Many PC builders overlook the bottleneck between their graphics card and monitor. If your rig can run Fortnite at over 150fps but is connected to your old 60Hz monitor, you are wasting GPU horsepower. And likewise, your fancy 4K gaming monitor is going to waste if your GPU can’t adequately drive it. Knowing the best GPU for 1080p, 1440p, 4K, and other display specifications will allow you to maximize your build performance and budget.
We’ll start with our recommended GPU and monitor pairings at different price points, and then reveal our interactive pairing chart that will help you match graphics cards and monitors on all ends of the spectrum.
Best GPU & Monitor for 1080p 144Hz
Recommended for Budget Builds
Building a new PC for less than $800? A 1080p 144Hz monitor will provide the most frames you can experience with that budget, while the best GPU for 1080p 144Hz is currently the RTX 1660 Super 6GB. The Pixio PX247 we’re recommending has an IPS panel but is still affordable enough that we would buy that over a TN-based monitor for the better colors and contrast ratio.
Beyond 144Hz, improvements to response times and overall perceived smoothness are less substantial. Higher framerates become difficult to hit – especially if you play modern PC shooters, considering the norm these days is to release games early and poorly optimized.
Best GPU & Monitor for 1440p 144Hz
Recommended for Mid-Range Builds
With around $1,200 for a new build, we’d buy a 1440p 144Hz-165Hz monitor with an GTX 2060 Super or AMD RX 5700. The price has come down a lot on 1440p panels over the past few years and they are worthwhile if you can afford one. At an average size of 27 inches, 1440p panels offer more screen real-estate while maintaining a higher pixel density.
The extra resolution over 1080p is great not only for gaming but also for everything else. Games, movies, and text all look crisp. Upgrading from 1080p to 1440p probably won’t improve your kill-death ratio in the same way jumping from 60Hz to 144Hz will, but once you go 1440p you never go back — you only go wider.
Best GPU & Monitor Combos for 4K
Recommended for high-end builds
The 2080 Super is more than capable for 4K gaming and 144Hz panels are still an option if you’ll be playing PC games at this resolution. Leaping to 4K is great for content creation too and the RTX 2080Ti with its 11GB of VRAM is especially helpful if you work with large video files or use a lot of GPU-accelerated effects in Premiere.
Best GPU & Monitor Combo for Ultrawide Gaming
Recommended for “Ultra” High-End Builds
Looking to cut your wallet on the bleeding edge of display tech? Pure FPS snobs might like to know that the first 280Hz desktop monitors have just hit the market at relatively reasonable prices (smaller 300Hz screens have been shipping in high-end laptops since late 2019).
However, if gaming is your priority and you have a truckload of cash, we believe the best gaming display money can buy is one of the new 1440p 200Hz Ultrawide panels. Note that you’ll have trouble maxing out games on either 4K 144Hz or 1440p 200Hz Ultrawide monitors, even with a 2080Ti.
Of the two, 1440p is a more manageable resolution that will still let you enjoy higher frame rates with that glorious ultrawide field of view — at least in the games that have ultrawide support, which sadly are fewer than you might expect.
Until we get new GPUs from AMD and Nvidia that can tame these high-end monitors, you may be forced to suffer a measly 170fps on your new $1,500 200Hz display.
The GPU & Monitor Pairing Chart
We’ve created a pairing chart to help visualize the current monitor landscape. This chart is not a perfect representation of GPU performance scaling, but it will show you the raw pixels-per-second output of the current monitor resolution and refresh rate offerings.
Note that we ignored pixel depth in our calculations. Elaborating on HDR and its four competing standards will only needlessly complicate things. Just be aware that if you choose a monitor with HDR, it will have a slight performance hit in most games.
Our GPU recommendations are based on a cross-section of popular games targeting medium to high settings. If you primarily play esports titles, you can opt for a GPU that is one level below your monitor on our list. However, if you intend to play newer AAA releases at higher settings, choose a GPU that ranks above your monitor’s specs.
Lastly, if you are building your PC with a particular game in mind, it’s always a good idea to check specific GPU benchmarks for your game and choose your GPU and monitor accordingly.
*Recommended sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Acer-XV273-Xbmiiprzx-Compatible-DisplayHDR400/dp/B07WBTVQRD/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=acer+nitro+xv273x&qid=1593582202&s=electronics&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=vc000-20&linkId=fd2942cc549f75f7dd015043373358f9&language=en_US" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Acer XV273 Xbmiiprzx 27"</a> *Recommended sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance
*Recommended sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance
<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Acer-XV273-Xbmiiprzx-Compatible-DisplayHDR400/dp/B07WBTVQRD/ref=as_li_ss_tl?dchild=1&keywords=acer+nitro+xv273x&qid=1593582202&s=electronics&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=vc000-20&linkId=fd2942cc549f75f7dd015043373358f9&language=en_US" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Acer XV273 Xbmiiprzx 27"</a>
*Recommended sweet spot in terms of price-to-performance
Our chart focuses on resolution, refresh rate, and aspect ratio. We considered these factors:
- Three primary resolutions found in gaming monitors: 1080p, 1440p, & 4K.
- Three aspect ratios: Standard (16:9), Ultrawide (21:9), Super Ultrawide (32:9).
- A range of refresh rates from 60Hz to 280Hz and several specs in-between.
We even included Dell’s 8K panel to add some perspective. Not that we expect anyone to actually use it for gaming since it’s so impossibly hard to drive. It requires two separate display port cables and we had to put a break in our chart just to fit it in.
Aside from the 8K Dell, every other display parameter listed on our chart has a multitude of retail monitor offerings of varying prices from multiple manufacturers. Our chart is interactive and if you click on the display specs, you will see a recommended monitor.
Alternatively, you can check out all of our recommended monitors in a sortable list:
|Resolution||Refresh Rate (Hz)||Aspect Ratio||Relative PPS Fill Rate Graph||Recommended Monitor|
|1080p||60||16:9||1.00||BenQ GW2283 22"|
|1080p||76||16:9||1.27||ASUS VA229HR 21.5"|
|1080p||76||21:9||1.69||LG 34UM69G-B 34"|
|1440p||60||16:9||1.78||Dell U2518D 25"|
|1440p||75||16:9||2.22||ASUS PB277Q 27"|
|1440p||60||21:9||2.39||Dell U3415W 34"|
|1080p||144||16:9||2.40||Pixio PX247 24"|
|1080p||165||16:9||2.75||ASUS VG278QR 27"|
|1080p||144||21:9||3.20||LG 34GL750-B 34"|
|1440p||60||32:9||3.56||Dell U4919DW 49"|
|1440p||100||21:9||3.98||MSI Optix MAG341CQ 34"|
|4K||60||21:9||4||BenQ EW3270U 32"|
|1080p||240||16:9||4||Acer XV273 Xbmiiprzx 27"|
|1440p||144||16:9||4.27||LG 27GL83A-B 27"|
|1080p||200||21:9||4.44||Sceptre C305B-200UN 30"|
|1080p||280||16:9||4.67||ASUS VG279QM 27"|
|1440p||120||21:9||4.78||Acer Predator X34 Pbmiphzx 34"|
|1080p||144||32:9||4.80||Samsung CHG90 49"|
|1440p||165||16:9||4.89||ASUS TUF Gaming VG27AQ 27"|
|4K||60||21:9||5.33||Dell U2718Q 27"|
|1440p||144||21:9||5.73||LG 34GK950F-B 34"|
|1440p||240||16:9||7.11||Samsung Odyssey G7 27"|
|1440p||120||32:9||7.11||Samsung CRG9 49"|
|1440p||200||21:9||7.96||ASUS PG35VQ 35"|
|4K||120||16:9||8.00||ASUS XG438Q 43"|
|4K||144||16:9||9.60||ASUS PG27UQ 27"|
|8K||60||16:9||9.70||Dell UP3218K 31.5"|
How are these cards chosen and ranked?
We focused on a healthy cross-section of modern GPUs (or at least cards that you can still buy new, like in the case of the three-year-old RX 570 & RX 580). Nvidia currently has the most crowded GPU lineup in its history with the release of its upgraded “Super” GPUs.
As a result, we excluded any modern cards we found redundant performance-wise or otherwise offer a poor value proposition. Subsequently, the RTX 2080 and power-hungry Radeon VII are not listed, but there’s nothing innately wrong with them — assuming you can find one at a fair price.
Our performance rankings are based on a slew of standardized benchmarks across popular modern games. Our primary source for gaming benchmarks are the fine folks at TechPowerUp, they do great work and provide standardized FPS results across 22 games.
Further Considerations for choosing a GPU & Monitor
Our simplest advice for choosing a graphics card goes like this: Know what game(s) you’ll be playing on your hardware. Also, know what resolution and frame rate you want to play those games at. Then buy a graphics card and monitor that meet those requirements.
Our pairing chart can guide you most of the way there, but there are other factors to consider when buying those components.
Modern graphics cards come with anywhere from 4GB to 32GB of VRAM. This memory is used to store data such as textures that needs to be quickly accessed by your GPU.
VRAM usage in games can vary wildly and there are four main culprits. The biggest by far is your resolution, followed by three in-game settings: texture resolution, view distance, and anti-aliasing. You can try lowering those you are running up against your VRAM limit.
Note that our chart shows 4K @ 60Hz and 1080p @ 240Hz as functionally equivalent, when in reality achieving 60fps at 4K on your hardware does not guarantee you will be able to hit 240fps at 1080p.
There are many reasons why the performance doesn’t translate neatly like that but one of them is the higher VRAM utilization at those high resolutions. We will show you how that shakes out with our chart below, which looks purely at pixel density.
Above we plotted performance benchmarks across the three main 16:9 resolutions: 1080p, 1440p, & 4K, and we distilled down our long list of monitors from our GPU pairing guide. After removing refresh rate from the equation. we are left looking at unique monitor resolutions only, plotted along the X-axis.
The GPU benchmark data from TechPowerUp shows what you can expect in terms of framerate dropoff when you move up in resolution.
On the low end, we see an average framerate loss of 31.4% moving from 1080p to 1440p on our 4GB cards. Whereas the 2080Ti with its 11GB of VRAM sees a framerate loss of only 24.7% at 1440p. This trend continues in 4K as you would expect.
Another data point worth noting is that the 1650 Super with 4GB of VRAM outperforms the RX 480 8GB in 1080p gaming. But when we look at the numbers for 1440p and 4K gaming we see the RX 480 with its 8GB of VRAM beats the 1650 Super.
If you take away anything from this data it should be not to ignore that little number at the end of your GPU. Like system memory, VRAM is not a factor until you don’t have enough. Games are starting to use upwards of 7GB of VRAM now and texture packs are only getting bigger.
More Monitor Specs to Consider
Other important monitor specs that aren’t covered in this article include; panel technology (IPS vs TN), screen size, display lag, HDR, motion blur reduction tech, and variable refresh rate tech: G-Sync & FreeSync.
Your monitor shouldn’t be a place you skimp on your budget. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your GPU and monitor spending in the same ballpark.