(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's a lot of choice out there though 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.
Best 27-inch fast refresh rate monitor
MSI Optix MAG272CQR
- 27-inch 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) VA panel
- 165Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time
- 1500R Curvature
- 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.
Most affordable ultrawide
AOC CU34G2X 34-inch ultrawide
- Ultrawide 3440 x 1440
- AMD FreeSync
- 144Hz refresh rate/1ms response time
- VA based panel
- WLED backlight
- 3000:1 contrast ratio
For the price, the screen on this thing is impressive. It's a 34-inch panel that sports a 3440 x 1440 resolution with 21:9 aspect ratio. All of this combines to create a screen that's brilliant for those who want a really immersive gaming experience.
For gamers, other bonus features include the AMD FreeSync technology, with 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time, meaning you get fast, fluid response without the tearing and aliasing you would get from lesser displays. Assuming you have a compatible AMD graphics card of course.
This screen is packed full of controls and options too. There are all sorts of settings to help you fine-tune elements, like brightness, refresh rate, contrast, colours and so on. These settings include things like:
- Low Blue Light mode (reading, office, internet, multimedia)
- Eco mode
- HDR modes (display, game, picture and movie)
- Colour temperature
- Game mode (FPS, RTS, Racing, Gamer 1, Gamer 2 and Gamer 3)
- Overdrive settings (to adjust response time)
- Motion Blur Reduction
We found we were tweaking a lot to get it looking nice and that varied depending on the games we were playing too (HDR, for example, makes the most sense in games that support it). But it's nice to have a range of controls that are useful not only for gaming but working too. Eco mode and the low blue light settings, for example, are great for making the screen easier on the eye when surfing, working or otherwise engaging in non-gaming activities.
As for VA display technology, that generally means you get more vibrant colours and deeper contrast than IPS/LCD based, but the viewing angles aren't quite as good. Still, with a screen this big, set to the right height and with its curved design, viewing angles aren't really an issue at all.
This AOC monitor was certainly a pleasure to use. It's rich in colour, sports a suitable curve and thin bezels too. Other small highlights include a stand that's not too imposing, meaning it's easy to fit and move around on your desk. As well as plenty of options in terms of height and tilt too.
Multiple HDMI and DisplayPort connection options also mean you can take advantage of the screens picture-in-picture mode too, if you're really feeling crazy. In short, the CU34G2X offers a lot of bang for your buck. It's feature-rich, fun to use and full of gaming goodness too.
Huge and splendid 4K gaming
Acer Predator CG7 gaming monitor
- 3840 x 2160 @ 120 Hz, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1 ms VRB response time
- VA based panel
- 4,000:1 contrast ratio
- G-sync compatible
- HDR1000, DCI-P3 90 per cent wide colour gamut
If you believe that bigger is always better, then there's good news in the form of the Acer Predator CG7. This is a bit of a monster screen. It's huge, imposing and packed full of specs that aren't to be sniffed at.
This is a 43-inch display that has up to 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms VRB response time, G-sync compatibility and is VESA Certified DISPLAYHDR 1000. All that means you get a glorious, bright, colourful and impressive viewing experience when playing games.
Sure, there are a few niggles - the bezels are massive for example - but the CG7 is undeniably fun to play on.
We used it to play Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Gravel, Wreckfest, Kingdom Come Deliverance and more and had mixed results. As you might expect, the highest settings on Red Dead, for example, really tax your gaming machine even if you have a monster machine. With 4K, HDR and ultra settings turned on you get a paltry 40FPS, but it does look glorious. Other lesser games fair better but if you want to make the most of the high refresh rates you'll need to consider lower visual settings.
That said, the Acer Predator CG7 is a real eye-pleaser. Colours are rich, visuals are stunning and the sheer amount of space you have to game on is great too.
Other highlights of this monitor include a multitude of connection options with three HDMI and two DisplayPort connections allowing you to connect several devices. USB passthrough means you can plug in peripherals with ease too. The menu system allows you to easily switch between various gaming visual settings including racing, action, sports, eco, HDR and more. You can also adjust to filter blue light, tweak HDR settings and more here as well.
That said, this is one heck of a gaming screen, if you have the space and the cash then it's well worth considering. It also has the added bonus of being great for video editing, watching films and more. Though we did find working on it gave us neck ache.
Affordable 4K/G-Sync monitor for gamers
AOC AG271UG 4K IPS monitor
- 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.
Ultrawide, ultra-fast, and advanced eye-tracking
Acer Predator Z301CT with Tobii eye-tracking
- Ultrawide Full HD - 2560 x 1080
- 200Hz refresh rate/4ms response
- 1800R curved VA panel
- Tobii eye-tracking built-in
Like many other gaming-focused monitors, the Acer Predator Z301Ct uses a VA panel, which means lots of contrast and saturated colours. Of course, that also means colour accuracy isn't the best, and the 2560 x 1080 resolution isn't the sharpest either. But with that said, the sacrifice in pixels is well worth it to get all the other features this monitor offers for $799 or $719, especially if you're into high framerate FPS style games.
Starting with the basics, the 29.5-inch ultrawide Predator has a 4ms response time and impressive 200Hz refresh rate. That means the sky is virtually the limit in regards to high frame rates if your PC supports them. Our test PC runs a GTX 1060 with an Intel Core i5 processor and SSD for game play. With this, and games running at the full 2560x1080 resolution with maximum rendering quality enabled, the monitor ran consistently - almost flawlessly - at 60fps.
The games we played were limited to 60fps as the highest frame rate, but our experience suggests this monitor is more than capable of going well over that. It sticks like glue to 60fps the entire time we played, except for literally two times it dropped to 57fps for a split second. With Nvidia Gsync built-in, that also meant a really clean, stutter and aliasing-free experience.
You get plenty of calibration options as well as a handful of preset modes custom-tuned to suit different game types. All of this controllable using a nifty little directional joystick on the back of the monitor.
Perhaps the monitor's biggest unique selling point is the built-in Tobii eye-tracking bar. With drivers installed and monitor connected using a USB cable, it works in tandem with FPS games that require quick movement. So, those that would require you normally to move around in your field of view using a mouse or right joystick no longer need that manual input. The Tobii bar on the bottom of the monitor can detect when your eyes change direction and automatically moves your focus point on screen.
Moving on to the design and ports, the Acer shines here too. The stand - although rather ostentatious - is among the most articulate available. You can tilt the screen -5 to 25 degrees, adjust the height up to 120mm and pivot the screen, ensuring you can get the angle perfect with a little manipulation.
What's more, it's not exactly short on ports and other hardware features either. As well as the additional Tobii eye-tracking bar, it has two speakers built-in (which aren't great, but they work). It also has HDMI, DisplayPort and USB 3.0 ports as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.
If you can live without the higher resolution offered by QHD or 4K monitors, this is a fantastically fast monitor. Combined with the Tobii eye-tracking technology built-in as standard, and all the other features combined, one could almost describe it as great value for money despite the current price tag.
When Ultrawide isn't wide enough
Lenovo Legion Y44w-10 WLED curved gaming monitor
- 43.4-inch ultra-wide - 3840 x 1200
- 144Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time
- NearEdgeless 1800R curved panel
- sRGB, BT.709, DCI-P3 colour gamut
- AMD FreeSync 2, VESA certified DisplayHDR 400
- Detachable Harman Kardon certified speaker
- 2 x HDMI 2.0; 1 x DP1.4; 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2（DisplayPort 1.4 Alt Mode); 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen1（DisplayPort 1.2 Alt Mode); 1 x Audio Out
They say size isn't everything, well Lenovo is certainly showing that size can be something with this ultra-wide monitor. This is a curved gaming monitor with some impressive specs that include a 3840 x 1200 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time and AMD FreeSync 2.
We liked just how ridiculously easy the Legion Y44w-10 was to set up. Pop on the mount, slide the backing on, mount screws in and you're away. This screen then went onto to please in a number of other ways and not just the sheer splendour of all the screen real estate.
This is an HDR certified display, meaning you can drool over the visuals offered by your favourite games (if they support it). It also has multiple display settings that are easily accessible from front panel buttons and include different profiles depending on the style of games you're playing.
A bonus addition is the blue light filter that can be applied to make this monitor easier on the eye when you need it to be.
We love plenty of other things about this monitor too - like the multitude of connection options that include USB passthrough so you can connect peripherals directly into the monitor from a little front panel that drops down from below. There's also an RGB backlit, Harman Kardon speaker that sits in the base (and can be removed if you don't want it) which adds some surprisingly good sounds to go along with the visual delights.
The Lenovo Legion Y44w-10 might be pricey, but you get plenty of screen for your money and plenty of fun too! Multi-task in Windows during the day, then get lost in your games at night with this cracking piece of kit.
Samsung CRG9 super ultrawide curved gaming monitor
- 32:9 Ultrawide 49-inch - 5120 x 1440 QLED Panel
- 120Hz refresh rate, HDR1000, 95 per cent DCI-P3,
- AMD FreeSync 2
- Various gaming picture modes and settings
- Picture-by-Picture display capable
If you like the idea of ultra-wide gaming and really want to go all out with your purchase then look no further than the gargantuan Samsung CRG9. This thing is a glorious 49-inch curved gaming monitor that's similar to putting two 27-inch screens side-by-side, except without all the nonsense of bezels in the way.
This model is a step up from the previous massive ultrawide monitor from Samsung in a number of ways, not least of which is an increase in resolution which now gives you 5120 x 1440 pixels to play with. HDR1000, 1,000 nits of brightness, AMD FreeSync 2, 120Hz refresh and more result in a magnificent viewing experience.
For work, this screen offers enough space for multiple windows side-by-side making it a multi-tasking marvel. It also has multiple connection options including two DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0 ports. Combine this with the monitor's Picture-by-Picture display technology and you can actually view two different video sources on the screen at the same time with a 16:9 display ratio to boot!
We found for general use you have to move your eyes around a lot to make the most of this screen, but you get so much screen to work with it's a multitasker's dream. Eye saver mode also helps takes the edge off harsh backlighting during the day meaning you can save your eyes for gaming at night.
And it's with gaming that the CRG9 shines. The curved QLED panel and large 32:9 aspect ratio gives you an utterly thrilling immersive gaming experience. We used it to play games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and found we were utterly wrapped up in the gaming visuals in a thoroughly eye-pleasing way. It is worth noting though, that you do need a beast of a gaming machine to power that 5120 x 1440 on ultra settings and still get a decent FPS.
There are multiple settings profiles built into the menu that you can switch between on the fly with three quick-access buttons underneath so you can program it to react the way you want to specific games. Game settings include visual modes to switch between such as FPS, RTS, RPG, AOS, High Brightness, sRGB and Cinema. The result of all this is a smooth, crisp, dynamic and satisfying gaming experience that's as smooth as it is joyful.
This is one monitor we were sad to see leave the office and one we're seriously considering purchasing ourselves too.