In keeping up with our end of the year coverage, such as The Best CPUs of 2017, The Best PC Cases of 2017, and Best RAM sales, we’ve now put together the most noteworthy gaming monitors of the year. Monitors aren’t something we’ve spent much time with this year, although there are a couple we’ve gotten hands-on with and recommend. As the holidays approach—and thus, the most consumer-centric time of the year—we hope this guide of top-rated monitors will help take some of the guesswork out of any purchasing decisions.
We’ll look at best monitors in categories such as UltraWide, 4K gaming, budget 1080p, 1440p, G-Sync, FreeSync, and a handful of honorable mentions. This list includes Black Friday and other sales for monitors.
Vega’s partnership with the Samsung CF791, prior to the card even launching, was met with unrelenting criticism of the monitor’s placement in bundles. Consumer reports on the monitor mention flickering with Ultimate Engine as far back as January, now leveraged as a counter to the CF791’s inclusion in AMD’s bundle. All these consumer reports and complaints largely hinged on Polaris or Fiji products, not Vega (which didn’t exist yet), so we thought it’d be worth a revisit with the bundled card. Besides, if it’s the bundle of the CF791 with Vega that caused the resurgence in flickering concerns, it seems that we should test the CF791 with Vega. That’s the most relevant comparison.
And so we did: Using Vega 56, Vega: FE, and an RX 580 Gaming X (Polaris refresh), we tested Samsung’s CF791 34” UltraWide display, running through permutations of FreeSync. Some such permutations include “Standard Engine” (OSD), “Ultimate Engine” (OSD), and simple on/off toggles (drivers + OSD).
Samsung is releasing a trinity of gaming displays sporting High Dynamic Range (HDR), quantum-dot composition (QLED), 144 Hz refresh rates, and curved screens.
Samsung has seemingly reserved their Quantum-Dot Technology for their high-end TVs, and we are slowly seeing more HDR enabled gaming panels suffusing across the market, with the likes of both Acer and ASUS having flagship displays with the technology. Samsung’s flagship C49HG90, along with the C27HG70 and C32HG70, denote an ambitious incursion into the high-fidelity gaming display market for Samsung.
AOC is readying a multiplicity of gaming displays aimed at different price segments. All the gaming monitors belong to AOC’s AGON family and are largely similar aesthetically speaking, with dissimilarities chiefly in the panel types and feature sets. We’ll provide an overview below.
AOC is introducing two new curved displays to supplement their existing curved gaming monitors. The new displays both have 1800R curvature with a 16:9 aspect ratio, as well as VA panels capable of 144Hz refresh rates.
With the arrival of Kaby Lake on the microarchitecture roadmap, Intel had effectively signaled the end of their long-established “tick-tock” cadence of manufacturing and design, opting instead for the new “process-architecture-optimize” paradigm. Specifically, the “optimization” step comes by way of a revised fin profile as part of the new process that Intel has dubbed “14nm+.” While the architecture remains largely unchanged from Skylake, the improved fin profile and larger fin pitch affords a less transistor-dense design, making way for MHz headroom in overclocking performance, which can be ascertained by looking at our review of the i7-7700K. Furthermore, readers can learn more about the Kaby Lake architecture, SKUs, and the Intel 200-series chipsets amongst the usual thermal and benchmark performance. To an extent, Kaby Lake can be viewed as the Devil’s Canyon counterpart to Skylake.
The scope of our build today will be dual purpose, so to speak. In its duality, the foremost objective will be leveraging the new Intel i7-7700K in combination with a GeForce GTX 1080, underpinning our second objective: 144Hz & 120Hz based gaming. The build will be ready for resolutions at 1080p or 1440p with higher refresh rates (144 & 120), and will still manage a minimum of 60 FPS with ultra settings. Lowering settings will allow for that 120-144Hz refresh target.
We will also deploy one of the new Z270 motherboards, complimenting the overclocking aptness of the i7-7700K. Speaking of overclocking, the i7-7700K approaches the 5GHz barrier with relative ease. We’ll be relying on a CLC cooling solution with 280mm of radiator space. While it may prove conceivable to approach a 5GHz overclock with active air cooling thanks to a better frequency/voltage curve with Kaby Lake, there are a couple reasons we won’t go that route, detailed below.
Additionally, we will list a 144Hz, G-Sync-capable display as an optional purchase. Find our tutorial on building a gaming PC below, if this is all new. In an interesting deviation from our normal methodology, the team at GamersNexus will be replicating this build and running it through the benchmark gauntlet.
Editor's note: The point was to use only products that we had in our inventory, meaning no purchases or product requests allowed.
Following suit with our CES coverage, which is sure to remain incessant throughout the next few days, we have Acer’s prize announcements. Acer pulled the curtain back on several products, but the showcase is undoubtedly the expansion of the Predator product family. Both highly sought (and priced), the Predator series is the zenith of Acer’s gaming offerings.
Below we have a few SKUs to overview. The Predator line up will see the inclusion of three new displays: the flagship Z301CT, the XB252Q, and XB272. Also announced were two gaming notebooks, the Predator 21X and 17X.
ViewSonic has made public the existence of their new WQHD 27” professional monitor, the VP2771. Following BenQ’s announcement of their newest flagship photography monitor, the ViewSonic VP2771 also wishes to be the display of choice for professional users residing in the realm of photo and video editing, modeling, graphic design, and other content creation.
A common thread shared between both displays is the vowed color accuracy and uniformity, on which color-critical work is no doubt dependent. As such, the VP2771 claims a precise, factory calibrated Delta E ≤2 value. For those who may be unversed in color science, Delta E is the standard metric that quantifies the difference between a primary (source/input) and secondary (reproduced) color. The idea, although somewhat unempirical, is that a dE value of 1.0 is the smallest perceptible difference the human eye can see. The higher the dE value, the greater the distance is between the two samples, producing a more observable dissimilarity.
This episode of Ask GN addresses reader and viewer questions relating to boost technologies for GPUs (DPM states and GPU Boost), "game mode" for monitors, and a couple questions related to CPU benchmarking. We talk loose plans for Zen tests and scalability of the 2500/2600K Sandy Bridge CPUs in the modern era. Even Nehalem got a few mentions.
Monitor "game modes" presented a topic with which we're not intimately familiar, but some research did grant us enough information to hopefully answer the question in a helpful fashion. The rest, like the boosting functionality on GPUs, is stuff that we've discussed on-and-off in review articles for several months -- it's just now laid-out in a quick Ask GN video.
High-end monitors are really starting to get pumped-out now, it seems. This generation of ~$250+ GPUs supports resolutions of 1440p with relative ease, and UltraWide displays are proliferating on the market to popularize the 21:9 aspect ratio.
For years, the de facto standard for PC gaming and consoles was 1920x1080 – even if consoles occasionally struggled to reach it. 1080p monitors have been the only practical choice for gaming for years now, but viability of 1440p-ready hardware for mid-range gaming PCs means that the market for 1440p monitors has become more competitive. Similarly, the 4K monitor market is also getting fairly competitive, but unfortunately mid-range (and even higher-end) GPUs still struggle to run at 4K in many modern games.
While 4K becomes more attainable for the average consumers, 2560x1440 monitors fit the needs of many gamers who want higher resolution than 1080p while still desiring to render – and show – 120+ FPS. With this in mind, we’ve created this buyer’s guide for the best 1440p gaming monitors presently on the market, particularly when accounting for price, high refresh rate, or panel type. Since the primary use case for the monitors in this guide is gaming, we have primarily included G-Sync (covered here) and FreeSync (covered here and here) compatible monitors for users with nVidia and AMD GPUs, respectively.
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