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 160 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 excellent IPS model delivers an amazing gaming experience. It has wide viewing angles and excellent ergonomics, including a full 360-degree swivel range, making it a fantastic choice for co-op gaming. It's well-suited for bright settings due to its great peak brightness, but like most IPS panels, it has a low contrast ratio that makes it less ideal for dark rooms.
Gaming-wise, it has exceptionally low input lag to provide incredible responsiveness, and it delivers clear and smooth motion thanks to its fast response time and 165Hz refresh rate. It supports FreeSync and is compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC to minimize screen tearing, although the latter only works over a DisplayPort connection. It supports HDR; however, it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough for a true HDR experience.
There are only a few additional features, which is somewhat expected for a budget model. There's a pair of integrated speakers, and you can add a virtual crosshair or frame rate counter on the screen. In addition to its flicker-free backlight, it has a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. All in all, this is an excellent and versatile monitor that's easy on the wallet.
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 G27Q. It's a feature-rich IPS model that delivers a responsive gaming experience and is well-suited for a wide variety of uses. Its 27 inch screen provides great immersion and plenty of screen space for work. It has good viewing angles so that images remain accurate when viewed from the side, and it overcomes glare easily in bright lighting conditions. It isn't the best choice for dark rooms as it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look grayish.
It has an excellent response time and a 144Hz refresh rate, resulting in clear images and almost no blur trail behind fast-moving objects. Input lag is incredibly low, and it has native FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility to reduce screen tearing. It has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature; however, it isn't usable while VRR is enabled. It has a good wide color gamut and gets decently bright, enough to deliver a pretty decent HDR gaming experience, but not quite bright enough for HDR movies.
Unfortunately, the ergonomics are poor as it only allows for height and tilt adjustments. Also, its response time is significantly slower at 60Hz, making it less ideal for 60fps console gaming. On the upside, it has plenty of features, including two USB ports and a pair of integrated speakers. You can add a virtual crosshair, timer, and frame rate counter to the screen or display your computer's diagnostics, like CPU usage and temperature. Overall, it's a great gaming monitor that should please most people.
If you'd prefer a more versatile monitor that can be used for both gaming and work, check out the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. While it doesn't have a refresh rate as high as the Gigabyte G27Q, at 75Hz, it's still a touch higher than most office monitors and has exceptional ergonomics with a really wide swivel range to suit any viewing position. Its response time is impressive overall, and it's even faster than the Gigabyte's at 60Hz, so it's great for gaming on consoles at 60fps. Since it's intended for creative professionals, it also has an amazing color gamut and comes with very good color accuracy out of the box. To top it off, it has built-in speakers and a ton of ports and inputs for all your peripherals. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't support HDR.
Go with the Gigabyte for a higher refresh rate and HDR support, but if you're looking for something a little more versatile, with better ergonomics and a higher response time at 60Hz, the ASUS is a great alternative.
The best budget gaming monitor with an ultrawide screen that we've tested is the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx. This 34 inch model has a 21:9 aspect ratio, which gives you more horizontal space than a typical 16:9 display, providing an incredibly immersive gaming experience. It has an IPS panel with decent viewing angles, making it great for sharing content and playing co-op games. The ergonomics are pretty good for an ultrawide, which includes a full 360-degree swivel range.
Gaming feels amazingly smooth and responsive, as it has a low input lag, a 144Hz refresh rate, and excellent response times. It supports FreeSync natively and is compatible with G-SYNC to reduce screen tearing. It has a Black Frame Insertion feature to improve motion clarity, but like most monitors, it isn't usable simultaneously with VRR. Unfortunately, its mediocre contrast makes blacks appear grayish, so it isn't ideal for dark rooms.
There are two USB 3.0 ports that you can use to charge your mobile devices or connect other peripherals. There's also a Picture-in-Picture/Picture-by-Picture mode, which lets you display two input signals simultaneously, a great feature for streamers running on two computers. Lastly, it has a flicker-free backlight and a blue light filter to reduce eye strain. So, if you want an ultrawide screen without spending a fortune, this one is worth considering.
If you tend to game in the dark, then consider the Gigabyte G34WQC. It has the same screen size, resolution, and refresh rate as the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx, but it has a VA panel with a much higher contrast ratio, which means it can display deep blacks. It also gets a lot brighter to combat glare, bright enough to deliver a fairly decent HDR experience. Its response time is slower but still great, although there's some black smearing behind fast-moving objects that might bother some people. Sadly, it has much narrower viewing angles, which is expected of a VA panel, and the stand doesn't allow for any swivel adjustment.
Overall, the Acer is a better choice due to its faster response times and superior ergonomics. However, if dark room performance is important to you, the Gigabyte is a great alternative.
Apr 07, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Mar 08, 2021: Minor text and structure changes. Removed LG 24GL600F because it's discontinued and hard to find. Added Gigabyte G34WQC as 'Dark Room Alternative' to the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx.
Feb 19, 2021: Replaced the Gigabyte G34WQC with the Acer Nitro XV340CK due to its availability, price, and faster response time. Moved the Gigabyte G34QWC to Notable Mentions.
Jan 21, 2021: Replaced ViewSonic XG2402 with Acer Nitro XF243Y as best 1080p, and added ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM as a higher refresh alternative. Removed ASUS VG279Q. Replaced Gigabyte G27QC with Gigabyte G27Q.
Dec 22, 2020: Removed AOC CQ27G2 and MSI OPTIX MAG273R. Added ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV and LG 24GL600F.
Nov 27, 2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
Oct 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.
Aug 07, 2020: Replaced Dell UltraSharp U2520Q with ViewSonic VX2758-2KP-MHD.
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.