Uncover The Best Gaming Monitor: An In-Depth Monitor Comparison Guide
Since it’s not easy to choose a gaming monitor especially if you’re unfamiliar with the specifications like response time, refresh rates, panel types etc, 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.
Please keep in mind that the monitors on this page are limited to 23-24″ displays. If you’re looking for 27″ alternatives, please refer to this page here, although we do recommend that you read through the guide below if you’re not sure what response time, refresh rates and panel types are.
Ultimate Gaming Monitor Comparison Guide
Now, there are definitely a ton more monitors out there that you could choose from but we’ve looked through virtually all the top and most recommended ones and compiled the best ones here.
We’ll of course 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.
*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:
$ = below $200
$$ = $200-300
$$$ = above $300
To find out the exact prices, please click on the images or the “buy now” button. A new tab will be opened to Amazon.com but you’ll still remain on this page.
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)
The Best Gaming Monitor: 4 Top Factors To Consider
1. Display Lag
Occasionally referred to as input lag (although technically input lag includes other factors too), 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, simply put, the time it takes for the monitor to process the signal after it is 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.
2. Maximum Refresh Rate
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 monitors come with a 60 Hz refresh rate with a select few producing up to 120 Hz. Here’s an illustration of the difference 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, as the refresh rate is directly dependent upon your graphics card, 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.
3. Has G-Sync function
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’re too lazy to watch it 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 always comes when you enable V-Sync. This is HUGE because for a long time, gamers have had to put up with either:
1. Turning on V-Sync to eliminate screen tearing/stuttering, but experiencing significant input lag OR
2. Turning off V-Sync for greater responsiveness, but experiencing screen tearing/stuttering.
G-Sync eliminates ALL of these annoying drawbacks and you can get the best of both worlds this way.
4. Panel Type and Viewing Angles
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 also limited to 60 Hz as opposed to the 120 or 144 Hz that a TN panel can have.
IPS vs TN Panels For PC Gaming
To put it simply:
144 Hz G-Sync TN panels > 120 Hz G-Sync TN panels > 60 Hz IPS panels > 60 Hz TN panels
With all these factors in mind, we’ve concluded that the absolute best monitor from the list that we’ve compiled is the BenQ XL2420G, followed closely by Dell UltraSharp U2412M.
TLDR Flow Chart (for the lazy or confused)
Asus VS239H-P IPS BenQ G-Sync XL2420G Dell U2412M IPS
Why the complicated choices above? Well, for consoles such as PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, the FPS is capped at 60, so it doesn’t make much sense getting a BenQ G-Sync XL2420G (which supports up to 144 Hz) unless you’re planning to hook it up to your PC as well. Getting an IPS monitor like the Asus VS239H-P is a much smarter choice for the better image quality.
As for the Dell U2412M, it is faster and better than the Asus VS239H-P but it is only suitable for pure PC users because it has an aspect ratio of 16:10, which doesn’t sit well at all with console games. For instance, playing the PS3 or PS4 on the Dell U2412M will cause the images to be distorted or cut off at certain area. Also, the U2412M does NOT have a HDMI port so you have to deal with the extra hassle of attaching converting adapters and whatnot.
So, there you go! You shouldn’t go wrong if you follow this flow-chart or if you refer to the comparison table right at the top.
Review of the Best Gaming Monitor: BenQ G-Sync XL2420G
The BenQ G-Sync XL2420G is the ultimate gaming monitor that has optimal performance in virtually every single aspect that’s important within the gaming niche. It comes with a 24 inch display which is the ideal size if you’re on a limited budget seeing as how anything above that would fetch a ridiculously staggering price.
The best feature of the BenQ G-Sync XL2420G is easily its G-Sync function, coupled with a maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz. With G-Sync, stuttering, smearing and image tearing will be non-existent. This, together with an astounding 144 Hz refresh rate, 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.
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 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.
If you’d like to see how well it actually performs, here’s a good video review of the XL2420G by LinusTechTips:
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, USB. In fact, it’s the only G-Sync monitor (that’s worth mentioning anyway) that comes with HDMI, DVI and a DisplayPort. The other G-Sync monitors are limited to DisplayPort input only since the G-Sync feature is specifically made for PC users in mind. BenQ likes to keep things convenient for its users though.
Despite being a TN paneled monitor, the colors and clarity on the BenQ XL2420G are surprisingly pleasing and are LEAGUES better than most other TN panels that are of a similar price range. When compared to IPS alternatives though, it’s only slightly sub-par in terms of its color accuracy, but that’s a trade-off you’d have to live with in exchange for much more fluid motion and a lot less graphical artifacts such as tearing and stuttering.
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 BenQ XL2420G certainly has everything that a gamer could possibly want and more. 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. And, if you’ve never experienced what a G-Sync monitor feels like, you simply have to. Virtually all gamers who’ve switched over from a 60 Hz to a 120/144 Hz G-Sync monitor have all agreed on one thing: that they’ll never go back to using a display that doesn’t have either of those 2 features. The fluidity is simply amazing and all your games will feel much smoother in comparison.
As a final reminder, make sure you get the XL2420G instead of the XL2420T or XL2420Z. It gets pretty confusing with these numbers. Here’s the link for the XL2420G monitor:
>> Click here to check out the latest price for the
BenQ G-Sync XL2420G monitor at Amazon.com
OR if you’re looking for a 27-inch G-Sync alternative,
>> Click here to check out the latest price for the
Asus ROG Swift PG278Q monitor at Amazon.com
(For more 27″ monitors, check out our new chart here.)
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:
>> Click here to check out the latest price for the
Dell U2412M monitor at Amazon.com