Best gaming monitor 2021: the top 144Hz, 240Hz and 4K monitors
Buying a new gaming monitor can be daunting when there are so many different makes and models to choose from, but we’re here to help you find the best gaming monitor for you and your budget. I’ve tested hundreds of gaming monitors over the years, and from cheap 1080p screens right up to 4K HDR displays, and I’ve selected all of my top gaming monitor recommendations below. Whatever type of gaming monitor you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.
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Most people buy a new gaming monitor for one of two reasons: they either want a higher resolution screen, or they want one with a high refresh rate for super smooth gaming. The good news is that you can often get both by picking a gaming monitor, which is why you’ll find that almost every screen on my best gaming monitor list has a refresh rate above the standard 60Hz.
With so many different options available, it can be hard to say that one monitor in particular is the absolute best of the best. However, regardless of whether you’re building a new PC from scratch or upgrading your PC from a very old system, a good place to start is to think about the kind of graphics card you have. If your GPU’s getting on a bit, for example, it’s probably not going to be able to handle much more than playing games at 1920×1080. If you’ve got an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / GTX 1660 or an AMD Radeon RX 580 / RX 5600 XT, however, then you’re probably fairly safe pushing up to 2560×1440, or getting a 1920×1080 monitor with a high refresh rate.
Alternatively, if you’re also thinking about getting a new graphics card soon, then that can also help you decide what kind of gaming monitor to buy. If you want to play games at 1920×1080, for example, then you can opt for a cheaper GPU. If you want to play games at 4K, on the other hand, then you’re going to need to dig a lot deeper and get a more powerful graphics card to go with it, such as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or an AMD Radeon RX 6800 or above. You can find out more about the best graphics cards for certain resolutions and refresh rates in our best graphics card guide, and we also regularly round up the best prices for our favourite monitors and GPUs in our regularly updated graphics card deals and gaming monitor deals hubs.
Best gaming monitor 2020
- AOC 24G2U – the best 144Hz gaming monitor AOC C27G2ZU – the best 240Hz gaming monitor AOC Agon AG273QX – the best 1440p gaming monitor Acer Predator Z35p – the best ultrawide gaming monitor AOC Agon AG353UCG – the best ultrawide HDR gaming monitor Samsung Space – the best budget 4K gaming monitor Acer Nitro XV273K – the best 4K gaming monitor Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ – the best 4K HDR gaming monitor
The best 144Hz gaming monitor
Specs: 24in, 1920×1080, IPS, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync, height-adjustable stand Price: £180 / $180
The AOC 24G2U hands down one of the best gaming monitors I’ve ever tested. Its sub-£200 / $200 price makes it a great monitor for those on a budget, and its high refresh rate gives it plenty of headroom for both low and higher-end graphics cards alike. That’s why it’s currently my number one recommendation in our £1000 PC build, the RPS Rig, and it’s also my top recommendation for those upgrading their monitor from a much older screen.
It’s not one of Nvidia’s officially certified G-Sync Compatible screens, all told, but my tests show its AMD FreeSync support works just as well with Nvidia graphics cards as it does with AMD ones. It’s infinitely better than AOC’s other similarly priced gaming monitor, the AOC G2590FX, both in terms of colour accuracy and overall contrast, and it’s also better value for money than the very similar and slightly more expensive Viewsonic Elite XG240R.
The AOC 24G2U has an excellent 24in screen, and its fantastic IPS panel covers 99.6% of the standard sRGB colour gamut straight out of the box, meaning you don’t have to spend ages tweaking anything to get a great picture. That’s a lot for a monitor of this size and price, and is actually better value for money than some of the larger screens further down on this list.
The best 240Hz gaming monitor
Specs: 27in, 1920×1080, VA, 240Hz, AMD FreeSync Premium, height-adjustable stand Price: £300 / $280
You’ll need a pretty beefy graphics card to make the most of a 240Hz gaming monitor, but if you’ve got the right GPU and value frames per second above all else, then the AOC C27G2ZU is definitely the best 240Hz gaming monitor around today.
It’s considerably cheaper than other 27in, 240Hz gaming monitors out there at the moment, and its curved VA panel has superb colour accuracy straight out of the box, meaning you can simply plug it in and start playing without having to spend ages faffing around with the settings. It’s also available in a cheaper ZE model, but the benefit of opting for this ZU variant is that you get a height-adjustable stand and four USB 3.2 ports, which you don’t get on the ZE.
Yes, a 1920×1080 resolution isn’t ideal on a 27in gaming monitor, but you’ll only really notice its low pixel density (how sharp and crisp text and icons look onscreen) when you’re using it for work or occasionally browsing the web. In games, everything looked just fine, and I never had trouble reading text or interpreting a game’s HUD or UI. If the resolution is a bit of a deal breaker for you, though, then I’d suggest getting the 25in Alienware AW2521HFL instead.
AOC Agon AG273QX
The best 1440p gaming monitor
Specs: 27in, 2560×1440, VA, 165Hz, AMD FreeSync 2 HDR, height-adjustable stand Price: £430 / $ TBC
The AOC Agon AG273QX has everything you could possibly want from a 2560×1440 gaming monitor. With a high 165Hz refresh rate, a superb VA panel, height-adjustable stand and AMD FreeSync 2 HDR support that works equally well with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards alike, this is one gaming monitor that really commands your attention.
Sadly, stock levels continue to be a bit on the low side over in the US at the moment, but trust me, this is one monitor that will be worth the wait. Its picture quality is outstanding, covering 99.5% of the sRGB colour gamut and a respectable 87.9% of the HDR-grade DCI-P3 gamut, ensuring images and games look rich and punchy at all times on its default User mode. Plus, its intuitive onboard menu system means it’s easy to make any last minute adjustments.
If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also got a 165Hz refresh rate for high frame rate gaming (provided you’ve got a beefy enough graphics card, that is – which you’ll need if your target is 165fps at 2560×1440). Round that off with a range of inputs and a four-port USB3 hub and you’ve got yourself one of the best 1440p gaming monitors around.
If you can’t wait for the AG273QX to come back into stock, though, then the next best thing is MSI’s Optix MAG272CQR. Its HDR isn’t quite as good, but this monitor still has a fantastic panel and costs an identical £399 / $400. The Razer Raptor is also an exceptional 1440p monitor, but comes at a much higher premium.
Acer Predator Z35p
The best ultrawide gaming monitor
Specs: 35in, 3440×1440, curved AMVA, 100Hz (120Hz overclocked), Nvidia G-Sync, height-adjustable stand Price: £650 / $790
There are lots of great ultrawide monitors out there, but the Acer Predator Z35p is by far the best one I’ve tested so far. Not only does it have exceptional colour accuracy, but it’s also a lot more flexible than its FreeSync and G-Sync rivals.
For example, the Predator Z35p comes with four USB3 ports instead just two like its similarly priced rival, the AOC AG352UCG (which I should note has since been replaced by the AG352UCG6 Black Edition, which is effectively the same monitor just with a higher 120Hz refresh rate and black stand instead of silver), and its screen is also a lot brighter, making it more versatile in a wider range of lighting conditions. What’s more, I also much prefer Acer’s onboard menu system, as the AOC’s is, frankly, a bit of a disaster. It’s pricey, yes, but it really doesn’t get much better than this in the ultrawide category.
Although if you want the best stupidly ultrawide gaming monitor, then look no further than the Samsung CRG9, which has a massive 49in curved VA panel and a 5120×1440 resolution, which really does look rather lovely in games such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
AOC Agon AG353UCG
The best ultrawide HDR gaming monitor
Specs: 35in, 3440×1440, curved VA, 200Hz, Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate, height-adjustable stand Price: £1890 / $TBC
The AOC Agon AG353UCG isn’t the only 200Hz Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate screen out there (hello, Asus’ ROG Strix PG35VQ), but it is one of the cheapest, which is why it’s currently sitting in my best gaming monitor list for 2020. Not to be confused with the older AG352UCG mentioned above, AOC’s latest flagship ultrawide monitor is the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to ultrawide gaming monitors.
With its Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate support, the AOC Agon AG353UCG can do proper HDR at a peak brightness of over 1000cd/m2 – much like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ below, only across a much wider display. It’s also got a massive refresh rate of 200Hz – a rarity for a screen of this size – and superb picture quality.
Of course, the number of games that support ultrawide resolutions and HDR aren’t exactly plentiful right now, so unless you’re absolutely adamant about having an ultrawide display with all the bells and whistles then you’re probably better off sticking with the Acer Predator Z35p above, or opting for the ultra-ultrawide, FreeSync HDR-enabled Samsung CRG9, which currently costs around £1100 / $1300. Still, as Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate monitors go, you could argue the AOC Agon AG353UCG is a better buy than the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ below given it costs roughly the same amount of money and gets you a much bigger screen. It all comes down to whether you want that extra 21:9 aspect ratio or not.
The best budget 4K gaming monitor
Specs: 32in, 3480×2160, VA, 60Hz, height-adjustable stand Price: £420 / $430
Until recently, the BenQ EL2870U occupied my best budget 4K gaming monitor slot, but now the incredible Samsung Space has muscled it aside. It’s more expensive than the BenQ, but its superior picture quality and ingenious stand arguably make it better value for money overall.
Indeed, the best thing about the Samsung Space is that, thanks to its clever clamp mechanism that attaches to the back of your desk, you can push the screen right up against the wall when you’re done playing games, giving you a lot more space to do other things on your desk than you would otherwise. Indeed, the BenQ didn’t have any kind of height-adjustable stand whatsoever, making it pretty rigid and inflexible as a result.
The Samsung Space monitor’s large, 32in display also gives you loads of room to work and play games on, and its picture quality is pretty much perfect straight out of the box, making it a great 4K gaming monitor for those on a budget.
Acer Nitro XV273K
The best 4K gaming monitor
Specs: 27in, 3480×2160, IPS, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync, Nvidia G-Sync Compatible, VESA DisplayHDR 400, height-adjustable stand Price: £800 / $860
The Acer Nitro XV273K is the best 4K gaming monitor for anyone who’s been hankering after an Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate display but doesn’t have a spare two grand squirrelled away under their mattress. It’s still pretty expensive as gaming monitors go, but with a feature set like this, who can blame it?
Not only does this 27in 4K display have exceptional colour accuracy, but it’s also got a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, just like the current pair of Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate displays, Acer’s own Predator X27 and the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, the latter of which you can read more about below. Its variable refresh rate tech also has the added bonus of being compatible with both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, as it’s one of the few FreeSync screens that one of Nvidia’s officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitors, too.
Its 27in screen size also makes it a lot more practical than my previous mid-range 4K monitor choice, the jumbo TV-sized Philips 436M6VBPAB. The Philips is still pretty good value for money for those in the UK (which can currently be had for as little as £482 at time of writing), but really, unless you’re specifically after an HDR monitor to replace your TV in your living room, then it’s simply not practical as a general gaming screen.
Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
The best 4K HDR gaming monitor
Specs: 27in, 3840×2160, IPS, 120Hz (144Hz overclocked), Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate, height-adjustable stand Price: £1899 / $2000
It’s crazy expensive, but if you’re after the very best 4K HDR gaming monitor money can buy, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the one to get. With a crazy high peak brightness level of around 1000cd/m2, this is the finest implementation of HDR I’ve ever seen. It really brings HDR games like Final Fantasy XV and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to life.
I’d also say it’s a better buy than its slightly cheaper rival, the Acer Predator X27, too. Technically, both monitors share exactly the same panel (which is made by exactly the same manufacturer), but for me, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ was the more impressive of the two screens when it came to playing games in HDR.
The X27 is still a good choice if you can find it for a good price and don’t mind faffing around a bit with its various onboard menu settings, but for me, I much prefer the overall design of the PG27UQ. Yes, I could probably do without the LEDs burning a ROG-shaped logo hole in my desk (and ceiling), but it has a more pleasant height-adjustable stand than its Acer rival, and slicker, more premium-looking bezels.
How we test our gaming monitors
When I get a gaming monitor in for testing, I measure the panel’s colour accuracy, contrast level, brightness and black level with my X-Rite DisplayPro i1 calibrator. I start by measuring the default settings that you get out of the box, and then I go about optimising it through the monitor’s onboard menu system. The best gaming monitors won’t need any tweaking at all, as their panels should be configured correctly as soon as you take them out of the box.
IPS panels usually have the most accurate colours, but there are plenty of good looking TN and VA panels around now these days as well. TN panels often have quicker response times than other panel types, which can make them a good choice for fast, competitive games, but I’ve also never had a problem playing games on slower IPS or VA panels. After all, we’re talking about a different of mere milliseconds here, and most people won’t notice the difference whatsoever. For more info on how panel types compare, have a read of my in-depth gaming monitor panel types explained article.
I also test to see how well a monitor copes with different types of graphics cards if they have AMD Freesync or Nvidia G-Sync support. This is particularly important if they’re not one of Nvidia’s officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitors.
Finally, if applicable, I also see how easy it is to get its HDR working correctly. Naturally, only the best of the best make it onto this list, because let’s face it, no one wants to spend ages faffing around in their monitor’s menu system when they could be playing their favourite games. Read our What graphics card you need for HDR and what PC games support it article if you want to know more.