Gaming Monitor Reviews and Prices – Your Ultimate Buying Guide to the Best 4K Gaming Monitors for Sale
4K UHD and other UHD gaming monitors are becoming a very serious part of the PC gamer’s equipment landscape. This has reached the point where these monitors are not only the very top of the line as far as serious gameplay is concerned, but also some of the most powerful machines in other regards, in terms of connectivity, overall performance and other key display graphics.
In other words, 4K gaming monitors aren’t just superb because of the exquisite sharpness their extra resolution (usually the standard count of 3840 x 2160 pixels) offers, they’re also often excellent because they offer expanded color gamut, excellent contrast and some superb brightness. Of course this doesn’t apply to all 4K monitors on the market and there are certainly some Full HD displays which blow certain 4K counterparts out of the water in overall display quality but for the best on the market, their display is a marvelous thing to behold.
Finally, for these same reasons, focusing on the 4K ultra HD resolution of a monitor isn’t the only factor to consider when moving in for a purchase. Instead, other visual specs and even more importantly, key connectivity aspects that fit your specific needs should also be considered. On top of these, there are certain technologies that some monitors offer which make them particularly suited for serious 4K gamers. All of these are important factors.
Now, we’re going to cover all of the above before also moving into a breakdown of several 4K UHD gaming monitors we consider to be the best of the bunch for 2016. Let’s get started.
Display Details to Keep in Mind
In terms of display all 4K PC monitors are definitely not created equal and some types lend themselves much better to gamers in particular due to the specific specs they come with.
Some of the most crucial display specs that make a monitor superior at game-related performance are panel type, refresh rate, response rate and the visual impact all of these create. Thus, we can start with panel types, and these can be broken down into three different panel technologies which are important to gamers: IPS, TN and VA.
IPS (In-Plane Switching) panels are more expensive than most TN panels and many VA panels but they also offer the best brightness, usually superb all-around color quality and some great viewing angles. Furthermore, they deliver some superb grey-scale performance. On the other hand, IPS panels usually can’t manage the razor-quick pixel response times some gamers might want and thus can produce motion artifacts with some types of fast-paced gameplay, though we have seen IPS monitors with enough other gamer-friendly specs and decent enough response time performance to make for excellent 4K gaming displays. Most IPS displays however offer response times of 5 to 9 milliseconds, which is higher than the 4 or less most gamers might want.
TN (Twisted Nematic) displays in PC monitors are probably the most popular for gaming and offer the benefit of affordability, fast pixel response times of as little as less than a millisecond (more usually 1 to 3 milliseconds) and great refresh rates. On the other hand, they’re not so great at accurate color reproduction and their viewing angles are pretty narrow.
Finally, VA (Vertical Alignment) monitor panels, which aren’t so commonly used in 4K gaming monitors, offer up an excellent native contrast ratio, strong colors and some excellent rendering of deep, rich blacks. On the bad side, they can be prone to ghosting effects and this might ruin gaming in a lot of situations.
In terms of connectivity, all 4K monitors for gaming absolutely should include at least one DisplayPort 1.2 connection, a couple of USB ports (preferably 3.0 instead of the older, weaker 2.0) and if possible also offer mini DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity along with HDMI 1.4 ports as well. Even more ideally, HDMI 2.0 will be available in a well-made 4K PC monitor but this is still not as common a feature as we’d like to see.
DisplayPort 1.2 is the most crucial gaming-related spec in any 4K display since this is the port most often used to connect your PC GPU with the monitor for transfer of ultra HD and Full HD graphics at a smooth and a decent 60 frames per second. For monitors with HDMI 2.0 ports, (something found on some of the models below) it’s also possible to pull in the 4K visuals between PC and monitor through HDMI at 60Hz (60 frames per second) but only with GPUs that come equipped with HDMI 2.0 connectivity, something that’s also becoming more common.
As for USB ports, we’ve seen 4K monitors which oddly don’t come with any or come with just a couple USB connections. These are usually best avoided. While USB isn’t useful for gaming itself, it’s great for connecting controllers, mice, external storage memory and other peripheral devices.
FreeSync & G-Sync
Finally, we need to mention G-Sync and FreeSync, two graphics rendering technologies used by the two dominant manufacturers of PC gaming GPUs on the market, Nvidia and AMD. Both technologies perform the same essential function in their respective devices, which is to synchronize the frame rate output of a PC GPU with that of the Monitor, thus reducing tearing and motion artifacts. FreeSync however only works with AMD graphics cards and G-Sync works only with Nvidia cards. Some monitors have one or the other technology installed in them but we haven’t yet seen a monitor with both FreeSync and G-Sync in the same unit.
If you can get your hands on a 4K monitor with either of these technologies built into it, it’s a solid clue that you’re looking at truly gaming-oriented piece of technology.
The prices of 4K monitors in general can vary enormously depending on their design, brand and the technologies they include but in general the majority of 4K gaming oriented displays will cost between $300 and $1000, depending on some specifics. Most IPS monitors tend towards the more expensive end of the above price range and TN monitors are usually the cheapest models. While you could probably use any sort of 4K monitor for PC gaming, buying a $2,500 professional design monitor with wicked color specs is probably overkill for 4K gaming ad might even be counterproductive if the device lacks some crucial gamer-specific specs like fast response time or enough DP 1.2 ports.
In basic terms, as some of the monitors we’re about to cover show, you can expect to pay between $400 and $800 for a solid but basic 4K gaming monitor and between $700 and $1000 for a more robust performer. However, sometimes even expensive displays lack a crucial feature, so specs are more important than price as a measure of quality.
A Crucial Note on 4K Graphics Performance
Bear in mind that 4K gaming is still a relatively new and somewhat weakly developed aspect of the PC games industry as a whoe and the vast majority of GPUs either simply can’t handle 4K graphics at high frame rates or just barely reach the 60 fps mark even when they’ve been designed with ultra HD in mind. If you’re serious about 4K gaming in your computer, pay careful attention to your GPU setup and understand that the graphics card and other processing hardware of your PC are all more important than your PC monitor in terms of raw performance. Almost any 4K PC display can connect to the best GPUs on the market today but only a few select GPU models can push out the graphics of a high end game in 4K on any of those monitors.
The Best 4K Gaming Monitors on the Market Today
Now, after all the tips above, we get down to the top monitors themselves. The following are the top gaming monitors with 4K or even non-4K UHD resolution of 2015, 2016 and even 2014 in our opinion. We’ve reviewed most of these ourselves and consider them to be the best choices for all-around gaming performance.
Once again, the following are predominantly 4K monitors, so the maximum refresh rate you’ll find on them is going to top out at 60Hz. For those of you who love high frame rate gaming at above 100Hz, for now at least, these speeds still remain with 1440p and Full HD gamer’s monitors.
- ACER XB280HK 28-inch 4K monitor ($703.50)
Though slightly on the pricey side at roughly $700, the Acer XB280HK is definitely a winner for almost any gamer who’s serious about gaming in ultra HD. While it’s slightly on the “small” side at 28 inches, this piece of technology offers some truly awesome specs thanks to the inclusion of G-Sync technology for particular cohesion with Nvidia 4K-capable GPUs and the presence of several key connectivity ports. The XB280HK also comes with 1 DisplayPort 1.2 port, 4 USB 3.0 ports and while it lacks HDMI connectivity of any kind, the G-Sync and support for 1.07 billion colors make up for this rather well. Furthermore, this is a TN monitor and thus offers some excellent response time at 1 millisecond. On top of this, the TN technology of the XB280HK in particular is excellent and offers horizontal viewing angles which are pretty much as good as those of a typical 8-bit IPS monitor, thus allowing this disply’s wide color coverage to really shine.
- Acer B286HK ymjdpprz 28-inch UHD 4K2K (3840 x 2160) Widescreen Display ($499.99)
Second place on our list goes to a truly superb Acer monitor which really offers some fantastic specs. The B286HK ymjdpprz is a 4K UHD monitor which doesn’t just offer 4K resolution but also goes the whole nine yards in other respects. For starters, this particular PC monitor delivers some excellent, gorgeous and realistic colors, offers up great contrast and comes with a control menu that’s ridiculously easy to navigate and loaded with features. In basic terms, the B286HK makes 4K PC display look as great and easy to manage as it should and offers a golden option for gamers.
Furthermore, some wicked specs like rich connectivity options (DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, mini DisplayPort and four USB ports) and some great physical adjustability features all work to make the B286HK into one fantastic option. In addition to these, there is the excellent 2ms response time of the B286HK. One thing we don’t like about this 4K PC display is its lack of support for either FreeSync or G-Sync but the display quality, connectivity and response time make up for this absence for the most part.
- Asus ROG Swift PG278Q WQHD G-Sync Monitor (2560 x 1440) ($675.19)
The Asus ROG PG278Q WQHD isn’t a 4K UHD monitor but it’s good enough in our view to be worth mentioning in this list and since it does offer above-HD display resolution, we think it’s worth fitting in here.
For starters, this highly rated monitor comes with a crisp. Wonderfully sharp 27 inch 2560 x 1440 QHD display that actually renders and flows better than 4K often does due to the lower graphics requirements and smaller pixel count. However, across the PG278Q’s 27 inch screen, those 2560 x 1440 pixels look stunning and you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate them from native 4K graphics. Furthermore, the smaller resolution permits a much faster 60-120-144Hz refresh rate whose settings can be changed between with a very easy-to-use turbo key on the screen. This means high frame-rate QHD gaming and even more superb gaming refresh rates with Full HD graphics.
Additionally, the PG278Q comes with Nvidia G-Sync technology, great physical adjustability options, some superb color coverage, excellent contrast, very good brightness and a 1ms grey-to-grey response time for rapid responsiveness. Finally, in terms of contrast, the PG278Q delivers DisplayPort 1.2 and two USN 3.0 ports. No HDMI 2.0 or even 1.4, which is unfortunate but we can’t help but love this monitor’s high refresh rates combined with G-Sync technology.
- Samsung U28E590D 4K UHD Monitor ($519.00)
Samsung’s U28E590D is a solid winner almost entirely across the board. Not only does this particular gaming monitor physically look great, it’s also highly versatile as both a 4K gaming display and a useful work monitor with a more conservative look that’s still stylish.
The 28 inch screen of the U28E590D offers up some typical Samsung tech quality and its 4K UHD resolution comes with a 60Hz refresh rate, a 1ms response time thanks to TN display technology and some remarkably good display graphics and viewing angles despite the TN screen technology. Furthermore, the 370 cd/m2 brightness is something we appreciate about it. In terms of connectivity, two HDMI 2.0 ports and Display Port 1.2 port offer the core essentials of gaming with 4K graphics. On the other hand, there are no USB ports, which is a bit annoying.
Finally, the U28E590D includes AMD FreeSync technology, further enhancing its gaming chops.
BenQ’s BL3201PH is not what you might normally consider to be a truly gaming-oriented 4K monitor but it delivers the goods in this regard better than many PC displays would. For one thing, the color coverage and general display quality of this monitor are both excellent, with IPS display technology offering up some great color and excellent viewing angles with a brightness rating of 350 cd/m2 and support for 1.02 billion colors.
Connectivity-wise, the BL3201PH also comes very nicely equipped, with DVI-DL ports, DisplayPort 1.2, Mini DisplayPort 1.2 and dual HDMI connectivity. Along with these, there are also several USB 3.0 ports thanks to its integrated USB hub. In terms of its connections, the BL3201PH beats many of the other monitors on this list. The response time of this piece of BenQ hardware is also not bad at all for an IPS display. At 4ms grey-to-grey, it works well enough for most gamers to have little or no responsiveness problems in 4K resolution.
The BL3201PH is a bit expensive by the standards of 4K gaming monitors and might serve as more of a graphic editing and work display but we still think it has plenty to offer for gamers who don’t mind the additional cost.
Finally, we feel we should mention Samsung’s U28D590D 2014 4K UHD monitor and its excellent specs. This PC display may not be the newest or flashiest on this list but it’s a great and very affordable piece of 4K UHD display technology for gaming. A full 60Hz of refresh, a lightning-fast 1ms response time, dual HDMI ports, One DisplayPort 1.2 port and a great look that’s nearly identical to that of the Samsung U28E590D we covered above (which happens to be the successor of the U28D590D).
On the other hand, while we do think this is a genuinely great and slightly under-rated 4K gaming monitor, we don’t like the lack of USB ports and the fact that adjustability options are limited to tilt and nothing else. Also, unlike its more recent cousin the U28E590D, the U28D590D comes without FreeSync or G-Sync support.
A Final Note
There are many 4K PC monitors on the market today and the vast majority of them can be easily used for 4K gaming. The above are the models we think cover all the ideal criteria for this subset of the 4K monitor industry best. Furthermore, while some readers might debate the inclusion or exclusion of some models, overall, none of the above is likely to disappoint in terms of smooth and easy-to-install performance.