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 with lower resolutions, but many of them are versatile monitors that are great for PC and console gaming alike.
We've tested over 210 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 with a 1080p resolution that we've tested is the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx. This 24 inch model delivers a great gaming experience but is also easy on the wallet. It uses an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, and it includes a stand with a 360-degree swivel range, making it an excellent choice for sharing content or playing co-op games. It handles reflections well and gets bright enough to combat glare in well-lit settings.
Its motion handling is excellent. It has a 144Hz refresh rate that you can overclock up to 165Hz, as well as an exceptional response time, so fast motion looks clear with almost no blur trail behind moving objects. You shouldn't see much screen tearing either, as it has both native FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility. It supports HDR, but unfortunately, it can't display a wide color gamut, and its mediocre contrast ratio makes blacks appear gray in the dark.
As expected of a budget monitor, there aren't many extra features. You can add a virtual crosshair or frame rate indicator on the screen, and there's a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. There are also speakers built-in if you don't have dedicated ones. Overall, while it isn't the most feature-rich, it's a great gaming monitor that should please most people.
If you want a monitor with a higher refresh rate, then check out the ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM. It's remarkably similar to the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx as it's also an IPS panel monitor with exceptionally low input lag and superb response time. However, it has a 280Hz refresh rate that provides even greater responsiveness, and the screen is a little more than an inch bigger. The downside is that it's more expensive, falling just a tad over our budget threshold.
Overall, if a 165Hz refresh rate is enough for you, and you're looking to save a bit of money, go with the Acer. Otherwise, the ASUS is a fantastic but more expensive option with a 280Hz refresh rate.
The best budget gaming monitor with a 1440p resolution is the Gigabyte M27Q. This 27 inch model delivers an excellent gaming experience as it has an exceptional response time, low input lag, and a high refresh rate. Fast-moving scenes look clear and smooth, and screen tearing is minimal thanks to its VRR support. It's a native FreeSync monitor, but it's compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC as well.
The design is pretty simple and not overly gamer-oriented, so it shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb in professional offices. The stand is sturdy, but it only allows for height and tilt adjustments. It has wide viewing angles, decent reflection handling, and gets bright enough to combat glare. It has a wide color gamut with near-full Adobe RGB coverage, making it a great choice for content creators. Unfortunately, it's not the best option for dark rooms because it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks appear grayish.
It's packed with extra features. It has a USB hub with two USB 3.0s and a USB-C that supports DisplayPort Alt Mode. You can display two input sources simultaneously with its Picture-in-Picture/Picture-by-Picture mode and control both source devices with one set of peripherals with its built-in KVM switch. Lastly, it has a flicker-free backlight and a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. Overall, this is a great budget monitor worth considering.
If you need something a bit more versatile that can double as your primary work monitor, then check out the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. Like the Gigabyte M27Q, it's also 27 inch model with a 1440p resolution. However, it stands out for its superb ergonomics because it allows for all manner of adjustments, making it easier to place the screen in a comfortable viewing position. It isn't as responsive because it's limited to a 75Hz refresh rate, but it's still a tad better than a typical 60Hz panel. It has a great response time and supports VRR. Unfortunately, while it has more USB 3.0 ports, it lacks USB-C input. It also doesn't support HDR, which might disappoint some.
If you need a monitor mainly for gaming, go with the Gigabyte because its higher refresh rate and faster response time make the experience much smoother. However, if you only game casually and want a monitor that's better suited for work, then go with the ASUS.
The best budget gaming monitor with an ultrawide screen that we've tested is the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx. It's a 34 inch model with a flat, non-curved screen. It has a 21:9 aspect ratio that gives you more horizontal space than a typical 16:9 display, giving you a wider field of view for better immersion in games. It feels decently well-built, and it has good ergonomics so that you can place the screen easily at a comfortable viewing position or share it with others.
It has a 144Hz refresh rate and an excellent response time to deliver a smooth gaming experience. Its input lag is exceptionally low, and it has both native FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility to minimize screen tearing. It has a black frame insertion feature to improve motion clarity, otherwise known as backlight strobing, but it only works within a narrow frequency range, and it isn't usable simultaneously with VRR. Also, the flickering might cause headaches or eye strain for some people.
Despite its budget price, there's a USB hub with two USB 3.0s and a USB-B upstream port, which means you can plug your peripherals or dongles directly into the monitor, with only a single cable leading to your computer for a cleaner setup. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very bright, and its mediocre contrast ratio makes blacks look grayish in the dark, so it's better suited for a moderately lit room. Nonetheless, this is a great option if you want to go ultrawide with a small budget.
If you often game in a dark room, you might want to consider a monitor with a VA panel, like the ASUS TUF Gaming VG34VQL1B. Like the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx, it's also a 34 inch model with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. However, it has a much higher contrast ratio to display deep blacks, making it a great option for dim settings. It has a faster refresh rate of 165Hz, but like most VA panels, its response time is a bit slow when transitioning from a dark color to a bright one, meaning that you might see more smearing behind fast-moving objects. It can display a wide color gamut and gets decently bright to make highlights pop in HDR. Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, so it isn't ideal for playing co-op games or sharing content with others.
Overall, the Acer is a better choice because it has superior motion handling, but if you prefer a monitor with better dark room performance, the ASUS is a great alternative.
Oct 01, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. Replaced Gigabyte G34WQC with ASUS TUF Gaming VG34VQL1B.
Sep 02, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Aug 03, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Jun 04, 2021: Replaced the Gigabyte G27Q with the Gigabyte M27Q, as the G27Q is harder to find and more expensive at the moment.
May 07, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
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 budget 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.