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How to shop for the best gaming monitor, according to experts

Experts explain what makes a gaming monitor different and what to consider when shopping for your next screen.
Woman looking at a gaming monitor
Casual and pro gamers have different needs from their gaming monitors — and experts said to consider what your gaming needs are before investing in a new monitor.Getty Images

Your computer monitor is the final bottleneck for your PC or gaming console — your gaming experience can look wildly different depending on what screen you’re using. Blockbuster titles like God of War: Ragnorok, Elden Ring, and even Fortnite all benefit from a newer, faster, high-resolution screen.

But what makes a gaming monitor different from one you might use at work? We consulted experts to help break down the differences, and what to look for when shopping for the best gaming monitors.

SKIP AHEAD Best gaming monitors in 2023 | How to shop for a gaming monitor

What is a gaming monitor?

“Gaming monitors are designed to support gamers in taking on competitions with confidence,” said Ronald Lau, director of stationery products at Acer. “This means they're engineered with technologies that deliver smooth action and vivid visuals, so important details aren't missed.”

The specific technologies key to great gaming monitors are response time, refresh rate and color accuracy. “A faster response time makes the monitor feel more reactive,” explained Cliff Yeh, associate product marketing manager at MSI. “A higher refresh rate allows for the monitor to look and feel smoother, while better color accuracy creates crisp, clean images on screen.”

Not all monitors have these features. Most office monitors have a low refresh rate and response time, meaning fast-moving action games like Apex Legends end up blurry and sluggish.

Best gaming monitors in 2023

Gaming monitors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from small 24-inch screens to massive 49-inch monoliths. The best one for you depends on your needs and space.

All of our experts recommended a measured, informed approach when shopping for your new monitor. “If you're new to gaming or a casual gamer, a more affordable monitor is likely your best bet,” said Lau. “If you're fast becoming an enthusiast or desiring to go pro and have the funds, invest in a more premium model.”

Combining expert knowledge with personal experience in tech and gaming, we picked top-rated gaming monitors from reliable brands like Gigabyte, Acer, Asus, and Alienware.

Best overall gaming monitor: Gigabyte

Gigabyte M32U

Size: 31.5 in.

Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)

Refresh rate: up to 144Hz

Response time: 1ms

The Gigabyte M32U has the right combination of features at the right price point for most gamers. It’s a large, 4K display with a subdued design aesthetic that fits into most spaces. The 31.5 inch screen is clear and detailed thanks to 4K resolution and fast speed. Connectivity is also strong — the M32U features two HDMI 2.1 ports, an important feature for anyone gaming on a PS5 or Xbox Series X. It also has built-in speakers. We think the M32U is a complete package for a fair price.

Best enthusiast gaming monitor: Acer

Acer Predator XB323QK

Size: 31.5 in.

Resolution: 4K (3840 x 2160)

Refresh rate: up to 144Hz

Response time: 0.5ms

Acer is a well-known laptop and monitor brand — this monitor is one of its more premium, and is only necessary for gamers seeking premium performance.

I tried the Predator XB323QK for almost three months. It’s built like a truck: large and made mostly of metal. But it delivers a beautiful, responsive 4K image that has great color accuracy. It also features high-end HDMI 2.1 ports as well as built-in speakers, making it well-suited for console gamers. Especially if you can find it on sale, it is a great high-end option for gamers.

Best affordable gaming monitor: Asus

Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ

Size: 27 in.

Resolution: 1440p (2560 x 1440)

Refresh rate: up to 165Hz

Response time: 1ms

If you are a more casual gamer with older equipment, the Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ is likely enough for your needs. The 27-inch, 1440p display is affordable, but doesn’t cut any corners.

The VG27AQ features a fast 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. It uses HDMI 2.0, meaning it cannot run certain PS5 and Xbox Series X titles at their highest possible settings, but for more casual gamers, it still provides a smooth experience at a much more affordable price than 4K competitors.

Best widescreen gaming monitor: Alienware

Alienware 34 QD-OLED AW3423DW

Size: 34 in.

Resolution: 1440p (3440 x 1440)

Refresh rate: up to 175Hz

Response time: 1ms

This monitor from Alienware is a newer, curved, widescreen option with many advanced features.

One of its main features is its wide 21:9 aspect ratio — according to our experts, this wider field of view can deepen immersion, especially in role playing and open world games. Another big differentiator is this monitor’s Quantum Dot OLED screen. Essentially, it has superior colors, color contrast, and screen brightness when compared to older screens, according to the brand.

The wide screen, new technology and fast speeds combine to make a technically impressive gaming monitor. But gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox do not support widescreen formats, so this monitor should only be considered if you are gaming on PC.

How to shop for a gaming monitor

Gaming monitors are inherently technical products, but our experts keyed us in on a little secret: Much of the selection process has to do with your needs, not the monitors themselves. Below are a few deciding factors to consider when shopping.

What kind of gamer are you?

Casual and pro gamers have very needs. Before buying anything, consider how often you play games and how much you are willing to spend. “There is a broad spectrum of gaming monitors available that span a gamut of pricing options,” said Lau.

Dial-in the speed

Not everyone needs a bleeding-edge, ultra fast gaming monitor. For most people, a mid-range gaming monitor with a refresh rate of at least 120Hz and a response time of at most 2ms will be more than enough. High-end screens with 240Hz refresh rates are only appropriate for esports athletes or content creators.

Decide on size and shape

Most gaming monitors are between 24 and 32 inches across. Take time to measure your space, and decide what size fits best. “Larger monitor sizes will have more eye travel time and some may not like that,” said Yeh.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Ronald Lau is the director of stationery products at Acer.
  • Cliff Yeh is the associate product marketing manager at MSI.

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