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Buying a new monitor is an investment, whether you are a serious gamer, or someone getting into gaming. It’s the most important visual component of your battle station, and directly affects your gameplay in a major way.
A speedy 144Hz option can be an excellent upgrade to your current monitor, and anyone using a TV will see an instant difference in response time as soon as they switch over to a designated gaming monitor where lag is noticeably lower. These options are also compatible with G-SYNC – NVIDIA’s (literally) game-changing tech that significantly reduces screen slowdowns. But speed alone isn’t everything, so before you buy, here’s what you need to look for.
What are the Best G-SYNC Gaming Monitors?
Aspect Ratio: This is the ratio of width compared to height, and is used to describe the proportions of a screen. You’ve no doubt seen this before, such as 16:9 for example, where for every 16 inches of width, you’d get nine inches of height. For this, consider the size of the space you’ll be using the monitor in, and how far back you’ll be sitting from it. If you’ve got the space, a wider horizontal monitor can enhance your gaming and make it more immersive.
An ultra-wide monitor is a bit different, however, since it’s keeping the same height as a smaller monitor and only adding more pixels to the width (for example, 21:9), effectively widening the diagonal measurement without ultimately affecting the pixel density. An ultra-wide monitor is supported by newer games, as its popularity among gamers catches on, and offers a wider field of view, including for movies as well, since you’ll get edge-to-edge screen with no black bars squeezing it from the top and bottom. The newest option out there right now is 32:9, a “super ultra-wide,” which is essentially the same as doubling up two regular monitors but in one lengthy screen that’s not chopped in half.
The most common ratio you’ll likely find though, and the same as your TV, is 16:9. It’s compatible with movies, games, and most other media, and is an overall safe bet.
Pixels: Aspect ratio plays into this as well, affecting the pixel rate of a monitor. The larger the monitor you go with, the higher resolution you want. For monitors generally under 28 inches, 1080p is usually fine, but 1440p works better for a bigger 32-inch, and if you’re really going all-out, then 4K is the way to go. Pixels can’t be stretched – only added to the resolution to change the aspect ratio, so be sure to check if your favorite game is going to support your new monitor and all its benefits.
Resolution: Simply put, a higher resolution means more pixels, and more pixels means clearer and sharper graphics. This is measured in the number of pixels a screen can display horizontally by vertically, such as 1920 x 1080 (also known as 1080p). Size of the monitor also plays into this, and if you’re going large, the resolution should match up to scale; otherwise the quality of your images will be stretched too thin. 2K is a step up, with 4K Ultra HD being among the best available right now, offering about eight million pixels compared to 1080p’s two million.
Refresh Rate/Frames per Second: As a gamer, this is vitally important, since every second matters and one little lag can kill your character. The amount of times a monitor will refresh itself per second is measured in Hertz, while FPS is how many frames per second the video card can create and send to the monitor. Standard refresh rates to choose from are 60Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz, and 240Hz. An average monitor is equipped with 60Hz, or 60fps (frames per second), which is higher than a TV, but still on the slow-end when you’re in a game where accuracy is everything. For a solidly speedy screen, 144Hz is noticeably better and smoother, while 240 is a world of difference right before your eyes, but may exceed your budget. Higher is always better, but you’ll need a good graphics card that supports G-SYNC to power it up and reach its full potential, in order to display your game in the real-time your monitor wants to display it in.
Flat or Curved: Aspect ratios still apply whether flat or curved, and there are even various angles of curves to choose from. Some gamers report that a curved screen can be especially helpful when you’ve got an extra-wide monitor, since you’re always the same distance from the screen wherever you turn to look.
Panel Type: This is a whole other deep-dive to research when buying a new monitor. But basically, panel type is responsible for color accuracy and the light source behind the screen, and there are typically four to choose from: Twisted Nemantic (TN), In-Plane Switching (IPS), Vertical Alignment (VA), and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED). Each offer their own positives and negatives, such as refresh rates, color accuracy, and power consumption. For devoted gamers, TN is the oldest and has typically been the most popular, thanks to its high responsiveness and accessibility. But where TN lacks, such as color reproduction and viewing from angles where the colors invert, others pick up the slack. VA has the highest contrast ratios (but slowest response time), while OLED has the best High Dynamic Range (HDR) compatibility, but isn’t really designed for heavy gaming.
Backlighting: Another attribute worth looking into is backlighting. There are two types: backlit and array. Backlit provides a single light source around or behind the screen, where any adjustments affect the whole screen all at once. Array lighting places lots of little LEDs behind the screen, controlled in specific zones, and creating a nice constant contrast between lights and darks. They’re more expensive, and better for bigger screen images, as the backlit often has trouble lighting a small and specific area if you’ll need precision and accuracy.
One more pro-tip we’ve found while researching these: when first plugged in, computers tend to default the monitor to a 60Hz refresh rate, often leaving gamers misled and disappointed with the picture quality of their new purchase. This can easily be fixed by going into settings and switching it to whatever the max refresh rate is. It also helps to make sure it’s in Game Mode if that’s an optional setting, in order to improve your input lag (and then adjusting contrast, color, etc).
1. LG UltraGear 27-Inch Monitor
LG has been a trusted name in electronics for decades, and this UltraGear monitor holds up to their expected high standards.
With a 144Hz refresh rate, the response here is super fast, and a crisp 2560 x 1440p resolution makes this a perfect match for gamers.
At 27 inches, it’s an ideal size for a desk, with a small footprint, thin frame, and skinny bezels on the top and sides leaving more room for your screen’s images. The semi-gloss finish diffuses reflections across the screen, while the powerful brightness means you’ll be able to see your targets even in bright daylight.
It’s also compatible with NVIDIA’s G-SYNC, a new technology in monitors that provides the smoothest gameplay to date, making lag a thing of the past.
Ports are plentiful here, with two HDMIs, Display, two USB 3.0s, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Tilting, pivoting, and flipping this around is easy, plus it’s wall-mountable too.
2. Acer XFA240 24-Inch Gaming G-SYNC Compatible Monitor
This well-built Acer is an instant upgrade for anyone using a flatscreen TV as a gaming monitor. The one millisecond response time is blazing fast, with an accompanying speedy refresh time of 144Hz that’ll make you never want to go back to 60Hz.
Clarity is clean and colorful at 1080p max, and the NVIDIA G-SYNC compatible display works with GeForce graphics cards too, for further guarding against choppiness and lag that turns your game into a slideshow.
Assembly is easy right out of the box, and the stand is adjustable for your perfect eye-level and height. For the long-stretch, night-owl gamers, the Eye-Protect feature is a nice touch too, reducing the strain on your eyes using blue-light reduction and flicker-free technology.
3. Asus VG278QR 27-Inch Gaming Monitor 1080P Full HD
Asus’s 27-inch, G-SYNC compatible 1080p monitor is a solid choice for anyone getting into the gaming world.
Refresh rate is rapid at 165Hz, with a 0.5 millisecond response time. The company’s Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB) makes moving images appear sharper, and means an overall smoother gaming experience with low latency and less lag.
There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as an Audio-In, plus a DisplayPort, HDMI and DualLink (and a handy slot in the monitor stand to run the cables through). Asus’s Eye Care tech makes gaming for long stretches easier on your vision, and built-in speakers do a decent job of boosting the audio, but definitely hook up externals if you’ve got them.
4. AOC 25-Inch Frameless Gaming Monitor
The first thing you’ll notice about this AOC 25-inch monitor are the ultra-thin bezels on three sides, creating a minimal design that appears to maximize the screen area.
A 1080p resolution, 144Hz refresh and one millisecond response rate keep gameplay moving fast and looking fluid. AOC’s Adaptive Sync Technology also helps prevent screen-stuttering, tearing, and blur to a point that rivals the higher-priced monitor models.
This supports both NVIDIA G-SYNC as well as AMD FreeSync for an even smoother display, and the screen itself looks great head-on (but fades a bit if you view from an angle).
On the back side, it features two HDMIs, DisplayPort, a VGA, and a headphone jack. The stand itself is limited in flexibility, but the company makes another model that’s a little more moveable if ergonomics are an issue at your setup.