Best Gaming Monitors in 2020
Best 144hz monitorWide viewing angleFreeSync support available
Asus TUF VG259Q
Best budget monitorExcellent response timePicture calibration required
Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
Best 4K monitorSpectacular image qualityNvidia G-Sync Support
Samsung CRG9 Ultrawide
Best curved monitor32:19/1800R curvature1000 nits brightness/HDR100
What is a gaming monitor?
The monitor market is awash with fancy looking screens, and if you’re not a gamer, the standard “biggest is better” logic of television could very well apply to you. However, if you are the sort of PC user whose life (or “lives”) can hinge on a millisecond moment in an intense online battle, well, your screen needs are going to be quite different from the average Joe.
Just as professional graphic artists have a speciality range of screens to meet their obsessive chroma accuracy needs, Gaming monitors are a sub-class designed to maximise the enjoyment of the most extreme forms of interactive entertainment. The DNA of a desirable gaming screen leans less toward size or insane 8K resolutions and more toward responsiveness and motion/fluidity. To not have this is to ruin the “there-ness” of fully inhabiting your on-screen avatar. Your gaming monitor also needs to know how to play extra nice with your dedicated graphics card, which can make this an expensive proposition indeed.
What to look for in a gaming monitor
- Look to get amazing visuals that actually look good in motion…
- …which means getting a panel that supports a 100Hz+ refresh rate
- Some monitors play nicer with certain graphics cards (FreeSync for AMD and G-Sync for NVIDIA)
- Don’t buy a big screen designed for graphic artists. These look pretty but have terrible response times (over 4ms)
- Don’t buy a curved screen before measuring your desk space. They can get seriously huge.
Best 144hz gaming monitor
Asus MG279Q specs
- 27-inch display
- WQHD 2560 x 1440 resolution
- IPS panel
- 144hz refresh rate
- AMD FreeSync Compatible
- Wide viewing angle
- FreeSync support
- Thin bezel and decent cable management
- Lacks HDR
Much like trying a virtual reality headset for the first time, playing something on a monitor 144hz refresh rate is a see-it-to-believe-it experience. (It also kind of ruins the experience of having to go back to a regular monitor, too.) This striking IPS panel combines those all-important hertz with a 1440p resolution, and the end result is a very decent gaming screen at a great price. Other side benefits include a respectably wide viewing angle, decent contrast and color accuracy, and a wide color gamut.
That said, you should be aware of some shortcomings here and there. The 4ms response time is bordering the absolute limit of what a serious gamer would accept. Having 1440p resolution but no HDR stings a little as well. Be that as it may, this four-year-old set punches quite a bit above its weight. The benefit of being a little longer in the tooth is that you can scoop it up on the cheap.
Best Budget Gaming Monitor
Asus TUF Gaming VG259Q
Though it sure would be nice, some of us don’t have the funds (or office space) for a panel bigger than Texas. More modest monitors are required, and if you know where to look, you can score yourself a thoroughly decent screen for a fraction of the price of anything else in this listicle. Case in point: the Asus TUF Gaming VG259Q, a humble 24.5” that still outputs some quality visuals.
Basically, you’re looking at a Full HD panel that boasts 144Hz, 400 nit brightness levels, and a respectably wide viewing angle (always a plus for those of us who always seem to have an audience hovering beyond our shoulders). The real icing on the cake, though, is that the VG259Q takes no sides in the battle of the screen-tear tech– it happily supports both the FreeSync and G-Sync.
Though we doubt they’ll be used by many of you, this unit also comes with some halfway decent stereo speakers (they’ll seriously pale in comparison to some decent gaming headphones).
Best 4K Gaming Monitor
Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
Welcome to the wonderful, eye-watering world of 4K panels (also known as The Deep End, wallet-wise). If you’re in a position to be able to afford all of the bells and whistles, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the ultra HD gaming screen for your premium tastes.
You can expect all of the latest cutting-edge AAA games to be delivered to you in a ludicrously bright and clearly detailed fashion, providing you have a HAL-9000 desktop that can power such a visual odyssey. If you do own such a beast, this 27-inch HDR-enabled behemoth deals in some truly vivid visuals which (more importantly) look buttery smooth in motion. You can thank a 144Hz refresh rate and the screen-tear banishing tech known as G-Sync for this.
The only downside that can be levelled at this unit: it’s a bit sparse on the connectivity side of things. Mind you, the sheer picture quality you’re getting far outweighs that minor peccadillo.
Best Curved Gaming Monitor
Samsung CRG9 Ultrawide Monitor
Purchasing a curved screen requires a little bit of personal introspection first. Are you after all that extra screen real estate for immersion or to gain more spatial awareness in online multiplayer going a million miles a millisecond?
If it’s the latter, you need to look into a dedicated gaming panel like Samsung’s CRG9 Ultrawide Monitor. It offers a great balance of crazy resolution along with decent response times and refresh rate (4ms and 120Hz, respectively).
Providing you have the desk space needed to accommodate the CRG9’s impressive footprint, it’s a life-changing experience playing a game on this 32:9 49-inch, 5140 x 1440 wonder.
One thing interesting to note: Samsung has tweaked the features a little. Whereas the CRG9’s predecessor boasted a 144Hz refresh rate, that’s been lowered to 120Hz here (but hey – you also get a higher resolution, FreeSync2 tech and HDR1000).
What is a good size monitor for gaming?
Honestly, it all depends on what your desk space is and what you’re hoping to achieve with your games. If you’re the hyper-competitive type who plays online a lot, you’re going to want to steer your purchase towards high refresh rates and response times over resolution. Performance (and getting any edge you can in the heat of the moment) is your religion.
Conversely, if you’re a sim gamer playing by your lonesome, you’re going to favour bigger screens and bigger resolutions (possibly even a curved screen) to maximise the sense of immersion you’re seeking. Heck, you might be better served by securing a bunch of more modestly performing, bargain-priced panels to link together to create your own wall-screen gaming battle-station.
What is refresh rate and why is it important?
Put simply, the refresh rate is the amount of times your gaming monitor refreshes or “redraws” the image on your screen every second. This specification is measured in Hertz, which is most commonly abbreviated to “Hz” in marketing. While a high refresh rate doesn’t make a gaming monitor better per se, it can help reduce the motion blur caused by too many frames-per-second (fps) if your monitor can’t keep up. Refresh rate is more important in a monitor or television used for gaming (opposed to one used solely for watching movies) as games produce content, more “images” on the fly, and a monitor with a high refresh rate will do a better job of keeping up.