Best 1080p Gaming Monitors

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

It’s true that 4K is the next big thing, and it’s starting to become the standard for image resolution size, aiming to double the conventional dimensions of HD 1080p. If you want a gaming rig that can handle playing games at 4k resolutions, you’re going to need a beefy GPU, which often costs a lot. It’s true that more and more 4K-capable hardware options are popping up, but not every game can support this high resolution, and even the most impressive 1080p hardware will cost much less compared to a 4K setup.

Why Sticking To 1080p Is Not A Bad Idea

For one thing, 1080p resolutions are still the standard HD the most PC, and console games support, and almost every gaming monitor bought in the last ten years can handle 1080p. The image you will get might be less detailed compared to a 4k resolution, but the difference is not that big, especially if you compare the jump in image quality during the early 2000s (normal to high definition). The 16:9 aspect ratio also hasn’t changed across a 1080p and 4K setup.

As the prices of 4K monitors begin to fall, finding a high-quality 1080p monitor at a very affordable price will be much easier. This leaves you with more budget to focus on the other components of your gaming system. It’s also good to note that HDR greatly improves the quality of 4K resolutions, and this technology is relatively new for gaming monitors. So you would have to shell out quite a bit of cash just to make the best out of 4K. You could wait for the prices to go down, or you could just settle for some solid 1080p.

Lastly, it’s easier for your system to perform well with a less-demanding resolution. Even owners of the latest hardware will notice some big dips in frame rate while gaming in 4K. With 1080p, though, you generally won’t have the problem, so your gameplay experience will be much smoother. The stable 60 fps you’re getting while gaming at 1080p will be drastically reduced at 4K if you’re setup isn’t powerful enough.

The Best 1080p Gaming Monitors Buyers Guide

Performance

A gaming monitor should be able to give you high refresh rates, low input lag, and quick pixel response times:

  • Pixel Response

Gray-to-gray is the most common specification used for determining pixel response, and this is measured in milliseconds or ms. Pixel response signifies the amount of time needed for a pixel to change into a different shade of gray. Some companies will still use the black-to-white measuring system, which is more dated.

Low pixel response times will help reduce any “smearing” effects for moving images, and this provides an overall smoother image compared to one with a high pixel response. Having a response time of 2ms or below is the ideal range for gaming, but having one up to 4ms is still decent.

  • Input Lag

This is one of the most important factors you need to consider if you’re planning to buy one of the best gaming monitor models, especially if you’re playing competitively. Input lag is the time it takes for your actions (whether a mouse click or a keyboard press) to be relayed on the screen.

So let’s say you’re moving your character forward with the W button, and you notice a slight delay between your press and your character starts to move, this means that your current monitor suffers from input lag. During product testing, we use the 4k Diva from HDFury to see if they have low input lags, and any less than 4ms is more than enough for the average gamer.

  • Refresh Rate

Finally, refresh rate refers to the amount of time (in seconds) your monitor can redraw the whole screen (typically measured in hertz). LCD monitors and a few gaming-centered units have the capability to reach a refresh rate of 60Hz. This means that they can refresh the screen 60 times every second.

At this base rate, fast-paced games will often appear blurry, or worse; you will experience some screen tearing. This artifact occurs whenever your monitor displays multiple screens draws within the same time. This can easily be mitigated using synchronization techniques such as variable refresh rate, which will be discussed in-depth in the next few parts.

The Best 1080p Gaming Monitors Are Sporting The Highest Refresh Rates

Over the past few years, top brands have been launching gaming monitors capable of going higher than the base 60Hz. So far, the most commonly used refresh rate increments for gaming monitors that have been dubbed “high refresh” are 144Hz, 120Hz, and 75Hz, with the highest being 240Hz in the current market.

Currently, only 1080p monitors can reach 240Hz refresh rates, with 1440p panels only being able to reach 165Hz, and finally, 4K panels at 144Hz. These resolutions cant have higher refresh rates because of the current limitations of the cable technologies that they use, namely, the DisplayPort 1.4b and the HDMI 2.0. As the year ends, we might start to see the upgrades of these techs being finalized and presented to the public.

Games running at frames higher than the standard 60 fps will be able to benefit from these high refresh monitors. Higher refresh rates mean a more fluid motion when in sync. Professional gamers (Esports participants) take advantage of higher frames to maximize their gaming performance, but the average gaming enthusiast can benefit from them as well.

However, having a monitor capable of high refresh rates won’t always save you from getting artifacts and screen tearing. This is why you will often see the most modern gaming monitors sport these technologies– G-Sync and FreeSync.

The Rise Of G-Sync And Free-Sync Technology

The newest gaming monitors employ synchronization technology to alleviate screen tearing and the rest of the commonly seen motion artifact issues, and aside from fixing all those problems, this technology will also lower the overall input lag.

AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync enable monitors to give the reigns to the GPU in terms of controlling the refresh rate. This way, their display can operate at variable refresh rates (VRR) depending on the graphics card’s limitations.

This results in a much smoother gaming experience where you will see a reduction in input lag and screen tearing is pretty much non-existent. Do note that both FreeSync and G-Sync monitors need a compatible GPU (G-Sync requiring Nvidia cards, and FreeSync requiring AMDs) that has an HDMI 2.0 output or a DisplayPort 1.2. Some of the best 1080p gaming monitors have the capability to use both FreeSync and G-Sync, though.

  • FreeSync

AMD announced during CES 2017 an update of their FreeSync tech, the FreeSync 2, with the more expensive gaming monitors featuring this new technology since 2018. FreeSync 2 has the same basic functions as its predecessor, which is to synchronize the frame rates of a GPU with the refresh rate of its monitor – except with added HDR support, low-frame-rate compensation, and lower input lag.

For low-frame-rate compensation, this is the ability for the GPU to sync its frame rate with the monitor’s even if its frame rate falls below the monitor’s minimum value. There are only a handful of games that utilize FreeSync 2’s capabilities, but the monitors, on the other hand, meet the standards. It’s only a matter of time until more game developers take FreeSync 2 into consideration.

  • G-Sync

Meanwhile, Nvidia has updated a lot of things to accommodate different PC owners. For one thing, the latest version of their driver dedicated to GeForce cards can now give users with FreeSync monitors the option of enabling G-Sync in their driver software. The results of turning it on may vary, but at least owners with FreeSync-capable models can now see the effects of VRR with their Nvidia card.

More and more FreeSync monitors are becoming G-Sync compatible as well, but definitely not the majority. Nvidia has tested 400 different monitor models that have FreeSync. So far, only an average of 50 has met their standard where there wasn’t any ghosting, tearing, or any other visual artifacts while on VRR gameplay, this plus the ability to sport a wider refresh rate range (between 60Hz and 144Hz, for example.)

These models have been officially dubbed as “G-Sync Compatible” by Nvidia. There are still quite a few that need testing, though, and Nvidia is inviting every owner of FreeSync models that have not been validated yet. Volunteers should have the latest driver update, try to turn on G-Sync from Nvidia’s control panel, and proceed to test how it performs.

G-Sync has also gotten a little bit more complicated in terms of compatibility since it’s now categorized into three different levels. “G-Sync Compatible” is the lowest form of compatibility. Sandwiched right between the lowest and the highest level are those models that have met Nvidia’s common standards for G-Sync. This means that they contain special circuitry that is capable of supporting the standard of passing over 300 tests for image-quality over a range of full VRR. And finally, the top-most level is called “G-Sync Ultimate” or G-Sync HDR, where it meets G-Sync’s standards while combining quality features like extreme luminance (up to 1000 nits) or high refresh rates (over 144Hz).

Enhanced Visuals or Performance?

For the best 1080p gaming monitors, you have the option of choosing three different panel types, and each will have their own pros and cons that will affect both the visuals and performance of your game.

  • IPS Panels

Also known as In-Plane Switching, these panels are often praised for their accuracy in terms of color reproduction and great visuals. IPS panels will also have a much wider viewing angle range compared to the two other panels. This is the best panel type for those who want to get consistently good visual fidelity. In terms of contrast ratio, it performs in a similar manner to TN panels; however, it still largely depends on a model’s quality.

One downside to an IPS panel is that it suffers from an issue called backlight bleeding, where some parts of your monitor are much lighter in comparison to the rest.

  • TN Panels

Also known as Twisted-Nematic, this is the best gaming panel when the performance comes to play, having the capacity to support the highest refresh rates as well as the lowest response times. Another plus to these panels is that its 144Hz models will often be cheaper compared to their IPS versions. So far, only TN panels can reach 240Hz refresh rates.

It’s not the best panel for visuals, though, which might be a deal-breaker for some gamers. It has a limited viewing angle, and its colors are less vibrant. But if you want top gaming performance and don’t mind a minor cut in picture quality, getting a TN model is a solid choice.

  • VA Panels

Finally, Vertical Alignment panels are commonly viewed as the “middle ground” of IPS and TN. It has a similar viewing angle, and the color reproduction capabilities of IPS models, except it, has a slight edge in color contrast. One downside of these panels is that their response times are higher compared to the other two panels, and cheaper models will often have ghosting effects that can be distracting when playing games that are very dim or fast-paced.

Generally speaking, TN panels are great for competitive play for its quick response time. If you want something that gives higher quality images, you can choose between a VA or an IPS.

Movability

Monitors should be adjustable in terms of viewing angle and height. This way, you can fit your unit perfectly to your current gaming rig without much hassle. Because 1080 monitor units have smaller sizes compared to their higher resolution counterparts, having an adjustable design is necessary to make your viewing angles as optimal as possible.

Budget

Most 1080p displays will cost you considerably less if you compare the prices with their 4K counterparts. While prices may vary depending on extra features and component quality, there is always a good unit for everybody regardless of their price range. Especially since the best 1080p gaming monitors are becoming cheaper because of the rise of higher resolution models.

Connection Capabilities

The best 1080p gaming monitors will have USB 3.0 hubs that are convenient for being able to connect your devices, such as flash drives or for charging any of your phones and power banks. If you’re planning on building a multi-monitor gaming rig, having multiple input options will make your life infinitely easier.

How Do We Determine Which Monitor Is The Best?

We determine the best 1080p gaming monitors be testing them within a long time period. We first determine how well they perform during gameplay, testing them with different genres and titles to see how versatile they are. While this testing is purely subjective and doesn’t give any specifics or data values, it’s still essential because it enables us to see a monitor’s quality first hand with human judgment. We try to be as objective as possible while observing a monitor’s elements like it’s native resolutions, aspect ratios, and other aspects that influence their performance.

We also test different models side-by-side and so we can better see their performance. Testing out a model for longer periods will often have the effect of leaving you numb to its flaws. By directly comparing models with each other, we can spot their defects much faster and easier.

We also do various forms of objective testing to offer a more “rigid” form of analysis. These can be difficult to do yourself, though, because you need specific equipment to be able to do these tests. We have used special hardware that can test a unit’s latency, color accuracy, and other essential metrics for a gaming monitor.

If you want to test out models at home, this might be hard if you don’t have the necessary tools. One of the best and simplest ways you can test out a unit is by viewing its screen and see how it fares through different scenarios. This might seem a bit rudimentary, but this is usually enough to see a model’s quality.

The Best 1080p Gaming Monitors Of 2019

MSI Optix MAG241C

  • Screen: 23.6″ 1500R
  • Panel: VA
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 1ms
  • VRR: FreeSync

This MSI model is a solid choice if you want a curved model that offers solid 144Hz performance. It sports a quality VA panel that delivers accurate colors with great contrast. It also has a very quick response time of 1ms, perfect for gamers who play competitively. Another great feature is that it’s FreeSync compatible, so you don’t have to worry about screen artifacts.

The curved shape of this unit can also give an extra-immersive experience, though opinions still widely vary on flat vs. curved screens. Whether you’re gaming with your friends or watching a movie on your own, this monitor performs well and offers quality images, regardless. It’s also pretty affordable, considering the features that it has. One downside we’ve found, though, is that it suffers from minor ghosting when playing fast-paced games, and it becomes even more apparent during dimly lit scenes.

Key Features:

  • High color contrast and wide gamut
  • 1ms response time helps deal with ghosting issue
  • A very thin bezel that’s great for a multi-screen setup

Acer Predator XB241H

  • Screen: 24.5″
  • Panel: TN
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 1ms
  • VRR: G-Sync

If you have a G-Sync compatible gaming rig and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks for G-Sync VRR, then the Acer Predator XB241H is your one of the best 1080p gaming monitors in the market you can buy.

In terms of performance, this model has a quality refresh rate of 144Hz and an equally impressive response time of 1ms, perfect for gamers who want to have an edge during competitive play. Because of its G-Sync compatibility, the XB241H is resistant to screen tearing as well as any annoying artifacts that you commonly see in most gaming monitors.

This unit perfectly fits the gamer aesthetic and is even wall-mountable if you want to save some space on your desk. It will be a waste of money if you’re mainly going to use it for work purposes, though.

Key Features:

  • Decent picture quality from a TN-type panel
  • Quick response time and low input lag
  • ULMB and G-Sync capabilities

Samsung CFG73 27″

  • Screen: 27″ 1800R
  • Panel: VA
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 1ms
  • VRR: FreeSync

The Samsung CFG73 offers high picture quality in its 1800R curvature that makes gaming a little more immersive. By wrapping itself around the user’s peripheral vision, it makes them feel like they’re inside the game that they’re playing.

This model uses a VA panel that can top-notch black levels that allow you to see better in dimly lit gaming environments, perfect for stealth games or titles with a setting that mostly takes place during night time.

Despite having a VA screen, its response time is also impressive (1ms), so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing picture quality over performance.

Key Features:

  • Impressive image quality
  • Smooth gameplay from 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and very low input lag
  • Ergonomic design

BenQ Zowie XL2411P

  • Screen: 24″
  • Panel: TN
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 1ms
  • VRR: n/a

This XL2411P is a monitor that can deliver everything that a competitive gamer needs. With its high refresh rate and fast response time, you don’t need to worry about your monitor taking a hit in your performance. A welcome feature that this model uses is a flicker-free technology that’s designed to reduce eye fatigue even in long hours of use.

The display’s frame is also designed to minimize reflections to help you focus on your game. This is especially useful if you’re playing in a bright environment. It also features many customization options such as color and black level adjustment so you can get the best picture quality for the games that you’re currently playing. However, unlike other models in our list, this unit doesn’t have any implemented VRR technology.

Key Features:

  • Quick response time and low input lag
  • Ergonomic design
  • Motion blur tech
  • Picture customization

Viotek GN27C2

Specifications:

  • Screen: 27″
  • Panel: VA
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 6ms
  • VRR: FreeSync

This Viotek unit is a 27-inch monitor that’s very affordable despite the features that it holds. With its good quality VA panel from Samsung, coupled with an AMD FreeSync, you’re sure to get an impressive picture and a gaming experience that’s free from any screen tearing.

While it doesn’t offer much in terms of swivel and height adjustment, this is a very small price that you have to pay for the wide color gamut and excellent picture quality that you’re getting. With that said, there are a few other areas that Viotek had to cut in cost to keep its affordable price.

Overall, the build quality is decent, but a few areas feel a bit cheap. The panel has the capacity to be calibrated to great color accuracy, but the factory-default settings that it came with leave us a bit wanting. It also has a shorter warranty compared to the other OEMs in the market. On a positive note, it has a low blue light mode and anti-glare screen that will make it easier for your eyes during long gaming sessions.

Key Features:

  • No bezel, making it suitable for multi-screen setups
  • Great performance
  • Good picture quality
  • Anti-eye strain features

ASUS VG278Q (27 inches)

Specifications:

  • Size: 27″
  • Panel: TN
  • Refresh Rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response Times: 1ms
  • VRR:: FreeSync & G-Sync

If you want a larger monitor that is capable of supporting both G-Sync and FreeSync, then the ASUS VG278Q is an excellent choice.

This model also offers great performance with its 144Hz refresh rate and a fast response time of 1ms. It also features the GamePlus technology unique to ASUS models that gives you hotkeys that enable in-game enhancements. Another good addition is its Flicker-Free technology that specifically reduces any eye fatigue by filtering out blue light, so you don’t strain your eyes while playing for extended periods.

When it comes to style, this monitor comes with a quality TN panel that provides great picture quality. It also has built-in speakers and a convenient connectivity port. Overall, the VG278Q is a great unit if you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks in exchange for plenty of useful features.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with both FreeSync and G-Sync
  • Fast response time and low input lag
  • Motion blur reduction tech
  • Flicker-Free tech
  • Game plus tech

LG 27GL650F

Specifications:

  • Screen: 27″
  • Panel: IPS
  • Refresh rate (maximum): 144Hz
  • Response times: 5ms
  • VRR:: FreeSync

For those who want a bigger gaming monitor and don’t mind a slightly longer response time, LG’s 27GL650F is a good choice. It features a 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync capabilities to ensure optimal gaming performance.

It also has a quality IPS panel that is capable of producing high-accuracy colors that will please any gamer who needs good visuals. You can finally enjoy playing dimly-lit games since this model features great peal brightness. With its blur reducing function, the images that it produces remain sharp and smooth even in the most fast-paced scenes.

One minor downside is that its black uniformity is subpar compared to other models in our list. Other than that, this is a great addition to those who don’t want to tinker with the settings just to optimize picture quality, since it already offers fantastic accuracy with its default settings.

Key Features:

  • Good default settings
  • Impressive peak brightness
  • Blur reduction

Acer Nitro VG278Q

Specifications:

  • Size: 24″
  • Panel: IPS
  • Refresh rate (maximum): : 75Hz
  • Response times: 1ms VRB
  • VRR:: FreeSync

The Acer Nitro VG278Q has the latest FreeSync technology that ensures that you don’t get any screen tearing and ghosting, making it a quality entry that has the features that every gamer needs, .

Its IPS panel makes this an ideal choice for gamers who regularly take part in competitive play, owing to its quick response times and decent refresh rate (while not exactly the highest offering, a 75Hz is more than enough for most play styles.)

Nitro also comes with the Game View tech that offers convenient preset modes that are optimized for different genres, such as action, sports, racing, and many others. It also features a zero-frame edge that’s great for multi-screen setups. A few other useful extra components are its built-in speakers and multiple HDMI ports.

A few minor qualms we have with this model is that it has low pixel density, so it might not be the best unit when image quality comes to mind, and it has a tilt-only design that leaves little room for adjustability.

Key Features:

  • Great performance
  • Game View tech
  • Zero-frame edge
  • Built-in speakers

BenQ RL2455S

Specifications:

  • Screen: 24″
  • Panel Type (maximum): TN
  • Refresh rates: 75Hz
  • Response times: 1ms
  • VRR: n/a

If you’re a gamer on a budget looking for a quality gaming monitor, then the RL2455 is a good option.

It can give you very fast response times and decent refresh rates that can fit the bill for most gamers. This model also has BenQ’s color engine that allows for added visibility, even in the most dimly-lit environments.

If you’re looking for an affordable gaming monitor that offers more than its similarly-priced competition, then this model is for you. Be aware that its low price comes with some drawbacks. Its build quality, for instance, takes a little hit.

Key Features:

  • Very affordable
  • Eye-comfort mode
  • Color engine

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for something that ensures your PC remains relevant for many years and you have a lot of money available, going 4K is not a bad route to take. Support for this resolution is growing amongst both game developers and monitor manufacturers, and 4K does give a better overall image quality.

But if you’re not the type to nit-pick over very slight differences and want something that offers significant savings while being able to play the latest games, then the best 1080p gaming monitors will diligently serve you for years to come.

 

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