ASUS ROG monitor on desk with game playing
Asus

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What to Look for in a Gaming Monitor in 2021

You can play video games on just about any monitor, but if you’re buying a monitor specifically for gaming, there are a few features you should focus your attention on. How much room you’ve got to spare and your budget are good starting points, but there are other aspects you may not have been thinking about.

There’s a direct correlation between how powerful your gaming computer is and which monitor is right for you. If your hardware isn’t powerful enough to run most games in 4K, you’re better off with a lower resolution monitor that will make the most of your setup and save you money.

It’s also vital that you understand refresh rates, or how fast the screen updates per second. Measured in hertz (Hz), refresh rates start at around 60Hz on monitors designed for office use and can go all the way up to 360Hz on the most competitive gaming monitor. Higher refresh rates make motion more fluid (especially in fast paced games), reducing eye strain and generally being more responsive.

Variable refresh rate (VRR) technology like NVIDIA’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync is also important for eliminating screen tearing. This technology helps smooth out performance dips by telling the monitor to wait or duplicate frames so that the screen only updates when the graphics card is ready. Simply put, don’t buy a monitor for gaming that doesn’t support VRR.

Often, a choice needs to be made between high refresh rate monitors designed for competitive multiplayer gaming, and slower high-resolution displays that are designed to make your single-player experiences look as good as possible. You may also want to consider an HDR-capable display to experience higher peak brightness and a wider color gamut.

Finally, there are aesthetics and ergonomics. You might not want RGB lights on every surface, and you might want to use a VESA mount to put your monitor on an adjustable arm. These are all things you should consider before you check out.

With all that out of the way, here are our gaming monitor recommendations.

Best Gaming Monitor Overall: Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

ASUS ROG monitor on green background
Asus

Pros

  • Play games in 4K resolution at up to 144Hz
  • Adaptive sync VRR and G-Sync Compatible
  • Uses DisplayPort 1.4 and DSC for high framerate gaming at 4K
  • Compatible with VESA mounts

Cons

  • HDR performance is poor
  • A monitor that tries to do a bit of everything
  • Thick bezels and questionable "gamer" styling

With 4K gaming within reach thanks to AI-driven upsampling technology like NVIDIA’s DLSS, it’s a good time to buy a 2160p monitor. The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ is a good all-rounder with broad appeal for those looking to game in 4K and also want higher refresh rates in multiplayer games.

With a 27-inch 144Hz IPS panel and a response time of 1 millisecond (ms), the XG27UQ allows you to remain competitive in multiplayer titles while turning up the eye candy when you feel like doing so. The monitor uses adaptive sync VRR and is G-Sync compatible on a software level.

This monitor relies on Display Stream Compression to achieve high framerates in 4K via a DisplayPort 1.4 connector. There are two HDMI 2.0 ports present also, both of which are limited to 4K at 60Hz. The monitor has a basic DisplayHDR 400 certification, but don’t expect much in this regard since 400 nits are barely brighter than SDR anyway.

In terms of color accuracy, the monitor covers 125% sRGB and 90% DCI-P3, though you’ll need to use a monitor calibration tool to get truly accurate color.

Best Gaming Monitor Overall

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

With 4K capabilities, a 1 millisecond response time, and G-Sync features, this gaming monitor will be sure to please.

Best Budget Gaming Monitor: Acer Nitro XF243Y

Acer Nitro monitor on blue and green background
Acer

Pros

  • Full HD (1080p) gaming monitor with up to 165Hz refresh rate
  • AMD FreeSync Premium and NVIDIA G-Sync compatible
  • Fast response time of up to 0.5ms
  • Sharp, understated styling and thin bezels for a modern look

Cons

  • Disappointing HDR performance
  • Larger, higher resolution monitors only cost moderately more

If you’re looking for a budget monitor, you probably have a budget gaming PC too. For many cash-strapped gamers, 1080p is still the preferred target resolution, since even if they buy a 4K monitor, their hardware won’t support it. So save the money and grab the Acer Nitro XV242Y instead.

24 inches is the sweet spot for many gamers who need to balance hardware constraints with desk space. The Acer makes up for its lack of pixels with plenty of other features, including a refresh rate of up to 165Hz and compatibility with NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium for variable refresh rate support.

The styling is understated enough that the monitor could fit in just about any room, with thin bezels around the edge of the screen and an ergonomic stand with around 120mm of height adjustment, 90-degrees of pivot, and the ability to swivel a full 360-degrees. On the back, you’ll find a VESA mounting pattern, a single DisplayPort 1.2 port, and two HDMI 2.0 ports.

The monitor is DisplayHDR 400 certified, which means it gets plenty bright in SDR applications but HDR performance is disappointing. Understandable as sacrifices need to be made somewhere at this price point.

Best Budget Gaming Monitor

Acer Nitro XF243Y

If you want gaming performance but don't have a bunch of money to spend, Acer's Nitro monitor will give you a fast response and a great refresh rate.

Best 4K Gaming Monitor: LG C1 48-inch OLED

LG C1 on yellow background
LG

Pros

  • Stunning OLED image quality in 4K at 120Hz
  • Excellent HDR support, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • Broad variable refresh rate support including FreeSync Premium and G-Sync
  • TV means native apps and great support for console gaming too

Cons

  • 48-inches requires a fair bit of room
  • Unsuitable for other monitor tasks like office work
  • Burn-in is a risk

The LG C1 is one of the best televisions you can buy today. It sports a self-emissive 120Hz OLED panel, full 4K resolution, support for G-Sync and FreeSync Premium, and remarkably low input latency that makes it an ideal gaming display. It’s also available in a 48-inch model, with LG promising that 42-inch models are on the way—perfect for a big monitor on your desk.

A 48-inch monitor for PC gaming may sound ridiculous, but if you’ve got the room to accommodate a moderate gap between yourself and the display you won’t be disappointed. The OLED panel ensures perfect, deep blacks, while the HDR performance puts many other monitors in this price range to shame.

You can also use it as a TV for movies, shows, and console gaming. It’s really worth the price compared to monitors.

There are some things to keep in mind, however, if you’re leaning toward choosing a C1 as a gaming monitor. OLED burn-in is an ever-present risk, particularly for static desktop elements like a taskbar or desktop icons. You’ll also need an HDMI 2.1 compatible graphics card to take advantage of 4K HDR gaming at up to 120Hz, else you’ll be limited to 60Hz.

The LG C1 is best used for gaming and video purposes, so you probably won’t want to rely on it as your only monitor for work and other computer-related tasks. Just be sure to look after it as you would any OLED display if you go this route.

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

LG C1

A television as a gaming monitor might seem unusual, but the LG C1 has a lot of great things going for it, and the 48-inch model can sit on a desk as a monitor replacement.

Best Curved Gaming Monitor: Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

Samsung G9 on pink background
Samsung

Pros

  • Stunning 49-inch ultrawide display with Mini-LED backlighting
  • Excellent HDR performance and contrast ratio
  • VRR support for G-Sync and FreeSync Premium Pro
  • Picture-by-Picture allows you to share the screen with two inputs
  • 240Hz refresh rate for buttery smooth motion

Cons

  • Eye-watering price tag
  • May require a bigger desk
  • Two 1440p monitors would be cheaper
  • You'll probably never leave your room

Ultrawide (UW) monitors deliver incredible immersion and the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is one of the best. Featuring a 49-inch curved super ultrawide panel, the G9 packs in features including Mini LED backlighting, quantum dot technology for better color reproduction, a 1ms response time, and an input lag of 2 milliseconds.

The monitor has a resolution of 5120×1440 and a refresh rate of up to 240Hz, with Samsung claiming an effective contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 thanks to a blinding 2000 nit peak brightness and 420 nits of typical brightness in normal scenes. VRR support is also present, with support for both NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro.

Not only is the G9 a best-in-class gaming ultrawide, but it’s also perfect for getting work done during the day. The G9 effectively gives you two 1440p monitors, side-by-side, with no bezel. There’s even a Picture-by-Picture (PBP) mode that allows you to split the display between two computers, which might help the price tag seem a little easier to swallow.

The G9 hooks up via a single DisplayPort 1.4 port or one of two HDMI 2.1 ports, and features a robust adjustable stand with adjustable height, tilt, and swivel. The only issue is that this UW monitor might cost more than your computer!

Best Curved Gaming Monitor

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

Curved and ultra-wide monitors go hand in hand, and the Odyssey Neo G9 is the best of both. Play games, get work done, and everything in between on this spacious monitor.

Best 144Hz Gaming Monitor: Gigabyte M27Q

Gigabyte monitor on grey background
Gigabyte

Pros

  • 1440p IPS panel at up to 170Hz
  • AMD FreeSync Premium and NVIDIA G-Sync compatible
  • 0.5ms respons time, 92% DCI-P3 and 140% sRGB coverage
  • KVM switch for using the monitor with multiple computers and a single set of peripherals

Cons

  • Disappointing HDR performance
  • Questionable aesthetics
  • Stand doesn't pivot or swivel

If your PC is modest and you enjoy competitive multiplayer titles, a 1440p resolution monitor like the Gigabyte M27Q is an excellent value proposition. For just shy of $300, you can have a 27-inch monitor that refreshes at up to 170Hz, with sharp looks and a 0.5 millisecond response time.’

The M27Q supports AMD FreeSync Premium and is G-Sync compatible for VRR gaming, and features a handy KVM switch which makes it possible to use the monitor with multiple computers and a single set of peripherals.

Finally, the monitor is compatible with 100×100 VESA mounts, or you can use the included stand with 130mm of height adjustment and a +20-degree to -5-degree tilt (but no swivel or pivot). There’s DisplayHDR 400 certification, 140% sRGB coverage, and 92% DCI-P3 coverage to boot.

The M27Q exudes Gigabyte’s “gamer” styling, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a solid pick for anyone looking for that 1440p/144Hz sweet spot.

Best 144Hz Gaming Monitor

Gigabyte M27Q

Sometimes you need a specific and high refresh rate, depending on how competitive the games you're playing are. Gigabyte's 144Hz monitor will give you the specs you need to be at the top of your game.

Best 240Hz Gaming Monitor: Samsung Odyssey G7

Samsung G7 on purple background
Samsung

Pros

  • 1440p gaming at 240Hz with a 1ms response time
  • Support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and NVIDIA G-Sync
  • QLED technology means better color reproduction
  • 1000R curve and DisplayHDR 600 for immersive gaming

Cons

  • There are cheaper options out there
  • Curved displays aren't to everyone's tastes
  • "Infinity Core" lighting on the back is an acquired taste

If competitive gaming is your primary concern when picking a new monitor, you should be looking at a 240Hz monitor like the Samsung Odyssey G7. This 27 inch 1440p monitor is all about the 240Hz refresh rate, with its 1 millisecond response time and a VA panel that refreshes up to 240 times per second.

The monitor is available in both 27-inch and 32-inch models, with only a $100 price difference—though we’d pick the 27-inch model for the higher pixel density. There’s support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and NVIDIA G-Sync, while the monitor’s curve helps immerse you in whatever it is you’re playing.

Like the Odyssey Neo G9 (our favorite curved monitor), the G7 delivers impressive HDR performance and is certified to DisplayHDR 600. It also uses quantum dot technology in the panel for better color reproduction, though there’s no Mini LED backlight in this particular model.

If you like the idea of a high refresh rate monitor but don’t have G7 money, you might want to consider something like the 1080p ViewSonic Elite XG270 instead.

Best 240Hz Gaming Monitor

Samsung Odyssey G7

If you're looking to be a professional gamer, you need to have the best of the best when it comes to gaming monitors. The Odyssey G7 has a 240Hz refresh rate, a 1ms response time, and anything else you could possibly want.

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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