People spend hours trying to find the best parts for their gaming PC, but one essential component to a high-end gaming computer is nearly always overlooked – the monitor. A decent gaming monitor needed to fully take advantage of the power of your GPU and CPU.
|Acer XF240H 24″||1920×1080||144Hz||91/100|
|Asus VG245H 24″||1920×1080||75Hz||85/100|
|Dell S2716DG 24″||2560×1440||165Hz||93/100|
|Asus PB258Q 25″||2560×1440||60Hz||84/100|
|LG 27UD68-P 27″||3840×2160||60Hz||90/100|
|LG 34UC79G-B 34″||2560×1080||144Hz||95/100|
On this guide, we will explore the world of gaming monitors, from 144hz monitors, 1440p monitors, G-Sync monitors, Free-Sync monitors, 4k displays, and affordable monitors, and ultrawide monitors. Over the past few, years monitor technology has expanded dramatically, bringing in dozens of 144hz, curved, 4k, and gaming displays. if it was a daunting task to choose a gaming monitor three years ago, it is certainly much harder today.
Our team have researched, tested, and reviewed hundreds of monitors to create the definitive guide on gaming monitors. We hope that this guide will help you find the best gaming monitor available on the market today.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Gaming Monitors
- 2 How to Choose a Gaming Monitor
Best Gaming Monitors
Best 1080P 144HZ Gaming Monitors
Though 1440P and 4k is sexy and trendy, 1080P (1920×1080) is and will be the industry standard for many years because of its market domination, compatibility to nearly all applications. 1080P is the standard format for virtually ever professional gaming tournament and will be the most popular display resolution for the foreseeable future.
Probably the greatest downside of higher resolution monitors is the price and toll they take on FPS, especially at high refresh rates. Unless your PC is running the latest $400 CPU and $600 graphics card, you won’t be able take advantage of the high refresh rates on high-res monitors because you would max out at around 60 FPS or lower.
Most people would be surprised at how affordable 1080P 144hz monitors have become. Today, you can get a proper 144hz gaming monitor for just over $200 – not that much more than a standard 60hz Full-HD monitor.
Here are our top picks for the best 144hz FHD displays – monitors for budget limited gamers who still want blazing fast gameplay.
Best 1080P Non-144HZ Gaming Monitors
The vast majority of gamers probably only have a budget for $1000 or less for their gaming rig, and after buying the CPU, graphics card, and other essential components there is little money left for a monitor. As a result, a majority of gamers will opt for a standard 1080P IPS monitor with decent response times and input lag for their PC. If you aren’t a gamer and are looking for a decent substitute monitor, read our USB monitor guide for some reviews and advice.
After all, 60hz and 1080P is perfectly fine for gaming. A quality IPS display will deliver sharp and accurate images and play games smoothly at 60 frames. Response Times also matter, that’s the reason most serious gamers won’t choose a slower and cheaper display when buying a gaming display.
Even if you aren’t going to buy a fancy 144hz UHD monitor, its still a good idea to choose the best monitor that you can buy with your budget. A Free-sync 1080P IPS monitor is certainly preferred to any cheap 1080 TN display.
We’ve picked the 1080P monitors with the best combination of value, gaming performance, and visuals.
Best 1440P 144HZ Gaming Monitors
For all intents and purposes, a UHD 144HZ monitor is probably the highest end gaming monitor you can get your hands on. These monitors aren’t cheap, but they deliver both extreme image quality and blazing fast gameplay.
Regarding 4k, you won’t be able to find a 144HZ 4k monitor in today unless you are content with Free-Sync or 75HZ refresh rate so if you want that ultra-fast refresh rate, you are limited to UHD.
At the very least, these displays will cost $400 so you should really carefully choose you investment. Here are the Pandatechie pick for the best 144HZ 1440P gaming monitors.
Best 1440P Non-144HZ Gaming Monitors
If you’re a gaming who is not into fast FPS games but wants stunning visuals, 1440P is probably the sweet spot for you. 1440P has twice the pixels as 1080P, which means that your image quality is just so much better.
Plus, having a 60HZ monitor means that you usually have an IPS panel, which has better display quality than the TN panels found on the vast majority of 144Hz monitors.
If you’re afraid that your computer can’t handle 1440P, rest assured – it probably can. Most cheap gaming rigs above $600-800 should be able to comfortably game at 1440P, assuming the games are going to run at 60HZ or lower.
Listed below are the best 1440P monitors for gaming with detailed reviews of each!
Best 4k Gaming Monitors
4k displays are normally not associated with gaming because many games will not run fully optimized on 4k no matter how powerful your computer is. Plus, 4k monitors are currently capped at 60Hz so many gamers would much rather have a 144Hz 1440P monitor.
4k monitors are also generally not that expensive and the cheapest ones start at only around $300, though high end proper 4k gaming monitors like Acer Predator XB271HK can run up to $1000.
We generally think that 1440P is more than enough resolution for gaming because the pixels on 1440P are already so small. You won’t notice a large difference between 4k and 1440P for gaming unless you are literally playing on a small TV sized 30in+ display.
Best Ultrawide/Curved Gaming Monitors
Ultrawide monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9, which is around 30% wider than a standard 16:9 display. Curved monitors are self-explanatory – they have a slight inward curved to further immerse the user into the display. We’ve combined these two categories into one as there is a lot of overlap between the two; there are many ultrawide monitors which are curved.
Curved and Ultrawide monitors probably deliver the most immersive and impressive game play, especially at higher resolutions. Any ultrawide and curved monitor will also instantly make your gaming setup instantly high-end since these monitors are still so novel and rare.
As you can probably except, curved and wide monitors cost about as much as a gaming PC and will cost even more if you want UHD and a 144Hz refresh rate.
How to Choose a Gaming Monitor
Above are dozens of great gaming monitors of all types that we have chosen. But you don’t need to take our words for it – here is a quick guide on the basic technical aspects of monitors so you can make a informed choice on buying a monitor. It is important to know a bit of info about monitor technology before making a final purchase. It’s much better to know too much than know too little.
We hope this guide helps increase your understanding of how monitors work.
Basic Aspects of Each Monitor
Modern monitors are differentiated based on their size, resolution, panel type, refresh rate, and FreeSync/G-Sync (if applicable). There are many other less important factors that set monitors apart from each other, but we will focus on the top five.
As you already know, screen resolution refers to the amount of pixels on a display. The higher the resolution, the more pixels your display has. Having more pixels means that you can display more objects on your screen, but it does not always mean that your image becomes sharper or clearer. The clarity of your display depends on the pixel density. For example, even though a 1440P monitor has twice the amount of pixels as a 1080P monitor, it also probably bigger so those extra pixel it has needs to cover extra space. This means that a 1440P monitor is not 2x as sharp as a 1080P monitor.
Pixel density is calculated by dividing total pixels by area of display. For example, if your monitor has a screen resolution of 10×10 and measures 2″x2″. This means that there are 100 pixels in total on a screen with a surface area of 4 inches.
Divide 100 pixels by 4 inches means that the pixel density of this tiny hypotheical monitor has a pixel density of 25 pixels/inch.
Today, there are three main display resolution options you have when looking at monitors: 1080p (1920×1080), 1440p (2560×1440), and 4k (3840×2160). 4k is sometimes referred to as 2160p. Note that the definition of 4k we are using here is the UHD-1 4k format, not the movie DCI 4k format that is 4000×2000.
Lower resolutions like 720p have generally disappeared and 8k is still in its infancy.
1080p has 2,073,600 pixels, 1440p has 3,686,400 pixels, and 4k has 8,294,440. Note that the jump from 1080p to 1440p is smaller than the jump from 1440p to 4k in both absolute and relative terms.
Standard monitors of all resolutions have an aspect ratio of 16:9. The aspect ratio is the ratio of horizontal pixels to vertical pixels. Read more on Wikipedia.
However, there is a small subset of monitors with an aspect ratio of 21:9 – these monitors are called ultra-wide monitors. Ultra-wide monitors have the same number of vertical pixels as their 16:9 counterparts, but have around 33% more horizontal pixels, making the monitor wider.
A 1080p ultra-wide has a resolution of 2560×1080 and a 1440p ultra-wide has a resolution of 3840×1440. 4k ultra-wide monitors do not exist at the current time.
The higher the resolution your monitor has, the stronger your graphics card needs to be because more pixels will need to be rendered. All other factors constant, the higher the resolution, the lower the FPS you will get in games. If you’re going with a budget gaming PC build, try to stay with 1080p and don’t go past 1440p because there are few budget PCs that can handle 4k gaming.
Currently, you probably want at least a $200 graphics card to game at 1440p (RX 480/GTX 1060) and a $350+ graphics card to comfortably game at 4k (GTX 1070/GTX 1080).
The size of the monitor refers to the physical size of the screen. It’s usually measured by the distance between one corner of the display to the other in inches in the US.
Monitors come in many many different sizes today, with some going under 20 inches and others going up to 30+ inches – the size of small televisions. However, 21.5 inches, 24 inches, 25 inches, and 27 inches are the most common sizes of monitors today.
1080P monitors mostly range from 21.5 inches to 24 inches. Some 1080P monitors are larger, especially if they are curved or ultra-wide.
1440P monitors range from 24″ to 27″, with the most common size being 27″. Ultra-wide 1440P monitors can go up to 35″.
4k monitors range from 27″ to 32″
As is to be expected, increasing the size of the monitor while keeping the resolution constant decreases the detail and sharpness of it since individual pixels have to increase in size.
The width and length of a display can be calculated with some simple math if it is not given. First, imagine a display as a standard rectangle. Since the average monitor has an aspect ratio of 16:9, imagine that the monitor is a rectangle with a width of 16 units and a length of 9 units.
Use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the diagonal length of the rectangle.
Diagonal^2 = 16^2 + 9^2.
Solve the equation and you get a diagonal length of 18.3576.
Now imagine that we are trying to find the side lengths of a 24″ 16:9 monitor. The hypothetical 18.3576″ monitor he have here has the exact same size ratios as any 16:9 monitor so we can divide 24 by 18.3576 to get the size ratio of the real 24″ monitor to our 18.3576″ monitor.
Dividing those two numbers yields us a ratio of 1.3074. This means that every inch on our hypothetical 18.3576″ monitor would be the equivalent of 1.3074 inches on the real 24″ monitor. With this knowledge, we can multiply 1.3074 to 16 and 9 to get the side lengths of the 24″ monitor.
The answer is 20.918 inches x 11.766 inches. Dividing 20.918 by 11.766 yields us the same result has dividing the aspect ratio.
Knowing the side lengths of a display enables you to calculate the area and pixel density of the monitor.
The refresh rate of a monitor measures how many times a monitor can refresh it’s image every second. It is measured in Hertz (Hz). Simply stated, the refresh rate is the maximum FPS a monitor can display.
So a 60Hz monitor can display up to 60 FPS, a 75Hz monitor can display up to 75 FPS, a 100Hz monitor can display up to 100 FPS, etc…
If your computer can play a game a 120 FPS but you monitor is only 60Hz, you will not be seeing all the frames your computer is rendering because of the physical limitations of the monitor. In this situation, getting a 144Hz monitor will help you take advantage of the FPS output of your computer and get a smoother gaming experience. 144hz monitors are more smooth and pretty, but they are much more expensive. This is the reason why many portable monitors aren’t more than 60hz refresh rate.
On the other hand, having a high-refresh rate monitor and a weak computer is a waste of a good monitor since its fast refresh rate is not used. If you’re playing demanding games or have a relatively weak computer and don’t get more than 60 frames, don’t bother with getting a fancy 60Hz+ monitor. A standard 60Hz monitor will do just fine.
The standard refresh rate for most monitors is 60Hz, though gaming monitors can get up to 144Hz, 165Hz, or even 180Hz.
Although fast refresh speeds like 165Hz or 180Hz may seem really impressive, higher refresh rates do follow the law of diminishing returns. It’s easy to tell the difference between 20Hz and 60Hz, but its much more difficult to tell 144Hz and 180Hz apart. High refresh rates do make game play feel smoother, especially if you’re a hardcore gamer, but biological limitations mean that 120Hz isn’t actually twice as smooth as 60Hz.
Right now, monitors max out at 60Hz, 75Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, 165Hz, or 180Hz. 60Hz and 144Hz are by far the most common refresh rates.
Right now, monitors come in two types of display panels: IPS (In-plane switching) and TN (twisted nematic field effect). For many years, TN was the only available panel type until IPS came into the market in the 2000s.
The main trade-off between IPS and TN panels are display quality and speed. IPS panels have better color reproduction and viewing angles while the older TN panels have an edge in speed (refresh rate and response time).
This is why the majority of 60Hz monitors have IPS panels while most 75Hz+ monitors have TN panels. The price of IPS panels has gone down to roughly match the price of TN monitors, so there is little reason for manufacturers to keep on using TN panels for 60Hz monitors.
To go into more depth about the differences between IPS and TN monitors, we will go over some basics about color reproduction and viewing angles.
IPS panels have superior color reproduction, which basically means that images on IPS panels look clearer and more accurate on IPS panels compared to TN. Gray-scale accuracy on IPS panels also far exceeds that of TN panels.
Viewing angles are how accurate the colors are at various angles. IPS panels have much better viewing angles, displaying accurate colors no matter how tilted the monitor is to the viewer. TN panels will visibly have color distortion when the display is tilted more than 40 or 50 degrees.
TN panels still have the edge in refresh rate and response time, so performance focused monitors still have this older display type. However, the first 144Hz IPS panel was created in 2014 and how there are a few (expensive) 144Hz IPS monitors for sale today. However, IPS panels have still not caught up to TN panels in terms of response time. Though TN panels can easily have a Grey-to-Grey response time of 1ms or less, it appears that IPS panels are stuck at 4 or 5ms.
Tip: an easy way to tell the difference between an IPS panel and TN panel is to simply touch the display. If there is lighting-up or tailing on where you finger is placed, it probably means that the monitor is TN.
FreeSync and G-Sync are anti-screen tearing technologies found on some monitors. FreeSync is made by AMD and G-Sync is made by Nvidia. FreeSync is only compatiable with AMD Radeon graphics cards and G-Sync is only compatible with Nvidia graphics cards.
Before we go any further, lets make it clear exactly what FreeSync or G-Sync does. All you need to know is that FreeSync and G-Sync are made to eliminate screen-tearing, which is an annoying visual artifact that shows multiple frames at once, creating a tearing effect on the display.
Screen tearing is caused by poor synchronization between the monitor and graphics card. In the past the graphics card’s built in V-Sync was used to combat screen tearing. Though V-Sync could eliminate screen tearing, it also brought in other issues like screen lag that was almost as bad as screen tearing.
FreeSync and G-Sync are designed to end screen tearing without the unfortunate side effects that came with V-Sync, and both technologies do their job exceptionally well.
We won’t delve into the intricacies of how G-Sync and FreeSync actually work, but G-Sync follows a more comprehensive approach with an actual G-Sync chip in all its monitors. FreeSync is much more of a firmware-based approach to preventing screen tearing. Both FreeSync and G-Sync flip the role of V-Sync – instead of adapting the graphics card to the monitor’s refresh rate, FreeSync and G-Sync adapt the monitor to the graphics card.
As a result, G-Sync monitors are much rarer and cost significantly more than a similar FreeSync monitor.
You can read more about monitor technology on PCGamer.