Monitors are an essential part of any gaming setup in this day and age, and with the complete and utter disappearance of CRT monitors from the old “esports” days, people are turning towards monitors with high refresh rates, specific panels and 4K resolutions.
It helps to know exactly what is what when talking about gaming monitors, especially those that get as big as 27-inch. It’s important to know whether or not your system can handle games at 1440p and it’s essential to know how important refresh rate is, especially if all you’re playing is first-person shooter games.
Monitors most definitely have come a long way and are now part and parcel of having a gaming rig.
Getting the Story Straight
The two different types of panel that you can get in a gaming monitor are Twisted Nematic (TN) and In-plane Switching (IPS). As standard, you’ll generally pay a little bit more for an IPS panel because they are preferred by people in graphic design and rendering industries as they portray colours more accurately.
TN panels are usually faster as they take advantage of an active 3D shutter which allows them to display as much as twice the amount of information as other panels. You can usually get them between 1 and 10 milliseconds. The lower the response time, the less ghosting of the image and better picture quality. There are also Vertical Alignment (VA) panels, a mix of both worlds.
Having said all of that, for the most part, you probably won’t notice the difference in panel unless they are set side by side as far as accurate colours go. You probably won’t even notice the difference between 1ms and 5ms, but it all depends on how avid a gamer you are.
One thing you will notice, is the monitor’s refresh rate. This works hand in hand with frames per second on the monitor whenever you’re playing games. Many gamers will be familiar with the term “FPS” and it’ll usually go from anywhere between 30 and 120. Some high-end gaming rigs go up to a few hundred while an older machine will likely hover around 20 or 30 depending on how advanced the game is.
The monitor refresh rate is measured in frequency with Hertz and is the number of times per second your monitor can redraw the screen. So, if you can imagine it, your PC will produce a new frame as a single image which is combined in some amazingly fast way to create the motion of games, we all know and love. That means that when you have a refresh rate of 60Hz, you monitor is redrawing the screen 60 times per second. The next part of the equation is that neither of these two measurements are controlled by the other.
That’s where VSync on your computer, and G-SYNC on your monitor come in. VSync will limit your framerate so that you can manually match it to your monitor’s refresh rate. Smart, right? Even smarter, is G-SYNC, a technology from NVIDIA that varies the monitor refresh rate to match the frame rate of the graphics card. That means that the frames are displayed as soon as they are rendered which eliminates all the problems that people might come across. AMD’s FreeSync is essentially the same thing, but works slightly differently, but either way, it’s a good thing to have depending on your graphics card.
With all that said, let’s look at some of the best 27-inch gaming monitors of 2019.
Best Overall Monitor
ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q
This is one of the greatest monitors that we’ve been able to test. It comes with a hefty price tag, but that shouldn’t really be a problem for you though, because you’ll also need a G-SYNC capable NVIDIA card. It has everything you could ask for, a low response time, a high refresh rate and an IPS panel for those richer colours. It’ll be a great card for your high-end gaming machines and will likely last you a number of years, so it might be worth considering splashing the money out for one of these bad boys.
It includes a 1.2a DisplayPort and a HDMI 1.4 port too. Bear in mind, if you’re running an AMD card, we wouldn’t suggest this one to you as the best overall and you can find our pick for that in the remainder of the list.
Best G-SYNC Monitor
Acer Predator XB271HU
To be fair, it was a really difficult choice between the ASUS ROG Swift monitor and this one for “Best Overall Monitor”, so we decided to pop it into its own G-SYNC category because it’s still definitely worth a mention. It has all the same bells and whistles that you’d expect and yet another hefty price tag to go along with it.
This one comes with a set of speakers built in the monitor, although they aren’t amazing quality at just 2W output. It has an HDMI port, DisplayPort and USB port on the monitor itself, making it easy to plug extra goodies into the monitor too!
People have said from time to time that the monitor has a bit of backlight bleeding, perhaps they had gotten a bad batch, but from our point of view didn’t really seem to hassle us at all with any case of bleeding.
Best FreeSync Monitor
It’s always been the case with AMD and NVIDIA, one is far pricier than the other for a minimal performance increase. The same is try for the monitors as this FreeSync monitor is cheaper than the G-SYNC comparison. This choice was also quite an easy one for us because there isn’t actually that much competition around that offers the same kind of quality as this one.
Best 4K Monitor
Acer Predator X27
If you’ve got the big money to drop, then you should consider this one as your top 4K monitor. It’s not got the fastest response time of all the 4K monitors but what it does have is a great refresh rate, an IPS panel and the capability of producing 4K HDR visuals, which are stunning.
This one also sports G-SYNC though, so be sure to have an NVIDIA card ready and willing to handle this. In fact, you might even need two cards to hand some of the games that you’ll be playing on this beast. You’ll be able to overclock the refresh rate to 144Hz, so it also has that going for it.
It’s also one of the few monitors that boasts complete flexibility and comes with an anti-glare good that sits neatly on the sides of it to reduce any incoming light to make sure that your gaming experience is always a great one.
Best Budget Monitor
Budget is obviously a relatively loose term, but with the reviews that this monitor has been getting, the fact that it offers 1440p with the resolution and a higher than average 75Hz response rate, it makes this monitor a shoo-in for best budget. Even though it’s not 144Hz like some of the others as we’ve listed, it still gets you into that realm of gaming by being significantly better than 60Hz. Combine all of this with the fact that the monitor sports an IPS panel rather than a TN panel, you’ll be in a really good situation.
The monitor offers a DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI support and two speakers in the monitor. The 5ms response time is a little slower than some of the others that we’ve listed on our best gaming monitor list, but for the price, you’ll struggle to find something better from a premium brand.
The ASUS VZ27AQ also won’t pigeonhole you into having to either be an AMD or NVIDIA fan because it doesn’t offer FreeSync or G-SYNC, so you’ll see that the price point is a little lower than some of the competition in the budget area.