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, even budget monitors can offer low input lag, excellent response times, and even frame rate matching 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 reviewed over 85 monitors, and below you'll find out recommendations for the best cheap gaming monitors to buy in 2020. 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. See also our recommendations for the best cheap gaming mice.
The best budget gaming monitor we've tested so far is the ViewSonic XG2402. It's a great monitor for fast-paced games thanks to its outstanding motion handling. It has a 144Hz refresh rate and low response time, and it even supports FreeSync variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing. If you have a recent 10- or 20- series NVIDIA graphics card, it's compatible with G-SYNC as well, though it will require a driver update.
Despite its budget price, this monitor has a good build quality that feels solid. Unfortunately, it uses a TN panel that has a low contrast ratio and poor black uniformity, which is less ideal for dark room gaming, as blacks tend to look more like gray. Its viewing angles aren't great either, but surprisingly, it has impressive color accuracy right out of the box. If you play in a well-lit room, this monitor can get bright enough to overcome glare and it has great reflection handling. It also has a flicker-free backlight to help reduce eye strain for those long gaming sessions.
If you're looking for a good gaming monitor without spending a fortune, you should consider this one.
If you like the ViewSonic XG2402 but you want a monitor that supports HDR, check out the Dell U2518D. It has a good build quality and it has great ergonomics, allowing you to easily adjust the monitor to your optimal viewing position. Its peak brightness is high enough to provide a decent HDR experience, but the lack of wide color gamut support is a bit disappointing. Response time and input lag are both low; however, its refresh rate is limited to 60Hz and it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology. On the bright side, it has an IPS panel with decent viewing angles, and it has outstanding out of the box color accuracy.
Overall, the ViewSonic is a better gaming monitor due to its high refresh rate and support for FreeSync, but if HDR is more important to you, get the Dell.
If you find the ViewSonic XG2402 too small, consider the ASUS VG279Q, which is a 27 inch monitor. Although it has a 1080p resolution, its low response time and high refresh rate deliver a crisp picture with very little blur behind fast-moving objects. It has an optional black frame insertion feature as well to further reduce the appearance of motion blur, and its backlight is flicker-free. Additionally, it comes with some convenient gaming features such as a crosshair for shooter games, a frame rate counter overlay, and it even has built-in speakers. It supports FreeSync variable refresh rate and it's compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC with a firmware update.
The ViewSonic is a better monitor overall, but if you find its 24 inch screen a little cramped, then go with the ASUS.
The best budget 1440p gaming monitor we've tested so far is the AOC AGON AG271QX, although it can sometimes be hard to find at the right price. It has an excellent response time that delivers crisp motion with almost no blur and supports FreeSync for nearly tear-free gaming. The input lag is remarkably low and gamers will enjoy a very responsive gaming experience. This monitor is more suitable for an average lit room, and its 27 inch screen and 1440p resolution will display more of your gaming arena, minimizing the need for excessive scrolling.
Unfortunately, just like most TN monitors, it has a few flaws: the viewing angles are poor, so the sides of the screen don't look uniform when you sit up close. Also, those who game at night will find the contrast ratio inadequate, and blacks end up looking gray in a dark room.
Overall, however, this is a good budget 1440p monitor that delivers a great gaming experience.
If you like the AOC AGON AG271QX but want a good 1440p gaming monitor with wide viewing angles, check out the Dell U2518D. Although not as good for gaming as the AOC, this is a good gaming monitor for casual gamers, with wide viewing angles and a great stand. It also supports HDR, but the performance is limited by the lack of wide color gamut. Unfortunately, this monitor has slightly higher input lag, which isn't ideal for fast-paced shooters or MOBAs. Overall, though, it's a good monitor for pretty much any use.
If you're looking for the best budget 1440p gaming monitor, go for the AOC. If you don't mind compromising on input lag, though, the Dell is better if you need wider viewing angles.
The Acer XF251Q is the best cheap gaming monitor we've tested so far. At its price point, we can expect some features to be omitted. Fortunately, it still retains a critical feature for gaming: FreeSync support. That said, it's only limited to FreeSync, as it lacks a DisplayPort for NVIDIA's G-SYNC. The TN panel still offers great response time and input lag; however, viewing angles and color accuracy suffer as a result. This monitor is also limited to a 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 75Hz, which may deter more serious gamers.
Ergonomics are fairly decent on the Acer, a rarity for budget monitors, so it's easy to place in an ideal viewing position. It gets decently bright and has good reflection handling, so you shouldn't have any issues with it in a bright room.
Despite the budget price, this monitor still performs admirably and is a great choice if cost is your primary concern.
If you like gaming in a dark room, the Samsung CF398 might be a better choice than the Acer XF251Q. This is a basic gaming monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate that might disappoint some gamers, but it supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. This monitor looks better in a dark room thanks to its VA panel, as the much higher contrast ratio delivers deeper blacks, which is especially noticeable in a dark room.
Overall, the Acer is the best cheap gaming monitor for most people, but if you often game in a dark room, the Samsung might be a better choice.
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.
02/14/2020: Updated text to improve clarity.
11/12/2019: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.