When it comes to upgrading our PCs, we so often forget that one of the most important parts of our system is that big old screen sitting right in front of us, which is why I’m here to help you find the best gaming monitor to suit your needs and budget. Let’s face it – buying a new monitor is hard. It’s one thing to look at the specs, but trying to judge whether that screen actually produces a good picture or not is nigh on impossible to do from the comfort of your own home.
Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work for you, as below you’ll find a list of all my top recommendations across a multitude of different screen sizes and resolutions. Tried and tested at Castle Shotgun itself, the only monitors you’ll find here are the ones I’ve had in front of my own eyeballs and measured with my trusty X-Rite Display i1 Pro calibrator. Naturally, this means I’ll be updating this list as and when new gaming monitors come in that I think deserve a place on the list. This time, it’s Acer’s Predator XB241H, which comes in as my new 24in 1920×1080 Nvidia G-Sync recommendation. You’ll also find everything you need to know about screen sizes, resolutions, refresh rates, panel types, inputs and adjustable stands. By the time you’re done here, you’ll be fully equipped to find the best gaming monitor for you. Let’s begin!
Best 24in monitor (FreeSync): AOC G2460PF
Key features: 24in, 1920×1080, TN, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync
The AOC G2460PF is one of the most fully-featured 24in monitors you can buy today. It’s about to be replaced by AOC’s upcoming G2590FX, which is identical in every way save its significantly slimmer bezels and ever-so-slightly larger 24.5in screen, but until I get one in for testing (just to make sure its TN panel is just as good as its predecessor), it’s the G2460PF that remains my top choice in the 24in gaming monitor category.
Packed inside this tiny screen, you get a TN panel with a 1920×1080 resolution, a generous 144Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support for cutting down on tearing and stutter when you’ve got a compatible AMD graphics card, a full suite of inputs (VGA, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort), a four-port USB hub and a height adjustable stand.
That’s a lot for a monitor of this size and price, and actually gives you more for your money than some of the larger screens further down this list. You’ll need a fairly decent graphics card to take advantage of its high 144Hz refresh rate – see our Best graphics card rankings for more info if you’re in the market for one of those as well – but even if your graphics card isn’t quite up to the task of super high frame rate gaming, its AMD FreeSync support should at least give AMD graphics card owners a bit of a leg up if you can’t quite hit that 60fps sweetspot. One thing you can rely on, though, is the G2460PF’s superb picture quality, which covers 95.2% of the standard sRGB colour gamut.
Read more in our AOC G2460PF review.
Best 24in monitor (G-Sync): Acer Predator XB241H
Key features: 24in, 1920×1080, TN, 144Hz (180Hz overclocked), Nvidia G-Sync
The Acer Predator XB241H is a lot more expensive than the AOC G2460PF (thanks, G-Sync tax), but this is by far the best 24in 1920×1080 monitor for those with Nvidia graphics cards we’ve seen so far. Colour accuracy is just as high as the AOC out of the box, and even goes a bit higher if you tweak the colour temperature settings slightly.
What’s more, the XB241H has a super high refresh rate of 144Hz that can be overclocked all the way up to a massive 180Hz through the monitor’s onboard menu system. It doesn’t have quite as many ports as the AOC (just DisplayPort and HDMI), but it does have a very flexible stand that gives you plenty of height adjustment, swivel, tilt and rotation, making it easy to get into the best position.
By all means go for the AOC if your budget doesn’t stretch this far (you’ll still get the benefit of the high refresh rate, after all – just make sure you’ve got a good enough graphics card to make use of it), but if you’ve got money to spare and want the best of the best 24in monitors have to offer, then this is definitely the one to go for right now.
Read more in our Acer Predator XB241H review.
Best 27in 1080p monitor: BenQ EW277HDR
Key features: 27in, 1920×1080, VA, HDR
For those after something slightly bigger than the AOC G2460PF and Acer Predator XB241H without breaking the bank, the BenQ EW277HDR is the next best thing. This doesn’t come with as many features as its smaller rivals (or indeed as many ports or any kind of height adjustment), but it is a heck of a lot cheaper – at least for those buying in the UK.
The EW277HDR may not have a high refresh rate or any kind of variable frame rate technology incorporated into its 27in 1920×1080 VA panel, but it does come with HDR (or high dynamic range) support. You can have a look at our what is HDR guide to find out more about what it does and means for PC, but essentially it allows a monitor to display brighter whites, darker blacks and more of every colour in between compared to a non-HDR monitor. This means more vibrant, vivid and life-like images and games, as well as more detail in the light and dark areas of the screen.
There are, admittedly, better monitors out there for those after ‘proper’ HDR, which really go to town on the brightness side of things as well as the extended colour gamut, but you’re certainly not going to find any of those going for less £200 / $250 like the EW277HDR. It may not have the same brightness capabilities as those higher-end monitors, but what the EW277HDR does really well is the colour gamut part of HDR, displaying 99.8% of the standard sRGB colour gamut and an impressive 91.9% of the wider DCI-P3 gamut. For comparison, the AOC above can only show around 70% of this gamut.
That’s pretty damn good for such a cheap monitor, and while its 1920×1080 resolution isn’t exactly ideal for a screen of this size (things start to get a teensy bit fuzzy when you start stretching that many pixels across a 27in panel), it’s still an excellent way to get a big screen without spending an arm and a leg on something with a higher resolution like the MSI Optix MPG27CQ below.
Read more in our BenQ EW277HDR review.
Best 27in 1440p monitor: MSI Optix MPG27CQ
Key features: 27in, 2560×1440, curved VA, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync
If you really want to go all out on a 27in monitor with a 2560×1440 resolution, the MSI Optix MPG27CQ is certainly one of the better ways to do it. With a curved VA panel, height-adjustable stand and Steelseries RGB integration (those who aren’t firmly embedded in the RGB camp will be glad to know you can also turn it all off), this is one monitor that really commands your attention.
Picture quality is outstanding, too. Covering 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and a respectable 87.6% of the DCI-P3 gamut (which is pretty good going for a non-HDR monitor), pictures look rich and punchy at all times on its default User mode, and its intuitive onboard menu system means it’s easy to make any last minute adjustments or play about with its black tuner control.
If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also got a 144Hz refresh rate for high frame rate gaming (provided you’ve got a beefy enough graphics card, that is – which you’ll need if your target is 144fps at 2560×1440) and AMD FreeSync support to help eliminate tearing and judder for AMD graphics card owners. Round that off with two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one DisplayPort 1.2 and a two-port USB3 hub and you’ve got yourself one of the best 27in monitors around.
Read more in our MSI Optix MPG27CQ review.
Best ultrawide monitor (FreeSync): Philips 349X7FJEW
Key features: 34in, 3440×1440, curved VA, 100Hz, AMD FreeSync
When I heard Square Enix were adding 21:9 aspect ratio support to Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, I knew what had to be done. No one needs to play Final Fantasy XII in 21:9, but hey, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it on the Philips 349X7FJEW. Out of all the ultrawide monitors I’ve tested so far, this is the one that ticks the most boxes for me.
I’m not the biggest fan of its white chassis, all told, but it’s far by one of the cheapest 21:9 monitors out there these days, and its image quality is just as good as the considerably more expensive AOC AG352UCG and Acer Predator Z35p. Of course, part of the reason why AOC and Acer’s monitors are so pricey is because they come with Nvidia G-Sync support. The Philips, on the other hand, only has AMD FreeSync support, which won’t be much good to anyone with an Nvidia graphics card, but at least you’re saving yourself several hundred pounds / dollars in the process.
If you are after an ultrawide Nvidia G-Sync monitor, however… then you should check out the AOC AG352UCG, which you can find out more below… For those who’d rather save themselves from the dreaded G-Sync tax, however, the Philips is definitely the better value for money choice.
Read more in our Philips 349X7FJEW review.
Best ultrawide monitor (G-Sync): Acer Predator Z35p
Key features: 35in, 3440×1440, curved AMVA, 100Hz (120Hz overclocked), Nvidia G-Sync
As mentioned above, the Acer Predator Z35p is a lot more expensive than the Philips 349X7FJEW, but it does have the added advantage of Nvidia G-Sync support for those who have an Nvidia graphics card. Why have I picked this one over the AOC Agon AG352UCG, though? Well, that’s mainly because the AOC is now much harder to come by than when I first reviewed it, and its price is now roughly the same as the more fully-featured Acer – if you can even find it on sale anywhere.
Both monitors are equally excellent in their own right, but the Acer has a few more tricks up its sleeve that make it better value for money overall. For instance, you can overclock its 100Hz refresh rate up to 120Hz if you’ve got a beefy enough graphics card to take advantage of it, and it also with four USB3 ports instead just two like the AOC.
The Predator Z35p’s screen is also a lot brighter, making it more versatile in a wider range of lighting conditions, and its image quality is top-notch, covering 99% of the sRGB colour gamut. What’s more, I much prefer Acer’s onboard menu system, as the AOC’s is, frankly, a bit of a disaster. It’s expensive, yes, but it really doesn’t get much better than this in the ultrawide category.
Read more in our Acer Predator Z35p review.
Best bonkers ultrawide monitor: Samsung CHG90
Key features: 49in, 3840×1080, curved VA, 144Hz, AMD FreeSync 2, HDR
The Samsung CHG90 is pretty ridiculous, but if the thought of setting up three monitors for super ultrawide gaming is just too much to bear, then why not chuck some money at the problem and get this gorgeous thing instead?
While not quite as wide as three monitors put together, the CHG90’s 3840×1080 resolution means it’s essentially the same size as two 27in 1080p monitors stuck together. It’s pretty swish in the flesh, lemme tell ya, and you even get some pretty decent HDR out of it if you have an AMD graphics card in your PC thanks to its FreeSync 2 support.
Personally, I’m really quite fond of ultrawide monitors, and much prefer them to having two 16:9 screens. The CHG90 may take up a lot more room on your desk than two such monitors, but it certainly beats having to flick back and forth across different screens and having huge bezels interrupt everything in the middle. More and more games are starting to support ultrawide aspect ratios as well, and I managed to get both Final Fantasy XV and Far Cry 5 looking very, very lovely indeed on the CHG90 to stunning effect. Combine that with its 144Hz refresh rate, stylish design, plentiful supply of ports and inputs and intuitive onboard menu, and the CHG90 goes a long way in justifying its £1000 / $1000+ price.
Read our full Samsung CHG90 review.
Best budget 4K HDR monitor: BenQ EL2870U
Key features: 28in, 3480×2160, TN, AMD FreeSync, HDR
The BenQ EL2870U is by no means the best 4K HDR monitor out there, but it is one of the cheapest, which makes its slightly underwhelming HDR a bit more forgivable. Indeed, getting your hands on any kind of 4K 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.
Picture quality is still pretty reasonable, but with an sRGB gamut coverage of 83% (and 62% DCI-P3), it’s not exactly brilliant either. Still, if your primary goal is having a lot of pixels at your disposal, the EL2870U has that in spades. With its 3840×2160 resolution spread across its 28in TN panel, the EL2870’s sharp pixel density of 157 pixels-per-inch (PPI) is significantly higher than any other screen on this list. A 27in 1080p monitor can only ever have 81 PPI, for example, while a 27in 1440p monitor is only a fraction better at 108 PPI.
You’ll probably still have to employ some of Windows’ scaling settings to make things like text and desktop icons even remotely legible, but at least everything will look lovely and crisp in the process. Admittedly, if you’re buying a 4K monitor to max out your shiny new 4K-capable graphics card like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti or AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 (although preferably the Vega given the EL2870U’s AMD FreeSync support), then there are probably better screens to spend your money on than this one. Really, I’d only recommend this as a 4K monitor for working purposes, and 4K gaming only if you’re on a particularly tight budget. I’ve yet to find the perfect 4K monitor that I’d be happy recommending for both work and play, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be updating this list as soon as I do.
Read our full BenQ EL2870U review.
Best 4K HDR monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
Key features: 27in, 3840×2160, IPS, 120Hz (144Hz overclocked), Nvidia G-Sync HDR
It’s crazy expensive, but if you’re after the best that 4K HDR currently has to offer, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the monitor to get – until I get my hands on Acer’s Predator X27, that is. With a crazy high peak brightness level of around 1000cd/m2, this is the finest implementation of HDR I’ve ever seen. It really brings HDR games like Final Fantasy XV and Assassin’s Creed Origins to life, but you will need a graphics card that supports Nvidia G-Sync HDR in order to take advantage of it – i.e.: an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or higher. For more info about what graphics cards support HDR and what PC games support it, click the link.
Admittedly, I was a bit cool on the quality of its panel in my initial review, but Asus have since told me that you have to enable its wide colour gamut support manually in a rather unobvious menu setting, which I didn’t know about when I first tested it. I’ll be getting it back in for another test very soon to give it a proper looking over, but as I mention in my HDR guide, it’s really the brightness part of HDR that makes the most impact, which it did in spades thanks to its phenomenal 384 dynamic backlight zones.
You also get a fully adjustable stand (with LEDs burning a ROG logo into your desk and your ceiling) with height, swivel, tilt and rotation options available for your trouble, and a bevy of ports, game modes and various display options.
Read our full Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review.