When putting together a gaming rig, we as PC gamers usually spending the most time obsessing over high-end graphics cards. But without a quality screen to go with it, we’re not going to be getting the best visuals out of that GPU. So what makes a “gaming” monitor worth the money? What makes it better than the average LCD? We tested more than a dozen monitors to find the best, with the right balance of resolution, refresh rate, color quality and viewing angles.
One of the great things about displays is that, unlike graphics cards where their life span is usually a few years, a good display can keep you going for the better part of a decade. With such a long lifespan, it pays to get something you’ll be happy with for years to come. We put together a list of the technologies and features we want in a good gaming display, with choices for a variety of price points. We cover our testing criteria and ‘what to look for‘ below.
The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q is the best gaming monitor you can buy right now. For years, gamers have been forced to make a choice between picture quality and refresh rate. Cheaper, faster TN panels delivered fast refresh speeds up to 144Hz, while IPS screens offered more vibrant colors and dramatically better viewing angles, but at much slower refresh rates. But as monitor technology has improved, there’s now a handful of monitors available that pair an IPS screen with a 144Hz refresh rate.
The PG279Q is a 27-inch monitor with a 2560×1440 resolution, which we currently consider the sweet spot for high-end gaming. It offers substantially more pixels than 1080p without being as demanding as a 4K panel, meaning games look sharp at 27 inches but won’t bring a good GPU to its knees. Plus, you can still get higher than 60Hz refresh rates, which isn’t possible on the current crop of 4K displays. You can also comfortably run at 100 percent scaling in Windows, something that isn’t always desirable with 4K panels.
The best FreeSync monitor
Right now there’s really no competition for the 1080p gaming monitors: this is absolutely the best monitor for AMD users who want a FreeSync display. It’s a 1440p IPS screen that can refresh up to 144Hz, like our favorite monitor above. But because it uses the open FreeSync technology instead of G-Sync, it doesn’t cost as much (though price differences have narrowed of late).
Thanks to that IPS screen, colors look great even from off-angles. The base is sturdy (and allows for lots of tilting, pivoting, and height adjustments) and the bezel is fairly thin, which is nice for a 27-inch monitor that’s already taking up a good deal of space. Like most other gaming displays, it also has a light anti-gloss coating, which I like; some older IPS displays went too heavy on the coating and affected image quality, but the MG279Q doesn’t have that problem.