You might have the best video card in the world, the best CPU and the most memory, but have you got one of the best gaming monitors in the world? If not, and you’re rocking an old and out-of-date monitor, packing a screen resolution circa early 2000s, you’re going to see exactly zero benefit.
Building a gaming PC is about enjoying, running, but most importantly DISPLAYING the absolute best in gaming technology on a great screen, and you can’t do that at 1024×768 resolution.
So many people and sites talk about games running at 60 frames per second, but very few it seems talk about the screen resolution at which a particular component can kick out those frame rates – our view?
It’s one of the most important things you need to know when you embrace the glorious experience of building a gaming pc.
Click the below buttons to go directly to the lists: 4K (3840×2160 resolution), 1080 (1920×1080 resolution) and 1440 (2560×1440 resolution). Easy!
Hence this guide on the best gaming monitors. We want to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about the best monitor you can get for your budget, what it will do, and how it will make your games look.
Best 4K screens
If you want to display PC games at their absolute best and showcase the awesome power of your gaming PC, you need a 4K monitor. Let’s take a look at the best gaming monitors available at 4K resolutions.
Yes, they’re unapologetically expensive, yes, you need a powerful video card to get the best from it – but if you can afford it (or if you just WANT one), the below 4K screens will be for you. These screens all display at 3840x2160p resolutions and have a refresh rate of 60Hz.
While at the time of writing Asus has just announced a 4K 144Hz monitor, the 4K displays in this guide are limited to 60Hz. The guide will be updated as more 4K screens with high refresh rates become available.
So, why 4K? Well, the screen displays four times as many pixels as a full HD screen, bringing an unprecedented level of detail and realism to your games.
The difference it makes to games is massive and if you’re running a GTX 1080 or better you’re going to see amazing benefits – sorry, that’s not strictly true.
Best 4K screens (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
Best 1080p 144hz+
While 4K is often touted as the ‘gold standard’ of resolutions for gaming monitors there are plenty of screens available at lower resolutions for budgets that are a little smaller.
Plus, the benefit of buying a gaming monitor with a 1920x1080p resolution is that it won’t require you to spend a fortune on a video card to enjoy it, with the latest budget video cards – like the RX 460 and GTX 1050 – easily delivering full HD performance.
If you want a 2560x1440p screen and you also want a 144Hz refresh rate you’re going to pay quite a high price but if you’re a casual gamer or you only play fast-paced online games, like Overwatch, CS:GO and League of Legends, a screen resolution of 1920x1080p is more than adequate.
In fact, first-person shooter titles will benefit from the high frame rates these screens deliver. The truth is games still look great at 1920x1080p resolutions. Manufacturers are always looking to drive consumers onto the next big thing, just because that’s what they want us to do – spend our hard-earned cash.
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Best 1080p monitors 144Hz + (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
Best 1080p monitors 60Hz+
Looking to get into gaming and don’t want to spend a fortune on a 4K-capable video card and screen? Well, look at the selection below representing the best gaming monitors at 1920×1080 resolution.
They all feature a full HD screen resolution of 1920x1080p, and output at between 60 and 120Hz, meaning that with the right video card, those buttery smooth frame rates of 60 frames per second or above will be a breeze, something most console gamers can only dream about!
If you’re into your e-sports, or online gaming, 1920x1080p is the optimum resolution for titles like Overwatch and CS:GO, and will be more than suitable for your needs.
If you’re into amping the video card settings up as far as you can crank ‘em and have the budget to do it, then you should probably skip this section and take a look at gaming monitors that output at 2560×1440 or 4K resolutions.
Best 1080p monitors below 144Hz (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
Best 1440p monitors 144Hz+
While 4K gaming is the elite standard in terms of graphics and helping your games look really good (and putting your video card to the test!), 4K monitors with a refresh rate above 60Hz are only just becoming available, and command a huge price tag.
The sweet spot for resolution, high refresh rates and price currently sits with monitors that display 2560×1440 resolutions at up to 144Hz refresh rates.
There’s a wide range of these gaming monitors available on the market at a variety of price points and offering a huge array of features.
If you’re looking to make the most of one of these screens remember you need to consider your video card, and also whether the screen features FreeSync or G-Sync technology.
Click the above links to find out more about these video cards.
Best 1440p monitors 144Hz+ (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
Best 1440p monitors 60Hz
If you’re on a budget but still want to get into gaming at 2560x1440p screen resolutions your best option is to go for a non-144Hz screen.
While building a gaming PC can be expensive it’s also about having the freedom to chop and change what parts you want to use, so you can build a truly unique system that matches your budget, and lets you game as you want to game.
Hopefully, the below category gives you an idea of the screens available to you if you have a little less cash to spend.
While the gaming monitors below won’t provide the ultra-fast refresh rates seen in the previous category, they will provide you with excellent visuals – way beyond full HD 1920x1080p screens.
Plus, if you have the right video card, frame rates of up to 60 frames per second are achievable – miles beyond what most console gamers experience!
Best 1440p monitors 60Hz (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
G-sync and FreeSync
Ok, we’ve looked at a huge range of the best gaming monitors available now, let’s look at adaptive sync.
FreeSync technology is baked into DisplayPort connectors, and helps synchronize the refresh rate of a compatible monitor to your AMD graphics card.
When you ramp up the settings on PC games you might notice stuttering graphics and screen tearing.
It can wreck your experience and make games unplayable, and it means you might need to reduce graphics detail or lower your screen resolution – and who wants to do that?
FreeSync stops this by reducing input latency which in turn reduces, or completely eliminates, juddering and screen tearing.
FreeSync is based on open standard ‘adaptive sync’ technology built into DisplayPort 1.2a specifications, while G-Sync is a proprietary circuit from Nvidia that is ‘bolted on’ to monitors.
Monitor manufacturers that want to use G-Sync have to pay a fee to Nvidia for including the technology in their screens, and that cost gets passed on to the consumer.
As such G-Sync monitors are often a lot more expensive than FreeSync screens.
In simple terms both technologies help smooth the frame rates of games to ensure the on-screen action maintains a steady frame rate, and as a gamer that’s a good thing.
The obvious question is does FreeSync work with Nvidia video cards?
The simple answer is that it doesn’t but if you have a PC packing one of the new Pascal series of Nvidia cards, chances are you’re going to get extremely good frame rates anyway, just be prepared for occasional frame drops and screen tearing as the action heats up.
IPS or TN? What?
To simplify it, the differences between IPS and TN displays can be explained like this:
IPS stands for in-plane switching, which is a newer type of display technology, while TN stands for twisted nematic, which is an earlier form of display technology.
The advantages of IPS displays over TN displays:
- The colors in IPS displays look bright and strong from all viewing angles
- IPS displays do not ‘lighten’ when you touch the screen surface
- IPS offers clearer images
The disadvantages of IPS displays compared to TN displays:
- IPS displays are generally more expensive
- IPS displays tend to require more power
- In general, IPS displays tend to have longer response times than TN displays – for example 5ms versus 1ms.
To add to the confusion you can also get PLS panels. PLS stands for plane line switching, and means your screen will feature great viewing angles, high brightness and rich colors, although there is a trade off in response time.
Remember, what you choose for your gaming PC is up to you and is largely down to how much money you have to spend
This is massive, and is often overlooked by people building their first gaming PC.
Screen resolution is the number of pixels your monitor will display on its screen.
The most common resolution for PC gaming is 1920×1080, but more and more people are embracing 2560×1440 and 4K resolution monitors, that is 3840×2160.
The numbers represent the number of pixels horizontally and vertically that are displayed on your monitor.
A higher number of pixels requires a higher degree of processing power from your video card, in order to run smoothly and deliver an optimum gaming performance of 60 frames per second.
So, before buying your card ask yourself what resolution you want to game at.
All of the top video cards in the below tables will seamlessly handle 1920×1080 gaming, with most of them providing fantastic performance at 2560×1440 and the cards in the Ultimate table will comfortably handle 4K gaming.
These displays synchronize the framerate that is displayed and mean you can game at an unbroken 60 frames per second or above, leading to beautiful and fluid performance.
Building a Gaming PC
Building a gaming PC is a great skill to have, and if you’re planning on including one of these best gaming monitors in your new system you should definitely take a look at my guides.
If you’re new to building PCs, and are a little unsure about where to start, take a look at the below video playlist.
It’s designed to be as simple and straightforward to follow as possible.
There’s tips in there on how to install a video card, among other things.
Click the menu box in the top left of the below window to cycle through all the videos.
I deliberately made the videos short and clear, to help make the learning process as straightforward as possible.
If you need tips and hints about installing a video card for your new PC build, hit me up in the comments section, or tweet me directly.
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But Why Build?
As PC games get better and better and the hardware to run them advances at an ever quicker rate you may be tempted to buy a pre-built custom gaming PC.
STOP! Don’t do it. There’s a range of benefits to building your own PC:
- you’ll save a tonne of money
- you can customize it exactly as you want
- you avoid ‘bloatware’ that comes bundled with pre-built systems and clogs up performance
The good news is it’s a buyer’s market with a massive range of components available to builders and building a gaming PC is easier than many realize.
If you can put together a Lego kit you can build a computer. It’s that easy.
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If you’re interested in PC gaming components and builds, besides the best gaming monitors, head to the blog.
There’s so many different PC systems you can build. Check out a few ideas below.