If you followed my latest buying guides you have probably figured out that I have been researching the 144hz gaming monitor market for quite some time now, not only focusing on the high end segment, but also jumping back and forth between the low and medium priced models.
My first challenge was to find out the best 144hz monitor for my own needs, which took quite some time and testing, and my second challenge was to form a meaningful tutorial which will not only pour all my knowledge down your head, but also help you further understand the market and your needs, so that you can make a smarter purchase.
But, before we begin with the top list I would like to take the time and explain you the current market within a few bullet points, first the trends, then the available panels, so let’s start!
Current trends surrounding gaming monitors?
With the release of the RTX series of NVIDIA GPU’s and the latest price correction of most, if not all 144Hz monitors, one thing is sure – the market is finally ripe for 144hz gaming. But to enter it, you first need to understand what awaits you there. Luckily, the technology is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. As of now we’re having two specific panels leading the pack, 144hz 1080P TN panels and 144hz 1440p IPS panels.
The 144hz 1080p TN panel is mostly found within “Esports” branded monitors, well known for their low price and fast response time, usually ranging around 1 millisecond, while the 144hz 1440p IPS panel is the one mostly aiming for content creators, it features better color accuracy and a higher resolution, but also comes with a higher price tag.
The same panels can be further enhanced with different technologies, with the first one being NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, and FreeSync being the second option, made by, you guessed it, AMD.
In case you’re not familiar with them, be sure to go through our last tutorial where we explained it in detail, you can find it here.
How did we form the top list of best 144hz gaming monitors?
Now, in regards to our top list, so far we have tested more then 70 monitors through 2018., and after a while you figure out that there are three main points to watch out when buying a gaming monitor.
- The first one is being the technologies built in. Do you need a TN panel, a VA or should you go with an IPS? Would 1080p suffice or do you need 1440p? Do you have a budget for 4k?
- The second one is being built quality. Does it have a high quality stand? Swivel and tilting support? What about VESA mount capability? Aluminum or plastic?
- The third and last point is the warranty. How many years of warranty does it have and how easy it is to replace them if something goes wrong? What about overall return rate?
In this article we included only models which passed all three points in our eyes, and then we divided them in to three categories and two price points. So, in the next few lines you can choose between affordable esports oriented monitors for less then $300, or go all out on behemoths of the industry and buy the $1800 ones – it’s up to you.
Let us first start with the cheap gaming monitors, with Asus and BenQ as the leaders of the affordable category.
Best cheap/affordable 1080P 144hz gaming monitors
What can you expect with cheap 1080p 144hz monitors? Well, you’ll get your money’s worth, that’s for sure. Most of them can be bought for less then $300, which is quite a bargain when compared to their 1440p counter parts.
Aside from that, the market is dominated by TN panels and VA panels, with no IPS options available as of now. Let’s first do a short overview of the market so that you understand our choice:
- In terms of TN panels, BenQ is currently trending with their ZOWIE esports monitors, and has had quite a success on the market. Most esports arenas are featuring them as their main choice.
- When it comes to VA panels, there are currently no flat options available, just curved ones. Asus took the lead here and his models are holding the “Best buy” award in most top lists, especially their Strix line-up.
- As mentioned above, there are no IPS 144hz 1080p panels available, thus, no IPS monitors within this category. You’ll have to jump to 1440p to get that.
Now since you have the overview, let’s start of the recommendations with the king of the affordable line, which is:
TN Panel: 24″ BenQ ZOWIE XL2411
ZOWIE has had quite a success with their esports oriented gear, they first started out with peripherals, ust to now end up dominating the monitor market. Truth be told, TN panels are not that popular with designers and photographers, mainly because the color accuracy and black levels can’t compete with the more expensive IPS or VA panels, but what about gamers? Well, the only thing which matters is the high refresh rate paired with a fast response time and an affordable price, and the BenQ Zowie XL2411 covers them both.
With an adjustable stand, VESA mount, 1ms response time and 144hz refresh rate, the XL2411 has been heavily marketed as an esports monitor, thus, most players adopted it, which can be seen in esports tournaments around the world.
One would say that a model as popular as this one would cost a lot, but you’re wrong, it’s one of the cheapest gaming monitors out there, and you can get it for as low as $250 – including the 3 year warranty. With all of these factors, it’s obvious why it represents the best buy 144hz gaming monitor for 2019.
- Pros: 144hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, high quality casing, VESA mount, adjustable stand, 3 year warranty, low price, swivel, tilt and height adjustability
- Cons: TN panel, no FreeSync or G-Sync technology
- Price: Can be found for around $250 on Amazon under this link: BenQ Zowie XL2411
VA Panel with FreeSync: 27″ ASUS ROG Strix
If you’re not fond of TN Panels and are looking to use your monitor for day to day work, including photo and video editing, then a VA panel would be the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, you’ll get a slower response time – 4ms to be exact. But, the color accuracy is better, the blacks are darker and you’re still getting the 144hz refresh rate packed within a 1080p panel.
Aside of that, Asus pushes the offer a bit further, and ads a swivel, tild and height adjustable stand, paired with a VESA mount and further enhanced with their Aura RGB lighing on the back of the monitor and LED lighting projector on the base of it. To top it off, the Asus Strix 27″ is also featuring the FreeSync technology, something which the above mentioned BenQ lacks.
Before you click that buy button, keep in mind that this is a curved gaming monitor. Something which is a deal breaker for some, but the main feature for others. To each their own, I would say.
Unfortunately, that all comes at a price – you’ll have to cash out $70 more then for the above mentioned Zowie, with the end price being around $320.
- Pros: 144hz refresh rate, VA panel, high quality casing, VESA mount, swivel, tilt and height adjustability, FreeSync technology, 3 years of warranty with two way free shipping
- Cons: 4 ms response time, high price in comparison to other 1080p monitors
- Price: The model can be found for $320 on Amazon under this link: 27″ ASUS ROG Strix
Best 1440P 144hz gaming monitors
Here we come to my specialty – 1440P monitors. I picked out two models for this part, one is my all time AOC favorite featuring G-Sync and an IPS panel, the other is a TN panel with Freesync placed under a new brand on the market – Pixio. But, again, as before, let’s first go through a short overview of the market.
To be clear, you can’t find newer models within the 144hz 1440p resolution, most of these monitors are from 2016. or 2017., which doesn’t mean that they are outdated or, God forbid, a bad choice. No, not at all, you’re also quite lucky since some of us (hey, look at me) paid the full price for one of them a year ago, and the prices have been lowered not once, but twice since then. So at this point you don’t need to cash out $700+ for a 1440p 144hz monitor, there are IPS options starting at $500, and TN options at $300 – quite a deal.
The reason why these models are not that popular between esports gamers is because of the resolution – a higher resolution needs a stronger GPU, and this is why people mostly opt in for the 1080p panes. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of 1440p monitors and would always recommend one over a 1080p. So, to start of, let’s go with my first choice, which is also the model which I decided to keep for my own needs:
165HZ IPS Panel with G-Sync: 27″AOC Agon AG271QG
I already wrote about this monitor a few months ago, and I’m still standing behind what I said; this is the monitor that I didn’t expect to keep, but in the end did just that. It’s my main daily monitor that’s used for everything from pro gaming, multimedia, work and surfing Imgur. The reason I kept it was the overall quality of the model: I fell in love with the screen, the build quality, the little headphone holder and the amazing 144/165Hz refresh rate combined with IPS technology.
Back then I tried 8 different models, ranging from BenQ and Acer to Asus, but the AOC stood out and I kept it. The model is also getting cheaper and cheaper, I paid around $750 for it, but now it’s available for as low as $550.
- Pros: High Quality IPS panel, sturdy stand with a VESA mount, swivel, tilt and height adjustability, support for G-Sync, overclockable to 165Hz.
- Cons: Really weird way of attaching the stand to the monitor, you need a screwdriver.
- Price: Used ones can be found for around $350 while new ones can go up to $550. Check out the updated prices on Amazon: AOC Agon AG271QG
144HZ TN Panel with FreeSync: 27″ Pixio PX276 1ms
The Pixio brand is quite a new one, they joined the market just a year ago, but they are already stacking up positive reviews all over the internet. Their current line-up is holding TN and IPS panels, with extra HDR options for those who’re in to it – I’m personally not. The reason why I choose this specific model with the TN panel is mainly because of the price. It’s currently levitating around $300 on Amazon, and within that budget you just can’t get a better deal. Not only does it feature a snappy 144hz monitor and 1ms response time, it also supports FreeSync 2 to make that 1440p resolution pop.
You’re also getting a “gamer-less” design, in other words, no RGB on the front or back, no special lightning below the stand or anything else that screams “I’m a Fortnite Youtuber”, which may be cool for some and a deal breaker for others – it’s up to you.
Although it looks fragile on the photos, in real it feels more premium, especially the stand which is quite heavy. Unfortunately, you can’t move it around much, but it supports the VESA standard, which is welcomed.
In case you do have the budget to go with the IPS version of the Pixio PX series, skip it. I would rather recommend adding the $100 extra dollars and going for the above mentioned AGON, just because it’s a far better product within the $450 price range.
- Pros: You’re getting a lot of tech for $300, a good and sturdy stand with VESA support, FreeSync 2 technology and a plain, but effective design.
- Cons: Although I liked the stand, you can’t do much with it, no swivel, tilt or height adjustment.
- Price: It’s currently around $300 on Amazon, but check out the updated price under this link Pixio PX276 27 inch 144Hz 1ms
The best 4K 144hz gaming monitor?
I wrote about 4k 144hz gaming a few weeks ago, and one thing is sure – the current GPU line-up just can’t handle it without cutting corners. So, is there a point in buying a 4k 144hz monitor? If you have the money, sure, why not.
Day to day work will be more enjoyable and, in case you’re sporting a RTX 2080 Ti (you lucky bastard), you will be able to play most games in 144hz with the details on medium. But, are there any good monitors currently on the market? To be honest with you, there’s just one viable option – the Asus Swift PG27UQ.
The only choice: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27″ 4K UHD
The ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27″ 4K UHD is the next generation monitor, and it represents a future-proof investment. Not only are you able to downscale your games to 1440p and play them in full 144hz high quality glory, you can also bump up the specs and go for 4k gaming.
Truly a unique monitor, featuring an IPS panel with 1000 nits of brightness and 384 local dimming zones, a DCI-P3 color gamut for realistic colors and smoother gradation, HDR technology, G-Sync and DisplayPort 1.4 support, together with a blue light filter and a flicker-free backlighting. As you can see, a mouth full of features, which also reflects in the price. Is it worth it? If you can afford it – definitely.
- Pros: 4k IPS panel, DCI-P3 color gamut, DP 1.4, G-Sync, HDR.
- Cons: Price…
- Price: It’s currently available from Amazon for around $1800, check it out here: ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ 27″ 4K UHD
What did I get as my own setup?
I know how complicated it is to spend your money on today’s tech. There are just to many excellent options, and sometimes it’s hard to ignore high end products. What I can tell you from my own experience is try to stay objective when it comes to your own needs and don’t go over your budget.
As for my own machine, I’m currently sporting the Strix GTX 1070 plugged in to my AOC Agon AG271QG 27″, a setup that I got end of last year and which is still bringing a smile to my face every time I unlock my PC, which is the sole goal of this tutorial – to bring you the same experience which I’m having day to day.
Hope you enjoyed another one of my tutorials and got what you needed from it, see you around the web!