The best gaming monitor 2018: the 10 best gaming screens of the year
These days, the best PC games can take you to places and let you do things that you never thought possible, which is why you should think about picking up one of the best gaming monitors to bring your experience to the next level.
What separates the best gaming monitor from the rest of the best monitors? Well, a lot of it boils down to function and preferences. There is a wide variety of different technologies and features that are featured in the best gaming monitors, and what you need will vary on the kind of games you like to play.
Do you just want to sit back, soaking in the beauty of a game like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey? If so, you may want to pick up a 4K Ultra HD gaming monitor with HDR. Or, would you rather get neck deep into some competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Overwatch where speed is the name of the game? If so, you may want to opt for one of the best gaming monitors with a high refresh rate and low latency.
This is admittedly a lot of information, but don’t worry, we have you covered. This list is filled with the best gaming monitors you can buy today. And, since we’ve tested and reviewed every monitor ourselves, you can be confident you’ll get your money’s worth. So, no matter what kind of monitor you’re looking for, no matter what kind of games you like to play – we’ll find you the best gaming monitor right here on this list. After all, Black Friday 2018 is right around the corner.
HDR has been a major selling point for the best TVs for a little while now, but it has been suspiciously absent form the best gaming monitors. Until now. The BenQ EX3501R takes HDR and runs with it, crafting a curved ultra-wide that is not only what we would deem ‘attainable’, but beautiful as well. BenQ bills this monitor as a ‘video enjoyment monitor’, but from the moment you launch your favorite HDR-enabled games, you’ll see straight away why it tops our list of the best gaming monitors.
Read the full review: BenQ EX3501R
Before the Alienware AW3418DW hit the market, there weren’t any ultra-wide monitors that could give you the immersion that a 21:9 resolution affords, while offering a high refresh rate that’s competitive with the best gaming monitors. Offering a beautiful and colorful 21:9 display, lighting fast 4ms response time and a stunning 120Hz refresh rate, the AW3418 truly is the best of both worlds. However, all these features come with a high price, and if you’re looking to save some cash it might not be the best option. Still, this is one of the best gaming monitors you can buy today.
Read the full review: Alienware AW3418DW
The AOC Agon AG352UCG was already one of the best gaming monitors, so when we heard that AOC was putting out a revision on it, with a higher refresh rate and better contrast, we were overjoyed. The AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition takes everything the original did and turns it up to 11, making it one of the best ways to experience ultra-wide gaming. It’s expensive, sure, but if you have the hardware to power a 3,440 x 1,440 monitor at 120Hz, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not buying it.
Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition
If you have the cash to support it, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ may just be the most advanced gaming monitor on the planet right now. Not only does it come with a 4K Ultra-HD resolution and HDR, but it also offers G-Sync and a 144Hz refresh rate. On paper, this is the most impressive gaming monitor we’ve ever seen – and when you see it in action, it’s even more impressive. The only thing that holds this thing back from our number 1 spot is its extreme price tag. But, again, if you have the cash lying around, and you have a PC powerful enough to drive 4K games at 144 frames per second, you’re not going to find a better monitor.
Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
While it may be primarily aimed at CAD professionals, the BenQ PD3200U still has a lot to offer as a gaming monitor. Thanks to its focus on graphic design and business, it’s able to offer fantastic viewing angles – meaning your friends can watch you game in comfort. Plus, unlike a lot of 4K monitors on the market, you don’t need to mess around with the settings in order to get the best picture – every unit is individually calibrated by BenQ before it’s shipped. It’s easy to see why the BenQ PD3200U is one of the best gaming monitors you can buy today – even if it’s not marketed as a gaming monitor.
Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U
If you’re looking for the best gaming monitor under $300 or £300, and don’t mind making a few compromises (it features a 1080p resolution and a TN panel), then you’ll be happy with the Asus MG248Q. It makes up for any shortcoming with lightning fast response times and Adaptive Sync, making this a fantastic budget choice. Even Nvidia fans can rejoice with its 144Hz refresh rate. But, without the right GPU equipped, you may want to save up a bit more for the G-Sync equivalent Asus ROG Swift PG248Q.
Read the full review: Asus MG248Q
- This product is only available in the US and Australia at the time of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung CHG70 QLED
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.
With this display, Samsung not only brings QLED to gaming monitors in a big way, but they also offer the widest ultra-wide monitor on the market today. Coming in at 49.5 inches, this behemoth will take up a lot of space, likely peeping over the sides of your desk, but with its impressive 3,840 x 1080 resolution and HDR, you’ll at least be blown away by the image. Even if you decide not to play in this resolution (it will require a beefy rig), you can still use all of the extra screen real estate to have a browser or a movie playing on the same screen. The only real drawback is the monstrous price tag. But for a display this premium, it may very well be worth it.
Read the full review: Samsung CHG90 QLED
If you have a powerful graphics card that you want to take full advantage of, and you don’t mind missing out on 4K Ultra HD, Samsung’s got something just for you. The Samsung CHG70 is a curved 1440p monitor with a blazing fast 1ms response time and 144hz refresh rate, which makes this one of the best gaming monitors you can buy in 2018. And, considering it’s regularly going on sale, this screen is a bargain as well. Check it out.
Read the full review: Samsung CHG70 QLED
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.
How to buy the best gaming monitor in 2018
When you are shopping for the best gaming monitor 2018 has to offer, there are a few things that you should consider before you decide on what display should grace your desk.
By studying the following terms and specifications, you can make sure you pick the best gaming monitor for your needs – which also means you're not paying extra for additional features that you don’t need.
Screen size: When shopping for the best gaming monitor, one of the most crucial things to think about is screen size. Larger display sizes can contribute to more immersive gaming experiences, as the game fills more of your field of vision, but you'll need to make sure you have the room to feature a large monitor. It also goes without saying that larger monitors will usually mean a higher price.
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 look pretty outdated in 2018. Ultra-wide monitors with aspect ratios of 21:9 are quickly gaining prevalence – they offer a wide view of your games, and many ultra wides have made our list of the best gaming monitor 2018.
Resolution: Another important factor when looking for the best gaming monitor for your needs is resolution. Here, the higher the numbers, the sharper the picture.. You will, however, need a more powerful graphics card for anything over full HD (1,920 x 1,080), even if many gaming monitors feature resolutions as high as 2,560 x 1,400 (WQHD) and 3,840 x 2,160 (4K).
Refresh rate: When you’re looking to primarily play Counter-Strike, or shooters like it, refresh rate is especially important. The higher the refresh rate, the more frames per second (fps) it can support, 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, with little to no input lag. The lowest response time for TN monitors (we explain this in the next section) is 1 millisecond, whereas the newer IPS monitors usually have more delayed, 4ms response times. When you’re playing games competitively, it’s crucial to keep this number as low as possible in order to combat lag.
Panel type: This is where things get a little technical. The type of panel the gaming monitor uses will largely contribute to its response time and image clarity. TN panels (twisted nematic) have the lowest response times, and they are usually cheaper as well, but they generally don’t have great viewing angles. IPS panels (in-plane switching) have fantastic viewing angles and color reproduction, but usually higher 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: Most people play games while positioned in front of their gaming monitor, but this may not always be the case, particularly when you’re among spectators. A monitor’s viewing angles tell you what angle you can look at the monitor from and still clearly make out the image. 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 likely notice that many of the best gaming monitors in 2018 come with either G-Sync or FreeSync technology – sometimes both. This helps keep frames per second (fps) smooth, combats screen tearing and diminishes 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 bump up their price tag. Meanwhile FreeSync was developed by AMD but, as it is free to use by manufacturers, the monitors usually cost less.
Check out our HDR Explained video below.
Gabe Carey and Bill Thomas have also contributed to this article
- Looking for a more general monitor? Check out our list of the best monitors