BY: Carsen Joenk
Whether you are new to gaming or a well-versed player, you probably know that your gaming monitor has a big effect on your overall experience. How are you supposed to execute a tactical strike when your screen is lagging and the picture is blurry? The best gaming monitor should last for years; there is a good chance it will live long after some of your other gaming equipment, which is why it’s so important to find the one that’s right for you. You want to make sure you are getting a monitor that is suitable for any upgraded graphics cards you might be looking to purchase, one that fits your space and has the best image quality. Think about what you value more, response times, color, contrast?
There are a few more things to keep in mind, which is why we have created this comprehensive shopping guide. We’ll go over what you need to know about monitor specs, brands, and budget picks to set you up for success.
- Best gaming monitor display: Gigabyte FI27Q-P
- Best 4K gaming monitor: LG 27GN950-B 27 Inch UHD Nano IPS Display Ultragear Gaming Monitor
- Best 16:9 gaming monitor: The Razer Raptor
- Best gaming monitor refresh rate: BenQ ZOWIE XL2731
- Best curved gaming monitor: Alienware AW3420DW
- Budget pick gaming monitor: Sceptre E248W-19203R and Acer SB220Q
What to look for when buying the best gaming monitor
When it comes to the best gaming monitor, there are a few things to consider before clicking “add to cart.” You’ll want to start your search with an idea of how large you want your display to be if you want a flat or curved screen, and what the overall design should look like. Additionally, you should feel confident knowing what you’re looking for when checking out monitor specs like resolution, refresh rate, and aspect ratio. We will break down all of these aspects and suggest some of the best gaming monitors on the market that suit each gamer’s needs.
Monitor display size
Many PC gamers believe that bigger is better, but that isn’t always the case, especially if you need to maximize desktop space. Great monitors can be found at anywhere between 24-32 inches; smaller than that you might start to sacrifice resolution, larger and you’ll lose 4k options, plus some games won’t be formatted to fit the necessary aspect ratio so you’ll run into thick black bars on the sides. While 24-25 inches might seem to be a little on the small side there are some pros: the entire display will be able to sit comfortably in your visual field, so you won’t need to glance away to read maps or alerts. Plus, smaller displays often have a high pixel density (at 1080p) so images and text are easy to read and decipher.
A 27-inch display is the standard size we recommend. It’s big enough to give you an extraordinary, rich visual display that can present multiple windows at once. It can achieve a high frame rate but the lower pixel density might make productivity tasks less than ideal; this shouldn’t be a problem for most gamers, especially those playing fast-paced games. A larger display between 28-34 inches is great for atmospheric games that provide a rich visual landscape with less reliance on textual information. The pixel density typically rests at 1440p which is nice and high allowing your graphics card to achieve a high frame rate. With a monitor this size, you’re going to want to sit back a little because getting too close can make the sides appear washed out and the image slightly pixelated. Think about how much distance you need and if your desk space can accommodate that.
Gaming monitor resolution
Your gaming monitor’s resolution determines its ability to display a distinct number of pixels. The more pixels your screen can handle, the clearer the image. The resolution is often directly related to the size of your screen, but there can be some overlap between resolution and display. Full HD monitors/1080p (1920 x 1080) is one of the most common resolutions for gaming. The images are crisp and clear; think of most laptop screens. Quad HD monitors or 2K 1440p (2560 x 1440) are a step up from Full HD and they won’t overload your computer. This resolution is great for gamers looking for more than your standard picture. Ultra HD or 4K 2160p (3840 x 2160) is the latest and greatest when it comes to gaming displays. While the visuals provided by a 4K resolution are spectacular, they are not cheap nor will they work for every kind of gamer.
You should be an avid PC gamer with a really strong graphics card and a 500 to 750-watt power source because this resolution can be quite taxing on your system. It is clear that 4K is definitely the future of gaming, soon to be the standard resolution, but it might be worth waiting for the world to catch up before investing in this resolution in order to get the most from a 4K display. In general, we suggest sticking with a 2K monitor unless you fit the above description.
Aspect ratio of the monitor
Aspect ratio refers to the relationship between a screen’s width and height. A typical ratio for any gaming monitor is 16:9, this is true for Full HD and Quad HD monitors. If you are going for a larger display that might include 4K resolution, you’ll most likely want a monitor with a 21:9 aspect ratio, which means that it’s ultrawide. If you are hoping for something that doubles as a television, really love a larger screen, or you want to expand your field of view then a 21:9 could be right for you. A wider screen will typically support more windows and could give you an advantage in various multiplayer games. But an ultrawide monitor can have its drawbacks, depending on the kind of gaming you do.
There are some games that can’t support this ratio and some games, like Overwatch, Starcraft II, and Valorant, which automatically reject ultrawide support to eliminate said advantage. If you are looking for a second-hand monitor or if you find an old one in your attic you might be looking at a display that has a 4:3 aspect ratio. This is how older TVs and computers were structured and they look more like a square. This ratio is the best to buy if you are playing old-school games created prior to 2005. It may also be better for those who suffer from motion sickness while playing.
Refresh rate/Response time
Refresh rate and response time are hugely important when it comes to finding the best gaming monitor. A refresh rate tells you how many images your monitor is able to display per second and is expressed in hertz (hz). This is hugely important in gaming because of the constant motion most games employ. The bigger the refresh rate, the better and smoother the image. There are four relatively common refresh rates, 60hz, 75hz, 144hz, and 240hz. 240hz is typically reserved for professional gamers and e-athletes. 60hz is pretty unimpressive but can work well for novice gamers.
Typically, most gamers use a monitor with a refresh rate of 75hz or 144hz. 75hz will work well for casual gamers who are looking for something less expensive or who want to beef up other features first, like pixel density. A monitor with a refresh rate of 144hz is really where it’s at when it comes to avid gamers who are hoping to elevate their setup. Going for a monitor with this refresh rate means you’ll also want a graphics card that produces 144 frames per second (fps) as well as syncing technology like G-sync to guarantee a perfectly smooth image.
In addition to a big refresh rate, you want to find a monitor with a short response time. Response time measures how quickly the monitor can change a pixel from black to white (or through shades of gray depending on the monitor type). A longer response time means more motion blur, which can really mess up gameplay. The maximum time most gamers would deem permissible is 5ms (milliseconds) and many monitors operate at 1ms. The takeaway? Look for a monitor with a big refresh rate and short response time for the best gaming experience.
Do you want a curved monitor for gaming?
A popular debate amongst gamers is whether or not a curved monitor provides the best gaming experience. A curved monitor can make things feel more immersive, create a sense of peripheral vision, and also give you an expanded field of view, which can be helpful for many games. These monitors are wide and typically need to be 30 inches long at minimum, though there are a few brands that make 24-inch models. The smaller the screen, the less effective the curvature can be.
Curvature is measured using the radius in millimeters and listed most commonly as 1800R, 3000R, or 4000R. A lower number means a greater curve. This number also correlates to the optimal viewing distance, it is best to view a 1800R monitor roughly 1.8 meters away. Additionally, it is reported that, if used properly, a curved monitor can be better for your overall eye health; it makes it so that any image is equidistant from your eyes, requiring less work and adjustments resulting in reduced eye strain.
We think a curved monitor is a great option for those with more desk space and a little more money to spare. It isn’t worth it, in our opinion, to go for a curved display if you need to go small. You should also take into consideration how flexible your lighting is. Curved monitors are known to be susceptible to glare, so if you are only working with permanent lighting fixtures, it might be safer to go with a flat-screen. We suggest finding a few screens that fulfill the resolution refresh rate, and response time requirements first, then seeing if there is an option to upgrade with a curved screen.
Best gaming monitor display: Gigabyte FI27Q-P
Entertainment with all the colors of the wind. Amazon
The FI27Q-P from Gigabyte is a beautiful 27-inch, Quality HD gaming monitor. It has a 165hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a 2560 x 1440 IPS panel. It is Freesync and G-sync compatible with Cinematic Grade 95% DCI-P3 Color Accuracy, and 10 Bit (8 Bit+FRC) Color Depth. These features make for great contrast, color saturation, and a generally stunning picture. It’s mounted on an ergonomic stand and equipped with a four-way swivel joint that allows users to tilt and pan the screen with ease. The overall build is stable, no wobbling, with room to connect analog audio, 3 USB 3.0 devices, two HDMI devices, and includes one DisplayPort 1.2.
Best 4k gaming monitor: LG 27GN950-B 27 Inch UHD Nano IPS Display Ultragear Gaming Monitor
LG 27 Inch UHD Nano IPS Display Ultragear Gaming
A blur-free display to help you level up. Amazon
If you’re rocking a high-end graphics card and you are all stocked up on high-wattage power sources then check out the LG Ultragear Gaming Monitor—one of the best 4k gaming monitor options on the market. This 27-inch 4K screen has a nano IPS display, 144hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and is NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. This LG monitor is unbelievably fast and smooth. Not only does it function at incredibly high speeds without any choppiness or smearing, but it also maintains sharp detail with bold colors and dynamic contrast.
Best 16:9 gaming monitor: The Razer Raptor
The Razor Raptor
A beautiful image every time you turn it on. Amazon
While there isn’t necessarily one best monitor for gaming that rules them all when it comes to aspect ratio (remember there are only three options) we want to take this opportunity to recommend another one of our favorites: the Razer Raptor. This Razer monitor is an unbelievable for gaming with any setup. It measures 27 inches with an IPS grade display, 2560 x 1440 resolution, 1ms response time, and 144hz refresh rate. The visuals are breathtaking with 95% DCI-P3 color Gamut and HDR400 support and NVIDIA G-Sync Compatibility. The build also includes built-in cable management, an ultra-thin bezel design, adjustable height, and easy access to inputs/outputs.
Best gaming monitor refresh rate: BenQ ZOWIE XL2731
BenQ ZOWIE XL2731
Great price, great results, no lag time. Amazon
Don’t shell out a ton of money to get a gaming monitor with a great refresh rate and response time. The BenQ ZOWIE XL2731 is a 27-inch TN panel display with a 1ms response time and 144hz refresh rate. This BenQ monitor has adjustable color features that allow you to add a preferred saturation level, a useful tool for FPS games, and includes a “black eQualizer” that can increase visibility during dark scenes. Easily adjust the height of the stand and tilt of the screen for even more customizable play.
Best curved gaming monitor: Alienware AW3420DW
Let the game pull you in with this immersive display. Amazon
This 34-inch curved gaming monitor is a sight to behold. With a 1900R curve, 21:9 aspect ratio, 3440×1440 resolution, 120hz refresh rate, and 2ms response time you’ll be awed by the display and performance of this Alienware monitor. It can reproduce 127.2% of the sRGB color gamut (98% DCI-P3 color coverage) so your games appear exactly as designed. It will be hard to take your eyes off the screen. We guarantee you’ll feel fully immersed in whatever world you’re entering with the best curved monitor for gaming.
Brands to Know
Some of the leading brands in gaming monitors are BenQ, Alienware, and LG. These companies are dedicated to making the best gaming monitors on the market. They consistently use new technology to improve their specs and subsequently gamer’s experiences.
BenQ is a Taiwanese corporation founded in 1984 as a part of Acer. Eventually, they branched out in 2001 to develop their own brand. BenQ stands for “Bringing Enjoyment ‘N’ Quality to Life.’’ They make top-of-the-line consumer electronic products like digital projectors, cameras, and interactive displays. Beyond that, they make LCD monitors for business, entertainment, and gaming.
Alienware was founded in 1996 by Nelson Gonzalez and Alex Aguila. The two guys with an affinity for the X-Files sought to make desktop computers, notebooks, and PC gaming consoles. Alienware was acquired by Dell in 2006 and has become their premier gaming branding. They produce mice, monitors, keyboards, headsets, and other gaming accessories.
LG was established in 1983 as a result of a merger between a plastics and electronics company in South Korea. While the corporation has manufactured varying products over the years including toothpaste, radios, and laundry detergents, it is now famous for selling top-quality mobile devices, home appliances, televisions, monitors, and soundbars, and more.
Gaming Equipment for Under $100
To be perfectly honest, it’s incredibly difficult to find a great gaming monitor for under $50. In fact, it’s hard to find one that we feel even qualifies as good. If you are on a tight budget and you don’t have any time to save up, we suggest a refurbished monitor. Refurbished monitors have been typically sold back to retailers and are in good to great condition. Even then, finding a display under $50 can be tricky. If you are able to boost your budget a little, there are some solid options just under the $100 mark. You might still miss out on some features, but monitors like the Sceptre E248W-19203R and Acer SB220Q will do the trick for casual gamers who don’t demand a lot from their displays.
You’re ready to shop for the best gaming monitor
The best gaming monitor is designed to fit your space, enhance your gaming experience, and elevate the visuals on your favorite games. As long as you feel confident about the way you hope to play and the setup that you want, we feel confident you’ll be able to find the perfect fit. Don’t skimp on scoping out the specs and stick to your goals, even if that means waiting a little bit more time to save. The next best monitor for gaming is always right around the corner, so make sure you are super satisfied with your choice.
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