What are the best gaming monitor brands? What makes monitor brands or monitors ‘good for gaming’, anyway? I’ll be tackling these questions below, in hopes of helping you find the best gaming monitor for your needs— so let’s not waste any time diving right in!
Table of Contents
What I Look Out For In Good Gaming Monitor Brands
Fair Warranty, Return, and Dead Pixel Policy
One of the first things I chose to look out for in this article are manufacturers with good warranty policies, especially regarding dead or “stuck” pixels. In terms of general warranty policies (to protect from out-of-box defects or sudden failure), I’d consider the minimum acceptable length of monitor warranty to be one year, and the ideal warranty length to be two years more.
But warranty policy may be something you already understand, especially if you’ve ever had to return a piece of gaming hardware for repairs or an exchange. What about those “dead pixels” I just mentioned so casually?
For the uninitiated, a dead pixel is a pixel that’s completely powered off, while a stuck pixel is a pixel that’s stuck on a specific color, usually red, blue, or green.
Image Credit: Viotek
The industry standard for a dead pixel policy is actually more for stuck pixels than dead pixels. Dead pixels are considered (by manufacturers) the lesser issue and, to their credit, become pretty much invisible on a dim background. Stuck pixels can be tougher to ignore though, especially if they get stuck on a brighter color like green or red. Most reputable monitor manufacturers will allow a maximum of 5, but a few particularly strict brands will approve an RMA with even one or two dead/stuck pixels, which is quite good.
Now of course, no one is building a modern flat screen monitor that can endure brute force to the screen itself. However, it’s still important to be mindful of monitor manufacturers who put more work into a solid enclosure and stand for your display. Fortunately, the manufacturers I’ll be highlighting in the article below are all pretty good about this, for the most part, barring a flimsy monitor stand here and there.
Good build quality in a monitor translates to a display that should serve you well for years to come. Ideally, a monitor will serve you well enough that you’ll be inclined to keep it around as a secondary display even after you eventually upgrade to a newer, better display.
Last but not least, I try not to give too much attention to brands who don’t price their monitors very competitively with other manufacturers. Even if you’re a hardcore gamer with a $2000+ PC build, chances are slim that you’re literally made of money. Fortunately, I’ve already narrowed down my selection of gaming monitor brands to those that I feel have compelling features for their pricing compared to their competitors.
What You Should Look For In A Gaming Monitor
Low Pixel Response Times
One important thing to look out for in a gaming monitor is low response time, more accurately a low “pixel response time”. (Pixel) response time is the metric by which a monitor’s speed at shifting colors (usually Gray-To-Gray) is measured. It does not correspond to input lag, as is mistakenly believed by many gamers due to how “response time” sounds and is even advertised.
What response time actually corresponds to is motion blur. Not the intended in-game motion blur that you can change within your graphics settings, but display motion blur that happens as a natural result of fast motion on your screen. If your response time is too slow (high), your image will experience “ghosting” and look more smeared on fast motion, especially in FPS titles where you’re going to be rapidly moving the camera pretty often.
I’ve embedded an image from Blur Buster’s extended blog post on Pixel Response Time above to better illustrate what I mean.
The better (lower) your pixel response time, the clearer and sharper objects in motion will appear to be on your screen. As a general rule:
- For a 60 Hz refresh rate display, settle for no more than 5 ms response time.
- For a 144 Hz or higher refresh rate display, settle for no more than 2 ms response time.
High Refresh Rates
Of course, I’d be remiss to talk about gaming monitors in such detail without even talking about refresh rate. Refresh rate counts the number of screen ‘refreshes’ your monitor does within a single second, with 60 Hz being the long-time market standard. Refresh rate corresponds closely to in-game frame rate, since any frames rendered beyond your refresh rate cannot actually be (fully) displayed by your monitor without incurring nasty artifacts like screen tearing.
So, the higher your monitor’s refresh rate, the better it will be at displaying games running above 60 FPS. For eSports titles, this is an integral feature to keep in mind, since competitive players will be using 144 Hz, 240 Hz, or even 360 Hz monitors pushing framerates to match. The competitive advantage of high refresh rate diminishes the higher up the ladder you climb, but in general I would highly recommend getting an at least 144 Hz monitor if you’re intent on gaming competitively or just want a super-smooth gaming experience in general.
As a side note, higher refresh rates can be made blurrier by panels with a too-high response time, so be sure to keep response time in mind when buying a high-refresh panel.
Variable Refresh Rate (FreeSync and G-Sync) Support
Another thing to keep in mind when buying a gaming monitor isn’t just the maximum refresh rate supported by the display, though that’s obviously pretty important. One of the most key features in a modern gaming display is actually something called Variable Refresh Rate, or Adaptive Sync. There are vendor-specific versions of this technology like AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, but what do they actually do?
In short: VRR technologies ensure that your display’s refresh rate matches your current in-game frame rate as closely as possible, within a certain range. After all, not every game you play is even going to support running at 144 Hz, and plenty of cutting-edge titles can be very difficult to run at or above a smooth 60 FPS. This is where VRR comes in handy.
VRR allows your monitor to maintain the appearance of smooth motion even when your FPS is falling below your maximum refresh rate. VRR will have a limited range of refresh rates depending on your display (ie, many VRR implementations may not work below 40 FPS/40 Hz), but as long as its in effect it will keep your image smooth, readable, and free of screen-tearing without you needing to enable in-game V-Sync.
One great feature of modern games is support for DisplayHDR. HDR is short for “High Dynamic Range”, and is meant to simulate the benefits of HDR photography. In photography, HDR requires you to take multiple photos of the same scenes but at different levels of brightness exposure before combining the final result into a vivid image taking from the brightest and dimmest exposures.
In games, HDR works a little bit differently, and is primarily tied to your display’s ability to support the HDR feature. But the goal of capturing high dynamic range (the brightest brights and darkest darks of an image) remains the same, so getting a high-quality DisplayHDR monitor allows you to squeeze out the best colors and contrast in supported titles.
The caveat of HDR on monitors is that it actually comes in a variety of different grades, though. As rated by DisplayHDR, it goes like this:
- DisplayHDR 400 — The lowest “grade” of HDR. Does not support region-based HDR, so the full impact of the feature won’t be felt here. This is pretty much an SDR monitor with software support for HDR.
- DisplayHDR 500 (Recommended Minimum) — The proper entry-level of DisplayHDR, now supporting region-controlled display brightness, local dimming, and 10-bit color. “500” corresponds to the peak brightness in lumens.
- DisplayHDR 600 — Like DisplayHDR 500, but at a peak luminance of 600 lumens instead of 500. Also improves color gamut and contrast ratio.
- DisplayHDR 1000 — Continues souping up the DisplayHDR featureset, but at up to 1000 lumens.
- DisplayHDR 1400 — Same as above, but at up to 1400 lumens.
- DisplayHDR True Black 400 — An alternate path to DisplayHDR that requires “True Black” to be reachable by the display, meaning it only works with OLEDs. Considered better than regular DisplayHDR, though it operates at much lower brightness. Has all the same local dimming features, too.
- DisplayHDR True Black 500 — Same as above— number still corresponds to max brightness at 500 lumens.
- DisplayHDR True Black 600 — Same as above, but max brightness is now kicked up to 600 lumens. Considered the best version overall of DisplayHDR, and at under half the brightness of DisplayHDR 1400!
Seem confusing? Don’t worry. The main gimmick of HDR enabled by grades higher than DisplayHDR 400 is region-based screen brightness, or local dimming. Basically, by lowering or increasing brightness in accordance to what’s being displayed on a given region of the screen, HDR is able to simulate the high dynamic range of multiple-exposure photography.
True Black HDR, which runs exclusively on OLED panels, is by far the best version of the technology. This is because OLEDs support per-pixel local dimming, giving them the most granular control possible of scene brightness and contrast in a display. More on OLEDs and other monitor panel types for gaming below!
Panel Type Suited To Your Needs
Now, let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of buying a gaming monitor: picking the correct panel type for your needs. Below, I’m going to list the dominant gaming monitor panel types and help elaborate on how they impact the gaming experience:
- TN Panels — The cheapest panel type, but also the fastest. High-end TN panels are favored by gamers on a budget and competitive players who want to eliminate slow pixel response times. There are considerable downsides to color accuracy and viewing angles on TN panels, but centered viewing for competitive gaming should still work quite well.
- IPS Panels — At the opposite end of TN panels are IPS panels, which boast superior color reproduction and viewing angles but push the prices much higher if you want low response times and high refresh rates. IPS panels can provide an incredibly vivid and colorful gaming experience, but the way they are built also makes them more prone to “backlight bleed” than other panel types, which can result in the backlight being visible during dark scenes.
- VA Panels — An in-between of TN and IPS panels in terms of price, color reproduction, and viewing angles. VA panels are more prone to high pixel response time than TN and IPS panels, which generally makes them less ideal for a competitive gaming experience. However, VA panels that alleviate this issue do exist, and one benefit of VA panels is that they actually support per-pixel local dimming, unlike IPS. This prevents backlight bleed, and makes a high-end VA panel one of the best choices for cinematic gaming experiences.
- OLED Panels — The best overall modern panel type, offering per-pixel dimming, the highest range of color accuracy and contrast, and the best viewing angles. The only catch? OLEDs are far more expensive than even IPS panels, making them still a somewhat niche choice in the display market outside of 4K OLED TVs, though OLED monitors are slowly becoming more available.
- CRTs — Not technically a panel type, CRTs are bulky retro displays only available on the used market. If you’ve ever seen a “Tube TV”, that’s a CRT TV, and there are plenty of CRT monitors still on the secondhand market, too. Despite their shortcomings in color accuracy and image resolution, good CRT displays still boast near-flawless input lag and improve the perceived depth of an image, making them a favorite choice for retro game collectors.
The Best Gaming Monitor Brands
Best TN Gaming Monitors: BenQ
- Dead/Stuck Pixel Policy: No More Than 5 Combined Stuck or Dead Pixels
- Brand Strengths: High-Refresh Rate Gaming Monitors, The Fastest TN Panels, Great Pricing For Features
BenQ is probably one of the most gaming-centric monitor brands out there, and for good reason. Their focus on turning around high-refresh, low-response time gaming monitors is genuinely industry-leading, and they’re also frequently seen sponsoring eSports events like major LANs with their own BenQ Zowie monitors being put to use.
If all you really care about is having the best gaming monitor for competition, a high-end BenQ TN monitor may just be your best friend. BenQ monitors also employ a technology called “DyAc+” that further improves clarity of motion on their highest-end, 360 Hz TN panels. They’re the de facto eSports monitor brand for a reason, it turns out.
I would stick with TN panels and high refresh rate if you’re buying BenQ, though. While BenQ does have IPS and pro-facing offerings, those displays are generally beaten by competitors from other manufacturers— BenQ’s speciality has always been super-fast TN monitors.
Best IPS and OLED Gaming Monitors: LG Electronics
- Dead/Stuck Pixel Policy: Varies Depending On Resolution, But Solid: Check LG’s Page For Details
- Brand Strengths: Produces Among The Best IPS and OLED Panels, Good Pricing For Features
LG is one of the best monitor brands in general, and not just for gaming. Since LG is responsible for manufacturing their own IPS and OLED panels, LG is actually in a unique position in the market where other manufacturers will actually buy LG panels for use in their own monitors. I’m in favor of just buying straight from LG, though, especially their UltraGear series of gaming monitors.
LG IPS and OLED panels are renowned across the industry for their superb color accuracy and viewing angles. If you’re looking for truly premium visuals to match your gaming experience, LG is one of your best bets, especially with their OLED displays. These monitors aren’t lacking in refresh rate performance, either, with 240 Hz OLED and IPS monitors both being available from LG.
I don’t really have much to criticize about LG monitors…except their notoriously flimsy monitor stands. LG monitor stands are functional and all, but you’ll most likely be best-served by replacing the included monitor stand with your own VESA stand or mount instead. That’s how I’ve always used my own LG UltraGear 27GL850-B, anyway.
Also, premium LG monitors will tend to be a bit more expensive than BenQ’s TN panel monitors, but this is to be expected, especially on the OLEDs.
Best Ultrawide Gaming Monitors: Samsung
- Dead/Stuck Pixel Policy: Reliant on Contacting Support (no official page for their policy), but most report replacements with at least a few present.
- Brand Strengths: Ultrawide Monitors, VA and OLED Panels, Good Pricing Overall
In the market for an Ultrawide Gaming Monitor? Samsung is actually one of the best providers of Ultrawide monitors, both for image quality and price.
Due to their size and form factor, Ultrawide monitors from other manufacturers can end up being quite expensive for what’s on offer. Samsung actually balances the pricing for their Ultrawides pretty well, though, even if you happen to grab one of their QD-OLED Ultrawide monitors.
Samsung’s VA Ultrawide monitors are going to be the most accessible from a pricing perspective, though. Fortunately, Samsung’s large scale as a display and TV manufacturer (among many other things) puts them in a pretty good place for putting out fast, colorful VA Ultrawides that aren’t overtly plagued by the usual issues of a cheaper VA monitor.
Samsung also manufactures other monitors, but if you aren’t looking for Ultrawides specifically, you’ll most likely be served better for your money by another brand. In the gaming monitor segment, Samsung seems to specialize most with Ultrawide displays.
Best Budget Gaming Monitors: AOC
- Dead/Stuck Pixel Policy: Any Dead or Stuck Pixel Allows a Full Replacement
- Brand Strengths: Among The Best Pricing For Features, Offers A Variety of Entry-Level and Mid-Range Gaming Monitors
Last but not least for our Best Gaming Monitor Brands, let’s talk about AOC!
AOC isn’t as big a name as other competitors on this list, but they’ve actually become one of my favorite budget and mid-range monitor manufacturers over time. This mainly comes down to the pricing of AOC monitors, which is fairly competitive with monitors from other manufacturers.
A unique benefit of AOC monitors can also be found in their Dead Pixel Policy. Unlike other manufacturers that set a specific range of acceptable dead or stuck pixels, AOC promises to simply replace the entire monitor if you have any dead or stuck pixels! This is a pretty high standard for customer service set by AOC here, and I wish other manufacturers followed suit instead of being so strict about the amount of acceptable defects. There shouldn’t be any to begin with!
Besides the pricing and dead pixel policy, there really isn’t too much to write home about with AOC monitors. They’re just decent, sold at a fair price, and actually make sure that if they sell you a defective monitor, they’ll replace the entire thing, even if it is just a singular dead pixel. As a gamer and as a consumer, I think that’s pretty nice.
- Dell and Alienware — Dell is a very spread-out brand, but their Alienware VA and OLED monitors are worthwhile for gamers, especially the Ultrawides. Alienware’s pricing is a little infamous for being occasionally-inflated, though, which is the main reason they didn’t make this list despite being such a prominent gaming brand.
- ASUS — ASUS’ ROG (Republic of Gamers) and TUF brands puts out some fairly high-quality monitors, and at a decent variety of price ranges too. A price-competitive ROG monitor is definitely worth snagging.
- Gigabyte — Gigabyte’s AORUS brand specializes in high-end gaming hardware, including monitors. I consider AORUS pretty good, though their pricing can sometimes leave something to be desired. The same criticism applies to Alienware, though.
- MSI — Another spread-out brand. If the price is right on an MSI gaming monitor, they’re worth buying, but are far from my first recommendation for monitor brands.
- ViewSonic — Last but not least, ViewSonic is great for providing great value gaming monitors. They pretty much disappear from consideration on the high-end, and AOC is arguably the better budget provider overall, but ViewSonic is worth a budget gamer’s consideration, too.
Which Gaming Monitor Brand Is Best For You?
So, time to wrap things up!
Which gaming monitor brand is best for you? That’s going to depend on your personal preferences as a gamer. But I’ll try to narrow down the choices appropriately:
- If you’re a competitive gamer first and foremost, consider a high-end 240 Hz or 360 Hz monitor from the likes of BenQ or LG. ASUS ROG and Gigabyte AORUS may also have worthwhile alternatives for you.
- If you want to prioritize immersive and cinematic gaming experiences over competitive ones, consider an Ultrawide VA or OLED Monitor from Samsung or Alienware.
- If you’re a gamer on a budget who just wants a good experience in general, start with AOC, MSI, and ViewSonic monitors. ASUS’ TUF brand is also usually pretty good for the price.
At the end of the day, of course, you aren’t shopping for a monitor brand. You’re shopping for a monitor. So treat this article as more of a starting point for your own gaming monitor buying journey, rather than a set of hard-and-fast rules to follow before buying a display. After all, the actual monitor matters more than the brand name attached to it.