Best G-Sync PC Gaming Monitors of 2016
While G-Sync was released back in 2013 it really wasn't until last year that I was on board with these monitors. Improvements in IPS technology, as well as price, have made them more attractive for the average gamer.
So, if you're thinking of upgrading to one of these monitors, which G-Sync monitor is best?
While I can't give you a definitive answer on the subject, I can elaborate on the monitors I've seen and tried out and give you my shortlist of monitors you should choose from.
Best PC Gaming G-Sync Monitors 2016 Update
Asus PG279Q 27" G-Sync Monitor
While last year I would have recommended that you stay clear of the Asus ROG Swift monitor, this year the upgraded version is definitely one of my favorites.
They've gone from a questionable TN panel to a good IPS one with full sRGB gamut, a 2560 x 1440 resolution, and up to a 165Hz refresh rate.
Speaking of refresh rates, in my opinion, don't worry about anything between 120Hz and 165Hz. I truly haven't found anyone that can tell the difference. That being said, the option is here on the new Asus Swift ROG and it certainly doesn't hurt.
Asus PG279Q vs Acer Predator XB271HU Quality
For quality, Asus does it best in this category. That being said, they're also considerably more expensive than other monitors on the list. Quality of life improvements including a joystick for adjusting the menu and extensive connectivity options like HDMI, DisplayPort, and 2 x USB 3.0 are part of the reason for that. The other is that the Swift just seems a bit more sturdy than other displays out there.
Putting it next to the Acer Predator XB271HU, you can feel a little bit of that difference and you do pay for it. Still, at this price point, it's difficult to not want the best and if you want it, you'll find it in the Asus ROG SWIFT PG279Q.
Acer Predator XB271HU
Acer Predator XB271HU
I've had the opportunity to get up and close to the Acer Predator XB271HU and I'm greatly impressed. For specifications it's a lot like the Asus model above, but has a price tag that's around $200 less.
As I mentioned above, I'd put the build quality of the Asus model above slightly above this one. Still, take away the stands, and I'd probably save money and go with the Acer model.
Connectivity includes DisplayPort and 1 HDMI 1.4 port. Specifications include a 144Hz refresh rate (165Hz overclock option), .233 pixel pitch, 2560 x 1440 resolution, and a WQHD IPS display.
Backlight bleeding issues for the Predator and ROG Swift:
For most IPS panels there is IPS glow or backlight bleed. This is true with these models as well. If you're especially sensitive to it, then you may have to order more than one in order to get what I'd consider "less" glow. Ultimately, you'll need to expect these types of issues when being particular about these monitors. For a perfect model, you'll need patience.
Acer XB280HK: World's First 4k2k G-Sync Display
If screen space and resolution are important to you, then the Acer XB280HK might be the G-Sync monitor you want. 4K monitors have four times as many pixels as the standard 1080-pixel display (see some 4k monitors here). While going above 60Hz is a bit difficult in 4k it certainly helps to have G-sync to help you avoid any stuttering or tearing that might occur.
The XB280HK, a 28" LED 4k monitor, has four USB 3.0 ports, ultra low dimming for dark environments, 170-degree viewing angles, and DisplayPort V1.2.
Overall, it's a good monitor for those of you who prefer pixels over high frame rates. I personally wouldn't choose it over the two models above, but that's just my preference.
A Good and Cheap G-Sync Gaming Monitor
Acer Predator XB241H G-Sync Monitor
Probably a better option than the Asus model below is the Acer Predator XB241H. While I sound like a broken record mentioning another Acer model here, they truly are worth of praise this year for their monitor design and affordability.
Speaking of affordable, the Acer Predator XB241H comes in at around $375. That's less than half of its 27" model.
What you get in return is a TN, 144Hz, and G-Sync gaming monitor that is still really good for the money you spend.
Acer Predator XB241YU 144Hz TN G-Sync Monitor
There's also a 1440p TN version of this monitor that goes for just around $500. It's very similar to the monitor above in terms of its stand and is a good option for those looking for a higher resolution.
ASUS VG248QE Monitor and Kit
With a 144Hz refresh rate, virtually no input lag, and a great picture, the Asus VG248QE is an attractive option.
However, if you're truly looking for a G-Sync monitor you may want to stay away from the Asus VG248QE. Yes, it's a great gaming monitor. In fact, it's one of my favorite. However, you can no longer purchase the kits for these monitors and therefore have no way to convert it to G-Sync.
What is G-Sync?
G-Sync is great because it minimizes display issues we FPS (first-person-shooter) players have had for many years. These include screen tearing, display stutter, and input lag.
G-Sync works by synchronizing your display's refresh rate to your graphics card. Normally screens have a fixed refresh rate, such as 60Hz or 120Hz. A 60Hz monitor, for example, will update the screen regularly every 16ms. Graphics cards (GPUs), in contrast, have a variable render rate that isn’t necessarily the same as the monitor’s. When the GPU’s variable output is mapped to the monitor’s fixed update schedule, the mismatch creates artifacts like tearing and stuttering.
G-Sync turns that around and forces the monitor to connect to the GPU directly, so the GPU can tell the monitor when to update itself.
G-Sync Vs. FreeSync
Now if you are convinced you need G-Sync and want to see my G-Sync monitor picks, just scroll down to below this discussion; but if you are wondering whether you need the very latest technology, understanding the difference between G-Sync and FreeSync might help you decide whether it's worth it to upgrade to G-Sync in 2015.
After NVIDIA released G-Sync, other companies proposed competing technologies that they claimed would do something similar and be available soon. AMD, in particular, introduced FreeSync, which it stated would be a similar solution to G-Sync, available to all in the near future. Are the two techniques exactly the same or just close?
FreeSync and Adaptive-Sync
Adaptive-Sync is a new VESA standard that is part of the 1.2a specification for DisplayPort. FreeSync is an AMD project to produce graphics cards and drivers that support the new standard.
Instead of updating the monitor at a constant refresh rate, FreeSync makes the monitor update match the display update, which, somewhat like G-Sync, makes for a visual experience that's smooth and fluid.
After some delay, FreeSync monitors are just beginning to be released; I reviewed a few of them in another article. They may not be exactly what you want as they need to be used with a compatible AMD Radeon graphics card, they need DisplayPort 1.2a, and as yet some of them are limited to refresh rates of 75Hz or 90Hz or less. Also, they are expensive. That being said, there’s hope that FreeSync might eventually be cheaper than G-Sync, because FreeSync is tied to an industry standard that may be widely adopted.
Which GPUs are Compatible with FreeSync?
AMD has released a list of Free-Sync compatible graphics cards which includes older cards like the R9 290X, 290, R7 260X, and R7 260 while leaving relabeled 280s behind.
IPS vs TN Panel Responsiveness and Input Lag
Today's IPS panels have a much faster response time than you'd find from a few years ago. Gaming grade versions typically come in at around 4ms GTG (gray to gray). Compared to the 1ms GTG response times of the fastest TN Panels, it's just a bit slower. However, at under 5ms the blurry pictures of the past have gone away. For that matter, so have the reasons to not get an IPS panel.
IPS Panels offer wider viewer angles and typically better color. Photo and video editors typically use these monitors as they offer the color accuracy they need.
In terms of input lag, it really depends on the panel you're getting. Both IPS and TN panel monitors can be found with virtually non-existent input lag. I'd consider this to be under 1 frame. All of the monitors mentioned above fall into that category.
My YouTube Discussion on G-Sync
G-Sync Interactive Reader Poll
Is upgrading to G-sync worth the price right now?
Five More 1080p 144Hz G-Sync Options
Resolution / Refresh
Overall G-Sync seems to be a worthwhile upgrade as long as you don't end up spending a fortune on your graphics card and new monitor. If you're willing to be a little patient, this technology may eventually have a revised form that's cheaper and more readily available.
That being said if you're a tech junkie like me, then paying a little extra to get technology that's clearly ahead of its time is sometimes worth the price. What are your thoughts? Have you seen any more G-sync monitors available? Let me know in the open discussion area below.
© 2014 Brandon Hart