When it comes to gaming, your display matters. A good gaming monitor will not only provide enough color and brightness to immerse you in your favorite titles, but also will be smooth and responsive enough to ensure that you always play at your best. For competitive gamers, having the right monitor can mean the difference between landing a crucial headshot in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or dropping a clutch Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite combo and losing it all.
Of the monitors we’ve reviewed and tested, the Dell S2417DG is our overall favorite thanks to its great colors, fast response times and sleek, adjustable design. If you’re on a budget, the Asus VG245H offers impressive responsiveness and a ton of great features for less than $200.
After testing a variety of monitors from the top brands in the market, we’ve selected our top picks for every kind of gamer.
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1080p or 4K?
If you have a modestly powerful gaming PC or do most of your gaming on a PS4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, a 1080p monitor will suit you just fine. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X can both game in 4K (the Xbox One S just plays 4K video), so you’ll need an ultra-HD display to get the most out of those systems. Likewise, if you have a high-end gaming PC that can play games at their highest settings, there are plenty of quad-HD and 4K monitors to suit your needs.
Refresh rate and response times are key: The former determines how many frames per second a monitor is capable of displaying, and the latter dictates how quickly it can react to input. If you’re more concerned with playing games at high framerates, a 1080p or 1440p monitor is probably the way to go (depending on your graphics card). If you’re willing to sacrifice smoothness for picture quality, go for 4K.
MORE: 1080p vs 4K Gaming: What You Need to Know
How We Test Gaming Monitors
As we do with TVs, we use our Klein K-10A colorimeter and SpectraCal CalMAN 5 software to extract a range of color, contrast and brightness data from each monitor’s default display modes. Of the data we gather, we weigh brightness (white luminescence), color accuracy (Delta-E) and color gamut most heavily in our reviews.
We also use a Leo Bodnar Lag Tester to measure each display’s latency, a key statistic for those looking for highly responsive monitors. For a deeper dive on our display testing methodology, check out How We Test TVs.
Panel Types, G-Sync and HDR
There are two common panel types for gaming monitors: TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). TN panels are the most common and offer solid response times and refresh rates for fairly low prices, but they can suffer from bad viewing angles and color reproduction issues. IPS panels typically offer better colors and contrast, but at the expense of worse response times and higher prices. TN panels tend to be better for competitive games, while IPS panels favor immersive experiences.
You’ll want to check if a monitor supports Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, which are technologies that allow the screen to sync up with your graphics card for smoother performance. You’ll also notice more and more monitors that feature High Dynamic Range (HDR), which allows for better color and brightness and is supported by the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, all PS4 models and select PC graphics cards.
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