You don’t need a “Designed for Xbox” badge to find the best gaming monitor for your new console, but if you don’t know your way around tech and just want to get the most out of your new $500 console, it might help. If so, you’re in luck, because Microsoft is adding three HDMI 2.1 gaming monitors to its “Designed for Xbox” program, which puts Xbox branding on the packaging for certain devices that are supposed to take full advantage of the system’s capabilities.
Again, there are monitors and TVs already out there that have these same features, but not these badges. But if you’re, say, a confused parent or a non-tech-savvy gamer (or both), these new monitors are built with the Xbox Series X’s 4K @ 120Hz and HDR features in mind.
First up is the Phillips Momentum, which is 55 inches (about as large as my current TV), supports 4K at 120Hz gameplay, is Freesync Premium Pro compatible and has DisplayHDR 1000 certification. It also comes with a soundbar, and will launch this summer for $1,599. For some perspective, that’s worth more than three Xbox Series X consoles put together.
Next is the slightly more affordable (and also slightly smaller) Asus ROG Strix 43 inch. This monitor will also output 4K at 120Hz, plus is Freesync Premium Pro compatible and has DisplayHDR 1000 certification. Aside from just having a “Designed for Xbox” badge on the packaging, this monitor will also have a special Xbox edition that includes custom color, contrast and hue settings. Hopefully, those custom settings won’t just make your screen look like a sea of Mountain Dew green. This monitor will launch in October for $1,399.
The third of these initial Xbox display options is the Acer XV282K KV Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor, and it’s the only one that comes in under $1,000. This is a 28-inch panel with 4K at 120Hz, a 1ms response time and Freesync Premium Pro support. It only supports DisplayHDR 400, which isn’t quite as colorful as DisplayHDR 1000, but it does have a built-in KVM. That’s a nifty feature that lets you control multiple devices with the same keyboard, mouse and monitor setup, which might be handy if you plan to use this monitor for a PC as well. Acer’s launching this monitor in the fall for $949.
As we said, there’s arguably more to the “Designed for Xbox” badge than, say, the Zoom certification on some of HP’s new monitors. Even if it’s a bit of a pipe dream for most games to actually output this kind of power right now, not every monitor can support the 4K at 120Hz outpu that the Xbox Series X is technically capable of putting out. For that, you’ll need HDMI 2.1 (or DisplayPort, but the Xbox doesn't do DisplayPort), and this badge is a surefire indicator that a monitor has HDMI 2.1.
Sure, you could just brand a monitor as having HDMI 2.1 instead, and there are definitely already panels that meet these needs and won't have this branding. But consoles cast a wide net, and not every single console owner will know what HDMI 2.1 means. And I do understand wanting to get everything out of your new console. It doesn't necessarily make sense to buy an Xbox Series X right now if you're going to play on a 1080p @ 60fps display.
This brings us to whether these monitors are worth it. Even as consoles become more TV-like, they’re still most easily at home in the living room, where the TV tends to shine. Getting a large monitor is always an expensive ask, especially when they have these kinds of features. Affordable large TVs are more common, and while HDMI 2.1 monitors and TVs are both expensive right now, HDMI 2.1 TVs will likely have cheaper options than monitors as HDMI 2.1 becomes more common later this year or early in 2022.
Since most games right now make you choose between high resolution or high frame rate gameplay anyway, you might be better off waiting for prices to drop before splurging on a display that can do both at the same time.