weak HDR

This ASUS TUF monitor comes in many configurations, but we found the 27-inch VG279QM to be one of the best cheap gaming monitors, whether you’re interested in playing in 1080p or 1440p.

This gaming monitor has everything you could want from a 1080p display. It supports a whopping 280Hz refresh rate, a fast 1ms response time, and NVIDIA G-Sync. Slap those specs on a large 27-inch panel, and you can enjoy a smooth, detailed image in all your favorite games.

It also has a comparatively adjustable stand, which enables around 5 inches of adjustable height alongside ample swivel, tilt, and pivot, even fully vertical portrait orientation.

While it could be a bit brighter, the ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM is a top choice for most gamers looking to play in 1080p. And if you’re looking to go for a smaller screen to optimize for performance, the 24.5-inch model gets the job done just as well.

Best premium: ViewSonic Elite XG270

ViewSonic

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Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: The XG270 provides stable and smooth performance at a lightning-fast refresh rate.

Specs

  • Size: 27 inches
  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 (2), DisplayPort (1.2), USB-A 3.1 (3), audio out
  • Ergonomics: Height adjustable, swivel, pivot, tilt, VESA mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: NVIDIA G-Sync compatible, FreeSync
  • HDR: HDR 10

Pros

  • Great picture quality
  • Stable refresh rate and response times
  • Highly adjustable

Cons

  • Expensive

For gamers with a little extra cash to spend, the ViewSonic Elite XG270 offers excellent picture quality and some premium features absent from most of the competition.

It peaks at a blazingly fast 240Hz refresh rate, overkill for most games outside of select esports titles. What’s more impressive is the inclusion of HDR10, a rarity in 1080p screens.

While the screen is excellent, the build quality is what sets this monitor apart. Ergonomics are strong, with ample height, swivel, pivot, and tilt adjustability. On the rear, built-in cable management and RGB lighting offer extra convenience and style. Underneath, three USB-A ports free up connectivity. And, shockingly, the 3-watt built-in speakers don’t sound half bad.

All those bells and whistles drive the price of the XG270 up to a comparatively pricey $510. If you’re only using this monitor to play console games, and definitely don’t need a higher refresh rate, the 24-inch, 144Hz ViewSonic Elite XG240R costs substantially less at $286.99.

Best high-refresh-rate monitor: Dell Alienware AW2521H

Alienware

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Why it made the cut: If you want the highest possible refresh rate, the Dell Alienware AW2521H is the way to go.

Specs

  • Size: 24.5 inches
  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Refresh rate: 360Hz
  • Response time: 1ms
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 (2), DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.2 with upstream, USB 3.2 with battery charging, USB 3.2 (3), headphone out, audio out
  • Ergonomics: Height adjustable, pivot, swivel, tilt, VESA mountable, 
  • Variable refresh rate: NVIDIA G-Sync
  • HDR: HDR 10 

Pros

  • Incredible refresh rate
  • Great colors out of the box
  • Excellent connectivity

Cons

  • No built-in speakers
  • Expensive

Like an 8K TV, a 360Hz monitor isn’t something anyone really needs. Even jumping from 144Hz to 240Hz delivers diminishing returns. Buying a 300Hz or even 360Hz monitor is more of a flex than anything else. You buy one so you can say you have one. 360Hz is the fastest refresh rate you can find right now so this is a top-of-the-line display in its own specific way.

In theory, displays like the Alienware AW2521H should enhance your experience in shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where having the fastest-possible frame rate is essential. In our experience, the advantage may provide an imperceivable boost, but it’s overkill for most players.

That said, Alienware AW2521H has a lot going for it beyond its framerate. You’ll find plenty of bells and whistles, including G-Sync and DisplayPort 1.4 support. The build itself is sturdy, with little wobble and good adjustability. And, of course, it has a unique, sci-fi-minded sense of style like most Alienware gear.

Best ultrawide: Sceptre C305B-200UN1 

Sceptre

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: As an affordable entry-point into the world of ultrawide gaming, the Sceptre C3005B-200UN1 stands out for its high refresh rate and slim design.

Specs

  • Size: 30 inches
  • Native resolution: 2560 x 1080
  • Panel type: VA
  • Refresh rate: 200Hz
  • Response time: 5ms
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4 (2), audio out
  • Ergonomics: Tilt, VESA mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: AMD FreeSync
  • HDR: HDR 400

Pros

  • Immersive 21:9 aspect ratio
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not very adjustable
  • Low brightness

Most of the best ultrawide gaming monitors are very large and support resolutions well above 1080p. The 30-inch Sceptre C305-200UN1 offers a smaller, budget-conscious ultrawide option with a resolution that roughly translates to a Full HD picture.

Curved ultrawide monitors provide an immersive, encompassing experience that stretches to the outer edges of your eye line. Atmospheric games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Death Stranding make the Sceptre’s 30-inch display and wide 21:9 aspect ratio really shine.

VA panels are not known for having excellent response times when compared to TN and IPS. As such, we found utilizing AMD’s FreeSync essential to reducing any blurring or ghosting effects. Paired with the HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, the Sceptre C305B-200UN1 is capable of a smooth, stable picture.

Best budget: Acer Nitro XV1 (XV241Y Xbmiiprx)

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: By paring down extraneous features, the Acer Nitro XV1 offers premium performance at a budget price point.

Specs

  • Size: 23.8 inches
  • Native resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • Response time: 0.5ms
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 (2), DisplayPort 1.2, audio out
  • Ergonomics: Height adjustable, pivot, swivel, tilt, VESA mountable
  • Variable refresh rate: AMD FreeSync
  • HDR: HDR 400

Pros

  • Affordable
  • High, overclockable refresh rate
  • Unlimited swivel

Cons

  • Poor color accuracy

Pared down compared to our other top picks, the Acer Nitro XV1 is focused on refresh rate, response time, and affordability. It delivers high performance, topping out at a 240Hz refresh rate, which can be overclocked to 270Hz, and a minuscule 0.5ms response time. With a sub-$250 price tag, this monitor brings impressive performance for PC players on a budget.

FAQs

Q: Can 1080p run 144Hz?

Absolutely. 1080p monitors are capable of very high refresh rates. Barring special exceptions, you should only buy a 1080p gaming monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate or higher.

Q: Is 1080p better than 4K for gaming?

No. 1080p and 4K both refer to monitor resolutions—1920 x 1080 and 3840 x 2160, respectively. A 4K display will have a higher concentration of pixels than a 1080p display that’s the same size, which translates to a sharper, more detailed image.
That said, there are reasons to pick a 1080p monitor over one that’s 4K. First and foremost, 4K is still a luxury in the PC display world, so they tend to be very expensive. Second, outputting a picture in 4K puts a pretty hard cap on refresh rate: Many 4K monitors can only handle a 60Hz-120Hz refresh rate, whereas most of our 1080p selections can go up to 240Hz or even 360Hz.
If you have a large budget, 4K offers much richer image quality. For affordable performance, however, 1080p is the way to go.

Q: Is 1440p worth it over 1080p for gaming?

Without any other details, yes. 1440p is a higher resolution than 1080p, so games will look sharper on a 1440p monitor, assuming you have a PC that can handle it. 1440p monitors strike a great middle-ground between the affordability of 1080p and the rich image quality of 4K, especially on a 27- or 32-inch monitor.

Final thoughts on the best 1080p gaming monitors

The best 1080p gaming monitors offer an affordable way to enjoy a smooth, responsive screen fit for fast-paced games with high frame rates. While not as richly detailed as 1440p and 4K options, 1080p monitors strike a great balance between size, cost, and performance. PC gamers who value performance over graphics should feel right at home using our recommended 1080p monitors.

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