There are many factors to keep in mind when shopping for a good gaming monitor in 2021, including things like the resolution, the panel type, the refresh rate, and more.
However, one very important feature – especially when it comes to monitors with high refresh rates – is VRR. And in this respect, many gamers are willing to go all out and invest in a monitor that comes with the very best form of VRR that’s currently available: Nvidia G-Sync.
So, what makes a G-Sync monitor so appealing, are they actually worth the price premium, and which one should you ultimately get?
We’ll go over all of those questions in this buying guide, so read on!
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- Fastest panel currently on the market
- Very low response times
- Fully adjustable stand
- 1080p feels dated in 2021
- Mediocre contrast ratio
- Limited HDR
The first entry on our list might not seem all that impressive at first glance, but the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN is a very effective solution for performance-oriented gamers who don’t care about the display resolution as much as they do about the refresh rates.
With an ROG logo on the front, the unique base design, the patterned back, and the RGB lighting that’s common in the latest ROG monitors, there’s no mistaking the PG259QN for some run-of-the-mill office monitor. As you’d expect, it also comes with a stand that is adjustable for tilt, height, swivel, and pivot. On top of that, it even comes with a USB hub, which is always convenient if you need to connect or charge certain peripherals.
When we take a look at what’s under the hood, we’ll find an excellent 1080p IPS panel that not only offers good color accuracy and wide viewing angles, but is also the fastest panel that you can find on the market today.
Namely, with a refresh rate of 360Hz, the Asus PG259QN is the single fastest gaming monitor currently available. As if that weren’t enough, the panel can achieve gray-to-gray response times as low as 1ms, something that IPS panels simply couldn’t do up until relatively recently. Combine that with G-Sync, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the best G-Sync monitors that you can get right now.
But of course, no product is perfect, and the PG259QN has some drawbacks, too. First of all, the contrast ratio is somewhat underwhelming, but that is often the case with this particular panel technology.
In addition to that, while the monitor is HDR-compatible, it doesn’t really fare well in that department. With the aforementioned lacking contrast, no local dimming, and limited peak brightness, the PG259QN is far from being a good HDR gaming monitor.
So, all things considered, if you’re in the market for a high-performance G-Sync panel and don’t mind sticking with 1080p and subpar HDR in 2021, then the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN will likely fit the bill.
- Beautiful 1440p IPS panel
- High refresh rate and low response time
- Solid HDR with local dimming
- Sleek futuristic design
- No pivot adjustment
- Mediocre contrast ratio
- On the pricey side
Moving on, we get so something a bit flashier from Dell’s Alienware brand – the Alienware AW2721D. Essentially, this monitor is a step up in terms of visuals and a step down in terms of performance compared to the Asus solution that we’ve taken a look above, so what exactly does it offer?
Well, for starters, the monitor features a very unique and eye-catching design. The stark black-and-white contrast works very well here and it gives the monitor a sleek, futuristic feel. It supports tilt, swivel, and height adjustment, and it has a USB hub, and we’d expect nothing less at this price point.
Now, when it comes to the actual display, the monitor features a 1440p IPS panel that can deliver lifelike colors and clarity, not to mention that it also comes with an HDR600 certification – with a peak brightness of 600 nits and 32-zone local dimming, the AW2721D makes for a solid HDR gaming monitor, too.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t disappoint in the performance department either – with a whopping 240Hz refresh rate, it will meet the needs of virtually every gamer, and a 1ms GtG response time is certainly impressive when added to the monitor’s long list of merits.
Sadly, though, the contrast ratio is nothing to write home about, as with most IPS panels, and the monitor is definitely on the pricey side. However, it is a very well-rounded G-Sync monitor: 1440p is a resolution sweet spot at the moment, it features very high refresh rates, and it offers solid HDR, all of which make it a very appealing gaming monitor.
- Stunning 4K IPS display
- Superb HDR image quality
- Excellent local dimming
- Appealing RGB-heavy design
- Extremely expensive
- Somewhat chunky bezels
For our next pick, we come back to Asus, and what could easily be the best gaming monitor currently on the market: the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ. So, what makes this monitor so impressive?
In terms of design, you can see that it sticks with the same design philosophy seen in the more budget-friendly PG269QN that we’ve taken a look at above, albeit with extra details and more extensive RGB. It is fully adjustable for tilt, height, pivot, and swivel, and as you’d expect, it comes with a USB hub on the back.
Now, we get to the good stuff – the panel. Not only are we looking at a stunning 27-inch 4K IPS display with spot-on color accuracy and wide viewing angles, but it also offers amazing HDR performance. With an HDR1000 certification, it can reach a peak brightness of 1000 nits, and perhaps more importantly, it comes with full-array 384-zone local dimming that allows the display to offer truly amazing contrast.
Performance-wise, the panel can go as high as 144Hz, which makes it the slowest monitor on this list, but 144Hz is more than enough for many, especially since it’s a 4K monitor we’re talking about. Moreover, its 4ms GtG response time isn’t as impressive on paper, but it’s not a difference that most would be capable of noticing and it’s difficult to see it as a major drawback in such a good monitor.
All in all, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it kind of deal, as it simply has it all. However, as you might expect, this also means that it costs a lot, too. And sure enough, it costs significantly more than your average gaming PC, so it will mainly appeal to enthusiasts with deeper pockets.
- Massive curved screen
- Great visuals
- Impressive panel performance
- Disappointing HDR
- No swivel adjustment
- Dubious value
Up next, we have something a little bit different. For those who are looking for an extra immersive ultrawide G-Sync monitor, LG has just the thing – the LG 38GL950G.
On the outside, the monitor looks quite good, boasting extremely thin bezels, along with some red highlights on the base of the stand and an RGB ring on the back. The stand is a bit limited in terms of adjustment, though, as it can only be adjusted for tilt and height. It does, however, come with a USB hub.
But of course, the design isn’t the most striking thing about this monitor. Rather, that would have to be its humongous curved 38-inch screen that can really pull the player into the game world, and you don’t have to worry about low pixel density either, as the monitor features a resolution that’s more than high enough for a screen this large.
As far as the panel itself is concerned, the LG 38GL950G is yet another monitor that features an IPS panel with great color reproduction and viewing angles, but as before, the contrast and the black uniformity simply aren’t all that great with this type of panel.
Now, as you’d expect, the monitor is HDR-compatible and comes with an HDR400 certification which, sadly, is simply not good enough in a monitor this pricey. While it actually performs surprisingly well in terms of peak brightness, the lack of local dimming means that the monitor simply cannot deliver the kind of contrast required to bring HDR to life.
However, the panel fares exceptionally well when it comes to performance, as it offers 1ms GtG response times with extremely low motion blur. Plus, the panel’s native refresh rate is 144Hz but it can be overclocked up to 175Hz via DisplayPort.
With all that said, the LG 38GL950G is clearly an excellent monitor. Granted, the disappointing HDR performance may be a deal-breaker for some, especially considering the hefty price, but apart from that, it is a good pick for those who are set on getting a high-performance ultrawide G-Sync monitor.
- Immersive curved ultrawide screen
- Excellent contrast ratio
- Amazing HDR image quality
- High refresh rates
- Appealing design
- Extremely expensive
And last but definitely not least, we have yet another ultrawide option coming from Asus – the Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ – and it’s even better than the previous one.
Design-wise, this monitor looks pretty much like an ultrawide version of the PG27UQ that we’ve taken a look at above, featuring a unique-looking stand with RGB projectors, a patterned back, and a massive RGB-lit ROG logo on the back. The monitor is adjustable for height, tilt, and swivel, and as you’d expect, Asus didn’t leave out the USB hub.
Now, something that makes the PG35VQ stand out on this list is that it doesn’t use an IPS panel. Rather, it comes with a VA panel that offers noticeably better contrast, all the while it also delivers vibrant colors and solid viewing angles.
Moreover, much like the PG27UQ, this monitor is HDR1000-certified and comes with 512-zone local dimming. As such, it is also capable of delivering a top-notch HDR experience comparable to what you could find in a high-end TV set.
Fortunately, this doesn’t come at the cost of performance, as this 144Hz monitor can easily be overclocked all the way up to 200Hz. However, VA panels are known for black smearing issues, and those are sadly present here, too. On the bright side, it’s easy to minimize this effect with some tweaking.
Overall, the Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ is a stunning ultrawide G-Sync monitor, but much like its 16:9 cousin, its main drawback lies in the fact that it is extremely expensive and will thus be unappealing to anyone but enthusiasts who would be willing and able to spend a serious amount of money on a monitor.
How To Pick The Best G-Sync Monitor For Your Needs
Now that we have gone over some of the best G-Sync monitors currently available, it’s time to take a closer look at some features that you should keep in mind when making your final pick.
The resolution is one of the most important things to keep in mind when buying a new monitor in 2021. Why?
Well, simply because higher resolutions can offer far better visuals, but this comes at the cost of performance. On top of that, it’s also something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about future-proofing your PC.
So, in short, the three most common resolutions that you’ll encounter today are Full HD (1080p), Quad HD (1440p), and Ultra HD (2160p/4K).
In 2021, 1080p is being replaced by 1440p as the new standard resolution for gaming, a process that is only being sped along by the powerful new GPUs that are coming out. However, 1080p still has its merits. Namely, 1080p monitors tend to be more affordable and it’s easier to hit higher framerates in a lower resolution.
However, in the context of G-Sync monitors, a 1080p G-Sync monitor is bound to appeal to those who are putting performance before visuals. After all, the only 1080p monitor that we have listed here is the Asus PG259QN, which can reach a whopping 360Hz refresh rate.
Meanwhile, there are great 4K gaming monitors out there, but they are still very demanding, especially if you’re aiming at high-performance models. As such, they are still largely aimed at enthusiasts who would be willing and able to spend the kind of money required for a high-quality G-Sync 4K gaming monitor and a GPU powerful enough to do such a monitor justice.
Of course, 1440p is still the best middle-ground between performance and visuals overall, as it looks noticeably better than 1080p without being anywhere near as demanding as 4K. As such, we’d say that it’s the best option to go with in 2021, G-Sync or not.
Apart from the resolution, another important factor to keep in mind when shopping for a monitor is the aspect ratio. Most gaming monitors today are either regular widescreen monitors (16:9) or ultrawide monitors (21:9), so do the latter offer any major advantages?
Well, first and foremost, a larger screen offers more desktop real estate, and this can be a big plus if you’re concerned with productivity and/or multitasking. When gaming is concerned, ultrawide monitors can offer a wider field of view, all the while an ultrawide curved screen can also provide a great sense of immersion.
On the downside, not all games support FOV adjustment and many competitive multiplayer games don’t allow it simply so that certain players would be unable to buy an advantage over others. Furthermore, there are many games that don’t have native ultrawide support, so getting them to run properly on an ultrawide screen could be a hassle.
Finally, it’s worth noting that ultrawide monitors come with a higher resolution, and as mentioned above, this could mean an additional strain on the hardware.
It’s possible to tell a lot about a monitor simply by taking a look at what type of panel it utilizes, and in 2021, the two leading technologies are IPS and VA.
IPS (in-plane switching) panels tend to have vibrant, accurate colors and great viewing angles, although they usually have underwhelming contrast and commonly suffer from a form of backlight bleed that’s often dubbed “IPS glow”.
VA (vertical alignment) panels can generally keep up with IPS panels in terms of color accuracy and viewing angles, all the while offering superior contrast. On the downside, they tend to be a bit slower and can commonly exhibit ghosting and black smearing.
Granted, these are just generalizations, and the image quality and performance can vary greatly based on the overall quality of the panel, the manufacturer, and it’s possible to spot noticeable differences even when comparing two identical monitors.
The refresh rate is the number one priority for gamers who focus on performance, as a monitor’s refresh rate is directly proportional to the number of frames-per-second that it can display. The higher the framerate, the more fluid and responsive the gaming experience will be, and higher framerates can also improve your reaction time.
But how much is enough?
This is an important question to keep in mind since you’re bound to see diminishing returns the higher the refresh rates get.
For example, it’s easy to see a difference between 30 FPS and 60 FPS, but the increase from 60 to 120 FPS, while definitely noticeable, is far less pronounced. Meanwhile, some find it near-impossible to differentiate between 120 and 240 FPS, so is there even a need to think about a 360Hz monitor?
Well, this is really a matter of personal preference, as not everyone has the same requirements. For example, some people don’t mind playing games at 30 FPS, all the while others find it difficult to settle for 60 after they have experienced gaming on a 144Hz monitor.
That said, in the context of the G-Sync monitors listed here, deciding between a 144Hz, a 240Hz, and a 360Hz panel will depend mainly on other features and where your priorities lie. If you’re all about performance, then the 360Hz PG259QN would be the clear pick, but the 240Hz Dell AW2721D would be more appealing if you’d also prefer to have a higher-resolution display and serviceable HDR.
The pixel response time is the second entry on a monitor’s spec sheet that you’ll be focusing on if you’re after performance. Most commonly, monitor manufacturers specify the gray-to-gray (GtG) response time, which indicates how long it takes for a pixel to change from one shade of gray to another.
Most monitors today are in the 1-4ms range when it comes to the GtG response time, so it doesn’t indicate much on its own. Needless to say, though, not all monitors perform the same in this department.
The problems that most commonly manifest as a result of high response times are ghosting, trailing, and high motion blur, but monitors commonly come with technologies that help combat these issues.
When it comes to ghosting and trailing, using a different overdrive mode can help, although it can also lead to pixel overshoot i.e., inverse ghosting, so it’s always a good idea to test out different settings in order to find the one that suits you best.
Meanwhile, many monitors support motion blur reduction (MBR) via backlight strobing that can significantly reduce motion blur at the cost of brightness, although it’s impossible to use MBR and VRR simultaneously. In the case of many G-Sync monitors, they come with Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB).
HDR – Is It Worth It?
A feature that started growing more and more popular in the mid-2010s is HDR. It started gaining traction mainly when it came to TVs, but today, many gaming monitors are implementing it. So, what is HDR and is it worth it in a gaming monitor?
HDR, or High Dynamic Range, improves the image quality through increased brightness and contrast, thus leading to far more realistic and immersive visuals that are impossible to achieve in SDR (Standard Dynamic Range).
That said, it’s easy to see why it’s such an appealing feature at first glance, but is it really necessary to keep it high on the priority list of a high-performance G-Sync gaming monitor?
Well, many monitors today support the HDR10 standard, but just because they can receive and process an HDR signal doesn’t mean that they can offer a proper HDR experience, be it due to low peak brightness, poor contrast, significant backlight bleed, or due to a lack of good local dimming.
There is a range of VESA certifications that indicate the kind of quality that you can expect from a display, and you can see those below.
Generally speaking, people agree that you should settle for nothing less than HDR600 if HDR is important to you, although HDR1000 is the definite way to go if you want to experience HDR as it’s supposed to be.
Moreover, local dimming is extremely important for HDR displays, and what this feature does is it allows the monitor to turn off sections of the backlight entirely, thus achieving the kind of contrast necessary to deliver a proper HDR experience.
With all that said, HDR still isn’t a mainstream feature when it comes to gaming monitors, and you’d have to get a very expensive one if you wanted to experience “real” HDR. Plus, not all games support HDR on PC and it’s not compatible with all forms of VRR, so it’s not exactly a priority feature for most high-performance monitors.
That said, in a high-end gaming monitor that is sufficiently bright, has local dimming, and has G-Sync Ultimate, HDR is a welcome feature. However, it’s simply not a mainstream feature yet, and we’d say that investing extra in an expensive HDR gaming monitor solely for the sake of HDR probably isn’t a good idea unless you have a lot of money to spare.
And now, with all that out of the way, it’s time to highlight our picks.
If you’re concerned with getting the best value for your money, we’d say that the Dell Alienware AW2721D would likely be the best fit for your needs. It features a beautiful 1440p IPS panel, great performance, and solid HDR. While it is by no means perfect, it has a great feature set at a relatively approachable price, as far as G-Sync monitors are concerned.
If money isn’t an issue, however, the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ is the obvious premium pick that simply has it all: a stunning 4K IPS display complete with full-array local dimming and beautiful HDR, all the while it doesn’t disappoint in the performance department either.
Now, of course, these are only our picks and any of the monitors listed here would be a good buy, provided that you keep their pros and cons, as well as your own requirements and budget constraints in mind.