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Best Gaming Monitors 2020: 4K, Budget and More

Best Gaming Monitor
(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 monitors designed for gaming offer at least 144 Hz), combined with the lowest response time you can find.
  • 4K is expensive, but image quality suffers with FHD (1080p) screens larger than 27 inches. 4K gaming monitors are hot right now, since 4K is the highest resolution you can get in a good gaming monitor currently. But 4K gamers will want at least a 1070 Ti or RX Vega 64 graphics card. FHD is the lowest acceptable resolution for serious gaming (and doesn’t demand as powerful a graphics card) and provides higher framerates, but image quality can suffer if the monitor’s too big. Our sweet spot is 32-inch QHD, which offers good pixel density and isn’t too taxing for mid-priced graphics cards.
  • Curved or non-curved? It depends on your preference. Curved monitors are supposed to seem more immersive, but some see the difference more than others. You may dislike a curved screen's look when mounted to a wall (it’ll stick out more) or widescreens, which most curved monitors are. Some say curved monitors smaller than 30 inches are pointless, which has price implications. Unsure? Try one, and see if you notice any difference.

Best gaming monitors at a glance:

1.  Dell S3220DGF
2.  Acer Nitro XV273K
3.  Acer XFA240
4.  ViewSonic Elite XG350R-C
5.  Aorus CV27Q
6.  Razer Raptor 27
7.  Aorus FI27Q
8.  MSI Optix G27C4
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. At $380 at the time of writing, you’re also getting the appreciated bang for your buck.

Read: Dell S3220DGF review 

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: Acer Nitro XV273K review 

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The Acer XFA240 is the best gaming monitor for gamers on a budget. 

3. Acer XFA240

Best Budget Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 24 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Panel Type: TN / W-LED edge array | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 1ms

Out-of-box color accuracy
Smooth rear-free gameplay
FreeSync and G-Sync Compatible
Good build quality
Low pixel density
Gamma slightly off the mark

We don't know of any monitor that can beat the Acer XFA240 in color accuracy, gaming performance or features at this cheap price, making it the best gaming monitor for the frugal. Although its pixel density is lower than we’d like (91ppi), we found that flaw easy to ignore when rocking our favorite first-person games at 144 frames per second.

Here we have another 1080p monitor that can still manage to make games look detailed and richly saturated with color, thanks to its small size. The XFA240 is also responsive. During our testing, we experienced no input lag, blur or judder, and overdrive worked to the max with zero ghosting.

Read: Acer XFA240 review

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The ViewSonic Elite XG350R-C is the best gaming monitor for a curved experience.  (Image credit: ViewSonic)

4. ViewSonic Elite XG350R-C

Best Curved Gaming Monitor

Screen Size & Aspect Ratio: 35 inches, 16:9 | Resolution: 3440 x 1440 | Panel Type: VA | Refresh Rate: 100 Hz | Response Time (GTG): 3ms

Excellent contrast and accurate color
Fast response from 100 Hz refresh rate
Good build quality
Loud speakers
No additional contrast in HDR mode
No extended color

If you want a curved display, the 35-inch ViewSonic Elite XG350R-C is the best gaming monitor for your rig. Its tight 1800mm curve radius immersed us in beautiful image quality during our testing. The display's high resolution made it easy to sit close to it and have our peripheral vision filled with games, movies or work. The display's vivid and accurate color made textures pop and skin tones look natural. Everything just looked more realistic, and gameplay was smooth with swift response and no artifacts.

If you want HDR content to look noticeably different from standard media (or to use HDR with Adaptive-Sync), you'll have to look elsewhere. But the Elite XG350R-C is less expensive than many other 35-inch ultra-wides, including ones with fewer features. And the RGB on the back doesn't hurt either. 

Read: ViewSonic Elite XG350R-C review

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The Aorus CV27Q is the best gaming monitor for 1440p resolution.  (Image credit: Aorus)

5. Aorus CV27Q

Best 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 gaming monitor for high-speed performance at 1440p. 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 for gaming.

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 headphones (although nabbing one of the best gaming headsets would help), 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. 

Read: Aorus CV27Q review 

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

6. 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: Razer Raptor 27 review 

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 Aorus FI27Q   (Image credit: Gigabyte)

7. Aorus FI27Q

Best 27-Inch 1440p 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: Aorus FI27Q review

 The MSI Optix G27C4 is the best gaming monitor if you prefer a 27-incher.  (Image credit: MSI)

8. MSI Optix G27C4

Best 27-Inch 1080p 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 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 gaming monitor in the 27-inch category for you. It slightly edged out the Optix G27C4 in our gaming tests, but it’s pricier ($380 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: MSI Optix G27C4 review 

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. 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: Samsung 27-Inch CRG5 review

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 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: Acer Predator CG437K review

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  • 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