Monitor technology always seems to outpace the technological advancements in other PC components such as graphics cards. On one side, we have the greatest 4K monitors with up to 165Hz refresh rate with great IPS HDR panels and crazy colors, while on the other hand even the great RTX 3090 can barely play the latest AAA games on 4K at 60Hz with all the settings cranked to the maximum. The unreasonable demands of 4K gaming have been evident for quite some time now, and even though 4K definitely does look amazing, many gamers have decided to stay with lower resolutions in favor of higher refresh rates.
Monitors with lower resolutions such as 1080p and 1440p are still the sweet spot when it comes to high refresh rate gaming. While 1440p 144Hz seems to be the perfect balance of quality and smoothness for most gamers, eSports players and competitive gamers might not be satisfied by a mere 144Hz refresh rate. In the world of competitive gaming, even the slightest increase in responsiveness might give you the edge over your enemy in the heat of battle, so these gamers aim for the highest refresh rates and the most responsive monitors out there.
With that said, here are the 5 best monitors for eSports and competitive gaming in 2021.
One of the best gaming monitors out there has to be the ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM for its incredible blend of high-end gaming features and a competitive price point. The VG279QM might look like an ordinary monitor at first glance, but it has many features that make it an exceptional choice for eSports and competitive gaming.
The VG279QM is a 27-inch monitor with a resolution of 1920×1080. This resolution might not seem impressive by today’s standards, but it is in-fact the default resolution for competitive gaming even nowadays. Many professional players will go as far as to reduce the resolution down to 720p in order to maximize the framerate of the game. The VG279QM also implements a variable refresh rate in the form of Freesync, which is also certified by Nvidia to be G-Sync compatible.
The best thing about the ASUS VG279QM is undoubtedly its refresh rate. This monitor has a default 240Hz refresh rate that can be overclocked to blinding-fast 280Hz for an ultra-smooth gaming experience. This refresh rate is quite rare in monitors even in 2021 due to the fact that the panel needs to be of extremely high quality to produce this refresh rate. Speaking of the panel, the VG279QM has an IPS panel which is now pretty much the standard for gaming monitors as IPS panels have become faster with lower response times over the last few years.
It used to be that if you wanted a high refresh rate monitor with a low response time a couple of years ago, you had to go with either a TN or a VA panel. But nowadays due to advancements in panel technologies, IPS panels have become as fast as TN or VA panels while retaining their excellent color reproduction and viewing angles. This makes the IPS panels sort of the best of both worlds.
While the VG279QM has an extremely low input lag when playing at 280Hz, it increases quite a bit at 60Hz. Moreover, the contrast ratio is not as high as we’d have liked to see, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark. On the flip side, it has the great build quality and solid ergonomics which count in its favor. Overall, the VG279QM is a fantastic choice for competitive gaming in 2021.
A great alternative to the ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QM comes from Dell’s Alienware brand with the AW2521HF which sounds like the name of an attack helicopter but is in-fact a great gaming monitor. One of the best features of the AW2521HF is its smaller screen size which is preferable on a 1080p screen. While the 27-inch screen size of the ASUS might be “fine” for most people at 1080p, gamers might prefer a smaller screen size like 25-inch with a 1080p panel for higher pixel density.
And that is exactly what you’re getting with the Alienware AW2521HF. Not only does the screen size of the monitor span 25 inches, but it also supports a blazing fast refresh rate of 240Hz which is really great for competitive gaming. The 25-inch screen size makes it a smaller alternative to the ASUS model with a higher pixel density, however, you are losing a bit of refresh rate because the Alienware model cannot be overclocked to run at 280Hz like the ASUS. Still, the monitor’s panel is plenty fast for competitive gaming.
The Alienware offering is quite solid in other departments too. The AW2521 also has an IPS panel just like the rest of our lineup today, and that means that color reproduction and viewing angles are miles better than any comparable TN or VA panel. IPS has somewhat set the bar when it comes to modern gaming displays, and the Alienware model is no exception. Not only that, but the AW2521 also has a very low pixel response time which helps to smooth out the motion at high refresh rates and helps to eliminate smearing and ghosting issues.
In terms of features, the AW2521HF also supports Freesync. The adaptive sync implementation in this panel has also been validated to be G-Sync compatible by Nvidia which is great news for owners of Nvidia graphics cards. Now you can enjoy a butter smooth 240Hz gaming experience without any screen tearing or stuttering. Sadly, the panel does not support HDR and it has some uniformity issues when viewing dark scenes in a dark room. The AW2521HF does have great peak brightness and great reflection handling, so glare should not be an issue in bright situations.
All in all, the AW2521 from Dell is a great gaming monitor with a lot of solid features for gaming. The high 240Hz refresh rate coupled with its great IPS panel makes it a compelling buy for any competitive player.
One of the more versatile options in our roundup is the Acer Nitro XV273 that packs a lot of features for the price. Not only is the Nitro XV273 an excellent gaming monitor, but it is also a really great monitor for general purpose use and moderate content creation. The Acer Nitro XV273 is a good choice for productivity and media consumption as well, so it should be considered if you plan to do those things in addition to gaming on your rig.
First and foremost, the gaming qualities of the Nitro XV273 cannot be overlooked. Acer has packed in a 27-inch 1920×1080 panel in the XV273 that is great for competitive gaming. 1080p still is the resolution of choice for most eSports and competitive gamers, so the XV273 is not held back here. The big advantage of the XV273 is its incredibly fast 240Hz refresh rate which makes it a solid choice for competitive gaming as we have discussed already. Although it cannot be overclocked to 280Hz like the ASUS TUF Gaming option, the 240Hz refresh rate still provides an incredibly smooth desktop and gaming experience.
In terms of features, the XV273 is more loaded than its competitors. Not only does it have Freesync that is also G-Sync compatible, but it is also DisplayHDR400 certified which is a nice touch. The XV273 also has one of the better IPS panels which has exceptional out-of-the-box color accuracy. It has a dedicated sRGB mode with nearly perfect white balance and only minor color inaccuracies. The panel also has very low response times which means no motion blur can be seen in fast-moving scenes. Moreover, it has optional Black Frame insertion that is meant to further improve clarity.
However, the XV273 is not perfect. Although it does support HDR, it cannot display a wide color gamut so HDR does not look distinguishable from SDR most of the time. The IPS panel also has low contrast ratios that make the blacks look more grayish at times which can be a problem in dark situations. Some other features of the XV273 from Acer include a flicker-free backlight, blue light filter, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and a pair of built-in speakers. These features may be a nice attraction to a select group of people.
The Acer Nitro XV273 is a fantastic well-rounded gaming monitor that has plenty of features that appeal to the general public as well. It does have some drawbacks, but it is a great monitor to consider when purchasing a gaming monitor in 2021.
If the above-mentioned options fall out of your budget range, then the ASUS VG279Q might be the right choice for you. Just like most other monitors in our lineup, this relatively affordable model from ASUS packs in a 27-inch 1920×1080 screen that is great for competitive gaming. This model is cheaper than other monitors here and that becomes obvious in its refresh rate. The ASUS VG279Q is a 144Hz monitor and not a 240 or 280Hz option like the other models in our roundup.
While 144Hz might seem like a big drawback of the VG279Q, it might actually not be. Many people cannot even distinguish 240Hz from 144Hz and while yes, the difference does exist, chances are you might not even notice it in the heat of battle. 144Hz is still plenty fast for competitive games and does offer you a significant edge over standard 60Hz monitors. The ASUS VG279Q also has a relatively low input latency, which also helps in the gaming performance of this monitor.
In terms of features, the VG279Q does disappoint a little bit, but that can be forgiven due to its lower price tag. However, the VG279Q does support Freesync which is great if you’re gaming on an AMD graphics card. Although it is not officially certified by Nvidia yet, many Freesync monitors work with Nvidia graphics cards just fine too. The ASUS VG279Q also has an IPS panel which offers great color reproduction and wide viewing angles.
Apart from the lack of features like HDR, the panel of the VG279Q also has some clouding issues which can be distracting in dark scenes. However, for just gaming and on a fairly tight budget, the ASUS VG289Q does not disappoint.
If we are talking gaming monitors on a budget, then we have to mention the LG 27GL650F-B. Ridiculous name aside, this monitor from LG rivals the ASUS VG279Q in terms of gaming features and overall quality. Just like the ASUS monitor, it is also a 27-inch 1920×1080 panel which is the ideal resolution for competitive gaming as it allows fast refresh rates to be made possible on budget monitors. Despite its budget price category, this LG monitor offers some good gaming performance and solid features that rival some of the more expensive monitors on this list.
Just like the VG279Q from ASUS, the LG also has a native 144Hz refresh rate which we deem to be plenty for competitive gaming especially at low response times such as the ones on the LG. Talking about gaming features, the LG 27GL650F-B also supports Freesync which is good news for those gamers who run a graphics card from Team Red. Not only that, but this monitor has also been validated as G-Sync compatible by Nvidia which is also a nice touch.
The LG 27GL650F-B has a surprisingly solid IPS panel given its price point. It has really low input lag at its maximum refresh rate, and its response time at 60Hz is also very good. The color accuracy of the LG monitor is also pretty good out-of-the-box which is great news since this is a budget monitor. Along with the usual IPS features of wide viewing angles and great color reproduction, the panel also gets pretty bright which is enough to combat glare in a bright environment.
There are a few drawbacks with this monitor as well though. The stand is not great in terms of ergonomics, and it has quite a low contrast ratio. This makes the blacks appear grayish when they are viewed in dark environments. HDR somewhat helps to brighten them up, but similar to the Acer Nitro the color gamut coverage is not wide enough for that mode so HDR does not look all that different from SDR. These are some of the drawbacks of this monitor, however, at its price point, we can’t complain much.
Overall, the LG 27GL650F-B is another decent gaming monitor with lots of great gaming and general quality features that make it a great choice for an affordable price.