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 145 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 model 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 thanks 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 something 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. It has a large 27 inch to provide an immersive gaming experience, but small enough to keep the pixel density high, so images and text still look sharp. Its VA panel has a high contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, but it doesn't have the best viewing angles, so it isn't ideal for playing co-op games. Also, it has disappointing ergonomics, as it lacks swivel adjustment and rotation to portrait mode. It handles reflections well, though, and gets bright enough to fight glare in most lighting conditions.
The response time is fast whether you play at its maximum 165Hz refresh rate or 60Hz, resulting in clear motion in fast-moving scenes. It supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to minimize screen tearing and is compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC. Unfortunately, although it supports HDR, it can't deliver a satisfying HDR experience as it lacks a local dimming feature and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop.
There are quite a few extra features that may come in handy. It has two USB 3.0 ports for charging and a pair of integrated speakers. You can add a virtual crosshair or an overlay that shows your frame rate, and there's also a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. It has a Picture-in-Picture mode that allows you to display images from two input sources simultaneously, great for multitaskers and streamers using separate computers. All in all, this is a feature-packed monitor that should satisfy most gamers.
If you need a more versatile monitor that you can also use for work, then check out the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. Like the Gigabyte G27QC, it's a 27 inch 1440p model. However, it has significantly better ergonomics so that it's easier to adjust the screen to your optimal viewing position. It has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, which is great for sharing content or work, and it provides good visibility in bright rooms. The downside is that it has a lower 75Hz refresh rate, and it doesn't support HDR. Also, it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks appear gray, so it isn't ideal for dark rooms.
Overall, the Gigabyte is a better choice for gaming due to its higher refresh rate. However, if you want a versatile monitor, the ASUS is a great choice.
The best cheap gaming monitor we've tested is the LG 24GL600F. It's a compact model with a 24 inch screen and a 1080p resolution. It has exceptional motion handling due to its incredibly quick response time and 144Hz refresh rate, resulting in clear images in fast-moving scenes. Input lag is extremely low, and it supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing. It's compatible with G-SYNC as well, but it only works over a DisplayPort connection.
While TN panels are known for their incredible response time, they suffer from narrow viewing angles and a low contrast ratio, which is the case here. Images look washed out when viewed from the side, and blacks appear gray in the dark. That said, it performs well in bright rooms thanks to its impressive reflection handling and good peak brightness. Unfortunately, the ergonomics are terrible as it only allows for tilt adjustment.
It's light on extra features and doesn't support HDR, which is somewhat expected at its price range. You can add a virtual crosshair on the screen, and there's an optional Black Frame Insertion feature that can help improve motion clarity. However, the latter only works within a very narrow frequency range and isn't usable while VRR is active. Overall, it's a simple but good gaming monitor that won't break the bank.
12/22/2020: Removed AOC CQ27G2 and MSI OPTIX MAG273R. Added ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV and LG 24GL600F.
11/27/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
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.
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.
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.