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The best gaming monitor 2021: the 10 best gaming screens of the year

The best gaming monitor 2021
We narrowed the field down to our choices of the best gaming monitors 2021 has on offer. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best gaming monitors do more than just display your games in high resolution. While just about any computer monitor can display a visual representation of what you’re doing on your computer, only excellent monitors made for gaming can deliver a truly immersive visual experience.

If you want a gaming experience that’s both immersive and feels true-to-life, then you need to invest in one of the best gaming monitors. They offer excellent picture quality and vital gaming features like fast refresh rates and wide aspect ratios that help breathe life into all the games.

Just like with other peripherals like the best gaming mouse and the best gaming keyboard, different displays fit the needs of different gamers. Those who love detailed open-world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 should go for a 4K monitor, for example. Meanwhile, esports gamers will appreciate fast monitors with speedy refresh rates.

It’s time to let that gaming PC shine with a monitor that’s up to the task. Let the best gaming monitors make you feel like you’re right there in the middle of the action. We’ve rounded them all up right here. 

Looking for a monitor for productivity or creative workflows? It's worth checking out our top picks for the best monitor for MacBook Pros.

Best gaming monitors at a glance

  1. LG UltraGear 38GN950
  2. Samsung CRG9
  3. Alienware AW3418DW
  4. AOC Agon AG352UCG6
  5. BenQ PD3200U
  6. Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27
  7. MSI Optix MPG341CQR
  8. Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q
  9. Acer Predator CG7 
  10. BenQ Zowie XL2540

LG UltraGear 38GN950

(Image credit: LG)

1. LG UltraGear 38GN950

A killer ultra-wide gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 38-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3840 x 1600
Brightness: 450cd/m²
Response time: 1ms
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Color support: DCI-P3 98%
Viewing angle: 178/178
Weight: 20.3 lbs
Reasons to buy
+160Hz refresh rate+Super-responsive
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-HDR can’t compete with high-end TVs

It’s hard not to be impressed by the LG UltraGear 38GN950. If you’re looking for the ultimate gaming monitor, this is certainly the one to beat, with a 144Hz refresh rate that can be easily overclocked to 160Hz, 1ms response time, spectacular image quality, and many other gaming features like G-Sync, an ultra-wide aspect ratio and DisplayHDR 600. If you’re serious about gaming and want lots of screen real estate, then this is the best gaming monitor to get – if you can afford it, that is.

Read the full review: LG UltraGear 38GN950

Samsung CRG9

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung CRG9

How big is too big?

Specifications
Screen size: 49-inch
Aspect ratio: 32:9
Resolution: 5,120 x 1,440
Brightness: 600cd/m2 – 1000cd/m2
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
Contrast ratio: 3,000:1
Color support: 1.07B
Reasons to buy
+Great screen size+HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Menu can be tricky-Needs tweaking out of box

It may be very expensive and requires a killer gaming PC setup to run, but the Samsung CRG9 is completely worth it if you’ve got the extra cash laying around. This bigger-than-average 49-incher boasts bezels thinner than most gaming monitors and a picture by picture mode feature that lets you use two different inputs, simulating a dual monitor setup in a single monitor. And, that’s without mentioning that the Samsung CRG9 produces an out-of-this-world image right out of the box.

Read the full review: Samsung CRG9

Alienware AW3418DW

(Image credit: Alienware)

3. Alienware AW3418DW

The fastest ultrawide yet

Specifications
Screen size: 34-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 26 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Highest refresh rate in an ultrawide+Alienware design and build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Takes up a lot of space

The Alienware AW3418DW is one of the few gaming monitors that deliver a level of immersion that only a 21:9 aspect ratio can, while also offering up a high refresh rate. With a dense 3,440 x 1,440 resolution, ridiculously fast 4ms response times and a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, this ultrawide monitor gives you the best of both worlds. All these features don’t come cheap though, so budget-minded gamers might want to look elsewhere or start saving up. 

Read the full review: Alienware AW3418DW

AOC Agon AG352UCG6

(Image credit: AOC)

4. AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition

Blacker than black

Specifications
Screen size: 35-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 4ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 2,500:1:
Color support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 26 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Phenomenal color performance +120Hz refresh rate 
Reasons to avoid
-Clunky OSD menu 

The AOC Agon AG352UCG was one of the best gaming monitors we ever got our hands on, so when we heard that a follow-up was coming – one that comes with a higher refresh rate and better contrast – it was hard not to get excited. The AOC Agon AC352UCG6 Black Edition carries over the original’s best features but ramps them up to 11, making it a stunning display on which to experience ultra-wide gaming. It’s expensive, yeah, but if you have the hardware to back it up, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not investing.

Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition 

BenQ PD3200U

(Image credit: BenQ)

5. BenQ PD3200U

A large 4K screen for your desk

Specifications
Screen Size: 32-inch
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 350 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Response Time: 4ms
Viewing Angle: 178/178
Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1
Color Support: sRGB 100%
Weight: 19 lbs
Reasons to buy
+4K UHD resolution+Large Screen+Inexpensive relatively
Reasons to avoid
-Design is a little bland-Professional tools are niche-Takes up a lot of space

While originally made for CAD professionals, the BenQ PD3200U is also great for gaming. This is mostly thanks to its rock-solid focus on graphic design so it’s able to offer incredibly wide viewing angles, which means that your friends can watch your game in comfort. And, unlike most 4K monitors on the market, you won’t have to mess around with the settings to get the best picture, since every unit is individually calibrated by BenQ before shipping. This is definitely one of the best gaming monitors out there, even though it wasn’t actually designed for gaming.

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27

(Image credit: Porsche )

6. Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27

Fast 1440p monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 27-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Brightness: 550 nits
Refresh rate: 240Hz
Response time: 0.5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 2500:1
Color support: 16.7 Million
Weight: 8.9Kg
Reasons to buy
+Built for speed+Beautiful performance+That 1000R curvature is a dream
Reasons to avoid
-RGB might be too subtle for some-Basic HDR

If you’ve got the need for speed – in your gaming, that is – then you have the need for this Porsche-inspired monitor by AOC. Abandoning the usual tapered red-on-black look that many gaming monitors have, this one comes with racing car design elements so that spectators know exactly that when it comes to speed, it doesn’t mess around. Just take a look at its specs of 240Hz refresh rate and 0.5ms response time. It also comes with DisplayHDR 400 support, classy RGB lighting, and a 1000R curvature.

Read the full review: Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27

MSI Optix MPG341CQR

(Image credit: MSI)

7. MSI Optix MPG341CQR

MSI’s hot new 34-inch gaming monitor

Specifications
Screen size: 34-inch
Aspect ratio: 21:9
Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440
Brightness: 400 nits
Refresh rate: 144Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 3000:1
Color support: sRGB 105%
Weight: 21.16 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Punchy VA panel+Great gaming performance+Really strong overall feature set
Reasons to avoid
-This class of monitor is expensive

While all of its extra frills make the MSI Optix MPG341CQR an even more appealing selection for potential buyers, it does an outstanding job of standing out on its own. The use of VA rather than IPS panel technology, for one, is a welcome advantage, offering punchier colors and better contrast. Plus, its super-wide 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh certainly give gamers an edge. The best part might be that this display is also reasonably priced, making it one of the best gaming monitors to consider in 2021.

Read the full review: MSI Optix MPG341CQR

Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

(Image credit: Asus)

8. Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

4K meets affordability

Specifications
Screen size: 28-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Brightness: 350 cd/㎡
Response time: 5ms
Viewing angle: 178/178
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: 90% color gamut, 1073.7M (10bit)
Weight: 7.6 kg
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly affordable+Extremely flexible in viewing positions+Gorgeous, accurate colors
Reasons to avoid
-Some stuttering at higher settings-Not true HDR

With the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q, you’re getting a lot of value for your money – especially considering the small price of entry. One of the most affordable 4K gaming monitors right now, this 28-incher can swivel, pivot and tilt practically however which way you need it (within reason, naturally) to serve your purpose. It also has deliciously thin bezels and a nifty cable management solution, as well as a few display settings to boost your viewing experience. Thanks to its rich vibrant colors, super sharp image quality and a design that is only subtly gaming-centric, this is among the best 4K monitors not only for gamers but for regular users who consume a lot of visual media as well.

Read the full review: Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

Acer Predator CG7

(Image credit: Acer)

9. Acer Predator CG7

An epic screen

Specifications
Screen size: 43-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 1000 cd/m²
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 178°(H)/178°(V)
Contrast ratio: 4,000:1
Color support: 16.7 Million
Reasons to buy
+Responsive+G-Sync support+4K support
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Lacks some features-Too big for some, not big enough for others

An epic gaming experience awaits you with Acer Predator CG7’s 43-inch screen, 4000:1 contrast ratio, 1ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate. To be fair, there are bigger and badder gaming monitors out there, but for some people – particularly, those looking for a TV with gaming-level specs, this one’s a winner. It’s got some extra features as well – namely, a remote control, icons on that stand to encourage game controller storage, and RGB lighting that can sync to your music and games – so you’re getting your money’s worth, even if you are paying for a lot.

Read the full review: Acer Predator CG7 

BenQ Zowie XL2540

(Image credit: BenQ)

10. BenQ Zowie XL2540

A monitor tailored to the needs of professional gamers

Specifications
Screen size: 24-inch
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Brightness: 400 cd/m2
Refresh rate: 240Hz
Response time: 1ms
Viewing angle: 170/160
Contrast ratio: 1,000:1
Color support: NTSC 72%
Weight: 7.5kg
Reasons to buy
+High refresh rates+Easy setup
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Limited appeal beyond pro gamers

Don’t be turned off by its limitations. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 still absolutely deserves its place right up there on the best gaming monitors list. It forgoes flashy lighting effects for a blazing 240Hz refresh rate and rapid 1ms response time. This monitor is both FreeSync and G-Sync compatible, and if you have a setup that’s able of keeping up with this refresh rate, then this gaming display will blow you away. The BenQ Zowie XL2540 keeps things simple by supplying you with a ton of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens. 

Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540

How to buy the best gaming monitor in 2021

If in the market for the best gaming monitor 2021 has to offer, know that there are a few things to keep in mind before choosing which display should grace your desk.

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following terms and specifications to help guarantee that you’re getting the best gaming monitor that’s most ideal for you. It also means you won’t have to pay extra for additional features that you might not actually care about.

Screen size: When looking for a gaming monitor, one of the most important things to consider is the screen size. Larger display sizes can lead to more immersive gaming experiences as the game fills more of your field of vision, but you'll also have to make sure that you have the space to keep a large monitor. And, it goes without saying that the larger the monitor, the higher the price as well.

Aspect ratio: The aspect ratio of a gaming monitor helps determine the width and height of the display. Most widescreen monitors have an aspect ratio of 16:9, while older monitors have closer to a square format of 4:3 that might feel pretty out of date in 2021. Ultra-wide monitors with aspect ratios of 21:9 are rapidly growing in popularity, as they offer a wider view of your games, which is why many ultra-wides have made our list of the best gaming monitors 2021.

Resolution: One other critical factor to consider when searching for the ideal monitor for your needs is the resolution. The higher the number, the sharper the picture. You will, however, require 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 mostly looking to play Counter-Strike and other first-person shooters like it, refresh rate is even more vital. The higher the refresh rate, the more frames per second (fps) the monitor can support, leading to a considerably smoother gaming experience. A 60Hz refresh rate is still the most common in 2021, but refresh rates of 144Hz and even 200Hz are becoming more prominent – not to mention, more and more necessary.

Response time: An excellent gaming monitor offers low response times, which means you’re getting fast and fluid actions, with little to no input lag. The lowest response time for TN monitors (we’ll get to this in the next section) is 1 millisecond, whereas the newer IPS monitors typically have slower 4ms response times. When you’re playing games competitively, it’s vital to keep this number as low as you can in order to avoid latency.

Panel type: This is where things get a little technical. The type of panel a gaming monitor uses will largely contribute to its response time and image clarity. TN (twisted nematic) panels, which are often more affordable, have the lowest response times but usually don’t come with great viewing angles. IPS (in-plane switching) panels, on the other hand, have fantastic viewing angles and color reproduction, but usually have higher response times. Meanwhile, VA (vertical alignment) panels are between the two, although its slow response times makes these panels rare in the gaming world.

Viewing Angle: While most people play games right in front of their gaming monitor, this isn’t always be the case, particularly when there is an audience. A monitor’s viewing angles tell you what angle you can look at the monitor from and still make out a clear image. The closer these numbers 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've probably noticed that many of the best gaming monitors in 2021 come with either G-Sync or FreeSync technology – sometimes even both. These help keep frames per second (fps) smooth, combat screen tearing and minimize input lag. G-Sync is developed by Nvidia, so it requires an Nvidia GPU. And, the tech is built into the monitor, which can bump up their price tag. FreeSync, on the other hand, was made by AMD. Since it is free to use by manufacturers, the monitors that have them are usually more economical.

Check out our HDR Explained video below.

Gabe Carey, Bill Thomas and Michelle Rae Uy have also contributed to this article.

  • Looking for a more general monitor? Check out our list of the best monitors