Best Gaming Monitor – The Ultimate Guide
Getting a good gaming monitor can greatly increase your comfort and performance, that’s something that we all know by now. But which monitor should you get? With so many different monitors and versions out there (for reference: our analyzed professionals currently use over 90 different monitors between them) it can certainly be hard to see the forest for the trees, doubly so when manufacturers don’t exactly make it easier with their similar sounding naming schemes.
That’s where we come in. We’ve been using our data and experience to come up with this complete guide to gaming monitors. There’s two parts to this article: part one will be about monitors for competitive gaming (where you’ll want to get as many frames as possible and don’t really care about visual fidelity) and in part two we’ll give you some recommendations in case you’re more of a casual gamer and/or you devote more time to singleplayer games.
This guide is divided into two easy to read parts, so if you don’t care about the competitive monitors you can just skip ahead without missing anything.
For this part of the guide we’ve been focusing on data. After all; if it’s good enough for the pros it’s good enough for us. We combined monitors that have a lot of iterations with very minor changes such as the BenQ XL2411 series so that we don’t have a whole lot of different iterations of one monitor in this list.
You’ll find that this guide contains everything from a basic budget 144Hz monitor to full-featured 240Hz behemoths, so there should be something in here for everyone. All of these monitors are 1080p monitors. That’s because professional players don’t make any compromises when it comes to framerate; if you’re gaming on a 240Hz monitor it’s better to have a consistent 240 frames per second at 1080p than to have 190 frames per second at 1440p, for example.
For reference: a little under 2 percent of our analyzed professionals game at a resolution higher than 1920×1080.
The Framerate Debate
‘The human eye can’t see above 60 fps.‘ It’s a silly myth that’s often parroted on the internet, but unfortunately some people really believe this. That statement is categorically false however. There’s a great difference between playing a game at 60 frames per second and playing the same game at 144 frames per second. A high refresh rate will quite simply make the game way easier to follow and it’ll make everything look and feel much more responsive.
It’s really a subject of no debate if you take a look at the professionals; 98% of our analyzed gamers use a monitor that’s capable of displaying at least 144 frames per second. If there really wasn’t any benefit to a monitor like this we wouldn’t see numbers like these, and we like to believe that professional gamers know what’s good for them. If you want to learn more we’ve got an entire article dedicated to this subject, as well as an introductory guide to what framerate means.
Top 5 Monitors for Competitive Gaming
1. BenQ Zowie XL2546/XL2540
The best competitive gaming monitor
Note: We’ve bundled the XL2546 and the XL2540 together, since they’re essentially the same monitor with minor differences. The XL2546 comes with BenQ Zowie’s DyAc technology while the XL2540 does not have DyAc, but it does support FreeSync and is G-Sync compatible.
Ever since Zowie made their first splash in the gaming scene with their competitive gaming mice they’ve been operating on the principle of ‘performance over everything.’ That’s why you won’t see any RGB strips on their gaming mice, for example.
The BenQ Zowie XL2546 is another example of this ethos. At first sight you wouldn’t really expect this monitor to be a top tier gaming display since it doesn’t have an alien-looking stand or an RGB light show coming out of the back of the panel, but this is definitely one of the finest gaming monitors out there at this point in time.
The XL2546 supports a massively impressive 240Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time, making it one of the fastest monitors out there right now. As is the case with most Zowie products the company chose not to add any unnecessary features but rather focus on what can be of use for competitive gamers.
While we’ll admit that the privacy shields on the sides of the monitor won’t be of much use for people using it at home there’s no denying that some of the other extras on this monitor will greatly increase comfort and performance. The stand of the monitor, for example, has marks on them so that you can ensure that your display is just right at all times, even if someone else has been using it or if you’ve had to move it for some reason.
Then there’s also the insanely handy S-Switch, which makes navigating the OSD (On-Screen Display) a breeze, and you can save your own personal settings on the switch, meaning that you can just plug in your personal S-Switch in any XL2546/2540 and game with your own personal display settings straight away. We don’t need to tell you how extremely convenient this is for professional gamers who are often playing at boot camps, tournaments, and so on.
All in all the BenQ Zowie XL2546 deserves the first spot. It’s an insanely fast 240Hz monitor packed with features that are actually useful for gaming such as Black eQualizer, the ability to tweak color vibrance on the display itself, the S Switch, and more. You can read our review for the full rundown, but rest assured that the XL2546/2540 has everything you’d possibly want out of a competitive gaming display.
2. BenQ Zowie XL2411
The best budget competitive gaming monitor
Note: The XL2411 is a line of monitors that’s been around for a while now and as such it comes in many different iterations and versions with very minor differences between those versions. We’ve bundled these together for this article.
We say it all the time here on ProSettings.net: 144Hz (or higher) is the current competitive standard as far as refresh rate goes. People are quick to think that you need to shell out vast amounts of money if you want to get a high refresh rate panel though, but the XL2411 line proves that this is not really the case.
If you’re comparing the XL2411 to any standard 60Hz office monitor it’s obviously going to be more expensive, but you do get a lot of bang for your buck with this product.
You get a panel with a response time of 1ms and a refresh rate of 144Hz housed on a stand that can pivot, swivel, and tilt, in addition to being height adjustable. That’s nothing flashy when it comes to gaming monitors, but as an entry level 144Hz monitor there’s not much more to really want if you’re asking us.
If you go for the newest version (which is called the XL2411P) you also get the ability to tweak the color vibrance on the display itself, which is great if you play a game with colors that are naturally pretty subdued such as CS:GO, where a lot of professionals like to tweak their color vibrance to help distinguish enemies from the background.
While the XL2411 obviously isn’t as full-featured as some of the more expensive options out there you do get a pretty attractive package here, and BenQ Zowie even include handy features such as their Black eQualizer and Low Blue Light technology (for those late night gaming sessions).
If you’ve got a pretty modest setup (no need to go for a 240Hz beast monitor if your rig can’t push enough frames for it) or you’re on a bit of a budget but you do want to get a competitive edge this is one of your best options right now.
3. ASUS VG248QE
Great entry level 144Hz monitor
When you ask around online about budget/beginner 144Hz monitor you’ll most likely be recommended the BenQ Zowie XL2411 and the ASUS VG248QE.
The VG248QE is another entry level 144Hz monitor, offering up a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and a fully adjustable stand. ASUS also includes their GamePlus functionality. This allows you to overlay some handy stuff on your screen directly, such as a crosshair (so that you can more easily hit noscopes, for example) or timer (to keep track of enemy spawns or things like that).
This is an older monitor at this point in time though. That’s evidenced by the fact that it uses the (now outdated) Lightboost technology as a means of motion blur reduction and the fact that it advertises its 3D gaming capabilities on the stand. It’s a classic in the world of competitive gaming monitors though, and there’s a reason so many professional players are still using this display. This is again a great option for people who are on a budget or are using a low(er) tier system to game on.
In case you’re wondering: the actual differences (aside from the design and ports) between the VG248QE and the XL2411 are pretty small. The XL2411 has features such as Black eQualizer whereas the VG248QE has the aforementioned GamePlus technology so picking between these two is a matter of comparing the features, and their price and availability in your region.
4. ASUS ROG Swift PG258Q
Best competitive gaming monitor with G-Sync
The ASUS ROG (Republic Of Gamers) Swift PG258Q won’t be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill office monitor any time soon with its alien-looking stand that projects the ROG logo on the surface that it’s standing on. The ROG Swift PG258Q looks like it means business, and if we take a look at the specs we can see that there’s plenty going on under the hood as well.
With its 240Hz 1ms response time display you’ve already got one of the fastest gaming displays out there, but ASUS ups the ante by including G-Sync and ULMB. Aside from that it also comes with ASUS’s GamePlus technology and it offers six settings presets for different game genres with what’s called Gamevisual Technology.
The stand and panel don’t only look fancy either; on the back of the display there’s a 5-way joystick to help you navigate the OSD easier (which is something that we appreciate, since navigating those can be a real pain) and the stand is of course fully adjustable, with a handy cable management hole so that you have an easier time keeping your desk clutter free. For those after hours sessions there’s also the Ultra-Low Blue Light Technology.
All in all the ROG Swift PG258Q is one of the best gaming monitors out there at the moment, and if you’ve got an NVIDIA card and want to take advantage of their G-Sync technology this is one of your best options right now.
5. Alienware AW2518H
Another 240Hz G-Sync monitor
Alienware might have a bad reputation with some gamers due to some of their products seemingly focusing more on the aesthetics side than the performance side but the AW2518H seems to be a hit on most fronts.
It’s got a 240Hz refresh rate (along with a 1ms response time), a fully adjustable stand, and it supports G-Sync and ULMB. Since it’s an AlienWare product you’ll find a bunch of RGB LED strips at the back of the display, but as a whole the monitor doesn’t really look gaudy if you’re asking us. And look at those thin bezels.
This monitor is also available as a FreeSync monitor, making it a bit more budget friendly, so if you have no need for G-Sync you can save yourself a bit of cash and go for the AW2518HF.
Due to the thin bezels and relatively subtle design it’s also the best option if you want to rock a multi monitor setup if you’re asking us.
Best Monitor for Competitive Gaming – Conclusion
As we said before there is no discussion in the pro gaming scene: you’ll need a monitor that’s capable of displaying at least 144 frames per second if you want to be a serious competitive player and as such the best monitor for esports needs to be a high refresh rate monitor first and foremost.
Gaming at high refresh rates is expensive though; a 240Hz monitor will set you back a pretty penny but then you’ll also need a system that can push enough frames to said monitor. In any case: this list has everything from basic entry-level 144Hz monitors to feature packed 240Hz G-Sync beasts, so there should be something in here for everyone.
Top 5 Monitors for Gaming
For this part of the guide we’ve been taking a look at displays for gamers who are more interested in the visual side and who don’t necessarily want to be super competitive in multiplayer games. The monitors on this list therefore aren’t based on any pro data (since pros don’t care about graphics and go for performance) but we are still an esports website, so we tried to find monitors that offer a healthy balance between having a high(er) refresh rate and a higher resolution. This means that you can enjoy all the beauty that the newest singleplayer games have to offer while still gaming on a monitor that won’t gimp your performance if you go for your multiplayer fix.
We’ve tried to add something for every budget here, but since we really try to have our cake and eat it in the sense that we’ve been looking for displays that combine the best of both worlds (resolution and refresh rate) it’s only logical that there won’t be any true budget panels on this list. That said: if you only want to go for one side of the spectrum (if you want a 1440p monitor without a high refresh rate, for example) you can usually find cheaper/less full-featured versions of the monitors we’ve chosen.
Do note that the perfect monitor for you will depend on a number of things such as your budget, PC, expectations, and so on. This guide should ideally be used as a guideline to see what’s out there and what you can reasonably expect from different price points.
1. ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ
The cream of the crop
If you want the absolute best monitor for gaming out there right now you have to take a look at the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ.
This is a 27 inch 4K HDR beast with a 144Hz IPS panel, G-Sync, and a host of other gaming-centered features such as ASUS’ GamePlus technology and a bunch of presets for different games.
If it sounds like ASUS have thrown absolutely everything you’d want out of a gaming monitor in their PG27UQ you’d be right, they did. It’s hard to come up with anything else a gamer would want right now when it comes to displays but all of this obviously comes at a cost. The PG27UQ is by far the most expensive monitor in this entire article and we don’t need to tell you that this isn’t a monitor to get if you’ve got a budget system.
It will take a very beefy PC to run games at 4K 144Hz but for people with top tier systems this display will look and feel absolutely beautiful, in part thanks to the fact that it’s an HDR (High Dynamic Range) display as well. That means that you’ll get a better contrast and a wider range of colors, making the scenes that your computer renders look even more beautiful and lifelike.
4K 144Hz isn’t easy to run though, and even the best PCs will struggle to keep a constant 144 frames per second on the highest settings in some of the more graphically impressive games out there, so the inclusion of G-Sync isn’t some gimmick on this display. It’ll help you keep a steady and smooth image, even in those moments where your system is struggling for a bit.
A premium gaming display obviously has to look the part as well, so you’ve got an Ambient Light Sensor which tweaks the brightness of the display so that you’re never caught being blinded by your own monitor if you turn it on late at night. The monitor is finished with ASUS AURA Sync, which is their name for their RGB lighting implementation that can respond to ingame events and things like that. There’s an RGB element on the back of the screen, and the stand even projects the ROG logo onto your desk. Useful for gaming? No. Does it look the part? Yes.
The PG27UQ also has a cable management gap in the stand so that you can keep your desk tidy, and you navigate the OSD (On-Screen Display) by means of a small joystick on the back of the panel. This means that ASUS didn’t only think about the eye candy when designing the exterior of this monitor either.
In short: the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ is one of the best gaming monitors you can buy right now. The only drawback is that the response time of this monitor won’t be the fastest. That’s due to the fact that it utilizes an IPS panel, which looks more beautiful when compared to a TN panel, but that comes at the cost of slightly increased response times. You will need an extremely powerful computer to utilize all of the features that this display offers to the fullest extent and it is an extremely expensive monitor as well, but if you’ve got the cash for it you won’t be disappointed.
2. ViewSonic XG2760
The best of both worlds
While the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ is very much a ‘gimme everything you’ve got’ kind of monitor the ViewSonic XG2760 goes for a more diplomatic approach. It combines a 1440p resolution with a very respectable 165Hz refresh rate, making it an ideal match for gamers with a high tier system who like their higher refresh rates but can’t quite get a consistent framerate at 4K and/or gamers who don’t want to spend the 2000 dollars that you’ll need to cough up for the ROG Swift PG27UQ.
The ViewSonic XG2760 has a 1ms response time, so that combined with the 165Hz refresh rate makes it more suitable for competitive gamers than some other monitors on this list but it does mean that the TN panel that the XG2760 uses won’t produce images that are as beautiful as other monitors with, for example, an IPS panel.
In other words: this is a perfect monitor if you want to go for more of a luxurious all-rounder (instead of a 1080p 240Hz display, which is what we recommend for competitive gaming) but you’re the kind of gamer who does play competitive games more often than not.
The XG2760 is focused on delivering the ultimate gaming performance, and that shows. It features their Black Stabilization technology which aims to brighten darker scenes without overexposing lighter scenes (giving you an advantage when it comes to spotting campers, for example) as well as a bunch of built in display settings for a variety of gaming genres, including MOBA and FPS.
To top it all off there’s the inclusion of G-Sync (and ULMB) and small but useful features such as a cable management hole in the stand and a headphone hanger.
The ViewSonic XG2760 is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a monitor that’s capable of displaying your games in all their glory at 1440p but you still want to have the best possible performance (and response times) when playing said games.
3. ASUS MG279Q
IPS FreeSync Option
A lot of the top tier gaming monitors are G-Sync panels, and as great as that technology is, it does usually come at a price premium so if you don’t want or need G-Sync or if you want to go for FreeSync we’ve got the ASUS MG279Q for you.
This 27 inch gaming monitor offers a 2560×1440 resolution as well as a 144Hz refresh rate, all in an IPS display. This means that the MG279Q will look a lot better than some of the ultra fast TN panels out there, at the cost of having a response time of 4ms versus the 1ms response time that you can find on the fastest pure gaming TN panels. Is this super noticeable? Not really, but if you’re gonna be playing competitive games on the regular you might want to opt for a TN panel since response times are everything for competitive gamers.
Don’t be mistaken though; the MG279Q is every bit a gaming monitor. It foregoes G-Sync in favor of FreeSync, which means that it’ll be a more budget friendly option for those people who aren’t interested in G-Sync’s capabilities, and it does come with ASUS’ GameVisual technology which gives you various presets to choose from so that you get a perfect image no matter what genre of game you’re playing.
Thanks to the stand it might look a little duller than some of ASUS’ other offerings, but the MG279Q still has a cable management feature and of course a fully adjustable stand.
The MG279Q is one of the best gaming monitors out there if you don’t want to spend a fortune on a gaming monitor but you still want to enjoy high refresh rates and high resolution gameplay. You’ll have to live without G-Sync, but not everyone uses that for gaming so we included a FreeSync option as well.
4. BenQ EX3501R
A lot of gamers like to go for an ultrawide monitor these days, and we can see why. It gives you a certain sense of immersion that you just don’t get from regular displays (and if you place a bunch of regular monitors next to each other you’ll still have that annoying bezel action) and it just looks so sleek and attractive on a desk.
The BenQ EX3501R is one of the best option if you want to get that ultrawide experience without sacrificing ingame performance if you’re asking us. It’s got a beautiful curved VA panel that’s capable of refreshing the image on your screen up to 100 times per second. That is not really enough for competitive gaming (we consider the minimum for dedicated competitive gaming to be 144Hz) but it’s more than enough for people who only occasionally dabble in multiplayer games without being ultra competitive.
While most dedicated gaming displays go for performance the 3501R also wants to make sure that whatever you’re doing is pleasant to look at. The 1440p resolution will make your games look amazing on its own, and add HDR to the mix and you’ve got what is undoubtedly one of the nicest viewing and gaming experiences on this list. To ensure immersion this monitor also comes with FreeSync so that you’ll never have to worry about the image on your screen tearing up, which can cause confusion and can mess with your performance.
All of this beauty comes at a cost though, and here you’re paying the price in the form of refresh rate and response times. While a 100Hz refresh rate is definitely more than respectable for a display like this we cannot recommend this monitor if you do the majority of your gaming in competitive titles, doubly so because some of those titles won’t work well with ultrawide monitors. If you don’t really care about these things and you are primarily a casual gamer this is a great purchase though.
5. AOC AGON AG273QCG
Curved 1440p gaming monitor
While a gaming monitor should primarily focus on delivering you the crispest and most reliable image on your screen there is something to be said about having an actual nice looking product as well. The AOC AGON AG273QCG might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the typical gamer red/black color scheme they’ve got going on, but the monitor does look pretty gorgeous with those ultra slim bezels and the RGB ring on the backside of the panel. It’s also a curved monitor. That doesn’t necessarily do anything for performance but it does look great and can increase immersion.
It’s not all looks though; the AG273QCG is a 165Hz G-Sync monitor that comes with a 1ms response time for those moments where every fraction of a second matters. It has a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels, so you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite games at high framerates and a high resolution, provided your GPU (and PC as a whole) can push enough frames to the monitor of course.
As is the case with most gaming monitors, this one also comes with a bunch of predefined setups for a variety of game genres so that you can enjoy a more competitive display setup when you’re playing FPS games and a more cinematic one when you’re running around a vast and beautiful singleplayer world. There’s also Shadow Control, which is AOC’s contrast adjustment software; the monitor will brighten up darker areas of the screen so that it becomes easier to notice enemies and models in said areas while not blinding you whenever you look at a brighter spot.
This monitor is a great choice if you want a 1440p curved monitor (that’s not an ultrawide) that exceeds the competitive minimum standard of 144 frames per second and/or if you want to make a setup with multiple monitors next to each other, as the thin bezels lend themselves to do just that perfectly.
Best Gaming Monitor – Conclusion
There are many perfectly capable 60Hz displays out there, but we sought out to find five of the best monitors that combine a higher refresh rate along with a higher resolution. We believe that a higher refresh rate does wonders, not only for the responsiveness of hyper competitive games, but also for the immersion of singleplayer games. The monitors we listed above are perfectly capable monitors which will make any game you play come to life while still providing enough power for when you set out to get some frags.
It is however of vital importance that you have a system that can push enough frames to these monitors. It makes no sense to buy a top tier gaming display if your PC can only render 20 frames per second in your game of choice, so always make sure to go for a balanced build and to not bottleneck your system anywhere.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading!