These days, the best PC games can take you to places and let you do things that you never thought possible, which is why you should think about picking up one of the best gaming monitors to bring your experience to the next level.
However, what separates the best gaming monitor from any old monitor. Well, it will probably depend on the kinds of features you need and your own personal preferences. There are all kinds of gaming monitors out there, and what you need will vary greatly on what kind of games you tend to play.
You may just want to get absorbed into your favorite single player game like Metro Exodus or Resident Evil 2. If so, you might want a 4K Ultra HD gaming monitor with HDR. But, if eSports titles are more your scene, battling head to head with strangers on the internet in Overwatch, you’ll want one of the best gaming monitors with a high refresh rate and low response time.
This is admittedly a lot to absorb, but we’re here to help. We’ve gathered up all the best gaming monitors we’ve ever used. So, no matter what kind of PC games you want to play, we’ll help you find the best monitor for gaming.
HDR has been a major selling point for the best TVs for a little while now, but it has been suspiciously absent from the best gaming monitors. Until now. The BenQ EX3501R takes HDR and runs with it, crafting a curved ultra-wide that is not only what we would deem ‘attainable’, but beautiful as well. BenQ bills this monitor as a ‘video enjoyment monitor’, but from the moment you launch your favorite HDR-enabled games, you’ll see straight away why it tops our list of the best gaming monitors.
Read the full review: BenQ EX3501R
The Alienware AW3418DW is one of the few ultra-wide monitors that can offer the level of immersion that only 21:9 monitors offer, while also featuring a high refresh rate. With a gorgeous 3,440 x 1,440 display, lightning fast 4ms response times and a stunning 120Hz refresh rate, the AW3418DW is the best of both worlds. However, all these features come with a high price, so it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a bargain. Still, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the best gaming monitors 2019 has to offer.
Read the full review: Alienware AW3418DW
The AOC Agon AG352UCG was already one of the best gaming monitors we’d used, so when we heard that a new revision was coming out, with a higher refresh rate and better contrast, we couldn’t wait. The AOC Agon AC352UCG6 Black Edition takes everything the original did well and turns it up to 11, making it one of the best ways to experience ultra-wide gaming. It’s pricey, yeah, but if you have the hardware to back it up, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not buying it.
Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ may just be the most advanced and best gaming monitor out there – as long as you have the cash. Not only does it feature a gorgeous 4K Ultra-HD resolution and HDR, but it also features G-Sync and a 144Hz refresh rate. These specs make for one of the most impressive gaming monitors that’s ever existed – and when you see it in action, your mind will be blown. The only thing that holds this thing back from true greatness is the insane price tag. But, then again, if you have this kind of cash lying around, you should be able to afford a PC powerful enough to drive it.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
The BenQ PD3200U is primarily targeted at CAD professionals, but it’s still one of the best gaming monitors out there. This is because it has a rock-solid focus on graphic design, so it’s able to offer fantastic viewing angles – meaning your friends can watch you play in comfort. Plus, unlike a lot of 4K monitors on the market, you don’t need to mess around with the settings in order to get the best picture – every unit is individually calibrated by BenQ before it’s shipped. This is one of the best gaming monitors out there, even if it’s not actually a gaming monitor.
Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U
There’s a certain subset of PC gamers out there that need the absolute best hardware money can buy, and the Acer Predator X27 may be the best gaming monitor for them. The list of high-end features packed into the panel is almost as long as our arm – 4K resolution, HDR-10, G-Sync, 144Hz refresh rate – you’d be hard pressed to find a more advanced monitor. And, once you get a look at this monitor in person, you’ll be sold. That is, until you see the price tag – at two grand, only recent lottery winners need apply. Still, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming.
Read the full review: Acer Predator X27
You might not believe it at first glance, but the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is every bit the gaming monitor that the other monitors on this list are. And though it may not seem it from the outside looking in, it does its job remarkably well too, sacrificing dazzling lighting effects for a zippy 240Hz refresh rate and nigh-instantaneous 1ms response time. There’s no G-Sync or FreeSync, as this monitor assumes you already have a rig that’s plenty capable of eliminating screen tears on its own. Instead, this monitor keeps it simple by supplying you with lots of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens. If you’re a professional gamer, then this is the best gaming monitor for you.
With this display, Samsung not only brings QLED to gaming monitors in a big way, but they also offer the widest ultra-wide monitor on the market today. Coming in at 49.5 inches, this behemoth will take up a lot of space, likely peeping over the sides of your desk, but with its impressive 3,840 x 1080 resolution and HDR, you’ll at least be blown away by the image. Even if you decide not to play in this resolution (it will require a beefy rig), you can still use all of the extra screen real estate to have a browser or a movie playing on the same screen. The only real drawback is the monstrous price tag. But for a display this premium, it may very well be worth it.
Read the full review: Samsung CHG90 QLED
If you have a powerful graphics card that you want to take full advantage of, and you don’t mind missing out on 4K Ultra HD, Samsung’s got something just for you. The Samsung CHG70 is a curved 1440p monitor with a blazing fast 1ms response time and 144hz refresh rate, which makes this one of the best gaming monitors you can buy in 2018. And, considering it’s regularly going on sale, this screen is a bargain as well. Check it out.
Read the full review: Samsung CHG70 QLED
When you’re playing competitive shooters like Overwatch or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you’re going to need speed more than anything to stay on top of the leaderboards. That’s where monitors like the MSI Optix MAG271CR come in. With a 1080p resolution, 144 Hz refresh rate and 1ms of latency, you’re going to have fast, smooth gameplay as long as you have the hardware to drive it. After all, 60 Hz panels are so 2014 – the best gaming monitors embrace high refresh rates.
Read the full review: MSI Optix MAG271CR
How to buy the best gaming monitor in 2018
When you are shopping for the best gaming monitor 2018 has to offer, there are a few things that you should consider before you decide on what display should grace your desk.
By studying the following terms and specifications, you can make sure you pick the best gaming monitor for your needs – which also means you’re not paying extra for additional features that you don’t need.
Screen size: When shopping for the best gaming monitor, one of the most crucial things to think about is screen size. Larger display sizes can contribute to more immersive gaming experiences, as the game fills more of your field of vision, but you’ll need to make sure you have the room to feature a large monitor. It also goes without saying that larger monitors will usually mean a higher price.
Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio of a gaming monitor determines the width and height of the screen. Most widescreen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while older monitors had a more square 4:3, which will likely look pretty outdated in 2018. Ultra-wide monitors with aspect ratios of 21:9 are quickly gaining prevalence – they offer a wide view of your games, and many ultra wides have made our list of the best gaming monitor 2018.
Resolution: Another important factor when looking for the best gaming monitor for your needs is resolution. Here, the higher the numbers, the sharper the picture.. You will, however, need a more powerful graphics card for anything over full HD (1,920 x 1,080), even if many gaming monitors feature resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,400 (WQHD) and 3,840 x 2,160 (4K).
Refresh rate: When you’re looking to primarily play Counter-Strike, or shooters like it, refresh rate is especially important. The higher the refresh rate, the more frames per second (fps) it can support, which lends to a smoother experience on high-refresh-rate displays. A 60Hz refresh rate is most common, with refresh rates rising to 144Hz and even 200Hz.
Response time: The best gaming monitors have low response times, which means the action remains fast and fluid, with little to no input lag. The lowest response time for TN monitors (we explain this in the next section) is 1 millisecond, whereas the newer IPS monitors usually have more delayed, 4ms response times. When you’re playing games competitively, it’s crucial to keep this number as low as possible in order to combat lag.
Panel type: This is where things get a little technical. The type of panel the gaming monitor uses will largely contribute to its response time and image clarity. TN panels (twisted nematic) have the lowest response times, and they are usually cheaper as well, but they generally don’t have great viewing angles. IPS panels (in-plane switching) have fantastic viewing angles and color reproduction, but usually higher response times. Meanwhile VA panels (vertical alignment) sit between the two, though the slow response times makes these panels rare amid the best gaming monitors.
Viewing Angle: Most people play games while positioned in front of their gaming monitor, but this may not always be the case, particularly when you’re among spectators. A monitor’s viewing angles tell you what angle you can look at the monitor from and still clearly make out the image. The closer these numbers are are to 180, the better your viewing experience will be when standing further to either side of the monitor or looking at it from above or below.
G-Sync and FreeSync: You’ll likely notice that many of the best gaming monitors in 2018 come with either G-Sync or FreeSync technology – sometimes both. This helps keep frames per second (fps) smooth, combats screen tearing and diminishes input lag. G-Sync is developed by Nvidia, so you’ll need an Nvidia GPU, and the tech is built into the monitor, which can bump up their price tag. Meanwhile FreeSync was developed by AMD but, as it is free to use by manufacturers, the monitors usually cost less.
Check out our HDR Explained video below.
- Image Credit: TechRadar
Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article
- Looking for a more general monitor? Check out our list of the best monitors