The Best Gaming Monitors for 2016
In this monitor buying guide we ranked the best gaming monitors for 2016. We rated & reviewed over 30 of the best monitors for gaming so you can make the right decision when it comes time to buy your new monitor.
|ASUS ROG SWIFT PG279Q 27″||2560×1440||165Hz||9.6/10|
|ASUS ROG SWIFT PG348Q 34″||3440×1440||100Hz||9.3/10|
|Acer Predator XB321HK 32″||3840×2160||60Hz||9.2/10|
|ASUS VG278HE 27″||1920×1080||144Hz||9.0/10|
|BenQ GW2765HT 27″||2560×1440||75Hz||8.6/10|
Even if you have the greatest gaming computer in the world, it will be all for not if you are hooking it up to a crappy monitor. Your monitor is essentially the place where you will see all of the hard work that you put into your gaming computer pay off.
And, not all monitors are created equal.
If you’re going to go all out and build a high-end gaming computer, then you definitely don’t want to go with a monitor that has less than 1920×1080 resolution.
In fact, if you’re spending over $1,000 on your gaming PC, you are probably not getting your money’s worth with anything less than 1440p—or a 144Hz 1080p monitor.
Also, you’ll want to get a monitor that has a decent response time. Response time basically means how quickly a monitor can refresh the image that is being displayed on the screen. The faster the response time, the more smoothly your games flow, and the less lag there is between hitting buttons and seeing the actions created by hitting those buttons.
And, if you’re really into competitive shooters, a higher refresh rate will also be a feature you want to look into.
Finally, you’ll need to pick out a monitor that is an optimal size for your viewing pleasure. For some people this is as big as they can possibly get. For others, it’s about 23-24″. You should pick whatever size you feel most comfortable with.
In this post, we will take a look at the best monitors for gaming in 2016 at various different price tags and feature sets. I’ve broken down the guide down into the following categories: 1440P/144Hz monitors, 1080P/144Hz monitors, Wide/Curved monitors, 4K monitors, 1440p monitors, and 1080p monitors.
Yes, there are 4K monitors. And, yes, you can game on them.
However, 4K is currently limited to refresh rates of 60Hz. And, if you are a serious/competitive gamer who relies on every split-second advantage you can get, you know how important refresh rate is.
Therefore, since 1440p 144Hz monitors currently bring the highest combination of resolution and refresh rate, they are considered as being the best possible options for hardcore games.
What follows is a list of the best 1440p 144Hz gaming monitors currently on the market.
1440p 144Hz Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)
And, while the super higher res monitors are delivering stunning picture quality, they aren’t serving as viable options for really serious gamers thanks to their lower refresh rate.
So, even though 1920×1080 monitors aren’t as ‘cool’ as some of the higher resolution monitors out there, the fact is that, as of right now, you only have to resolution options if you want a 144Hz gaming monitor: 1080p and 1440p.
And, seeing as how 144Hz monitors sell for a premium, the available 1080p 144Hz options are the only ones that can really accommodate gamers with a limited budget.
If you are a serious gamer and you need a 144Hz monitor, but you are limited on your budget, one of these 1080p 144Hz options will be your best bet. And, the good news is that 1080p resolution is still good enough to deliver high-quality visuals.
1080p 144Hz Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)For those of you who have to go bigger and better and stay on the cutting edge of technology, perhaps you’d be best off with one of the cool new curved/wide screen gaming monitors.
While these monitors are super expensive despite the fact that they don’t have high refresh rates, or don’t come with quite as good of graphics as you can get at 4K resolution, they are pretty spectacular nonetheless.
All of the monitors sport a 3440×1440 resolution and come with an IPS panel. A couple of the options, namely, the Acer Predator and the ASUS ROG SWIFT PG348Q can be overclocked to 100Hz refresh rates as well.
Ultimately, only a few will want to–and be able to—choose these monstrous wide/curved gaming monitors for their setups.
Curved/Wide Screen Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)4K has been around for a few years and it is definitely becoming more accessible. However, it still takes a fairly significant commitment (in terms of the hardware to support it and the monitor itself).
Prices are continuing to drop, though, and there are quite a few 4K monitor options under $500. (Though, the cheaper 4K monitors may not provide the best all-around gaming experience.)
The biggest downfall for 4K monitors at the moment is the fact that they’re capped at a 60Hz refresh rate. This will change over the course of the next year, but for some serious and competitive gamers, the lack of ability to achieve higher refresh rates makes a 4K monitor out of the question.
Ultimately, though, if you’re someone who likes to spend a little money to stay ahead of the curve, you want the best visuals possible, and you don’t mind playing with a 60Hz refresh rate, these monitors will suit your needs.
4K Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)With today’s computer hardware, it really doesn’t take nearly as much of a budget to build a gaming computer that can handle most games on max settings on a 1440P monitor.
In fact, for as low as ~$500-$600 you can build a tower that can handle most games on a 1440P monitor, assuming it’s not one of the 1440P monitors that has a 144Hz refresh rate.
So, if you are working with a budget, but you want to step up from 1080P, then these 1440P monitors will be exactly what you are looking for.
They provide better visuals than standard HD monitors and they won’t break your bank either.
1440P Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)
And, seeing as how it it incredibly affordable to get a decent 1080P monitor these days—especially when considering that even entry level GPUs can max out most games at 1080P—most gamers will end up sticking with a 1920×1080 monitor.
Of course, that is completely fine.
There are plenty of great options to choose between if you are working with a limited budget, but you are looking for something that won’t hinder your in-game experience.
What follows is a list of some of the best 1080P gaming monitors currently on the market.
1080P Monitor Comparison Chart (Click “Read Review” to Expand)
Still Not Sure What Monitor to Choose?
If you’re unsure of what monitor you should choose, or if you don’t know which option above would work best with your budget or your new gaming PC build, you can post your question below in the comment section and I’ll help you out as soon as possible.
Also, if you want to learn more about monitors, including the terms and specifications associated with them, as well as how you should approach buying one, you can expand the guide below for a full buyer’s guide.
If you’re not quite ready to buy a monitor to pair with your gaming PC yet because you want to have a better understanding of what to look for before you make your decision, then this section is for you.In this section I will give you a more thorough overview on what you should be looking for in a gaming monitor. I will also go over the important monitor specifications you need to be aware before you make your purchase.
So, jumping right in, there are two main factors you need to consider when purchasing a monitor.
- Your budget (how much do you want to spend on a monitor?)
- The graphics card in your gaming PC.
These two factors should be considered before anything else because they will determine the kind of monitor you can get.
First off and most obviously, how much you have to spend on a monitor for your gaming PC will be the biggest determining factor in the options you have available to you.
For instance, if you have $200 to spend, your options will be limited to 1080p monitors. If you are willing to spend $500-$1,000, you can either go with a 4K monitor, or with a coveted 1440p/144Hz monitor (the top-of-the-line in gaming monitors right now.)
However, just because you have a ton of money to spend on a monitor doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
If you have an existing gaming PC that has a low-end to mid-range graphics card in it, there is no point in pairing it with a really expensive gaming monitor.
The reason for this is that a low-end to mid-range graphics card can’t fully utilize the higher-end gaming monitors on the market.
For instance, if you have a GTX 750 Ti in your gaming computer and you go out and spend $700 on a 4K monitor or a 1440p/144Hz monitor, you will be dissappointed to find that your framerate will actually drop once you get your new badass monitor hooked up.
This is because your new monitor requires more GPU power to run than you currently have.
So, it’s very important that if you are going to buy a new monitor to game on, that you have the hardware to accommodate it.
In the above scenario, it would’ve been a better idea to go out and spend $300 on a high-end video card upgrade, and the rest on your monitor.
Important Monitor Features, Specifications, and Terms
Okay, so now that you understand that your budget and your existing graphics card (or the new graphics card you are going to purchase) are the biggest determining factors in what monitor you can get, its’ not time to talk about how to differentiate between monitors.
In my opinion, there are a handful of main features/specifications you need to look at when comparing monitors. They are:
- Refresh rate
- Response time
- Panel type
- Free-Sync & G-Sync
There are definitely more monitor sepcifications and features than these, but for the most part, these are the main specs you need to be aware of.
I will now discuss each in a little more detail and I’ll go more into why they’re important.
Obviously, monitor size is a pretty straightforward specification to comprehend. And, the size of the monitor you want to get will depend on your own personal preferences.
Some people like to get the biggest monitor they can. Others, like me, would rather have multiple medium-sized monitors.
Monitor size will come down to how much you have to spend and what resolution you want.
Right now, monitors under 23″ are the most affordable options, but they are mostly limited to 1080p resolutions.
24″-28″ monitors are a little more expensive depending on what resolution you get, but they can come in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K resolutions.
Monitors over 28″ are the most expensive and also range in resolutions from 1080p all the way up to 4K and beyond.
It’s important to note that the bigger the screen you get, the more detail you lose. So, for instance, a game will look a little worse at 1080p on a 27″ screen than it will on a 23″ screen.
That’s why if you’re going to get a bigger monitor, it is always a good idea to also bump up the resolution as well.
Monitor resolution refers to how many pixels there are on your screen. The more pixels there are, the more detail and better graphics you can play your games in.
However, the more pixels there are (and thus, the higher your resolution) the more GPU power it will take to run your games at an ideal framerate.
So, just because you got out and get a 4K monitor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to enjoy 4K in all of its glory. The resolution you can choose will depend on how powerful of a graphics card you have.
Therefore, it’s very important that when you buy your monitor, you choose something that will compliment your video card.
Currently, 1920×1080 (1080p) is the most popular monitor resolution available. However, 560×1440 (1440p) and 3840 x 2160 (4K) monitors are becoming more and more popular as their prices drop and GPU technology advances.
If you are are building a new computer, or if you have an entry-level to mid-level graphics card in your existing machine, you will be limited to a 1080p monitor. For a 1440p monitor, you will probably need a video card in the ~$200 range or higher.
And, for 4K gaming you will want to consider spending at least $300 on a video card.
It should be noted, though, that just like how a high monitor resolution will take more power and require a bigger video card, so, too, will a monitor with a high refresh rate.
Monitor Refresh Rate (& Response Time)
It wasn’t long ago that a monitor’s refresh rate was considered as being a kind of arbitrary specification. However, as more and more gamers have discovered, a monitor with a high refresh rate can provide a huge difference and a big boost to your in-game experience.
A refresh rate basically indicates how many images your monitor will show you per second. 60Hz is currently the standard refresh rate, which means that a 60Hz monitor will display 60 images per second.
So, a monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate will display 165 images per second.
And, what refresh rate effects in your in-game experience is the smoothness of the gameplay. Playing on a 144Hz monitor will feel much more smooth than playing on a 60Hz refresh rate.
For a lot of gamers, a high refresh rate is a luxury. However, for hardcore and competitive gamers, who rely on every split-second advantage they can get, a higher refresh rate can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
But, it’s important to remember that, just like having a higher resolution monitor will require more GPU power, so, too, will having a monitor with a higher refresh rate.
And, it’s doubly true that if you have a high-res, high-refresh-rate monitor, you will need an even bigger GPU to accommodate it.
As of right now, the highest refresh rate you can get (at least, practically speaking) is 165Hz. However, as there is not yet any support for 4K resolutions at refresh rates higher than 60Hz, the current pinnacle of gaming monitors are the handful of 1440p/144Hz monitors that are currently available.
There should be a 144Hz 4K monitor coming out within the next year, but if you are looking for the absolute best monitor for gaming possible right now, you will want to look into the 1440p/144Hz options listed above on this list.
From a practical point of view, refresh rates currently come in 60Hz, 75Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, and 165Hz.
Monitor Response Time
The response time for a monitor is basically the speed at which the pixels change from one color to the next (in order to switch to the next frame). The longer the response time, the more “ghosting” you will get.
Response times aren’t really as important as they used to be and that’s mostly because you don’t usually find a monitor now with such a bad response time as to hinder performance.
Most TN panels come with response times between 1ms-4ms and most IPS panels come with response times between 5ms-7ms. While 7ms is a bit on the high end, for the most part it is not bad enough to where you would notice a significant difference.
So, the bottom line is that, while response time is an important specification, the truth is that you won’t find a monitor that comes with a subpar response time.
Panel type is another feature you will want to consider. There are quite a few different panel types, but as of right now there are really only two main prevalent options available. They are: TN panels, and IPS panels.
TN (Twisted Nematic) panels are the standard options right now and, therefore, are much more affordable. And, while there are some IPS panel monitors with high refresh rates, there are plenty more TN panels.
TN panels also have faster response times.
However, where TN panels lack in comparison to IPS panels is in color quality, grayscale performance, and viewing angles.
For the most part, TN panels work better as gaming monitors, whereas IPS panels are better suited for professional use. Although, I should point out that that is a general rule, but it is not true in every case.
In fact, one of the best gaming monitors currently on the market is an IPS panel monitor that has a 165Hz refresh rate and a 4ms response time. So, it’s not that IPS panels can’t have high refresh rates and lowish response times, but that you have to pay a premium to get those features on an IPS panel.
FreeSync & G-Sync
There is a lot of hype over FreeSync and G-Sync technologies. Both are designed to provide a better gaming experience by eliminating screen tearing, and reducing input lag.
The result from these two technologies is a smoother gameplay experience.
To better understand how it is that FreeSync and G-Sync work, first you need to understand what screen tearing is and how it can affect gameplay.
Screen tearing is essentially when your GPU is not producing frames at a rate that is consistent with the monitors refresh rate. The result is that your game will “artifcat” and display wrong colors, static, stretched textures, etc.
One of the original ways around this was through V-Sync, a technology that forced your GPU to match your monitors refresh rate. However, that cause a handful of issues as well, including stuttering.
Where FreeSync and G-Sync differ from V-Sync is that instead of forcing your GPU to accommodate your monitor, they force your monitor to accommodate your GPU.
So, if you’re gaming and you’re framerate is bouncing around between a 60-70 FPS, with FreeSync and G-Sync your monitor will vary its refresh rate accordingly so as to eliminate screen tearing, stuttering, and input lag.
While both technologies are a bit different, and neither are perfect, the main takeaway here is that if you do get a monitor that is either FreeSync or G-Sync compatible, that you ensure that you get a video card to match it.
While it does appear that NVIDIA cards can utilize FreeSync to a point, AMD cards cannot utilize NVIDIA’s G-Synch technology. So, if you are planning on getting a monitor with either type of technology, you need to plan accordingly with the GPU you already have, or the one you are planning on buying.
Other Factors to Consider
While the factors discussed above are the core terms, features, and specifications you need to consider when choosing a monitor for gaming, the truth is that there are a lot of other features and specs that will come into play.
And, to every possible specification would be fairly difficult. However, I’ve put together a monitor buying FAQ below to help you sort through some of the more general questions to help you out with more specific queries.