Without the proper opticals, a video game is just a game. So, without one of the best gaming monitors, you can’t expect to experience PC games the way they were intended. That said, not every display works well with every system. While some monitors are 1080p, 60Hz and ready for mid-range parts, high-end enthusiasts will crave more pixels and frames from their screens.
Taking into account genre, high-speed shooters are going to call for high refresh rates and low response times, if your aim is to dominate the field. That’s where panels like the curved Samsung CFG70 come in. Otherwise, so long as your system is equipped with one of the best graphics cards, you might prefer a 4K, UltraHD gaming monitor that emphasizes crispness.
So, with the best gaming PC on-hand, you’ll want the best gaming monitor to go along with it, thereby pushing the limits of your rig’s capabilities. From 4K monitors and ultra-wide screen to blazing fast monitors with high refresh rates and negligible input lag, we’ve spotted the best of the best. In the flesh, you’ll find them below – but first, here’s how you decide.
How to buy the best gaming monitor in 2017
If you're on the hunt for what the best gaming monitor 2017 has to offer, then you should first make sure you know what to look for before you buy.
By reading over the following terms and specifications, you can make sure you buy the best gaming monitor for your needs – which also means you're not paying extra for additional features that you won't use.
Screen size: When buying the best gaming monitor, one of the most important things to consider is screen size. Larger screen sizes can lead to more immersive gaming experiences, as the action fills more of your field of vision, but you'll want to make sure you have the room to feature a large monitor. Larger screen sizes of gaming monitors also usually mean higher price tags.
Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio of a gaming monitor determines the width and height of the screen. Most widescreen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while older monitors had a more square 4:3, which will likely feel quite cramped these days. Ultra-wide monitors with aspect ratios of 21:9 are increasingly more common – they offer a wide view of your games, and many ultra wides have made our list of the best gaming monitor 2017.
Resolution: Another important factor when looking for the best gaming monitor for your needs is resolution. Here, the higher the numbers, the better the picture sharpness is. You will, however, need a more expensive graphics card for anything over full HD (1,920 x 1,080), even if many gaming monitors boast resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,400 (WQHD) and 3,840 x 2,160 (4K).
Refresh rate: This is another important specification to consider when looking to buy the best gaming monitor. The higher the refresh rate, the more frames per second (fps) it can display, which lends to a smoother experience on high-refresh-rate displays. A 60Hz refresh rate is most common, with refresh rates rising to 144Hz and even 200Hz.
Response time: The best gaming monitors have low response times, which means the action remains fast and fluid, and there's no input lag. The fastest time response time for TN monitors (we explain this in the next section) is 1 millisecond, whereas the newer IPS monitors usually tote more delayed, 4ms response times. When you’re playing games competitively, it’s vital to keep this number as low as possible in order to thwart lag.
Panel type: This is where things get a bit techy. The type of panel the gaming monitor uses will have an impact on its response time and image quality. TN panels (twisted nematic) have the fastest response times, and they are usually cheaper as well, but they generally don’t have great viewing angles. IPS panels (in-plane switching) have excellent viewing angles and color reproduction, but generally slower response times. Meanwhile VA panels (vertical alignment) sit between the two, though the slow response times makes these panels rare amid the best gaming monitors.
Viewing Angle: Generally, you should be positioned in front of a gaming monitor, but this may not always be the case, especially when you’re among spectators. A monitor’s viewing angles tell you what angle you can look at the monitor from and still see what’s on the screen. The closer these numbers are are to 180, the better your viewing experience will be when standing further to either side of the monitor or looking at it from above or below.
G-Sync and FreeSync: You'll probably notice that many of the best gaming monitors in 2017 come with either G-Sync or FreeSync technology – sometimes both. This helps keep frames per second (fps) smooth, prevents screen tearing and reduces input lag. G-Sync is developed by Nvidia, so you'll need an Nvidia GPU, and the tech is built into the monitor, which can make them expensive. Meanwhile FreeSync was developed by AMD but, as it is free to use by manufacturers, the monitors ultimately cost less.
Best gaming monitor 2017
Now that you know what to look for, here's our list of the best gaming monitors in 2017. This list is constantly being updated with newly reviewed products, so you can rest assured that we're recommending only the very best gaming monitors for your needs.
The Agon AG352UCG from AOC is a 21:9 IPS panel that prides itself on its stately 3,440 x 1,440 resolution and G-Sync capabilities, making it our top choice for the best gaming monitor in 2017. This means when paired with an Nvidia graphics card, this monitor uses G-Sync to eliminate screen tearing without adding stress to your PC hardware. What’s more, you can expect better response times from the AOC Agon than with its closest competitors, meaning lower latency in games like Overwatch or Lawbreakers that rely on faster pacing. The only downsides are that the AOC Agon is rather bulky and quite pricey as well. Weighing in at 26 pounds (11.8kg) total, you’ll want to be sure your desk can support it.
Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG
If you're looking for a budget gaming monitor, and don't mind making a few compromises (it features a 1080p resolution and twisted-nematic, or TN, panel rather than IPS), then you'll be very pleased with the Asus MG248Q. It makes up for any shortcomings with lightning fast response times and Adaptive Sync, making this the best budget gaming monitor in 2017. Adaptive Sync is of interest to gamers, as it reduces screen tearing if you have an AMD graphics card, a clear demonstration that the MG248Q tailors to the budget gamer. On the other hand, even Nvidia fans can rejoice at the 144Hz refresh rate. But, without the right GPU equipped, you might be better off saving for the G-Sync equivalent Asus ROG Swift PG248Q.
Read the full review: Asus MG248Q
You might not believe it at first glance, but the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is every bit the gaming monitor that the other monitors on this list are. And though it may not seem it from the outside looking in, it does its job remarkably well too, sacrificing dazzling lighting effects for a zippy 240Hz refresh rate and nigh-instantaneous 1ms response time. There’s no G-Sync or FreeSync, as this monitor assumes you already have a rig that’s plenty capable of eliminating screen tears on its own. Instead, this monitor keeps it simple by supplying you with lots of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens. If you're a professional gamer, then this is the best gaming monitor for you.
Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540
Cinematic gaming monitors are a great alternative to their 4K counterparts when it comes to playing games. In fact, you might say they're even better due to their ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio. The Acer Predator X34 certainly looks the part, featuring an eye-catching aluminum bezel and angular, crow's foot-shape stand. It comes with a number of gaming mod cons in tow, including Nvidia's G-Sync frame-smoothing tech, an immersion-boosting curved shape and fantastic color reproduction that brings games to life. Short of strapping on a virtual reality headset, the Predator X34 is about as immersive as gaming gets.
Read the full review: Acer Predator X34
The coolest thing you can say about the Alienware 25 gaming monitor is that it won’t discriminate against your PC. Although it’s often the case that gaming monitors support Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, not both, to eliminate screen tearing, the Alienware 25 can be configured either way. That comes in handy, even if it’s more expensive for the Nvidia model. Still, the Alienware 25 isn’t entirely function over form. Instead, it boasts a strikingly exotic design, complete with the AlienFX RGB lighting we’ve all come to expect from the Dell subsidiary. And if that’s not enough to sell you on the Alienware 25, it wields a buttery smooth 240Hz refresh rate that will push any stout rig to its limits.
Read the full review: Alienware 25
If you care more about frame rate than graphics or resolution, this one's for you. Because of its very impressive 180Hz refresh rate, the Asus ROG Swift PG248Q takes the 60fps gold standard for gaming and triples it – provided you're equipped with a rig that can handle the extra stress. While you're unlikely to enjoy Forza Horizon 3 at 180fps on Ultra settings given its high demand, a higher refresh rate is more than welcome in fast-paced, competitive games that don't necessarily depend on a wealth of resources. Plus, as one of the most affordable G-Sync displays on the market, it helps that you can rely on the monitor to prevent screen tearing, too.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG248Q
If you’re running games using AMD- or Intel-based graphics and want to get into ultra wide displays without spending a fortune, this is the gaming monitor to look out for. At 34 inches diagonally, the LG 34UC79G-B is equipped with AMD FreeSync for screen tear elimination and a 21:9 aspect ratio best suited for games and cinema. Despite the resolution being lower than a lot of other widescreen displays on the market, there’s no denying that the LG 34UC79G-B pulls off a crisp image nonetheless – and with stunning color accuracy at that. Plus, you can change the height, which is more than can be said for even some of the pricier 4K monitors available today.
Read the full review: LG 34UC79G-B
Thanks to its large size, the BenQ EW3270ZL is a great choice of gaming monitor if you're looking for the best way to immerse yourself in your games without paying for an ultra-wide gaming screen. Not only is it large, it has a great resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and excellent color reproduction. It's not solely a gaming monitor, so response time is high and you don't get gaming-specific features such as G-Sync or FreeSync, but if you're looking for a big, budget gaming monitor, this is one of the best.
Read the full review: BenQ EW3270ZL Eye-Care Monitor
The Lenovo Y27G is a gaming monitor that includes a curved screen with its regular 16:9 aspect ratio, which gives you some added immersion while you're playing. The 1080p resolution is a little on the low side, but it does mean there's less strain on your graphics card, making this an excellent gaming monitor for people who don't have the budget to buy the latest and greatest GPUs. It also means that, with the relatively low resolution, your GPU can concentrate on pushing high frame rates, with the Lenovo Y27G coming with a 144hz refresh rate and available with either Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync anti-screen tearing technology.
Read the full review: Lenovo Y27G Curved Monitor
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
- Looking for a more general monitor? Check out our list of the best monitors