The best gaming monitors in 2020

Hellen Wadman

Having one of the best gaming monitors can elevate your entire hobby. Think about it: What’s the point of buying or building a superb PC and decking it out with fancy accessories if your games look subpar? One of the best gaming monitors can display crisp images, vivid colors, high resolutions and fast frame rates, and they can do so with easy-to-navigate menus and tons of options to optimize gameplay.

On our list of the best gaming monitors, we’ve researched some of the bestselling peripherals on the market to see which ones really deliver a gaming experience worthy of your PC or console. Our selections run the gamut from 1080p to 4K resolutions, and from 60 Hz refresh rates all the way up to 144 Hz — and higher. Whether you have an AMD or Nvidia GPU, there’s a monitor on this list that can help you optimize your experience.

The best gaming monitors you can buy today

Best gaming monitors: Razer Raptor 27

(Image credit: Razer)

1. Razer Raptor 27

The best gaming monitor overall

Dimensions: 24.2 x 15.3 x 7.5 inches | Screen Size: 27 inches | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C

Gorgeous display

Smart design

Straightforward menus

Very expensive

Requires USB-C for customization

Vibrant quad-HD display

Very responsive

Useful game presets

Highly adjustable

Stiff navigation buttons

If you want something better than 1080p but can’t afford to go full 4K, the Dell S2417DG is the best gaming monitor that hits that sweet spot. This sharp 2560 x 1440 display offers excellent color and brightness, and features useful game modes as well as Nvidia G-Sync support for keeping your games extra smooth. Dell’s monitor looks unassuming enough for the office, but also offers tons of ergonomic adjustment to help you game comfortably.

The Dell S2417DG features a 24-inch screen, a 165 Hz refresh rate and support for both HDMI and DisplayPort connections. In our tests, we were extremely impressed with how good the monitor made games and other multimedia look. We were also pleased with its presets, which let you tweak your visual experience without having to dive too deeply into the menus. The physical buttons on the monitor are a bit stiff, but aside from that, the system has almost no drawbacks, especially for the price.

Read our full Dell S2417DG review

MSI Optix MAG272C review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

4. MSI Optix MAG272C review

The best curved gaming monitor

Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.9 x 8.9 inches | Screen Size: 27 inches | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 165 Hz | Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, 3.5 mm audio, USB-A, USB-B, USB-C

Curved monitors don’t have to cost a tremendous amount of money, as the MSI Optix MAG272C demonstrates. For less than $250, you get a gorgeous gaming monitor with a gentle 1500R curve and a surprisingly space-savvy design. This 1080p peripheral runs games beautifully with a 165 Hz refresh rate, and comes with a handful of helpful bells and whistles. There’s a retractable headset stand, as well as USB ports for manipulating the monitor with MSI software.

The Optix MAG272C’s color accuracy isn’t perfect, particularly with some of the oddly calibrated presets. But if you can tweak the options and find something you like, you’ll find that the monitor feels immersive and vibrant, and its physical design can make a whole gaming nook feel elegant and just a little futuristic. Just be aware that it’s a little difficult to set up — although you’ll probably have to go through that process only once.

Read our full MSI Optix MAG272C review.

Best gaming monitors: LG 38GL950G

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

5. LG 38GL950G UltraGear Gaming Monitor

The best ultrawide gaming monitor

Dimensions: 35.3 x 21.7 x 11.3 inches | Screen Size: 38 inches | Resolution: 3840 x 1600 | Inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort

Bright, vivid 38-inch curved display

Sharp 3840 x 1600 resolution

Low response time, high refresh rate

No built-in speakers

Doesn’t swivel

The LG 38GL950 delivers a kitchen sink of great features for folks willing to pay a premium price. This 36-inch, 3840 x 1600 curved display is incredibly immersive for cinematic games, and features Nvidia G-Sync and a speedy 144Hz refresh rate for keeping things smooth during more competitive titles. The monitor doesn’t reach full 4K resolution, but quad-HD should suffice for most people, especially those with cheaper PCs.

LG’s ultrawide display also sports a rear-facing ring of customizable RGB lighting, which is ideal for adding some ambient mood lighting to your command center. The 38GL950 is a breeze to set up, and delivered great brightness and color both in real world use and on our lab tests. LG’s ultrawide monitor is very pricey, and we wish it had USB-C, but this is a great premium display for folks seeking maximum immersion.

Read our full LG 38GL950G review.

Best gaming monitor: Alienware AW5520QF

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Alienware AW5520QF 55-inch is the best gaming monitor and big-screen TV in one device — for folks willing to spend about $4,000. This humongous OLED screen gives you the best of both worlds, delivering the size and picture quality of a 55-inch 4K TV alongside key gaming monitor features such as DisplayPort connectivity and fast 120Hz refresh rates. Hook it up to a console, or a living room PC, or both.

The AW5520QF’s high price tag may scare off folks on a budget, but if you do your PC gaming in the living room or want a premium monitor that can double as a great TV, Alienware’s mammoth screen is uniquely qualified to do the job. Remember: A computer can stream almost anything, so you’ll be able to watch, listen to or play whatever you want.

Read our full Alienware AW5520QF review.

How to choose the best gaming monitor for you

The best gaming monitor for your needs comes down to three major factors: resolution, refresh rate and price.

How much resolution you need depends on how powerful your PC is. Extremely powerful machines can run games at 4K resolutions (3840 x 2160 pixels), which means you’ll probably want to pony up for a more elaborate monitor. Cheaper machines pair better with 1080p monitors, while those in-between can run at quad-HD resolutions.

Refresh rate is similar, in that more powerful machines will need monitors with higher refresh rates. While refresh rate and frames per second are not exactly the same thing, it’s useful to think of them in the same terms when choosing a monitor. Is your PC powerful enough to get 60 frames per second during gameplay? 120 frames per second? More? The higher the refresh rate, the higher number of frames per second the monitor can support.

Price is pretty self-explanatory. Just remember that more expensive monitors will be useful for longer periods of time. A good screen can last for a decade or more, and if you decide to buy or build a new machine in the future, you may not need to replace a monitor that’s sufficiently advanced.

How we test gaming monitors

To test our best gaming monitors, we employ a colorimeter and benchmarking software to measure a monitor’s color accuracy, contrast and brightness. A monitor’s brightness refers to how many nits of luminosity it can output; its color accuracy (or Delta-E) measures how lifelike its colors are; its color gamut represents how great a variety of the spectrum it can display. We can also measure a monitor’s latency, and try to push it to its limits in terms of game frame rates.

Qualitatively, we run each monitor through both productivity and gaming tests. You’re not going to switch monitors each time you need to open a word processor, watch a video or send an e-mail, so every monitor on this list must be sharp and responsive for everyday use. As far as gaming goes, we run each monitor through games in a variety of genres, including FPS, RTS, MOBA, RPG and MMO, in order to ensure that it doesn’t favor one genre at another’s expense.

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