Monday, 27 May 2019

The best gaming monitor 2018: the 10 best gaming screens of the year

best gaming monitor

In 2018, the best PC games let you see and do things that you would never have imagined. And, now that E3 2018 is behind us, and we caught a glimpse of all the amazing titles that will be gracing the best SSDs over the next year or so, you should think about upgrading to one of the best gaming monitors to really bring your gaming experience to the next level. Why would you play the best games on anything less than the best gaming monitor?

But what separates the best gaming monitors from the best monitors? Well, a lot of it will boil down to function and preferences. There is a wide variety of different tech and features that are featured in the best gaming monitors, and what you need will vary on the kinds of games you play.

Do you just want to sit down and immerse yourself in the Crew 2? If so, you might want to pick up a 4K Ultra HD gaming monitor with HDR. Or, do you instead enjoy competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Overwatch, where every frame matters? If so, you may want to go with a gaming monitor with a high refresh latency so you can top the leaderboards.

To be fair, this is a ton of information, but don’t worry, we’ve covered all the bases. This list is filled with the best gaming monitors you can buy in 2018. And, since we’ve tested and reviewed every monitor ourselves, you can be confident that you’re getting your money’s worth. So, whatever kind of gaming monitor you’re looking for, no matter the kind of games you enjoy – we know you’ll find the best gaming monitor for your needs right here on this list.

1. BenQ EX3501R

HDR and Ultra-Wide together at last

Screen size: : 35-inch | Aspect ratio: : 21:9 | Resolution: : 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: : 300 cd/m2 | Response time: : 4ms | Viewing angle: : 178/178 | Contrast ratio: : 2,500:1 | Color support: : sRGB 100% | Weight: : 23 pounds

Great screen size
Menu can be tricky
Needs tweaking out of box

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

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Alienware AW3418DW

2. Alienware AW3418DW

The fastest ultrawide yet

Screen size: 34-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 26 pounds

Highest refresh rate in an ultrawide
Alienware design and build quality
Takes up a lot of space

Before the Alienware AW3418DW, we’d never seen an ultra-wide monitor that can both give you the immersion that a 21:9 resolution affords, while also delivering a high refresh rate that’s competitive with the best gaming monitors. Offering a beautiful and colorful 21:9 display, a lightning-fast 4ms response time and a stunning 12-Hz refresh rate, the AW3418 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 may not be the best option. Still, this is one of the best gaming monitors you can buy today.

Read the full review: Alienware AW3418DW

3. AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition

Blacker than black

Screen size: 35-inch | Aspect ratio: 21:9 | Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 2,500:1: Color support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 26 pounds

Phenomenal color performance
120Hz refresh rate
Clunky OSD menu

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

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

4. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

The Rolls Royce of gaming monitors

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 600 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 50,000:1 | Color support: Adobe RGB 99% | Weight: 28 pounds

G-Sync and HDR
Fantastic image quality
Prohibitively expensive

If you have the money, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ may just be the most advanced gaming monitor on the market in 2018. Not only does it feature a 4K Ultra-HD resolution with HDR, but it also features 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 person, it’s even more impressive. The only thing that holds this monitor back from our number 1 pick is its luxurious $1,999.99 (£2,299.99 around AU$4,000) price tag. But, again, if you have the cash lying around, and you have a PC powerful enough to drive a 4K game at 144 frames per second, you won’t find a better monitor.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

5. BenQ PD3200U

A large 4K screen for your desk

Screen Size: 32-inch | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response Time: 4ms | Viewing Angle: 178/178 | Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1 | Color Support: sRGB 100% | Weight: 19 lbs

4K UHD resolution
Large Screen
Inexpensive relatively
Design is a little bland
Professional tools are niche
Takes up a lot of space

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

best monitor

6. Asus MG248Q

A budget monitor with 144Hz and Adaptive Sync

Screen size: 23.6-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1 million:1 | Color support: SRGB 100%, Adobe RGB 72% | Weight: 16.98 pounds

144Hz refresh rate
1ms response time
TN panel
Adaptive Sync for AMD, Intel only

If you’re looking for a budget gaming monitor, and don’t mind making a few compromises (it features a 1080p resolution and twisted-nematic, or TN, panel rather than IPS), then you’ll be very pleased with the Asus MG248Q. It makes up for any shortcomings with lightning fast response times and Adaptive Sync, making this the best budget gaming monitor in 2018. Adaptive Sync is of interest to gamers, as it reduces screen tearing if you have an AMD graphics card, a clear demonstration that the MG248Q tailors to the budget gamer. On the other hand, even Nvidia fans can rejoice at the 144Hz refresh rate. But, without the right GPU equipped, you might be better off saving 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

7. BenQ Zowie XL2540

A monitor tailored to the needs of professional gamers

Screen size: 24-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: NTSC 72% | Weight: 7.5kg

High refresh rates
Easy setup
Limited appeal beyond pro gamers

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.

Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540


8. Samsung CHG90 QLED

The widest ultra-wide

Screen Size: 49-inch | Aspect Ratio: 32:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 1080 | Viewing Angle: 178/178 | Contrast Ratio: 3,000:1 | Color Support: N/A | Weight: 33 lbs

Flawless image quality
Impressive Color reproduction
Smooth 144Hz refresh rate
Only 1080p vertically

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

9. Samsung CHG70 QLED

Gaming with all the colors

Screen size: 32-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 178/178 | Contrast ratio: 3,000:1 | Color support: 1.07B | Weight: 21.16 pounds

Quick response time
Takes up a lot of space

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

10. Alienware 25

FreeSync, G-Sync and everything in between

Screen size: 24.5-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080 | Brightness: 400 cd/m2 | Response time: 1ms | Viewing angle: 170/160 | Contrast ratio: 1000:1 | Color support: SRGB 119% | Weight: 11.7kg

Great design
High refresh rate
Only 1080p

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.

Read the full review: Alienware 25 

 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.