Since it’s not easy to choose a gaming monitor especially if you’re unfamiliar with the specifications like refresh rates and panel types, we’ve set up a comparison chart here along with some of the more important aspects of a monitor that you should look at before you make your purchase.
Now, there are definitely a ton more monitors out there that you could choose from but we’ve looked at the most notable ones and compiled the best ones here.
We’ll also be adding individual reviews of more monitors in time. For now, these are certainly the top gaming monitors as of 2015. If you wish to learn more about the monitor specifications, you can check out our glossary here: Monitor Terms.
|Click To Read Review >>||Asus VG248QE||Dell |
|BenQ RL2455HM||Asus VS239H-P||BenQ XL2420Z|
|No. Of Amazon Reviews||774||1044||621||587||76|
|Recommended For||Heavy PC users,|
Light PS/XBOX users
|PC users only||PC + Console||PC + Console||Heavy PC users,
Light PS/XBOX users
|Max Refresh Rate||144 Hz||60 Hz||60 Hz||60 Hz||144 Hz|
|Signal Delay||1.6 ms (60 Hz)|
0.7 ms (144 Hz)
|0.9 ms||2 ms||3 ms||6.4 ms (60 Hz)
3.4 ms (120 Hz)
|Response Time||2.3 ms (60 Hz)|
1.6 ms (144 Hz)
|6.5 ms||6.6 ms||6.5 ms||1.5 ms (60 Hz)
1.5 ms (144 Hz)
|Total Display Lag*||3.9 ms (60 Hz)|
2.3 ms (144 Hz)
|7.4 ms||8.6 ms||9.5 ms||7.9 ms (60 Hz)
4.9 ms (144 Hz)
|Max Resolution||1920 x 1080||1920 x 1200||1920 x 1080||1920 x 1080||1920 x 1080|
|Adjustability||Tilt, swivel, pivot, height||Tilt, swivel, pivot, height||Tilt, height||Tilt only||Tilt, swivel, pivot, height|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years||1 year||3 years||3 years|
*Due to fluctuation, the prices are represented by $ signs instead:
$ = below $200
$$ = $200-300
$$$ = $300-$400
*Display Lag – This is the sum of the signal delay and the pixel response time of a monitor. The numbers are mostly extracted from Prad.de‘s reports (closely matches TFTCentral‘s too) which are hands down the most accurate among all the top monitor benchmarking sites. More on this below.
*Due to fluctuation, the prices are represented by $ signs instead:
$ = $400-$500
$$ = $500-$600
$$$ = $600+
The Best Gaming Monitor: 4 Top Factors To Consider
Now, in selecting the very best monitor for gaming, the foremost factors that take precedence over any others would be:
- Display Lag (Signal Delay + Response Time)
- Maximum Refresh Rate
- Has G-Sync Function
- Panel Type and Viewing Angle (we’ll be tackling these 2 together as they’re closely related)
Occasionally referred to as input lag, the overall display lag of a monitor is measured by adding up the signal processing delay and the response time of a particular monitor.
Signal processing delay is the time it takes for the monitor to process the signal after it’s received from the CPU/GPU (upscaling to higher resolutions, motion and edge smoothing etc). This is also why 1440p monitors will almost always have a higher display lag compared to 1080p displays.
Response time refers to the speed in which the pixels on the screen can change its colors to produce the display. In other words, this speed shows how fast an image on the screen can be redrawn. Naturally, the faster the response time, the more fluid and accurate the transition between images will be. This will have a direct effect on ghosting or smearing issues that are often encountered within certain games or movies where there are a lot of quick movements and things will seem blurry.
Back in 2005 or so, most of the monitors were terrible for FPS gaming as they came with a response time of 25 ms or more. Fast-moving figures would literally leave a trail behind them rather often. Nowadays, with monitors that have a response time of up to 1 ms, these ghosting/smearing issues can be eliminated completely.
An excellent illustration of a difference in display lag is shown in this picture here. A lower display lag means less image “smearing” and better picture quality. This specification is particularly important for FPS games because there will be always be plenty of quick movements on the screen. Another example would be in a game of Diablo III, when there’s an item on the ground with its name displayed. On a low display lag monitor, the text will remain very clear even when you move your character away, but with high display lag, the text will be blurred as you move around.
Generally, a gaming monitor with a TN panel would have less display lag whilst an IPS panel would suffer from a higher display lag.
On the whole, display lag basically measures the time from when the monitor receives a signal till it displays the image accurately on the screen. The lower it is, the better.
The refresh rate of the monitor refers to the number of times the screen refreshes the display every second. This also affects the total display lag significantly as can clearly be seen from the measured data in the table above (the higher the refresh rate, the lower the overall latency). Plus, it aids in reducing motion blur and provides smoother movement.
Most older monitors come with a 60 Hz refresh rate while the newer models can easily go up to 120 Hz and more. Here’s an illustration of the differences between a 60 Hz and 120 Hz monitor.
I’ve also uploaded a video here for you guys that shows the difference in gameplay on a 144 Hz and 120 Hz monitor placed side by side, but most importantly, it also shows the difference between 120 Hz and 60 Hz (this starts at the time 08:38).
Of course, you would firstly need a sufficiently decent card that can output a frame rate of more than 60 in your games before you should even consider getting a 120 or 144 Hz gaming monitor.
I can’t even begin to stress how important this particular G-Sync feature is. Here’s a quick video that explains what G-Sync is and how it will affect your gaming experience:
If you wish to skip the video or you just want a quick summary of what it does though, G-Sync essentially removes screen tearing, stuttering and circumvents the input lag that will be inevitable when you enable V-Sync. This is HUGE because for a long time, gamers have had to put up with either:
- Turning on V-Sync to eliminate screen tearing, but experiencing significant input lag and stuttering OR
- Turning off V-Sync for greater responsiveness and reduced stuttering, but experiencing screen tearing.
G-Sync eliminates ALL of these annoying drawbacks and you can get the best of both worlds this way. It is worth noting that G-Sync is Nvidia’s technology and AMD’s alternative to this is FreeSync. While they’re basically the same thing in terms of the benefits they offer, G-Sync monitors will only work with Nvidia graphics cards, whilst FreeSync monitors will only work with AMD Radeon cards, so make sure you know what cards you’re using before going for one or the other.
Another huge benefit that comes with G-Sync monitors is the extra ULMB (ultra low motion blur) feature. ULMB significantly reduces motion blur (duh) when you pan your camera around in-game. This, coupled with a low monitor response time, could mean an entirely new gaming experience, as shown in this illustration below.
Unfortunately, ULMB doesn’t work when G-Sync is on, so you’d have to choose which one of these to use at any one time. For the newer games which are very graphics intensive, G-Sync would be much more preferable over ULMB, whereas for older games, in which you can easily achieve a consistent 100 FPS (such as Counterstrike: Global Offensive), ULMB is definitely preferable over G-Sync.
The panel type of a monitor will affect the viewing angle as well as color accuracy of the display. The 2 most common types of panels being used today are the TN and IPS panels.
These viewing angles will determine how a particular image would look the further away you move from the ideal center point of the monitor screen. The image’s colors can turn lighter, darker or simply distorted depending on which angle you look at the screen from. In an ideal situation, an image should look exactly the same with no changes in color regardless of the angle and the position at which you’re seated in front of the screen.
As a general rule, the best panel types based on their viewing angles are as follows:
IPS (In-Plane Switching) > VA (Vertical Alignment) > TN (Twisted Nematic)
IPS stands for In-Plane Switching and they are superior to VA and TN panels in relation to their viewing angles, which in turn leads to very minimal color shifts. This means that no matter which angle you’re viewing the screen from, the color change will be virtually non-existent. Take a look at the example below.
As compared to this, most conventional panels of the TN technology would display inconsistent and inaccurate colors if you view them from the side or from the top or bottom. The further it is from the ideal center position in which you view the screen, the more apparent the color changes will be.
You should note however that the viewing angles as stated in the manufacturer’s specifications, especially in regard to TN panels are often misleading. A monitor with a TN panel is often quoted as having 160/160 or 160/170 viewing angles but in reality, they are much lower than that. An IPS’s (and occasionally VA’s) viewing angles of 178/178 are the only ones which are truly accurate.
Whilst significantly less noticeable than a TN panel, the VA panel is still likely to show a slight color or contrast distortion at certain angles. The IPS panels are the only panels that are free of these color inconsistencies and are the absolute best with regard to this viewing angles aspect.
Disadvantages Of IPS Panels
With that said however, there are a couple of drawbacks to an IPS panel. Its response time is generally slower (5-8 ms) compared to TN panels (fastest is 1 ms) and its refresh rate is usually limited to 60 Hz (with one very rare exception – the Acer XB270HU that runs at 144 Hz with an IPS panel – which is one of the core reasons why we deem it the best monitor for gaming).
IPS vs TN Panels For PC Gaming
To put it simply:
The Asus VG248QE is the ultimate 24″ gaming monitor within the $400 budget category that offers top-notch responsiveness and fluidity. In fact, it only costs a mere $250 or so.
The best features of the Asus VG248QE are its minimal display lag of only 2.3 ms and maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz, which means that the fastest moving images on your screen will be seen as they are intended and at the most fluid movement as is possible. Smearing of images will also be non-existent.
Needless to say, you’ll need a matching graphics card that’s powerful enough to keep up with the speed of refresh rate that your monitor is capable of handling i.e at least 60 frames per second. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking to an IPS display like the Dell U2412M. In terms of improving your gaming performance, this is as good as it gets.
Here’s a good picture of the Asus monitor in action.
It uses a TN panel as opposed to an IPS panel though, so you should always be seated directly in front of the monitor for the best experience. If you like to lie down on your back while playing your other gaming consoles on this monitor, you’ll have to adjust the angles so that the color change will be minimal.
Adjustability & Connectivity
If you own any other gaming consoles or if you wish to use your home theater system with your monitor, you’ll be glad to know that this monitor can be used for any of those too thanks to the all-encompassing connectivity options that it is equipped with; HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, with the exception of USB, but who needs that on a monitor anyway?
This particular monitor additionally has great ergonomic features due to its flexible adjustability options. It can be tilted forwards and backwards, swiveled sideways, pivoted into portrait mode or have its height adjusted.
On the whole, the Asus VG248QE certainly has almost everything that a gamer could possibly want and more, but with a strict $400 budget, there’s really nothing better you can get.
It does take some tweaking on the settings to get the best color reproduction for your monitor though. This is because 90% of the monitors will come shipped with overpowering brightness or “washed out” colors.
If you’re completely new at this, don’t worry there are plenty of guides that can teach you how to do this well. A great source would be TFTCentral so make sure you check that out once you’ve bought your gaming monitor.
If you’ve always been using a 60 Hz monitor, you owe it to yourself to try out a 120 Hz or higher monitor. Virtually all gamers who’ve switched over from a 60 Hz to a 120/144 Hz monitor have all agreed on one thing: that they’ll never go back to using a 60 Hz display. The fluidity is simply amazing and all your games will feel much smoother in comparison.
As a final reminder, make sure you get the VG248QE instead of the VE248Q or the PA248Q. It gets pretty confusing with these numbers. Here’s the link for the VG248QE monitor:
OR if you absolutely want to have an IPS monitor (generally better picture quality at the expense of fluidity and responsiveness), then I’d highly suggest going for the Dell U2412M:
The Acer XB270HU is the absolute best gaming monitor assuming you’re willing to fork out some $750 for it. This monitor by Acer is the first ever that combines all 4 of the best features in the world of monitors: 1440p resolution, 144 hz refresh rates, IPS panel and G-Sync.
It may seem a little pricey at first, but the premium you pay for having these top-notch specs is well worth it. There will hardly be any newer technology that would warrant a change of monitor, at least not for many years to come.
The next foreseeable upgrade in the far future would be 4k gaming, but getting to 100 FPS on a 4k monitor would take many, many years even with 3-way SLI, so the Acer XB270HU will certainly be able to last you a very long time.
Acer XB270HU vs Asus ROG Swift PG278Q
Unsurprisingly, the Acer XB270HU has always been compared to the hyped up Asus ROG Swift PG278Q, which many gamers had thought would be the best monitor ever since the latter was actually the first monitor that had 3/4 of the best gaming features (1440p resolution, 144 hz refresh rates and G-Sync). Along came the Acer XB270HU, which has everything the Asus monitor had, but it came with an upgrade i.e an IPS panel. And it doesn’t just end there.
As someone who owns both of these beasts, I am absolutely convinced that Acer remains head and shoulders above the Asus, for very clear reasons.
Firstly, the Acer XB270HU has much better colors and viewing angles compared to the Asus ROG Swift, thanks to its IPS panel.
Secondly, the Asus monitor has a rather aggressive anti-glare coating on it, something which irks me to no end. This could be partly why the colors seem more washed out on the Asus monitor. Acer’s semi-glossy coating is a lot lighter and thus this also makes its colors darker and more vibrant.
Thirdly, despite having a slower response time, the overall display lag of the Acer monitor is actually lower compared to the Asus monitor because the former has a much lower signal delay. This is surprising because TN monitors generally do have an advantage in terms of the responsiveness compared to IPS versions, but that’s simply not the case in this particular situation.
For these 3 reasons and based on my personal experience of using both of them, the Acer XB270HU is the clear winner. It has fantastic colors and sharpness for a great visual experience (thanks to its 1440p IPS panel), its display lag is low enough to match even some of the fastest TN monitors, and gameplay is buttery smooth with the combination of its 144 Hz refresh rates and G-Sync technology.
TFT Central seems to be in agreement with my findings as well (http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/reviews/acer_xb270hu.htm), and so are other users who actually own both of these monitors (based on this poll – http://www.overclock.net/t/1550325/acer-xb270hu-or-rog-swift).
If for some reason, you still prefer the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q however,
Obviously though, gamers with AMD Radeon graphics cards should opt for the FreeSync version instead,