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Best Gaming Monitors 2020: Budget, 144Hz and More

Best Gaming Monitors
Breaking down the best gaming monitors, from 4K to budget (Image credit: Shutterstock / OHishiapply)

The gaming monitor arena keeps expanding with new vendors, models and features. Yes, it's an exciting time to be a PC gamer, but it also means that picking the best gaming monitor for your rig is more complicated than ever. The options are overwhelming, from screen-smoothing technologies (Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync), to visually stunning refresh rates that are set to climb to a mind-blowing 360 Hz. For pixel addicts, there are 4K screens that are as hard on the bank account as they are on graphics cards. Anyone else feeling like a kid in a toy store told to only "pick one"? 

But we're not even done yet. When seeking the best gaming monitor, there are also different panel types vying for your eyeballs — IPS, TN, VA and even OLED — which each have their own pros and cons. Of course, you can't forget about screen size and aspect ratio, which affect your views, desk space and, again, bank account.  And we haven't even gotten to bonuses like speakers, RGB or port selection (for the latter, check out our gaming analysis on DisplayPort vs. HDMI). How's a PC gamer to choose?

For a deep dive into how to pick the best monitor--gaming or otherwise--check out out PC Monitor Buying Guide. For those only interested in 4K displays (lucky you), visit our Best 4K Gaming Monitors page for our top picks. 

Below is a list of the best gaming monitors out right now, based on our own testing. 

Quick Shopping Tips

When trying to buy the best gaming monitor for your PC, consider the following:

  • G-Sync or FreeSync? G-Sync only works with PCs with Nvidia graphics cards, while FreeSync only works with systems using AMD ones. FreeSync monitors tend to be cheaper, but performance is comparable. For a detailed comparison of the two technologies’ performance, see our Nvidia G-Sync vs. AMD FreeSync comparison article
  • For image quality, TN < IPS < VA. Generally speaking. Typically, TN monitors are the fastest but cheapest, due to weaker viewing angles. IPS displays have slightly slower response times but better color than VA monitors. The best gaming monitors for contrast are VA, but VA also has slower response times.
  • Refresh rates: bigger is better. This tells you the number of times your monitor updates with new information per second — stated in hertz (Hz) — and, therefore, how many frames per second (fps) the monitor can display. Bigger numbers equal smoother images. Refresh rate is especially important for gamers, so you’ll want to shoot for a monitor with at least 75 Hz (most gaming monitors offer at least 144 Hz), combined with the lowest response time you can find.

Best gaming monitors at a glance:

1.  Dell S3220DGF
2.  Acer Nitro XV273K
3.  MSI Optix G27C4
4.  Viotek GNV34DBE
5.  Asus ROG Strix XG279Q
6.  Aorus CV27Q
7.  Razer Raptor 27
8.  Aorus FI27Q
9.  Samsung 27-inch CRG5
10. Acer Predator CG437K

Best Gaming Monitors 2020

The Dell S3220DGF is the best gaming monitor for most because it balances price and performance.  (Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell S3220DGF

Best Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 32 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 @ 165 Hz | Panel Type: VA / W-LED, edge array | Refresh Rate: 165 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

High contrast and brightness
165Hz refresh rate
Color-accurate
Nice build quality
No sRGB mode
No gamma presets

The Dell S3220DGF is the best gaming monitor for most. For starters, it boasts a fast refresh rate, low response time plus FreeSync 2 HDR for fighting screen tearing with both standard and HDR content. On top of that, this 32-inch monitor offers plenty of vertical screen real estate without the need for scrolling and 1440p resolution, the current sweet spot between image quality and gaming performance. Its 1800R curve also lends well to immersion, and in addition to gaming, we found that this is also a great monitor for general productivity and anything in between. 

Our testing proved the display has low input lag and quick panel response for competitive gamers, and we even got G-Sync Compatibility to work on it, despite it not being certified to do so. This is a fantastic monitor for those with mid to high-budget gaming PCs. 

Read Review: Dell S3220DGF 

The Acer Nitro XV273K is the best gaming monitor for those seeking 4K.  (Image credit: Acer)

2. Acer Nitro XV273K

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 144 Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

Super bright at over 500 nits
Accurate DCI-P3 color gamut
144Hz refresh rate
Solid build
No dynamic contrast means HDR only looks slightly better than SDR
Inaccurate white point in sRGB mode

The Acer Nitro XV273K is the best gaming monitor if you want the sharp detail of 4K resolution. FreeSync and G-Sync Compatibility mean you can use Adaptive-Sync with both AMD or Nvidia graphics cards to fight screen tears. In our testing, it kept up with its 144 Hz rivals with just slightly more input lag, which only the most keen competitive players would notice. 

Image quality looks great with the Nitro’s high pixel density, 163 pixels per inch (ppi), and the extra boost of color from its native DCI-P3 color space adds to the monitor's fantastic image depth. HDR content won't look as good as on a display with a full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight dimming, like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ or Acer Predator X27. But it’s also significantly cheaper than those aforementioned displays. For more 4K recommendations, see our Best 4K Gaming Monitors breakdown. 

Read Review: Acer Nitro XV273K 

 The MSI Optix G27C4 is is the best gaming monitor for gamers on a budget.  (Image credit: MSI)

3. MSI Optix G27C4

Best Budget Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 165 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 1ms

Excellent contrast and richly saturated color
FreeSynch and can run G-Sync unofficially
165Hz refresh rate and blur reduction
No speakers or USB ports
No sRGB or standard gamma options
Not very bright

The MSI Optix G27C4 (available here) is the best budget gaming monitor in the 27-inch form factor due to its balance of value and performance. In our testing, it proved just 1ms slower than the 27-inch, 1080p Aorus CV27F at 165 Hz in terms of response time and didn’t fall too far behind rivals in our input lag test.

You’ll notice that this monitor is 1080p. If you’re looker for sharper resolution, the 1440p MSI Optix MAG271CQR is the best budget gaming monitor in the 27-inch category for you. It slightly edged out the Optix G27C4 in our gaming tests, but it’s pricier (up to $400 at the time of writing). The Optix G27C4 is also specced for a max brightness of just 250 nits instead of our preferred 300 nits. 

But with high contrast (3,000:1) and vibrant color from its native DCI-P3 color gamut and VA panel, the Optix G27C4 delivers lush, vivacious color that surpasses accuracy but pops. While pixel density could be better for productivity (81.6ppi when we prefer around 110ppi), its gaming performance makes it truly one of the best gaming monitors for players searching in the 27-inch size. 

Read Review: MSI Optix G27C4 

Viotek GNV34DBE (Image credit: Viotek)

4. Viotek GNV34DBE

Best Curved Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 34 inches, 21:9 | Resolution: 3440 x 1440 | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

Contrast
Effective overdrive
HDR
Needs calibration for best results
Wobbly stand
Low, with no height adjustment

With a 1550R curve, the Viotek GNV34DBE is a great curved gaming monitor, especially when you consider its price. The curve proved to add an immersive touch while gaming, helping to fill our peripheral vision. Despite its tight curve, we still found the GNV34DBE fit for working. There was no distortion, and we enjoyed having multiple windows open for boosted productivity. 

But it’s not just about the GNV34DBE’s curve. You also get a 144 Hz refresh rate and response times and input lag that kept up with 144 Hz rivals during our testing. When we gamed we realized the high pixel density of a 1440p screen and smooth gaming without any screen tearing, thanks to the help from AMD FreeSync. Color and contrast was competitive with pricier gaming displays too. 

With its edge-lit backlight, the GNV34DBE also makes a good HDR display, offering a noticeable improvement over your typical SDR monitor. At its low price, the build quality of the stand is lacking. But for a speedy gaming monitor with an effective curve, the Viotek GNV34DBE is a solid deal. 

Read Review: Viotek GNV34DBE

Asus ROG Strix XG279Q (Image credit: Asus)

5. Asus ROG Strix XG279Q

Best 1440p Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 X 1440 | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 170 Hz with overclock, 144 Hz native | Response Time (GTG): 1ms

FreeSync & G-Sync support
Excellent HDR
Blur-reduction works with Adaptive Sync
High brightness
Slight ghosting in ELMB mode
Default grayscale and gamma need adjustment

If you want to upgrade from 1080p to 1440p but don’t want to sacrifice speed, the Asus ROG Strix XG279Q needs your attention. It’s the pricest of the 27-inch 1440p monitors here but offers the extra oomph in gaming performance that a hardcore enthusiantst might demand. In our testing, this monitor edged out the Aorus CV27Q on this page in response time by 1ms and beat the Aorus CV27Q and Aoris FI27Q (both on this page) in our absolute input lag testing. The typical gamer won’t notice these differences, but if you insist on the best of the best, you won’t want to overlook this pricey monitor.

That said, the ROG Strix XG279Q isn’t flawless. We noticed ghosting with motion blur on and blur when we opted for overdrive instead of motion blur (you can’t run both). Plus, you’ll likely need to do some tweaking. But you also get crazy sharp gaming with the combination of motion blur and FreeSync or G-Sync Compatibility, plus fantastic HDR due to edge-lit backlighting and a healthy dose of RGB. 

Read Review: Asus ROG Strix XG279Q

Aorus CV27Q (Image credit: Aorus)

6. Aorus CV27Q

Best High-Contrast 1440p Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 165 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 1ms

Contrast
Color accuracy
Speed and responsiveness
FreeSync & G-Sync (unofficially) with HDR
Inaccurate sRGB mode
No image controls for HDR

Gigabyte’s Aorus CV27Q is the best 1440p monitor when it comes to high-speed gaming performance. With its impressive specs, it shined in our input lag and response time tests when pitted against 144 Hz rivals. Sure, you could get slightly better performance from the 1080p version, the Aorus CV27F, but then you wouldn’t be getting that sharper QHD resolution or higher pixel density (109ppi). 

With a VA panel offering 3,000:1 contrast, image quality is no joke either. The CV27Q has a low black level that made image depth look great, particularly with HDR titles. But as far as HDR goes, this monitor only goes up to 400 nits brightness; we prefer HDR displays that hit at least 600 nits.

Bonus features include Aorus’ active noise cancellation (ANC) feature, which uses two mics on the front bezel to reduce background noise others may hear coming from your gaming headset, a 1500R curve and RGB lighting on the back. But if money is (somehow) no object, the pricey $2,000 Acer Predator X35 is a dream come true, and the Asus ROG Strix XG279Q on this page is a hair faster. 

Read Review: Aorus CV27Q 

The Razer Raptor 27 is the best 144Hz gaming monitor, boasting fantastic image quality.  (Image credit: Razer)

Gigabyte’s Aorus CV27Q is the best 1440p monitor when it comes to high-speed gaming performance. With its impressive specs, it shined in our input lag and response time tests when pitted against 144 Hz rivals. Sure, you could get slightly better performance from the 1080p version, the Aorus CV27F, but then you wouldn’t be getting that sharper QHD resolution or higher pixel density (109ppi). 

With a VA panel offering 3,000:1 contrast, image quality is no joke either. The CV27Q has a low black level that made image depth look great, particularly with HDR titles. But as far as HDR goes, this monitor only goes up to 400 nits brightness; we prefer HDR displays that hit at least 600 nits.

Bonus features include Aorus’ active noise cancellation (ANC) feature, which uses two mics on the front bezel to reduce background noise others may hear coming from your gaming headset, a 1500R curve and RGB lighting on the back. But if money is (somehow) no object, the pricey $2,000 Acer Predator X35 is a dream come true, and the Asus ROG Strix XG279Q on this page is a hair faster. 

Read Review: Aorus CV27Q 

7. Razer Raptor 27

Best 144 Hz Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 @ 144 Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

Excellent HDR contrast
Saturated color
Near-100% DCI-P3 coverage
Fantastic style and build quality
No true sRGB color mode
User must manually switch between SDR and HDR modes

The Razer Raptor 27 is the best gaming monitor for 144 Hz refresh rates. It'll make any gamer you know jealous with premium touches, like an RGB stand, flat green cables for cable management and drool-worthy build quality. Plus, HDR delivery is some of the best we’ve seen in an edge-lit panel yet. 

Despite its 144 Hz refresh rate, the Raptor 27 was able to stay competitive with 165 Hz monitors in our benchmarking. There wasn't significant motion blur, but finicky, pro-level players will have to choose between dealing with it or activating the backlight strobe, which limits you to 120 Hz, reduces brightness by 40% and grays out FreeSync and G-Sync Compatibility. 

Read Review: Razer Raptor 27

 The Aorus FI27Q  is the best gaming monitor for 27-inch fans.  (Image credit: Gigabyte)

8. Aorus FI27Q

Best 27-Inch Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 165 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 1ms

High color saturation and accuracy
Good contrast
Premium gaming performance
Good build quality
HDR doesn't bring a noticeable improvement over SDR
Cheaper rivals may offer better value

If you’re looking for the best gaming monitor at 27 inches, the Aorus FI27Q won’t disappoint. It has one of the best overdrive implementations on the market, and we saw no ghosting or motion blur with the right settings -- even without the blur reduction feature. The FI27Q goes the extra mile with a 165 Hz refresh rate, plus FreeSync and G-Sync Compatibility. It also bested 144 Hz rivals and even 165 Hz ones, including the Aorus CV27Q And Dell S3220DGF on this page, in our response time test. And it held its own in our input lag test too. 

With DCI-P3 being its native color space, the FI27Q packs extra color than what you’re used to on a native sRGB monitor. On regular SDR games, we enjoyed high color saturation, even if it wasn’t totally accurate. You don’t get the same contrast as you would with VA (1,000:1 contrast ratio), but black levels are better than any other IPS gaming monitor we’ve tested. 

This monitor supports HDR content, but isn’t the best HDR monitor. In fact, we hardly noticed a gain over an SDR monitor. Plus, you’re likely to find rivals offering more value. But the FI27Q ultimately delivers a superb image with premium gaming capabilities. 

Read Review: Aorus FI27Q

The Samsung 27-inch CRG5 is the best gaming monitor for hitting 240Hz.  (Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung 27-inch CRG5

Best 240 Hz Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 240 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

Good contrast and color accuracy
240 Hz VA panel
Superb gaming performance
No USB or speakers

For speed demons it doesn’t get better than a monitor with a 240 Hz refresh rate (we're still waiting for 360 Hz monitors from Asus and Alienware). Usually, that level of speed requires two things: settling for 1080p resolution and a TN panel. But the Samsung 27-inch CRG5 (there’s also a 24-inch CRG5) is the best gaming monitor in this class (available here). It's special because it manages that speed in our favorite type of LCD panel, VA. Not only does it deliver the high contrast and saturated color that makes VA popular, it’s the fastest monitor we’ve ever tested.

We encountered few flaws during testing. The biggest one in terms of image quality was an inaccurate HDMI Black Level setting. Additionally, the only form of Adaptive-Sync is G-Sync Compatibility. But besides those small caveats, our gaming experience was a record-breaking pleasure.

Read Review: Samsung 27-Inch CRG5

 The Acer Predator CG437K is the best gaming monitor for big-screen fun.  (Image credit: Acer)

10. Acer Predator CG437K

Best Big Screen Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 43 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 120 Hz (144 Hz with overclock) | Response Time (GTG): 4ms

Perfect size for desktop gaming
Excellent contrast
No calibration needed
HDR at 1,000 nits brightness
144Hz requires two DisplayPort cables and sacrificing G-Sync Compatibility and HDR support
Expensive

For a big-screen experience, the Acer Predator CG437K is the best gaming monitor. It filled our peripheral vision (horizontally and vertically) better than an ultra-wide. You can also still fit it on a desk; the image will sit about 6 inches above your desktop -- ideal for sitting approximately 3 feet away. It also comes with a handy remote and great speakers, making it fitting for a living room.

But besides its flattering size, the CG437K’s gaming performance is on point. Its 120 Hz refresh rate is overclockable to 144 Hz, and in our tests that overclock competed well with 144 Hz displays and even the 165 Hz Dell S3220DGF above, although you won’t be able to hit that while running G-Sync Compatibility or with HDR content. 

The Predator XG4376K supports HDR at the premium level of 1,000 nits max brightness without any halo effect. Of course, this monitor doesn’t come cheap, selling at $1,500 at the time of writing. But it checks a lot of boxes at a drool-worthy size. 

Read Review: Acer Predator CG437K

  • shrapnel_indie
    waiting for a review on this one: Asus MG28UQ: (Going for as low as $513.54 USD right now) UHD, FreeSync, USB 3.0 that can charge devices, HDMA 2.0 & HDMA 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2? 1.3?


    EDIT: Yay! you did review it! (recently too): http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/asus-mg28uq-28-inch-uhd-freesync-gaming-monitor,4683.html
    Reply
  • Verrin
    I own an Acer XG270HU, great monitor. You have to be careful when buying it though, because some of their early production models had a firmware bug that prevented the overdrive from working properly, leading to some nasty ghosting/blur. I had to send mine in to get the firmware updated, and it wasn't a fun process. But once I got it back, I've been nothing but happy with the quality and features of this panel. IMHO FreeSync/G-Sync is probably the greatest development in gaming in the last decade.
    Reply
  • rahulkadukar
    When are you planning to review Acer XB271HU, next year ?

    This list is a joke, arguably the best gaming monitor in the world is not even on the list.
    Reply
  • mortsmi7
    I guess I'm the only one who desires an increase in picture quality/pixel density over screen realestate. I'll take my cheaper 1440p 27" IPS instead of a 1440p 32" LED any day.
    Reply
  • apertotes
    I wish that you had added contrast to the chart. The same can be said about the professional monitors article. I really believe it is the single most important attribute on a monitor.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    I threw up in my mouth a little when I read the first line of the Asus PG279Q review: "Users looking to build a no-holds-barred rig can literally create an all-Asus system made up of premium components that deliver only the highest performance." Guerilla marketing with sponsored content much? Shame on you, Toms, for being complicit.
    Reply
  • SinxarKnights
    18202963 said:
    When are you planning to review Acer XB271HU, next year ?
    It is the same monitor with more inputs (really, it is exactly the same except the inputs).

    Glad I picked the Acer XB270HU, So good. Sadly mine has already developed two dead pixels in the lower left corner. Unfortunately it doesn't count as a defect for the Acer warranty and B&H won't exchange it after 90 days for dead pixels.

    Reply
  • MorningstarZero
    The link and pricing you have for the AOC G2460PQ in the article is wrong. The link takes you to Amazon for the AOC G2460PQU, a similar monitor to the AOC G2460PQ except for one small problem... the PQU DOESN'T have G-Sync. The pricing appears to be closely made off the PQU which is currently $228 (I'm guessing the price changed after this article was written.)

    Here's the link for the G2460PQ: https://www.amazon.com/AOC-G2460PG-24-Inch-LED-Lit-Monitor/dp/B00SIZ8QDM/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1467372059&sr=1-1
    It's currently selling for $414.
    Reply
  • sunny420
    You mention in the updates, "This month, LG makes the cut with its 34UC98..."
    I'm not seeing any information about this monitor in the article.
    Reply
  • Mopar63
    I daily use the Nixeus NX-VUE24A and the BenQ XL2730Z, I ditched my IPS gaming monitors for the amazing smooth game play I can get with both of these. While they are TN panels the game play experience in no way suffers and the Freesync implementation in both is outstanding.

    I wanted to love the Acer XR341CK and bought one, then promptly returned it. Early reviews got cherry picked samples, general consumer buying was a lottery and most ended with an issue. Attempts to get support where treated with bored indifference and I know two different people that went through 3 RMAs before getting a monitor with few enough issues to keep. (They had to pay for shipping each time and Acer would not offer to compensate after the first RAM was a failure as well) Seeing all these horror stories I chose the refund route.

    I am hearing that the QA issues have finally been resolved but I feel that for the price point quality should not be a crap shoot, but the norm.
    Reply