(Pocket-lint) - If you're a serious gamer or just cannot get enough of gaming goodness, then you've no doubt contemplated splashing out some serious cash on a nifty monitor to either get the edge over the competition or just further immerse yourself in the gaming world.
There are a lot of choices out there and you might be struggling to work out what the right monitor is for your needs and your budget. Not to worry, we've got you covered. We've been gaming with all manner of screens to bring you a list of our favourites and the very best gaming monitors currently available.
Of course, which monitor you choose will depend on your gaming preference - do you prefer high FPS counts and an ultra-fast refresh rate to match? Or perhaps you want the very best graphics you can get. We've tried a number of monitors that tick numerous boxes.
We've gamed on these screens, but we've also used them to binge Netflix, browse the web and work day-to-day. So you can be sure we're only recommending what we'd use ourselves.
Our top pick is the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9. There are other options worth considering too if that's too huge for your gaming space. Others we'd recommend include the Asus Rog Swift PG259QNR, Samsung Odyssey G7 (32-inch), MSI Optix MAG272CQR and AOC AG271UG 4K IPS monitor.
Our guide to the best gaming monitor to buy today
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9
- Fantastically immersive super ultrawide gaming
- Useful features including picture-by-picture mode
- Super HDR and local dimming modes
- Rich colours and superb contrast ratio
- Some dimming issues in Windows outside of gaming
- The price tag may be too painful for many
- The sheer size of the thing
- Resolution 5,120 x 1,440, Screen Curvature 1000R
- sRGB Coverage 125%, Refresh Rate Max 240Hz, 1MS response time
- HDR2000, 2,048 local dimming zones
The Samsung Odyssey NEO G9 is an upgraded version of the 49-inch Odyssey G9 which was already awesome, but is now even better.
The Odyssey NEO G9 sports some serious specs that make it eye-wateringly good to game on. That includes upgrades like 2,048 local dimming zones, HDR 2000, Mini LED display and much more.
This 49-inch monster has a mini-LED display with a 32:9 aspect ratio, 5120 x 1440 resolution, 1ms response time and a 240Hz refresh rate. This is a fantastic setup for gaming as it creates an enormous immersive view of the gaming world with wonderful peripheral vision.
It's also responsive and rocks both G-Sync and Freesync compatibility too. For productivity, you can also set the monitor into a picture-by-picture mode and plug in two devices for split-screen working.
Of course with these kinds of specs you need a powerful graphics card in order to get the best frame rates. Technology like Nvidia's DLSS can help improve performance though. While ray tracing can really help make the experience even more gob-smacking.
If you've got the desk space, the NEO G9 is an incredible addition to your gaming area and once you've experienced super ultrawide gaming, you won't know how you managed before.
Other gaming monitors to consider
Of course, our pick might be too much for some, whether because of the price tag or the enormous size of the thing. Don't worry, there are plenty of other monitors we'd recommend including a selection in more sensible sizes, specs and price ranges.
Asus Rog Swift PG259QNR
- Seriously high-end specs for pro-level gaming
- Support for Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer
- Easy to hit the FPS to make the most of the refresh rate
- A lot smaller than others on this list
- Mighty pricey
- 24.5-inch 1920x1080 display, 360Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time
- IPS panel with LED backlight
- 1000:1 contrast ratio, 10-bit colour, HDR10 support, Nvidia G-SYNC
- Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer
This is the cutting edge of ultra-fast refresh rate monitors. A 1080p fast IPS display with 1ms response time, 360Hz refresh rate, HDR10, 10-bit colour and more. It's a monitor designed for pro players and "professional esports gamers" with satisfying buttery smooth visuals and a superb refresh rate that should help give you the gaming edge.
Other highlights for us include the addition of a built-in Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer. This allows you to monitor your system and peripheral latency (assuming you have the right mouse) and cut down on issues that might hold you back from the most satisfying of wins. It works by letting you plug in a compatible mouse directly to the monitor and then tracking the time it takes for your click to register. Click your mouse and the latency analyser will then track the resulting muzzle flash from your weapon in games like Rainbow Six Siege, Overwatch and more. You can then monitor this is GeForce Experience and optimise to improve performance.
All these things combined result in a serious monitor for those that demand the very best from their display. It has great colour accuracy, good viewing angles, but most importantly it's ultra swift and smooth too. If you take your gaming seriously, then this is the monitor for you.
Samsung Odyssey G7 (32-inch)
- A nice balance of features and specs
- A perfect sweet spot between the NEO G9 and the smaller monitors in this list
- Would have been better with a 4K display
- 2,560 x 1,440 QLED with 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time
- 31.5-inch visible screen,1000R curve, 16:9 aspect ratio
- G-sync compatible
- HDR600, 95% Colour Gamut, Quantum Dot Colour
The superb Samsung Odyssey G7 is the perfect choice for gamers who want a 32-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio that ticks a multitude of boxes. It boasts a fast refresh rate (240Hz) and nippy response time as well as some impressive specs that include G-Sync compatibility, HDR 600 and a satisfying 1000R curve.
There are two versions of the G7, the smaller 27-inch model and this 32-inch version. We've tried both and prefer the larger model as the curve isn't as noticeable. It boasts some vivid colours, satisfying visuals and all the goodness you'd expect from such a fast refresh rate screen.
Other highlights include a user-friendly design with a simple, single-button control interface and an easy-on-the-eye mode which takes out the harsh blue light when you're not gaming. The G7 can also be used in both portrait and landscape modes, making it nice and flexible depending on your needs.
This is a great option for those who want more from their screen but have limited space or don't want to break into ultrawide aspect ratios.
MSI Optix MAG272CQR
- A nicely rounded package for the money
- Superb gaming visuals
- Doesn't feel small despite the curve
- Better specs are available for a bit more
- 27-inch 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) VA panel
- 165Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time
- 1500R Curvature/li>
- 300 nits brightness, 3000:1 contract ratio
- 100% sRGB, HDR Ready, AMD FreeSync
- 1x DP (1.2a), 2x HDMI (2.0b), 1x USB Type C (DisplayPort Alternate)
Serious gamers swear by 27-inch monitors. Compact, fast refresh rate, responsive panels and more lead to a great gaming experience that's perfect for fast-paced shooters or competitive gaming sessions.
This MSI monitor seemingly packs a wealth of awesome features and specs into a sleek and affordable package. 1440p resolution, 165Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, HDR and more all make this monitor highly appealing on paper.
In the flesh too, it's just as pleasing. Narrow bezels, brilliant colour accuracy and some serious gaming prowess make the MAG272CQR a joy to game on.
Of course, you can tweak the settings dabbling with everything from eye-care settings for during the working day to HDR, FreeSync and faster response rates for gaming. But even out of the box we were impressed with how good this monitor looked and how nice it was to use.
Other highlights include software that allows you to tweak settings in Windows via an app, rather than faffing about with a button lead menu. There's also a special easy-access button on the left side that can be programmed with a macro that activates specific modes or settings with a single press rather than having to mess about with menu options. For example, you can set it to activate "night vision" mode that's designed to give you the edge in nighttime scenes in a game and can be switched on and off at will.
There's a lot to like about this monitor and the affordable pricetag is almost certainly an added bonus.
AOC AG271UG 4K IPS monitor
- Superb affordable 4K gaming
- Low refresh rate and response time let it down
- 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9
- WLED backlit IPS
- 4ms response time/60Hz refresh rate
Looking at a spec list like that on the AOC AG271UG, and you'd probably assume an eye-watering price tag. But, because it's AOC, you don't get one. It's not a cheap monitor ($699/£579), but at the same time, it's way more affordable than similarly-specced big brand computer displays.
AOC is a brand that's built its reputation on offering great specs and features for a fraction of the price of its big-name competitors. For those gamers looking for high-resolution images over stupid-fast refresh rates, the AOC could be perfect.
At 60Hz and with its 4ms response time, it's still no slouch, and when you add that to the Nvidia G-Sync capabilities to minimise lag and tearing, you do still get a swift, smooth performance, providing you have a PC powerful enough to handle gaming at that resolution. You can switch between a handful of gaming modes, which include racing, FPS, RTS and “gamer”.
Being IPS and 4K UHD also means it's a great panel for editing video, photos and general all-round media consumption too. Details are sharp, and the colours are well balanced and vibrant without being overly saturated. We did find at times that it over-sharpened a little, but so much so that it tarnished the experience too much. Viewing angles are superb too, with very little in the way of colour shift when you change your angle of view.
As with pretty much any anti-glare matte-finish display, there is an ever so slightly fuzzy, almost rainbow-like overlay to everything, but it's so subtle and only seems to be at all visible when looking at plain white visuals. It's not there at all during gaming. Again, very easy to ignore, and hard to detect.
Of course, there are plenty of customisation options, like the blue light filter, for those who want to go on marathon gaming sessions with minimal eye strain. Controls are easy enough to use as well, thanks to having well-indicated positions on the bottom bezel. What's more, there's a whole host of ports on the back. You get four USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, one DisplayPort 1.2 and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Unlike some of the other monitors on this list, there is some construction involved in setting up the AOC monitor, and the built quality isn't quite as high, but it's still one of the most ergonomically versatile. It has an impressive 130mm of height adjustment, to help you get it to a comfortable eye level and can pivot on its base. There's a decent amount of tilt too, between -3.5 to 21.5 degrees.
As if all of that isn't enough, it has two built in two 2W speakers, although we did find the audio left a lot to be desired. It was a little weak, especially in comparison to dedicated speakers.
Still, if you're after a versatile monitor with a really high resolution that can cope with your Nvidia GPU-powered gaming, this is a really great option. We really enjoyed our time with it.
Other monitors we've considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5, sometimes because they've simply been replaced by a newer model:
- AOC CU34G2X 34-inch ultrawide
- Acer Predator CG7 gaming monitor
- Acer Predator Z301CT with Tobii eye-tracking
- Samsung Odyssey G9
How to choose a gaming monitor
There are quite a few options when it comes to gaming monitors. When considering a purchase it can be tricky to work out which is the best choice. There are some things that are worth considering:
Graphical quality and speed?
What's more important to you? Stunning game graphics, that are crystal clear and utterly immersive or a fast refresh rate with ultra-high FPS capabilities and low latency?
If you don't play competitive shooters and just enjoy casual single-player gaming experiences, then it makes sense to opt for a monitor that will make the most of that experience. 4K monitors are often the best looking and most eye-pleasing. UHD resolution is still hard to drive at a decent frame rate though. So you need a good gaming PC or ultra gaming laptop in order to still have a smooth experience.
The competitive edge
On the other hand, if you take your gaming seriously and want to play games to win, then a smaller (24 or 27-inch monitor) with a 1080p resolution and high 240-300Hz refresh rate is the better choice. These monitors are able to display games in a much more accurate way, with less latency and a more accurate representation of what's happening in-game, down to the millisecond.
If you're playing games like CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant and others that can manage 200-300FPS then these pro-level monitors make for logical choice. If you're always playing triple-A games on maxed out settings, then not so much.
The other thing to watch out for is HDR. High Dynamic Range adds another level of depth to your games, assuming they support it. Better colours and a wider range of light and dark elements make the right monitors really pop. Better colours and a more beautiful gaming experience are the obvious benefits of this.
Can you go wide?
There's a lot to be said for ultrawide gaming. These monitors are usually 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratio, which means you have less vertical height but a wider peripheral view. These monitors give a much more immersive experience, especially in big open-world games where the environment is there to be enjoyed.
The downside is games at this resolution and aspect ratio are often not optimised for it so you end up with black bars in cut scenes and you can't stream games at this aspect ratio on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming without some tweaks. These monitors aren't great for streamers or competitive gamers, but they are fantastic if you just want to get lost in the game world.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life. We've gamed on these monitors, we've worked with them, we've watched films and browsed the web. We've tried out all sorts of settings while trying these monitors too, testing HDR settings, G-Sync, local dimming modes and more. Poking all the settings to see what's best.
We've then selected the best based on all the features and the price to ensure it's good value for money too.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.