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 landing a crucial headshot in Fortnite: Battle Royale or dropping a key combo in Dragon Ball FighterZ 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. If you're on a budget, the Asus VG245H offers impressive responsiveness and a ton of great features for less than $200.
After testing a variety of monitors from the top brands in the market, we've selected our top picks for every kind of gamer.
Latest News and Updates (August 2018)
- We just reviewed the BenQ EL2780U, which offers 4K and HDR support for an attainable $499 price. However, the monitor's relatively dull color holds it back.
- Nvidia has unveiled its RTX-series graphics cards. The new line, which includes the RTX 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti, will launch in September starting at $499.
How We Test Gaming Monitors
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.
How Much Gaming Monitors Cost
A solid 1080p monitor will run you as little as $150, though features such as G-Sync and FreeSync can jack up the price significantly. Monitors with a 2560 x 1440p resolution — a good sweet spot for most gaming setups — typically cost between $300 and $500, depending on the features.
4K monitors can be found for as low as $400, but you'll be paying between $600 and $800 if you want a solid gaming model with G-Sync. Finally, there are curved monitors, which run the gamut from $300-$400 1080p models to insanely tricked out ultrawide sets that will run you well over $1,000.
Panel Types, G-Sync and HDR
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 also notice more and more monitors that feature High Dynamic Range (HDR), which allows for better color and brightness and is supported by the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, all PS4 models and select PC graphics cards.
1080p or 4K?
If you have a modestly powerful gaming PC or do most of your gaming on a PS4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, a 1080p monitor will suit you just fine. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X can both game in 4K (the Xbox One S just plays 4K video), so you'll need an ultra-HD display to get the most out of those systems. 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.
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