Best monitor size for gaming in 2022



Published Jun 30, 2022 12:15 PM

It’s easy to go into a store and get seduced by the biggest, brightest screen in the room, but the best monitor size for gaming varies from person to person and setup to setup. There are very good reasons to limit yourself to a smaller size display, and plenty of valid reasons to go extra large and ultrawide. The important thing is that you adjust your expectations for your monitor’s performance and price to match the size you’re looking for. 

At Popular Science, we’ve looked at gaming monitors of every shape and size, rating them by resolution, form factor, and function. If you need a quick recommendation on the best gaming monitor for a certain size, we’ve got you covered. And if you want a longwinded explanation for why certain specs work better for some monitor sizes than others, I can help out with that, too.

How we picked the best gaming monitor by size

We here in Popular Science’s gear department spend a lot of time thinking about screens—particularly TVs and monitors. In the last year, we’ve published dozens of recommendation lists like this one about monitors, and I have edited the vast majority of those stories. As such, I have teased out, concentrated, and absorbed countless hours of testing and research about the nuances of display technology.

In addition, my primary background as a critic is gaming and gaming hardware. Prior to joining PopSci, I reviewed games and peripherals for PCMag, IGN, Gamespot, GamesRadar, LaptopMag, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and more. Needless to say, I play games every day and scrutinize them closely.

What to consider when buying a gaming monitor

Clearly, the size of your gaming monitor is important, but it is actually just one of many specs that make a gaming monitor good or great (or terrible). In fact, you should pick your monitor by balancing screen size, resolution, price, and a number of other factors.

I bet you’ve already got your heart set on a specific size, so rather than running you through a crash course in what each spec means, I’ll simply provide some general insight into why you might want to pick each individual size.

If you’re interested in some deep dives into PC display specs, please check out some of our other monitor-focused explainers, such as the best cheap gaming monitors and the best monitors for color grading.

24-inch monitors

The baseline small size for PC monitors, gaming or otherwise, is 24 inches. There are two reasons to go for a 24-inch monitor. The first, unsurprisingly, is price. Not only are 24-inch monitors generally less expensive because of their size, but they’re also small enough that you can stick with a more affordable 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080), and still achieve the sharpest possible image. Depending on your system and your desired frame rate, a 1080p may be the perfect fit for your system. If that’s the case, it makes sense to focus on a 24-inch display.

Speaking of frame rate, competitive players often also choose to scale down to a 24-inch, 1080p monitor to get the fastest possible refresh rate. Refresh rate, which indicates how many times your monitor can update what’s happening on screen each second, sets the high bar for your games’ frame rate. A 144Hz refresh rate translates to 144 frames per second. That’s enough to allow most players to play many games at the highest frame rate their systems can handle. Though a higher frame rate delivers diminishing returns to visual fidelity above 144Hz, splurging on a 1080p monitor with an even higher 240Hz, 300Hz, or even 360Hz refresh rate may generate an imperceivable but meaningful improvement to their reaction time. In the last couple of years, 240Hz monitors have shown up in larger sizes and higher resolutions, but you still need a smaller, lower-resolution monitor to unlock the highest possible refresh rate.

27-inch monitors

In my mind, the 27-inch, 1440p gaming monitor is the closest thing to a universal monitor recommendation I can give for dedicated PC gamers. If you built or bought a new mid- or high-budget gaming PC in the last five years, there’s a good chance you can play most games in 1440p (2560 x 1440) at 60fps or higher. While a 24-inch, 1440p monitor will look excellent, we feel that you get a better bang for your buck at that resolution on a 27-inch display. It’s also a large enough display that it feels immersive on its own but small enough to comfortably pair with a second monitor.

Some players may be able to justify a 27-inch, 4K display. As with a 24-inch, 1440p monitor, it will look very nice, but may be overkill in a lot of cases. That said, 4K monitors are, by and large, still very expensive. If you feel you need 4K but want to spend a little less, this is a good way to cut costs.

32-inch monitors

The largest of the three major widescreen gaming monitor sizes, the best 32-inch monitors are almost always an exercise in luxury. In order to achieve a high pixel density and, thus, a sharp image, we recommend going right for 4K on a 32-inch display. Given that, you should really expect to pull out all the stops and reach for the most expensive, color-accurate, feature-rich gaming monitor you can get.

40-inch monitors (and larger)

Do you still want to go bigger!? There are a number of extra-large displays, which range from 40-inches to as 65-inches, the same size as a big-screen TV. Some of the smaller monitors in this range, particularly some XL curved, ultrawide displays, make sense as an alternative to using a dual monitor setup. 

Once you get above 50 inches, you have no choice but to treat your monitor the same way you would a TV. You’ll want to sit further away and use a lapboard or play games with a controller. You also need to consider its specs the way you would a TV. You want a much higher max brightness, 1000 nits or higher, versus 600 nits on a 24-32-inch monitor, to ensure a vivid picture and proper HDR support.

After replacing my TV with a gaming monitor for a while, I can tell you that it has some advantages and some drawbacks. It isn’t something I would do without giving it some thought, though.

What about ultrawides?

In addition to conventional, 16:9 displays, there’s a whole range of 21:9 and 32:9 ultrawide gaming monitors, which can extend your game out to the edges of your vision and enhance your immersion. Ultrawide monitors come in their own range of sizes, and tend to trend larger to accentuate their expanded reach. A large ultrawide can take the place of two monitors, providing a similar amount of screen real estate for work, while allowing for a bezel-free experience in games, 

With curved monitors and ultrawides, we usually recommend buying the largest option that’s comfortable and compatible with your setup, as the overwhelming immersion is the selling point. Just make sure there’s room on and around your desk for it.

The best gaming monitors, by size: Reviews & Recommendations

If you were on the fence about what size monitor you wanted, I hope my brief rundowns helped you narrow down your choice. Now that we theoretically know what we want, here are the monitors that take the best advantage of their size. From a small, speedy 24-inch esports display to a massive TV-like monitor, we have an option for each of the major screen sizes. If you’d like to drill a little deeper and check out a wider range of monitors by resolution or utility, we’ve put together many types of monitor recommendations.

Best 24-inch: Dell Alienware AW2521H

Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon, eBay

Why it made the cut: The Alienware AW2521H offers the fastest possible refresh rate you can get right now, with the fewest compromises.

Specs

  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Refresh rate: 360Hz
  • Panel type: Fast IPS
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: HDR10 (400 Nits)
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 x 2, DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.2 with upstream, USB 3.2 with battery charging, USB 3.2 x 3, Audio line out, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Extremely high refresh rate
  • Fast IPS panel gives you high speed and better color gamut
  • Lots of extra USB ports

Cons

  • Expensive for a 24-inch display
  • Low max brightness

There are only a handful of 1080p monitors that can run games at 360Hz, which is the fastest refresh rate available from a monitor right now without overclocking. (There is a 500Hz gaming monitor on the way, though.) Of the current displays offering that arguably overblown spec, the Alienware AW2521H has the most polished look and balanced performance. Thanks to a “Fast IPS” panel, you’ll see brighter colors than other 360Hz displays, which feature fast, but muted TN panels. 

It also features numerous quality-of-life features, including a thoughtful and suitably sci-fi-inspired design, as well as a shocking number of connection options, including five USB 3.2 ports. The AW2521H’s only glaring flaw is its poor brightness, which isn’t sufficient for playing games with HDR. That said, most players interested in prioritizing the highest possible frame rate over everything else won’t lose sleep over the loss.

Best 27-inch: Samsung Odyssey G7

Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: The Samsung Odyssey G7 hits all the right specs, including an esports-grade refresh rate and an extra-bright QLED panel.

Specs

  • Resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • Panel type: QLED (VA)
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: VESA DisplayHDR 600
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 x 2, USB 3.0 x 2, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • 27/1440p is a good size/resolution pair
  • QLED-enhanced panel
  • HDR-ready brightness
  • 240Hz refresh rate

Cons

  • Curved displays may not be for everyone

The Samsung Odyssey G7 is one of our favorite monitors. It’s our top curved monitor, our top 240Hz monitor for esports players, and popped in many other conversations. Why? Well, we love a 27-inch, 1440p monitor: It’s a great baseline spec for most players who have a mid-range or powerful gaming PC bought or built in the past few years. It’s fast, hitting a competition-ready 240Hz. It’s bright, topping out at an HDR-ready 600 nits. The Odyssey G7’s panel features a 1000R curve, which comes close to fully encompassing your field of view. Not all players love curved displays, particularly deep curves like this one, but it is a perfect fit for those who do. And if you’ve never tried one? Well, you may as well start something that nails all the other specs. (After trying it in a store, of course.)

Best 32-inch: Gigabyte M32U

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Gigabyte M32U has nearly every feature you’d want in a 4K gaming monitor, and it doesn’t even cost that much.

Specs

  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K)
  • Refresh rate: 144Hz
  • Panel type: Fast IPS
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: VESA DisplayHDR 400
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 2, DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.0 x 3, USB-C, USB-B, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Affordable for size and resolution
  • Built-in KVM Switch
  • Strong color gamut
  • Supports USB-C connection
  • Multiple HDMI 2.1 connections

Cons

  • Low max brightness
  • USB-C video connection doesn’t charge laptop

Gigabyte’s M32U isn’t the flashiest 4K monitor by the most coveted gaming peripheral brand, but specs speak louder than branding. The 32-inch 4K display features a fast IPS panel that achieves a 90 percent DCI-P3 wide color gamut for bold, vivid color. It also features a tremendous range of connection options, including two HDMI 2.1 ports, allowing you to play compatible PS5 and Xbox Series X games in 4K at 120Hz. It also works as a USB-C monitor thanks to DP Alt mode support, though it doesn’t deliver power so you’ll have to charge your laptop separately. Twitch streamers with day jobs will appreciate its built-in KVM switch, so you can plug your keyboard and mouse into the monitor’s USB ports and automatically switch them from device to device when you change inputs.

Though 4K monitors aren’t as exorbitant as they once were, it’s still very impressive to find such a fully featured monitor for less than $1,000. Even with a few flaws, like a poor max brightness of 400 nits, you’re getting incredible value here.

Best 40-inch or larger: Samsung Odyssey Neo G9

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The 49-inch super ultrawide Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is the height of curved ultrawide decadence.

Specs

  • Resolution: 5120 x 1440 pixels (32:9)
  • Refresh rate: 240Hz
  • Panel type: VA
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: DisplayHDR 2000
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 2, DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.0 x 2, PC in, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • Gigantic curved ultrawide display
  • Mini-LED backlighting provides immense brightness.
  • Esports-ready 240Hz
  • Deep 1000R curve

Cons

  • Extremely expensive
  • You may have trouble fitting it on a desk

For curved ultrawide obsessives, the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 is a grail display. It’s an absolutely massive 49-inch, 32:9 panel that somehow manages a 240Hz refresh rate. (Such speed is usually reserved for smaller monitors.) With Quantum Mini-LED backlighting, it achieves TV-level brightness that’s perfect for HDR. Obviously, such a large monitor comes with some eccentricities: It’s big and very bright but features a 1000R curve that demands you sit very close to it to stay in the sweet spot. Also, at 49 inches, it may not even fit a smaller, more compact desk setup. On the other hand, it’s big enough to replace two 27-inch monitors. If you’re willing to build/adjust your setup to accommodate it, the Odyssey Neo G9 is an extremely curved ultrawide gaming experience.

Best ultrawide: Dell Alienware AW3423DW

Why it made the cut: Dell’s first QD-OLED offers refined sharpness and bold color in a curved ultrawide form factor.

Specs

  • Resolution: 3440 x 1440 (21:9)
  • Refresh rate: 175Hz
  • Panel type: QD-OLED
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: DisplayHDR TrueBlack 400/1000 nits
  • Ports: HDMI 2.0 x 2, DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.2 Gen 1 downstream x 4, USB 3.2 Gen 1 upstream, Audio line out, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros

  • QD-OLED screen generates incredible color, brightness, and contrast
  • Speedy 175Hz refresh rate
  • Lots of USB ports

Cons

Until 2022, companies haven’t really offered OLED gaming monitors. OLED TVs have occupied store shelves for years, and we’re seeing companies put OLED displays in phones, game consoles, and laptops. Still, dedicated monitor manufacturers have held off on making the jump. Alienware is the first of a handful of manufacturers to do so this year.

The AW3423DW features a hybrid QD-OLED technology, which combines the color-enhancing “Quantum Dot” layer found in QLED TV panels with the backlighting technology of the OLED screen, where each pixel features its own, independently controlled backlight. The combination, in theory, enhances the inherently low brightness of the ultra-sharp OLED display.

As such, the AW3423 is capable of generating an incredibly vibrant picture, with an unprecedented 99 percent DCI-P3 wide color gamut for tremendous color accuracy, and some of the best contrast you can get in a gaming monitor. That alone makes it worthy of special consideration, but it’s also a well-rounded display, with a high 175Hz refresh rate and a whopping five USB ports for extra connectivity. Since this is a “first” for gaming monitors, the AW3423 is tremendously expensive, and some users may want to wait until a wider range of QD-OLED monitors launch later this year to see if there are any kinks in the technology. Still, we expect (read: hope) that this could be the first step toward a “quantum” leap for high-end gaming monitors in all shapes and sizes.

Best budget: Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ gives you a well-balanced, 27-inch, 1440p monitor that can hit 165Hz for less than $400.

Specs

  • Resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Refresh rate: 165Hz
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR/brightness: HDR10/350 nits
  • Ports: DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack

Pros 

  • Great value
  • Strong balance of screen, resolution, and refresh rate
  • Lots of adjustability options

Cons

  • DisplayPort 1.2, not 1.4
  • Low max brightness

A perennial pick when you want strong core specs on a tight(ish) budget, the TUF Gaming VG27AQ gives you a great value with well-balanced core specs for a lot less money than our other picks. The 27-inch IPS panel delivers decent color performance, with 99 percent sRGB coverage, and a great trio of core monitor specs: 27-inch screen size, 1440p resolution, and 165Hz refresh rate. Since this is an older model display—Asus makes a newer version—it is missing a couple of things we’d like, including up-to-date HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort connections. That said, if you don’t want to splurge on a killer monitor, this one will give most players what they need for an affordable price.

FAQs

Q: How much do gaming monitors cost?

How much do you want to spend? We’ve researched, tested, and reviewed gaming monitors that run the gamut, from under $200 to over $2,000. I’ve found that—when factoring in value for specs, but without anticipating anyone’s individual budget—many of our top picks range between $400-$1,300, depending on size, resolution, brand name, and other factors.

That said, there are a lot of great options at every price point, so long as you set your expectations appropriately.

Q: Can you use a gaming monitor with a laptop?

Of course! It varies from model to model, but many gaming laptops feature an HDMI port on the side specifically to allow you to connect to a monitor or TV. If your laptop doesn’t have an HDMI or DisplayPort connector built in, you can always buy a USB hub with an HDMI port.

Q: How high should I have my gaming monitor?

Ideally, you should position your gaming monitor so you’re staring directly at the top of the screen when sitting up straight. This allows you to see the whole screen without twisting or craning your neck.

Most monitor stands feature some amount of adjustability, including horizontal and vertical tilt, as well as height adjustment. We’ve found that the best way to perfectly position your monitor, is to switch to an adjustable monitor arm, which offers more fine control.

Q: Can you use a gaming monitor as a TV?

Technically, that depends on your definition of a “TV.” You can absolutely set up a gaming monitor in place of a TV in your living room or bedroom and plug a cable box into it via HDMI, so it fills the role a TV normally would. The one thing that a monitor can’t do, but a TV can, is plug into an older cable signal via coaxial cable. You won’t be able to use a digital TV antenna to get local channels over the air.

It’s also worth pointing out that a standard 24- to 32-inch gaming monitor won’t be ideal for most living room setups. When placing a TV (or monitor you plan to use as a TV), the ideal screen size is often based on how far away you sit from it. According to a TV distance calculator, you should sit approximately 3.5 feet away from a 24-inch TV, or 4.5 feet away from a 32-inch TV. Considering that many people usually sit very close to their monitor(s)—myself included—I can’t imagine most people will be satisfied sitting further away than that.

Final thoughts on the best monitor size for gaming

Without knowing details like what kind of gaming PC you’re running and how much money you’re looking to spend, no one can really tell you what monitor size you should buy. You should make that decision based on what you have and how important it is that your games look their absolute best. It is very easy to overspend on a gaming monitor, especially if you’re into hardware, so the most important thing is to be honest and realistic with yourself.

And if that doesn’t help … a 27-inch, 1440p 144Hz monitor falls right in the middle. If it’s overkill, maybe it won’t be on your next system.





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