Don’t let anyone tell you 1080p monitors aren’t worthwhile. 4K gaming monitors and 1440p models may be able to give you more detail in terms of resolution, but those higher resolutions can put a strain on even the best graphics cards, and that can leave you missing out on another big piece of game detail: motion. The simple fact is that 1080p is always going to be easier for your computer or console to render than high resolutions, and that means you can get higher frame rates and smoother visuals. That’s no small concession.
At 1080p, you can get very affordable monitors that’ll deliver a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming. But, 1080p monitors can still go a lot faster than that. There’s no shortage of 165Hz options, and even 240Hz versions are becoming more mainstream. If that weren’t enough, new 300Hz and 360Hz are showing up left and right. These speedy 1080p monitors make for a great pairing with modest graphics cards like the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti or even the older Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti, but they can even be a reasonable output for a high-end system geared to get a competitive edge in esports.
TL;DR – These are the Best 1080p Gaming Monitors:
1. Asus TUF Gaming VG259QR
Best 1080p Gaming Monitor
The Asus TUF Gaming VG259QR is here to get you started off on the right foot. This gaming monitor won’t break the bank, as it’s just $240, but it offers some meaningful specs. It’s compact at 24.5 inches, which is a reasonable size for 1080p. It also jumps right past 144Hz to deliver a 165Hz refresh rate. And, you can use G-Sync to keep your visuals looking great without tearing.
The display is a bright IPS type, so you’ll be able to see it clearly in brightly lit rooms and won’t have to worry about the angle of the display dramatically impacting how well you can see it as you might on a TN panel. That said, the stand is adjustable enough that you should have no trouble getting a good angle.
2. HP X27
Best Budget 1080p Gaming Monitor
HP has your budget setup covered with the HP X27. This monitor will get you up and running at 1080p without any big sacrifices in quality. It features an IPS panel with FreeSync Premium support, letting you keep clear visuals in just about any situation. The IPS panel will help with viewing angles while the FreeSync Premium will provide stutter- and tear-free visuals.
HP even takes this monitor beyond the usual set of features of a budget display. Even at its $260 price, the HP X27 is bringing bright visuals and a beefed up refresh rate. You’ll be able to see clearly even in a room with strong overhead lighting thanks to the panels 400-nit peak brightness. And, at 165Hz, you’re going to get that much smoother visuals over the more common 144Hz monitors in this price range. The stand may be a little bit boring, but the monitor is compatible with VESA mounts, so you can swap it out easily.
3. Viewsonic Elite XG270
Best 1080p Gaming Monitor with G-Sync
OK, so maybe we’re cheating a little bit with this one. But for the price and what you’d be getting, you might want to cheat here, too. The ViewSonic Elite XG270 is indeed a Full HD display, so it checks that box. It can also achieve a 144Hz refresh rate, but the truth is you’d be missing out on what it really has to offer since it can actually go as high as 240Hz. That’s right, this monitor has an IPS panel that can hit 240Hz, letting you game with ultra-smooth visuals if your computer has the muscle for it.
Beyond the high refresh rate, the ViewSonic Elite XG270 boasts a bright display that can hit 400 nits, which is verging on HDR territory. This display also has FreeSync and official G-Sync compatibility, so it can offer clean visuals for both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. There’s a lot going on for this monitor at $400.
4. MSI Optix G27C5
Best Curved 1080p Gaming Monitor
One part of immersion might be the speed of the monitor, but you can get another step into your game world with a monitor that curves around your field of view. The MSI Optix G27C5 offers up both features with a 1080p panel that can run at up to 165Hz for fluid gameplay while wrapping around your view with a tight 1500R curvature.
The MSI Optix G27C5 costs a little over $300, but it’s ready to offer you a display for up to three devices thanks to dual HDMI ports ideal for consoles and a DisplayPort connection perfect for a PC. The large VA panel provides a strong contrast ratio to give your games a bit more cinematic flair, and MSI boasts of a compelling 90% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. To keep all the frames clean, MSI also includes support for AMD’s FreeSync technology.
5. ViewSonic Elite XG240R
Best FreeSync 1080p Gaming Monitor
FreeSync comes at a much more affordable price than G-Sync, and that makes the ViewSonic Elite XG240R an excellent value. You’re getting a 24-inch TN panel with a decent 350-nit brightness level. It may not have the best viewing angles, but you’ll have an easy enough time finding a good view thanks to a highly flexible stand. This monitor also throws in an exciting extra with RGB lighting on the back to provide some stylish bias lighting, a pleasure and a comfort to your eyes.
6. Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor (AW2521HF)
Best 1080p Gaming Monitor for Esports
If you’re playing esports titles, you likely know that the advantage of 1080p is how much easier it is to reach high speeds. With that in mind, you’ll want the Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor AW2521HF. This monitor will make it really easy to see all the action as it’s bright, clear, and wicked fast.
The Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor AW2521HF has a 1080p IPS panel that hits 400 nits of brightness and offers a 240Hz refresh rate. Better still, it’s shockingly affordable for a 240Hz display, so you can take the money you save and put it toward the gaming internals that’ll help you hit 240fps in your games. Whether you’re hitting exactly 240fps won’t be a major concern, though, because you can enable FreeSync or G-Sync to avoid screen tearing and stutter. With a 1ms pixel response time on the display, you won’t have to worry about smearing either. If you like the looks and want even more speed, you can also check out the 360Hz Alienware AW2521H.
Where to Get the Best 1080p 144Hz Gaming Monitors in the UK
Getting that delightfully smooth experience while gaming is important no matter what continent you’re on. UK readers should be happy to hear all the brilliant monitors we’ve mentioned across the length of this article, are also available on the British side of the pond. You’ve got a few options to choose from here, with our favourite currently the Asus TUF Gaming monitor, perfect for those fast-paced gaming experiences. But, all the options on show will impress even the most avid gamers, so take your time and consider the options.
Why you should consider a 1080p Gaming Monitor
By sacrificing resolution, you gain speed. A 1080p monitor isn’t as crisp as a 1440p monitor, and it hardly holds a candle to a 4K display. However, without a powerful graphics card at the heart of your gaming PC, you probably won’t have an enjoyable, or even playable, frame rate at those higher resolutions. Keeping things at a Full HD resolution means you can enable some more graphical effects like tessellation and ambient occlusion.
Refresh rate is a measure of how fast a monitor can display a new image. A 60Hz monitor redraws the image 60 times a second, and a 144Hz monitor does so 144 times a second. Variable refresh rate is important because it puts a cap on how many frames per second you can achieve when syncing your GPU’s output to your monitor’s refresh rate via G-Sync or FreeSync to prevent tearing.
If you play fast-twitch shooters or engage in Esports competitions, then refresh rate is often a more important figure than a monitor’s pixel count. A refresh rate of 144Hz is in the sweet spot between the two most common 60Hz, which are too slow for serious gamers, and 240Hz gaming monitors, which you should only consider if you have a super high-end GPU that will let you push frame rates to their limits.
Variable Refresh Rate and You
A fast 144Hz refresh rate (or faster) isn’t the only thing you need for smooth gaming. All that speed can lead to some ugly screen tearing. Screen tearing is when your GPU and screen are out of sync, and you see a partially-drawn frame before the previous frame is gone.
You’ve no doubt seen this effect before, especially if you played games on older consoles. You can turn on V-Sync in most games to eliminate the problem, but in the process, you add an extra strain on your hardware. A variable refresh rate monitor eliminates the hardware strain while making sure the only complete frames are drawn on your display.
G-Sync is Nvidia’s proprietary solution and works with Nvidia graphics cards. FreeSync is AMD’s solution and works with its GPUs, but unlike G-Sync, it doesn’t require special hardware built into the monitor.
Well, at least that was the way it did until January 15, 2019, when Nvidia announced it was bringing enabling G-Sync on select FreeSync monitors. So far, out of the hundreds of displays Nvidia has been testing, there are loads of officially G-Sync Compatible FreeSync monitors.
The waters on compatibility are a bit muddied now because even if some monitors aren’t officially recognized and listed as being G-Sync Compatible, they still might be.
Just look at our roundup of the Best FreeSync gaming monitors for Nvidia GPUs, and you’ll see we’ve picked quite a few that aren’t on Nvidia’s list of G-Sync compatible display. That said, we’ve tested and confirmed that every FreeSync monitor on our list will support Nvidia’s version of variable refresh rate.
If you’re really worried about getting the best possible experience with a fast monitor, you’re going to want a G-Sync or certified G-Sync Compatible monitor.
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark