Whether you’re a serious PC gamer or a coincidental subsequently-hours warrior, your hardware can be the pivot point between victory and defeat. To become the most out of the latest first-person shooter (FPS), sports, racing, and other fast-activeness games, you’ll non only need a gaming PC with a powerful graphics card, but also a monitor that can render the action without subjecting you to blurred images, flicker, tearing, and other motion artifacts.
In this guide, we’ll help yous choose a display that gives you an border over your opponents while delivering a smooth, immersive gaming experience. These are the factors to consider when choosing a gaming monitor. Read on for those, as well as our current favorites derived from testing.
Console Size and Resolution
When it comes to gaming monitors, bigger is well-nigh always improve. That said, in some select cases y’all’ll want to keep the size of your monitor at 27 inches or under.
If you lot’ve watched whatsoever esports tournaments over the by few years, you lot’ve probably noticed that all the players are playing on screens smaller than that size. (A 24.5-incher seems to be the sugariness spot, especially in esports-focused models like the Asus ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN.) Why? Well, if you’re playing a highly competitive title such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends, having a smaller screen ways yous tin can keep the monitor closer to your eyes while as well keeping more than of the frame in view. Being able to meet every chemical element on the screen at in one case is a vital advantage in a competitive multiplayer surroundings. The larger yous go in screen size, the more than hard it is to proceed every enemy combatant in your peripheral vision.
If y’all have the room and don’t care and so much about the competitive gaming world, though, a larger screen provides plenty of space for your onscreen characters to stretch out and offers the opportunity to go beyond full high definition. Many newer models are Wide Quad High-Definition (WQHD) monitors with maximum resolutions of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels (too dubbed “1440p”). The college pixel count provides much sharper imagery than full HD, but you’ll need a reasonably powerful graphics engine to play the latest games at the college resolution, especially if you have all the furnishings enabled.
This holds double for 4K Ultra-High Definition (UHD) monitors, with a resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, such as the Acer Predator XB3. If desk space is an issue, there are plenty of 24-inch monitors out there, but with these, you’ll be limited in most cases to a i,920-past-1,080-pixel resolution.
If you have lots of space, and money is no object, even bigger monitors are bachelor. A thirty-inch 4K UHD monitor will evangelize a stunning motion picture with amazing resolution; yous can get all out with a 34-inch ultrawide monitor with or without a curved panel; or you can pick up something larger nevertheless. (Nosotros’ve tested displays up to 65 inches.)
Ultrawide monitors typically take a 21:9 aspect ratio (as opposed to the usual xvi:9) and offer a much wider field of view than a standard widescreen monitor, just they take up a lot of room. A curved-console ultrawide monitor has enough of a curve to make you feel a bit closer to the activity, and in some games volition also give you lot a competitive edge.
Battle-royale titles similar PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Apex Legends both support full 21:9 resolution. What this ways: Rather than simply squashing and stretching the prototype like some games do, these games (and others that natively support 21:ix) will actually brandish more than of the battleground on either side of the screen than you would see on a 16:9 monitor. Boxing-royale players in particular volition benefit from this increased existent estate. A player on a sixteen:nine panel may non see an enemy continuing on a loma way to the right in the periphery, but a 21:9 actor might exist able to spot the danger without having to plow their character.
You’ll see several master monitor-panel technologies used in various gaming monitors, and each has its pluses and minuses.
Twisted nematic (TN) panels are the most affordable and are popular amongst gamers because they offer fast pixel response times and refresh rates. Their biggest drawback? They are decumbent to color shifting when viewed from an angle.
Vertical alignment (VA) screens are known for their high native contrast ratios, robust colors, and ability to brandish deep blacks, but they are also known to produce noticeable ghosting furnishings, which can hurt gaming functioning. (It depends on the model, and that is where reviews come in.)
In-aeroplane switching (IPS) panels provide the all-time all-around color quality, strong grayscale functioning, and wide viewing angles, but they tin can’t lucifer the pixel response of TN panels and are subject to motion artifacts. They’re the best full general-use panel type, only discriminating gamers or competitive esports types may take result with IPS. This changed in 2019, though, when LG developed a new IPS panel type (dubbed “Nano IPS” or “Fast IPS” depending on the manufacturer) that claims 1-millisecond greyness-to-grayness response time with overdrive turned on. These panels use a thin layer of nanoparticles applied to the display’s backlight that enables wider color-gamut coverage and reduces response times, a philharmonic that now makes them the dominant choice for nigh every midrange and premium gaming monitor. If you lot have room in your upkeep, Nano/Fast IPS-based monitors currently offer the best balance of gaming performance to epitome quality.
Organic light-emitting diode/Quantum Dot OLED (OLED, QD-OLED) panels are the latest to arrive to the gaming-monitor party, and also 1 of the most anticipated. OLED has been a staple in televisions since roughly 2018 or so, but it wasn’t until three years later in 2021 when LG’s first OLED Television set/monitor hybrids in its “C” line first gained traction. That panel also fabricated information technology into the Alienware 55 OLED, a monitor we marked down for its minimal brightness and overall HDR performance. Most recently, though, Samsung spiced up the competition with the assistance of Dell, launching the Editors’ Choice-winning Alienware 34 QD-OLED. This ultrawide, curved, QD-OLED panel was both less expensive and faster than the Alienware 55, and brings QD-OLED into the gaming-console conversation right out of the gate.
Considering TN, VA, and IPS each has its own such traits, we recommend looking at samples of each at your local electronics mega-mart, if possible, to get an idea of the “feel” and which specific compromises matter the least to you. Besides bear in listen that not all panels of a given blazon are created equal, so seeing the actual display before yous in person, if possible, is always skillful.
Pixel Response, Input Lag, and Refresh Rate
Gaming monitors should accept a fast pixel response time and a high refresh rate, the latter commensurate with the frame rates your PC can button. (More than on that in a moment.)
The well-nigh commonly used pixel response spec is gray-to-grey, which is measured in milliseconds (ms) and signifies the time it takes a pixel to transition from ane shade of gray to another. (A few companies even so utilize the older blackness-to-white measurement.) A depression pixel response will assist eliminate the smearing of moving images and provide a smoother overall picture than a higher pixel response. A gray-to-gray response of 2ms or less is ideal, but even a 4ms gray-to-gray response is typically adequate for single-player gaming.
Input lag is another important gene to consider when buying your next gaming monitor, peculiarly for competitive players. Input lag refers to the amount of fourth dimension information technology takes for an activity (say, a keypress on your keyboard or a mouse click) to appear onscreen. Since the middle of 2019, we’ve been testing all our gaming monitors using the HDFury 4K Diva, and consider any monitors that score under 5ms to be a skillful fit for players who rely on lightning-quick reflexes to best their opponents.
Then there’s refresh charge per unit. A monitor’s refresh rate refers to the fourth dimension (per second) information technology takes to redraw the entire screen and is measured in hertz (Hz). Well-nigh standard LCD monitors (including older gaming panels) accept a peak 60Hz refresh charge per unit, which means the screen is redrawn 60 times per 2d. Fast-moving images may announced blurry at this rate, or the panel may suffer from screen tearing, an artifact that occurs when the monitor displays misaligned pieces of two or more screen draws at the same time. (This tin be alleviated by a synchronization technique chosen variable refresh rate, more than about which in a moment.)
The trend in gaming panels over the terminal couple of years is the wave of models from all major gaming-LCD makers featuring refresh rates higher than 60Hz. The most common refresh-rate increments nosotros are at present seeing in these and so-called “loftier refresh” gaming displays are 75Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz, with panels upwards to 240Hz and even, in a couple of cases, 360Hz and even 390Hz now on the market.
The 240Hz panels so far are mostly 1080p, while 1440p panels meridian out at 165Hz, and 4K models max out at 144Hz. This is due to the throughput limitations of the two most pop cable technologies, HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4b. This should start to alter in 2022 when the HDMI 2.1 spec is more widespread, but this could exist a while since we only saw the first instance of it on the gaming-graphics finish in the GeForce RTX 3080 and subsequent RTX 30 Series cards.
Games that run at frame rates college than threescore frames per second (fps) can do good from one of these monitors. The higher refresh rate can evidence motion more fluidly, when it is in sync. Esports players who specialize in games that are not too demanding on a video carte (and that therefore run at very loftier frame rates) will peculiarly want to take annotation.
Just because you have a high refresh rate, however, that does not mean that your gaming graphics will necessarily be free of trigger-happy and artifacts. Which leads the states to the other big PC-gaming-centric trend in flux in late-model gaming monitors: G-Sync and FreeSync.
G-Sync and FreeSync: Technologies in Flux
The latest gaming monitors use synchronization technology to help reduce tearing and other motion artifacts while lowering input lag. Displays equipped with Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’due south FreeSync applied science hand off control of the screen’s refresh rate to the graphics carte or chip (instead of the monitor), which allows the brandish to operate at a variable refresh rate (VRR) according to what the carte is capable of pushing at any given moment. The effect is a smoothen gaming feel, with decreased input lag and a lack of vehement. Annotation, however, that K-Sync and FreeSync monitors require a G-Sync- or FreeSync-compatible graphics card with a DisplayPort ane.two or HDMI ii.0/2.i output (an Nvidia menu for G-Sync, an AMD carte du jour for FreeSync).
In 2017, AMD announced an enhanced version of FreeSync, FreeSync 2, and higher-end monitors have been transitioning to it since 2018. FreeSync 2 is all almost the aforementioned basic aim as FreeSync—synchronizing the frame rate of the signal from a uniform AMD graphics card with a monitor’s refresh rate—merely it adds HDR support, low input lag (aka latency), and back up for low-frame-rate bounty. The latter is the ability to sync the frame rate of a GPU with that of a monitor, even when the GPU’south frame charge per unit falls beneath the minimum frame charge per unit of the monitor.
Meanwhile, the shape of VRR from the Nvidia side of things took a big turn in early 2019. Then, Nvidia released a new version of its commuter for its GeForce cards that allows users of FreeSync monitors to turn on G-Sync in the GeForce driver software. The results may vary, but in essence, owners of FreeSync panels can now endeavor out VRR with an Nvidia carte du jour. Nvidia has likewise extended a sort of 1000-Sync certification to a select grouping of FreeSync monitors. At last cheque, roughly 270
total monitors autumn under the company’south One thousand-Sync standard. That should mean no or reduced vehement, ghosting, and other artifacts during VRR gameplay, besides as the ability to support that over a broad range of refresh rates (for example, 60Hz to 144Hz) co-ordinate to the model’due south specs. Certain models at the link in a higher place are dubbed “G-Sync Uniform.” Where it is supported, you tin can effort to switch G-Sync on from the Nvidia control panel and see if, and how well, its adaptive sync works.
G-Sync has gotten more complicated in another way, likewise. The addition of the G-Sync Compatible category brings the number of G-Sync monitor compatibility levels to three. Grand-Sync Compatible is the lowest tier. In the middle are those monitors that meet Nvidia’s traditional M-Sync standards, containing specialized circuitry to support the standard: They accept passed some 300 prototype-quality tests and are capable of operating over the total VRR range. The top tier is One thousand-Sync Ultimate (formerly known as G-Sync HDR), which in addition to coming together the G-Sync standards combines high-end features such as extreme luminance (1,000 nits) and a refresh rate of at least 144Hz. Ane of the showtime panels that qualified as 1000-Sync Ultimate is the Acer Predator X27, but more have appeared since, peculiarly with the introduction of 65-inch Large Format Gaming Displays (BFGDs) from HP and others. (See our review of the start of these, the HP Omen X Emperium.) Again, see the link above.
HDR: Brightness Deluxe
HDR technology isn’t only for making movies and Boob tube shows look proficient. It tin can also turn a dimly lit, done-out game into something vibrant, full of contrast, with sharply defined edges effectually every part of the surround. There are iv levels of HDR in monitors correct at present: DisplayHDR 400, DisplayHDR 600, DisplayHDR 1000, and DisplayHDR 1600. The effigy refers to the number of nits, or the effulgence level, that the display should be capable of maxing out at.
But though there are plenty of HDR 4K monitors to cull from these days, the implementation of HDR inside Windows is still…lacking, to say the to the lowest degree. If information technology does piece of work the way its supposed to, apps that are compatible with Windows (those from the Windows App Store seem to piece of work ameliorate with HDR compatibility than those found outside that ecosystem) will get the HDR treatment, and so will Windows itself.
While consoles like the Xbox 1 X and PS4 Pro, Xbox Series 10, Xbox Series Due south, and PS5 do HDR flawlessly on near all their games, the PC still lags behind in terms of the number of game titles that support HDR, and simply some monitors support it.
How well the tech is implemented varies on a case-past-case footing. That said, when done well (specially in titles adult since the technology took off in gaming monitors around the end of 2017), HDR adds a striking aspect to gameplay.
In testing at the PCMag Labs, we’ve establish DisplayHDR 400 is generally sufficient to get a dainty consequence going, but the DisplayHDR 1000 and 1600 specs take the technology to an entirely new level.
Can It Create?
When we test monitors for their PC gaming capabilities, nosotros also look at what they tin can practice in general use cases like watching movies or browsing the web, as well every bit how well they can reproduce authentic color in a number of unlike chromaticity tests.
sRGB acts similar a baseline for how all content on the internet will appear, while DCI-P3 is a measure out of how well a monitor does at reproducing the color spectrum that movies and TV shows are virtually often broadcast in. Finally at that place’s Adobe RGB, which is used as an indicator for how well a monitor might do at reproducing accurate color in key content-editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
Color accuracy is too measured via a effigy known equally “Delta Eastward,” which expresses the altitude betwixt, say, the “near accurate orange,” and the orangish that the monitor displays. If you want to watch (or produce) a lot of movies on your gaming monitor, DCI-P3 is the figure you should be the nigh concerned virtually; the Delta E and Adobe RGB numbers are the primary figures for creators who work in photography, 3D design, game production, modelling, or other artistic fields where color accurateness is necessary.
Video Inputs and Other Features
A gaming monitor should be equipped with a diversity of video inputs, so you can stay connected to multiple PCs and gaming consoles. Dual HDMI ports are ideal, since the major game consoles use HDMI, while most higher-end graphics cards released over the past few years offering DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 connectivity. DVI has all but died out at that tier, though the budget-focused set may yet have it depending on the generation.
A few extreme enthusiast monitors capable of 4K resolution, such equally the Acer Nitro XV3, actually require 2 DisplayPort ane.4b cables plugged in at once to piping a 4K 144Hz signal from a PC to the brandish. So far this is the only model nosotros’ve seen that has this requirement to get the total indicate, but if you lot plan on buying this display in detail we recommend making certain that your GPU has two DisplayPort 1.4b outputs to back up information technology first.
USB ports are also a nice characteristic, as they make it like shooting fish in a barrel to connect to gaming controllers, mice, thumb drives, and other external peripherals, and in many cases you tin charge devices when they are connected to a USB port. Side-mounted USB ports make it like shooting fish in a barrel to plug and unplug peripherals without having to reach around the back of the monitor. A powerful speaker system with a built-in subwoofer will raise your gaming experience and conserve desktop space, and a stand with summit, tilt, and swivel adjustments offers ergonomic condolement for those all-night frag-a-thons. That said, if you tend to game with a gaming headset, a conveniently situated USB port might be more valuable than middling built-in speakers.
Finally, there’s RGB lighting. While some shoppers can’t stand the stuff (to this author, it washes out the game on the screen), plenty of gamers out there like to sync up their gaming monitor to the rest of their RGB-ness on their PC instance, on their video bill of fare, or pulsating off their RAM. (Heck, yous can even find RGB SSDs these days.)
Some of the programs that can sync your monitor to the rest of your RGB setup include Asus Aureola Sync, Acer DisplayWidget, and MSI Mystic Light, equally well as Alienware’south Command Heart. Also, more advanced options like SteelSeries’ GameSense work in tandem with monitors like the MSI Optix MPG27CQ to display in-game data similar your ammo and health levels via RGB LED strips on the monitor. The number of GameSense-uniform apps and games is limited, just information technology’s notwithstanding a bang-up look into a possible hereafter of functional, not merely decorative, RGB.
Then, Which Gaming Monitor Should I Buy?
Screen size, console technology, and features will determine how much you’ll pay for a gaming monitor. Y’all can snag a 24-inch model that uses TN technology with a fast gray-to-gray pixel response time for around $200, only you lot won’t become much in the way of features or image quality. Expect to pay more than $200 if yous desire a college-than-60Hz refresh rate and some subset of perks, such every bit an adaptable stand up, a USB hub, multiple digital video inputs, and either Thou-Sync or FreeSync engineering. A full-blown 27-inch model with all the bells and whistles, including either K-Sync or FreeSync support and a Nano IPS brandish, can cost north of $500, and a 34-inch UHD monitor will run yous more $700. If you’re looking for a big-screen, ultra-broad monitor with a curved console, program on spending even more.
For more than of our monitor picks, check out our top monitors overall. Gamers can also check out our acme-picks coverage of other peripherals such equally gaming keyboards and gaming mice to terminate outfitting their game dens.