Prices are accurate at the time of publication.
- The best gaming monitors deliver outstanding image quality and high refresh rates.
- Though marketed to gamers, many gaming monitors are great for content creation and general use.
- The Acer XV282K KV is a superb 4K monitor for modern game consoles or a top-tier gaming PC.
Gaming monitors have matured over the past decade. Once a niche that relied more on marketing fluff than actual performance, modern gaming monitors deliver outstanding image quality, smooth motion, solid build quality, and attractive pricing.
Today’s best gaming monitors occupy a sweet spot between basic office monitors and the top-tier professional monitors. They bring visual quality close to high-end professional displays to a more affordable price. This is paired with an enhanced refresh rate that provides smooth motion and a speedy response to user input.
Acer’s fantastic Nitro XV282K KV is a cutting-edge monitor with outstanding image quality. It packs 4K resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate, and HDMI 2.1 support that can handle 4K/120 FPS gameplay from modern PCs and game consoles. It also has a vibrant, punchy image that looks great in games and is ideal for content creators.
Also, if you have any questions about terms used in this article, we have a glossary of terms at the end for reference.
Here are the best gaming monitors of 2021
- Best gaming monitor overall: Acer Nitro XV282K KV
- Best budget gaming monitor: Dell 2721HGF
- Best gaming monitor for competitive gaming: Acer Predator XB253Q Gwbmiiprzx
- Best ultrawide gaming monitor: BenQ Mobiuz EX3415R
- Best 32-inch gaming monitor: Samsung Odyssey G7
Even if you mostly work on your gaming computer these days, getting a sharp monitor that’s easy to look at should be a priority. Like most gaming peripherals, monitors are currently enjoying post Cyber Monday sales.
Acer’s Nitro XV282K KV delivers 4K resolution and HDMI 2.1 with color performance that will make your favorite games look jaw-dropping.
Pros: Sharp 4K resolution; vibrant, accurate color performance; great contrast ratio for a gaming monitor; ideal for content creators; supports HDMI 2.1
Cons: Only DisplayHDR 400 Certified
The Acer Nitro KX282K KV is a superb 4K, 144Hz gaming monitor with good motion clarity and tack-sharp image quality. It has two HDMI 2.1 ports that can handle a modern game console’s 4K/120FPS output. You’ll also enjoy its vibrant color performance.
Pairing 4K resolution with a refresh rate of up to 144Hz provides a crisp experience in every game you play. Modern, demanding games will look detailed and rich, while older titles play at maximum pace.
A pair of HDMI 2.1 ports support 4K resolution at up to 120Hz when connected to the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, or a PC. Alternative monitors stuck on HDMI 2.0 are restricted to 4K/60Hz when connected to modern game consoles. The Nitro XV282K KV also has a DisplayPort input with support for 4K/144Hz when connected to a PC.
The Nitro XV282K KV is also great for content creators. It has superb color accuracy, good contrast, and can be used to edit 4K content at its native resolution. It’s ideal for gamers who make content on YouTube, Twitch, and other video platforms.
It’s not flawless, however. The monitor is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified but not bright enough to make HDR content look its best. We’ve also heard complaints from PlayStation 5 owners that 4K/120Hz doesn’t always work. This may be an issue with the PS5, as we’ve heard of similar stories from owners of other HDMI 2.1 displays.
The Acer Nitro XV282K KV is priced at $899, placing it among the least expensive HDMI 2.1 monitors currently available. It’s a good bet for gamers seeking a future-proof display with jaw-dropping visuals.
Dell’s 2721HGF is a great all-around monitor with surprisingly attractive visuals at an entry-level price
Pros: Punchy image with good dark scene performance; officially supports AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync; solid build quality with height adjustable stand; plenty of inputs
Cons: Only 1080p resolution; no built-in speakers
Dell’s 2721HGF is a simple, straightforward monitor that makes the right compromises to deliver an excellent gaming experience at a low price.
The screen has a punchy image with bold color. It also hits a higher contrast ratio than many alternatives, providing a strong illusion of depth and excellent detail in dark scenes. It’s perfect for realistic games, horror games, and other titles that use shadows or darkness for dramatic effect.
Despite its price, the 2721HGF has a 144Hz refresh rate and good motion performance. More expensive monitors, like the BenQ EX2780Q, look sharper in motion and will show less blur behind fast objects, but the 2721HGF is a huge upgrade over a run-of-the-mill office monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate.
The monitor’s resolution tops out at 1080p, which is low for a 27-inch display. Games don’t look sharp on this monitor. You may see distracting saw-tooth edges around fine details. This, however, is unavoidable on a budget. 1440p monitors like the BenQ EX2780Q are much more expensive.
This is a solid, handsome monitor that includes a height-adjustable stand and a VESA mount for attaching third-party monitor arms. The monitor is curved, but the curve is subtle enough that it doesn’t significantly change gameplay.
Acer’s Predator XB3 has an absurdly high 280Hz refresh rate for lightning-quick reaction times in competitive games
Pros: Excellent motion clarity; 280Hz refresh rate; precise color accuracy; sturdy design; good value for money
Cons: Only one video input
Acer’s Predator XB253Q Gxbmiiprzx, also known as the Predator XB3, is an outstanding 24.5-inch gaming monitor built for competitive gamers. It has remarkable motion clarity and doesn’t sacrifice image quality.
The monitor has a 240Hz refresh rate that can overclock to 280Hz. This leads to excellent motion clarity that helps you pick out details in small, moving objects. The monitor also has low input lag, making it feel almost wired to your brain.
A few competitors have an even higher 360Hz refresh rate. They’re also excellent for competitive gaming but are nearly twice as expensive. It’s hard to justify spending so much when this more affordable Acer can deliver most of their gains.
The Predator XB3 has excellent image quality. It displays accurate, vibrant color and has enough contrast and brightness to achieve a convincing illusion of depth. HDR is supported and works well in bright scenes, though the monitor doesn’t support the extended range of color required for proper HDR.
A pair of two-watt speakers are included along the monitor’s rear. They provide usable, if not impressive, audio. You’ll want a headset or desktop speakers for most gaming, but the speakers are passable for short sessions and when audio quality is not important.
Connectivity is a downside, as the monitor has just one DisplayPort 1.4 input. Its design is divisive, thanks to a large chin on the display’s bottom edge, but the monitor is built like a tank and includes a robust stand with height adjustment.
BenQ’s Mobiuz EX3415R is a huge, immersive display with few downsides
Pros: Expensive, immersive screen; highly accurate color; great built-in speakers; sturdy build quality
Cons: Disappointing HDR for the price; expensive
BenQ’s Mobiuz EX3415R is a bigger, more expensive take on BenQ’s EX2780Q. It has most of the qualities that make the EX2780Q our top pick. This includes extremely accurate, vibrant color, good shadow detail, and attractive sharpness, all alongside a 144Hz refresh rate that shows great motion clarity.
Upgrading to a 34-inch ultrawide monitor leads to a more immersive gaming experience. This is perfect for simulation, open-world, and strategy games, where a wider display often lets you see more at once. It can be a downside in competitive games, which are rarely optimized for ultrawide monitors.
HDR performance is the monitor’s only notable quality flaw. It’s not bad; in fact, it’s better than most displays on this list. But the Mobiuz EX3415R is an expensive display, and that puts it in a different league. Alienware and Samsung monitors have better HDR at this price point.
BenQ’s Mobiuz monitor line, which is new, embraces an eye-catching design that combines the angular lines of a stealth fighter with modern contrasting colors. The sturdy height-adjustable stand keeps the monitor stable.
The Mobiuz EX3415R has a built-in sound system that includes a subwoofer. It’s loud and enjoyable, which is great if you don’t want external speakers cluttering your desk.
Samsung’s Odyssey G7 is a massive, beautiful monitor with attractive design and a surprisingly high refresh rate
Pros: Excellent color accuracy; 240Hz refresh rate; striking curved design; good HDR support
Cons: Curve will look too extreme for some; no built-in speakers
Samsung’s monstrous 32-inch Odyssey G7 is all about extremes. It’s extremely large, extremely curved, and has an extremely high refresh rate. These traits make it easy to recommend to gamers looking to go large.
The Odyssey G7 has exceptionally accurate and vibrant color that’s nearly a match for BenQ’s EX2780Q. That is paired with a slightly better contrast ratio, which provides an immersive illusion of depth. These traits, together with the monitor’s sheer size, make the Odyssey G7 a great pick for simulation games, role-playing games, and other titles with attractive, expansive scenery. The monitor is bright in HDR mode, providing an above average HDR experience.
Yet the Odyssey G7 also has a 240Hz refresh, which is rare for a 32-inch display. The monitor isn’t as clear in motion as some competing 240Hz monitors, but most gamers will be pleased.
This monitor has a dramatic 1000R (smaller means more) curve, which means it could complete a full circle if it were 1000 millimeters wide. Most curved monitors land between 1900R and 1500R. A curve this aggressive is obvious whether the monitor is off or on. Fans of curved screens will adore it, but gamers unconvinced by curved screens will find it too extreme. The curve is paired with an aggressive design that will stand out on any gamer’s desk.
The monitors in this list are the best for most gamers, but we tested several additional gaming monitors that stand out as honorable mentions.
Acer Nitro XV340CK ($397.99): This is a solid mid-range ultrawide monitor with good color accuracy and a 144Hz refresh rate. It falls short in maximum brightness and can show hazy, bright spots in dark scenes, but many gamers will excuse these flaws because of the monitor’s low price.
Acer Nitro XV252Q ($379): This 280Hz monitor is an alternative to Acer’s Predator XB253Q but takes a big cut in image quality. The two are solid at similar pricing, providing little reason to buy the Nitro XV252Q instead.
Alienware 2521H ($379.99): This 1080p/360Hz gaming monitor is a good choice for competitive gamers. It has great motion clarity, good image quality, and attractive design. Like other 360Hz monitors, however, it’s sold at a steep price.
Alienware AW2721D ($749.99): Want a 27-inch monitor with a refresh rate and motion performance nearly as good as the best 24-inch displays? Alienware’s AW2721D is for you – if you’re willing to pay for the privilege of owning it.
Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX ($2,899.99): This outrageously expensive 32-inch monitor from Asus is one of the first to embrace Mini-LED technology. It’s currently the best HDR gaming monitor money can buy, but its high price puts it out of reach for most gamers.
BenQ EX2780Q ($319.99): Our former top pick, the BenQ EX2780Q remains a solid mid-range option that delivers outstanding image quality. It’s still a great option for gamers who don’t need 4K resolution or HDMI 2.1.
Dark Matter by Monoprice 24-inch Gaming Monitor ($229.99): This basic 1080p/144Hz monitor provides great color performance and a good contrast ratio for just $230. Budget gamers who care about motion clarity should give it a serious look.
Dell S3222DGM ($329.99): This 32-incher is a more affordable alternative to Samsung’s Odyssey G7. It performs similarly in many respects, though it has a lower refresh rate. Some gamers may prefer its less dramatic curve.
MSI Oculux NXG253R ($499.99): This 24-inch 1080p/360Hz gaming monitor is a solid choice for competitive gamers, though its higher refresh rate is of limited use compared to our top competitive pick, the 280Hz Acer Predator XB253Q.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 ($1,999.99): Samsung’s absurdly large Odyssey G9 makes every other monitor look tiny. It has a Mini-LED backlight that provides good HDR performance and the best contrast ratio of any gaming monitor available right. It’s extremely expensive, however, and the Mini-LED backlight has issues with fast motion in high-contrast scenes.
The monitors recommended in this guide were tested using a Datacolor Spyder X colorimeter. This calibration tool can generate a report that objectively gauges the quality of a monitor based on numerous factors including brightness, contrast, color accuracy, image uniformity, and more. Test results were entered into a database that includes over 600 laptop and desktop displays going back over a decade.
What size is best for a gaming monitor?
Gaming monitors typically come in 24-inch, 27-inch, and 32-inch widescreen options. While it’s tempting to go big, a 24-inch or 27-inch monitor is often best because most players sit fairly close to the monitor (within three feet or less). 32-inch monitors are ideal as a television substitute in small spaces, like a studio apartment, a bedroom, or a dorm room. Ultrawide monitors are a special case; a 34-inch monitor is roughly as tall as a 27-inch widescreen.
What resolution is best for a gaming monitor?
2,560 x 1,440 resolution, often called 1440p, is the sweet spot for PC gaming. It’s sharper than 1080p but not so pixel-dense that you need an absurdly expensive video card for acceptable frame rates in modern games. 1080p is still adequate, however, especially in 24-inch monitors. 4K looks fantastic but can severely tax all but the most expensive gaming PCs, and there’s a slim selection of 4K displays that also support a refresh rate of 120Hz or better.
What refresh rate is best for a gaming monitor?
A monitor’s refresh rate is the number of times it can display a new image every second. Cranking up the refresh rate improves perceived smoothness, increases the clarity of objects in motion, and shortens the time between player input and on-screen response. A 144Hz refresh rate is the current sweet spot between performance and price, but gamers who play competitive games that demand quick reactions will prefer a 240Hz refresh rate.
- AMD FreeSync: FreeSync compatible monitors can synchronize their refresh rate to match the framerate of games played on an AMD video card. This improves perceived smoothness during gameplay.
- In-Plane Switching: Often abbreviated as IPS, In-Plane Switching is a common LCD panel technology found in computer monitors. Monitors that use an IPS panel have great color accuracy, high brightness, and outstanding viewing angles, but can look hazy in dark scenes. A majority of gaming monitors use an IPS panel.
- High Dynamic Range: Usually abbreviated as HDR, High Dynamic Range describes content packed with added color and luminance information. This leads to brighter whites, deeper blacks, and a greater range of colors across the entire spectrum. HDR content must be viewed on an HDR capable display to see an improvement over standard content.
- Nvidia G-Sync: G-Sync compatible monitors can synchronize their refresh rate to match the framerate of games played on an Nvidia video card. This improves perceived smoothness during gameplay.
- Refresh rate: This describes how many times a monitor can refresh its image each second. A higher refresh rate leads to smoother motion and improved clarity for fast-moving objects. It can also reduce input lag because less time passes between each refresh.
- Resolution: This describes a monitor’s pixel count in terms of the number of pixels found on one line along its horizontal and vertical axis. For example, any single horizontal line on a monitor with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution will have 1,920 pixels, while any single vertical line will have 1,080 pixels. More pixels will improve a monitor’s sharpness and clarity.
- VESA DisplayHDR: DisplayHDR is a set of standards laid out by VESA, an industry organization behind a variety of standards (including DisplayPort). DisplayHDR sets quality minimums that a monitor must reach to be certified. It’s more specific than HDR which, in the case of gaming monitors, doesn’t promise anything aside from the ability to accept an HDR signal.
- VESA mount: This is a standard mount for computer monitors laid out by VESA that uses four screws spaced 100 millimeters apart in a square pattern. Nearly all monitors and monitor arms use this mount.
- Vertical Alignment: Often abbreviated as VA, Vertical Alignment is a common LCD panel technology found in computer monitors. It’s known for reaching deep, inky shadows in dark scenes and good color performance, but tends to show less clarity in motion. VA panels are the second most popular choice for gaming monitors.
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