About two-thirds of Steam users are playing at 1080p, according to the current, voluntary Steam Hardware Survey. There's nothing shameful about 1080p—I can sort of remember how that screen resolution looks, if I focus very hard on what life was like during the Obama presidency. But if you want to experience more of the richness of PC gaming, we think you should be playing at 1440p in 2021.
Based on our recent poll of 15 PC Gamer editors, making the jump from 1080p to 1440p is one ofthe best PC upgrades you can make, on par with upgrading your GPU itself. 4K is great, but it makes it much harder to hit the other metric we especially value: playing PC games at high frame rates, at least 90-plus fps.
This is the desktop PC spec we recommend for most people:
If you're looking to own a gaming PC for the first time right now, or upgrading for the first time in awhile, a pre-built system is the only way to affordably get your hands on the kind of graphics card you'll need to play at 1440p, unless you followrestock alertsday and night. To hit high frame rates in most games we recommend an Nvidia RTX 3070, but you can also get away with an RTX 3060 Ti, especially if you're okay turning some settings down or mostly play games like League of Legends or Fortnite.
There are tons of gaming PCs on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but many offer hardware too weak for 1440p 144Hz gaming, or offer even more power than you need and cost a ton as a result. These are the three best deals we've found that deliver exactly the power you need at the best price.
Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition | Intel Core i7 11700 | Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti | 32GB RAM | 1TB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD |
$2,099.99$1,469 at Dell (save $630)It's not often you find an RTX 3060 Ti in a system these days, and that's a shame because it's one of our favourite graphics cards this generation. This PC is surprisingly a good deal, too. It has a great GPU, CPU, and comes with a generous 32GB of RAM and 1TB of speedy SSD storage, and a 1TB HDD as backup, too.
iBuyPower RDY SLMBG205 | Core i7 11700KF | RTX 3070 | 16GB RAM | 1TB SSD |
$2,099$1,799 at iBuyPower (save $300)It's all about speed with the RDY systems, and that 2-day rush service means you can get hold of your brand new gaming system within days. But then the actual rig is all about speed too, with an eight-core CPU and RTX 3070 GPU doing the gaming good stuff, and a 1TB PCIe SSD making Windows 11 feel super slick.
NZXT Streaming Plus PC | Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti | AMD Ryzen 7 5800X | 16GB RAM | 1TB SSD |
$1,999$1,799.10 at NZXT (save $199.90)The final discounted price is listed at checkout. This NZXT PC is closer to the price we'd expect to find an RTX 3070 PC than one fitted with an RTX 3070 Ti. With an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X at the helm, too, and a good amount of RAM and storage space, this PC will be capable of high refresh 1440p and taking on 4K. Not to mention it'll despatch 1080p at very high frames per second indeed.
At 2560x1440, you're looking at about 3.6 million pixels, 77% more than 1080p. 1440p is the perfect midpoint between 4K, which is still too detrimental to most games' framerates, and 1080p, which most GPUs can run comfortably in 2021.
Asus TUF Gaming VG27WQ1B | 27-inch | 1440p | VA | 165Hz |
$329.99$269.99 at Newegg (save $60)With a curved panel and a rather nice 165Hz refresh, not to mention the 1ms response time, this Asus TUF gaming monitor is not to be sniffed at. It's one of our favorite monitors and the model is only a couple of years old. Not a bad buy. It also has an available $30 rebate bringing the price down to $239.99.
Acer Predator XB271HU | 27-inch | 1440p | IPS | 144Hz |
$469.99$379.99 at Amazon (save $90)For Acer's flagship monitor this is a great deal. We hold a special place in our hearts for the Predator. The IPS panel may not have the best colors and contrast around, but it's built for performance. With a 4ms response time and an overclockable 144Hz refresh, you'll be flying in competitive games.
Gigabyte M27Q | 27-inch | 1440p | IPS | 170Hz |
$359.99$279.99 at Newegg (save $80)Flick through the specifications of this gaming monitor and you'll be surprised to see how much is on offer at this price: 170Hz, FreeSync Premium, IPS panel, 0.5ms response time. All good stuff, and there are tons of really positive reviews for this one online, including this one from our sister site Tom's Hardware, which makes it look like quite the deal.
Alienware AW3821DW | 38-inch | Ultrawide | IPS | 144Hz |
$1949.99$1,099.99 at Dell (save $850)From the 'go big or go home' school of monitor design, this curved monster is for anyone that wants to hit that truly immersive gaming experience. At 3840x1600 it has the same horizontal resolution as a 4K panel, but it isn't quite as tall—it'll still punish your graphics card though. The 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response times, and VESA DisplayHDR 600 round out an impressive overall package.
Evan's a hardcore FPS enthusiast who joined PC Gamer in 2008. After an era spent publishing reviews, news, and cover features, he now oversees editorial operations for PC Gamer worldwide, including setting policy, training, and editing stories written by the wider team. His most-played FPSes are CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Team Fortress Classic, Rainbow Six Siege, and Arma 2. His first multiplayer FPS was Quake 2, played on serial LAN in his uncle's basement, the ideal conditions for instilling a lifelong fondness for fragging. Evan also leads production of the PC Gaming Show, the annual E3 showcase event dedicated to PC gaming.