You can buy the fanciest graphics card in the world, but if your monitor can’t handle the output, you’re still missing out. These are the best high-res, 1440p gaming monitors.
In this guide, we’re going to be taking a look at super high-quality monitors, specifically with a focus on gaming. When it comes to high-resolution TVs, we tend to focus more on 4K because that’s a standard for home theaters. For gaming monitors, however, 1440p is more common right now. They’re about 4x clearer than 720p monitors and still a healthy improvement on 1080p—but they’re not as expensive as going full 4K, which can cost more than your gaming rig itself. 1440p allows gamers to focus on features like refresh rate or ultra wide screens, which can be more important for enjoyable game play than pushing the maximum number of pixels.
Speaking of refresh rates, let’s talk about screen tearing. Screen tearing is what happens when your graphics card is putting out more frames than your monitor can keep up with. This happens a lot on monitors with low-refresh rates. Vsync (or vertical sync) in a game’s settings is an easy way to alleviate this problem, but it has limitations. We explain it in more detail over at How-To Geek here, but here’s the short version: Vsync forces your games to output a consistent frame rate that’s easily divisible by your monitor’s refresh rate. If your monitor can do 60Hz, it will cap out at 60fps. If your graphics card’s output dips below 60fps (say because there’s a lot to render at a particular moment), it will drop all the way down to 30fps. It helps reduce tearing, but it also means you can get a worse frame rate than you normally would sometimes.
G-Sync (from NVIDIA) and FreeSync (from AMD) are designed to fix that. Both technologies essentially allow your graphics card and monitor to sync up using a variable frame rate. This means you can get a smoother experience at a higher frame rate. Unfortunately, both versions require you to use a graphics card and monitor that supports their specific version of the technology. In addition to high-resolution displays, we’ll be taking FreeSync or G-Sync support into consideration. With all that in mind, here are our recommendations.
Best Overall: Dell S2417DG ($410)
This Dell monitor is a relatively modest unit that costs $410. At 24″, it packs a 2560×1440 display and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It’s not the fanciest monitor on this list, but it’s relatively affordable while still giving your picture quality a boost. It also supports up to a 165Hz refresh rate, which can significantly reduce tearing if you have a powerful graphics card. It doesn’t support FreeSync or G-Sync, but it should still play your games more smoothly than your regular monitor.
Best 144Hz Monitor: Samsung C27HG70 ($470)
If you can’t use G-Sync or FreeSync, then the next best thing is a monitor that supports an ultra-high refresh rate. That at least allows your graphics card and monitor more room to breath when using Vsync. This 27″ Samsung monitor has a 2560×1440 resolution and a refresh rate of 144Hz. That means you can play your games at up to 144fps (or the more common 120fps). Then, if your graphics card starts chugging, it can drop down an interval or two while still saying well above what your eye can perceive.
If you happen to have an AMD graphics card that supports FreeSync, then you can use it with this monitor. If you don’t, however, it will still be a dramatic improvement in terms of frame sync and will reduce tearing compared to your old monitor. This is also a curved monitor which doesn’t really affect the frame rate, but it does look cool. Samsung also uses Quantum Dot tech that gives you better black levels and more vibrant colors.
Best Ultrawide: Dell Alienware 34.1″ ($999)
Ultrawide monitors use a crazy 21:9 aspect ratio that gives you a lot more room on the sides of your monitor at the same height. When gaming, this means that your entire peripheral vision immersed in the game you’re playing. This is especially fun in first-person games where your field of view is supposed to match that of your characters.
This particular Alienware monitor is a 34″ ultrawide curved display so virtually your entire field of vision will be taken up by the game. It can also output up to 100Hz (or up to 120Hz if you overclock it) which gives you a respectable cushion for high frame rate gameplay. It also supports G-Sync, so if you have a supported NVIDIA graphics card, you can get an even smoother picture.
Best G-Sync/FreeSync Monitor: Alienware 25 ($400)
Most monitors only support either FreeSync or G-Sync and call it a day. This 25″ Alienware, however, lets you choose which one you want before you buy. Aside from choosing which frame syncing technology you prefer, both monitor models are identical. Unfortunately, you can’t get support for both in a single monitor, but this as close as you can get. It also supports up to 240Hz, which is absolutely bonkers. In fact, it was a tough call to argue if it was a bigger deal the monitor offered options for the two different sync styles or the crazy fast refresh rate.
There is one downside, though: this monitor only has a 1920×1080 resolution. Normally, that would (obviously) disqualify it from a list of 1440p monitors, but we at least wanted to include an option if you care more about getting a high-quality monitor with FreeSync or G-Sync support and an insane refresh rate than you care about pushing the most pixels. With only 1080p and a massive 240Hz upper limit, your graphics card can push way more frames per second than most other monitors on this list are capable of. The end result might not be a screen with the maximum number of pixels but it’ll be so buttery smooth you won’t even be thinking about it.