Best Computer Monitors for Gaming in 2018 (Budget & High-End)
Don't worry if you didn't handpick your RAM and GPU, physically attach them to the motherboard with your own hands, and build the rest of your tower from the ground up.
Even pre-built machines need a high-quality monitor for gaming, or you might be expanding your current setup with dual or even triple screens.
Whether you're upgrading or browsing the selection for the first time, we've included several points to guide you in selecting the best fit as well as our top picks — both budget gaming monitor and high-end one, saving you time exploring.
Read on for more!
No time exploring? We understand! Here are the best computer monitors we recommend:
- Best of the Best: Dell/Alienware AW3418DW LED-Lit Monitor — Offering all around peak performance with a huge WQHD display and insanely fast refresh rate, this monitor is ideal for those who have the CPU/GPU to keep up with its demands and game competitively.
- Best for Casual Gaming: Acer Gaming Monitor 24" 1920 x 1080 144 Hz — Looking to invest in something that can keep up with your gaming exploits? This monitor offers a great 144Hz refresh rate and includes AMD FREESYNC to help reduce screen tearing and make your gaming experience smoother on a TN screen.
- Best for Budget: HP Pavilion 21.5-Inch IPS LED HDMI VGA Monitor — If you're expanding an existing display or just don't want to break the bank, the Pavilion monitor offers a competitive refresh rate around 70Hz and a vibrant 1080p IPS display that connects easily via VGA, HDMI, or HDCP.
Do I Really Need a Gaming Monitor to Game?
A gaming monitor is a significant investment, and it is called a gaming monitor for nothing. These machines are built for fast and reliable performance that will deliver the frames and clarity need to beat others whether in a casual or a competitive setting.
While the everyday user will definitely be impressed with the specifications and delivery of these devices, they'll usually be better served by something that functions similarly well and fits better into a budget, since it's less noticeable if Microsoft Word and Chrome are refreshing at 60Hz or 240Hz.
On the other hand, if you're a gamer, then these high-end monitors will do wonders for you. The higher refreshes will help the frames in your game and can really take you to the next level by improving your time to react and engage, especially in multiplayer games.
The precision of the pixels gives you a leg up unlike anything you can imagine, and serious gamers will have the highest refresh and resolution screens their CPU & GPU can support.
Computer Monitor for Gaming: What to Look For?
The size of your monitor is going to be dependent on several factors, such as the space you have on your desk and what you're most comfortable using, which means bigger isn't necessarily better.
For reference, however, most gaming monitors are between 21 and 27 inches on the diagonal. If you're using multiple monitors, you could use a variety of sizing depending on your spacing or simply get the duplicate monitors if you prefer a uniform setup.
The resolution of your screen tells you how many pixels it contains. The higher this is the better, but you'll also need to be aware of the capabilities of your graphics card. While a 4K monitor may look fantastic, it will suffer from dropped frames and screen tearing if your graphics card isn't up to par.
Therefore, when looking at resolution, usually a choice between 1080p (Full HD), 2K (QHD), and 4k (UHD), make sure to check your graphics card before bumping up the quality level.
The refresh rate is a measurement of how many images are displayed per second and is measured in Hertz (Hz). In this case, higher is better and monitors are available in around 60, 144, and 240 Hz.
Once again, however, a higher rate is pointless without the graphics card to push the frames, so you want to make sure you can support the frequency you want to have on the monitor.
Best Gaming Monitors in 2018: Top 3 Choices
Kindly note that the gaming monitors recommended below are our own opinions. They are hand-picked based on 1). the criteria listed above 2). our own gaming experience 3). reputation research we did, mostly gathering what other people say about each product.
If you have the setup to support it and are ready to go all out, this Alienware model boasts an incredible 120Hz refresh rate as well as a huge 34.1" curving screen. You'll need some desk space for this one, but the WQHD display will be well worth clearing some old papers.
What We Like:
- Extremely fast 4ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate will make gaming a breeze.
- The screen is WQHD to compensate for the aspect ratio and the curved design will make all corners visible even at such a wide size.
What We Dislike:
- Expensive and requires a lot of desk space.
You can't go wrong with an HD and IPS monitor that will bring new vibrancy to your games. This monitor is ideal for someone who is adding a screen to their setup since it's very affordable while still sporting a refresh rate around 70Hz and a response time of 7ms. Use HMDI, VGA, or HDCP to connect this monitor to your computer.
What We Like:
- The refresh and response rate will work well with most casual gaming systems while still allowing you to experience speed and precision.
- HD 1080p screen sports a 7ms response time and a refresh rate around 70Hz for clean gaming without killing your motherboard.
- Materials are designed to be environmentally friendly.
What We Dislike:
- The included stand is not height adjustable.
Every frame matters when you're gaming competitively, which is why this monitor focuses on making sure yours are top notch with a combination of lightning-fast refresh rates and built-in AMD FREESYNC, useful for reducing screen tearing if your setup utilizes an AMD card. The screen is 1080p and 24" in size.
What We Like:
- Connects via Displayport, HDMI or DVI, with a 1 ms response time and 144Hz response rate.
- AMD FREESYNC eliminates screen tearing if using an AMD graphics card.
- The monitor stand allows it to easily change height, angle, and pivot.
What We Dislike:
- TN screen has slightly less vibrant and color accuracy than IPS models.
Additional Tips to Protect Your Monitor
Every monitor can experience something called "dead pixels", which is when a pixel no longer turns on and off or is stuck on a single color. These may not be noticeable during normal use but you should check for them regularly, especially if you have a good warranty on your monitor. You can use this web test to find and identify any such pixels.
Keeping your monitor in top shape isn't just about dead pixels. You'll also want to make sure it's in top physical condition, so follow this guide from Samsung on how to clean it with care and avoid ruining any expensive electronics. You'll get more life from your monitor, and everything will feel cleaner during use as well.
Your monitor can either enhance or diminish your gaming experience with its unique combination of refresh rate, size, resolution, and overall quality. Picking the right one is a difficult combination of personal preferences and quality needs.
We hope this guide can help you make the differentiation between different necessities and lead you to the best gaming monitor that works for you.
We'd also love to hear about your favorite monitors, so leave us a comment below if you have a preferred brand or an interesting experience!