We’ve looked at gaming mice, gaming furniture, joysticks and gaming keyboards in other reviews, but not yet reviewed the devices available in one of the most critical areas of your gaming environment – the monitor. Simply put, a great monitor can make a run of the mill game great, and a poor monitor can make a great game feel like a waste of time. As the clarity and complexity of the graphics offered by the latest range of games approaches real-life, a whizz-bang monitor is a key element of your hardware repertoire.
Key elements that we looked at are obviously the clarity and color palette offered by the monitor, and two that are vital for the gaming environment – the refresh rate and response time. If any of these are off-key, you will miss the essence of the game you are playing and go away feeling unsatisfied.
Obviously, the laptop or desktop you use as your gaming platform needs to be able to support the monitor resolution, response time and refresh rate required for your game, so it is important not to look at the monitor in isolation. A compatible graphics engine, implemented in hardware or less effectively in software is essential.
Also bear in mind that this is a rapidly changing market with new offerings coming out almost daily. The rapid convergence between conventional TV and PC monitor technology is bridging the divide between the two environments, and it is common to find a TV set that can support then latest PC games, and a PC monitor that supports a conventional or streaming TV environment. Your funding decision might cover a device that works in both environments, rather than concentrating on one only. Here’s our list of those PC monitors we feel make the top 10.
Table of Contents
- 1 BenQ 1ms GTG XL2720Z 27-inch High Performance LED Gaming Monitor
- 2 ASUS MX279H 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit LCD Monitor
- 3 Samsung S27D390H 27-Inch Screen LED Monitor
- 4 Philips 242G5DJEB 144hz, 1ms Extreme Performance 24-Inch Professional Gaming Monitor
- 5 ASUS VS278Q-P Ultrafast 1ms 27-Inch LED-Lit Monitor
- 6 Asus VG248QE 24-Inch LED-Lit Monitor
- 7 BenQ Gaming Monitor RL2455HM (24-Inch LED)
- 8 Asus VS247H-P 23.6-Inch Full-HD LED-Lit LCD Monitor
- 9 ASUS VS228H-P 22-Inch Full-HD 5ms LED-Lit LCD Monitor
- 10 Acer S231HL BBID 23-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor
BenQ 1ms GTG XL2720Z 27-inch High Performance LED Gaming Monitor
If you have unlimited funds then the BenQ 1ms GTG XL2720Z 27” monitor is the monitor you must have. This sweetie is about double the price of the others on the list, but the stunning technical specs and gaming specific features make it more than worthwhile. Refresh rate – 144Hz, matching the frame rate that brings out the best in the latest games. The 1 Ms response time is awesome, and taken together, these two elements make this an absolute perfect fit for gamers.
In regard to the visual feast that is the screen and color management, one unique element is the Black eQualizer. This bit of clever programming brings up the light level in the darker sections of the screen, while the other parts of the screen are unchanged. Another cool feature is the option to pre-set and store color options and palettes as color schemes, allowing you to have the optimal color scheme for each game. If you need to, you can even change the scheme during a game. If you have the bucks, then this is the one for the truly dedicated gamer.
ASUS MX279H 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit LCD Monitor
Times are hard and the BenQ may well be out of your reach right now. However, I’ve found in the past that users cannot tell the difference between a 2 and 4 second response time in an application and it’s the same with gaming monitors. While it’s great to have a bang-up to the minute top line hardware spec, more modest specs may meet your needs at a more affordable price.
The Asus MX279H is an IPS HD monitor. In practical terms this means it has a very high level of clarity and an impressive 178 degree viewing angle. It also looks really good. For the two key metrics, the response time is 5ms and it has a maximum refresh rate of 80Hz.
In many games, particularly those that don’t have intense fast-action fighting sequences, most people would be hard-pressed to see the visual difference.
Samsung S27D390H 27-Inch Screen LED Monitor
We mentioned above the convergence between the TV and gaming environments, and the effects on product development. The Samsung S27D390H fits into either niche very well.
To digress slightly, a major battle for market share in the smartphone space is between Apple and Samsung, with some believing that Samsung have the better screens. That technology expertise has crossed over into their gaming screen developments and the S27D390H is equally at home as a gaming and movie monitor.
The first and most obvious observation is stunning screen quality, probably the best on this list. Again it has an adequate rather than top line refresh rate and response time, offset somewhat by the Game Mode setting than helps with contrast and light setting for games.
Philips 242G5DJEB 144hz, 1ms Extreme Performance 24-Inch Professional Gaming Monitor
Much as you would like to buy a top-range monitor, you are limited by a budget. So what do you compromise on to keep the cost of your new screen affordable? The first option is to sacrifice some technical tweaks designed specifically for gaming monitors. The second is to opt for a screen size, smaller than the 27” you first looked at. The two screens above fit into the first category, while the Philips 242G5DJEB 24 inch monitor is an example of the second category.
The Philips 242G5DJEB 24 inch monitor has the same tech specs as the BenQ. It sports a 114Hz refresh rate and 1Ms response time, the same as the BenQ. It also has the Smart Frame application that lights up the darker areas, illuminating hidden baddies while leaving the rest of the screen untouched.
It also has the option of 6 programmable preset graphic modes to get the best out of different games. In performance terms, it is the equal of the BenQ, and is a splendid alternative or stepping stone despite it’s 24” screen size.
ASUS VS278Q-P Ultrafast 1ms 27-Inch LED-Lit Monitor
We have stated that two key technical screen metrics are the refresh rate and response time. For gaming applications, the response time is much more important. Asus have recognized this and produced the VS278Q-P, a 27” monitor with a 1ms response time, but with the refresh rate limited to 80Hz.
The keen pricing will give the Samsung a run for its money, but please realize that it is not an IPS monitor, so the viewing angle and color definition are inferior.
Check it out, and if the viewing angle and color resolution are not show-stoppers for your favorite game, then this may be the one to buy.
Asus VG248QE 24-Inch LED-Lit Monitor
We could have stopped the list right here, because the five monitors listed are an excellent mix of available technologies and prices. We’ve had a look at a few more, because some people prefer one manufacturer over another or a particular model has some overriding technical or aesthetic advantage.
One example is the Asus VG248QE 24” monitor. With a response time of 1ms and refresh rate of 144Hz, it fits into exactly the same technical and price bracket as the Phillips 242G5DJEB. The reason why the Philips is higher in the list is that the Asus doesn’t have any special gaming features such as color calibrations and special lighting features like the lightening up of the darker spaces.
BenQ Gaming Monitor RL2455HM (24-Inch LED)
This is the start of the very affordable part of the list. The little sister to the GTG XL2720Z, the RL2455HM fits neatly into the more affordable gaming monitor category. Like it’s big brother it has a 1Ms response time, very important particularly for fighting games. The refresh rate is however not 144Hz, being limited to 80Hz, and the screen is the smaller 24”, allowing it to sport the keener price.
Asus VS247H-P 23.6-Inch Full-HD LED-Lit LCD Monitor
This would have been our top pick in 2012, leading the comparison pack. It is still up there with the others, but now in the bargain bucket rather than on the prime real estate shelf. Look carefully though, and the technical specs of the Asus VS247H-P are better than many newer offerings and at a much lower price.
Technically, it has a refresh rate of 80Hz and a pretty decent 2ms response time, with an oddly sized screen at 23.6”. One to consider, if only because of the excellent spec and very, very competitive price.
ASUS VS228H-P 22-Inch Full-HD 5ms LED-Lit LCD Monitor
This spot on the list is where the rubber hits the road, and the functionality versus price equation becomes more complex and subjective.
The Asus VS228H-P 22-Inch Full-HD is more like a regular monitor than a gaming one. It is visually not very appealing, and the features are equally disappointing. From the name it is clearly a 22” monitor supporting a 5Ms response time and 75Hz refresh rate. Not really very good is it?
It does have a real-life color palette to help it along it somewhat. Surprisingly, Amazon shoppers rate it at 4.4, but we suspect that most buyers don’t game regularly.
The only reason that you might buy it is that it is the only monitor left in the shop, the shop is the only monitor store open in town and you desperately need to save the Galaxy from the Zombie Killer Weasels from the Plant Zob.
Acer S231HL BBID 23-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor
The Acer H236HL bid 23-Inch is the last in this list, and is in the same pricing bracket as the 22” Asus. It immediately has two things in its favor over the Asus, a 23” screen and IPS technology. Even though it is only one inch bigger, subjectively the Acer screen seems much larger. The IPS technology provides much brighter and vibrant colors, and a significantly wider viewing angle. All other tech specs are comparable.
Acer have a reputation for providing good and reliable, but perhaps unexciting equipment. This screen fits easily into that mould. If the last open shop in town only has the last Acer H236HL bid 23-Inch and last Asus VS228H-P 22-Inch Full-HD monitor on a shelf and the Zombie Killer Weasels are still threatening, buy the Acer.