Friday, March 31, 2023

Best 4K Gaming Monitors 2021: The Sharpest Ultra HD Displays

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One of the biggest differences between how you use a TV and a gaming monitor is how close you sit to them. At the distance you sit from a gaming monitor, a Full HD or even a 1440p image can start seeing the individual pixels on a display especially when going for bigger screens. If you’ve already paid to get a high-end gaming PC, the last thing you need is an image that doesn’t feel as sharp as your rig should be able to offer. That’s when a 4K gaming monitor can shine.With most 4K gaming monitors, you’ll be looking at a seamless image in your games. Even on 27- and 30-inch displays, the pixels are packed together tight enough that you don’t have to worry about jagged edges. Many of the best 4K gaming monitors don’t just offer an increase in resolution but also include some of the latest display technologies like HDR, higher peak brightness levels, and local dimming.

Of course, it takes a hell of a machine to run demanding games at 4K, but that doesn’t mean you need to shy away. All of the best 4K gaming monitors also feature adaptive sync technologies (like FreeSync and G-Sync), which means you can still get clear visuals even when your computer can’t keep a stable frame rate at 4K. Plus, with a 4K gaming monitor, you’ll be all ready to enjoy future hardware like the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and AMD’s new Navi graphics. For those of you in the UK, click here to see where you can find each and every one the monitors mentioned below.

TL;DR – These are the Best 4K Gaming Monitors:

1. LG UltraGear 27GN950-B

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

Our Pick

LG UltraGear 27GN950-B

On Amazon

You shouldn’t sacrifice the smoothness of your gameplay just for resolution, and with the LG UltraGear 27GN950, you don’t have to. This display supports FreeSync Premium Pro alongside its 4K resolution, letting you enjoy your high-res gaming experience with each frame drawn completely – no tearing when your PC strays from the 144Hz refresh rate of this display. Yep, that’s right, the LG UltraGear 27GN950-B offers 4K at 144Hz – could it really be the best otherwise?

The 4K resolution is just one perk, as this display also sports a high, 600-nit peak brightness and 10-bit color depth. That’ll help drive home visuals when you’re watching content or gaming in HDR. And, if you switch from an AMD to Nvidia graphics card in the future, you don’t have to worry about switching monitors, as this display is officially G-Sync Compatible.

2. Viotek GFI27QXA

Best Budget 4K Gaming Monitor

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Viotek GFI27QXA

On Amazon

If you’re not looking for too many frills but want a 4K monitor that can still game like a pro, then the Viotek GFI27QXA is a utilitarian champ. Its 27-inch display won’t disappoint when it comes to sharpness, as 4K is incredibly pixel-dense at this size. It even uses an IPS panel, so you’ll get great viewing angles and decent colors.

What makes this affordable 4K monitor stand out is its fast refresh rate. You can hit up to 144Hz with this monitor if you have the graphics card to muster that at 4K. It does require using two DisplayPort 1.4 connections simultaneously to achieve 4K/144Hz though, as a single DisplayPort 1.4 connection will slightly limit you to 4K/120Hz. Still, this monitor has a high-quality feature set for the price, and it even tops it off with FreeSync.

3. Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

Best Ultra Cheap 4K Gaming Monitor

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Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q

On Amazon

Just $329 for a 4K gaming monitor? Your eyes do not deceive you. The Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q packs the eight million odd pixels of 4K into an affordable display with a 28-inch viewing area. You might think that means that Asus must have made some serious trade-offs elsewhere in the display, but you’ll actually find a rather capable gaming screen.

The Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, but that’s still plenty smooth, and most gaming hardware will be lucky to hit 60fps when playing at 4K anyway. So, this monitor will make a good ally for your games. Beyond the resolution, this monitor actually also offers an IPS panel for solid viewing angles and colors, even supporting a 10-bit color depth. Asus threw in FreeSync support as well, so you don’t have to worry about screen tearing if your computer or console doesn’t maintain a constant 60fps.

4. Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

Best 4K FreeSync Gaming Monitor

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Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

On Amazon

There’s no getting around it: A 4K HDR gaming monitor isn’t going to come cheap. But, it may not be as expensive as you’d think. The Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ delivers a compelling option for $800. While this monitor’s 400-nit peak brightness may not offer the brightest highlights for HDR, it’s a start, and there is a 10-bit color depth to help the picture quality along.

Though the HDR experience may be a lower level, the gaming experience is not. You’re getting a 4K panel and a 144Hz refresh rate, so you’ll see the fine details in terms of pixels and fast-paced action. The display also supports G-Sync, so you won’t have to see any tearing as you game at Ultra HD. And, if you’re not always sitting front and center by your monitor, Asus’s use of an IPS panel can make it easier to enjoy the display from different angles.

5. Asus ROG Swift PG43UQ

Best 4K G-Sync Compatible Gaming Monitor

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Asus ROG Swift PG43UQ

On Amazon

A high resolution is great and all, but the best way to properly appreciate it is with a large display that stands to benefit more from the increased pixel count. The Asus ROG Swift PG43UQ knows what’s up, as this 43-inch gaming monitor verges on TV-like proportions. It also borrows some of the TV market’s best features while using DisplayPort so you don’t have to buy new cables or trade off resolution for higher refresh rates.

The Asus ROG Swift PG43UQ offers up a gaming-grade display with a 144Hz refresh rate and low response time. Asus paired that with a variable refresh rate that will work wonders on both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards by way of FreeSync 2 and G-Sync compatibility. Asus tops it all off with some of the most impressive HDR you can get out of a monitor through a 1,000-nit peak brightness, 10-bit color depth, and a 4,000:1 contrast ratio. That all will make for stunning imagery in games, movies, and TV shows that support HDR.

6. Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

Best 4K HDR Gaming Monitor

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On Amazon

If you’re looking for a feature-packed gaming monitor, one that also costs a whole lot of money, then the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ is for you. This display actually preceded Nvidia’s 20-series cards, so before they released, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to try and squeeze 144 fps out of your 4K games. With all the 20-series and 16-series cards out now, and powerful, the world is your oyster when it comes to frame rates. No matter which graphics card you end up using, the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ is an incredible monitor and a true sight to behold. If you have the money and the hardware, it’s worth a look.

7. Acer Predator CG437K

Best Big Screen 4K Gaming Monitor

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Acer Predator CG437K

On Amazon

The 3,840 x 2,160 resolution on 4K gaming monitors pretty much demands that you get a big screen as it’s pretty much wasted on anything smaller than 27-inches. Well, what about a 43-inch gaming monitor that’s big enough to replace the TV in your living room? That’s exactly what the Acer Predator CG437K is and it arguably offers better picture quality than your TV anyway.

Aside from giving you an Ultra HD picture on a large display, the Acer Predator CG437K delivers 1,000-nits in peak brightness. It also sports a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time with Virtual Response Boost engaged. On the back of this monitor, you’ll find enough HDMI ports for all your consoles, plus a pair of DisplayPorts and a USB-C port to plug in multiple computers. Lastly, the Acer Predator CG437K supports both AMD and Nvidia’s respective versions of variable refresh rate.

8. LG 48″ Class CX Series OLED 4K TV

Best 4K OLED Gaming Monitor

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On Best Buy

We know, we know – a TV isn’t a monitor. At least, that felt like the case back when TVs weren’t as incredibly clear as the LG CX OLED. LG’s 48-inch model is actually small enough that it’s not totally unreasonable to use as a monitor. Just think of it as perfect array of four 24-inch, 1080p monitors. Given the high clarity of a 4K display, you’ll still get crisp text on the 48-inch LG CX OLED TV, and matters just get better when you dive into gaming and media.

The LG CX offers incredible visuals thanks to the unparalleled contrast of OLED displays. You’ll get rich shadows and bright highlights in your games and movies, and the LG CX supports a broad range of HDR formats. This TV is also particularly well suited to gaming since it supports a 120Hz refresh rate at 4K as well as variable refresh rates. So, even though this isn’t a monitor, you’ll find little a monitor can offer that the LG CX doesn’t. Heck, it even has built-in speakers that the best monitors won’t come close to matching.

Where to Get the Best 4K Gaming Monitor in the UK

Acer Predator XB273K

Acer Predator XB273K

Best 4K Gaming Monitor: 4K, 120Hz, 4ms

BenQ EW3280U 32-Inch 4K UHD

BenQ EW3280U 32-Inch 4K UHD

Best 4K G-Sync Compatible Gaming Monitor: 4K, 60Hz, 4ms

LG UltraFine 27UK850-W

LG UltraFine 27UK850-W

Best Ultra Cheap 4K Gaming Monitor: 4K, 60Hz, 4ms

LG UltraGear 27GN950-B
Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

Asus ROG Strix XG27UQ

Best Budget 4K HDR Gaming Monitor: 4K, 144Hz, 4ms

What you need to look for in a 4K Gaming Monitor

Below I highlight the benefits of a 4K Gaming Monitor and what’s the difference between the two types of Variable Frame Rate technology available today.

4K monitors display four times the pixel count of a 1080p or Full HD display, which allows them to render a high-fidelity graphics and more realistic textures. However, you’re probably going to want a large 4K gaming monitor as it’s hard to discern the difference in sharpness between Ultra HD and Full HD on a 24-inch screen. The pixel density (measured in pixels-per-inch) on a smaller screen is so tight that it’s almost impossible to clearly see the individual pixels of your display.

As you move up in screen size—mostly 27 inches and up—the gaps between the pixels become more apparent and this mesh-like appearance is called the screen door effect. Once you move up to a screen large enough 1080p (or even 1440p) panels to pack enough pixels into an area to present a crisp, detailed image and you’ll want to start looking at a 2160p resolution display.

Don’t expect to see particularly high frame rates when playing at Ultra HD resolutions. For one thing, even the most powerful graphics cards like the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti can only manage to render some 4K games at 30-45 fps at best on its own. To really achieve 4K 60 and beyond, you may need to invest in two of the most powerful Nvidia Turing GPUs running in SLI.

Also be aware that most 4K monitors come with a 60Hz refresh rate, except for a few pricey 144Hz models. In the end, a 4K monitor is a pricey addition to your rig that usually prioritizes pixel count over speed and smooth gameplay.

G-Sync vs. FreeSync

Normally, your graphics card draws a frame and then has to wait until the monitor’s refresh cycle before it can display it. When the timing of these two events isn’t in sync, you would see partially-drawn frames on the screen (called “tearing”). If you have a monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate, and your GPU just barely missed drawing the frame in 1/60th of a second, it momentarily drops down to 30fps instead of something like 57fps, as it waits for the next 60Hz monitor refresh.

Variable refresh rate monitors reverse this relationship to refresh the monitor’s display just as the graphics card has drawn a frame. If the game finished drawing that last frame in 1/57th of a second, the monitor will run at 57Hz and the frame will be immediately displayed. VRR makes your games look a lot smoother and gives you more freedom to adjust the visual quality in games without worrying about causing about a jumpy frame rate, or else turning off V-sync and suffering from tearing. This is especially important if you’re an early adopter of 4K gaming since 4k / 60 FPS is still hard for even high-end rigs to achieve.

There are two such technologies right now, and they’re not compatible with each other… sort of. At CES 2019, Nvidia announced it’s testing existing FreeSync monitors for compatibility with G-Sync drivers released after January 15, 2019. So far, just a handful of FreeSync displays are compatible with the G-Sync driver, but with FreeSync almost always being a cheaper option, it might be worth looking into it.

For recommendations on pushing your PC into the 4K era, check out our guide to the best graphics cards. I also have guides to the best desks for gaming, the best gaming chairs, and if 4K is too expensive or your PC can’t handle it, I also have guides for the best cheap gaming monitors, too.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark


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