The best gaming monitor looks different depending on what you need. Maybe you’re after a 21:9 aspect ratio. Or maybe you want a 1440p or even 4K gaming monitor to go with that beefy graphics card you just bought. Or maybe you want to upgrade from a smaller monitor to a 30+ inch curved screen, which can make a noticeable difference in the way you work and play.
The best monitors also support adaptive sync, including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, which reduces screen tearing while gaming, 1ms response times or lower, and HDR.
While gaming monitors tend to be expensive, they aren’t all created equal. If you want the best 24-inch monitor, look no further than the Acer Predator XB253Q GW (available at Amazon for $347.88). It gives you the feel of an extra big, extra fast gaming monitor for hundreds less than the average ultra wide-screen display. However, if you don’t mind going a bit bigger, our list has several great choices, some of which are even speedier or offer greater image quality overall.
These are the best gaming monitors we tested, ranked in order:
- Acer Predator XB253Q GW
- Dell S2721HGF
- Alienware AW2721D
- Alienware AW3423DW
- Dell S2721QS
- Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 LS49AG952NNXZA
- LG 27GL83A-B
- Acer Nitro XV340CK
- Alienware AW3821DW
- Viewsonic XG3220
Other Gaming Monitors We Tested
How We Test Gaming Monitors
Matthew S. Smith is a technology journalist, reviewer, and editor with 14 years of experience. He’s tested over 600 laptop and desktop displays over the past decade, keeping a log of his results for future reference. In addition to evaluating monitors, laptops, and other gear for Reviewed, you can find his monitor reviews published at Insider, IGN, and Digital Trends.
We used a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration tool for objective evaluation of monitor quality for this list. This tool can measure numerous technical details of a monitor including: brightness, black levels, contrast ratio, white point, color gamut, color accuracy, gamma curve, and uniformity.
Gaming monitors must also be tested for motion clarity and responsiveness. We judged this by first observing Blur Buster’s UFO Test and then launching several games to gauge real-world performance. We look not only for clarity in motion but also signs of ghosting and overshoot, problems that can cause visible trails or halos behind fast-moving objects.
We also consider a monitor’s features and ease of use. The best monitors have an ergonomic stand that’s easy to adjust. They also provide USB ports and a wide range of image customization. We consider these features when making our final selections.
These results are logged and placed in a spreadsheet. Reviewed uses an in-house rubric to balance our recorded results and provide an objective ranking.
Price is important, as well. The most expensive monitors do tend to perform well, but that’s unsurprising given their cost. We think a great gaming monitor should provide amazing visuals, smooth gameplay, and unrivaled value.
What Size Gaming Monitor Do I Need?
- Typical gaming monitors: The most common sizes of gaming monitors span 24 inches, 27 inches, and 32 inches.
24-inch monitors are popular among both competitive and casual gamers, and offer the highest possible refresh rates, ensuring smooth and responsive gameplay. The most common resolution at this size is 1080p.
A 27-inch monitor is the common next step up, and the largest size that makes sense for most people. These monitors range from budget options to well over $1,000 dollars, and span the gamut of 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.
A 32-inch monitor will provide large amounts of screen real estate but may be too large to fit on most people’s desks. The most common resolution at this size is 4K, as anything lower may appear blurry and make text illegible.
Ultrawide gaming monitors: Ultrawide monitors are typically the same height as a 27-inch widescreen monitor but much longer. They can span 34 to 38 inches and provide an immersive field of view when gaming, especially if the display is curved. However, they may not fit on every desk.
Extra large monitors: The largest gaming monitors encompass everything from curved 49-inch ultrawides up to 48-inch flatscreen OLEDs and beyond. Unless you sit several feet from your desk, these monitors are a poor fit for competitive gaming as large portions of the screen will be in your peripheral vision.
What Resolution Do I Need—1080p, 4K, or Something Else?
Gamers have a lot of choice in resolution, but your choice is likely to be guided by your budget and the performance of your gaming PC.
1080p: 1920 x 1080 resolution, better known as 1080p, is extremely common on budget gaming displays, and found on most displays that exceed a refresh rate of 144Hz. It doesn’t provide the sharpest picture but can offer extremely smooth gameplay. It also works well alongside a mid-range video card which is a major perk.
1440p: 2560 x 1440, shortened to 1440p, is a resolution rarely spoken of outside of PC gaming. It’s extremely popular in mid-range gaming monitors and provides a great balance between smooth gameplay and sharpness. It’s a big upgrade over 1080p and worthwhile (especially for larger monitor sizes) if you can afford it.
4K: 3820 x 2160, better known as 4K, receives a lot of hype but isn’t frequently used in gaming monitors, as 4K monitors with an enhanced refresh rate are impractically expensive. In fact, no 4K high-refresh monitor is recommended in this guide. Aside from the price of the monitor, you also have to factor the price of a new high-end video card.
The Three LCD Panel Types: IPS, VA, and TN
A monitor’s LCD panel sits between the glass or plastic on its surface and the LED backlights at the rear, and is largely responsible for the image quality of a monitor. There are three different technologies you’re likely to encounter here.
- IPS: This means “in-plane switching.” IPS panels tend to be bright, with good color and subdued ghosting behind fast-moving objects. However, IPS can’t show deep black levels, which is a problem in movies and games.
Despite this, many gaming monitors use an IPS panel because it’s an affordable and effective way to achieve smooth motion. Gamers are often willing to trade some image quality for this perk.
- VA: This means “vertical alignment.” This panel technology has far superior contrast than IPS or TN, and its color performance isn’t bad, either. VA panels have poor viewing angles compared to IPS, but this problem is less noticeable on a monitor, since you’ll usually sit directly in front of it.
The best VA panels have motion clarity similar to an IPS display, but there’s more variance. In general, this technology is best for gamers willing to trade some motion clarity for better image quality.
- TN: This means “twisted nematic.” These are the cheapest panels and generally perform poorly in color, contrast, and viewing angles. They have fast response times and remain a popular option for extremely affordable, high-refresh gaming monitors.
With that said, newer and more responsive IPS panels have eroded TN’s advantage, and we expect TN to be entirely obsolete within a few years.
Want more general help in buying the right kind of monitor? Check out our guide to buying a monitor.
Other Gaming Monitor Features to Consider
HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range.” HDR monitors have a greater color gamut and contrast, giving you a higher variety and intensity of colors. You’ll see brighter whites and darker blacks, and all the colors in the spectrum with greater vividness and clarity.
Sync features like GeForce’s G-Sync and AMD FreeSync help your monitor’s refresh rate match your graphics card’s refresh rate to keep your picture running smoothly. Without it, you might see visual stuttering, or even “screen tearing” that creates horizontal breaks in your video. If your graphics card is working at 56 frames per second, a good sync software will make your monitor refresh at 56Hz.
In addition to smoothing out the video, this can also reduce input lag, where you experience a delay between pressing a button on your controller and seeing the action performed in-game. Input lag is frustrating in any gaming situation, but it’s especially life-or-death in multiplayer games.