The future of displays is here and it’s called OLED. Organic light-emitting diode, or OLED for short, is a new set of tech that’s arguable the pinnacle of current picture quality. You’re probably familiar with OLEDs in flagship smartphones, but that tech has started to work its way over to monitors and televisions too, providing a superlative picture experience.
But take a quick look at the websites of any tech brand, tech blog or retailer and you’ll notice there are hardly any OLED monitors, let alone OLED gaming monitors, for sale in 2021. This is surprising since gaming is one of the corners where the most advanced tech typically ends up first, yet the best gaming monitors are lacking in true OLED technology.
So why are OLED gaming monitors so hard to find? We’ll answer that question, and give you some options if you’re looking to upgrade your gaming setup to include an OLED gaming monitor.
OLED Gaming Monitors (And the Lack Thereof), Explained
You hear the term "cutting-edge" thrown around a lot when it comes to new technology, but OLED actually earns it...when it comes to movies, TV shows and console gaming. But when it comes to PC gaming, OLED gaming monitors don't make a whole lot of sense at the moment from a technical standpoint, which is why there are limited options for gamers.
If you're unfamiliar with what OLED is, here's a quick primer: OLED display technology uses organic compounds as the pixels to create the picture in your display. But what makes it special is that OLED panels don't need an additional backlight like an LCD or LED display would. When the display turns on, electricity activities those compounds inside the screen and they actively light up or turn off depending on what's been shown on screen, only lighting up the parts of the screen that are in use and delivering an infinite contrast ratio. In short: OLED displays provide the best possible picture you can get.
While superior picture quality is definitely a something you want in a gaming monitor, it's not the end all, be all for many gamers. Refresh rate is another big consideration for gamers, because a high refresh rate ensures can support games with high frame rates. This, in turn, makes sure in-game visuals are smooth and free of blurriness, which has a tangible impact on gameplay.
OLED TVs work great as OLED Monitors for console gaming because those are only just starting to hit refresh rates of 120Hz, and the best OLED TVs can now support that. But for PC gamers who are into competitive multiplayer games (and this represents a large chunk of the PC gamer market), they're frequently running games at lower resolutions and but higher frame rates, such as 144 or 240 frames per seconds. The best OLED monitors that have been released up until now only run at a 60Hz refresh rate which is simply not good enough for a first person shooter like Overwatch. And while a 144Hz OLED display is theoretically possible, the cost to make them is likely so high that it's not yet worth it. In fact, there are really only two true OLED monitors on the market right now, one from Alienware/Dell and one from Asus.
Other companies are racing to get their own OLED monitors on the market, but it's taking time to ensure this high fidelity experience can be made efficiently, effectively, and at a some-what consumer-friendly price. Looking ahead, Acer teased its own 55-inch OLED Predator monitor at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020, but the product still hasn't been released.
Another issue OLED displays must contend with is burn-in. Like Plasma TVs, OLEDs are much more susceptible to pixels permanently holding onto remnants of the image they form. And given that computers have many more static elements on screen than TVs, this has been a big issue in the past. Given that we've started to see OLED displays pop up in some of the best small laptops and best gaming laptops, those issues may be a thing of the past, but only time will tell.
Given that OLED displays can be extremely fast and responsive with very low input lag, they have the potential to become great OLED gaming monitors. But since there is not a true 144Hz or 240Hz OLED gaming monitor, it's tough to say.
What we can say is that a 120Hz OLED TV makes for a great monitor if you are primarily a console gamer, or prefer games that don't absolutely need a frame rate above 120Hz. But that being the case, you'll still be paying a pretty penny for one of the best OLED TVs.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up all two of the currently available OLED gaming monitors, as well as some standout OLED TVs for PC and console gamers who want to ensure their gaming experience is the best possible experience money can buy. Find our picks, below.
1. LG CX 48-Inch OLED TV
The LG CX is the best OLED TV you can currently buy in 2021 thanks to its 4K resolution, Dolby Vision support and 120Hz variable refresh rate. And it was no coincidence that LG decided to release a 48-inch model of this TV. Knowing that a true OLED gaming monitor doesn’t really exist, LG released the CX in this size to appeal to gamers who wanted the absolute best picture quality and a high refresh rate in a size that isn’t overwhelmingly large. Contrary to popular believe, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to gaming displays improving your gameplay. As a result, this TV is not just a versatile OLED option for gaming, it’s the best one.
2. Alienware 55-Inch OLED Monitor
Alienware, owned by Dell, has been responsible for producing some of the very best pieces of gaming hardware on the planet. So it’s not surprising this extends past their gaming laptops and into their monitors as well. The apex of their lineup is the new 55-inch OLED monitor that provides staggeringly beautiful visuals and a fantastic contrast ratio. In short, darks are even darker and the colors are even more vibrant. In reality, this is more of a mix between a monitor and a TV due to the fact that its refresh rate only goes up to 120Hz. But if you’re gaming on a PC and your graphics card only supports 120Hz over via DisplayPort, this is the only OLED gaming monitor that is up for the task. That said, you can also buy several 65-inch TVs for the same price as the Alienware 55.
3. ASUS ProArt OLED Monitor
While it’s half the size of our previous options at a mere 21.6-inches — a huge step down from the massive Alienware 55-inch monitor — this OLED screen from ASUS is technically aimed more at creators than gamers. But with true 10-bit color depth, HDR content and 4K output, it’s sure to draw out all the best colors from your computer and could be great for single-player games as long as the action isn’t too fast. Plus, it is 0.3-inches thin, making it incredibly easy to move and transport should the situation be called for. It even includes a detachable stand that can be folded completely flat for ease of use.
3. LG BX 65-Inch OLED TV
While we know we’re cheating a bit here including this LG TV instead of a monitor, you’re still going to get fantastic-looking results. Best for console gamers who are prepping for the Playstation 5 or the Xbox Series X, this self-lighting OLED TV is built with NVIDIA’s G-SYNC to ensure the best quality picture around, allowing for an incredible visual fidelity of rich blacks and vibrant colors meant to elevate the gaming experience. Plus, the variable refresh rate allows for the highest quality picture even when your game’s graphics are getting lightning fast.
4. Sony A8H Bravia OLED 65-Inch TV
Sony’s line of Bravia televisions have always been among the elite. So, naturally, Sony’s best OLED TV follows the same grand tradition. Powered by an X1 picture processor, the A8H Bravia actively analyzes your content to bring out the best quality OLED picture no matter what you’re watching or playing. The result is a 4K output that provides rich blacks, explosive colors, and an overall vibrant picture. The dedicated Gaming mode optimizes your gaming experience for the best possible experience, making for a smoother and more responsive picture when the action gets going.