Depending on your needs, even budget monitors can deliver a great gaming experience. While they may lack some of the advanced features and fancy designs found on more expensive models, budget monitors can offer low input lag, excellent response times, and even variable refresh rate (VRR) technologies like FreeSync or G-SYNC. Budget gaming monitors are typically smaller, but many of them are versatile monitors that are great for PC and console gaming alike.
We've tested over 130 monitors, and below you'll find out recommendations for the best cheap gaming monitors to buy. See also our recommendations for the best monitors for Xbox One and the best gaming monitors for PS4. If you're looking for a good pair of headphones to game with, check our recommendations for the best gaming headsets.
The best budget gaming monitor that we've tested is the ViewSonic XG2402. It's a compact 24 inch 1080p monitor that provides an exceptionally smooth and responsive gaming experience. Despite its thick bezels and cheap, plasticky look, it's surprisingly well-built, and the stand offers a good amount of ergonomic adjustments.
It's great for gaming due to its exceptional motion handling. It has an amazingly fast response time that results in almost no motion blur, and a 144Hz refresh rate that makes motion look incredibly smooth. To help minimize screen tearing, it has FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility. Its response time is also excellent when playing at 60Hz, making it a good option for console gaming. There are quite a few additional features, including two USB ports for charging, a pair of integrated speakers, and even some red LED lighting on the back.
Unfortunately, its TN panel has mediocre viewing angles, making it less ideal for playing co-op games or sharing content. It's better-suited for a moderately-lit room, as it can't get bright enough to overcome glare in very bright settings, and its low contrast ratio makes blacks look grayish in the dark. It doesn't support HDR, which is somewhat expected of a monitor in this price range. All in all, if you're shopping for a great gaming monitor that won't break the bank, you should check this one out.
If you find the ViewSonic XG2402's 24 inch screen too small, then take a look at the ASUS VG279Q. It's also a 1080p monitor, but it has a larger 27 inch screen. It has an IPS panel with excellent viewing angles, and when combined with the stand's wide swivel range, it's a perfect option for co-op gaming. It has good reflection handling and overcomes glare easily in bright lighting conditions. Fast-moving scenes look crisp thanks to its quick response time and Black Frame Insertion feature, and it has a 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any USB ports, but you do get built-in speakers and some gaming features, like the ability to add a virtual crosshair, timer, or frame rate counter.
Overall, the ViewSonic is a better gaming monitor due to its exceptional motion handling. However, if you want a bigger screen for a more immersive gaming experience, get the ASUS.
The best budget gaming monitor with a 1440p resolution is the Gigabyte G27QC. The higher resolution compared to the 1080p monitors delivers a more immersive gaming experience. If you also want to use it for work, it helps with productivity, as it's a better option to open multiple windows at once.
Despite its budget price, the Gigabyte delivers great picture quality. Its VA panel provides deep blacks, which is great for gaming in dark rooms. It has a native 165Hz refresh rate with FreeSync support, and it's G-SYNC compatible. The response time at its max refresh rate is great, and it stays great even when playing at 60Hz. Input lag is incredibly low and remains low with VRR enabled, which is great. HDR games look good as this monitor displays a wide color gamut and gets somewhat bright in HDR to make some highlights pop. Lastly, it has some nice extra features, such as built-in speakers, a USB hub, and Picture-by-Picture and Picture-in-Picture modes.
Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel, and it has uniformity issues in dark scenes. Its stand doesn't offer much in terms of ergonomics either as it doesn't offer any swivel adjustments. On the upside, it's also a good choice for gaming in well-lit environments because it has good peak brightness and good reflection handling. All in all, this is one of the best budget gaming monitors that we've tested.
If you prefer a curved screen monitor like the Gigabyte G27QC with a better stand that offers swivel range, then look into the AOC CQ27G2. It doesn't support HDR like the Gigabyte, but the AOC also has a VA panel with a good contrast ratio. It has a 144Hz refresh rate and great response time, but its response time is slower at 60Hz, which results in some motion blur. It has a Black Frame Insertion feature to improve the appearance of motion, but it flickers at a minimum frequency of 100Hz. Input lag is incredibly low, and once again, it stays low with VRR enabled. Sadly, it lacks many extra features, it has narrow viewing angles, and it also has uniformity issues in dark scenes. Fortunately, it has great out-of-the-box color accuracy and displays an excellent color gamut in SDR.
The Gigabyte is the more versatile 1440p monitor as it has HDR support, but if ergonomics are important to you and you don't mind losing some features, check out the AOC.
The best cheap gaming monitor that we've tested is the MSI Optix MAG273R. It's well-rounded, and even though it's cheaper than most monitors, it's good for most uses and even supports HDR. It's limited to a 1080p resolution, which may be too low for multitasking, but it doesn't put too much stress on your graphics card.
It has an impressive response time at its max refresh rate of 144Hz, resulting in little motion blur. However, it's much slower at 60Hz, so you may notice some motion artifacts in fast-moving scenes if you use this monitor for console gaming. Input lag is really low, especially if you're using it for HDR gaming. It supports HDR10, displays a wide color gamut, and gets fairly bright in that mode to make some highlights pop. With its IPS panel, it has wide viewing angles, great for co-op gaming, and if you want to use it in a bright room, it gets bright enough to combat glare and it has good reflection handling.
Unfortunately, it has a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in dark rooms. Its stand doesn't offer any swivel range and you can't rotate it into portrait mode. On the upside, it has two USB ports, which is great if you want to charge your devices while gaming. Overall, most people should be happy with it considering its cheap price and good overall performance.
10/01/2020: Removed the Dell S2417DG, ViewSonic VX2758-2K-MHD, and the AOC CQ27G1; added the Gigabyte G27QC, AOC CQ27G2, and the MSI Optix MAG273R.
09/04/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
08/07/2020: Replaced Dell UltraSharp U2520Q with ViewSonic VX2758-2KP-MHD.
07/10/2020: Replaced the AOC AG271QX with the Dell S2417DG and the Dell U2518D with the U2520D.
04/29/2020: Replaced the Acer XF251Q with the AOC CG27G1 as best cheap pick, removed its alternate, the Samsung CF398.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best cheap gaming monitors currently available. They are adapted to be valid for most people, in each price range. Rating is based on our review, factoring in price and feedback from our visitors.
If you would prefer to make your own decision, here is the list of all of our monitor reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. Most monitors are good enough to please most people, and the things we fault monitors on are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.