With more and more graphics cards capable of playing games at 4K, you may be thinking it’s time to upgrade your rig with one of the best 4K gaming monitors you can buy today. Having tested dozens of high res screens over the years, I’ve rounded up my top five picks below to help you get the best display for you and your budget. You needn’t spend a fortune on a great 4K gaming monitor either, as the cheapest screen on this list costs just £260 / $300. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered with our 4K gaming monitor recommendations.
What was once an expensive luxury, 4K gaming monitors come in all shapes and sizes these days. Most start at 27in, which is still one of the most common sizes in 2021, but we’re starting to see more and more 4K screens stretch to TV-sized proportions as well, ranging from 43in right up to 55in for those who prefer to play games in their living room.
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Most of our 4K gaming monitor recommendations will all fit on a normal desk, but we’ve also included our top ‘big screen’ pick as well for those after something to replace their TV. Needless, to say, you’ll need a top-notch graphics card to play a lot of games at a decent frame rate at 4K, and you can find out more about whether 4K gaming monitors are worth it along with other hot 4K-related questions in our FAQ section at the bottom of this article. For now, though, here are our top 4K gaming monitor picks available right now.
The best 4K gaming monitors 2021
The best cheap 4K gaming monitor
4K gaming monitors often cost an arm and a leg, but the BenQ EL2870U shows you needn’t break the bank to get a great 4K display. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some of the other screens on this list, such as a high refresh rate or a height-adjustable stand, but its 28in TN panel is still capable of displaying rich, vivid colours to make your games look great.
It’s not the brightest 4K gaming monitor in the world, topping out at around 280cd/m2, so you’ll probably have to have it on max if you work or play games in a particularly bright room. Under normal lighting conditions, though, this should still be plenty for everyday use, and BenQ’s clever ambient light sensor can automatically adjust the monitor’s brightness to make sure it’s always appropriate for your surroundings and help reduce eye strain.
The BenQ EL2870U also comes with AMD FreeSync support for smooth tear-free gaming, and while it’s not an officially certified G-Sync Compatible display, Nvidia graphics card owners should still be able to make use of its variable refresh rate technology by enabling it in their Nvidia Control Panel. All in all, it’s a great screen for the money, and you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better-looking 4K display for less.
What we like:
✔️ Affordable price
✔️ Great colour accuracy
✔️ Entry-level HDR support
Read more in our BenQ EL2870U review
Dell UltraSharp U2720Q
The best no-frills 4K gaming monitor
I’ve tested dozens of 4K gaming monitors here at RPS, but if you’re wondering what monitor I use on a daily basis, this is it – or at least a slightly older model of it, the U2718Q. The latest version, though, the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q, has received several key upgrades since I bought mine, including proper VESA DisplayHDR 400 support for entry-level HDR, and a USB-C port with power delivery that you can use to charge USB-C laptops and smartphones.
It doesn’t have a super high refresh rate like some of the other 4K monitors on this list, but if you’re after a ‘normal’ looking 4K screen that’s just as good for playing games on as it for home working, then this is the monitor to buy. The U2720Q shares exactly the same design as my U2718Q, including its super slim bezels, and its IPS panel is just excellent, producing rich, accurate colours along with great contrast and low black levels. Plus, the U2720Q’s newly-added HDR support means you can really let those colours sing in compatible games, too.
I love my Dell to bits, and best of all, it has a height-adjustable stand, giving it an important leg-up over the fixed BenQ above. It’s a truly great 4K display, and one that gets my personal seal of approval.
What we like:
✔️ Height-adjustable stand and loads of I/O connections
✔️ Superb colour accuracy
✔️ Its USB-C port with power delivery will charge your laptop and smartphone
Acer Nitro XV273K
The best 4K 144Hz gaming monitor
The Acer Nitro XV273K has everything you could possibly ask for from a 4K gaming monitor. It has a wonderfully accurate IPS panel, it’s an officially certified G-Sync Compatible display (making it a great pick for Nvidia and AMD graphics card owners alike), it has a high refresh rate of 120Hz that can be overclocked to an even smoother 144Hz, and its flat screen and stylish stand wouldn’t look out of place in a home office. It’s the complete package, and most importantly, its price comes in under four figures.
It is, admittedly, becoming harder to find these days, especially in the UK, but it’s still available in the US (for $200 less than when I reviewed it no less), and it’s a great screen for those who have always hankered after a super fancy G-Sync Ultimate HDR display but don’t want to bankrupt themselves in the process. For starters, its IPS panel is absolutely superb, producing a wide range of accurate-looking colours across all the major colour gamuts, and its HDR performance puts in a good showing as well. Its lower peak brightness levels of around 520cd/m2 means it doesn’t quite deliver on the eye-searing HDR brightness you’ll find on more expensive 4K HDR monitors, but it’s plenty good enough for the price.
And really, that’s the only major difference between the XV273K and more expensive monitors on this list. Its IPS panel is just as accurate as those fancier gaming monitors, you still get the same high refresh rate and resolution. All it’s really missing is that eye-popping HDR – which, considering HDR is still a bit of a pain to get working properly on Windows 10, isn’t too bad a compromise in my books.
What we like:
✔️ Incredible IPS panel
✔️ An officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitor
✔️ Doesn’t cost the earth
Read more in our Acer Nitro XV273K review
Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ
The best 4K HDR gaming monitor
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ (and by extension its almost identical sibling, the Acer Predator X27) is by far one of the best gaming monitors ever made. It’s expensive as hell, but this is the creme de la creme of 4K gaming monitors. Thanks to its Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate support, this screen can hit a massive peak brightness of 1000cd/m2 for a proper, full-on HDR experience that rivals the best TVs you can buy today.
Its IPS panel is first rate, producing super accurate colours alongside those blinding brightness levels, and its high contrast ratio and deep black levels make sure you don’t miss a single detail in darker, shadow scenes. Plus, its high refresh rate of 144Hz lets you enjoy super fast frame rates, too – provided you’ve got a graphics card powerful enough to make the most of it, of course.
The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ also comes with loads of RGB lighting features on its height-adjustable stand, although this naturally adds quite a bit more onto its overall price. If you’re less fussed about RGB but still want a great 4K HDR screen, then you should consider the Acer Predator X27 instead. It uses exactly the same panel as the PG27UQ, ensuring you’ll get the same great image quality and HDR experience, but its lack of RGB lighting makes it quite a bit cheaper than its Asus counterpart. It will still set you back the best part of a grand, but that’s the price you pay for its TV quality HDR.
What we like:
✔️ Best in class HDR
✔️ Bright, punchy colours
✔️ Great contrast and low black levels
Read more in our Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ review
Philips Momentum 436M6VBPAB
The best TV-sized 4K gaming monitor
If you’re more of a living room PC gamer, then you may be after a 4K gaming monitor that can replace or double up as your living room TV. Enter the Philips Momentum 436M6VBPAB, a large 43in gaming screen that is one of the best big 4K gaming monitors we’ve ever tested.
Its refresh rate may be capped at 60Hz, but the Momentum 436M6VBPAB still has a wonderfully accurate MVA panel, as well as top notch HDR support. Indeed, with its VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification, it’s just as bright and punchy as the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ above. Even better, it’s variable refresh rate tech for smooth tear-free gaming isn’t limited to just Nvidia graphics cards, either, as its adaptive sync support works with both AMD and Nvidia GPUs alike. It’s a great pick no matter what’s inside your current PC.
What’s more, Philips’ Ambiglow tech gives you a neat RGB lighting effect around the edge of the display, matching the dominant colours onscreen to help ‘extend’ your experience beyond the borders of the screen. If you enjoy that sort of thing, it’s a nice extra that really lets you go to town with your lighting setup, but you can always turn it off if you prefer.
What we like:
✔️ Adaptive sync works with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards
✔️ Hassle-free HDR
✔️ The best big screen gaming experience
Read more in our Philips Momentum 436M6VBPAB review
Frequently asked questions
Why are lots of 4K gaming monitors only 60Hz?
It all comes down to how much bandwidth is available in your monitor’s display inputs. It takes a lot of bandwidth to power a 4K display, especially once you throw HDR into the mix, and opting for more pixels often comes at the cost of a high refresh rate. For example, while HDMI 2.0 can quite happily support a refresh rate of 144Hz at 2560×1440, it’s currently limited to just 60Hz when you move up to 3840×2160. DisplayPort 1.4, on the other hand, offers more bandwidth than HDMI 2.0, allowing up to a maximum of 120Hz at 3840×2160 with HDR – although some monitors will let you overclock them to 144Hz in their onboard menu settings. As a result, if you see a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate at the moment, it’s only able to do so over DisplayPort. If you connect it to your PC over HDMI, you’ll be stuck with 60Hz.
The good news is that HDMI 2.1 monitors, which allow for 4K 120Hz refresh rate displays, are almost here. The world’s first HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor, the Asus ROG Strix XG43UQ, will be arriving in May 2021, with more to follow later this year. DisplayPort 2.0 screens are also expected to launch towards the end of 2021, which will allow for 4K 144Hz refresh rate displays without the need for overclocking.
Can a 4K monitor run at 1440p?
Yes. All you need to do is go to Windows’ Display Settings, and set your Display Resolution to 2560×1440, as shown below.
Are 4K gaming monitors worth it?
With their high pixel count and sharp, crisp pixel densities, 4K monitors can be brilliant tools for everyday desktop work. They provide plenty of space for looking at several desktop applications at once, and they also make it much easier to see and juggle multiple windows in creative applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro. If you regularly use these kinds of apps in your everyday work life, 4K monitors are almost definitely going to be worth the extra investment over lower resolution displays.
That said, if your main reason for buying a 4K monitor is to simply play games at a 4K resolution, then you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a powerful enough PC to really make the most of it. This can end up being quite the costly endeavour, as you’ll need one of today’s best graphics cards inside your PC in order to play them at a decent frame rate. We recommend at least an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or AMD Radeon RX 6800, although if you want to play at higher quality settings, then you really want either an RTX 3080 or RX 6800 XT. Under normal circumstances, these cards will set you back at least £500-700 / $600-800 – as much as your monitor in some cases – although given the current hardware shortages taking place at the moment, you’re more likely looking at £1000 / $1000+.
Ironically, the cheapest way of getting a full-blown 4K gaming system in your house is probably buying an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. As we found out when we tried to build an equivalent Xbox Series X PC, we would have had to spend almost £1500 to get the same kind of 4K gaming chops as the Series X, which is over a grand more than what the console costs. In this sense, the question of whether 4K gaming monitors are ‘worth it’ depends very much on how badly you want to play games at this resolution, and how much you’re willing to spend in order to get there. As someone who regularly plays games in 4K, they do look absolutely lovely and sharp at this resolution, but I wouldn’t say they’re noticeably different from playing them at 2560×1440, for example.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying a 4K monitor and then using it to play games at 1440p. If anything, it gives you even more flexibility than lower resolution screens, especially if you’re in the process of trying to upgrade your PC at the moment, or you’re waiting for graphics card prices to come back down to normal again. Personally, I think 1440p is still the ideal sweetspot for high-res gaming in terms of cost and value for money, but as I mentioned above, 4K monitors are much better for everyday desktop tasks, and if you’ve been working at home for much of the last year and are likely to continue doing so, then you’ll thank yourself later for getting a screen with more pixel real estate.