Nothing makes or breaks immersion more than the monitor you use. By offering top-notch graphics and unique features a good gaming monitor helps you get lost in beautiful digital landscapes. Picking a gaming monitor in today's convoluted market though isn’t easy. Whether you get tripped up by Refresh Rates or Resolution, monitors have numerous technical specs that are a bit mystifying to the everyday person.
That’s why we’ve sifted through the top gaming monitors on the market to bring you our curated list of the best Gaming Monitors of 2018. We’ve also created a technical guide located at the bottom of our list that helps break-down tech heavy subjects into basic concepts. As an IT professional with years of experience and a lifelong PC Gamer, I know how frustrating it is to try and select the best quality hardware. That’s why we chose the most important aspect of picking a monitor for the foundation of our list. Resolution.
If yourself wondering why, skip on down to our gaming monitor buying guide. and where we help answer that question! If not, then read on to see our list of the best gaming monitors of 2018!
The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the reigning champ of gaming monitors. It checks off all the boxes a gamer would want who has a desire for high-graphical fidelity, buttery smooth frame rates, and a solid useable design. On top of nailing the design fundamentals and having stunning picture quality, the PG279Q is the premium model for those who can run games at QuadHD (1440p).
As a G-Sync enabled monitor with an IPS panel, you get THE best color, insane visuals, and great design as well. ASUS also has an in-house tech called EyeCare that enables low-blue light mode and flicker-free panels for marathon gaming comfort. In general this helps with preparing for bed too as monitors can interfere with melatonin production.
One of our favorite features is the highly adjustable stand that allows you have the best viewing angle possible. It even has an advanced heatsink to make sure there are no issues with overheating. While uncommon to see overheating in a monitor, the heat sink allows a safe overclock for those who want to break the 144hz barrier.
This is done in an extremely easy and intuitive manner by simply pressing a button on the side of the monitor that controls the refresh rate. No need to change the settings in the OS. Toggle between 60, 120, and 165hz with a simple button press. The ROG Swift is an excellent panel that balances today's best monitor technology with the current trends in technology.
The Acer Predator XB271HU is another contender in the heated battle to be the best gaming monitor of early 2018. The Acer Predator offers all the bells and whistles that are to be expected with a top-tier 1440p monitor. Clocking in at 165hz, the XB271HU has phenomenal color, silky smooth visuals, and a sturdy design.
It even comes equipped with onboard speakers that are useful for quickly replacing the television in a small room setting on the fly despite being a little quiet. This Monitor can also rotate for different display configurations and varying degrees of tilt. One of our favorites is the 90 degree rotation option that allows you to mount this monitor as a sort of vertical information panel. With a slim 2mm bezel, it looks as if this monitor is practically borderless as well.
The XB271HU is built with gaming in mind as well so it offers seamless graphical fidelity through the use of G-Sync. Besides being an excellent monitor, the upgrade to 1440p from 1080 adds an insane amount of screen space for those who also need to be productive as well. One of the downsides to the Acer Predator though is a lack of ports. 1 DisplayPort and one HDMI Port mean that a multi-use configuration requires swapping cords regularly (Such as streaming with multiple consoles).
By no means is that a deal breaker but it is something to consider if you require a versatile monitor set up. When it comes down to deciding between the ROG Swift and and Predator, besides a few unique tech features that the ROG Swift offers, the Predator is very similar and offers fantastic quality. If budget is an issue or the design is a bit more thrilling to you, the Predator is a near identical option with a similar level of top-notch quality.
The Asus MG279Q is a FANTASTIC find. Beautiful IPS color, 144Hz, and all in 1440p resolution. It goes toe-to-toe with the other 1440p monitors on our list but stands apart from them due to the use of FreeSync. If you are part of the AMD ecosystem and using an AMD GPU, then FreeSync is THE best tech upgrade you can find in a good gaming monitor.
Eliminating blur, vertical sync issues, and graphical artifacts. The MG279Q has an IPS panel insuring bright colors and delicious hues. All three of our top Gaming monitors are stellar choices but the MG279Q stands apart on price. FreeSync is equatable to G-Sync technology, but offers all the perks of G-Sync at a considerably cheaper price point (Often $200-300 less). You can also turn, swivel, and pivot this monitor for a variety of set-ups. The MG279Q is similar to the ROG Swift and Acer Predator in quality but offers different software features.
The MG279Q comes with GamePlus, a special software mode designed by pro-gamers to help with measuring different gameplay metrics. In turn this can be used to see how your gameplay can be improved upon and increase response time. Simply press a button on the back of the monitor to enable GamePlus mode. Another software feature is GameVisual Technology. This simply adds six unique settings to help you play better with specific game types.
For instance increasing the visibility during dark gameplay moments by changing contrast with the touch of a button. All in all Asus offers a solid monitor that will please ANY AMD fan hoping to make the jump to 1440p. You won’t be disappointed with this monitor just by the sheer upgrade from 1080p to 1440p let alone the added benefit of FreeSync, 144hz, stellar design, and incredible usability.
The VG248QE is a fantastic option for those who want great color, fast response times, and FreeSync. This monitor manages to excel in all the important categories for a 1080p monitor and earns its spot as our number one pick. Although it’s a TN monitor, the panel has a blazing fast 1ms response time meaning you can handle the most competitive reflex based action without compromising your skill.
We decided that speed was the most important factor when using a 1080p set-up. Primarily because the current migration to 2k and 4k has started to make 1080p monitors feel outdated when it comes to graphical quality. Despite large leaps in anti-aliasing technology most modern AAA games will have jagged edges and pixelated images at 1080p. Still, where 1080p shines is speed.
The VG248QE is an excellent monitor for those who loving gaming at breakneck speeds. Whether it’s CS:GO or Rainbow Six, 144hz with a 1ms response time is the fastest you can go. Ultra-fluid response makes this monitor shine at 1080p gaming. The VG248QE comes equipped with FreeSync which is preferable for 1080p (As AMD supports a larger range of older 1080p focused GPUs). Being a FreeSync monitor, the VG248QE is significantly cheaper than the competing G-Sync options but offers the same stunning quality.
No blur, no screen tearing, and gorgeous color. Since increasing monitor size does not increase screen space (Only resolution can) 24-inches is a great fit for 1080p. The 27-inch model is available as well but at those sizes a jump to 2k is probably desired. If you have an older set-up, this monitor is ideal as you won’t need to upgrade your hardware to take full advantage of the quality Asus offers.
Our favorite 1080p G-Sync monitor is the AOC 2460PG. As a TN monitor, it is blazing fast for those who want to play competitive games such as CS:GO and offers quality colors and depth. 1080p is still the go-to resolution for many gamers who have been playing E-Sports (Adding several million pixels can throw off your game) or are waiting to upgrade to 4k.
The G-Sync tech makes this monitor flawless in execution and a moderate GPU such as the GTX 1060 will get you 60 FPS in most games at 1080p. You can’t go wrong with the AOC 2460PG if you want a top-notch monitor at a killer price with the best specs. The 2460PG gives you the best experience a 1080p monitor can offer with flawless image synchronization and slick blurless images.
That being said, FreeSync is cheaper. Sticking with the Nvidia eco-system will offer you the best GPU options at higher prices. 1080p is transitioning out as newer formats replace it. It just can’t compete with the insane amounts of screen space and sharp pixeless gameplay of 2k and 4k gaming. That’s why a 1080p gaming wants to focus on speed.
Most high-quality 2k and 4k monitors cannot obtain the blazing fast speeds that 1ms 1080p monitors manage to hit. While it’s such a minute difference, to a professional FPS player, EVERY millisecond counts. That’s why we love the 2460PG. It’s just fast. If your converting from a slower monitor, you instantly feel how responsive and excellent this monitor is. Having a fast monitor won’t make you better or give a competitive edge rather it allows you to play at your best. Its satisfying to know you aren’t struggling in a competitive FPS because of technology!
The Acer GN246HL is hands-down one of the best 1080p monitors on the market and comes at one of the lowest prices you’ll find for top-tier premium monitors. Part of this is because the GN246HL lacks FreeSync or G-Sync. While those are incredible technical breakthroughs, 1080p gaming can look gorgeous on this monitor and still deliver great visual quality.
If those two technologies aren’t deal breakers or you need a monitor that is lightweight and portable, the GN246HL is a natural choice. This monitor is especially good for those who have an older Nvidia card such and don’t want to upgrade the GPU right now. Instead of paying a large sum for G-Sync, you just get a fantastic dressed down monitor.
You still get blazing fast 144hz gameplay, deep-rich color, and a 1ms response time that will strike fear into the hearts of other gamers. It’s fast. And at 24-inches, this monitor is the perfect size for anything you need. One of the best parts about the GN246HL is that it is one of the lightest monitors you’ll ever use. This makes it ideal for traveling and we’ve personally taken ours on several cross country trips as carry on luggage (Not recommended for any other monitor!).
Its practical, portable, and just a good monitor. 1080p is starting to look a bit more aged so that may be a reason to forego this resolution and get a 2k or 4k monitor but for those with older rigs or who prioritize speed, this monitor is a deal! It’s also a good in-between option if you are waiting to upgrade your visuals.
Note: Why didn’t we select any 1080p IPS models? Basically, the cost-difference between TN and IPS for most 1080p monitors is enough for us to suggest bumping up to 1440p if you are looking for an IPS panel. Cheaper 1080p IPS monitors are normally incapable of working at the high refresh rates that gaming requires, thus costing a bit more.
Once again ROG has made a top-tier product that is impossible to beat. 4K “adds” up to 300% more screen real estate than that of 1080p thus greatly increasing the visual fidelity. This new screen space allows you to have unparalleled room for art, gaming, and productivity. Add to this the millions of additional pixels, vibrant colors, and stellar craftsmanship of ROG and it's easy to see why this monitor is a win.
Able to pivot, rotate, and move around, this adjustable monitor is great for gaming or unique tasks that require a top-notch panel. The one drawback though is similar amongst all modern 4K models. Unfortunately modern 4k monitors don’t achieve refresh rates above 60Hz without being ridiculously expensive. Until the technology develops almost all 4k monitors will be locked in at 60Hz. G-Sync enabled, this monitor is similar to the 2k ROG Swift model but offers a stunning resolution upgrade.
This upgrade also adds room for more vibrant colors and glorious visual fidelity. 2k looks stunning with Swift but 4k looks heavenly. No more pixels and jagged edges. With a 4k monitor, visual artifacts are simply a thing of the past. As long as you have the hardware to run it, your games will look better than you can imagine. We love the slick black design as well. This monitor comes equipped with two speakers for some basic audio.
The speakers are not the best quality but can help in a pinch if you are unable to use speakers or use this monitor for a non-desktop related use (Such as a conference panel). This is the pinnacle of modern 4k technology and shows just how bright the future is for gaming.
Screen space is important. 4K capitalize on this by offering huge amounts of space as well as unique features like being curved that increase immersion when gaming. The Acer XR382CQK is not the cheapest monitor but it is INCREDIBLE. Beyond stunning 4K Visuals, the curved display has enough space to satisfy anyone who indulges in both gaming and creation.
Whether you are an artist or media professional, you have enough room to handle anything that work throws at you. The added size also allowed Acer to bump up to 75Hz, a rarity in the current 4K market. You can’t go wrong with the XR382CQK! One unique feature of the XR382CQK is the 21:9 aspect ratio. Curved monitors were once a novelty but they’ve since found appeal as a device for immersive gaming. Games that work well with this aspect ratio such as simulators and racing titles look fantastic and stretch across a vast plane so you feel as if you are in the very action itself.
Getting this size with the above standard 75Hz refresh rate does add a bit of kick to the wallet. Despite being a FreeSync option, this monitor is a tad pricey. Still it offers the best quality you’ll find for both immersion and productivity. Many professionals use one or two monitors for work. With the XR382CQK you have enough room to use just one monitor for multiple roles. This monitor also comes equipped with two speakers but unlike most monitor speakers, they are capable of significant volume and are particularly good sounding.
Finally as a business oriented item, the XR382CQK has a secret weapon against the eye-strain that can occur from using a monitor all day long. Flicker-less technology reduces eye-strain and helps you work all day and then cap off work with a long gaming session. Without the migraine.
Most 4K monitors cost over $500 so the LG stands out as one of the cheapest and smallest 4K monitors on the market. At 27-Inches, it might not be the biggest, but the beautiful stunning quality you can get at this price point is unbeatable.
A competitor to ROG, this monitor is a premium option that offers huge amounts of screen space and a proprietary split screen mode to cordon off work sections (Basically creating 4 small 1080p monitors on screen). The leap to 4k is arguably the biggest graphical advancement in the last 10 years.
This monitor removes all the jagged edges that most AAA titles are known for, giving you the best possible experience while gaming. It also uses FreeSync, a huge boon to those in the AMD ecosystem. If you are looking for a FreeSync compatible monitor but don’t want to break the bank, this is the best option you’ll find in today's market. That being said, LG doesn’t have the track record that ROG has with excellent color and high-fidelity images.
As a 4k Monitor, this is a glorious option but the ROG model looks brighter and fuller. Despite being a top-tier competitor too, this monitor has a slightly dull look that can’t compete with the stunning design that ROG has on display. Still, it’s inexpensive and a great buy! For many it’s worth saving several hundred dollars to strip off a few of the bells and whistles. This monitor offers 4 times the pixel count of competing 1080p models but gives the option to divide those into seperate screens making office work super easy.
Picking a gaming monitor isn’t easy. There is a wide range of diversity in the options available and a slew of tech terms that aren’t easy to understand without some additional research. Don’t despair though! We are here to help you understand why we picked these monitors and what different technologies help you select the best monitors on the market.
Refresh Rates or Hz are an interesting and controversial factor in gaming. Basically the refresh rate dictates the maximum Frames-Per-Second that can be viewed on a given monitor. While the human eye can only comfortably distinguish between approximately 30-60 FPS, gaming professionals and E-Sports players swear by the highest refresh rates. It does play a part in the smoothness of gameplay and a higher refresh rate guarantees that you are less likely to experience jitters and visual artifacts, particularly if you are able to spot the differences between high frames. A monitor only capable of 60Hz may have tearing problems that are alleviated when more frames are possible. 60Hz monitors are cheaper but universally most gamers prefer 75Hz or higher.
When referencing the panel technology of a monitor it can be a bit confusing. Basically monitors come in many different “Panel” types but the most common gaming formats are Twisted Nematic (TN) and In-Plane Switching (IPS). TN is an older format that has some issues with common usage such as poor quality when viewed at different angles, dampened color, and lower contrast ratios.
IPS is superior in look and quality but it comes at both a premium in cost and speed. Because TN technology is cheaper to produce and technically faster, it’s easier to get a high-quality TN monitor with low-input lag. For the most competitive and extreme gamers, TN monitors offer a good compromise between price and speed.
IPS though offer that stunning quality and beauty desired from cutting edge graphics and if you spend enough money, the input lag is quite comparable. It’s more common to find cheaper 144Hz TN panels because of the technical hurdles in speed, but the 144Hz IPS panels are STUNNING. For a deeper explanation, check out this article here!
HDR or High Dynamic Range Technology is an emerging force in monitors. Basically HDR allows a monitor to show a richer variety of color. The black hues are darker and colors pop with intense brightness. HDR is incredibly beautiful and one of the game-changing factors in selecting a monitor today.
Unfortunately as a newer technology, HDR is not as standardized as other technical factors in choosing a monitor. There are a host of formats battling for the place of the HDR standard but it won’t be long before HDR is standardized enough to make a selection easy.
Another factor to consider is that monitors normally don’t strive to be as bright or bold as television sets due to being close to the eyes and for working environments. Due to these factors, the HDR market for monitors is in infancy but over the next year or so they are making huge strides for mass-adoption.
While the monitor choices are slim, game developers generally support HDR and have made huge strides toward making it a more common component of modern gaming. Look for this to be a big selling point toward the end of 2018. It’s risky to actively seeking modern HDR until the tech is a bit more developed and standardized as some monitors claim HDR without being true HDR.
Note: Unfortunately HDR much like a higher resolution is so different from available monitors that one must see an HDR monitor in order to actually experience it. So for those who want to experience the glory of HDR, a trip to a local computer store or conference may be in order.
Both major GPU producers have created proprietary technology that syncs monitor refresh rates with that of internal graphics card. Traditionally the GPU compensated for changes in refresh rates, FPS, and graphical hiccups by using a slew of technologies like Vsync (Vertical synchronization).
These technologies helped gameplay look smooth and often removed visual artifacts and blurring (A side effect of the monitor not refreshing at the same frequency as the graphics it receives). Despite being a huge upgrade, VSync can tax system performance and has its own graphical problems as well. Many games offer VSync but recommend eliminating it if graphical glitches occur.
AMD and Nvidia created FreeSync and G-Sync to remove the technical hurdles that VSync can’t fix. By syncing with a modern GPU, FreeSync and G-Sync monitors overcome various issues such as screen-tearing. This creates gorgeous gameplay with no-blur and minimal graphical artifacts.
Consumers often report that G-Sync and FreeSync are actually more important than a change in resolution. While ultimately it comes down to preference, it speaks volumes about the visual difference that G-Sync and VSync make.
Resolution is one of the most important factors in deciding between monitors. Some would say resolution is the most important factor. Basically the resolution of a monitor determines the amount of pixels that fit onto a screen.
Pixels are little dots that when clustered together and individually given colors make an image. At close distances, pixels can look blocky. A higher resolution means smaller pixels and higher density of pixels. The difference is drastic between 720p and 4k. At higher resolutions there are significantly less jagged edges and more screen space is available.
This is way more important for monitors than that of TV’s as traditional the user sits very close to the monitor and can far easily see poor pixel density. The picture below illustrates how this can affect the graphical fidelity of a game.
Running games at higher resolutions is very taxing and as such you need powerful hardware to play at resolutions such as 4k. The trade-off in graphical quality is worth it though as games look crisp, beautiful, and far more detailed.
One of the things to note is that a screen has the same amount of pixels per resolution regardless of screen size. So a 27-Inch 1080p monitor will have just as many pixels as a 50-Inch 1080p TV. While counter-intuitive, its important to understand this distinction.
If your biggest issue is screen space, a higher resolution at a smaller size could benefit you more than a larger monitor at a lower resolution. The example below illustrates the importance of pixel density. When stretched over a large distance, a pixel dense monitor has a much larger capacity for screen space.
The industry has created a convoluted system for explaining different resolutions. Several common ones are:
Monitors are becoming more inventive and creating innovative solutions for immersion. A popular trend has been changing the Aspect Ratio to create a unique looking monitor capable of helping you immerse in gameplay.
Curved Wide-Angle monitor is great for having additional work space as well as immersive content such as Forza. These different screens often claim to be a specific resolution such as 1440p or 4k. Sometimes they are not true 1440p or 4k but a close specialized resolution that allows for widescreen gaming.
Most monitors today have an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10. Wide angle monitors have different aspect ratios though such as 21:9. This is normally well within the constraints of most modern gaming setups but there are some technical hurdles such as various GUI adjusting properly to the 21:9 ratio that have to be considered.
Really it comes down to preference and gaming choice. Wide-screen monitors are not recommended for competitive FPS gaming as you may struggle to be effective, but they work wonders with RTS and MOBA games.
Monitors range from cheap and somewhat replaceable to over $20,000. Most of this pricing involves the addition of specific technical features such as 4K or 5K. Monitors also tend to drop in price overtime as technology progresses and the operating costs of manufacturing are lowered. A 4K monitor would have been outrageous a few years ago, now you can find some lower-tier models at a low price point.
When selecting a monitor in regards to budget, it’s important to decide beforehand what matters most in your monitor set-up. Whether it’s Refresh Rates, Color Saturation, or Resolution. Next decide how long you plan on using this monitor.
For instance, buying a 1440p monitor today is a good investment for the future but a 1080p monitor may start to feel dated soon depending on what games you play and what settings you use. Before budgeting, think through the shelf-life of this monitor. Will it be expected to last 4-5 years?
Do you want to upgrade to 4k but prefer a 2k monitor for now? Would it be better to have two monitors in the future (A totally fine way to plan as most people just use a second monitor for increased workflow later on)?
Why is this list divided by resolution?
We could make a list using numerous factors such as budget or technical features but in actuality most monitors are purchased with resolution in mind. That’s because the minimum requirements for gaming are paired pretty efficiently with monitor resolution. That means the consumer needs a system capable of running games at those resolutions.
We highly suggest knowing what resolution you want to game at before picking a monitor and considering budget after you’ve decided that. Otherwise you may get a cheap monitor but waster your gaming potential or get a top-notch 4k machine that can’t really show-off on a 1080p monitor.
Buying a bottom of the barrel 4k monitor is like buying a black and white television to watch Blu-Ray Disks. It’s better to think less in terms of budget and buy in terms of quality. Our list encompasses the recommended minimum you should shoot for in each respective bracket for a gaming monitor.
Striving to lower the Refresh Rates or Response Times would cause these Gaming monitors to just be traditional monitors. Those come cheap and easy and are not built to give you the best experience with CS:GO or the Witcher III.
I don’t have a compatible graphics card for FreeSync/G-Sync, should I pick a different monitor?
FreeSync and G-Sync work best with newer generations of AMD and Nvidia cards. The FreeSync technology is significantly cheaper than that of G-Sync and AMD supports a large range of older cards. Meanwhile G-Sync is only usable with Series-9 and 10 GTX cards.
That means a similar monitor may differ by several hundred dollars purely for this one technology. You can still use a G-Sync or FreeSync monitor as long as you don’t employ those specific technologies but there are a host of cheaper options without G-Sync or FreeSync as well. If you plan on buying a GPU in the next year, it’s probably best to get a monitor that is somewhat future proof anyways.
FreeSync is relatively cheap too so if you plan to buy an AMD card, it’s probably the best option. G-Sync is expensive though and if you aren’t buying Nvidia products in the future, it would be a waste of money. That being said, they have a history of creating the best products in the GPU market and a G-Sync monitor may be the best bet if you want to have top-tier graphical fidelity.
Should I get a 4K monitor if I can only game in 1080p?
This depends ultimately on what you plan to use your computer for. A 4k monitor gives incredible amounts of screen space, has stunning video quality, and isn’t nearly expensive as several years ago. Since gaming is generally headed to widespread 4k adoption...
Why are all of our top monitors 1440p?
Despite the incredible increase in performance from GPU manufacturers over the last two years, no current card can maintain consistent performance above 60 FPS while gaming in 4k. Using SLI setups, fancy rigs, and liquid cooling can push past these limits but for the most part, a 4K monitor that goes above 144hz is impractical.
This next year will introduce several 144hz monitors onto the market that work in 4k as well as possible GPU lines that are designed to push games beyond the 1440p barrier. When both of these tech trends colesce, it’d be the best time to jump into the 4k market. That being said, if you are on the fence about when to buy or if you should go up a generation or two, waiting isn’t a bad option in regards to these monitors.
Can I just use my 4k TV? It’s cheaper!
Unfortunately the TV market may seem like a winning proposition for a cheap, high-quality monitor. In fact, any modern 4K TV with an HDMI port will plug into all modern cards (perhaps with the use of an adaptor). So why not go that route? Several reasons, first televisions are designed for viewing at a distance.
4K TV’s tend to have a very different standard in terms of color and brightness because they are viewed from a distance of 8-10 feet. A television will often be far to bright and hard to tune properly for a SOHO setting. Secondly, the 4K TV market is not remotely standardizes. Many 4K televisions claim to be HDR compatible or have outlandish refresh rates (240Hz is a common factor).
Many of these claims don’t hold true for the television let alone when it is connected to a PC. For instance HDR is often inconsistent and running a 1080p program on a 4K monitor scales well while it often looks horrendous on a 4K TV with tons of downsampling. Are there 4K TV’s that can work? Yes. Is it recommended? Not really, you have to do tons of research and miss out on killer features like G-Sync and get usually a poor refresh rate. If you still want a massive TV like display with those features, check out the upcoming BFGD from Nvidia!
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