PC gamers can enjoy today’s competitive pricing in CPUs, graphics cards and other PC hardware to build a highly capable gaming machine without having to spend a ton of money (unless you want to). We’re glad to report we continue on a builder’s friendly environment and this extends to gaming monitors. You can now get 144 Hz options for just a few hundred dollars, which has opened up this monitor category to more buyers.
For 2020 we’ve decided to take a different route for recommending gaming monitors. With such a vast array of options, we’ve recognized a few segments that deserve our full attention. Today’s guide will cover exclusively 1440p gaming monitors which is perhaps the most mainstream and popular category. We plan to cover budget monitors under its own guide, and we’ll discuss other potential segments later on.
While 2560 x 1440 monitors have been around for quite some time, they’ve been growing in popularity thanks to lower prices and improving specs with higher refresh rates. This sort of resolution and refresh rate combination is the sweet spot for PC gaming. Current mid-range GPUs are well suited to 1440p and with a high refresh rate it gives you room to grow as you upgrade to more powerful hardware down the road.
We’ve broken down our recommendations in five monitor categories, covering the major LCD technologies – IPS, VA and TN – in both high-end and budget configurations.
Best 1440p IPS Gaming Monitor
If you want a high-end 1440p monitor, you’ll probably be looking at something that uses IPS LCD technology as it provides the best balance of decent response times, great color performance, excellent viewing angles, decent uniformity and a selection of mostly flat panels.
When you have tech that ticks all those boxes, it’s bound to be the high-end option that commands a price premium, however high-quality 1440p high-refresh IPS monitors have come down in price substantially in the last two years. Case in point, we can find flagship gaming monitors priced as low as $500, with budget offerings dipping below $400 for the first time.
Our recommendation for the best 1440p IPS monitor is the LG 27GL850 (read our full review), a hugely impressive monitor that offers TN-like response time performance with the color and viewing angle benefits of an IPS screen. This makes it ideal for gaming and especially high refresh rate gaming, given this is a 144 Hz display with adaptive sync support.
The differences between the 27GL850 and other 1440p IPS monitors is stark. The 27GL850 puts up an average grey to grey response of around 4ms in its optimal configuration, which is much faster than competing options that at best pack a 5ms average, or at worse are up near 7ms. Although this is advertised as a “1ms” monitor, performance is equivalent to TN displays that also advertise “1ms,” which is impressive any way you look at it.
The LG 27GL850 also has great wide gamut support, around 95% of the DCI-P3 spectrum in our testing, which is wider than any VA or TN offering we’ve seen. It lacks true HDR like most 1440p displays, but if you need wide gamut for creative work or just want a vibrant picture, the 27GL850 delivers. Uniformity and viewing angles are good, certainly better than most competitors, which allows the 27GL850 to deliver this great balance of color quality and performance.
Black levels and contrast ratio are not the best, which makes it a less ideal monitor for gaming in a dark environment. If you are in that position, we’d recommend a VA display instead. There’s also no blur-reducing backlight strobing mode, if you want that feature we’d opt for the Asus VG27AQ with its strong ELMB-Sync implementation.
Those two concerns aside, we strongly recommend the LG 27GL850 as the best all-round 1440p display on the market right now, and at $500, it’s honestly quite the steal.
One last thing to note is all high-refresh 1440p IPS monitors are currently 27-inch. If you want something larger, like 32-inch, you’re out of luck as the best panels at that size top out at a measly 75 Hz and we wouldn’t recommend them for gaming. If you want that larger panel size, perhaps our next monitor category will be of interest to you.
Best 1440p VA Gaming Monitor
Amazing price for 32 inches and 1440p@144Hz, excellent contrast
Good | Most Have It
Top build quality, G-sync-compatible FreeSync
Average | Competitors May Be Better
No USB, speakers, or HDR
Sure, there are plenty of 4K panels out there for gamers, or you could buy a 1080p monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate, but the sweet spot for most people has long been 1440p@144Hz with adaptive sync technology. That usually meant spending at least $500 or more, but the LG 32GK650F can be grabbed from Amazon for just $319.
LG went with a flat VA panel for this 32-inch, 2560 x 1440 monitor, which uses FreeSync. Like the Nitro XV273K, it’s compatible with Nvidia’s G-sync tech. It also has the fastest advertised GtG response time (5ms) among similar sized and specced VA monitors, though there are other modes that increase this response time.
This is a display designed more for gamers than creators, which means color accuracy isn’t its strongest point. It does, however, have a vibrant 3000:1 contrast ratio, which is twice what you’d find on most IPS monitors, and it features 350 nits brightness. You also get LG’s usual excellent build quality. The low price does translate into a few compromises. While the LG 32GK650F has two HDMI inputs and DisplayPort 1.2, there are no USB connections. It also lacks any speakers—not that most gamers would use them over external speakers or headsets—and there’s no HDR.
Gamers who want 1440p@144Hz with adaptive sync have a lot of options, but none offer such a good price vs. quality ratio as the LG 32GK650F.
Best of the best
If you’re the kind of gamer who wants the best of everything, has deep pockets, and owns a monster rig, then look no further than Acer’s Predator X27. This monitor ticks all the gaming boxes: 4K, 144Hz, G-Sync, true HDR with 1000 nits of brightness, and 384 zone FALD backlight. You will, of course, need a monster graphics card to get the most out of it, and while the $2,000 launch price has dropped, it’s still an eye-watering $1,649.
The ultrawide option
Fans of ultrawide gaming should check out the Alienware AW3418DW, which sports a 34-inch curved IPS panel, G-Sync, and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate when overclocked (100Hz is the default). This 21:9, 3440 x 1440 IPS panel has good out of the box calibration and remains one of the finest choices for ultrawide gaming, with great response times and zero lag.
This monitor has been around for quite sometime now and used to top the list of best gaming monitors money could buy when fast refresh 4K wasn’t an option. The AW3418DW used to cost over a thousand bucks, today it’s as good for $850.
There are also some things that VA does better. Key advantages are contrast ratios and black levels: VAs have 2-3x better contrast ratios than their IPS counterparts, with some of the best models pushing even higher. They are also available in a wider range of sizes at this resolution, including 32-inch models, and curved models.
Picking a “best” VA monitor is a little tricky because in most circumstances we’d recommend you to buy an excellent IPS display like the LG 27GL850. Instead we’re going to recommend one of our favorite VA monitors which combines better-than-average performance, an attractive price tag, and a size IPS doesn’t offer.
The 32-inch LG 32GK650F (read our full review) once held our best value 1440p monitor spot. It’s an excellent VA display that stands out because of its great performance. Most 144Hz VA displays at 1440p deliver response times in the 7-8ms range or above, with some pushing 10ms. Compared to the IPS options we’ve just been talking about that’s pretty slow. But the 32GK650F offers some of the best VA response times we’ve tested, at a 6.50ms grey to grey average, which is around the mark of a typical IPS display. This helps minimize a lot of the ghosting and smearing issues that early VA adopters have complained about.
The 32GK650F does suffer from dark level smearing, which is a downside to all VA monitors that sees dark transitions blur more than other display technologies. However, the 32GK650F is better than average in this regard compared to most VAs we’ve reviewed. Response times are also fast enough that we’re getting a true 144Hz experience, which you couldn’t say from other first few generations of high-refresh VA monitors.
The 32GK650F has plenty of other benefits, like a contrast ratio above 2000:1 and very low input lag, below 1ms. It’s also easy to achieve great color performance with a few tweaks, and it has great viewing angles thanks to its flat panel.
LG has priced this monitor aggressively for a 32-inch gaming variant. Current pricing is ~$390 through Amazon, but we’ve seen sales that bring it as low as $350 or even $300. There aren’t any better value 32-inch 1440p high-refresh monitors on the market in our opinion, so we feel comfortable recommending another LG display here.
Best 1440p TN Gaming Monitor
For the fastest possible response times, highest refresh rates, and best overall performance with less consideration for colors, TN panels are your best bet. TN is known for speed, with other aspects like viewing angles, contrast and color performance falling well behind the other two display technologies.
Top of the line TN offerings are much faster than any current IPS/VA panels, combining the 1440p resolution with 240Hz refresh rates. This combo will punish your GPU, but it’s terrific for esports titles like CS: Go, Rocket League and Overwatch. The sort of motion handling you get at 240Hz is simply not achievable at lower refresh rates, and the only way to get this very high refresh is with a TN panel right now.
The 27-inch HP Omen X 27 is a great monitor, boasting of an elite 3ms response time average, allowing for a true 240Hz experience with very low ghosting and blur. Input lag is nearly 0, the fastest we’ve ever tested, and the adaptive sync experience is flawless. This is a really, really fast display, the fastest 1440p monitor you can get.
All the usual TN flaws and trade offs are still present — viewing angles, contrast ratios or wide color gamuts — this is not a monitor suitable for color accurate work, for example. But gaming? Oh, this is a beauty.
The Omen X 27 is available for around $580, which is not inexpensive, but it is much cheaper than its main competitor, the Lenovo Y27qg, which at around $900 we just can’t recommend. Get the Omen X 27 if you’re after a TN, and enjoy the blistering performance.
Spending less on a TN 1440p ~144Hz panel is harder to recommend as the monitors are not affordable enough to justify the trade-off, and most don’t perform significantly better than the best IPS offerings like LG’s Nano IPS range. The Viotek GFT27DB is one highlight offering with 4ms response times and decent color performance, but still suffers in the usual ways, like a lackluster contrast ratio and poor viewing angles. At $270 it could be a good option if you want fast response times on a budget, but maybe some of the budget options we’ll talk about next will interest you more.
Best Budget 1440p IPS for Gaming
If you are interested in an affordable 1440p 144Hz IPS gaming monitor, simply buy the ViewSonic VX2758-2KP-MHD, if you can find one. This is a popular budget monitor that is often out of stock, but at $320 offers unbeaten value.
Naturally, the VX2758 doesn’t offer the same performance as our best IPS monitor choice, the LG 27GL850. It uses a cheaper panel, so it ends up providing more mid-range to entry-level performance. But it’s still quite good, with best case response times of around 4ms and an average throughout the adaptive sync range of 7ms. That’s typical of a mid-tier IPS panel and quite similar to some more expensive options out there, like the Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD and the Asus VG27AQ. You’re just getting this performance for less.
The VX2758-2KP-MHD, despite its terrible name, offers a true 144Hz experience with low input lag, decent brightness and contrast, excellent viewing angles and well above average factory calibration. It also has much less dark level smearing than cheap VA panels, and is a flat panel, which is ideal considering this is just 27-inch.
As a budget gaming monitor, performance will be behind flagship IPS displays, no wide gamut support, and the stand is more limited, lacking height adjustability. But that’s about it. If you can deal with those concerns, there is no better monitor on the market for $320.
Other monitors to consider in this segment include the LG 27GL83A, though that’s a bit more expensive than the ViewSonic. The Pixio PX7 Prime offers a 165 Hz refresh rate which may tempt some buyers, but performance is mostly the same as the Viewsonic.
For less money, the Pixio PX275h is a cheap IPS monitor that sacrifices a 144Hz refresh rate for just 95Hz to hit its $260 price point. It’s a good monitor that performs well, has excellent viewing angles, and packs 95% DCI-P3 gamut coverage.
Best Budget 1440p VA for Gaming
This is the cheapest way to get a 1440p high refresh gaming monitor and various options sell for as little as $250.
Naturally, there are some compromises to get here. Performance sits below, but not that far below, our budget IPS choice. It can be a little harder for these monitors to provide a true 144Hz experience with response time averages typically in the 7-8ms range, so about 1ms slower than the ViewSonic VX2758-2KP-MHD, but they’re not terribly slow. They don’t deliver a bad experience, they’re still high refresh, and very responsive with low input lag, you just won’t get quite the same clarity and motion handling as higher-end monitors, which is to be expected as they’re half the price.
You’re also going to be stuck with a curved monitor. Samsung’s budget curved VA panels dominate this space, with 27-inch on offer for $250, and 32-inches for around $300. Brightness from these panels isn’t great, which may make gaming in a bright environment tricky, although most typical setups will be fine. On the other hand, contrast is outstanding, typically at least 3000:1 for these panels, with deeper blacks than IPS competitors. Wide gamut isn’t out of the question either depending on the model, and viewing angles tend to be very good, although again not quite as good as our budget IPS choice for about $70 more.
All this talk without actually mentioning any specific monitors… Right now our top pick is the AOC CQ27G2, which performs really well for a budget VA, getting close to our IPS picks with a 7.26ms grey to grey average at 144Hz which delivers a borderline 144Hz experience. However, the monitor just hit the market and pricing is still not where we want it to be.
If that’s not available for around $250, the last-gen model, the AOC CQ27G1 would be our pick of the bunch. We have liked Viotek’s GN27D which uses essentially the same panel, but AOC’s better ergonomics including a height adjustable stand see the CQ27G1 get my tick of approval. The CQ32G1 and GN32D are also good options if a 32-inch panel size is more what you’re after, although in our testing of the panels, the 32-inch model isn’t as good as the 27-inch.