How To Choose The Right Gaming Monitor

In this guide, you'll find everything you need to know before buying a gaming monitor - all the information in one place.

Choosing the perfect new gaming monitor can be challenging and frustrating for many people as there are lots of options and specifications to take into consideration.

To fully utilize the latest video games, you will not only need a gaming PC with a powerful graphics card and CPU, but you will also need a proper gaming monitor that will be able to take advantage of all that.

In this guide, we will thoroughly explain everything you need to know about gaming monitors and what to look out for to make sure that you’re getting the right monitor for your needs and preferences.

Screen Size And Resolution

Best Monitor Size For Gaming

When it comes to the best monitor size for gaming, bigger is not always better – you also have to take pixel density into account.

Pixel density is a pixel-per-inch ratio of the monitor’s resolution and size.

If a monitor has a too low pixel density, the image quality will be pixelated, which means there will be a lack of details and sharpness.

In case it’s too high, the details will be sharp, but you will have to scale the image up for small text to be large enough to read it.

While high pixel density isn’t a problem itself as you can choose whether you want to sacrifice screen space for larger and crispier details or not, some applications, including video games, have poor scaling or no scaling ability at all.

This means that in some games that don’t support scaling, certain in-game elements, such as the HUD will be too small.

Luckily, most new games support scaling just fine. So, double-check how your favorite apps handle scaling if you decide on a display with a high pixel density.

What Monitor Size/Resolution Is For Me?

1080p monitor vs 4K (Scaling)

In short, most people are satisfied with 27″ screens. They are reasonably big, but not too big that you’d have to move your head from one corner of the screen to the other to catch all that’s happening on the screen.

The ideal resolution of a 27″ monitor is 2560×1440 (WQHD), which results in a pixel density of ~109 pixels per inch. You get the perfect amount of screen space and details without any scaling necessary.

In contrast, a 27″ 1080p (1920×1080 – Full HD) monitor has a pixel density of ~81 PPI, which means you get little screen real estate and pixelated picture quality, though some users don’t mind this as they’d rather have a bigger screen than clear and sharp picture quality.

A 27″ 4K monitor has a pixel density of 163 PPI. You get a lot of screen real estate with sharp details and text. However, most users will find text to be too small to be readable without scaling. So, you will need to apply 150% scaling, which will make everything larger – the same size as 27″ 1440p, but with sharper details.

Considering how demanding 4K UHD gaming is, most gamers will opt to go with the 1440p route here since the difference between frame rates is a lot more noticeable than the difference in image clarity.

These are the optimal monitor size/resolution combinations.

  • 25″ or smaller: 1920×1080 and 2560×1440
  • 27″ – 32″: 2560×1440 and 3840×2160
  • 32″ or bigger: 2560×1440 and 3840×2160
  • 25″ – 30″ ultrawide: 2560×1080
  • 34″ – 35″ ultrawide: 3440×1440 and 5120×2160
  • 38″ ultrawide: 3840×1600
  • 40″ ultrawide: 5120×2160
  • 43″ super-ultrawide: 3840×1200
  • 49″ super-ultrawide: 5120×1440
  • 57″ super-ultrawide: 7680×2160

Of course, you need to make sure that your CPU/GPU is going to be able to handle the monitor’s resolution at its maximum refresh rate which brings us to the next specification that you need to consider.

Refresh Rate

In the video above, you can see how different refresh rates affect motion clarity. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the gameplay – as long as your FPS (Frames Per Second) can keep pace with it.

When you pause the embedded video above, you’ll notice that a 60Hz screen can’t keep up with the fast motion. Here’s how that would look:

How To Choose A Gaming Monitor

If that racing car were an enemy player in a competitive first-person shooter and you were firing upon it on a 60Hz monitor, you’d be shooting a target that’s not exactly where it appears to be since your display is refreshing the frames too slowly.

So, not only does a higher refresh rate display provide you with more responsive and enjoyable gameplay, but it also gives you a small advantage against other players in fast-paced games. It won’t magically make you a better player though!

As you can see, the difference between 240Hz and 144Hz is not nearly as noticeable as it’s between 60Hz and 120Hz+.

The jump to 360Hz and above is even less noticeable than 240Hz vs 144Hz, but it’s still there, and competitive gamers will want all the improvement they can get.

So, if you’re a competitive gamer, we highly recommend getting at least a 144Hz gaming monitor, and either 240Hz or 360Hz depending on your budget and just how competitive you are.

Some gaming monitors have a 75Hz – 100Hz refresh rate, which offers a small but visible boost in motion clarity in comparison to 60Hz displays.

For professional gamers and those with high-end PC rigs, you can also get a 1080p 540Hz gaming monitor, such as the ASUS PG248QP.

UltraWide vs. Widescreen

What Monitor Should I Get

Ultrawide monitors have an aspect ratio of 21:9 as opposed to the widescreen format of 16:9. So, you get ~33% more horizontal space for a more engaging gaming experience.

In certain games, you get a wider field of view, which can also be advantageous as you can spot opponents coming from the corners faster. However, some competitive games limit the aspect ratio to 16:9 just for that reason.

In games that don’t support the 21:9 aspect ratio, you will have to choose between having black borders at the sides of the picture or having a stretched-out or zoomed-in picture.

Most of the newer games support ultrawide resolutions, though.

You can check out a list of all games that support 21:9 here and visit our best ultrawide monitors buyer’s guide for more information.

There are also many 32:9 ‘super’ ultrawide monitors available, such as the Samsung Odyssey G9.

Panel Type And Response Time

Best Gaming Monitors For PS5 and Xbox Series X

There are three main LED-backlit panel technologies: TN, VA, and IPS, as well as OLED panels, which are self-emissive – all of these have their advantages and disadvantages.

TN (Twisted Nematic)

Overall, TN monitors have the worst color reproduction and viewing angles, meaning the colors are somewhat washed out in comparison to IPS and VA, and the picture shifts in contrast, color, and brightness when it’s looked at skewed angles.

However, TN panels are cheap to make and have a fast response time speed of only up to ~0.2ms (GtG – Gray to Gray), which means that the pixels can take only around 0.2ms to change from one shade of gray to another.

This effectively removes the trailing and motion blur of fast-moving objects, which is why competitive gamers usually opt for this panel technology.

Nowadays, there are IPS and VA panel monitors, such as the ASUS PG27AQN and the Samsung G7, that have almost just as fast pixel response time as certain TN models, so you no longer need to sacrifice image quality for fast response time – if you can afford it.


VA (Vertical Alignment)

Next, we have VA panels that boast the best contrast ratio, which allows them to produce deep blacks for more vivid details in the shadows of the image and an overall better relation between the darkest and the brightest colors.

Alas, VA panels usually have the worst response time performance. Even at higher refresh rates, VA panels have noticeable ghosting that gets worse when there are mostly dark pixels involved in the picture.

For most gamers, the amount of ghosting is tolerable as, in return, you get such deep blacks. If you’re a competitive gamer and mostly play fast-paced games, however, you should avoid most VA panels.

The new generation of VA panels don’t have this issue as they have just as fast response time as some TNs, but these panels are only available in certain displays, such as the previously-mentioned Samsung G7, Neo G9 and the Innocn 27G1S.

Unlike TN panels, VA monitors have wide viewing angles of 178° though minor shifts in gamma/contrast are expected.

IPS (In-Plane Switching)

IPS panels have the most accurate and consistent colors, although they don’t have as a high contrast ratio as VA panels.

IPS monitors also have the best viewing angles, while their response time performance is much better than that of most VA panels, and some newer IPS panels are just as fast as TNs.

So, you get vibrant colors, as well as no prominent ghosting in fast-paced games. The main issue with the IPS technology is IPS glow.

IPS glow is a normal drawback of the panel. Basically, as excess light passes through the panel, there is apparent glowing around the corners of the screen.

The glowing is only bothersome if you’re looking at a dark image in a dark room, but even then, there are ways to manage IPS glow.

Learn more about different panel technologies.

How To Choose A Monitor

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

Unlike LED-backlit panels, OLED displays have self-emissive pixels. This allows them to achieve an infinite contrast ratio as individual pixels can completely turn off for true blacks.

OLED monitors and TVs also have the widest viewing angles and instantaneous pixel response time speed for zero ghosting behind fast-moving objects.

Sadly, they have some disadvantages too.

First of all, OLED displays can’t get quite as bright as some high-end LED-backlit displays.

Secondly, they have a risk of permanent image burn-in and temporary image retention when viewing an image with bright static elements for too long.

However, as long as you’re using an OLED display sensibly (not leaving a static image on for hours) and taking advantage of its integrated burn-in prevention features (screen savers, pixel shift, panel refresh, logo luminance adjustments, etc.), it shouldn’t be an issue.

Some monitor manufacturers also offer up to a 3-year warranty that covers burn-in.

Lastly, there aren’t as many options when it comes to OLED monitors regarding screen size, resolution and refresh rate. So, if you want a 27″ 4K high refresh rate display, there aren’t any OLED options available, at least not yet, but there are more and more OLED options available every year.

There are also different types of OLED displays, though the most popular include LG’s W-OLED and Samsung’s QD-OLED panels.

Related:OLED vs QD-OLED – What Is The Difference?

OLED vs Mini LED

Even with these downsides, OLED panels still offer a superior image quality to LED-backlit displays. This is why some LED monitors are equipped with FALD (full-array local dimming) mini LED backlights, such as the Acer XV275K P3.

Thanks to its mini LED backlight, the Acer XV275KP3, for instance, can achieve high brightness levels of up to ~1700-nits (1300-nits for a 100% white window, and 1400-nits for small <10% white windows).

In comparison, even the brightest OLED monitors, such as the Dell AW3423DWF only achieve 1000-nits for small <3% white windows and are limited to ~250-nits for 100% white windows.


The Acer XV275K P3 has 576 dimming zones spread across its panel. These zones dim the parts of the image that are supposed to be dark without greatly affecting the areas that are supposed to remain bright, thus boosting the contrast ratio.

However, since there are only 576 dimming zones across the entire 27″ sized screen with over 8 million pixels, some scenes will have noticeable blooming artifacts. For instance, in demanding scenes, such as fireworks, stars in the night sky, subtitles, etc., the light from the small illuminated object will bleed into the surrounding dimmed zones and create blooming.

So, while mini LED displays offer a higher brightness, OLED displays are still better when displaying dark content. In the end, the choice between the two will mainly come down to your personal preference and budget.

We have a dedicated HDR monitor buyer’s guide that consists of the best mini LED and HDR displays available.

Response Time vs. Input Lag

what causes input lag

Note that the monitor’s response time speed should not be confused with input lag, which is measured as the time the monitor takes to register and display your commands.

Unlike the response time speed, input lag is not specified by monitor manufacturers, so you are going to have to search for monitor reviews if you want detailed information.

Also, keep in mind that the response time specified by the monitor manufacturer is not to be taken literally.

If an IPS monitor has a 5ms (GtG) response time listed in its specifications and a VA panel has 4ms (GtG), it doesn’t mean the VA model will have less ghosting and smearing.

The specified response time measure refers to the fastest pixel transition possible from one shade of gray to another under certain testing conditions. It’s not average speed.

So, once again, you will have to rely on in-depth monitor reviews to ensure you’re getting the performance you want.

Generally, if you want a fast gaming monitor with little or no visible trailing behind fast-moving objects, look for displays with a specified 1ms GtG response time speed (or faster).

The specified 1ms must refer to GtG (gray-to-gray pixel transition) because there’s also 1ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time), which is measured differently.

Sometimes, a manufacturer might just specify a ‘1ms response time’ without clearly indicating if it refers to the GtG or MPRT measure. In this case, again, you’ll have to rely on reviews for clarification and tests.

Exclusive Features

Now that you’ve decided what screen size, resolution, refresh rate, and panel type suits you the best, you can look for certain features some gaming monitors offer.


What To Look For In A Monitor

You’ll notice that some gaming monitors feature either AMD’s FreeSync or NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology – or in some cases, both.

Both technologies provide you with a variable refresh rate, which allows the monitor to change its refresh rate dynamically, therefore, eliminating visual artifacts such as screen tearing and stuttering without affecting input lag as VSync does.

AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s ‘G-SYNC Compatible’ technologies are based on the open-standard VESA Adaptive-Sync protocols in DisplayPort and HDMI.

Depending on the monitor, FreeSync can be supported over both HDMI and DisplayPort, while G-SYNC Compatible is mostly supported over DisplayPort – and over HDMI 2.1 on some newer displays.

Unlike G-SYNC Compatible, G-SYNC (often referred to as native G-SYNC to avoid confusion) is not based on Adaptive-Sync but features an integrated module inside the monitor.

G Sync Module

The difference between the two technologies is that the G-SYNC module replaces the traditional monitor’s scaler and offers a wider dynamic refresh rate range, variable overdrive and slightly lower input lag, but it also significantly raises the monitor cost.

To use any of these technologies, you will need a compatible graphics card:

  • G-SYNC – GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost or newer
  • G-SYNC Compatible – GeForce GTX 10-series or newer
  • FreeSync – Radeon R9/R7 200-series or newer (excluding the R9 270/X, R9 280/X, R9 370/X, R7 370X, R7 265 models)

Note that some newer G-SYNC monitors also allow variable refresh rate to be used with AMD cards.

You can find a more detailed comparison between the two technologies here.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

SDR vs HDR 1

Some gaming monitors also support HDR, which provides you with increased brightness, contrast, and color gamut for compatible content.

To truly enjoy HDR, a display should be capable of at least a 1,000-nit peak luminance, a minimum contrast ratio of 20,000:1, and at least 90% DCI-P3 color gamut.

In order to achieve such high brightness and contrast, it will require an expensive full-array local dimming implementation, which is available in a few high-end gaming monitors, such as the Samsung Neo G7.

There are less expensive models that feature HDR support as well, but these can only deliver a glimpse of what HDR can truly do.

Most of the time, these HDR monitors will have VESA’s DispalyHDR certification (the image below), which clarifies the display’s capabilities.

However, to ensure a proper HDR viewing experience, you cannot rely on VESA’s certifications. You will need to see if the monitor has either an OLED panel or a full-array local dimming solution.

Gaming monitors that support both FreeSync/G-SYNC and HDR can also have AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro or NVIDIA’s G-SYNC Ultimate certifications, which ensure that both VRR and HDR work without issues and at the same time.

What Is Hdr For Monitors

Motion Blur Reduction Technology

What Makes A Good Gaming Monitor

Want CRT-like motion clarity?

Look for a gaming monitor with a backlight strobing technology, which is usually called something along the lines of 1ms Motion Blur Reduction (MBR), NVIDIA Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB), Extreme Low Motion Blur, 1ms MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time), etc.

When enabled, backlight strobing further decreases motion blur in fast-paced games.

Note that when this technology is enabled, the screen’s maximum brightness is decreased, so use it only when gaming.

Furthermore, you can’t simultaneously enable FreeSync/G-SYNC and a blur reduction technology unless the monitor has a special feature for that, such as ASUS’ ELMB-Sync or Gigabyte’s Aim Stabilizer Sync.

Ideally, look for a monitor with NVIDIA ULMB2 or the Blur Busters Approved certification, which ensures impeccable MBR performance, such as that of the ViewSonic XG2431.

Curved vs. Flat Monitors

Monitor Curvature

Curved gaming monitors are becoming more and more popular, even though many considered them to be a passing fad.

In the end, deciding between a curved or flat monitor comes down to personal preference. The curvatures range from 800R (very steep) to 3800R (very subtle).

PC vs. Console Gaming Monitors

Gaming Monitor Guide

The Xbox consoles (Xbox One S/X and Xbox Series S/X) support 120Hz at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K UHD.

However, not all 1440p 144Hz+ monitors, for instance, support the ‘1440p 120Hz mode’ on the Xbox, forcing you to use either 1080p 120Hz or 1440p 60Hz.

On newer monitors, manufacturers have started stating what console modes are supported, but if you’re interested in an older model, you’ll have to check with other users or reviews to be sure.

We have a dedicated best PS5/Xbox Series X monitor buyer’s guide where we, besides recommending the best products, also provide links to different manufacturers’ lists of console-compatible monitors.

The PS5 also supports 120Hz at 1080p, 1440p and 4K UHD.

Just like with the Xbox consoles, some 1080p 144Hz+ monitors might not support the ‘1080p 120Hz mode’ on the PS5, so always make sure to double-check this if you’re buying a monitor for your PS5.

If you have a PS4, PS4 Pro, Nintendo Switch, etc., there is no need to go for a 60Hz+ gaming monitor unless you plan on using that monitor for PC gaming as well.

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.