With great pixels comes great image quality. So it's not surprising when PC gamers drool over monitors with 4K resolution. A panel packing 8.3 million pixels (3840 x 2160) makes your favorite games look incredibly sharp and realistic. In addition to being the highest resolution you can get in a good gaming monitor these days, going 4K also offers the ability to expand past 20-inch screens. With that loaded pixel army, you can stretch your screen size well past 30 inches without having pixels so big that you can see them.
But that image quality comes at a steep price. Anyone who's shopped for a 4K monitor before knows they're not cheap. Yes, 4K is about high-res gaming, but you're still going to want solid gaming specs, like a 60Hz-plus refresh rate, low response time and your choice of Adaptive-Sync (Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, depending on your system's graphics card). And you can't forget the cost of the decently beefy graphics card you'll require to game properly in 4K.
If you're not 4K-ready yet, we have lower-resolution recommendations for you on our Best Gaming Monitors page.
If you’re ready to invest in high-res gaming (lucky you), below is our list of the best 4K gaming monitors of 2020, based on our own testing.
Best 4K gaming monitors at a glance:
1. Acer Nitro XV273K
2. Acer Predator XB273K
3. Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q
4. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
5. Acer Predator X27
6. Acer Predator CG437K
7. Acer ConceptD CP7271K
8. Alienware AW5520QF
9. HP Omen X 65 Emperium
Quick Shopping Tips
When seeking the best 4K gaming monitor for you, consider the following:
- 4K gaming requires a high-end graphics card. If you're not using an Nvidia SLI or AMD Crossfire multi-graphics card setup, you’ll want at least a GTX 1070 Ti or RX Vega 64 for games at medium settings or an RTX-series card or Radeon VII for high or greater settings. Visit our Graphics Card Buying Guide for help.
- G-Sync or FreeSync? A monitor’s G-Sync feature will only work with PCs using an Nvidia graphics card. FreeSync will only run with PCs carrying an AMD card. Only FreeSync monitors work over HDMI (for more, see our DisplayPort vs. HDMI analysis), but we've seen negligible differences in mainstream gaming capabilities for fighting screen tearing between the two. Our Nvidia G-Sync vs. AMD FreeSync article offers an in-depth performance comparison.
- 4K and HDR go hand-in-hand. 4K displays often support HDR content for extra bright and colorful images. But for Adaptive-Sync optimized for HDR media, you'll want a G-Sync Ultimate or FreeSync Premium Pro (formerly FreeSync 2 HDR) display. For a noticeable upgrade from an SDR monitor, opt for at least 600 nits brightness. You can learn more in our article on HDR's meaning and our buying guiding for picking the best HDR monitor.
For more guidance picking a monitor of any resolution--gaming or otherwise--check out our PC Monitor Buying Guide.
Best 4K Gaming Monitors 2020
Best 4K Gaming Monitor
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 144Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync 2 HDR, G-Sync Compatible
For the typical player, the Acer Nitro XV273K is the best 4K gaming monitor, achieving a balance between price and performance. Speed-demons won't be disappointed. In our benchmarking, the Nitro XV273K's 144Hz refresh rate kept its own among other 144Hz displays we've tested.
Image quality was also striking, thanks to added color from the Nitro XV273K's use of the DCI-P3 color gamut and the panel's high pixel density (163 pixels per inch). This display doesn’t have a full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ or Acer Predator X27, so HDR won’t have as big of an impact -- or a big impact at all. The plus is the Nitro is about $500 cheaper than those two displays.
Read: Acer Nitro XV273K review
Best 144Hz 4K Gaming Monitor
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 144Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync: G-Sync
The Acer Predator XB273K is our favorite monitor for gaming in 4K at the premium 144Hz refresh rate. During fast-paced games with settings maxed, there was no blur. G-Sync worked successfully--with both standard and HDR content-- to fight screen tearing when paired with an Nvidia graphics card. The monitor kept up well with other 144Hz displays during our testing and even beat the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator X27 when it came to input lag.
Of course, Image quality is also important. The Predator delivers with pro-level color accuracy. Again, HDR doesn't look as good as it does on the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ or Acer Predator X27 because those two display pack FALD backlights. But we consider the Predator XB273K the next best thing. Plus, you can sometimes find it for about $500 cheaper than those displays.
Best Budget 4K Gaming Monitor
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 28 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 5ms | Adaptive-Sync: AMD FreeSync
You don’t often see the word budget associated with a 4K monitor, but the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q isn’t just affordable, it’s a great gaming monitor too. Despite being just $330 as of writing, the display offers a great amount of performance, making it a fantastic value for gamers looking to get to 4K without breaking the bank. We've even seen 4K monitors at the $400 mark offer lesser gaming performance.
There was no ghosting when we gamed on the VG289Q, and overdrive successfully helped eliminate motion blur. SDR titles looked extra colorful, but there was hardly any improvement when moving over to HDR games.
With the VG289Q priced so cheaply, it’s not surprising that its refresh rate is limited to just 60 Hz (FreeSync works down to 48 Hz). Hardcore gamers will want more Hz, but casual players can get by with fast-paced scenes showing sufficient detail and great pixel density.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor for Speedy HDR
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 120Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144Hz with overclock | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync: G-Sync
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the best 4K gaming monitor for enjoying HDR. When it comes to mouthwatering HDR delivery, nothing can beat a full-array WLED backlight with zone dimming. We were able to tell the difference in HDR games, like Call of Duty: WWII, through detailed shadows, brilliant highlights and realistic-looking textures.
Of course, this is also a great monitor for competitive gaming, thanks to its high 120Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution that can climb to 144Hz with overclock. The PG27UQ's closest rival is the Acer Predator X27, which has that same type of backlight that makes HDR look its best. But the PG27UQ has a small leg up on the X27 with a 1ms faster response time.
For more on picking an HDR monitor and additional recommendations, see our How to Choose the Best HDR Monitor buying guide.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor for Premium HDR
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 120Hz, 144Hz with overclock | Response Time (GTG): 5ms | Adaptive-Sync : G-Sync
The Acer Predator X27 offers near-identical performance to the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ above. The Asus edges the Acer out spec-wise with a 1ms shorter response time, but in our testing we found the monitors comparable in both gaming capabilities and SDR and HDR quality. On the other hand, the Predator X27 showed a slight edge over the PG27UQ in out-of-box color accuracy and comes with a light-blocking hood. If you’re stuck between the two, your best bet is likely to opt for the one currently selling at the lower price.
Like the PG27UQ, the Predator X27 has a FALD backlight with zone dimming that produces mouth-watering HDR. Its insane gaming specs ensured tear-free gaming at high frame rate during our testing. If you’ve got the graphics horsepower to make the most of it, this monitor sits atop the 4K gaming displays list.
Read: Acer Predator X27 review
Best Big-Screen 4K Gaming Monitor
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 43 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 120Hz | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 144Hz with overclock | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync : G-Sync Compatible
If you’re looking for a 4K gaming monitor that’s big but still able to fit on your desk, the Acer Predator CG437K is a great fit (pun intended). During our testing, the monitor proved big enough to fill our peripheral vision from 3-4 feet away, and there’s even a remote. It’s like having an ultra-wide without the curve but with the extra height you crave.
Its gaming credentials are out of this world too. The Predator CG437K comes with G-Sync Compatibility from 48-120 Hz, and the monitor can hit 144 Hz with overclock --if you have two DisplayPort cables and don’t need G-Sync or HDR. With a big-screen VA panel boasting 4,000:1 contrast, games looked lifelike and proved a different experience than when using other premium 4K displays, including the Acer Predator X27 and Acer Predator X35.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor for Professionals
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 27 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 120Hz | Panel Type: IPS | Refresh Rate: 144Hz with overclock | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync: G-Sync Ultimate
The lines separating the monitor needs of gamers and professionals is blurring. Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with a video wanting to game during their free time, right? The Acer ConceptD CP271K is the best 4K gaming monitor for professionals because it boasts impressive gaming specs coupled with accurate color space coverage.
Creative professionals can get work done with the monitor’s 110% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, although nitpickers may find that to be slightly too colorful. You can, however, reduce color with a software look-up table. You also get great HDR output with a FALD backlight that reaches 1,000 nits. At the same time, the ConceptD CP271K brings gamers,accurate sRGB coverage (96.3%) and powerful performance that kept up with 144 Hz gaming monitors in our response time and input lag tests.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor Splurge
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 55 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K @ 120Hz | Panel Type: OLED | Refresh Rate: 120Hz | Response Time (GTG): 0.5ms | Adaptive-Sync: FreeSync
If you have a lot of room in your budget and are seeking the best-looking 4K experience, it doesn’t get better than the Alienware AW5520QF, the first real OLED gaming monitor. With its unprecedented technology, it delivered the best image quality we've ever seen, boasting immeasurable blacks and, therefore, theoretically unlimited contrast.
But the Alienware OLED still isn’t perfect. Max brightness with regular SDR content is just 130 nits, while HDR only bumps it up to 400 nits. That means its potential is best realized in a darker room. But keep in mind that with its large size, 150 nits with SDR would've been acceptable, so the Alienware is just a little off. Of course, as our resident splurge, the AW5520QF's also expensive--even by OLED TV standards. And for better audio, consider the HP Omen X 65 Emperium, which features a built-in soundbar.
Best 4K Monitor for Couch Gaming
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 64.5 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 4K | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Response Time (GTG): 4ms | Adaptive-Sync: G-Sync
If you’re a couch gamer, you need a monitor that’s fit for replacing your TV. With a 64.5-inch display, the HP Omen X 65 Emerpium is amply equipped to do just that. This juggernaut of a gaming monitor offers larger-than-life gaming. In testing, performance matched its high price tag with zero gaming hiccups and high frame rates at high settings.
HP also included some unique bonuses that make this monitor even more fitting for the living room. An included soundbar featuring four 4-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters and two passive radiators add to the feeling of immersion. The monitor also comes with Nvidia Shield Android-based streaming interface, which means gaming, TV and movie-streaming options are built right into your gaming display. A remote completes the living room package.
And if you’re into HDR, the Omen X 65 Emperium would make a great HDR display with high contrast, according to our tests, and certification to play HDR at a minimum brightness of 1,000 nits.
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