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Best gaming monitors 2021: the top 144Hz, 240Hz and 4K monitors

All the best monitors for gaming, including budget, HDR and ultrawide displays

Choosing the right parts for your PC is important, though it will all be for naught if you display can't keep up. That's where the best gaming monitors come in: these can instantly unlock the full potential of your rig, whether it's through bright and bold colours with HDR (high dynamic range) or making sure your frame rate isn't held back by a low refresh rate.

This obviously isn't the same thing as making your PC itself more powerful, but a better monitor can absolutely enhance the quality of what you actually see. To elaborate, you might have a GPU and CPU combination that can run your favourite game at 100fps+, but if you only have a monitor with a basic 60Hz refresh rate, it won’t appear as smooth as it could be because the display can’t physically produce more than 60fps. That’s partly why this list focuses on gaming monitors with 144Hz refresh rates and above (for the most part, anyway).

Resolutions above the industry-standard 1080p will also make your games look sharper, with fine details more clearly visible. 1440p delivers a noticeable improvement in this regard, with 4K a luxury step up from that. There is a balancing act here, though: higher resolutions put greater strain on your PC, and you don’t want to lower your frame rate to the point that having a high refresh rate becomes useless. Whether you’re building a PC from scratch or want a new monitor for an existing system, our guide to the best graphics cards can explain which GPUs suit which resolutions. Generally, we’d recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT for a 1440p monitor, and an RTX 3070 or RX 6800 or above for smooth running at 4K.

As with all our hardware buying guides – those ones in the box on the right there – we’ll keep updating these picks with fresh pricing details and newly-released displays that sufficiently impress in testing. You can also keep an eye on the best gaming monitor prices through our Deals tag.

Best gaming monitors 2021


The best 144Hz gaming monitor

The AOC 24G2U is hands down one of the best gaming monitors around. Its accessible price makes it a great budget gaming monitor, and its high refresh rate gives it plenty of headroom for both low and higher-end graphics cards alike. That's why it's currently our number one recommendation in our £1,000 PC build, the RPS Rig, as well as an ideal upgrade for anyone upgrading from an old or basic desktop display.

It's not one of Nvidia's officially certified G-Sync Compatible screens, all told, but our tests showed its adaptive sync support works just as well with Nvidia graphics cards as it does with AMD ones when using the officially-supported FreeSync. It's infinitely better than AOC's other similarly priced gaming 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.

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 it's arguably much better value for money than some of the larger screens further down on this list. If you're looking for a curved screen with similar qualities, then on 24G2U's own sibling, the AOC C24G1 is an equally good buy at £160. For some reason it's even cheaper in the US, at $208.

Read more in our AOC 24G2U review

BenQ Mobiuz EX2510S

The best budget HDR monitor

The BenQ Mobiuz EX2510S gaming monitor on a desk.

The BenQ Mobiuz EX2510S is, for all intents and purposes, the Mobiuz EX2510 with an extra 21Hz slapped on the refresh rate. Fine by me: it’s only a teensy bit more expensive, thus keeping it as an excellent entry point into HDR for those with bright ideas but limited budgets.

Not that it’s dazzlingly intense most of the time: the 1920x1080 IPS panel handles colour well, covering 96.2% of the sRGB gamut in the OSD’s sRGB mode, but this also limits peak brightness to a so-so 238.9cd/m2. Once HDR is enabled and running in a game, however, the Mobiuz EX2510S can reach 404cd/m2, which is just enough for the DisplayHDR 400 standard.

My testing revealed plenty more sparks of quality. With a respectable contrast ratio of 1095:1 it avoids a common pitfall of cheaper IPS panels, and the joystick control makes navigating the OSD much, much easier than it would be with a set of simple buttons. Even the speakers are reasonable, if though no replacement for a dedicated set of desktop speakers – or one of the best gaming headsets.

That’s not to mention the high 165Hz refresh rate, a boon for competitive games, nor the highly effective implementation of FreeSync Premium. For similar money you could get alternatively get the BenQ Mobiuz EX2710, which is the larger version of the EX2510; this offers more screen space, though that will also make the 1080p resolution appear more stretched-out, and the refresh rate is lower as well.


The best 240Hz gaming monitor

A photo of the AOC C27G2ZU gaming monitor

You'll need a pretty beefy graphics card to make the most of a 240Hz gaming monitor, but if you've got the right GPU and value frames per second above all else, then the AOC C27G2ZU is comfortably the best 240Hz gaming monitor so far.

It's considerably cheaper than other 27in, 240Hz gaming monitors out there at the moment, and its curved VA panel has superb colour accuracy straight out of the box, meaning you can simply plug it in and start playing without having to spend ages faffing around with the settings. It's also available in a cheaper ZE model, but the benefit of opting for this ZU variant is that you get a height-adjustable stand and four USB 3.2 ports, which you don't get on the ZE.

Yes, a 1920x1080 resolution isn't ideal on a 27in gaming monitor, but you'll only really notice its low pixel density (how sharp and crisp text and icons look onscreen) when you're using it for work or browsing the web. In games, everything looks just fine, and you won't have trouble reading text or interpreting a game's HUD or UI. If the resolution is a bit of a deal breaker for you, though, then check out the 25in Alienware AW2521HFL instead.

I've also been testing a 24in cousin of the C27G2ZU, the AOC 24G2ZU. This matches the speedy 240Hz refresh rate, and its IPS panel produces higher peak brightness and wider viewing angles than the C27G2ZU's curved VA panel. However, at £276 it's remarkably more expensive, and doesn't even appear to be available in the US right now.

Read more in our AOC C27G2ZU review

AOC Agon AG273QX

The best 1440p gaming monitor

The AOC Agon AG273QX has everything you could possibly want from a 2560x1440 gaming monitor. With a high 165Hz refresh rate, a superb VA panel, height-adjustable stand and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro support that works equally well with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards alike, this is one gaming monitor that really commands your attention.

Sadly, stock levels continue to be a bit on the low side over in the US at the moment, but this is one monitor that will be worth the wait. Its picture quality is outstanding, covering 99.5% of the sRGB colour gamut and a respectable 87.9% of the HDR-grade DCI-P3 gamut, ensuring images and games look rich and punchy at all times on its default User mode. Plus, 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 2560x1440). Round that off with a range of inputs and a four-port USB3 hub and you've got yourself one of the best 1440p gaming monitors around.

If you can't wait for the AG273QX to come back into stock, or just want a more affordable alternative, the LG 27GL850 is worth a look. Other than some underwhelming contrast, it's almost devoid of weaknesses: the G-Sync Compatible, 144Hz Nano IPS panel is both vibrant and fast, and after a couple of price drops you can easily find one for just£299 / $379.

Read more in our AOC Agon AG273QX review

AOC Agon CU34G3S

The best ultrawide gaming monitor

The AOC Agon CU34G3S gaming monitor on a desk.

It’s time to retire our previous first-choice ultrawide, the Acer Predator Z35p, with something newer – and faster, and cheaper. The AOC Agon CU34G3S is all three and more, combining a high-performance VA panel with a brisk 165Hz refresh rate. You’ll need a brawny graphics card to fill out the latter, given the sharp 3440x1440 resolution, but such a pairing can easily have eye-pleasing results. Particular highlights are the sky-high contrast ratio of 4937:1, and the inky black level of just 0.07cd/m2.

FreeSync Premium also covers the 48-165fps range, and shoos away potential tearing regardless of whether you’re using an AMD or Nvidia GPU. The Agon CU34G3S even has a degree of HDR support: I recorded a peak of 425cd/m2 from Final Fantasy XV’s sun, enough to make a subtle visible difference over the 369cdm/m2 peak this monitor reaches when HDR is disabled.

It’s an especially worthwhile purchase if you can find it below £600, as it is on Amazon at the time of writing. It doesn’t yet seem to be on sale in the US, which is a shame, though the Predator Z35p isn’t exactly easy to get hold of these days either. If you can afford to splash out, check out the even higher-specced AOC Agon AG353UCG below, or consider the Samsung CRG9 for a truly sprawling ultrawide monitor.

HP X34

The best budget ultrawide gaming monitor

The HP X34 gaming monitor sitting on top of a desk while running Apex Legends.

The HP X34 is quite the ultrawide bargain. Despite being costing about half that of the Predator Z35P, the X34 has a higher 165Hz refresh rate, as well as superior brightness. In fact, I measured the X34’s peak luminance at 437cd/m2, enough to back up HDR 400 support.

Non-HDR games look great in motion too, and while the X34 opts for FreeSync Premium without formal G-Sync Compatible certification, you can enable and use G-Sync on Nvidia graphics cards with fair results. The IPS panel also produces a vibrant and accurate colour palette, hitting 96.5% sRGB gamut coverage in its Neutral profile.

There are some compromises, to be sure. Contrast isn’t high enough for truly impressive HDR, the rear-mounted buttons aren’t terribly intuitive or comfortable to use, and build quality could be more robust. Still, you do get a reasonably solid, height-adjustable stand, and the lack of pointy edges or flashes of red plastic should suit those who’d prefer a more restrained design.


The best ultrawide HDR gaming monitor

A photo of the AOC Agon AG353UCG gaming monitor

The AOC Agon AG353UCG isn't the only 200Hz Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate screen out there (hello, Asus ROG Strix PG35VQ), but it is one of the cheapest, which is why it's currently sitting in this here best gaming monitor list. Not to be confused with the older AG352UCG, the AG353UCG is the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to ultrawide gaming monitors.

With its Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate support, the AOC Agon AG353UCG can do proper HDR at a peak brightness of over 1000cd/m2 - much like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ below, only across a much wider display. It's also got a massive refresh rate of 200Hz - a rarity for a screen of this size - and superb picture quality.

Of course, games that support ultrawide resolutions and HDR aren't exactly plentiful right now, so unless you're absolutely adamant about having an ultrawide display with all the bells and whistles then you're probably better off sticking with the Acer Predator Z35p above, or opting for the ultra-ultrawide, FreeSync HDR-enabled Samsung CRG9, which currently costs around £960 / $1200. Still, as Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate monitors go, you could argue the AOC Agon AG353UCG is a better buy than the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ below, considering it gets you a much bigger screen at (for now) a much lower price. If, on the other hand, money is no object, it all comes down to whether you want that bigger 21:9 aspect ratio or not.

Read more in our AOC Agon AG353UCG review

Samsung Space

The best budget 4K gaming monitor

For a spell, the BenQ EL2870U occupied this best budget 4K gaming monitor slot, but nowadays the excellent Samsung Space continues to muscle it aside. It's more expensive than the BenQ, but its superior picture quality and ingenious stand arguably make it better value for money overall.

Indeed, the best thing about the Samsung Space is that, thanks to its clever clamp mechanism that attaches to the back of your desk, you can push the screen right up against the wall when you're done playing games, giving you a lot more space to do other things on your desk than you would otherwise. By contrast, the BenQ didn't have any kind of height-adjustable stand whatsoever, making it pretty rigid and inflexible as a result.

The Samsung Space monitor's spacious 32in display also gives you loads of room to work and play games on, and its picture quality is pretty much perfect straight out of the box, making it a great 4K gaming monitor for those on a relatively tight budget.

Read more in our Samsung Space review

Acer Nitro XV273K

The best 4K gaming monitor

A photo of the Acer Nitro XV273K on a desk behind a mouse and keyboard

The Acer Nitro XV273K is the best 4K gaming 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, and finding available stock in the UK is proving tricky lately, but with a feature set like this it's worth perserving for.

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, the latter of 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 one of Nvidia's officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitors, too.

Its 27in screen size also makes it a lot more practical than our previous mid-range 4K monitor choice, the jumbo TV-sized Philips 436M6VBPAB. Indeed, unless you're specifically after an HDR monitor to replace your TV in your living room, then it's simply not practical as a general gaming screen.

Read more in our Acer Nitro XV273K review

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

The best 4K HDR gaming monitor

A face on photo of the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

It's gut-punchingly expensive, but if you're after the very best 4K HDR gaming monitor money can buy, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the chosen one. With a high peak brightness level of around 1000cd/m2, this screen showcases the finest implementation of HDR yet seen on a gaming monitor. It really brings HDR games like Final Fantasy XV and Assassin's Creed Odyssey to life.

Arguably, it's also 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 as Katharine found in her testing, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ was the more impressive of the two 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 the PG27UQ is better-designed as well. Yes, it has some extremely gamer LEDs that want to burn ROG logo-shaped holes in your desk and ceiling, but it has a more pleasant height-adjustable stand than its Acer rival, as well as slicker, more premium-looking bezels.

Read more in our Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review

How we test our gaming monitors

When we get a gaming monitor in for testing, we measure the panel's colour accuracy, contrast level, brightness and black level - both Katharine and myself use the X-Rite i1 DisplayPro calibrator for this. We'll start by measuring the default settings that you get out of the box, and then go about optimising it through the monitor's onboard menu system. The best gaming monitors won't need any tweaking at all, as their panels should be configured correctly as soon as you take them out of the box.

HDR monitors require a few more specific tests, namely using specific scenes in Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Final Fantasy XV to measure a monitor's peak brightness level. To do this, the calibrator sits over their bright, in-game suns to see just how high the monitor's brightness levels can go. We also see how easy it is to get a monitor's HDR working and configured correctly. After all, no one wants to spend ages fiddling about with their monitor's menu settings just to get a single game working properly.

In terms of what to expect from different types of of gaming monitor panels, IPS screens usually have the most accurate colours, but there are plenty of good-looking TN and VA panels around now these days as well. TN panels often have quicker response times than other panel types, which can make them a good choice for fast, competitive esports games, but you're vanishingly unlikely to have serious problem playing games on slower IPS or VA panels. We're often only talking about a different of a couple of milliseconds here, and most people won't notice the difference whatsoever.

We also test to see how well a monitor copes with different types of graphics cards if they have AMD Freesync or Nvidia G-Sync support. This is particularly important if they're not one of Nvidia's officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitors. While all Freesync monitors are technically G-Sync compatible (with a small 'c'), some are better suited to it than others. Bad G-Sync compatible screens, for example, can sometimes blink, pulse, produce off-colours or other visual defects, and nobody wants that. If you want to avoid the hassle of potentially going with a small 'c' G-Sync compatible screen, then you can always get one that's been officially certified by Nvidia as big 'C' G-Sync Compatible (and you'll find a complete list linked above on the right).

For more RPS recommended hardware, here's a complete list of our best hardware guides:
Best graphics cards Best CPU for gaming Best SSD for gaming Best gaming headsets
Best gaming keyboards Best gaming mouse Best VR headsets

About the Author

James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James retired from writing about Dota for RPS to write about hardware for RPS. His favourite watercooler radiator size is 280mm and he always takes advantage of RGB lighting by setting everything to a solid light blue.

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