Even budget monitors can offer a decent experience, depending on your needs. Although they're usually smaller, with simpler designs and fewer added features, budget monitors can still offer a good overall user experience.
We've reviewed over 85 monitors and below you'll find our top picks for the best cheap monitors available for purchase in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best gaming monitor under $200, the best budget gaming monitors, and the best 1080p monitors.
The best budget monitor that we've tested so far is the Dell P2417H. It's a well-rounded 24 inch 1080p IPS monitor that has wide viewing angles and a flicker-free backlight. Its simple, understated design sports thin bezels and a fully articulating, swivel stand which makes it a good choice for office use or multi-monitor setups.
This monitor has a wide selection of inputs, including VGA, so even those with older setups should have no problem connecting to it. It also has a 4-port USB hub which can be used even while the monitor is in standby, which is a nice addition at this price point. While it doesn't have more premium gaming features like FreeSync, its low input lag and fast response time should make it suitable for most casual gaming.
The picture quality is decent with impressive color accuracy out-of-the-box. Its viewing angles are good thanks to its IPS panel, but unfortunately this comes at the cost of black uniformity and contrast, which are mediocre. This means that it may be better for use in a bright room like an office. Overall, this is a versatile budget monitor that provides great ergonomics, impressive connectivity options, and satisfactory picture quality for the price.
If you're looking for a smaller alternative, the Dell P2217H is a good choice. The black uniformity is much better on the Dell P2417H, but it still has a similar performance to the 24 inch model. The out-of-box color accuracy is decent and it produces a good SDR color gamut, although the Adobe RGB color space coverage might be a bit limited for some photo editors. This is a good office monitor with good viewing angles and amazing ergonomics, so it's easy to share your screen with coworkers. Unfortunately, the contrast ratio is mediocre and the black uniformity is bad, so when viewing dark content in dark rooms, the blacks look more gray.
If you're looking for the best budget monitor, check out the P2417H, but if you want a smaller monitor, consider the P2217H.
The best budget gaming monitor we've tested is the ViewSonic XG2402. Regardless of whether you're gaming on a PC or a console, this monitor will deliver an impressive overall gaming experience. The fast refresh rate and the excellent response time deliver crisp motion with almost no blur, while the low input lag guarantees a responsive experience even when you're gaming on a console with a 60Hz signal. The monitor delivers a decent picture quality with good peak brightness and great reflection handling. You can position it easily to a comfortable position thanks to its great ergonomics. Finally, the monitor supports FreeSync for nearly tear-free gaming and is compatible with the recent NVIDIA's Adaptive Sync drivers.
Unfortunately, just like most TN panel monitors, blacks look gray in a dark room and the image degrades on the side if you sit up close.
Overall, however, this is a monitor that'll keep most gamers happy and won't break the bank.
If you often game at night with the lights out, and you don't like the ViewSonic XG2402's dark room performance, check out the Samsung CF398. You won't get the low input lag or the fast response time found on the ViewSonic. On the upside, this is a decent 27 inch monitor that performs well for gaming. It has a decent picture quality, and blacks look deep in a dark room thanks to the better contrast ratio.
Overall, if you want the best budget gaming monitor, get the ViewSonic, but if good contrast is important, then the Samsung is a better choice.
The best budget office monitor we've tested so far is the Dell U2415. The screen's a bit taller than most monitors with a unique resolution of 1920x1200, so there's a bit more space for multitasking. The versatile stand allows swivel, tilt, and height adjustments, and you can switch it into portrait mode if needed. The viewing angles are also good, so you can easily share your work with colleagues.
This monitor has excellent gray uniformity, which is good for when there are large areas of uniform color, such as a web browser or documents. The out-of-box color accuracy is good, so you likely won't need your monitor calibrated if it's just for office use. It also has near-perfect coverage of the sRGB color space, so it can produce a wide range of colors. Unfortunately, the IPS panel has a mediocre contrast ratio and bad black uniformity, but this is only a problem if the monitor is in a dark room.
Overall, this monitor can be used however you like in an office space thanks to its great ergonomics, making it the best budget office monitor we've tested.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best budget monitors. They are adapted to be valid for most people. 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.
03/06/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.