If you’re a serious gamer, having the right equipment can give you a real edge over the competition. One of the most critical pieces of gear is your gaming monitor.
In recent years, high refresh rate monitors have become extremely popular with hardcore gamers. These monitors have refresh rates of 144Hz or higher, allowing them to display up to 144+ frames per second for incredibly smooth, lag-free visuals.
But not all high refresh rate monitors are created equal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find the best gaming monitor for your specific needs and budget.
What is Refresh Rate?
The refresh rate refers to how many times per second a monitor updates the image displayed onscreen. It’s measured in Hertz (Hz).
A standard monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate. This means the image refreshes 60 times per second. For regular computing tasks, this refresh rate is perfectly fine.
But for gaming, you need much higher refresh rates to enjoy smooth, fluid visuals, especially in fast-paced titles.
Why High Refresh Rate Matters for Gaming
Higher refresh rates provide crucial advantages for gamers:
- Much smoother, more fluid gameplay visuals
- Greatly reduced input lag and faster response times
- Decreased eye strain during long gaming sessions
With refresh rates of at least 144Hz, high refresh rate monitors offer the visual fidelity and lightning-quick responses that competitive and professional esports gamers demand.
Types of Gaming Monitor Panels
Gaming monitors use a few main types of display panels, each with their own distinct pros and cons:
TN (twisted nematic) panels are the most affordable panel type. TN monitors excel at delivering fast response times and low input lag. This makes them hugely popular amongst esports gamers and competitive players.
However, TN panels also suffer from narrow viewing angles and color accuracy issues. Image quality degrades substantially when viewed slightly off-center.
IPS (in-plane switching) monitors provide significantly better viewing angles and color reproduction over TN displays. They allow for vivid, accurate visuals from nearly any angle.
But IPS panels tend to be more expensive. They also have slightly higher input lag than TN alternatives, which is a drawback for fast-paced competitive gaming.
VA (vertical alignment) monitors deliver a balance between TN and IPS models. They have better viewing angles and color than TN displays, but can’t quite match the accuracy of IPS.
VA panels have moderately-low input lag as well. But response times are often slower than TN alternatives.
Key Gaming Monitor Specs
Alongside panel type, there are other key specifications to evaluate when selecting a top-tier gaming monitor:
As previously covered, a 144Hz+ refresh rate is ideal for smooth gaming visuals. Competitive esports gamers may want 240Hz or even 360Hz monitors.
The response time dictates how quickly pixels can change color. Faster response times reduce motion blur in rapid onscreen movement.
A 1ms response time is stellar. Under 5ms is solid as well. Slower response times above 10ms can make gameplay appear blurry.
This determines the overall number of pixels onscreen. 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) is the most popular choice, providing great visual fidelity at an affordable price.
But resolutions can go as high as 4K and beyond on more premium models, for incredibly detailed graphics.
Additional Gaming Monitor Features
Some extra features help boost gaming performance and the overall user experience:
Nvidia G-Sync/AMD FreeSync
G-Sync and FreeSync tech helps eliminate screen tearing and stuttering for buttery smooth gameplay.
Having an adjustable stand with tilt, swivel, pivot, and height functionality makes it easy to set up the ideal viewing position.
Eye Care Technology
Some monitors integrate eye care technology to reduce eye fatigue. Features like flicker-free images and blue light reduction make extended gaming sessions easier on your eyes.
Finding the Best Gaming Monitor – Where to Buy?
You can find high refresh rate gaming monitors from a range of top manufacturers at most major electronics and retail stores.
Online retailers like Amazon have a massive, ever-changing selection of monitors as well. Be sure to read reviews from fellow gamers to help narrow down your options.
And check the latest pricing and discounts on popular deal sites like Slickdeals. You can often save big on highly-rated monitors.
Typical Budget for a Solid Gaming Monitor
Entry-level 1080p 144Hz gaming monitors typically retail between $200 and $300. This provides an excellent balance of visual fidelity, speed, and affordability.
Stepping up to a premium 1440p or 4K display with a high refresh rate costs anywhere from $500 to $1,200+. While beautiful, these ultra HD monitors are overkill for many gamers.
Best High Refresh Rate Gaming Monitors
Based on extensive product research and gamer reviews, here are some of the top-rated high refresh rate monitors across a few key categories and budgets:
Overall Best 1080p Gaming Monitor – ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM
With its rapid 280Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and FreeSync/G-Sync compatibility, this 27” ASUS model is arguably the best 1080p monitor for the money. It provides esports-caliber speeds with vibrant colors and motion clarity.
Best 1440p Gaming Monitor – Dell S2721DGF
This popular 27” Dell gaming monitor checks all the right boxes. It sports a vivid 2560 x 1440 resolution, 165Hz refresh rate, and superb picture quality courtesy of the quality IPS panel.
Best 4K Gaming Monitor – LG 27GN950-B
For gamers wanting the ultimate in visual fidelity, the 27″ LG 27GN950-B is a top choice. In addition to gorgeous 4K graphics, you get a super-fast 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and G-Sync compatibility.
Best Budget Gaming Monitor – AOC 24G2
If you’re on a tighter budget, the AOC 24G2 provides tremendous value. For under $200, you get a nice 24” 1080p IPS screen with 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support. Image quality and speeds beat monitors double its price.
Find the Perfect Gaming Monitor for You
We hope this guide has helped explain what to look for when shopping for a high performance gaming monitor. Focus on key specs like refresh rate, response time, panel type and resolution based on your priorities as a gamer.
And don’t be afraid to spend a bit more for a display you’ll use practically every time you game. Your monitor is a long-term investment that can really improve your play.