What are gaming monitors for?
Gaming monitors are meant to deliver the highest-fidelity of visual representation. They got a high refresh rate and a large resolution, although 4k is considered as nearing or going past this ideal realm for non-professional purposes.
Such monitors are often found in a 'gaming' section, the reason for this is they need high levels of graphical power to show what can be shown at that refresh rate. Graphical power for gaming monitors depends much more on dedicated graphics cards, while for monitors used in professional processes the graphical power is often built-in.
Professional monitors are mostly TFTs that have a high resolution and work best in conjunction with an external graphics card. They also have 100% sRGB coverage, so they can reproduce colors well amongst other features.
Gaming monitors are not meant to be productive, they are made for playing games at high settings without compromises unlike TVs do by default when playing at their highest setting since it's what everyone does.
The distinction between these two kinds of monitors comes from LCD TV panels being used as gaming monitors, but that's no longer the case since real gaming monitor technology exists now.
Why use 4k 144Hz monitors?
There are multiple reasons to use such monitors, first of all, is the graphics level one can achieve with current technology. Since currently the best hardware for gamers belongs to Nvidia and it's their top-tier card, we will be focusing on why 4k 144Hz is better than 1080p 240Hz.
While there isn't a significant difference between 1080p and 1440p (the next step up) or even more common 4k resolution (for gaming), 4k is still considered as too high of a resolution due to how demanding it is. It does make sense though because if you want higher resolutions you would normally go for larger monitors instead since more pixels spread over a smaller area makes more of an impact than otherwise.
If we compare two cameras with different resolutions but the same surface area, the higher resolution camera would have more pixels per square centimeter. This is not true for displays though since there is no perfect representation of a pixel on said display making it so that adding more pixels won't increase the pixel density.
So to compensate for this loss in turn increases power consumption and cost of hardware thus reducing performance/quality ratio compared to scaling up lower resolutions. 4k 144Hz monitors are especially useful when one wants high-quality visuals without compromises, but this isn't new because people already do that with multi-monitor setups.
The second reason to use these monitors comes from what makes them possible, higher refresh rates allow for much more fluid animation instead of having 'frames' which can be perceived as 'stuttering'. While this is a drawback for some games, it's an advantage in others like first-person shooters and situations where timing is critical such as fighting games.
However not all of these cases can be improved by higher refresh rates alone since the monitor still has to output those animations, so input lag will always exist on 4K 144Hz monitors which can range from 16ms (the best) to around 30ms. This might not sound much but it does put a limit on what one can achieve with a higher resolution/framerate combination due to factors such as human reaction speed being equal or below 10ms.
How common are they compared to regular high-end gaming monitors?
The two major brands that have been leading the market of high-end monitors for a while now are Acer and Asus with BenQ as a budget alternative for those on a tighter budget, but recently ViewSonic has had significant improvements in their releases.
These three brands have been releasing 4k 144Hz monitors earlier than others according to recent announcements from other major brands such as HP or Dell, suggesting that not all of them plan to release 4K 144Hz monitors yet despite the standardization of DisplayPort 1.4 which allows for higher resolutions/refresh rates.
Nvidia is currently behind AMD when it comes to competing in this market since they only have one 4k monitor, though it's important to note that both AMD FreeSync 2 and Nvidia GSync require special hardware so they aren't very practical for 4K 144Hz monitors.
What makes these monitors so expensive?
For one, this type of monitor is a niche product since the majority of gamers have moved to either 1440p or 1080p which are much cheaper and more common due to their larger market share.
The second reason is the hardware used in them, there's a certain price tag that comes with any 3840x2160 LCD panel as well as those that support higher refresh rates at such resolutions. You don't need special hardware for 4k 60Hz but you do for 4k 120/144Hz which adds another $500-$700 (€400-600) depending on how fast it is and if we factor in GSync/FreeSync costs too.
Monitors for different budget review
- 21:9 4k IPS panel 3840x2160
- 4k @ 144Hz with DisplayPort 1.2a, 5ms response time
- Gsync enabled for smoother framerate
Ports available on the monitor are 2 HDMI ports, one Displayport, and a 3.5mm audio jack input. Unfortunately, no USB hubs unless you count 1 USB C port which is used to power the display or can be used as a Thunderbolt output instead if your computer supports it.
The only thing that would have made this better was Thunderbolt 3 support to future-proof it but what you get out of the box isn't too bad either. One major disadvantage is nonadjustable stands so consider getting separate ones if possible. There's also an option for a 32-inch version if you need something bigger.
If you've ever seen the design of an LG monitor before, you'll know what to expect since it's practically unchanged. You have a white/silver/metallic theme with thin bezels around the sides and very minimalistic branding on the backside along with inputs for HDMI, DP 1.2a, and audio input. When not in use you can turn off both power LED indicators which are located on the stand behind the screen or next to the LG logo depending on how picky you are about that sort of thing.
Similarly, this monitor also has no built-in speakers but unlike other manufacturers who do things like that, there is no MHL support either which would have been nice if TVs can support it. The only noteworthy extra feature is the USB C port which means you can drive another monitor off it if your laptop supports it.
It does have an option to rotate 90 degrees so you can turn it into portrait mode but given how rare that is, I wouldn't consider that a big feature either.
LG 27GP950 provides a very good image out of the box, it won't get as bright as some other monitors but you can change that. Blacks are really dark on this monitor which is nice in most cases but not when there's a lot of black in the background such as thumbnails, don't expect many benefits for games where HDR would make more sense unless you adjust gamma settings.
Since this is an IPS panel the viewing angles are great and color reproduction is accurate without any obvious over-saturation or reduction in contrast compared to what you see on your screen rather than what cameras record.
The image quality out of the box is pretty good, the only real drawback is viewing angles where colors start to change at 45 degrees. Colors are accurate without any obvious oversaturation or loss in contrast compared to what you see on your screen rather than what cameras capture.
Color gamut is advertised as 95% of DCI-P3 which covers most of NTSC color space but isn't enough for 100% coverage. Color reproduction out of the box might not be perfect since gamma is set around 2 by default but this can probably be changed with tweaking. Stands aren't adjustable so if you want a different stand make sure it's VESA compatible and can hold more than 22 pounds (~10 kgs).
In conclusion, this is a good monitor from LG which offers 4k resolution at 144Hz for those who want something bigger than 24 inches but without sacrificing too much either in terms of speed or ports.
27" Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ1A
- 4k IPS panel 3840x2160
- HDR 400 support with VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified
- Displayport 1.2a, 2 HDMI ports and a 3.5mm audio input
Ports on the monitor are one Displayport 1.2a which is needed to get [email protected] along with two HDMI ports and a 3.5mm audio input. There's also an option for 32 inches if you need more space but you'll probably want to adjust it in some way since the stands aren't adjustable at all without replacing them which means it will end up costing more than Asus charges for this product already.
The monitor is pretty much what you'd expect from Asus. You have a black/red theme that matches their TUF series perfectly, it's not the most beautiful monitor but I don't think that was Asus' goal with this one.
The stand is very sturdy and doesn't take up too much space which is nice if you're short on space or just sit closer to your monitor. From removable stands which were a novelty at best to completely swappable designs nowadays including VESA mounts for wall mounting, they all work equally well so feel free to pick whatever suits your needs the best.
Asus VG27AQ1A provides excellent colors out of the box without needing any further calibration which makes it a great choice for those who don't want/can't spend a lot of time on adjusting settings. This monitor is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified which means it offers a wider color gamut as well as higher brightness and contrast compared to regular displays with 100% sRGB coverage.
Blacks are deep enough but not as deep as they would be on VA panel where you also get better viewing angles for those who need them, if you're going to use your monitor from one specific angle then VA might still be a better choice but IPS panels do come very close in this regard.
Color accuracy isn't perfect out of the box since gamma is set around 2 by default but that can be easily changed with calibration.
Since this is an IPS panel colors will look great even when viewed from angles. Contrast is very good thanks to the high contrast ratio and there's no obvious color shifting which can be a problem on cheaper IPS panels even when viewed from a perfect angle.
There's also VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification with a wider color gamut compared to regular displays with 100% sRGB coverage, the top end for this category of monitors currently going up to 1000 nits brightness and 95% DCI-P3 but they will most likely cost more than twice as much as Asus' offering so if you're looking for something affordable there aren't many choices in this category just yet with HDR support.
In conclusion, Asus VG27AQ1A is one of few monitors that offer 4k resolution at 144Hz for those who want something bigger than 27 inches but without sacrificing too much either in terms of speed or ports.
43" Gigabyte FV43U
- 4k 3840x2160 IPS panel
- MHL, 2 HDMI and a DisplayPort 1.2a
Ports on the monitor are one MHL port and two HDMI ports along with a Displayport 1.2a for 4K resolution at 60 Hz which is surprising since most monitors of similar size won't do 4k resolution higher than 30Hz over it so if this is important to you then Gigabyte FV43U might be just what you're looking for.
The monitor looks really good both from the front and the back thanks to the matte black finish with red accents either on a stand or around edges depending on which version you get. It's also VESA mount compatible so if you want to wall-mount it you can do so easily. There's almost no bezel around the screen with the exception of a very thin one at the bottom which is expected for this size.
When it comes to image quality, this monitor isn't exceptional but that might not necessarily be a bad thing if you're looking for something affordable since the "just ok" panel will most likely offer better contrast and viewing angles than premium IPS or VA panels which also adds up when you consider the price of this monitor compared to many others in the same category.
While colors are accurate out of the box gamma is set around 2 by default so it might need some calibration depending on your use case which means there won't be any surprises in terms of colors even if you don't calibrate it yourself.
The design of this monitor is very good thanks to the matte black finish with red accents around the edges. There's almost no bezel which makes this monitor great for multi-monitor setups or just if you want something more immersive than regular widescreen monitors. The stand also looks really nice and sturdy even though it lacks some features that many other monitors in this category offer like height adjustment, swivel or pivot so overall there are no major complaints in terms of design.
Ports on the backside are one HDMI port and a DC port while the MHL port is located on the left side for easy access which might not be convenient depending on how your desk is set up but at least there are no major problems with the cable management since there is plenty of space for cables to go through. There's also VESA mount compatibility but if you want 4K resolution over 60 Hz at least you will need DisplayPort, so keep that in mind when purchasing this monitor.
Gigabyte FV43U is an affordable 4k 3840x2160 monitor that comes with an IPS panel with an MHL port and two HDMI ports which can be useful if you want to use it as part of your workstation with external devices like a camera or even with your laptop which has a limited number of ports itself. There are some sacrifices like refresh rate, lack of certain adjustment options, and a few other issues associated with cheaper monitors with lower.
4K 144HZ monitors are still pricey for many people and there are also certain problems that come with having too high resolution like proper software support, especially on Linux where you might not be able to do anything else except play games since most programs won't scale well unless they're designed to work together.
While 4K 144Hz monitors really do offer better refresh rates than standard models they still have their issues so if you want something even better than 144Hz check out the next section.
If you want something cheaper, however, there are still some good options available so if you don't need a higher refresh rate or even free sync then just look through previous sections since recommendations should apply to this category as well.