Last updated: Thursday, January 24, 2019
If you are someone who likes to stay on the cutting edge of the gaming tech industry, you’ve surely heard about 4K technology. For those who don’t know, the term “4k” refers to resolution. A standard computer monitor typically has a resolution of around 1920×1080, while a 4K monitor will be around 4000×2000. As of this writing, there is no set industry standard to qualify as “4K” – the closest we have to a standard is “Ultra High Definition” at 3840×2160. In this article, we will be taking a look at the best 4K gaming monitors on the market.
In the simplest words possible, a 4K resolution monitor will have roughly 4x as many pixels as a 1080p monitor. More pixels translates into sharper, crisper images, richer colors, and an overall better gaming experience. That being said, 4K is a very new technology and still has a long way to go before it’s a viable option for the majority of gamers. This video does a good job of explaining what 4K technology is.
4K Monitor Guide Part I: General Thoughts on the State of 4K Monitors
The biggest advantage of a 4k gaming monitor is that it offers a much higher pixel density than a standard 1080p monitor. This increase in pixel density means every game will look significantly better. Most reviews and articles that talk about these new monitors discuss new, highly demanding games like Crysis 3 or Battlefield 4. Unfortunately, since these games are so demanding on your gaming rig even on a 1080p display, they simply don’t perform very well.
Surprisingly, older games (by “older” I mean games like Diablo 3 and League of Legends) perform much better than more demanding games, and look absolutely incredible at 3840×2160. Again – newer games will look fantastic, as well, but you’re most likely going to have to lower your settings in order to have smooth gameplay at 4k.
4k technology is very exciting, but before you rush off to buy a brand new monitor, make sure that your current gaming setup can handle a 4k output. A 4k display uses more than 8 million pixels, while a standard 1080p display uses around 2 million. So, your graphics card has to work 4x as hard to display the same images. Outputting in 4k puts tremendous strain on your processor and graphics card, and most setups simply can’t handle it. Becoming an early adopter of brand new technology does have its perks — making your friends jealous being among the top of those.
4K Monitor Guide Part II: Better Have a Dual-GPU Setup
If you want to run games in 4k, be prepared to lower your settings. Only an incredibly expensive high-end custom setup could output 4k in 60 frames per second. For the majority of setups, 4k is only possible at 30 frames per second. But if you’re willing to take that hit in FPS, the clarity and image quality of this new technology is quite impressive. A high frame rate is important in competitive online games, especially shooters – but less significant in offline RPG’s, so keep that in mind.
In the last few years, 4k technology has made a lot of progress. These monitors have become smoother, more reliable, and most importantly – cheaper! 2 years ago a nice 4k display would have set you back $2,000 or more, but today you can get a nice one for around ⅓ of that! There are a lot of different manufacturers and models out there – some good, some pretty terrible. In an effort to help you find the right setup for you, we have spent a long time trying to find the best 4k gaming monitor. While it’s hard to identify a “best” option, we have narrowed it down to our top 3 picks. Enjoy!
The Best 4K Gaming Monitors: Step Up your Pixel Game
These monitors have down right gorgeous pixel packed displays. They are the best 4K gaming monitors of this year.
The Acer XB280HK is an excellent choice, if you can stomach the $800 price tag. This model was the first 4k screen to offer Nvidia G-SYNC Technology. If you’re not familiar with G-SYNC, it’s a new technology developed by Nvidia to help deliver a quicker, smoother, and more beautiful gaming experience. When combined with a high-end graphics card, a monitor such as this one with G-SYNC Technology delivers exceptional performance while minimizing screen tearing, display stutters and input lag.
Performance wise, we are very impressed with the XB280HK. The graphics are very sharp and crisp. The overall gaming experience is very fluid and smooth – actually, we should say that it can be fluid and smooth. Like most other monitors, this display requires quite a bit of tweaking with settings before you can achieve the smooth and beautiful gaming experience you want.
This is an excellent monitor, but we did notice a few flaws. The first flaw is very noticeable – there is only 1 video input! The other flaws were much more subtle, and are common issues with 4k technology. While this screen delivers rich and beautiful colors, we noticed that the greens were slightly skewed. Also, as with most 4k monitors, there is noticeable color shifting when you view the screen from an angle.
- 28” display at 3840×2160 resolution
- Offers Nvidia G-SYNC Technology
- MSRP $799.99
Most people prefer to stick to the well-known brands when choosing a new computer monitor. Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, and Samsung dominate the industry. But, that doesn’t mean that the little guys should be ignored! CTL, a small company based in Portland Oregon, has been making waves in the industry with their flagship CTL X2800 monitor.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a 4k setup, but don’t want to break the bank, the x2800 is an excellent choice. Priced at just $670, this is one of the most affordable options out there that is still a quality product. For just over $600, you can expect a high quality, well made, sturdy product. Right out of the box you can tell that it’s hefty, solid, and sturdy. But who cares about heft, when we’re talking about graphics? Well, suffice it to say that you will be impressed with the image quality that this display delivers. We found that the image quality, contrast, and coloring was just as good – if not better – than the more expensive Acer XB280HK.
The main thing we found frustrating with this display is its lack of customization options. The presets are fine for most applications, but if you are someone who likes to tweak gamma, sharpness, and detailed color settings to your exact preferences, this is probably not the monitor for you.
- 28” display at 3840×2160 resolution
- Affordable and surprisingly high quality entry-level monitor
- MSRP $670.00
If you’re looking for an affordable option but you’d prefer buying a familiar brand name, we recommend the Asus PB287Q. With an MSRP of $650, this is just a bit more expensive than the X2800 – and this Asus model often goes on sale, so you should be able to snag it for under $600.
We were impressed with the image quality on the Asus, but to be honest the contrast was nothing special. And, like most 4k gaming monitors, this monitor suffers from color distortion when viewed from an angle. Unfortunately, the lack of tilt options makes it hard to get this monitor in the viewing “sweet spot”. It seems like no matter how you tilt or shift it, some portion of the screen will always appear a bit “off”.
Performance wise, the PB287Q is an excellent value for the price. We experienced a very low input lag, which is extremely important for competitive online gaming. This monitor also supports 60hz over DisplayPort (but only 30hz over HDMI), so with the right GPU and graphics card, you can run games at full settings with impressively low input lag – which, as you probably know, will give you a significant competitive edge in online games.
- 28” display at 3840×2160 resolution
- An affordable option from a trusted name
- MSRP $649.00
ASUS also manufacturers the PQ321Q 31.5 inch 4K monitor. If you want the biggest 4K monitor you can get your hands on, this is the one. It’s going to cost you though.