Best monitor 2018: Top gaming monitors and buying guide

Monitor buying guide header

Your monitor is one of the most important parts of your PC, so finding the best monitor to suit your needs and budget is vital. Trying to buy one in a shop, however, can be an absolute nightmare, as you’ll often find dozens of screens costing anything from £70 right up to £1500. The range of models and prices can be overwhelming, but this guide is here to help.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about screen sizes, resolutions, refresh rates, panel types, inputs and adjustable stands, as well as provide a few recommendations of our own based on our own testing. By the time you’re done here, you’ll be fully equipped to find the best monitor for you. Let’s begin!

Below, we’ve got a list of our current best monitors, ranging from entry-level displays all the way up to fancy, high-refresh rate mega monitors. We’ll be adding more monitors to this list as we get more in for testing, but if you’d rather skip straight to our monitor buying guide, hop on over to page two at the bottom of the page.

Best budget 24in monitor: AOC G2460PF

Key features: 24in, 1920×1080, TN, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync

This 24in gaming monitor was a steal when it was just £170 over Black Friday, but even at its more regular price of £215, this is still an outstanding 24in display. Image quality is superb for a TN monitor, and its high 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync support help make games appear smoother and less juddery to play. It’s also got a full suit of inputs (VGA, DVI-D, HDMI and DP), a four-port USB hub and a flexible, height adjustable stand.

Read our full AOC G2460PF review.
Buy now from Amazon UK or Newegg

Best budget 27in monitor: Philips 273V5LHAB

Key features: 27in, 1920×1080, TN

The Philips 273V5LHAB is a pretty straightforward 27in Full HD monitor. While its resolution of 1920×1080 isn’t ideal for a screen this size, you certainly can’t argue with its price. At just £150, this is an excellent way to get a big screen without spending an arm and a leg on something like our current favourite 27in monitor, the MSI Optix MPG27CQ (below). Image quality is also excellent for a TN panel, and you’re unlikely to find a better-looking screen for less.

Read our full Philips 273V5LHAB review.
Buy now from Amazon UK or Newegg

MSI MPG27CQ

Best 27in monitor: MSI Optix MPG27CQ

Key features: 27in, 2560×1440, VA, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync

The MSI Optix MPG27CQ replaces the Acer XF270HUA as our new favourite 27in 2560×1440 monitor. Mostly because it’s a fraction cheaper at £435 in the UK and $450 in the US, but it’s also got an outstanding VA panel, offers plenty of adjustments in both the stand and its various picture options, and it’s also got added RGB integration for Steelseries fans. If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also got a 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync support.

Read our full MSI Optix MPG27CQ review.
Buy now from Debenhams UK or Amazon US

Philips 349X7FJEW

Best ultrawide monitor: Philips 349X7FJEW

Key features: 34in, 3440×1440, VA, 100Hz, AMD FreeSync

In my quest to find the perfect monitor for playing Final Fantasy XII on in a silly 21:9 aspect ratio (because why not, when the support’s there?), the Philips 349X7FJEW is the one that ticks the most boxes for me. While I’m not a huge fan of its white chassis, it is the cheapest 21:9 monitor by some margin these days, as most of the others have to pay the dreaded G-Sync tax. The Philips, on the other hand, has FreeSync support instead, and is still a fantastic monitor with excellent image quality.

Read our full Philips 349X7FJEW review.
Buy now from Amazon UK or Amazon US

Samsung CHG90

Best HDR monitor: Samsung CHG90

Key features: 49in, 3840×1080, VA, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync 2

This ludicrously wide monitor could easily be our top choice in the best ultrawide category as well, but what really sets the Samsung CHG90 apart is its fantastic implementation of HDR, which is easily the best I’ve seen outside the realms of TVs. This is thanks to its FreeSync 2 support (sorry Nvidia graphics card owners) and built-in local dimming zones, which allows smaller parts of the screen to shine more brightly without affecting the rest of the image around it.

The CHG90 may only have a resolution of 3840×1080, but this preposterously long display is essentially two 27in 1920×1080 monitors in one, giving you plenty of space for work and games alike. It costs an absolute fortune, but if you’re after the best HDR PC gaming can offer, the CHG90 won’t disappoint.

Read our full Samsung CHG90 review.
Buy now from Ebuyer / Samsung US

BenQ EL2870U

Best budget 4K monitor: BenQ EL2870U

Key features: 28in, 3480×2160, TN, 60Hz, AMD FreeSync

The BenQ EL2870U is by no means the best 4K HDR monitor out there, but it is one of the cheapest, which makes its rather underwhelming HDR a bit more forgivable. Indeed, getting your hands on any kind of 4K HDR monitor these days is a bit of a challenge, but if you really can’t wait for something better to come along or don’t have the cash to splash out on something a bit fancier, then the EL2870U is currently your best bet.

Read our full BenQ EL2870U review.
Buy now from Amazon UK or Amazon US 

24 Comments

  1. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    I personally have the AOC G2460F, and it’s pretty good. The image quality isn’t quite as good (though Newegg didn’t have a listing for the “P” version, maybe that’s the difference) as it could be and certainly needs to be tweaked before usage, but you’re pretty much not going to find a 144hz monitor for cheaper.

  2. Korro says:

    Hello, the link for US customers to purchase your best 27″ monitor is for the 1080p model, not the 1440p model you’ve crowned as best in that category. Amazon doesn’t appear to carry the 1440p model.

    Cheers,
    k

  3. Mr. Unpleasant says:

    If G-Sync keeps being this expensive and FreeSync this ubiquitous my next GPU will be from AMD.

    • davebo says:

      I know GSync does more but honestly all I care about is screen tearing, so why wouldn’t I jump ship for AMD? All I can think is that the new HDMI standard has this adjustable framerate tech built into it, so I could just hold off until that starts getting integrated everywhere.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      You get what you pay for. Freesynch is a bit bobbins.

      • Mr. Unpleasant says:

        Bobbins? Guess I’ll have to compare them side-by-side.
        With the price of G-Sync I feel like I’m actually getting less than I pay for.

    • Boozebeard says:

      G-sync is really weird, they charge a premium for it so it tends to be in high end monitors aimed at competitive gamers, but it only actually does anything when your game is running below your monitors refresh rate, which seems like something that shouldn’t happen very often if you’re a competitive gamer with the budget to pay for a premium monitor…

      • mitrovarr says:

        I mean, it depends on what you’re playing. For competitive games you probably want to peg it at the highest refresh possible (which usually means turning some stuff down), but for single player or more laid back stuff you’ll want to turn up everything and that usually rules out maintaining 144fps or whatever you run.

      • Mr. Unpleasant says:

        I’m not an expert but if the G-sync module is anything like a processor why isn’t it getting cheaper over time? I don’t think this is premium tech for premium monitors – it’s nvidia keeping it like that artificially for whatever business reasons.
        /rant

      • Twisted89 says:

        I really don’t get your logic there, firstly G-Sync is designed to be used with v-sync (Unlike non G-Sync monitors it doesn’t add input latency, watch the Linus tech tips video). So you shouldn’t ever be in a position where you’re running higher than your monitors refresh.

        Secondly, why would you want to run higher than your monitors refresh? All you’ll be doing is dropping frames as the monitor can’t physically display them in time making it utterly pointless.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    This article feels really familiar. Did we have something basically the same a month or two ago? It’s one of those weird, foggy deja vu deals.

  5. Verio says:

    I hate that 16:9 has so completely taken over this space that we don’t even talk about 16:10 anymore.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      It is annoying that there’s this niche market for ultrawide but God forbid you should want a tad more vertical space. Ah well, I’m resigned to going 16:9 when I upgrade my senior citizen HP 1920×1200 IPS.

  6. hoho0482 says:

    RPS seem to review more screens than games…

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Haven’t there been like four or five Wot I Thinks in the past week? I mean sure there’s a pile of screens here being reviewed at once, but it’s just one article.

  7. zat0ichi says:

    Timely article, I’m just beginning my fact finding before buying.
    I’ve been gaming on an old 32 inch LG TV for years and i’m finally noticing its poor contrast and bad gamma (even after running through calibration guides)

    I’m running a gtx1070 so 1440p at 60fps is the best i can hope for with the eyegasm AAA titles.

    There are 32 inch 1440p monitors out there for sub350 but do I go for 27inches of better quality pixels? It is only arms length from my face.

    I’ve seen the iiyama XB3270QS-B1 – but hard to find a decent review which is a concern. Panel is ok but everything else is lowest grade is the best analysis I’ve found for it.
    Or theres BenQ, Phillips, AOC. All offering budget options.
    I think 60htz is enough, g-sync is out of my price range, 4ms response time – is that low enough bearing in mind I do like the odd driving game. IPS or TN?

    Help

    • Katharine Castle says:

      Hard to recommend a monitor that I haven’t tested, but 60Hz should be fine if you’re aiming for 1440p. The GTX 1070 probably won’t get much higher than 60fps at that resolution if you keep the graphics quality up. May be worth looking at a higher refresh rate monitor if you go for 1080p, though. And a 4ms response time is absolutely fine, but if you’re really worried go for a faster TN panel. IPS panels are a tad slower than TN – around the 4ms mark – but I’ve never had any problems playing games on them.

    • Slazia says:

      If you play FPS, driving, or flight sims, get 100 / 120Hz.

  8. Cederic says:

    Am I allowed to find it ironic that your recommended HDR monitor for gaming is a native resolution that’s utterly bonkers for any non-cockpit based games?

    If your recommendations are intended to cover more than gaming then wide gamut monitors with wide viewing angles need better representation. I wouldn’t trade my five year old Asus PB278Q for any of these!

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