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.
Despite AMD’s FreeSync arriving later than nVidia’s G-Sync, FreeSync has seen fairly widespread adoption, especially among gaming monitors. The latest monitor – and the 101st – to officially support FreeSync is Lenovo’s Y27f. This also marks the announcement of Lenovo’s first FreeSync monitor.
We recently proved the viability of UltraWide (21:9) monitors on an equally ultra-wide range of video cards, with performance benchmarking indicative of playability on lower-end hardware than might be expected. 21:9 resolution displays have seen a resurgence of interest lately with slowly dropping prices at the low-end and increasing GPU performance.
We've lately used the ~$1300 Acer Predator X34 and ~$540 Samsung 29” Ultra-wide; following more hands-on gaming experience, it made sense to address a new question: Do UltraWide (21:9) monitors give an advantage in gaming? We'll be looking at this topic from two angles – the competitive and the immersive aspects – using a 2560x1080 and 3440x1440 set of UltraWide displays.
Monitors have undergone a revolution over the past few years. 1080p lost its luster as 1440p emerged, and later 4K – which still hasn't quite caught on – and that's to say nothing of the frequency battles. 144Hz has subsumed 120Hz, both sort-of “premium” frequencies, and adaptive synchronization technologies G-Sync and FreeSync have further complicated the monitor buying argument.
But we think the most interesting, recent trend is to do with aspect ratios. Modern displays don't really get called “widescreen” anymore; there's no point – they're all wide. Today, we've got “UltraWides,” much like we've got “Ultra HD” – and whatever else has the U-word thrown in front of it – and they're no gimmick. UltraWide displays run a 21:9 aspect ratio (21 pixels across for every 9 pixels down, think of it like run/rise), a noticeable difference from the 16:9 of normal widescreens. These UltraWide displays afford greater production capabilities by effectively serving the role of two side-by-side displays, just with no bezel; they also offer greater desk compatibility, more easily centered atop smaller real-estate.
For gaming, the UltraWide argument is two-fold: Greater immersion with a wider, more “full” space, and greater peripheral vision in games which may benefit from a wider field of view. Increased pixel throughput more heavily saturates the pipeline, of course, which means that standard 1080p and 1440p benchmarks won't reflect the true video card requirements of a 3440x1440 UltraWide display. Today, we're benchmarking graphics card FPS on a 3440x1440 Acer Predator 34” UltraWide monitor. The UltraWide GPU performance benchmark includes the GTX 980 Ti, 980, 970, and 960 from nVidia and the R9 390X, 380X, 290X, and 285 from AMD.
Every PC component contributes to the gaming or working experience. A mouse, keyboard, GPU, CPU, RAM, and monitor all fuse to create the total user experience, but they’re all fairly stable and easy to understand.
Monitors can be tricky. Their specs often include lesser-known terms like “response time,” “input lag,” and “contrast ratio,” not to mention the various panel types behind the display. For those mystified by these specs, or those simply wanting a handy guide to monitor sales during Black Friday & Cyber Monday, we’ve compiled a list of G-Sync, FreeSync, and general use 1080p, 1440p, and 4K monitors.
This list details the best monitors for gaming at budget, mid-range, and high-end prices, scaling all the way up to 144Hz. We’ve got a few “general use” monitors in here for those just seeking 1080p functionality without the flair.
We've recently encountered a number of questions pertaining to the maximum display frequency supported by HDMI, primarily with readers wondering if 1080p / 120Hz will work through HDMI. This has been in pursuit of some of our monitor content, including our monitor overclocking guide (which advises against HDMI).
The market's domineering display interfaces are DisplayPort, HDMI, and (still) DVI; for high-frequency output, DVI dual-link and DisplayPort are almost always used and recommended.
Monitors aren’t always given the most thought beyond resolution and size, for many buyers. The fact is, though, that monitors are incredibly complex components. Attributes like response time, input lag, color reproduction, and viewing angles are all measurements that make a noticeable difference in how a monitor’s picture looks, but even for expert builders, such terms can be confusing; it doesn’t help that the TV & display industry has been plagued with marketing nonsense since the dawn of creation, ensuring that some attributes lose meaning over time.
Not only will our monitor hardware dictionary (which is scheduled to be released soon) help provide an irreplaceable resource for those confused, this article will detail the advantages and disadvantages of the common LCD panel types – the types of LCD technology used in the monitor. While there are minor revisions/versions of monitor panels types, today we will be focusing on the differences between IPS, TN, PLS, and VA panels, but we will also be covering CRT for grounding, despite CRT not being an LCD panel type.
Recently, the monitor industry has amusingly reminded me of laundry detergent. It seems like everybody is coming out with detergents that are four times as potent, and the monitor industry isn't too different in its marketing language. With the rising popularity of 4K, it's just a matter of time until the norm is to have a monitor with four times as many pixels as a 1080p screen.
The normalization of 4k monitors is certainly very exciting, but current-gen GPUs still struggle with playing games at such a high resolution. Similarly, prices for 4K monitors may be dropping, but are still high for the average gamer. Luckily, 2560x1440 screens are a reasonable compromise between performance, pixels, and price.
This round-up looks at some of the best 1440p displays on the market, particularly with a focus on gaming needs.
CES has officially ended and the floor was busy. We pushed, elbowed, headbutted, and bit our way through the crowds. Our first destination was Samsung, right in the middle of it all and with their own building-inside-a-building booth construction. After looking around their booth with all the TVs, mobile phone tech, and business options, we managed to find some things that gamers care about.
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