The best gaming monitor is practically essential to any gaming experience and to any gaming rig. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing an RPG that has you running around all of ancient Greece or trying to get some quick gaming in on Overwatch. PC games are becoming a sensory experience more and more and the best gaming monitor is a critical part of that.
There are some crucial things to keep in mind when shopping for the best gaming monitor, and it doesn’t just come down to buying the most expensive monitor out there. You have such a range of options to choose from, perhaps more than ever before, that you’ll have to narrow your options somewhat by what the most important features are for you in a gaming monitor.
Do you want to forget yourself for a day and a half in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey or the newly released Control? Is something like Ray Tracing, the cutting edge in lighting in games, important? If so, try to get a display that comes with HDR and 4K resolution.
If you’re more of a competitor and spend your time trying to get to the top of the leaderboards in e-sports games, speed is going to be king. Particularly, high refresh rates and low response times should be your top priorities when shopping. There are screens now reaching 240Hz refresh rates that, powered by the best graphics cards and processors, will make you the fastest gamer on the block.
A number of monitors will have some combination of features so separating the best gaming monitors from the merely passable can be tough. However, with our expertise and hands-on experience with a plethora of gaming panels, we’ve been able to narrow the field down to our choices of the best gaming monitors to the ones below. They’ve all been tested here at TechRadar so know that, if it’s on this list, it’s worth taking a closer look at.
What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, many retailers will be dropping the prices of gaming monitors in anticipation of the deals period, which means this is an excellent time to start looking for the best deals on the best gaming monitors. From medium-sized monitors with high refresh rates, to ultra-wide or 4K screens, we’ve seen some brilliant price cuts for gaming monitors in previous Black Fridays. That doesn’t mean you need to hold off buying one if you see an incredible deal, however. Many retailers begin cutting their prices several weeks – and even months – before Black Friday and Cyber Monday actually kick off, so you could bag yourself an amazing price right now.
Best gaming monitors at a glance:
- Samsung CRG9
- Alienware AW3418DW
- AOC Agon AG352UCG6
- Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
- BenQ PD3200U
- MSI Optix MPG341CQR
- BenQ Zowie XL2540
- Samsung CHG90
- AOC Agon AG322QC4
- MSI Optix MAG271CR
1. Samsung CRG9
Screen size: 49-inch | Aspect ratio: 32:9 | Resolution: 5,120 x 1,440 | Brightness: 600cd/m2 – 1000cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178°(H)/178°(V) | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Color support: 1.07B
Great screen size
Menu can be tricky
Needs tweaking out of box
It may be very expensive and requires a killer gaming PC setup to run, but the Samsung CRG9 is completely worth it and the best gaming monitor if you’ve got the extra cash laying around. This bigger-than-average 49-incher boasts bezels thinner than most gaming monitors and a picture by picture mode feature that lets you use two different inputs, simulating a dual monitor setup in a single monitor. And, that’s without mentioning that the Samsung CRG9 produces an out-of-this-world image right out of the box.
Read the full review: Samsung CRG9
2. Alienware AW3418DW
The fastest ultrawide yet
Screen size: 34-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 26 pounds
Highest refresh rate in an ultrawide
Alienware design and build quality
Takes up a lot of space
The Alienware AW3418DW is one of the few gaming monitors that deliver a level of immersion that only a 21:9 aspect ratio can, while also offering up a high refresh rate. With a dense 3,440 x 1,440 resolution, ridiculously fast 4ms response times and a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, this ultrawide monitor gives you the best of both worlds. All these features don’t come cheap though, so budget-minded gamers might want to look elsewhere or start saving up. Still, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the best gaming monitors 2019 has to offer.
Read the full review: Alienware AW3418DW
3. AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition
Screen size: 35-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 2,500:1: | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 26 pounds
Phenomenal color performance
120Hz refresh rate
Clunky OSD menu
The AOC Agon AG352UCG was one of the best gaming monitors we ever got our hands on, so when we heard that a follow-up was coming – one that comes with a higher refresh rate and better contrast – it was hard not to get excited. The AOC Agon AC352UCG6 Black Edition carries over the original’s best features but ramps them up to 11, making it a stunning display on which to experience ultra-wide gaming. It’s expensive, yeah, but if you have the hardware to back it up, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not investing.
Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition
4. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
The Rolls Royce of gaming monitors
Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 600 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 50,000:1 | Color support: Adobe RGB 99% | Weight: 28 pounds
G-Sync and HDR
Fantastic image quality
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ might just be the most advanced – not to mention, best – gaming monitor to add to your arsenal… as long as you’re ready to pay for it. This display features a gorgeous 4K Ultra-HD resolution and HDR, as well as G-Sync and a lightning-quick 144Hz refresh rate. These specs add up to one of the most impressive gaming monitors that’s ever existed – and when you see it in action, it will blow you away. The only thing that holds this gaming monitor back from true greatness is its ridiculous price tag. But, then again, if you have this kind of cash lying around, you should be able to afford a PC powerful enough to drive it.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
5. BenQ PD3200U
A large 4K screen for your desk
Screen Size: 32-inch | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | Response Time: 4ms | Viewing Angle: 178/178 | Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1 | Color Support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 19 lbs
4K UHD resolution
Design is a little bland
Professional tools are niche
Takes up a lot of space
While originally made for CAD professionals, the BenQ PD3200U is also great for gaming, making it one of the best gaming monitors you can buy today. This is mostly thanks to its rock-solid focus on graphic design so it’s able to offer incredibly wide viewing angles, which means that your friends can watch your game in comfort. And, unlike most 4K monitors on the market, you won’t have to mess around with the settings to get the best picture, since every unit is individually calibrated by BenQ before shipping. This is definitely one of the best gaming monitors out there, even though it wasn’t actually designed for gaming.
Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U
6. MSI Optix MPG341CQR
MSI’s hot new 34-inch gaming monitor
Screen size: 34-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 400 nits | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 3000:1 | Color support: sRGB 105% | Weight: 21.16 pounds
Punchy VA panel
Great gaming performance
Really strong overall feature set
This class of monitor is expensive
While all of its extra frills make the MSI Optix MPG341CQR an even more appealing selection for potential buyers, it does an outstanding job of standing out on its own. The use of VA rather than IPS panel technology, for one, is a welcome advantage, offering punchier colors and better contrast. Plus, its super-wide 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh certainly give gamers an edge. The best part might be that this display is also reasonably priced, making it one of the best gaming monitors to consider in 2019.
Read the full review: MSI Optix MPG341CQR
7. BenQ Zowie XL2540
A monitor tailored to the needs of professional gamers
Screen size: 24-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 240Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: NTSC 72% | Weight: 7.5kg
High refresh rates
Limited appeal beyond pro gamers
Don’t be turned off by its limitations. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 still absolutely deserves its place right up there on the best gaming monitors list. It forgoes flashy lighting effects for a blazing 240Hz refresh rate and rapid 1ms response time. There aren’t any adaptive sync options, unfortunately, but if you have a setup that’s able of keeping up with this refresh rate, then this gaming display will blow you away. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 keeps things simple by supplying you with a ton of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens. This is one of the best gaming monitors to consider if you’re a pro or hardcore gamer.
Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540
8. AOC Agon AG322QC4
A gaming monitor with a little HDR goodness
Screen Size: 49-inch | Aspect Ratio: 32:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 1,080 | Viewing Angle: 178/178 | Contrast Ratio: 3,000:1 | Color Support: N/A | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Weight: 33 pounds
Punchy VA panel packs lots of contrast
Both 144Hz and FreeSync 2
Not really a ‘true’ HDR monitor
A bit of HDR is always a welcome addition, even if it’s not true HDR. And yet, the AOC Agon AG322QC4 has more aces up its sleeves. That includes a 144Hz refresh rate, FreeSync 2 and a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, ranking this among the best gaming monitors of 2019. And it offers users beautiful, super smooth visuals, all while looking good doing so. It’s not exactly a steal, but the Agon AG322QC4 is still reasonably priced for gamers who aren’t shopping in the bargain basement.
Read the full review: AOC Agon AG322QC4
9. MSI Optix MAG271CR
Gotta go fast to save the world
Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Refresh rate: 144Hz | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 178/160 | Contrast ratio: 3000:1 | Color support: SRGB 115%, 90% DCI-P3 | Weight: 9kg
Fast refresh rate
Expensive for 1080p
When you’re playing competitive first-person shooters like Overwatch or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you’ll need speed above all else in order to stay on top of the leader boards. That’s where displays like the MSI Optix MAG271CR come in handy. With a 1080p resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms of latency, you’re equipped with incredibly fast, super smooth gameplay, as long as you have the hardware to drive it. After all, 60Hz panels are so 2014 – the best gaming monitors in 2019 are all about the high refresh rates.
Read the full review: MSI Optix MAG271CR
How to buy the best gaming monitor in 2019
If in the market for the best gaming monitor 2019 has to offer, know that there are a few things to keep in mind before choosing which display should grace your desk.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following terms and specifications to help guarantee that you’re getting the best gaming monitor that’s most ideal for you. It also means you won’t have to pay extra for additional features that you might not actually care about.
Screen size: When looking for the best gaming monitor, one of the most important things to consider is the screen size. Larger display sizes can lead to more immersive gaming experiences as the game fills more of your field of vision, but you’ll also have to make sure that you have the space to keep a large monitor. And, it goes without saying that the larger the monitor, the higher the price as well.
Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio of a gaming monitor helps determine the width and height of the display. Most widescreen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while older monitors have closer to a square format of 4:3 that might feel pretty out of date in 2019. Ultra-wide monitors with aspect ratios of 21:9 are rapidly growing in popularity, as they offer a wider view of your games, which is why many ultra-wides have made our list of the best gaming monitors 2019.
Resolution: One other critical factor to consider when searching for the best gaming monitor for your needs is the resolution. The higher the number, the sharper the picture. You will, however, require a more powerful graphics card for anything over Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), even if many gaming monitors feature resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,400 (WQHD) and 3,840 x 2,160 (4K).
Refresh rate: When you’re mostly looking to play Counter-Strike and other first-person shooters like it, refresh rate is even more vital. The higher the refresh rate, the more frames per second (fps) the monitor can support, leading to a considerably smoother gaming experience. A 60Hz refresh rate is still the most common in 2019, but refresh rates of 144Hz and even 200Hz are becoming more prominent – not to mention, more and more necessary.
Response time: The best gaming monitors offers low response times, which means you’re getting fast and fluid actions, with little to no input lag. The lowest response time for TN monitors (we’ll get to this in the next section) is 1 millisecond, whereas the newer IPS monitors typically have slower 4ms response times. When you’re playing games competitively, it’s vital to keep this number as low as you can in order to avoid latency.
Panel type: This is where things get a little technical. The type of panel a gaming monitor uses will largely contribute to its response time and image clarity. TN (twisted nematic) panels, which are often more affordable, have the lowest response times but usually don’t come with great viewing angles. IPS (in-plane switching) panels, on the other hand, have fantastic viewing angles and color reproduction, but usually have higher response times. Meanwhile, VA (vertical alignment) panels are between the two, although its slow response times makes these panels rare in the gaming world.
Viewing Angle: While most people play games right in front of their gaming monitor, this isn’t always be the case, particularly when there is an audience. A monitor’s viewing angles tell you what angle you can look at the monitor from and still make out a clear image. The closer these numbers are to 180, the better your viewing experience will be when standing further to either side of the monitor or looking at it from above or below.
G-Sync and FreeSync: You’ve probably noticed that many of the best gaming monitors in 2019 come with either G-Sync or FreeSync technology – sometimes even both. These help keep frames per second (fps) smooth, combat screen tearing and minimize input lag. G-Sync is developed by Nvidia, so it requires an Nvidia GPU. And, the tech is built into the monitor, which can bump up their price tag. FreeSync, on the other hand, was made by AMD. Since it is free to use by manufacturers, the monitors that have them are usually more economical.
Check out our HDR Explained video below.
Gabe Carey, Bill Thomas and Michelle Rae Uy have also contributed to this article
Image Credit: TechRadar
- Looking for a more general monitor? Check out our list of the best monitors