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 160 monitors, and below you'll find our top picks for the best budget 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. It has a 27 inch screen that provides plenty of space for multitasking and a 1440p resolution to deliver sharp images and text. It has wide viewing angles and superb ergonomics so that you can adjust the screen easily or share your work with colleagues. Since it's designed for content creators, it isn't surprising that it has an excellent SDR color gamut and good accuracy out-of-the-box.
Its gradient handling is amazing, which means you shouldn't see much banding, and there are no signs of color bleed. Fast motion looks clear thanks to its quick response time and Black Frame Insertion feature, and its 75Hz refresh rate makes your desktop experience feel just a bit smoother than a typical 60Hz panel. It handles reflections well and gets bright enough to overcome glare, making it a great choice for well-lit rooms, but it isn't as well-suited for dark rooms as its IPS panel's low contrast ratio makes blacks look grayish.
Unfortunately, there's no HDR support, which is somewhat expected for something in this price range. On the upside, it has four USB ports for charging or data transfer and a pair of built-in speakers that you can use to play audio from external devices. There's also a feature called QuickFit Virtual Scale that lets you preview and align documents in their actual sizes before printing. All in all, this is a great option that should please most people and the best budget monitor for office use that we've tested.
If you prefer something with an ultrawide screen, then check out the Acer Nitro XV340CK Pbmiipphzx. It doesn't get as bright as the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV, but the 34 inch screen and 21:9 aspect ratio allow you to easily open multiple windows side-by-side while working. It has good ergonomics, especially for an ultrawide monitor, as its round base allows you to rotate the stand a full 360 degrees. It has a few extra features, like built-in speakers, a USB hub, and Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture modes, allowing you to display images from two sources at once. It supports HDR10, but sadly, it can't display a wide color gamut, has low HDR peak brightness, and a mediocre contrast ratio, so HDR content doesn't look all that good.
If you want the best budget monitor for office use and you don't mind a 27 inch size, then you should be happy with the ASUS, but if you want an ultrawide option, look for the Acer.
The best budget monitor with a 4k resolution that we've tested is the LG 32UL500-W. This massive 32 inch model is well-suited for productivity and media consumption, as it provides plenty of screen real estate and delivers sharp images and text. It has a good contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, but unlike most VA panels, its viewing angles are actually quite decent; good enough for sharing content casually, though not ideal for work that requires the utmost image accuracy.
Content creators should be happy to hear that it has full sRGB coverage, superb gradient handling, and no color bleed. It also has outstanding Adobe RGB coverage, which is great for those working in print photography. That said, color accuracy is bad out of the box, so it might be worth calibrating if you plan on doing color work. Its response times are decent but a bit slow, and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, but at least it has VRR support to reduce screen tearing.
Unfortunately, even though it has good reflection handling, it doesn't get very bright, which means that glare may be an issue in well-lit rooms. Its low peak brightness also affects the overall HDR experience as highlights don't pop the way they should. Also, the stand only allows for tilt adjustment, so it's recommended to VESA-mount it. There are no USB ports, but you do get built-in speakers. Overall, it's a simple but good monitor that should please most people.
The best budget monitor for gaming that we've tested is the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx. It's one of the best gaming monitors we've tested and it competes with some higher-end, more expensive options. It has everything most people are looking for, and although it's limited to a 1080p resolution, text is still clear due to the smaller screen. It performs well in bright rooms thanks to its good reflection handling and great peak brightness.
Its native 144Hz refresh rate can be overclocked to 165Hz. It also has native FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility. Input lag is incredibly low with or without VRR enabled. The response time is exceptionally quick and remains quick even when gaming at 60Hz, so motion looks incredibly smooth. The flicker-free backlight helps reduce eye strain for long gaming sessions, and it has built-in speakers, great if you don't want to spend more on a dedicated setup.
Sadly, its IPS panel has a low contrast ratio, so blacks appear closer to gray when viewed in the dark. However, this means it has wide viewing angles, and the excellent ergonomics allow you to easily share your screen with a friend for co-op gaming. It also has excellent gray uniformity and amazing out-of-the-box accuracy, but these may vary between units. All in all, if you're looking for the best budget monitor that you can use for gaming, you should be happy with this one.
If you prefer something with a higher 1440p resolution, then look into the Gigabyte G27Q. It has worse ergonomics and its response time at 60Hz is much slower than the Acer Nitro XF243Y, so much looks more blurry if you're using it for 60fps games. Luckily, the response time at its max refresh rate of 144Hz is still excellent, and the input lag is very low. It has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, great peak brightness, amazing gray uniformity, and good reflection handling. Although it has a mediocre contrast ratio and doesn't have a local dimming feature, it's still decent for HDR gaming as it displays a wide color gamut and has decent HDR peak brightness.
If you want the best budget monitor for gaming and don't mind a lower 1080p resolution, you should be happy with the Acer, but if you need a higher resolution for an immersive gaming experience, go for the Gigabyte.
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'.
Nov 30, 2020: Removed the Dell P2417H, added the Dell S2721QS as 'Best Budget', and moved the ASUS ProArt to the alternate pick.
Oct 01, 2020: Replaced the ASUS VG279Q with the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. Moved the VG279Q to Notable Mentions.
Jun 05, 2020: Replaced Dell P2417H with ASUS VG279Q, replaced Dell P2217H with Dell P2417H.
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.