Curved or flat? Here are our favorite gaming monitors

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon June 10, 2019

Gaming on a PC has been a wild ride, and the advancements in the past few years have been gigantic. Games deliver more realistic environments, greater detail and more immersive gameplay, all of which make gaming more fun.

So you'll want a monitor that can match the hardware powering the game and one that delivers a truly epic experience. Simply put, without a solid monitor, you won't be able to take advantage and really see what makes a game so compelling. It can even come down to winning or losing in titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty.

You'll need a screen that can present the game accurately without any frame drops. It needs to be bright enough and clearly present colors. And of course, you'll want one that fits your needs -- think budget, maximum resolution and of course curved versus flat. While curved TVs have lost some traction, curved monitors are still very much a thing and can deliver a deeper immersion into the game.

Ahead, we'll describe our top picks, and look at how to shop for a gaming monitor across three core features. But if you're looking for the TLDR version, let's quickly mention our top picks:

  • ASUS VG279Q 27-inch 1080p HD Monitor ($319.99; amazon.com)
  • Samsung 32-inch CHG70 Curved Quantum Dot Monitor ($599.99; samsung.com)
  • OMEN by HP 24.5-inch FHD Monitor ($231.67, originally $279.99; amazon.com)
  • Samsung 24-inch CRG5 Curved Monitor ($249.99; samsung.com)

1080p HD or 4K

Unlike television, where it might be a good idea to upgrade to a 4K panel even before it becomes standard, a gaming monitor is a bit of a different story. It's so dependent on your tower PC or laptop's capabilities -- as in, can that computer support a 4K resolution output? It will likely depend on how many ports it has and the graphics card inside.

Chances are it will support 1080p just fine, and that is likely the best option for most users.It will still provide a clear, vibrant and crisp image. Plus not all computer games support 4K resolution. It's a bit of a different adoption rate than consoles, like a PlayStation or Xbox One X for instance. You'll also likely save a bit by going for a 1080p versus a 4K monitor.

Curved or flat

You may be wondering why the sudden change from flat to curved monitors. The point of a curved monitor is giving you a more realistic point of view. It fits in better with the curved reality that we see around us and offers deeper levels of immersion with what is on the screen. You'll likely need a larger footprint or display size to really see the difference here. Think somewhere above a 27.5-inch or 30-inch size.

Keep in mind also that flat monitors aren't going anywhere. Many computer manufacturers like Apple and Lenovo still produce all-in-one models with flat screens, and even stand-alone flat monitors.

A fast refresh rate is crucial

A refresh rate is essentially how fast the panel can refresh itself. It's a crucial mark to meet for gaming especially, as you want to see the most updated image. That way, in a racing game that frame doesn't drop as you're passing someone. Each monitor will carry its own rate and some monitors feature an additional certification, Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, which works with the graphics card to deliver a smooth experience.

Now let's walk through our top picks.

Coming Soon: Samsung's $399 Curved 27-inch Monitor

At $399.99, the CRG5 will be one of Samsung's more affordable gaming monitors, and it makes its debut during the 2019 E3 gaming convention. Its 27-inch display has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, making this a 1080p HD monitor. Samsung's also packed in a 4-millisecond response time, a 240Hz refresh rate and a 1500R display curvature.

It supports Nvidia G-SYNC out of the box for better performance with Nvidia graphics cards. This is also the first monitor from Samsung to support this standard from Nvidia. It has a cool bluish-gray paint job and a sleek stand that provides some adjustment.

The CRG5 will land in July, direct from Samsung.com for $399.99.

ASUS VG279Q 27-inch 1080pHD Monitor ($319.99; amazon.com)

At slightly over $300, the VG279Q from Asus offers a really good value. You're getting a flat 27-inch monitor with a fast 144Hz refresh rate. It has a full 1920 x 1080 resolution as well, with a proprietary Shadow Boost mode that aims to enhance dark visuals. Asus has also delivered a 1-millisecond response time for clear motion. I tested this in Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V and Microsoft Flight Simulator, and the results were really good. I didn't experience any tearing in most matches with this. You'll also get a fairly adjustable stand and base.

The ASUS VG279Q is available on Amazon.com for $319.99.

Samsung's 32-inch CHG70 Curved Quantum Dot Monitor ($599.99; samsung.com)

You've likely heard of Samsung Quantum Dot technology in TVs, but the company also uses it in monitors. The CHG70 from Samsung features a 32-inch curved panel with plenty of technology packed inside. It has a 2560 x 1440 resolution and offers great color reproduction, thanks to the QLED Quantum Dot technology in the panel. The display can get very bright and offers a 144Hz refresh rate with support for AMD FreeSync.

All in all, Samsung's CHG70 isn't the most affordable solution, but it is a beast of a monitor that performed really well with a variety of games. Those titles included Fortnite, The Sims 4, SimCity, Microsoft Flight Simulator and several others.

The Samsung CHG70 is available from Samsung for $599.99.

OMEN by HP 24.5-inch FHD Monitor ($231.67, originally $279.99; amazon.com)

HP is also in the gaming monitor mix with its OMEN line. This 24.5-inch OMEN by HP display hits all the necessary specs you'd expect from a 1080p model and then some. It boasts a 1-millisecond response time with a 144Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support, a TN panel with LED backlighting, and plenty of ports.

It has an ergonomic stand that can be tilted and adjusted in several ways. But the best news is that you can get it for just $231.67 on Amazon.com.

Samsung's 24-inch CRG5 Curved Monitor ($249.99; samsung.com)

Those looking for a smaller solution should check out the 24-inch CRG5 curved monitor from Samsung. While it doesn't pack 4K resolution, it also doesn't pack a 4K price at just $249.99. Instead, you'll get a 1920 x 1080 display with a 144Hz refresh rate, support for AMD FreeSync and 1800R curved screen. It also features an EyeSaver mode, which can be easily switched on, that aims to reduce eyestrain.

Samsung's CRG5 is available now for $249.99 from Samsung.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.