Monitor technology has come a long way in the past few years and has consistently outpaced the technological advancements in other fields such as graphics cards. As of right now, the monitors available in the market are far more advanced than we can currently hope to drive with our graphics cards in most games. Even the mighty RTX 3090 cannot saturate a 4K 144Hz panel in AAA titles of today. This means that monitor manufacturers are now looking for other features to add to their products in order to keep the technological wheel spinning.
HDR or High Dynamic Range is one of those features that is becoming more and more popular in new gaming monitors of today. High Dynamic Range improves the visual output and the image quality of the monitor by increasing the dynamic range of the panel, which means that there is a lot of clarity in areas of high brightness or darkness. This usually requires the monitor to have a high brightness rating, and for the monitor to be certified as HDR compliant. Thankfully, there are quite a few monitors out there today that have been certified to be HDR compliant, though some are better at it than others.
So with that out of the way, here are the 5 best HDR gaming monitors to buy in 2021.
The Samsung Odyssey G9 is one of the most iconic gaming monitors on the market right now. It captures the imagination of gamers all over the world due to its impressive design, huge screen, and incredible specs. The Odyssey G9 is a monstrous 49-inch monitor with a resolution of 5120×1440 and a refresh rate of 240 Hz. The monitor also supports variable refresh rate technology in the form of FreeSync.
The Odyssey G9 is a super ultrawide monitor that makes it a great idea for both gaming and productivity. Creative professionals can take advantage of its massive real estate for productivity workloads, while gamers can enjoy AAA titles in the breathtaking 5120×1440 resolution at a framerate of 240 Hz, provided they have the graphical horsepower to do so. The aggressive 1000R curvature of the monitor also increases the immersion while gaming.
The Odyssey G9 has exceptionally low input lag, quick response time and also supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. The FreeSync also makes it G-SYNC compatible as well, and that is good news for Nvidia users. Unfortunately, the full 240Hz refresh rate is only possible if you have a modern graphics card that supports DSC (Display Stream Compression) technology, and that is currently only available on Nvidia RTX 20 and 30 series, and AMD RX 5000 and 6000 series graphics cards.
The HDR performance of the monitor is also pretty decent due to its wide color gamut and a high peak brightness of over 1000 cd/m2 in some scenes. It does have local dimming as well, although it does not perform as well as it should considering the price point of the monitor. Moreover, the panel used is a VA panel which might not provide the same color accuracy and viewing angles as an IPS panel. Regardless, the Odyssey G9 is an ultra-high-end monitor with a versatile feature-set and wildly impressive specs, and you would not go wrong with this option if you have the money.
Speaking of the price, the Odyssey G9 is one of the most expensive consumer desktop monitors on the market right now, and it certainly takes some commitment and a hefty investment to secure one of these panels. You might look towards smaller UltraWide monitors with a 21:9 aspect ratio if you want to save some money and still retain the UltraWide form factor. The G9 might have some small quirks here and there, but by-and-large it is a fantastic gaming and productivity monitor that has a great HDR application, so it is definitely worth the price if you can afford it.
The Samsung Odyssey G7 is the little brother of the Odyssey G9 due to its smaller screen size and lower resolution. It still shares most of the internal specs and technologies with the bigger G9 monitor like the HDR implementation that is quite impressive here as well. The Odyssey G7 is available in both a 27-inch and a 32-inch size, however, the resolution in both sizes is 2560×1440. The refresh rate offered in the Odyssey G7 is the same blistering fast 240 Hz as the Odyssey G9. Freesync is also supported by the G7 just like the G9, and it is compatible with Nvidia G-SYNC as well.
The Odyssey G7 is a standard 16:9 monitor that is quite ideal for gaming as of right now. As cool as the ultrawides look, their game support is not quite on par with standard 16:9 monitors currently, so a standard 1440p monitor still makes a lot of sense for gaming in 2021. Especially when it is paired with an exceptionally fast refresh rate of 240 Hz, the Odyssey G7 comes close to being the ideal gaming monitor in a standard form factor.
Samsung has used the same VA panel technology in the G7 as well, and that translates to slightly worse color reproduction and viewing angles than some of the IPS panels on the market right now. However, this VA panel is nowhere near the VA panels of old. Its motion handling is exceptional due to its quick response time and high refresh rates, and that results in clear images in fast-moving scenes. Input lag is also quite low, and the monitor also supports the Black Frame Insertion feature.
The HDR experience on the Samsung Odyssey G7 is also quite reasonable. The color gamut coverage of the display is fairly wide, but it doesn’t quite get bright enough to make the highlights pop. The HDR experience of the monitor is quite comparable to the Odyssey G9 although it lags behind the bigger variant due to its lower peak brightness. The HDR experience is not bad by any means, and the monitor overall is quite packed with features so you don’t feel like anything is lacking when playing with the Odyssey G7.
All in all, the Odyssey G7 is another fantastic gaming monitor with HDR support that is reasonable as well. Moreover, its familiar aspect ratio combined with the blazing-fast 240 Hz refresh rate makes it one of the best HDR gaming monitors on the market right now.
If you are looking for an ultrawide monitor but not one of the size of the Odyssey G9, the UltraGear 34GN850-B might be the perfect option for you. The UltraGear has a 34-inch ultrawide panel with a resolution of 3440×1440 and a refresh rate of 160 Hz. The monitor also has HDR support which is the main feature that makes it ideal for this roundup. Variable refresh rate in the form of FreeSync is also supported, and the monitor is G-SYNC compatible as well.
The UltraGear’s 21:9 aspect ratio and the 34-inch screen size make it much easier to manage than the 49-inch Odyssey G9. This option would be suitable for those who are looking for the best ultrawide HDR monitor but do not quite have the desk space to fit an Odyssey G9. The UltraGear is also quite a bit easier to drive than the Odyssey G9, so gamers with older or less powerful graphics cards should benefit from its lower resolution. The monitor also does not require any Display Stream Compression so that is also a bonus over the G9. The monitor still supports a blazing fast 160 Hz refresh rate, and the response times are very fast as well which results in clearer images in fast-moving scenes.
In terms of HDR performance, it covers a very wide color gamut which is a good thing, although it doesn’t get as bright as one might have hoped. The color accuracy is great out of the box, so the user should not feel the need to calibrate it to get better color reproduction. This is helped by the fantastic IPS panel that LG is using, which has much wider viewing angles than any VA panel. The contrast ratio is a bit low, however, and that makes it less ideal for those who want to game in the dark.
The LG UltraGear 34GN850-B is a solid alternative to the massive Samsung Odyssey G9 and is ideal for people who are looking for a slightly smaller ultrawide option with decent HDR support. While its HDR performance might not be exceptional, it is still a decent performer with plenty of other features that make the overall experience quite enjoyable. Not to mention, it is quite a bit cheaper than the G9 as well.
The LG OLED48CXPUB might be a slightly unconventional choice in an HDR monitor roundup because, well, it is technically a TV. However, if a TV delivers exceptional HDR performance while having a 4K resolution with a 120 Hz refresh rate, then it should definitely be considered as a serious option for gaming. That is exactly where the LG OLED48CXPUB shines, as it is a 48-inch 4K OLED panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate that supports FreeSync as well.
The main strength of this TV is not its 4K resolution or the 120 Hz refresh rate or any of the gaming features, rather it’s the HDR performance of the panel. It can produce perfect blacks thanks to its OLED panel and its emissive technology, and this makes it an ideal choice for night gaming in the dark. The viewing angles are fantastic which is great for playing games with friends on a single screen. The response times of the panel are quite low and coupled with the decently high 120 Hz refresh rate, allow the TV to produce clear and smooth motion in fast-moving scenes.
There is a significant problem with OLED panels, however, and that is the risk of burn-in. Although OLED technology has come a long way since its early days, the risk of burn-in is still present in almost all OLED panels and this has kept OLED technology away from monitors as well. This should not be a significant problem for those people who watch varied content, although for gamers it can pose an issue due to the presence of persistent UI elements on the screen.
Overall, the LG OLED48CXPUB is a slightly unconventional option for an HDR gaming screen, but it is one that is very competent and rich in features. The HDR performance is excellent and much better than any gaming monitor, and the TV also has its fair share of gaming features as well. While not a perfect monitor replacement, the LG OLED48CXPUB can be an ideal candidate for a living room PC with a multi-purpose arrangement.
If you are looking for an HDR gaming monitor but are on a fairly tight budget as well, then you might want to consider the Gigabyte G27Q. This is one of the best budget HDR gaming monitors on the market right now. It has a 27-inch screen with a standard 1440p resolution and a fairly high refresh rate of 144Hz. The monitor uses an incredible IPS panel and supports variable refresh rate technology as well in the form of FreeSync and G-SYNC.
In terms of gaming, it performs fairly well due to its exceptionally low input lag, excellent response time, and fast 144 Hz refresh rate. This results in smooth and responsive gameplay even in fast-paced scenarios. The IPS panel further improves the gaming experience, delivering excellent color reproduction and wide viewing angles which makes the overall image look much better than in a VA panel.
The HDR performance of the monitor is quite good for the price. It has a solid color gamut with excellent DCI P3 coverage, which is ideal since most HDR content uses this color space. The monitor also gets quite bright in HDR which helps to make some highlights pop. It does not rival the G9 or the LG OLED TV in HDR performance or peak brightness, however that is to be expected considering the price point.
The Gigabyte G27Q is a solid option for a budget HDR gaming monitor that delivers more than acceptable HDR performance and amazing gaming features at quite an affordable price point. It has some drawbacks such as the low contrast ratio or the unexceptional refresh rate, but one cannot expect everything while shopping at a budget-constricted price point. Still, the G27Q should be considered if you want a decent all-rounder without breaking the bank.