Suppose you haven’t upgraded your gaming monitor in a while. In that case, you’re missing out on some major improvements that can make your games look fantastic: the newest models have higher resolutions that pack more pixels into the panel to give you sharper visuals and an incredible combination of high refresh rates and adaptive sync technology for smooth, consistent gameplay.
To find the best displays for gamers of various skill levels, we put eleven of the most highly rated models through their paces in four different resolution categories: 1080p, 1440p, 4K, and ultrawide. We played games, watched HDR movies, and utilized each display for general Windows 11 chores to evaluate its color accuracy and response time. Whether you’re a Valorant player who needs low latency, high-framerate desktop to help you climb the ranks or a multitasking, movie-loving gamer who wants a stunning, wide display, we have a recommendation that will suit your needs.
Asus ROG Swift PG259QNR: Best 1080p gaming monitor
For its small size, Asus’ ROG Swift PG259QNR gives you a lot to work with. This 25-inch, 1080p display has a huge 360Hz refresh rate and out-of-the-box color accuracy that’s impressive for its price. The display even supports HDR (albeit the standard with the least-impressive visual performance, HDR 400), and it comes with a free desk clamp if you don’t want to use its provided stand.
The PG259QNR isn’t a wide-gamut display—more on that in a bit—so we only tested its color accuracy for the sRGB color space, delivering an amazing average DeltaE of 0.97 on our grayscale and spot-color tests. When we flipped to the monitor’s “racing” mode, we found it performed just as well as its default preset, which was great. Its response times were among the fastest of all the monitors we tested, and TFT Central measured the input lag of its nearly identical sibling, the PG259QN, at 1.75 seconds. Given this monitor screams “first-person-shooter fan,” given how it prioritizes refresh rate over resolution, that’s a great result for gamers that need the best timings in their favorite titles.
We love that the PG259QNR is compatible with G-Sync and FreeSync across its full refresh rate range, but you’ll have to use its single DisplayPort 1.4 connection to benefit from the full 360Hz instead of its two HDMI 2.0 ports. Though the display accepts an HDR signal and supports 10-bit color depth, it’s not really built for HDR since it only covered roughly 66 percent of the DCI-P3 color space in our testing. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing this monitor if you want a quality HDR image from your games, movies, and other media.
Though we couldn’t adjust the display’s brightness on its sRGB setting, an annoyance for those buying the monitor in California, we measured its total luminance range on its Racing setting at 377.4 cd/m2 (41.2–418.6 cd/m2). It should give you plenty to work with, whether using a daylight display or a dim, murky gaming room.
If the PG259QNR’s price feels steep, consider checking out the PG259QN. It’s the same display minus a built-in Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer, which isn’t worth the extra if you don’t care about benchmarking your display. Whichever version you go with, you’re getting a great, color-accurate display for everyday use and an incredibly responsive, high-refresh-rate, for all the Valorant and Counter-Strike matches you’ll be playing after you’re done with work for the day. Given its small size and resolution, this display isn’t for everyone, but if you know that’s the setup you need for your quasi-competitive gaming, Asus’ display is the one to pick up.
Dell Alienware AW2721D: Best 1440p gaming monitor
If you don’t want to use an ultrawide monitor and your computer can’t handle 4K, a solid 1440p screen is the next best thing. We found that the Alienware AW2721D from Dell had the best out-of-the-box picture quality and fastest response times of all the monitors we evaluated. As an HDR 600-certified panel, it is superior to most 1440p displays that support the less impressive HDR 400 standard, as it has higher peak brightness to work with and is required to offer local dimming in some form.
Our color accuracy testing showed that this 27-inch, 240Hz IPS panel did an excellent job, with a DeltaE of 2.19 for our sRGB tests and 1.05 for our DCI-P3 tests. The overall DeltaE average of 3.34 for colors on the sRGB version of our test is slightly higher than we’d like. However, no sRGB clamp or another setting limits the monitor’s color gamut. As a result, you probably would expand the range of some anomalies beyond its normal parameters. It’s not a significant deal, but the screen’s colors may look slightly brighter.
Dell’s display is HDR10-compatible and 600-certified, giving you access to about 32 local dimming zones. This is a better configuration than you’d generally find on an HDR 400 panel, but it’s still surpassed in performance by our more expensive ultrawide and 4K gaming monitor recommendations. We doubt you’ll notice much difference between the 8-bit and 10-bit modes, but the monitor’s very high maximum refresh rate of 240Hz will cap out at 144Hz if you’re using 10-bit color. Our measurements’ overall luminosity ranged from a stunning 44 to 520 candelas per square meter (cd/m2).
The average response time of 5.46 ms was the fastest of any 1440p display we tested, and the default color accuracy was among the best of any monitor we tested. The display’s single DisplayPort 1.4 connection is compatible with G-Sync and FreeSync over the refresh rate range. Rather than using one of the two HDMI 1.4 connectors on display, we suggest using this method instead. TFT Central found that the display has reduced input lag and that you can play even fast-paced first-person shooters smoothly.
We don’t miss the AW2721D’s built-in speakers, and its four USB 3.2 ports are conveniently located on the back and the bottom of the device. Although the RGB lighting is built in, it is not the main selling point of the screen and is more of a “nice to have” than a “must have” if you want your Twitch streams to stand out.
Aside from the display’s so-so local dimming for HDR, which won’t necessarily wow you, and the lack of an sRGB emulation mode, the AW2721D otherwise performs well for most gamers’ needs. It is more costly than the other 1440p monitors we examined, but it is responsive and accurate in terms of color.
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX: Best 4K gaming monitor
Asus’ ROG Swift PG32UQX boasts the smoothest performance we’ve seen in testing, thanks to its stunning Mini-LED backlit display, which can handle 4K resolution at refresh rates as high as you’re likely to meet. The PG32UQX’s only true drawback is its eye-popping price tag, but we would expect nothing less for such a remarkable combination of screen size, picture clarity, gaming features, and HDR performance. The Asus PG32UQX is the best monitor to buy if your gaming PC can handle a 4K resolution and you have the cash to spare.
Most gamers won’t ever experience high frame rates, even when using the highest quality settings, on this 32-inch IPS display’s 4K gaming mode at its maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. The PG32UQX is compatible with Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync adaptive sync technologies, making for silky-smooth gameplay, and the picture quality is nearly excellent straight out of the box. Based on our measurements, its brightness can be adjusted from a low of 41.24 cd/m2 to a high of 377.4 cd/m2, making it suitable for usage in a brilliantly lighted room and a darker gaming sanctum.
The picture quality on the PG32UQX is outstanding right out of the box. However, unlike most displays, it does not come with a simple “Standard” preset, so you’ll have to choose based on what you’re using it for; additionally, once you select a preset (we started with “Racing”), you will have to select the color space “clamp” or limit you need for the games you’re playing (we recommend sticking with the monitor’s sRGB or DCI-P3 presets for everything).
You can expect high-quality color reproduction no matter which you choose. The PG32UQX has a color gamut of 99.9 percent for DCI-P3 and 98.8 percent for sRGB, so you’re getting nearly the entire color space to work with. When tested in sRGB mode, the PG32UQX’s performance was outstanding for a consumer monitor, with an average DeltaE (a measure of color accuracy) of 0.74 across both grayscale and color-swatch tests. When we moved to DCI-P3, its color accuracy dipped to DeltaE 2.16; this is still better than most displays and isn’t a problem for regular usage or gaming. (If you’re using apps and content designed for the narrower sRGB color space, the oversaturated hues of DCI-P3 will be more noticeable.)
The PG32UQX performed slower than most monitors we tested while using its default settings, with an average gamma-corrected reaction time of 11.91 ms (double some of the speedier displays we evaluated). That’s the mean of all the times we measured for the display to transition from one shade of grey to another, often known as the “grey to grey” time. The quicker a pixel can move, the sooner a gamer will notice it and be able to respond appropriately.
Although the monitor’s reaction time is on the higher end for a gaming display, it shouldn’t be a problem because its extremely low input latency (as measured by TFT Central) doesn’t include any lag in signal processing. A display that costs more than a fantastic home theater television should not disappoint.
When used with the included LiveDash software, the monitor’s front-facing OLED display can provide useful information such as the current frame rate, input source, and more.
Even if you can get beyond the PG32UQX’s high asking price, its 4K resolution is the main reason you might not want to buy it. If your PC can’t manage a playable frame rate in your favorite games at this resolution, a 4K monitor may not be the ideal option for you. If you want to play them, you’ll need to lower the image quality through the game’s settings, and we don’t think it’s fair to force a bad image onto such a magnificent and expensive screen.
Other gaming monitors worth trying
The M32U came close to being our top pick, but the color accuracy of this 4K display isn’t quite as outstanding as that of the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX without some adjustment. Only in the sRGB mode did it achieve the same level of color fidelity as our top choice, but that mode was the only one we tested. Average response times were slower than the premium Asus, and HDR 600 was a step up but still couldn’t match the PG32UQX’s Mini-LED backlight in contrast. Even though it costs much less, the M32U is not the greatest 4K gaming monitor.
LG Ultragear 27GP950
Check out the $799 Monitor on Amazon
Similarly to our top pick, the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX, the Ultragear 27GP950 is a (27-inch monitor) with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. Its default settings had a color accuracy just above the DeltaE 3 threshold, the level at which differences become noticeable compared to a known product. Our top pick was practically perfect right out of the box. The LG’s display only reached such levels after we switched to its sRGB mode, which limits the wide-gamut display to that color space. The HDR 400 display from LG didn’t impress us when watching movies or playing games because its average response times were slightly slower than those of our top pick.
These IPS panels rely on edge backlighting, but the Asus monitor boasts superior HDR capabilities and contrast ratios thanks to its Mini-LED backlight, making it a better option overall. The HDR performance of both the Gigabyte and LG displays is “good enough,” but nothing to get unduly excited about; the former’s certification is just for HDR 400, which isn’t terrific, while the latter’s jumps up to HDR 600, which is. They can both display smooth motion using G-Sync and FreeSync, respectively.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G8
We also put Samsung’s 4K Mini-LED display, the Odyssey Neo G8, through its paces and found that its color accuracy wasn’t great across the board. Monitor’s default settings resulted in average response times tied for the poorest of the eleven displays we tested for this guide. The display’s substantial overdrive resulted in an irritating and visible ghosting effect in moving images. The screen did not include either an sRGB or a DCI-P3 clamp, which likely contributed to the poor color accuracy. This 32-inch, 240 Hz gaming display fell short of expectations.
Available at $499 in Walmart, at $449 on Amazon
The sRGB default on the Gigabyte M34WQ, a 34-inch ultrawide 144Hz 1440p monitor, considerably improved the display’s already impressive color accuracy (slightly less so, its DCI-P3 preset). The Alienware AW2721D from Dell was our top pick, although its maximum refresh rate was significantly lower. It was inferior to our top option: response time, HDR grayscale accuracy, and DCI-P3 gamut coverage/volume. We appreciated the built-in KVM switch and the monitor’s compatibility for G-Sync and FreeSync, which let us easily share a single set of input devices across numerous computers.
How to choose a good gaming monitor
There is no one “best” gaming monitor because there are many options to choose from. When it comes time to upgrade, some features are more important than others.
An adaptive sync monitor, whether it’s Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync, that works across a wide refresh rate range is one of the most apparent improvements you can make to your gaming experience. If your frame rate cap in your favorite games is 30fps and FreeSync kicks in at 48fps, you won’t receive the silky-smooth, stutter-free image you were hoping for. When used in conjunction with a display capable of a minimum refresh rate of 120 Hz, the clarity and smoothness of the displayed image are greatly improved.
In general, the higher the resolution at which you can play, the better the quality of the game will be; to see this for yourself, compare any “fuzzier” 1080p display to a 4K monitor. Yet, there may be compromises to be made. Greater pixel counts are not necessarily indicative of superior image quality. A high resolution won’t save a screen with poor color accuracy, ghosting, latency, or other common problems. We also don’t think it’s worth sacrificing frame rates to play your favorite games on a 4K display if your computer isn’t powerful enough to output them at the maximum quality settings.
It can produce high-quality images via in-plane switching (IPS) panels, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, and the many OLED-like derivatives; but, if you want to avoid spending a fortune on calibration hardware, you may want to look at pre-calibrated displays instead. That doesn’t ensure flawless results, but it improves the odds.
High dynamic range (HDR) isn’t required for a gaming display, but it looks fantastic when implemented properly, such as when you take a break from gaming to watch an HDR-compatible film. If you intend to use your monitor for various tasks, or if you plan to use your new gaming monitor for a while, it’s a good idea to look for one that supports high dynamic range (HDR) content.
Look for HDR 600 support as a bare minimum; HDR 1000 has the potential to provide you with a significantly better picture due to its support for an expanded number of local dimming zones, which these displays normally support. HDR 400 gives less brightness and a smaller color gamut. This means that the greater the contrast the display has, the more effectively it can portray dark areas as black, and the more effectively the monitor can portray bright areas as white. Find a screen that can display an 8-bit or 10-bit image; the difference will be negligible in most cases.
If you spend all your time at your computer playing games like Hearthstone, Satisfactory, or others that don’t need rapid reflexes, then low response times and input lag are less crucial to you than if you play twitch-based shooters. Overshoot, or when a monitor goes too far past its target when transitioning between colors, is more likely to be noticed. Still, modern gaming monitors are so rapid that this is unlikely to be an issue for anyone. This might provide a disturbing “ghosting” or blurring effect in animations. Manufacturers prefer to inflate response and input lag measures. Therefore it’s best to rely on third-party reviews for this information.
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