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The best gaming monitors: Fast refresh rates and immersive play

The best gaming monitors
(Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock)

The best gaming monitors can make a huge difference to your games. These specially-designed screens have been custom built to offer you the very best performance and image quality when it comes to games.

Unlike the professionally-calibrated monitor you may use for your creative work, gaming monitors prioritise high refresh rates and short response times to make games feel as fast and smooth as possible. Many of them use Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync technology. Hook these up to a computer with a compatible graphics card, and you get incredibly smooth and responsive gameplay without a hint of screen tearing - an annoying graphical glitch that happens if the graphics card and monitor become out of sync.

While many professional monitors come with 60Hz refresh rates, the best gaming monitors go much further, with many boasting 144Hz, and even higher. As long as you have a powerful enough graphics card, it makes games feel and respond even faster - and that can be critical if you're playing competitive multiplayer games.

Finally, while many of the best gaming monitors come in the traditional widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, there are a number of ultrawide screens with 21:9 (or even wider) aspect ratios. These offer an incredibly immersive gaming experience, as almost your entire line of sight is covered by the screen. Being able to see more of the battlefield can also give you a serious competitive advantage.

If you're a console gamer, check out our guides to the best monitor for PS5, and best monitor for Xbox Series X, and this guide to the best games consoles around. Otherwise, check out our list of the very best 4K monitors.

So, read on for our picks for the best gaming monitors in 2021.

The best gaming monitors available now

Best gaming monitor: LG UltraGear 38GN950CB

(Image credit: LG)

01. LG UltraGear 38GN950

The best gaming monitor overall

Specifications
Screen size: 38-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3840 x 1600
Brightness: 450cd/m²
Response time: 1ms
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Color support: DCI-P3 98%
Viewing angle: 178/178
Weight: 20.3 lbs
Reasons to buy
+160Hz refresh rate+Ultrawide aspect ratio
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Not the best HDR

The LG UltraGear 38GN950 is easily the best gaming monitor money can buy right now, ticking off so many of the features we look for in a great gaming monitor.

First, there's that huge 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio. This means it's a monitor that really dominates any desk you put it on, but it also offers a breath-taking gaming experience, thanks to the sheer immersion it provides. It comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, which can be easily overclocked in the menu to 160Hz, a 1ms response time, G-Sync support and HDR as well. Pretty much everything you'd look for in a gaming monitor, then.

It's expensive, as many ultrawide monitors are, but if you're serious about gaming, then this is a screen that's well worth investing in.

Best gaming monitor: Asus TUF Gaming VG289QCB endorsed

(Image credit: Asus)

02. Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

The best cheap gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 28-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 350 cd/㎡
Response time: 5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: 90% color gamut, 1073.7M (10bit)
Weight: 7.6 kg
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Excellent image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not the smoothest monitor-Not true HDR

The best gaming monitor when it comes to affordability is the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q. It's a fraction of the price that many of the other gaming monitors on this page sell for, but that doesn't mean it skimps on features or performance. For a start, you're getting a 4K resolution - a lot higher than many other gaming monitors at this price, which usually stick with 1080p or 1440p resolutions.

Its image quality is also fantastic, and it offers vibrant colours, and supports 90% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, so it's also a great monitor for doing creative work on when you need accurate colours. It's also got a fantastic design and supports adaptive sync and FreeSync technology for smooth gameplay.

It's more budget price does mean it doesn't come with a huge amount of ports, and its HDR implementation isn't the best, but for sheer value for money, you'd struggle to find a better gaming monitor.

Best gaming monitor: Gigabyte G27QCB endorsed

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

03. Gigabyte G27Q

The best mid-range gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 27-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440
Brightness: 350 cd/㎡
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Weight: 7.26 kg
Reasons to buy
+Excellent image quality+Great for gaming on
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most exciting design

If you're after a great mid-range gaming laptop, then the Gigabyte G27Q is well worth checking out. With a super-fast response time of 1ms, plus a brilliant 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support, this still an affordable entry in our best gaming monitor list that punches above its weight.

It's not the most exciting when it comes to design, and the resolution is 1440p, rather than 4K, but if you're playing competitive games where every second counts, and you need super-fast reflexes, then you don't need a high resolution monitor, and 1440p still offers excellent image quality without being too taxing on your graphics card.

The IPS panel supports 8-bit colour for HDR, and had 92% DCI-P3 coverage, which makes this a great choice for people who also want a monitor for their digital artwork. It's also got some neat extra features, and comes with a decent selection of ports as well.

Best gaming monitor: Samsung CRG9

(Image credit: Samsung)

04. Samsung CRG9

The best ultrawide gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 49-inch
Aspect ratio: 32:9
Resolution: 5,120 x 1,440
Brightness: 600cd/m2 – 1000cd/m2
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
Contrast ratio: 3,000:1
Color support: 1.07B
Reasons to buy
+Great screen size+HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Menu can be tricky-Needs tweaking out of box

If you really want an immersive ultrawide monitor, then you may not want to settle for 21:9 - the incredible Samsung CRG9 goes even further with a huge 32:9 aspect ratio. This means it's even wider than most ultrawide monitors, and thanks to its 49-inch screen size, this is an epic gaming monitor that will give you an unrivalled gaming experience.

As it's a Samsung product, you can also expect top-notch image quality, as well as a stunning design. You can use it as a single ultra wide screen, or you can use two different inputs at once, allowing it to effectively be used as two monitors - without taking up the same amount of space. This is great if you want to game and stream at the same time. It's expensive, but for the kind of gaming experience you're getting, it's well worth the price, and its place in this best gaming monitor hot list.

Best gaming monitor: Alienware AW3418DW

(Image credit: Alienware)

05. Alienware AW3418DW

The best curved gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 34-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 26 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Highest refresh rate+Brilliant design
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Not suitable for small desks

The Alienware AW3418DW is the best gaming monitor that's curved, combining an immersive curvature with an ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio. This allows you to comfortably view the entire playing field without straining your neck.

It also disproves the notion that you have to sacrifice speed if you go for an ultrawide monitor, as it offers a 4ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate. Not the fastest you'll find in a standard monitor, but for an ultrawide, that's very good indeed. As it's an Alienware product, you get an out of this world design and brilliant build quality, but it's also more expensive than some of its competitors.

Best gaming monitor: Acer Predator CG7

(Image credit: Acer)

06. Acer Predator CG7

The best 4K gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 43-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 1000 cd/m²
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
Contrast ratio: 4,000:1
Color support: 16.7 Million
Reasons to buy
+G-Sync support+4K support
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-May be too big for some

If you're after the ultimate 4K gaming monitor, then look no further than the Acer Predator CG7, the best gaming monitor when it comes to 4K. Boasting an absolutely huge 43-inch screen, this is so much more than simply a TV-sized monitor. Along with the stunning 4K resolution, it features an incredibly fast 1ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate.

Add in a 4000:1 contrast ratio and Nvidia G-Sync support, along with RGB lighting and a remote control, and you've got the best 4K gaming monitor money can buy right now. Just make sure you have the space on your desk to put this thing.

Best gaming monitor: BenQ Zowie XL2540

(Image credit: BenQ)

07. BenQ Zowie XL2540

The best 1080p gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 24-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Brightness: 400 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 240Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 170/160
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: NTSC 72%
Weight: 7.5kg
Reasons to buy
+High refresh rates+Extremely responsive
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If super-fast response times are more important to you than graphics, then the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is a great choice. Aimed at pro gamers who play competitive titles, this monitor keeps the resolution to 1080p, but offers an incredibly fast 240Hz refresh rate and speedy 1ms response time.

By sticking to 1080p, it means even people on modest graphics cards can get fantastic performance out of the latest titles. And if you have a powerful graphics card, then you can game at frame rates that would be unachievable at 1440p or 4K resolutions. This is one of the best gaming monitors that keeps things simple in pursuit of one thing: high frame rates and lightning-quick response times. Playing with this monitor really can give you a competitive advantage.

Best gaming monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG259QN

(Image credit: Asus)

08. Asus ROG Swift PG259QN

Highest refresh rate gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 24.5-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Refresh rate: 360Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Weight: 7.1kg
Reasons to buy
+360Hz refresh rates+G-Sync suppor
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If you're after the absolute fastest gaming monitor on the market, then the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN is the one to get, offering a huge 360Hz refresh rate that puts even its speediest competitors to shame. Hook it up to an Nvidia RTX card and make use of Nvidia Reflex, and you'll get a gaming monitor that can really put you at an advantage, able to react much faster than your rivals.

For people who play competitive e-sports (especially professionally), then this is one of the best gaming monitors, for sure, offering you the very best refresh rates around - as long as you have a powerful enough graphics card to keep up. However, for many casual gamers, you simply won't need these kinds of speeds, so you're better off buying a cheaper, larger and higher resolution monitor instead.

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