Which Dell monitor is best for gaming?

Dell makes a lot of professional-quality computing equipment, and its monitors have a particularly great reputation. While they’re especially popular in business settings, a number of Dell monitors are also great for gaming.

There’s a wide variety of specifications and technologies to consider when looking for a good Dell gaming monitor. Unlike with other brands, though, you also have to look at a different brand name. That’s because most of Dell’s best gaming monitors are sold under the Alienware badge. Dell still engineers and manufactures them — the separate brand exists to set the high-end options apart from the rest.

Important gaming monitor features

Size vs. resolution

Even if you’re dead set on getting a Dell gaming monitor, the criteria used for picking the right one are the same as with most other brands. The first thing to consider is how big of a monitor you need and what kind of resolution it should be capable of.

Keep in mind that as you approach high resolutions such as 4K, you need increasing amounts of firepower from your PC gaming hardware. That can get pretty pricey these days. But it’s also not the worst idea to invest in a monitor that’s a tier or two above what your PC can currently take advantage of. Unlike some PC components, it’s easy to use a monitor with a new build once you upgrade years down the line.

With that said, there’s a close relationship between size, resolution and image clarity. For example, a 24-inch 1080p monitor has the same pixel density as a 32-inch 1440p monitor, and both are similar to a 50-inch 4K TV. For reference, when you’re sitting across an average desk from a 27-inch, 1440p monitor, it should be extremely difficult to pick out any individual pixels or pixelated lines.

For that reason, 27-32 inches at 1440p has been a sweet spot of sorts for a few years. However, that’s changing as hardware gets faster and new technologies get cheaper. As you move up to a 4K monitor, image quality gets so sharp that certain smoothing techniques (antialiasing in particular) can be disabled for a performance benefit without hurting the visual clarity.

Refresh rate

Measured in hertz, a refresh rate is how many times per second a display can produce a new image. Once upon a time, upgrading from a 60- to 75-hertz monitor made a massive difference in smoothness and could help alleviate headaches. Today, powerful hardware can pump out hundreds of frames per second, and premium monitors can refresh at 360 hertz or greater.

A higher refresh rate means smoother gameplay — as long as your PC can handle it. Again, there’s no harm in future-proofing your setup and getting a monitor that might be overkill for your current gaming rig. If you can’t play at higher than 80 FPS today, maybe you’ll be able to in a couple of years.

Variable refresh rate technology

There’s an issue with high refresh rates that occurs when your PC’s frame rate varies highly — which is common — but the display stays the same. When that happens, you’ll notice stuttering and screen tearing, both of which break immersion and lead to annoyance and a poor gaming experience. Early on in high-performance gaming, a feature called V-Sync sets frame rates to exactly or one-half of the display’s refresh rate, eliminating stutter and tearing.

V-Sync and related technologies are still in use today, but on top of a feature called a variable refresh rate. This technology allows the monitor to detect the incoming frame rate and adjust its refresh rate to match, nearly eliminating any stutter or tearing worries.

AMD and Nvidia each introduced their own protocol for this along with their signature graphics card lines. These days, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync are all but identical to the casual gamer and even to most dedicated gamers. At the top end of the performance spectrum, though, there is a difference. A large part of that difference is in the amount of input latency eliminated by Nvidia’s top G-Sync tier.

Incidentally, the VRR method developed by the HDMI Forum is different from and not directly compatible with either GPU manufacturer. Some HDMI 2.1 displays, however, use HDMI Forum VRR in addition to FreeSync with G-Sync compatibility for the best of all worlds.

Screen ergonomics

It’s not talked about much, but the ability to adjust the direction a monitor faces can make a huge difference in the gameplay experience. If your monitor is too low or tilted in the wrong direction, you’ll not only focus on the wrong part of the window, but you can also get stress headaches and a sore neck and back.

Unless you decide on a premium, articulated monitor arm, there are basically four adjustments a monitor can offer. Tilt determines how far up or down the monitor points. Swivel lets you turn the monitor to the left and the right. Then there’s rotation which enables you to pivot a monitor from a landscape to portrait alignment. Finally, height adjustment is exactly what it sounds like.

Best Dell gaming monitors

Dell S2722DGM

Dell S2722DGM

This reasonably priced 1440p model has just about the best visual clarity possible for an affordable monitor.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Dell S3422DWG

Dell S3422DWG

This is one of the rare ultrawide monitors that looks great and doesn’t cost a fortune.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Dell S3222HG

Dell S3222HG

This 32-inch model has a wide color gamut, a 1440p resolution and moderate curvature for an immersive gaming experience. Plus, it’s not very expensive.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Dell S2522HG

Dell S2522HG

Competitive gamers on moderate budgets will appreciate this one due to its lightning-fast pixel response and 240-hertz refresh rate.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Alienware AW3423DW

Alienware AW3423DW

As the first gaming monitor to combine quantum dot filtration and an OLED panel, there’s nothing else as advanced or good-looking as this one.

Sold by Dell 

Alienware AW3420DW

Alienware AW3420DW

While not Alienware’s newest offering, this ultrawide display is still a high performer, and it’s a better value now than ever.

Sold by Amazon

Alienware AW2721D

Alienware AW2721D

It measures 27 inches with a 1440p resolution and boasts the Ultimate tier of Nvidia’s low-latency G-Sync VRR protocol.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Alienware AW2521H

Alienware AW2521H

At 25 inches with an incredible 360-hertz refresh rate, this one’s perfect for the most demanding esports enthusiasts.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

Alienware AW3821DW

Alienware AW3821DW

They don’t get much bigger, brighter or more colorful than this 38-inch ultrawide behemoth.

Sold by Dell and Amazon

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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