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. If you're looking for a budget gaming monitor, more and more options are starting to include gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support.
We've tested over 205 monitors, and below you'll find our top picks for the best cheap monitors available for purchase. Also, check out our recommendations for the best gaming monitor under $200, the best budget gaming monitors, and the best 1080p monitors.
The best budget monitor for office use that we've tested is the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. This 27 inch model provides plenty of room for split-screen multitasking and delivers sharp images and text. It uses an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, which is great for sharing your work with colleagues as the image remains accurate when viewing from the side. It handles reflections well and gets more than bright enough to fight glare in well-lit environments; however, it isn't ideal for dark settings because it has a mediocre contrast ratio.
It has superb ergonomics. It allows for all manner of adjustments so that you can place the screen in a comfortable viewing position, and it also supports a 100x100 VESA mount if you want to save some desk space. Cable management is built into the stand to help keep your setup tidy, and there are speakers as well if you don't have room for dedicated ones. There's a USB hub with four USB 3.0 ports, allowing you to plug in your peripherals in case your PC is too far.
Unlike most monitors, it has a 75Hz refresh rate that makes everything feel a little bit smoother and more responsive, like when scrolling through a document or moving the cursor around. It also has a great response time and VRR support if you want to play some games on the side. All in all, this is the best budget monitor for office use that we've tested, and one that we think most people should be happy with.
If you need even more screen real estate for multitasking, check out the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx. Unlike the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV, it has a 21:9 aspect ratio that gives you roughly 30% more horizontal screen space than a standard 16:9 display. The pixel density is the same, so you still get a sharp image. Plus, it feels more responsive because it has a higher refresh rate of 144Hz. The main downside is that it just doesn't get very bright, so it might not be a good choice if you work in a well-lit room. On the upside, it has a Picture-in-Picture mode that lets you display two input signals simultaneously, which might be useful for those working on two computers.
Overall, the ASUS is a better choice for most people because it allows for more ergonomic adjustments and gets brighter to combat glare. However, if you need more screen space and don't mind compromising a bit, the Acer is a good alternative.
The best budget monitor with a 4k resolution that we've tested is the Dell S2721QS. It's a versatile monitor designed for productivity, but it also performs well enough for some casual gaming on the side. Its 27 inch screen provides tons of space for work, and it delivers sharp images and text due to its high pixel density. It includes a sturdy stand that allows for all manner of adjustments so that you can place the screen in a comfortable viewing position.
It's great for content creation, although only for sRGB content, as it doesn't have full Adobe RGB or DCI P3 coverage. It handles reflections well, gets bright enough to fight glare in most settings, and its viewing angles are great. Color accuracy is okay out of the box, good enough for most users, but content creators might want to do some fine-tuning. The response time is good for a 60Hz panel, and it supports variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing.
Unfortunately, the overall HDR experience is just okay because it has a mediocre contrast ratio, no local dimming, and doesn't get bright enough for true HDR. It also has no USB ports of any kind, but you do get built-in speakers and a Picture-in-Picture mode. The backlight is entirely flicker-free, great for reducing eye strain. All in all, it's an impressive 4k monitor for a budget-friendly price.
The best budget monitor for gaming is the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx. It's one of the best gaming monitors we've tested, and it won't break the bank either, competing with more expensive monitors. While it's limited to a 1080p resolution, it still has a decent pixel density thanks to its smaller screen. It has great ergonomics with full 360-degree rotation, so adjusting it to your ideal viewing position is a breeze.
When it comes to performance, it's an excellent choice for gaming with a high 144Hz refresh rate that can overclock to 165Hz. It has an exceptionally fast response time at both its max refresh rate and 60Hz, with no overshoot, resulting in clear motion with minimal smearing and blur. It supports FreeSync natively and is compatible with G-SYNC. It also has very little input lag, making games feel incredibly responsive.
While it supports HDR, it sadly doesn't get quite bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR content, and it lacks a wide color gamut. Due to its IPS panel, its contrast ratio is also mediocre, resulting in blacks that look more like gray when viewed in the dark. On the upside, it's bright enough to combat glare in most lighting conditions, and its wide viewing angles are great for co-op gaming. Overall, most people should be happy with it, making it our pick for the best budget monitor for gaming.
If you prefer a gaming monitor with a higher resolution, check out the Gigabyte M27Q. Although it may stretch your budget a little bit and is certainly more expensive than the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx, it has a larger 27 inch screen and high 1440p resolution for a sharper image and more immersive gaming. Its response times are a tad slower than the Acer but still fantastic, so fast-moving games should look smooth, and its max refresh rate is even a little higher at 170Hz. It also has a low input lag, supports FreeSync, and is G-SYNC-compatible. Finally, it has a much wider color gamut in both SDR and HDR. Sadly, though, its ergonomics are much more limited.
Go with the Acer if you want an affordable gaming monitor with exceptionally fast response times, but if you want a 1440p resolution, you can't go wrong with the Gigabyte.
Sep 24, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. No change in recommendations.
Jul 27, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks. Replaced LG 32UL500-W with Dell S2721QS.
May 28, 2021: Replaced the Gigabyte G27Q with the Gigabyte M27Q as '1440p Alternative' due to pricing and availability.
Mar 30, 2021: Minor text and structure changes. Replaced Dell S2721QS with LG 32UL500-W due to low availability.
Jan 29, 2021: Replaced the ViewSonic XG2402 with the Acer Nitro XF243Y; replaced the AOC CQ27G1 with the Gigabyte G27Q and renamed to '1440p Alternative'; replaced the Dell U2415 with the Acer Nitro XV340CK and renamed to 'Ultrawide Alternative'.
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, sorted with their price from low to high. 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.