A lot of things go into maximising your gaming experience. You’ll need a computer with plenty of power and good broadband to make downloading and streaming games smooth and easy. And of course, a decent gaming monitor that brings all the graphics and gameplay to life.
The best gaming monitor to get will depend on what’s the most important feature you’re looking for. If money was no object, you could search for a gaming monitor that gives you everything a gamer could dream of. But that will probably come with a hefty price tag.
1. Prioritise speed
If you’re planning on getting a dedicated gaming monitor that you don’t need to use for any other professional purpose, you’ll probably want to prioritise speed. This means looking at things like fast refresh rates of 144Hz or more and low response times so that you don’t see any lag in your gaming.
Gaming monitor refresh rates
A monitor’s refresh rate is the number of times it updates with new information per second, usually displayed in hertz (Hz). For this, the bigger the number the better if you want smooth gameplay and to avoid choppy images. Most gaming monitors offer at least 120Hz.
You could be fine with a lower refresh rate than this if your gaming monitor has adaptive-sync. This is when the monitor’s refresh cycle is linked with your PC’s graphics card and the rate at which it renders each frame of video.
If your gaming monitor’s refresh rate is fixed and not in sync with your PC’s graphics card, it could begin drawing a new frame before the current one is finished rendering. This results in screen tearing like in the image below.
By Vanessaezekowitz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7437859
Gaming monitors will often include G-Sync or FreeSync, or even both. This works by drawing every frame completely before the graphics card sends the next one. G-Sync works with Nvidia-based GPUs while FreeSync works with AMD cards. So be sure to check which graphics card you have before choosing one or the other.
Gaming monitor response times
Response time refers to the amount of time your gaming monitor takes to change the colour of individual pixels. Longer response times can result in motion blur when gaming. You’ll likely see most gaming monitors listing a response time between 5ms (worst) to 0.5ms (best).
2. Don’t focus too much on monitor size
Bigger isn’t always better. Unlike your TV, you’ll always be seated fairly close to your gaming monitor. So after a point, a larger screen won’t add much to your gaming experience other than price.
For typical desktop gaming, a 32-inch screen will offer a great immersive gaming experience without going over the top. And a smaller size means you can then spend more on getting excellent resolution.
It’s also important to look at pixel density, and we recommend around 109 pixels per inch (ppi). If you get a larger screen with lower pixel density, you’ll have less resolution, which means that the image on your big screen might seem pixelated.
When looking at a gaming monitor’s resolution, you’ll likely want a minimum of 1920 x 1080, usually referred to as 1080p or Full HD. This is the number of pixels a monitor has in a width x height format. If you want an even sharper image for your gaming, then shop for QHD or 4K monitors.
3. Are 4K gaming monitors worth it?
4K gaming monitors are worth it, but only if you’re using them for more than just PC gaming.
The cost of 4K monitors has dropped a fair amount in recent years as 4K technology becomes more popular in screens and devices. If you’ll be using the monitor for work, creative tasks, or as a screen for a gaming console like a PS5 or Xbox, then a 4K gaming monitor is definitely worth it.
Premium gaming consoles like the Xbox One X or the PS4 Pro pair perfectly with a 4K gaming monitor. And even the PS5 offers a choice of 1080p at 120Hz, 4K at 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz. But monitors that offer 4K at 120Hz are not only expensive, but can be overkill, since most games don’t make use, aside from titles such as Monster Boy And The Cursed Kingdom.
If you’re shopping for a PC gaming monitor, 4K might not be worth the money. For one thing, it’s very demanding on the performance of your PC. And the jump in image quality from a 1440p screen probably isn’t as noticeable as you’d hope for the price tag.
4. Check out a curved gaming monitor
Curved gaming monitors have a few obvious pros and cons. A curved monitor makes for a more immersive gaming experience with a large field of view that can cause less eye strain. On the other hand, a curved monitor means you’re more likely to struggle with screen glare, as more angles means more ways that light sources can reflect on the screen and interfere with gameplay.
Curved gaming monitors will also be more expensive, with a larger ultrawide screen of at least 30 inches driving up costs. If you’re a new gamer, you might want to wait until you’re more settled into your gaming groove before investing.
However, if you’re in the market for a curved gaming monitor, it’s important to shop for one that suits your gaming setup. Depending on how your desk, chair, entertainment centre, etc are set up, you’ll want to get a curved monitor with the appropriate curvature for how far you sit from the screen.
For example, an 1800R curvature has a curved radius of 1800mm, and therefore works best with a maximum viewing distance of 1.8 meters. The lower the curvature, the more curved the display is.
5. Find the best budget gaming monitor that matches your needs
When you’re looking for the best budget gaming monitor, you’ll likely have to make a few compromises in order to keep the price down. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a budget gaming monitor that still is a good size with a fast refresh rate and is packed full of pixels to help you enjoy your gaming experience.
Budget Asus gaming monitor - Asus VP228HE
If you’re looking for a low budget gaming monitor that doesn’t skimp on the specs, the Asus VP228HE is a great deal. At around £120 you get a 21.5-inch screen with 1920 x 1080p Full HD resolution, bright contrast and vivid colours. The refresh is a little low at 60Hz. But the combination of Asus’s Flicker-Free technology and a 1ms response time makes it an excellent choice for budget gaming.
Asus 144Hz gaming monitor - Asus ROG Strix XG279Q
Alternatively, if you'd like to spend a little (or a lot) more money, the Asus ROG Strix XG279Q is a great 144Hz gaming monitor with 2560 x 1440p Quad HD resolution. It’s G-Sync compatible and has a 1ms response time that, when paired with its refresh rate that reaches up to 165Hz, will make gameplay smooth and clear as crystal. It does cost a little more though, usually priced at around £430.
Budget Acer gaming monitor - Acer Nitro VG271
Probably the best cheap gaming monitor for PC gaming, the Acer Nitro VG271 includes FreeSync, 144Hz refresh rate, Full HD resolution and 1ms response time, all for around £260.
If you're searching for a cheap gaming monitor that’s geared directly toward a high-quality picture and fast refresh times, this is a great gaming monitor to put on your wishlist.
Acer HDR gaming monitor - Acer Predator X35
In complete contrast, if money were no object you’d want to take a look at the Acer Predator X35. This 35-inch ultra-wide curved gaming monitor has 3440 x 1440p HD resolution. It features G-Sync Ultimate, an incredible 180 Hz refresh rate and just 2ms response time. If you didn’t mind spending around £1,600, this is the gaming monitor we’d recommend.
Budget LG gaming monitor - LG UltraGear 24GL600F
We mentioned early on that the most important factor to consider is speed. If you’re able to find a budget gaming monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate, it will help improve your gaming experience the most without breaking the bank.
The LG UltraGear 24GL600F features 144Hz refresh rate, 1920 x 1080p Full HD resolution, 1ms response time and FreeSync included, all for around £140. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a faster, more responsive gaming monitor at that price.
6. Get the best broadband for gaming
Whether you go for the best that money can buy, or compromise where you can to get the features that matter the most to you, make sure that you're set up with the right broadband package. No amount of high refresh rates and fast response times will matter if you have a slow or unreliable broadband connection.
Run a quick speed test to see what speeds you're currently on. If it's less than 60Mbps you might struggle if you stream your games or if you live in a busy household.
If it's time to upgrade you could switch to faster, better broadband and even end up paying less than you are now. Check out our latest fibre broadband deals.