The best gaming monitors you can buy
- When it comes to gaming monitors, it's all about the high refresh rate, great image quality, and quick response time.
- The Acer Predator XB271HU Gaming Monitor is the best gaming monitor with its high refresh rate, high resolution screen, G-Sync tech, and sleek design.
* This article has been updated below.
As long as your computer can run games, you could use any old monitor for gaming - assuming it has the proper inputs, of course. While possible, that setup isn't exactly ideal. Most monitors aren't created to display the ultra-high frame rates PC gamers love so much, and, furthermore, may hurt how well you perform in game.
Through hands-on testing and reviews from buyers and experts, we've tracked down the best gaming monitors you can buy. Each of slides below covers a different type of gaming monitor, with everything from 4K to budget displays. Feel free to jump around to find the section that suits you.
There are a few considerations when choosing monitors. First, the monitor has to have a high refresh rate. Without getting too technical, refresh rate is how often a display can refresh what's on screen, wheres as frame rate is the number of unique frames displayed when the monitor refreshes. For example, a 120Hz refresh rate from a 60fps (frames per second) signal will display a duplicate frame each time upon each refresh.
Gaming is all about having a high frame rate, so if you have a display capable of 60Hz but 120fps coming from your game, you'll be missing half of the unique frames. In short, a higher refresh rate means there's less motion blur between frames, making for a sharper gaming experience during intense action.
Other considerations include resolution, response time, and overall monitor design, but high refresh rate is king. All of our picks have a resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels or higher - except for our budget pick - which should be enough for gaming.
Here are the best gaming monitors you can buy:
- Best gaming monitor overall: Acer Predator XB271HU
- Best 4K gaming monitor: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ
- Best gaming monitor on a budget: ASUS VG248QE
- Best ultrawide gaming monitor: Massdrop Vast
- Best G-Sync gaming monitor: ASUS ROG Swift PG279QR
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best gaming monitor overall
Why you'll love it: The Acer Predator XB271HU monitor has the perfect list of specs for gamers with a WQHD resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, and G-Sync built-in.
Acer is a common name when it comes to gaming monitors, and the Predator XB271HU is big reason why. This 68.5 cm gaming monitor ticks all of the right boxes, combining high refresh rates, good resolution, and low response time in a value-stuffed package.
The monitor has a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution. It's one and a half times the resolution of a full HD display, which is nice, but 4K is preferred. Given how much else the Predator XB271HU has going for it, though, the WQHD resolution more than suffices.
Mainly, that's because the panel has a 144Hz refresh rate, providing ultra smooth gameplay. Refresh rate measures how often a panel can update its buffer, and a higher refresh rate means more defined motion when action is on screen. While it ships with a 144Hz refresh rate, the panel can actually be overclocked to 165Hz.
Even at high frame rates, the monitor is clear, and that's partly aided by G-Sync. This Nvidia technology allows Nvidia graphics cards to power variable refresh rate. In short, the refresh rate of the display changes based on the frame rate it's putting out, avoiding the dreaded screen tearing and artifacting that result from frame rates changing during fast motion.
What sets this display apart, though, is its colour accuracy. The Predator XB271HU uses an IPS panel, whereas most other gaming displays use a TN panel. Out of the box, the colour accuracy is, frankly, terrible. However, after calibration, Rtings found that the display is very colour accurate, earning a 9.6 out of 10 score from them.
Pros: G-Sync, high refresh rate, capable of high colour accuracy
Cons: Terrible out of the box colour accuracy
The best 4K gaming monitor
Why you'll love it: Expensive as it may be, the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ monitor has the specs to keep up with even the most demanding of gamers.
The ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ is the Rolls Royce of gaming monitors, and it knows that. With a price tag of around R40,000*, it's one of the most expensive monitors you can buy. However, for the smoothest gameplay at the highest resolutions, there's no suitable replacement.
ASUS monitors strike an impressive balance of style and specs. The Swift PG27UQ still screams "gamer" in every possible way, but it does so with grace. The integrated ROG logo on the back can be customized and synced with ASUS Aura, as well as the underglow lighting that comes from the stand.
As far as performance goes, the Swift PG27UQ is unmatched. The UHD panel ships with a 144Hz refresh rate, but you can overclock it to 165Hz. It also supports G-Sync, so computers outfitted with Nvidia graphics cards can take advantage of variable refresh rate.
What's most surprising about it, though, is its colour accuracy. Out of the box, the Swift PG27UQ has enough colour accuracy for content creators to take advantage of. After calibration, the colours are near perfect, making the the Swift PG27UQ an excellent choice for gamers who want to do some content creation on the side.
The monitor is also certified with Vesa's DisplayHDR 1000, which is the highest possible tier. With HDR enabled, the the Swift PG27UQ has a contrast ratio of 50,000:1. Furthermore, since the panel uses quantum dot technology, it can achieve deeper blacks than most other gaming monitors.
Pros: High resolution, HDR support, G-Sync
Cons: At some R40,000*, it's one of the most expensive displays available
You can't currently buy the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ from local suppliers – but a refurbished import will set you back some R40,000.*
The best gaming monitor on a budget
Why you'll love it: Despite its modest resolution, the ASUS VG248QE monitor is an excellent affordable gaming monitor.
While ASUS takes the cake for the most expensive monitor in our guide, it also takes the title of best budget gaming monitor. The ASUS VG248QE is the perfect affordable gaming monitor, combining enough resolution and a high enough refresh rate into an inexpensive package. While miles away from the other options on our list, this monitor is the best one you can get for the money.
For around R5,000, you're getting a 61 cm, full HD monitor with a refresh rate of 144Hz. The refresh rate is what makes the difference. While you may be able to get slightly higher resolution or a larger size for the same price, you're not going to find another monitor with as high of a refresh rate, which makes the ASUS monitor perfect for gamers on a budget.
While most other aspects of the monitor are unimpressive, the ergonomics are anything but. The included stand offers 90 degrees of swivel, 110 millimeters of height adjust, 15 degrees of tilt and 90 degrees of pivot. For those who didn't pay attention in geometry class, that means the VG248QE is fully adjustable, so you can even turn it sideways.
As far as budget monitors go, that makes the VG248QE unique. It's a good choice to get started, but also a budget option if you're wanting to add a second display to your rig. You could, for example, buy into it now and, once you upgrade, turn it sideways to have chat open during a Twitch stream or just browse Reddit with maximum efficiency.
You can't expect a lot out of it, though. The VG248QE has mediocre image quality, horrible viewing angles, and only the standard range of inputs. However, for the price, it's excellent. With a full HD panel at 144Hz, ASUS has made one of the few monitors that offers a truly excellent gaming experience shy of R5,000.
Pros: Inexpensive, high refresh rate, quality stand
Cons: Poor colour accuracy and viewing angles
The best ultrawide gaming monitor
Why you'll love it: While it doesn't have the gamer aesthetic of Acer or ASUS, the Massdrop Vast packs most of the specs you need for around half the price.
The Massdrop Vast combines all of the essential elements of an excellent gaming monitor in an ultrawide package with a low price tag. While the Acer Predator X34 does the same thing with a higher overclocked refresh rate and better quality panel, it does so at around twice the price. Factoring value into the equation, the Massdrop Vast comes out as the best ultrawide monitor for gaming.
The chassis looks like something out of an Ikea display, but despite its humble appearance, the Vast a lot of specs under the hood. The TN panel has a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels with a standard refresh rate of 100Hz. The display is 89 cm, too, so you have a little more screen estate than other leading ultrawides.
However, the most surprising thing about the Vast is its price. Massdrop has broken price barriers when it comes to 4K ultrawide gaming monitors. At a little over $500, the Vast is around half the price of similar monitors from Acer and ASUS while putting up similar specs. The largest difference between them is the design of the chassis and quality of the panel.
Even with its somewhat boring design, the Vast isn't lost when it comes to ergonomics. The 1800R curved display can be mounted on any stand that supports the standard 100 x 100 VESA mount, but the included stand should be enough. The stand supports tilt and spring-actuated height adjustment, as well as a full 90 degrees of rotation. When put in the upright position, the name gets a whole new context.
With Nvidia's announcement to support Freesync monitors, there's very little downside to the Vast. It has mediocre colour accuracy out of the box, which shouldn't matter for gaming, but comes with full coverage of the sRGB spectrum.
Pros: Inexpensive, high refresh rate, support for Freesync
Cons: Mediocre colour accuracy, boring design
The best G-Sync gaming monitor
Why you'll love it: The ASUS ROG Swift PG279QR monitor comes with all of the specs of a good gaming monitor, with the addition of G-Sync to top it off.
The ASUS ROG Swift PG279QR monitor strikes a balance that few other G-Sync monitors have. It's relatively inexpensive - given how pricey G-Sync monitors can get - has a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution, can be overclocked up to 165Hz, and has a full 178 degrees of viewing thanks to the IPS panel.
While Nvidia now supports Freesync displays on its cards, the mark of a G-Sync display generally means that it's very high quality. G-Sync requires a proprietary board in the monitor, and Nvidia has strict requirements as to which products it approves. As opposed to Freesync, which uses software to accomplish variable refresh rate built into the DisplayPort standard, G-Sync uses a hardware module.
The strict standards mean certain issues, like ghosting, that come up with some Freesync displays will not come up with G-Sync ones. The Swift PG279QR has no such problems. With a refresh rate of up to 165Hz via DisplayPort or up to 60Hz via HDMI, it can deliver an ultrasmooth gaming experience with no unintended drawbacks.
As far as the other aspects of the monitor are concerned, the Swift PG279QR is, frankly, excellent. With nearly perfect colour accuracy out of the box and full coverage of the sRGB spectrum, the Swift PG279Q is great for gaming and content creation. After calibration, it could go toe-to-toe with expert level monitors.
For gaming, the response time is important, and the Swift PG279QR succeeds on that front, too. With an 80% response under 5ms and 100% response under 10ms, the Swift PG279Q ensures that whatever you're doing on screen feels fluid and natural.
Pros: G-Sync support, IPS panel, high colour accuracy
Cons: Limited ASUS Aura integration
(The PG279QR is not directly available in South Africa right now.)*
* This article has been updated to correct two cases of mistaken identity on the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ and the PG279QR. Sadly the former is not available for around R16,000 in SA as we initially believed, but instead starts at around R40,000. Business Insider regrets the error.
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