As 2019 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the best gaming monitors of the year. After all, your monitor is one of the most important parts of your entire PC, so it pays to find yourself a good one. I’ve tested loads of gaming screens this year, and the ones I’ve picked out below are the absolute best monitors for gaming you can buy right now.
I’ve covered a range of different screen sizes, prices and resolutions in my best gaming monitor 2019 guide, helping you find the best 144Hz gaming monitors, all the way up to the best ultrawide monitors and the best 4K monitors. You’ll also find our recently crowned RPS Rig monitor in here, too, the AOC 24G2U, which is by far the best budget gaming monitor I’ve tested in ages. Whatever screen size or resolution you’re looking for, these are the best gaming monitors you can buy today.
Best gaming monitor 2019
All of our best gaming monitor recommendations have excellent picture quality, including high colour accuracy, deep black levels and great contrast. Many of them also come with lots of extra features as well, such as a high refresh rate, AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync support, the latter of which helps to keep your games looking nice and smooth by automatically adjusting your monitor’s refresh rate to the number of frames being spat out by your graphics card (and you can find out more information on FreeSync and G-Sync by clicking the links to your right).
To measure this, I test every monitor that arrives on my desk with my trusty X-Rite Display i1 Pro calibrator. First, I’ll take a reading of each gaming monitor’s default colour accuracy (how much of the standard sRGB colour gamut it covers out of the box and, if applicable for HDR-enabled monitors, the wider DCI-P3 colour gamut), as well as brightness, black levels and contrast. I’ll then go about tweaking each monitor’s various settings to see if I can make it any better through calibration.
Of course, this list will naturally chop and change as and when I get new gaming monitors in for review that I think deserve a place on this list, but for now, these are the best monitors for gaming you can buy today.
Best budget FreeSync gaming monitor: AOC 24G2U
As the AOC G2460PF becomes increasingly difficult to find, I’ve decided it’s time for a new best budget gaming monitor champion. Enter the AOC 24G2U, a flat IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, a height adjustable stand, and whose AMD FreeSync support plays nicely with Nvidia graphics cards, too. It’s infinitely better than AOC’s other budget gaminng monitor, the AOC G2590FX, both in terms of colour accuracy and overall contrast, and it’s also better value for money than the very similar and slightly more expensive Viewsonic Elite XG240R. That’s why it’s currently our RPS approved gaming monitor for our £1000 PC build, the RPS Rig.
The AOC 24G2U has an excellent 24in screen, and its fantastic IPS panel covers 99.6% of the standard sRGB colour gamut straight out of the box, meaning you don’t have to spend ages tweaking anything to get a great picture. That’s a lot for a monitor of this size and price, and is actually better value for money than some of the larger screens further down on this list. That said, with US stock being particularly low right now, its curved VA sibling, the AOC C24G1, is another great alternative at £173 / $145.
Read more in our AOC 24G2U review.
Best budget G-Sync gaming monitor: Acer Predator XB241H
The Acer Predator XB241H is a lot more expensive than AOC 242GU (thanks, G-Sync tax), but if you’re adamant about getting a full-fat G-Sync monitor, this is by far the best 24in, 1920×1080, 144Hz screen you can buy today, surpassing even the Alienware AW2518H, which has an even higher refresh rate of 240Hz. Colour accuracy is just as high as the Alienware out of the box, and even goes a bit higher if you tweak the colour temperature settings slightly.
What’s more, the XB241H’s 144Hz / 180Hz refresh rate is still more than enough for most of today’s top graphics cards, so you’ll really need quite the whopping GPU to make use of the extra 60Hz offered by the Alienware. The Acer doesn’t have a USB3 hub like the Alienware, but both monitors come with DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, plus a flexible stand that gives you plenty of height adjustment, swivel, tilt and rotation, making it easy to get it into the right position.
By all means go for the AOC if your budget doesn’t stretch this far, but if you’ve got money to spare and want the best of the best that 24in monitors have to offer for Nvidia graphics cards, then the Acer Predator XB241H is definitely the one to go for right now.
Read more in our Acer Predator XB241H review.
Best budget 27in gaming monitor: BenQ EW277HDR
For those after something slightly bigger than the AOC 24G2U 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.
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. 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 than £200 / $200 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. If even the BenQ is beyond your price range, however, then the £155 / Philips 276E9QJAB is another great 27in 1080p monitor that delivers HDR-like colours on a budget.
Read more in our BenQ EW277HDR review.
Best 1440p gaming monitor: AOC Agon AG273QX
If you really want to go all out on a 27in monitor with a 2560×1440 resolution and a high refresh rate, the AOC Agon AG273QX is one of the best ways to do it. With a superb VA panel, height-adjustable stand and AMD FreeSync 2 HDR support that works equally well with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards alike, this is one gaming monitor that really commands your attention.
Picture quality is outstanding, too. Covering 99.5% of the sRGB colour gamut and a respectable 87.9% of the HDR-grade DCI-P3 gamut, 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.
If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also got a 165Hz 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 165fps at 2560×1440). Round that off with a range of inputs and a four-port USB3 hub and you’ve got yourself one of the best 1440p monitors around.
Read more in our AOC Agon AG273QX review.
Best ultrawide gaming monitor: Acer Predator Z35p
The Acer Predator Z35p is more expensive than other ultrawide monitors out there, but it’s by far the best ultrawide monitor I’ve tested so far. Not only does it have exceptional colour accuracy, but it’s also a lot more flexible than its FreeSync and G-Sync rivals.
For example, the Predator Z35p comes with four USB3 ports instead just two like its similarly priced rival, the AOC AG352UCG (which I should note has since been replaced by the AG352UCG6 Black Edition, which is effectively the same monitor just with a higher 120Hz refresh rate and black stand instead of silver), and its screen is also a lot brighter, making it more versatile in a wider range of lighting conditions. What’s more, I also much prefer Acer’s onboard menu system, as the AOC’s is, frankly, a bit of a disaster. It’s pricey, yes, but it really doesn’t get much better than this in the ultrawide category.
Although if you want the best stupidly ultrawide gaming monitor, then look no further than the Samsung CRG9, which has a massive 49in curved VA panel and a 5120×1440 resolution, which really does look rather lovely in games such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
Read more in our Acer Predator Z35p review.
Best budget 4K gaming monitor: BenQ EL2870U
The BenQ EL2870U is by no means the best 4K gaming monitor out there, but it is one of the cheapest, which makes its slightly underwhelming HDR a bit more forgivable. 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 4K-capable graphics card, 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. Otherwise, I’d recommended taking a look at the monitors below.
Read more in our BenQ EL2870U review.
Best 4K gaming monitor: Acer Nitro XV273K
The Acer Nitro XV273K is the best 4K HDR monitor for anyone who’s been hankering after an Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate display but doesn’t have a spare two grand squirrelled away under their mattress. It’s still pretty expensive as gaming monitors go, but with a feature set like this, who can blame it?
Not only does this 27in 4K display have exceptional colour accuracy, but it’s also got a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, just like the current pair of Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate displays, Acer’s own Predator X27 and the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, which you can read more about below. Its variable refresh rate tech also has the added bonus of being compatible with both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, as it’s one of the few FreeSync screens that meets Nvidia’s official G-Sync Compatible requirements.
Its 27in screen size also makes it a lot more practical than my previous mid-range 4K monitor choice, the jumbo TV-sized Philips 436M6VBPAB. The Philips is still pretty good value for money for those in the UK (which can currently be had for as little as £580 at time of writing), but really, unless you’re specifically after an HDR monitor to replace your TV in your living room, the it’s simply not very practical as a general gaming screen.
Read more in our Acer Nitro XV273K review review.
Best 4K HDR gaming monitor: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
It’s crazy expensive, but if you’re after the very best 4K HDR monitor money can buy, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the monitor to get. 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 Odyssey to life.
I’d also say it’s a better buy than its slightly cheaper rival, the Acer Predator X27, too. Technically, both monitors share exactly the same panel (which is made by exactly the same manufacturer), but for me, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ was the more impressive of the two screens when it came to playing games in HDR.
The X27 is still a good choice if you can find it for a good price and don’t mind faffing around a bit with its various onboard menu settings, but for me, I much prefer the overall design of the PG27UQ. Yes, I could probably do without the LEDs burning a ROG-shaped logo hole in my desk (and ceiling), but it has a more pleasant height-adjustable stand than its Acer rival, and slicker, more premium-looking bezels.
Read more in our Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review.