The best gaming monitors: Level up your display – PCWorld

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Any monitor can be used for PC gaming, but a display built for productivity will likely leave you underwhelmed. Limited contrast, blurry motion, and slow refresh rates still hold basic productivity monitors back. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of excellent gaming monitors available at a wide range of price points—and the best of them embrace cutting-edge technology unavailable in any other PC display. 
Here are the best gaming monitors of 2022 so far. (If you aren’t sold on a gaming monitor, check out our recommendations for the best monitors overall and the best 4K monitors.)
It’s rare to see a PC monitor rewrite the rules of computer displays. The Alienware AW3423DW does exactly that.
Alienware’s 34-inch ultrawide is the first (and, as of summer 2022, still the only) monitor with a QD-OLED panel, which fuses Quantum Dots and OLED panel technologies into one glorious, colorful, high-contrast display. The AW3423DW has great color performance, can reach deep black levels, and looks especially nice in HDR.
It also benefits from OLED’s near-instant pixel response times. This provides excellent motion clarity, which is great for gamers who like fast-paced titles. This is further enhanced by a refresh rate of up to 175Hz (though only over DisplayPort). It supports Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate and AMD FreeSync.
And here’s the kicker: it’s a good value! The Alienware AW3423DW is pricey, but no more expensive than other premium gaming monitors with similar features and worse image quality. It’s an easy recommendation for PC gamers who want the best of the best.
Gaming monitors are often expensive, but they don’t have to be. The Acer Nitro XV272 has everything a PC gamer needs for under $250.
The Nitro XV272 is a 27-inch, 1080p monitor with a refresh rate of up to 165Hz. It’s G-Sync Compatible and supports AMD FreeSync Premium. This feature set makes it well-suited to handle competitive games. The monitor’s IPS panel shows some motion blur, but clarity is as good as you’ll find for under $250. 
Image quality is excellent. The Nitro XV272’s contrast and color performance is in league with some gaming monitors sold for twice as much. It does fall behind in brightness and isn’t a good choice for HDR games—but this is true of all budget gaming monitors. 
This monitor throws in a stand with significant ergonomic adjustment and a variety of image-quality controls that help you tweak the picture to your liking. These perks push the XV272 ahead of the competition.
The best HDR games, like Forza Horizon 5 or Microsoft Flight Simulator, are transformed by a great HDR display. Unfortunately, most PC monitors fall short—except for Asus’ ROG Swift PG32UQX.
This monitor has a mini-LED backlight with 1,152 LED light zones that can turn on or off independently, boosting contrast and brightness. The monitor achieves extreme brightness in both small areas of the display or across the entire display and does so without noticeable fluctuations in brightness, a problem sometimes visible on the otherwise excellent Alienware AW3423DW. 
It’s got top-tier color performance, 4K resolution, and a refresh rate of up to 144Hz. It doesn’t support HDMI 2.1 but can handle 120Hz when connected to a Xbox Series X|S console thanks to a chroma subsampling mode. 
The ROG Swift PG32UQX’s superb HDR performance comes at a high price. You can expect to pay around $3,000 for this monitor. Viewsonic’s XG321UG is a similar and slightly less expensive alternative, but it lacks 120Hz support for Xbox Series X|S consoles.
PC gamers looking for a mid-range monitor with excellent motion clarity and a high refresh should pick up the Gigabyte M27Q X.
This 27-inch monitor has 2560×1440 resolution, a refresh rate of 240Hz, and officially supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro (Nvidia G-Sync Compatible was tested to work, as well). This provides excellent motion clarity in competitive titles.
Gigabyte’s monitor delivers high maximum brightness, good contrast, and excellent color performance. Its color performance is so strong that you’ll be hard pressed to find better performance at any price. The M27Q X can serve double-duty as a photo or video editing monitor (if you don’t mind 1440p resolution).
Excellent image quality at a reasonable price comes at the compromise of build quality. The M27Q X looks mundane and the stand only adjusts for height and tilt. Still, most gamers buy a monitor to play games—and that’s where the M27Q X excels.
The Dell G3223Q is a large, attractive 32-inch gaming monitor that’s ideal for PC gamers who also want to connect a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S.
It supports 4K resolution at a refresh rate of up to 144Hz and has two HDMI 2.1 connections. You can connect a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S console simultaneously. DisplayPort is also available for your PC. The monitor supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync.
Image quality is strong with excellent brightness, good contrast, and great color performance. These traits, combined with the sharpness of 4K, makes for an excellent SDR experience. HDR isn’t impressive, which could be a concern for console gamers. Most monitors in this price range aren’t great at HDR, however, so we think this issue can be overlooked (for now).
The Dell G3223Q is a good value, too. Typically priced around $825, the G3223Q is among the more affordable HDMI 2.1 monitors with a 32-inch, 4K display panel. We also appreciate the monitor’s design, which feels more durable and looks more attractive than similarly priced alternatives.
Gamers have unique needs that exceed an average user. Here’s what PC gamers should look for in a gaming monitor.
Most widescreen gaming monitors have a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p), 2560×1440 (1440p), or 4K (3840×2160). A higher resolution improves sharpness and clarity, which helps games look more detailed and lifelike. Increasing resolution also increases demand on your video card, however. Gamers with less powerful hardware may want to avoid 4K. 
A higher refresh leads to smoother motion by increasing the number of frames that can appear each second. It also reduces input lag, as each frame appears more quickly. A 144Hz refresh rate is a big improvement over the standard 60Hz, and 240Hz is better still. The improvement becomes more difficult to notice after 240Hz, but 360Hz monitors exist for those who want the lowest input lag possible.
DisplayPort is the best connection for PC gaming. Even DisplayPort 1.4, which is rather old, can support 4K at 144Hz. HDMI 2.1 can handle 4K at 120Hz and is an acceptable connection for PC gaming, though most gamers will use it for a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S game console.
We test all monitors with a DataColor SpyderXElite calibration tool. This tool can report objective measurements for brightness, contrast, color gamut, color accuracy, color temperature, gamma, and other metrics. 
Our results are recorded and compared to the results for past monitors. Though we rely on our eyes for initial impressions, comparing objective results lets us evaluate monitors against hundreds of older models from past reviews and testing. 
We examine motion clarity by quickly moving the camera across the map in Civilization VI, playing a round of Rocket League, and panning the camera across the landscape in Final Fantasy XIV—among other games. Finally, we use the popular UFO Test for an apples-to-apples comparison between displays.
In addition to gaming prowess, we consider a monitor’s on-screen menu, ergonomic stand (or lack thereof), and overall build quality—all important qualities irrespective of use case.
Many competitive gamers prefer 1080p resolution because it allows for high frame rates and low input lag even on modest hardware. This also makes it ideal for budget shoppers. 1080p is not as crisp as higher resolutions but, if it allows for higher frame rates, can look good in motion.
1440p remains a great mid-range option. It looks much sharper than 1080p but doesn’t drastically increase load on your video card. A variety of 1440p monitors now support a refresh rate up to 240Hz. 
4K is the last word in sharpness and clarity. Playing a modern game on a 4K monitor takes the experience to a new level. It’s very demanding on your video card, however, so you’ll need top-tier hardware for a smooth experience. 
Ultrawide monitors differ in resolution because they have a wider screen. Most ultrawide monitors have a resolution of 3440×1440, which delivers sharpness similar to a 1440p ultrawide. Some larger monitors have more exotic resolutions: the 49-inch Samsung Odyssey G9 Neo, for example, has 5120×1440 resolution.
AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync can synchronize the refresh rate of a compatible monitor with the output of an AMD or Nvidia video card. This ensures smooth motion and eliminates screen tearing, a distracting visual artifact.
You might be surprised to learn that most AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync monitors rely on the VESA Adaptive Sync standard. This is why many gaming monitors now support both. The difference in performance is minimal.
Our G-Sync vs. FreeSync comparison goes in-depth on their similarities and differences.
The short answer? Yes
Our top choice, the Alienware AW3423DW, is an ultrawide gaming monitor. An ultrawide aspect ratio is more immersive in racing, simulation, and role-playing games. It also offers a large, more impressive perspective in many strategy games. 
Not all games support an ultrawide aspect ratio, however. It’s wise to check that your favorite games support ultrawide monitors before making a purchase. Consoles rarely support ultrawide aspect ratios, so console gamers should stick with a widescreen display.

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