When it comes to gaming, your display matters. A good gaming monitor will not only provide enough color and brightness to immerse you in your favorite titles, but also will be smooth and responsive enough to ensure that you always play at your best. For competitive gamers, having the right monitor can mean the difference between pulling off a last-minute win in Overwatch or dropping a clutch Street Fighter combo and losing it all.
Of the monitors we've reviewed and tested, the Dell S2417DG is our overall favorite thanks to its great colors, fast response times and sleek, adjustable design. The Asus VG245H is an excellent budget pick, while those seeking a premium curved monitor should check out the Acer's Predator X34.
Some displays are optimized for console gaming or specific genres, and there are even portable displays such as the Gaems Vanguard that let you play your PS4 or Xbox One anywhere. Upcoming monitors such as Asus' PG27UQ and Acer's Predator X27 even bring 4K HDR to the mix. After testing a variety of monitors from the top brands in the market, we've selected our top picks for every kind of gamer.
What to Consider
Given how varied and specialized gaming monitors have become, it's important to consider your personal needs before buying one. Many monitors come in either 24-inch or 27-inch variations — the latter size makes it easy to see all the action at once, while the former allows for a bigger, more immersive picture. There are also curved, ultra-wide monitors for those looking to get fully sucked in.
The PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch max out at 1080p resolution, so you'll be fine using them with a standard full-HD monitor. However, both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S can output certain content in 4K. Likewise, if you have a high-end gaming PC that can play games at their highest settings, there are plenty of quad-HD and 4K monitors to suit your needs.
Refresh rate and response times are key: The former determines how many frames per second a monitor is capable of displaying, and the latter dictates how quickly it can react to input. If you're more concerned with playing games at high framerates, a 1080p or 1440p monitor is probably the way to go (depending on your graphics card). If you're willing to sacrifice smoothness for picture quality, go for 4K.
There are two common panel types for gaming monitors: TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). TN panels are the most common and offer solid response times and refresh rates for fairly low prices, but they can suffer from bad viewing angles and color reproduction issues. IPS panels typically offer better colors and contrast, but at the expense of worse response times and higher prices. TN panels tend to be better for competitive games, while IPS panels favor immersive experiences.
You'll want to check if a monitor supports Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, which are technologies that allow the screen to sync up with your graphics card for smoother performance. You'll even start to see monitors that feature G-Sync HDR, which allow for better brightness and color while retaining the same smoothness that G-Sync displays are known for. It's also worth considering a display's inputs — some are limited to HDMI, while others offer more versatility via DVI and DisplayPort connections.
How We Test
As we do with TVs, we use our Klein K-10A colorimeter and SpectraCal CalMAN 5 software to extract a range of color, contrast and brightness data from each monitor's default display modes. Of the data we gather, we weigh brightness (white luminescence), color accuracy (Delta-E) and color gamut most heavily in our reviews.
We also use a Leo Bodnar Lag Tester to measure each display's latency, a key statistic for those looking for highly responsive monitors. For a deeper dive on our display testing methodology, check out How We Test TVs.
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