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

Plus all the best 1440p, ultrawide, budget monitors and more

Your gaming monitor is one of the most important parts of your entire PC, so to help you find the best gaming monitor for you and your budget, I've put together this list of all my top recommendations. You'll find everything here from cheap 144Hz displays right up massive 4K mega screens with all the HDR bells and ultrawide whistles on them. Whatever resolution, screen size or form factor you're looking for, we've got you covered with our list of best gaming monitors for 2021.

If you're in the market for a new gaming monitor, you're probably here for one of two reasons: you either want a higher resolution, or a higher refresh rate for super smooth gaming. The good news is that you can often get both by picking a monitor that's specifically made with gaming in mind, which is why you'll find that almost every screen on my best gaming monitor list has a refresh rate above the standard 60Hz.

With so many different options available, it can be hard to say that one monitor in particular is the absolute best of the best. However, regardless of whether you're building a new PC from scratch or upgrading from a very old system, a good place to start is to think about the kind of graphics card you have. If your GPU's getting on a bit, for example, it's probably not going to be able to handle much more than playing games at 1920x1080. If you've got an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / GTX 1660 or an AMD Radeon RX 580 / RX 5600 XT, however, then you're probably fairly safe pushing up to 2560x1440, or getting a 1920x1080 monitor with a high refresh rate.

Alternatively, if you're also thinking about getting a new graphics card soon, then that can also help you decide what kind of gaming monitor to buy. If you want to play games at 1920x1080, for example, then you can opt for a cheaper GPU. If you want to play games at 1440p or 4K, on the other hand, then you're going to need to dig a lot deeper and get a more powerful graphics card to go with it. You can find out more about what the best graphics cards are for each resolution and refresh rate over in our best graphics card guide, but we'd recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT for playing games at 1440p, and an RTX 3070 or RX 6800 or above for 4K.

You can also keep up to date with all the best gaming monitor prices in our dedicated and regularly updated gaming monitor deals round-up.

Best gaming monitors 2021


AOC 24G2U

The best 144Hz gaming monitor

The AOC 24G2U is hands down one of the best gaming monitors I've ever tested. Its sub-£200 / $200 price makes it a great monitor for those on a budget, 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 my number one recommendation in our £1000 PC build, the RPS Rig, and it's also my top recommendation for those upgrading their monitor from a much older screen.

It's not one of Nvidia's officially certified G-Sync Compatible screens, all told, but my tests show its AMD FreeSync support works just as well with Nvidia graphics cards as it does with AMD ones. 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. Stock levels are pretty low at the moment, but if you can't wait, then its curvy sibling, the AOC C24G1 is an equally good buy at £180 / $199.

Read more in our AOC 24G2U review


BenQ Mobiuz EX2710

The best budget HDR monitor

A photo of the BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 gaming monitor.

The BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 shares a lot of similar specs to the AOC 24G2U above, but this larger 27in also adds HDR into the mix, and it's far and away one of the best budget HDR screens I've tested in quite some time.

Not only does it have a wonderfully accurate IPS panel, providing rich, vibrant colours, but its peak brightness level is also high enough to make a tangible difference to your overall gaming experience. This isn't always the case with lower-end HDR monitors, and many end up looking exactly the same regardless of whether HDR is switched on or not.

Admittedly, its resolution of 1920x1080 isn't best suited to lots of desktop work, but it's doable at a pinch thanks to its strong contrast levels. Fortunately, the EX2710 is also available in a smaller 25in screen size (the EX2510) for precisely this sort of occasion, coming in at just £199 / $250. You still get the high 144Hz refresh rate and height-adjustable stand on this model, as well as the excellent IPS panel and HDR, too. In fact, given the relative scarcity of the AOC 24G2U right now, I'd also recommend the EX2510 as a great alternative for those after a brilliant 144Hz monitor as well.

Read more in our BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 review


AOC C27G2ZU

The best 240Hz 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 definitely the best 240Hz gaming monitor around today.

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 I never had 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 I'd suggest getting the 25in Alienware AW2521HFL instead.

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 trust me, 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, though, then the next best thing is MSI's Optix MAG272CQR. Its HDR isn't quite as good, but this monitor still has a fantastic panel and costs an identical £399 / $400. The Razer Raptor is also an exceptional 1440p monitor, but comes at a much higher premium.

Read more in our AOC Agon AG273QX review


Acer Predator Z35p

The best ultrawide gaming monitor

There are lots of great ultrawide monitors out there, but the Acer Predator Z35p is by far the best one 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 5120x1440 resolution, which really does look >rather lovely in games such as Red Dead Redemption 2. For more ultrawide greatness, check out our best ultrawide games on PC round-up.

Read more in our Acer Predator Z35P review


AOC Agon AG353UCG

The best ultrawide HDR 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 my best gaming monitor list for 2020. Not to be confused with the older AG352UCG mentioned above, AOC's latest flagship ultrawide monitor 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, the number of 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 given it costs roughly the same amount of money and gets you a much bigger screen. It all comes down to whether you want that extra 21:9 aspect ratio or not.

Read more in our AOC Agon AG353UCG review


Samsung Space

The best budget 4K gaming monitor

Until recently, the BenQ EL2870U occupied my best budget 4K gaming monitor slot, but now the incredible Samsung Space has muscled 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. Indeed, 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 large, 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 budget.

Read more in our Samsung Space review


Acer Nitro XV273K

The best 4K gaming monitor

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, 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, 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 my 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

It's crazy expensive, but if you're after the very best 4K HDR gaming monitor money can buy, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the one 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


How we test our gaming monitors

When I get a gaming monitor in for testing, I measure the panel's colour accuracy, contrast level, brightness and black level with my X-Rite i1 DisplayPro calibrator. I start by measuring the default settings that you get out of the box, and then I 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.

I also run a few extra tests if I'm testing an HDR monitor. Here, I use specific scenes in Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Final Fantasy XV to measure a monitor's peak brightness level. To do this, I place my calibrator over their bright, in-game suns to see just how high its brightness levels can go. I 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.

As for testing different types 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 I've also never had a 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.

I 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

Katharine Castle avatar

Katharine Castle

Hardware Editor

Katharine writes about all the bits that go inside your PC so you can carry on playing all those lovely games we like talking about so much. Very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests. She's also RPS' resident deals herald.

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