4K gaming monitors are, without a doubt, awesome, delivering extremely detailed and vivid visuals. Even though this technology has been around for a while, these monitors haven’t been on the radar of the average gamer. Why? These monitors have historically been very expensive. Yes, they existed, but always in the back of many gamers’ minds. They deemed it more of a luxury rather than a necessary peripheral.
That’s until recently when the prices of these monitors have gone down just enough to be within reach of a wider range of gamers. With that said, they’re still a bit too pricey for the average casual gamer. However, many gamers are willing to buy them because of the increasing number of games that have 4k resolutions. Some games even let you play in HDR (High Dynamic Range), which is a common feature in 4K TVs but only recently has been finding its way into 4K computer monitors.
That’s because GPU card manufacturers have started supporting 4K. Not only that, they use this feature as a selling point to attract more buyers to their cards. Even current-gen gaming consoles coming out of the factory have been upgraded to include support for 4K monitors and TVs.
So are they a necessary buy? Well, it would depend on what you mean by “necessary.” For some people, they’re great but aren’t a big deal. For a lot of gamers, it’s a thing they want to have if the price is right. If you’re one of those on the lookout for the best 4K monitor that you can afford, then you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve come up with a list of the best 4K gaming monitors that you could check out in the latter part of this article that shows variations of the best products available on the market. We’ve limited our choices to monitors that are 27” and above for you to fully appreciate the benefits of UHD details.
But before we dive into that, let us first try to explain the many nuances of this particular type of computer monitor, so you can have a better idea of what you’re buying. We’ve collected all the necessary information that you’ll need to help you decide which one would best replace your old HD LED monitor.
There are a lot of terms being thrown around when you’re buying a monitor. It can get very confusing, so it’s better to familiarize yourself with them from the start.
Best Value 4K Gaming Monitor
AOC Agon AG271UG
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Best High End 4K Gaming Monitor
ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ
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Best Budget 4K Gaming Monitor
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Best Budget 4K Gaming Monitor
“For those on a tight budget, it’s hard to find a great 4K monitor under US$500, this one from LG is worth a look.”
Screen size: 27” | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 5ms |
Contrast Ratio: 5M/1 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Color Range: 99% sRGB
Panel Type: IPS FreeSync | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz|Ports: 2x DP 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0
For those on a tight budget, it’s hard to find a great 4K monitor under US$500, this one from LG is worth a look. While you’re limited to 60 Hz, you can still run games at 60 FPS in 4K if your GPU card is fast enough. The two HDMI 2.0 ports are available for either a PS4 or Xbox One X for supporting games with 4K at 60 Hz. With the DP 1.2 ports, you can run PC games at 4K with 60 FPS.
It supports AMD’s FreeSync, so it’s a bargain if you have an AMD-based GPU card that will ensure your framerates will always be in sync with the monitor’s 60 Hz refresh rates. It also has an IPS panel type for the widest viewing angles.
The contrast ratio is superb, where the darkest areas are as close to black as possible. The color gamut should be enough to satisfy even video editors or graphic designers. The very narrow bezel around the display makes it look slim and adds a sophisticated and elegant look.
Attaching and removing the monitor from its base is very straightforward. It lets you tilt it 90 degrees for portrait mode, which is a convenient plus. You can raise, lower, or tilt it, but you can’t swivel it around, which is somewhat odd. You would have to turn the base with it and scratch your desk, which we feel is a rather disappointing oversight since it lets you make the other adjustments easily.
However, it doesn’t sacrifice image quality to get below that price threshold, and that’s what makes it special. The way it strikes a balance with performance and price makes this a good bargain for gamers to finally own a 4K monitor without having to spend more than US$500.
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Best Cheap 4k Gaming Monitor
“Their MVA panel allows for a wide viewing angle, and the quick response time of 5ms is good for its price.”
Screen size: 32” | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 5ms |
Contrast Ratio: 120M:1 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Color Range: 1.07 billion colors |
Panel Type: MVA FreeSync | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Ports: DP 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0, 4x USB 3.0a, USB 3.0b
Another value for money offering under US$500 this time by ViewSonic and with a good-sized 32”. Their MVA panel allows for a wide viewing angle, and the quick response time of 5ms is good for its price. It supports AMD’s FreeSync at 60 Hz allowing for 60 FPS in games for smooth action without screen tearing. It has HDR support but not full HDR, although it’s good enough for games that offer the setting.
At first glance, it looks rather minimalistic compared to other gaming monitors. Then you see a vertical LED light on its base that gives away its gaming pedigree. The finish is matte black with some glossy accents that give it character.
You can see red labels on the right bezel for the On-Screen Display (OSD) buttons located at the back. The bezels aren’t too wide, but the button layout is not good. It’s not easy to navigate the menu with them, and you can accidentally turn off the power button if you’re not careful. It can be annoying when that happens.
The base allows for complete movement. You can tilt the display, raise it, and swivel it around its axis. You can also turn it to portrait mode, which can be handy for other tasks. Again be careful with those buttons when you move the screen around.
All of the I/O ports are at the back, and the audio jacks, too, which is disappointing. It has built-in 5w speakers that you can fire up when you don’t want to use your headset. It’s no substitute for a more hefty sound system, though, but it’s nice to have them anyway.
The ports include a DP 1.4 that will allow your PC to run games that have 4K settings, and at 60 FPS and lower. There are HDMI 2.0 ports that can be used by your consoles so they can run games in 4K at 30FPS. When you run a game for the first time, you’ll see the difference in detail immediately and realize how it looks way better than anything on the 1080p or even 1440p monitor that you previously had. Response time could be better, but that would’ve jacked up the price for sure.
The larger 32” size that comes with the prize, plus the ability to run games in 4K at 60 FPS, makes this is really a tempting monitor to refuse.
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Good Value 4K Gaming Monitor
“At just below the US$450 mark, it’s a pretty good value for your money.”
Screen size: 27” | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 5ms |
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Color Range: 99.9% sRGB|
Panel Type: IPS FreeSync | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Ports: DP 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 type C
With its wide color gamut and HDR compatibility, this 4K monitor from LG is an excellent choice for HDR gaming in consoles connected via HDMI 2.0. Even more with PCs with AMD GPU cards, as they would benefit from FreeSync and the DP 1.4 port when running games at a smooth 60 FPS. There’s also new USB type C connectivity so you can play 4K videos.
The IPS panel lets you view the display from almost any angle, unlike in TN monitors, and this will be a welcome change if you haven’t tried one before. Colors are brilliant and should be perfect for gaming, but the contrasts are a bit underwhelming, although not terrible.
On the outside, the 27UK850-w has very narrow matte black colored bezels at the top and sides and widens a bit at the bottom. The back is textured white while the stand and the curved base are metallic grays. The display can be tilt up and down and pivot for portrait mode, which is great when you’re working on documents, or web browsing.
You can also adjust the height of the display with the telescopic stand. It’s not difficult to move the screen to get the right angle you want, and the base looks flimsy at first, but it’s very sturdy. But like the LG 27UD88-W, it can’t swivel, and you’ll halve to move the base with it when you turn it. The contrast of the black and white colors of the front and back is striking.
There aren’t many I/O ports at the back, but there’s enough for two 4k consoles playing games with HDR. It is compatible with HDR but doesn’t meet all the requirements to deliver an authentic HDR experience. Especially the brightness of 350 cd/m2, which is lacking fir HDR. 1000 cd/m2 or higher would’ve been preferable. This issue isn’t unique to this issue as monitors have yet to catch up with TV in their implementation of HDR support. There’s an overdrive feature that you need to set to make sure it’s set to reach its rated 5ms response time.
This monitor has a smaller sibling that is also a 4K monitor, an IPS panel, and supports FreeSync. It’s the LG 27UL500, and it’s only US$299. You might also want to check that out, as it’s the first 4K monitor we’ve seen under US$300. You can be sure that’s superior to any HD or QHD monitors out there near that price range.
LG is known for the quality of its IPS monitors, and it shows with the 27UL850-w. At just below the US$450 mark, it’s a pretty good value for your money.
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AOC Agon AG271UG
Best Value 4K Gaming Monitor
“This monitor has 4K resolution, an IPS panel, and G-Sync, plus a remarkable image quality, which are features found in higher-end models.”
Screen size: 27” | Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 4ms |
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Color Range: 100% sRGB, 80% Adobe RGB|
Panel Type: IPS G-Sync | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | Ports: DP 1.4, HDMI 1.4, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0
For this 27” 4K monitor, AOC has installed an IPS panel with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a fast response time of only 4ms. The IPS panels are known for their consistent accuracy and broad viewing angles of almost 180 degrees from all directions.
The design of the monitor is minimalistic, relying on simple lines that are very pleasant to the eyes. The black bezel is ultra-thin, giving the display a very sleek and stylish appearance. The display surface itself minimizes reflections in the background and glare from harsh light sources. It sits on a metallic bright metallic stand that contrasts nicely with all the dark colors, and is very sturdy and prevents the monitor from wobbling.
At the back, you’ll see a distinct and flashy red v-shaped band in contrast with the dark brushed-metal finish. A large AOC logo rests above the monitor stand. There’s a handy retractable arm that can be tilted down where you can hang your headset when not in use.
The base is very flexible and can be adjusted for height, swivel or tilt so you can position the display in the most comfortable viewing angle for you. It can also be pivoted 90 degrees to help you view portrait images and entire document pages without having to scroll down your screen. You can spend long hours with this monitor without fatigue, and with the help of their Flicker-Free technology, it helps reduce eyestrain along with a Low Blue Light option.
The Agon’s IPS panel is a real 10-bit color panel with 100% sRGB and 80% Adobe RGB color gamut. You can be sure that images won’t look washed out with the slightest tilt or swivel of the monitor, as is the case with TN panels.
Testing it with various games, you’ll be pleasantly amazed by the depth of colors and the contrast variations. With so many pixels packed in a small 27” display, the detail at the 3,040x 2160 is incredible. It becomes more apparent if your old monitor was 1080p. The difference and improvement in visuals from playing the same games is stunning. Game images look very sharp and vivid.
Another great thing how the Agon adopted Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which will allow gamers owning Nvidia GPU cards the luxury of playing their games up to 60 frames per second without any input lag or screen tearing noticeable in the on-screen action. It also has Shadow Control that shows gamers details in dark areas in the game like dungeons and caves without the black colors looking washed out, or without it affecting the brightly lit areas of the scene.
Overall this is an outstanding product. The only drawback is that some gamers with more powerful rigs might want a faster 144 Hz refresh. Besides that, this monitor has 4K resolution, an IPS panel, and G-Sync, plus a remarkable image quality, which are features found in higher-end models. We think it’s worthy of your consideration, and that’s why we’re giving it a thumbs up.
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Acer Predator XB273K
Great Bargain 4k Gaming Monitor
“With its price, features, and image quality that can be seen in monitors over a thousand dollars more, it is a great bargain.”
Screen size: 27” | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 1ms |
Contrast Ratio: 5M:1 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Color Range: 1.07 billion colors |
Panel Type: IPS G-Sync | Refresh Rate: 120 Hz | Ports: 2x DP 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0, 5x USB 3.0
This monitor supports Nvidia’s G-Sync refresh rate technology, so be sure that your GPU card matches it to take full advantage of the smooth motion. The refresh rate is overclockable to 144 Hz, and it should be able to handle PC games that can run above 100 FPS, and with G-Sync, it will adapt to varying FPS rates for more fluid gameplay. Remember that you have to use your DP 1.4 ports to be able to run above 60 FPS.
The Predator’s IPS panel provides the widest viewing angle possible while having very quick 1ms responsiveness. It has a 1.07 billion color gamut and applies a quantum dot technology for more vivid and accurate images. There’s also support for games that have HDR settings, so you can enjoy that added visual treat if you have a gaming rig powerful enough to take advantage of it. It comes with a privacy hood that helps reduce unwanted glare and reflections.
Running different games, you’ll find that it delivers exceptional contrasts in both dark and bright areas in games. The image color is vivid, and the quality is crisp without any blurring. It not only makes it easy on the eyes, but the games look amazing. It has available presets for a lot of games, so you won’t have to fiddle around with the settings too much.
With its price, features, and image quality that can be seen in monitors over a thousand dollars more, it is a great bargain. The only downside is the 27” size that is the minimum for 4K. Still, it receives one of our highest recommendations.
On a side note, Acer also has the Nitro XB273K, which is almost identical to the Predator. The main difference is that the Nitro sports FreeSync to run AMD based cards instead of Nvidia’s solution.
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ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ
Best High End 4K Gaming Monitor
“If you want to own one of the best high-end 4K gaming monitors, then this one deserves a place on your desktop.”
Screen size: 27” | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3040 x 2160p | Response Time: 4ms |
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 | Brightness: 1000 cd/m2 | Color Range: 99% sRGB |
Panel Type: IPS G-Sync | Refresh Rate: 120 Hz | Ports: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
The first thing that will catch your attention is the price. But, before that makes you skip to the next one on the list, let us say that this monitor has almost everything that a high-end gaming enthusiast would want. It has a native refresh rate of 120 Hz that is overclockable up to 144 Hz, and that means it can handle games running at more than 100 FPS.
The quality of the build is impressive, and the design looks elegant. A medium-sized bezel frames the display with an ROG logo at the bottom. There’s also a large ROG logo at the back with glowing effects and PCB-like circuit patterns that branch out from the center on the upper diagonal half. The lights can be integrated with AURA lighting and synced with other ASUS ROG peripherals and devices for a unified look.
The eye-catching tripod stand looks and feels solid, with an LED at the bottom center that projects an ROG logo on the table surface like some colorful bat signal. You can configure all the lighting through an OSD menu until you’re satisfied with how it looks.
The built-in Nvidia G-Sync hardware would ensure that this monitor would adjust to the varying FPS rates of games to ensure fluid gameplay. The IPS panel allows for viewing at the widest angles possible without any polarizing distortion. We could go on with the specs, but seeing it in action is a sight to behold, especially when playing different kinds of games.
Another thing that sets it apart from cheaper alternatives is its full HDR implementation that gives pictures, videos, and videogame graphics something extra. It is aided by a dynamic LED backlighting that adjusts the intensity with 384 independent zones behind the display that help give the image more accurate contrasts and brightness.
To enhance the image accuracy, even more, it makes use of a quantum dot technology and a color range that allow 25% more colors than other methods. It’s the right choice not only for gamers but for graphic artists and designers, as well as photo and video editing pros.
Not only its price makes it stand out, but its performance too. That’s what justifies its hefty price tag. If you want to own one of the best high-end 4K gaming monitors, then this one deserves a place on your desktop.
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Full HD monitors
The most widespread monitor in use today is the 1080p LED monitor, also known as a Full HD (High Definition), or simply an HD monitor. It’s most probably what you have right now. “1080p” means the number (1080) of pixels (“p”) that make up the display vertically. A pixel is short for “picture element,” which is a tiny dot of color that, when arranged with millions of other pixels on a grid, form an entire image on a screen.
If you’re looking at your monitor’s display screen right now, everything that you see in there, whether it be a picture of your pet or the text on a document you’re working on, is made up of millions of those tiny square dots.
The resolution of HD displays is 1920x1080p, or 1,920 pixels wide (horizontally) by 1,080 pixels tall (vertically). That means that HD displays contain a total of 2,073,600 pixels if you multiply the horizontal and vertical numbers.
What are 4k gaming monitors?
A new standard for displays with an even higher definition than HD is emerging, which is called UHD (Ultra High Definition). 4K TV or monitors is the popular term now to describe UHD displays. When you hear someone talking about UHD monitors, he’s also referring to 4K monitors.
4K refers to the number of horizontal pixels. The “K” comes from “kilo,” which means one thousand (1,000), so in essence, 4K means 4,000. Well, not exactly.
You see, a UHD resolution is exactly 3840x2160p, which equals 8,294,400 pixels. That’s more than four times the detail found in HD monitors. It’s also referred to as 4K because 3,840 is rounded off to 4,000, and 4K makes it a lot easier to remember and say.
Why is it essential in gaming?
The most obvious reason is that any game would simply look gorgeous in 4K.
The more advances made in 3D graphics technology, the more immersive and lifelike games have become. True, we’re still nowhere near Star Trek holodecks, but we’re getting there. You can only appreciate what the developers have created to the fullest if you’re playing their game in the highest possible resolution settings.
There are other reasons why bigger monitors are becoming more common. Let’s say you’re playing a game like Civilization 6 on a 21” HD monitor, for example.
It’s a very stylized but also a highly detailed representation of the world, where you move a large number of pieces or units over a kind of organic game board. If you want to buy a 27” monitor or an even larger one, but with the same old HD resolution, you will start seeing those pixels on that game. It won’t be pretty.
Or maybe you’re playing an FPS online using a 24” HD monitor and set your game to the screens native resolution of 1980x1080p. You don’t know it, but let’s say your opponent is playing on a 40” monitor and that his rig is powerful enough to enable him to play in glorious 4K on his end.
As the match is going on, you begin to wonder why he’s systematically slaughtering you with ease. You feel by the way he’s playing that he sees your avatar before you see his. Sadly for you, that’s what is happening exactly.
Because his game has more detail, he has a clear view of your avatar from far away. That’s why he always has the jump on you. You, on the other hand, don’t notice him because from the same distance, he’s just an unrecognizable speck lost in the background. He’ll always have the advantage because his game has more detail.
Granted that you see a larger image, but the detail remains the same or even gets worse when enlarged. It’s like how it would look if you took a magnifying glass to examine your current display. You’d see those pixels. A bigger HD monitor is just like that and stretches that 1920x1080p resolution to fill the bigger display dimensions.
And that’s an important point. Ideally, 1080p’s upper limit should be 24” at most. We can only recommend QHD (Quad HD) with dimensions of 2560x1440p above that. And if you’re planning to buy a UHD monitor, the optimum would be 27” or higher.
Pixels Per Inch
Imagine you’re in front of a computer store, and you notice that they have two monitors next to each other that are both 27” (measured diagonally from corner to corner). The one on the left is HD, while the one on the right is UHD, and they’re both displaying the same image of a flower.
The images have the exact size, but you’ll see a stark difference in the amount of detail of the picture on the UHD monitor. That’s because it can display more than 4x the amount of pixels in the same area than an HD monitor can.
The difference in detail between the two monitors is measured by the number of Pixels Per Inch (PPI) that each display has horizontally. The average width of a 27” monitor is roughly 21”. Based on the example, the HD monitor can only display 91 PPI while the UHD monitor can have 183 PPI. The UHD monitor can display twice more pixels horizontally than an HD can.
Is your PC up to it?
Here’s a question you need to ask yourself early when contemplating buying a 4K monitor for gaming: Can your computer run games in 4K at high graphics settings?
Unless you have a beefy gaming rig with a GPU card like an Nvidia GTX 1080 at least, then you’re probably better off with a monitor with less definition like a QHD.
And by a beefy PC, we mean the bare minimum to run 4K games. Your rig must have at least a 3.2 GHz 8-Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM. Most games require a minimum of 6 GB GPU video memory for games to run with 4K textures. Anything less than this would be a stretch.
Another thing to think about is your framerate standards for games. The acknowledged minimum these days is at least 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) at high graphics quality settings for gameplay to be considered smooth. Anything below that isn’t acceptable to the most demanding gamers.
What about refresh rates?
It’s another thing to consider when thinking about your PC’s capabilities.
The Refresh rate of a monitor is the speed at which it can redraw vertically an entire screen every second. Just like a roll of film in a movie projector, the monitor would have to update to the next frame several times per second to be able to show movement smoothly. It’s set to this constant rate even if there’s no motion on the image shown.
When you play a video, for example, it updates the change in the images that are happening many times per second at this set rate, and that translates into the motion in the video you’re seeing. The most common monitor refresh rate is 60 Hz ( Hertz), which means the image is updated 60 times per second.
With games, if a high-end GPU card can run a game at 90 FPS, a 60 Hz monitor won’t be able to catch up with how fast that card updates the screen data. When that happens, the monitor can only show the image partially, up to the point the next update comes. You’ll start seeing some screen tearing happening because of the incomplete frames.
In the past, that problem was in reverse. It was the slower GPUs that had to play catch-up with the 60 Hz. The standard way to fix this is with V-sync (Vertical sync), where the graphics card waits for a monitor to refresh its display entirely before it sends another update. In that way, it eliminates screen tearing.
With faster GPUs that can slow down FPS because it will be a slave to the slower monitor refresh rate when it can go faster than that. Many monitors now carry an emerging faster refresh rate standard of 144 Hz, making them ideal to use with high-end GPU cards.
Another problem with V-sync is input lag. Sometimes a slower GPU would have to wait for the monitor to refresh. Your game would stutter because it’s the GPU trying to keep up. When that happens, there’s a delay in response to your controls and the image your seeing.
It can be annoying when you’re playing a first-person shooter against an opponent without those issues, for example. He’ll always have a faster twitch reaction than you because of the delay caused by the lagging when it’s syncing. That could spell your defeat more often even you’re both equally skilled.
Two of the most popular GPU manufacturers, Nvidia and AMD, have both come up with a better alternative to Vsync.
G-sync and Freesync
G-sync is Nvidia’s solution to match a game’s frame rates with the monitor’s refresh rates. It has to be supported by the monitor, though, with specialized hardware from Nvidia built into them. As for the Nvidia GPU graphics cards, they’ve had it for a while now, so it shouldn’t be an issue with them. The problem is that it adds a premium to a monitor that has this hardware feature.
AMD came up with Freesync as their answer to the synchronization woes. However, its tech is built-in to their cards, so it’s free as you don’t need a special monitor for it.
Both G-Sync and Freesync are what’s called adaptive sync, where they force the monitor’s refresh rate to the ever-changing FPS in a game. It’s not a perfect technology, but it’s better than ordinary V-sync. There are arguments to be made for both solutions, but we’re not going into that.
The critical thing to remember is that monitors with G-sync are more expensive, and you’d have to own an Nvidia GPU card. With Freesync, you’d have to own an AMD based GPU card, but it can work with any monitor.
Other things on your checklist
There are also some specs that you will need to go over to be sure that you’re not missing out on things that you need from a new 4K monitor.
It would be harder to appreciate the details a 4K monitor brings out if its display is smaller than 27”. That should be a good starting point in choosing its size.
- Panel type
The most popular and cheapest type of LCD panels manufactured and used today are Twisted Nematic (TN) and is probably what your monitor has right now. You’ll know your monitor has TN if you can’t view the display correctly at angles other than straight on. They have the fastest response times but do suffer from lower image quality, contrast, and color accuracy.
The next most popularly used are In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD panels. They have wider viewing angles, excellent quality of images, and accurate color reproduction. It’s understandable then why graphic designers would vouch for them.
Vertical Alignment (VA) LCD panels are rarer. They also have better viewing angles, image quality, and brighter colors than TN types. The downside is their slow response time and their not quite as good as IPS. They are more affordable, though. Where they shine is in the amount of contrast, and that’s why they’re used often in HDR monitors.
Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) isn’t an LCD panel. They don’t use polarization like LCDs do, so that’s why they can be viewed from any angle. Each pixel is a set of three OLED molecules that glow in the RGB (Red Green Blue) combination when powered with electricity. Brightness, too, can be controlled with the amount of electricity. Think of them as a miniaturized version of those giant LED billboards, but not exactly.
Because they don’t have the disadvantages of LCDs, they don’t suffer light bleeding, and they have superior contrast. Right now, though, their refresh rates are limited to 90 Hz, and they’re very expensive. The OLEDs pixels also degrade quicker over time.
For gaming, TN panels are still the cheapest options, and they have the fastest response. But overall, we recommend IPS monitors since engineers have been able to push their refresh rates to 144 Hz. The extra cost we think is worth it with all the advantages they hold over TN panels.
- Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the display to their height. It’s all a matter of preference.
- Wide-Screen has a ratio of 16:9 and is the most commonly used for most purposes, even in gaming. Ideally, for 4K, the minimum display size should be 27” for you to better appreciate the increase in details. Anything smaller and you’ll miss out on those details.
- Ultra-Wide screens have a broader 21:9 ratio and are more expensive, and we recommend a 34”. The wider the screens get, the more powerful gaming PC is required to run it in UHD resolutions. So you have to keep that in mind if you’re eyeing one of these. A curved screen would work better for games.
- Super Ultra-Wide screens are essentially two wide-screen monitors placed side by side without the bezels in the middle. They have an aspect ratio of 32:9 and are the most expensive. We recommend super wide-screens above 40”. You have to make sure that you have enough desk space to accommodate this expensive beast. Naturally, a curved screen is your best option.
There are some other aspect ratios like 16:90, for example, but they’re less common.
Most specs give you the Candela Per Square Meter (cd/m2), which is an indication of how much brightness a monitor can deliver.
- Contrast ratios
It’s the ratio of the contrast that a monitor display has between the darkest and the brightest contrast it can produce. For example, a monitor with a rating 4000:1 has better contrast that one with a 3000:1 ratio.
- Response Time
It’s the response measured in milliseconds (ms), and the smaller it is, the better. It indicates how fast a monitor can switch the color of a pixel from black to white. If it is slow to change, then blur would result as the color fades instead of switching instantaneously.
- Color Gamut
It’s the format used by the monitor that shows the range of colors it can display. It’s the most widely used format called Standard RGB (Red Green Blue) or sRGB. Others have Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB, which have a broader spectrum of colors.
For most applications, a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) 1.4 port would be alright. But for games, you have to think about the FPS at 4K. It’s why you’re buying the best 4K monitor in the first place. HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30 FPS in 4K resolutions.
It’s vital that your 4K monitor can display at least 60 FPS and can configure adaptive refresh without a hitch. Both HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort (DP) can handle that. DP is more expensive, but it’s also the fastest, more foolproof, and futureproof option because it can handle up to 8K resolutions and refresh rates.
Finally, there’s the matter of your finances.
It’s true that the prices of a lot of these monitors have gone down substantially and are getting more popular. Sadly, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one under U$400 that has decent specs. It’s still a significant improvement from the outrageous prices before, but compared to HD monitors, there’s still a wide gap.
So unless you have as much as US$500 or more to spare, then you might have to wait a little while longer.
Picking a monitor isn’t as simple as buying one because it will look great on your desktop. The number of specs can be overwhelming, but if you possess the right kind of information about them, then that would make it easier to avoid regrets and disappointment on a purchase.
When UHD monitors first started being introduced, seeing one below US$3,000 was rarety. That was how expensive they were in the beginning. Most manufacturers were targeting high-end gamers, and you had to have the ultimate gaming PC back then to run them.
Their prices have gone down considerably, but 4K monitors are still on the pricey side, especially the best ones. Who wants to waste that amount of cash on a dud? You can find ones that are under 400 bucks, but those only come with TN panels. While they have the fastest response times, they’re slowly being pushed out in larger monitors because of their minimal viewing angles and inaccurate image quality. IPS is becoming the display panel of choice.
So you still have to be careful that you get more bang for your buck. 4K monitors with IPS are slowly becoming a necessity. Because manufacturers are pushing this standard into gaming, GPU cards are getting more powerful and able to play games in higher resolutions at more than 60 FPS.
You’ll notice that what separates the expensive ones from the rest is their 144 Hz refresh rates. Those are for computers that can run games at up to 144 FPS to take full advantage of that fast display refresh. If you run such a gaming rig, your monitor would be bottlenecking your FPS at 60 FPS.
So even if you save money from buying a 4K monitor below US$500, it isn’t advisable to get one if you have a souped-up rig. We have yet to see one that implements FreeSync2 for AMD cards, however, which would be better able to handle HDR.
More games released by developers now were designed to take advantage of this increasing GPU capabilities. It would be a shame if you can’t experience fully what a game has to offer because of a limited monitor.
Having one of the best 4K monitors would guarantee that you’d reap the benefits of your powerful gaming rig and to enjoy games the way you were meant to play them.