The Best Gaming Monitors 2020

Oct 12, 2020 | Software Reviews | 0 comments

With new Nvidia RTX 30 series GPUs having just launched and AMD counterparts arriving soon, it’s a good time to go through the best gaming monitors that complement the performance on offer from next-generation cards. Clearly this means focusing on the premium segment, with high resolution and high refresh rate displays. We’ll be using the RTX 3080 as our reference performance target along this buying guide.

If you’re thinking of upgrading to fast GPU this generation, these are some of the best monitors that will allow you to take full advantage of all that graphics power, while also leaving some headroom for future upgrades. As a side note, you will find some of these top picks to offer good value, but if you’re playing games and want great value and decent performance, you can also check out our Best Budget Gaming Monitors guide.

Best 1440p @ 240Hz Gaming Monitor

If you’re buying a new high-end GPU this generation, it’s the perfect time to get a high refresh 1440p display if you haven’t made the jump yet. Particularly in the high-end market, there are a ton of great options to choose from which will be perfect for the graphics performance on offer this year and into the future.

At 1440p there’s really two ways you can go. If you’re after something decent but don’t want to blow the bank, today’s high-end 1440p 144Hz monitors are a great choice (see our recommendations below). But if you want the best of the best to really squeeze every last drop out of something like the RTX 3080, then we’d be leaning towards 1440p 240Hz which has hit the market in a big way. A GPU like the RTX 3080 and especially the RTX 3090 can often push frame rates above 144 FPS at 1440p. Games like Death Stranding, F1 2020, and Doom Eternal, plus the usual suite of esports titles like Rainbow Six Siege.

To many, the refresh rate difference between 144Hz and 240Hz is going to be small, but after a few weeks using a 240Hz display you’ll notice the improved responsiveness and motion clarity. But there’s more to buying 240Hz than just the refresh rate: 240Hz displays also usually come with better response times at both 240Hz and lower refreshes, which leads to less blur, making them better even while gaming at 144Hz or thereabouts. 240Hz is also more future proof; this sort of 1440p display is perfect for not just an RTX 3080 today, but also the next few generations of GPUs.

With that said, there aren’t a ton of 1440p 240Hz options on the market right now. The best that we’ve tested so far is the Samsung Odyssey G7, available in both 32 and 27-inch sizes. At $700 to $800 depending on which model you choose, the G7 is quite a bit better than the 144Hz options we’ll discuss in a bit, so let’s work through the benefits.

Response times are faster: the Odyssey G7 offers a 3ms grey to grey experience, which is about 25% better than 144Hz options. This is combined with that higher refresh rate, and excellent performance across the refresh range, to deliver a stunning gaming experience. It’s also a VA panel, meaning we’re getting a superior contrast ratio and with Samsung’s tuning, no dark level smearing. Many of the same color benefits are present, like a wide color gamut and even limited semi-HDR functionality.

While we love what the G7 offers in terms of response times and refresh, there are some weaknesses as well. We’re not big fans of the 1000R curvature, which is very curved, although your take on that may vary. Our review unit also had some issues with uniformity, and while we didn’t experience flickering problems, other buyers have reported such issues.

If the Odyssey G7 doesn’t take your fancy, then we’d suggest waiting for upcoming models to hit the market in the next few months. There’s the Acer XV272UX, one option that will bring 1440p and 240Hz together in an IPS monitor, along with the Eve Spectrum QHD 240Hz.

We’re also set to finally get 32-inch 1440p high-refresh IPS monitors later this year, such as the Asus ROG Swift PG329Q with its 175Hz refresh rate. That’s something to keep an eye out for as this monitor size hasn’t been blessed with the best high end options over the last few years, Samsung Odyssey aside.

Best 1440p Value Gaming

While the LG 27GL850 launched last year, it’s still one of our favorite choices for this resolution and refresh rate (read our full review). You get excellent 4ms response times at 144Hz with strong performance throughout the refresh range, so even if you’re more in the 100 FPS range, the 27GL850 delivers limited blur or overshoot with adaptive sync enabled. This is coupled with great color quality, including 95% P3 coverage, excellent viewing angles and a nice flat panel. The major downside here is the contrast ratio, which is just average and won’t excite those that like to play games in dark environments.

If you’re buying an RTX 3080, you can expect to hit pretty close to 144 FPS consistently in today’s games using Ultra settings at 1440p. You might not get all the way there in titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, but 144Hz is a great buy for the now. And if you’re looking to spend $400 to $500 which is where most of the best 1440p 144Hz monitors sit, here’s what we’d be looking at.

The LG 27GL850 will typically set you back $500, but there’s a few other options with similar performance if you don’t want to spend that much, or have other features in mind. The LG 27GL83A for example, offers similar response times to the 27GL850, but cuts out wide gamut support in favor of just sRGB coverage. That’s still going to give you a great experience for gaming, but you’ll shave off at least $100 to the price tag. We’d also be on the lookout for the LG 27GN850, which is a 2020 refresh of the GL850 and might be a better deal in your region.

Another option that’s gathered a lot of interest is the Dell S2721DGF. We’ve yet to test it, but it uses the same panel as the 27GL850, so by all reports it performs roughly the same. One reason to get this over the 27GL850 might be its slightly higher refresh rate of 165Hz, which is offered at the same $500 price point.

If you want a high-end 1440p monitor, you’ll probably be looking at something that uses IPS LCD technology as it provides the best balance of decent response times, great color performance, excellent viewing angles, decent uniformity and a selection of mostly flat panels.

When you have tech that ticks all those boxes, it’s bound to be the high-end option that commands a price premium, however high-quality 1440p high-refresh IPS monitors have come down in price substantially in the last two years. Case in point, we can find flagship gaming monitors priced as low as $500, with budget offerings dipping below $400 for the first time.

Our recommendation for the best 1440p IPS monitor is the LG 27GL850 (read our full review), a hugely impressive monitor that offers TN-like response time performance with the color and viewing angle benefits of an IPS screen. This makes it ideal for gaming and especially high refresh rate gaming, given this is a 144 Hz display with adaptive sync support.

The differences between the 27GL850 and other 1440p IPS monitors is stark. The 27GL850 puts up an average grey to grey response of around 4ms in its optimal configuration, which is much faster than competing options that at best pack a 5ms average, or at worse are up near 7ms. Although this is advertised as a “1ms” monitor, performance is equivalent to TN displays that also advertise “1ms,” which is impressive any way you look at it.

The LG 27GL850 also has great wide gamut support, around 95% of the DCI-P3 spectrum in our testing, which is wider than any VA or TN offering we’ve seen. It lacks true HDR like most 1440p displays, but if you need wide gamut for creative work or just want a vibrant picture, the 27GL850 delivers. Uniformity and viewing angles are good, certainly better than most competitors, which allows the 27GL850 to deliver this great balance of color quality and performance.

Black levels and contrast ratio are not the best, which makes it a less ideal monitor for gaming in a dark environment. If you are in that position, we’d recommend a VA display instead. There’s also no blur-reducing backlight strobing mode, if you want that feature we’d opt for the Asus VG27AQ with its strong ELMB-Sync implementation.

Those two concerns aside, we strongly recommend the LG 27GL850 as the best all-round 1440p display on the market right now, and at $500, it’s honestly quite the steal.

One last thing to note is all high-refresh 1440p IPS monitors are currently 27-inch. If you want something larger, like 32-inch, you’re out of luck as the best panels at that size top out at a measly 75 Hz which we don’t recommend for gaming. If you want a larger panel, our next monitor category will be of interest to you.

If you want a high-end 1440p monitor for gaming, you’ll probably be looking at something that uses IPS LCD technology as it provides the best balance of decent response times, great color performance, excellent viewing angles, decent uniformity and a selection of mostly flat panels. Best of all, high-quality 1440p high-refresh IPS monitors have come down in price substantially in the last two years.

The best 1440p IPS gaming monitor is the LG 27GL850 (read our full review), a hugely impressive monitor that offers TN-like response time performance with the color and viewing angle benefits of an IPS screen. This makes it ideal for gaming and especially high refresh rate gaming, given this is a 144 Hz display with adaptive sync support.

The differences between the 27GL850 and other comparatively priced 1440p IPS monitors is stark. The 27GL850 puts up an average grey to grey response of around 4ms in its optimal configuration, which is much faster than competing options that at best pack a 5ms average, or at worse are up near 7ms. Although this is advertised as a “1ms” monitor, performance is equivalent to TN displays that also advertise “1ms,” which is impressive any way you look at it.

The LG 27GL850 also has great wide gamut support, around 95% of the DCI-P3 spectrum in our testing, which is wider than any VA or TN offering we’ve seen. It lacks true HDR like most 1440p displays, but if you need wide gamut for creative work or just want a vibrant picture, the 27GL850 delivers. Uniformity and viewing angles are good, certainly better than most competitors, which allows the 27GL850 to deliver this great balance of color quality and performance. Black levels and contrast ratio are not the best, which makes it a less ideal monitor for gaming in a dark environment. Those two concerns aside, we strongly recommend the LG 27GL850 as the best all-round 1440p gaming display on the market right now, and at $500, it’s honestly quite the steal.

Best of the best

Acer Predator X27 4K / 144 Hz 27″

If you’re the kind of gamer who wants the best of everything, has deep pockets, and owns a monster rig, then look no further than Acer’s Predator X27. This monitor ticks all the gaming boxes: 4K, 144Hz, G-Sync, true HDR with 1000 nits of brightness, and 384 zone FALD backlight. You will, of course, need a monster graphics card to get the most out of it, and while the $2,000 launch price has dropped, it’s still an eye-watering $1,649.

The ultrawide option

LG 38GL950G 38″ UltraGear

Fans of ultrawide gaming should check out LG’s two amazing choices at two well differentiated price ranges:

The LG 34GK950F offers 3440 x 1440 at 144 Hz, and does so with a curved IPS panel that’s excellent quality out of the box and offers over 95% DCI-P3 coverage for wide gamut work. The HDR experience isn’t great, but response times near 6ms and adaptive sync that works with AMD and Nvidia GPUs headlines a feature set that’s outstanding for ultrawide gamers. This monitor is one of best ultrawides for gaming, but it will set you back a handsome $850 which is actually considerably less than when it was released.

The newer and larger 38″ LG 38GL950G UltraGear is the best ultrawide monitor on the market bar none. Essentially it takes every feature we got with previous flagship ultrawide displays, and takes it up a notch. The resolution and panel are physically bigger, if only slightly, which we think is really good. We love this size and the bump up from 3440 x 1440 to 3840 x 1600 is handy. In our opinion offers a more immersive experience and it’s also better for split-screen productivity work. The only caveat, it’s much more expensive at $1,800.

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

With the launch of the RTX 3080, many PC gamers will be considering an upgrade to a 4K display for the first time. While the RTX 2080 Ti was good at 4K 60Hz gaming, the RTX 3080 really opens the doors for 4K high refresh with performance in a lot of titles pushing close to or over 100 FPS using Ultra settings.

That’s where the full benefits of a high refresh 4K display can shine, with smoothness that far exceeds 60Hz panels that generally we can’t recommend for gaming. Unfortunately, for a top 4K 144Hz monitor with true HDR, you want a monitor that has not been released yet.

Your only options currently on the market are the Acer Predator X27 and Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, two top monitors that we’ve recommended in the past, but in late 2020 are using outdated technology. The lack of DSC means we only get 4K up to 98Hz with 10-bit HDR, or 120Hz with 8-bit color. 144Hz is inaccessible outside of chroma subsampling, which is not a good solution and something we’d hesitate to recommend given a $1,000+ price tag.

This year we were supposed to see new 4K 144Hz HDR monitors such as the Asus PG27UQX with miniLED and the Acer Predator X32 which brings HDR to a 32-inch panel, but neither hasn’t launched yet. Rather than blowing $1,500 on a monitor with previous-gen technology, our recommendation is to wait. Not the ideal response for new owners of an RTX 3080, but in this category, we’d only want the best and right now we can’t do that with the X27 or PG27UQ.

That’s not to say there are no HDR monitor options we’d recommend. There is one, although it’s more of a TV.

The LG CX 48” offers a 4K 120Hz OLED panel with per-pixel local dimming, offering an outstanding HDR experience with deep rich blacks and excellent contrast. Response times in the 1ms range are appealing, as is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1. With Nvidia’s RTX 30 series supporting HDMI 2.1, this means we are getting proper 120Hz with variable refresh at 4K with a combination of the LG CX and an RTX 30 series GPU, provided LG’s update to properly enable it goes smoothly.

As for caveats, this is a very large display and not everyone will want to use a 48-inch TV as a gaming monitor, whether it’s because you lack the space for the display or to sit far enough away. It’s also an OLED, so there are some burn in concerns with desktop applications, and it features an automatic brightness limiter which can be annoying in some situations. We’d pick the LG CX 48” over other 43-inch 4K monitors we’ve reviewed though, and for just $1,500 it’s no worse than any of the 27-inch HDR monitors on the market.

Best Value 4K Gaming

If you don’t want to totally bust the bank wide open, we’d be looking at the Nixeus NX-EDG274K or LG 27GN950, which of the limited selection of budget 4K 144Hz monitors we’ve tested, offer the best performance.

The Nixeus gets you a 6ms response time which is sufficient at 144Hz with limited smearing, although it does require some overdrive tuning at lower refresh rates. The reason we’d choose this over other affordable 4K 144Hz monitors like the Viotek GFI27QXA or Acer XV273K and XB273K, is its support for DSC or Display Stream Compression. This means that with a new GPU like an RTX 2080 Ti or RTX 3080, you’ll be able to run 4K 144Hz over a single cable with full adaptive sync functionality. Other budget options require dual DP cables which is annoying to set up and doesn’t perform as well.

The NX-EDG274K is available for $750 on Newegg, which is a great deal, with one big downside: crappy design and build quality more befitting of a cheap $200 monitor. The panel itself performs well though, which for some is all that matters.

The best alternative for just $50 more is the LG 27GN950. At $800, this monitor looks to be quite a bit better than the EDG274K. In addition to an LG Nano IPS panel, which should elevate response times to the level of the 27GL850 but at 4K 144Hz, the 27GN950 also brings semi-HDR functionality and still packs DSC for single-cable 144Hz.

Later in the year we’ll get the Eve Spectrum 4K 144Hz model as well which is another to look out for.

Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitor

Ultrawide monitors present an interesting alternative for gamers, especially as 3440 x 1440 high refresh is now a reality in terms of graphics performance with an RTX 3080. Any time a GPU can offer high frame rates at 4K, ultrawide gamers perk up knowing they too will be seeing performance that basically maxes out their 144Hz display. The RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 should be excellent choices here.

There are a lot of ultrawide monitors we think are worthy of consideration, so let’s breeze through them in order from less to more expensive.

If you just want affordable 3440 x 1440 @ 144Hz, look no further than the Xiaomi Mi Curved 34”. This monitor only features mid-range performance, but at a price tag that’s far lower than competitors, it’s hard to ignore from a value perspective.

For more premium-priced options, we recommend the LG 34GN850 which right now is the best performing 3440 x 1440 IPS monitor (read our full review). Featuring LG’s Nano IPS technology, we’re getting a 4ms response time experience that’s consistent across the entire refresh range, no need for overdrive tweaking, just set and forget. Unlike the Xiaomi and other VA-based ultrawides, there is no dark level smearing, so overall response times are solid and that means next to no ghosting. And on top of that, we’re getting a neat bonus of a 160Hz refresh rate, just that little bit higher than 144Hz which will help given the power of the RTX 3080 and 3090.

At $900 this is a premium display, but that’s to be expected given how well it performs overall and we think it’s a great way to complement a high-end gaming setup. Excellent color performance, wide color gamut, great viewing angles and outstanding performance.

Worth mentioning, one step above is the LG 38GN950, which brings most of the benefits of the 34GN850 to a larger panel size: 38-inches with a 3840 x 1600 resolution. We haven’t tested this monitor yet, but we have tested the previous-gen, the 38GL950G and found it to perform really well. The 38GN950 offers a 160Hz refresh rate, semi-HDR functionality and Nano IPS technology so we’re expecting good things.

We’d also consider the Samsung Odyssey G9, a super-ultrawide option with a hefty $1,700 price tag. There’s the potential of flickering issues, but if it’s anything like the Odyssey G7, the gaming experience should be impressive. Lastly, there’s the ultrawide HDR Predator X35, but with an eye watering price tag near $2,000 it may not be the most attractive buy for everyone.

Best 1080p Monitor for Esports

We hardly think a new 1080p display will accompany a GeForce RTX 30 series GPU well, and trust us, 1440p is way better than 1080p in most instances. With that said, there is a small niche of gamers that will buy an RTX 3080 or even an RTX 3090 for high frame rate, low latency competitive gaming. We’re talking people kitted out with overclocked Core i9-10900KS, the best peripherals on the market, latency optimized setups, and all that.

If you fall into that group and you want to be pushing the best possible frame rates with the lowest input lag and best motion clarity for competitive gaming, we have a recommendation for you.

The Asus ROG Swift PG259QN is a truly outstanding 1080p display, offering the best response times we’ve seen from an IPS panel with an incredible 360Hz refresh rate. The fluidity and responsiveness of this panel is unlike anything we’ve seen, boasting of elite factory calibration, it’s hard to ignore for competitive gaming.

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