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 100 monitors and below you'll find our top picks for the best cheap monitors available for purchase. 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 we've tested so far is the Dell P2417H. Whether you're looking for a monitor for your at-home office setup, a second screen, or something to game with, this monitor won't disappoint.
This monitor has impressive out-of-box color accuracy, so you won't need to get it calibrated and colors will appear how they should. Like most IPS panels, the viewing angles are good, so it's easy to share your screen with others, but that comes at the cost of its contrast ratio, which is mediocre and blacks are closer to gray. Like other Dell monitors, it has great ergonomics, allowing you to place your monitor how you like, and the gray uniformity is outstanding, so solid colors across the screen, like on a web page, will look great. As a gaming monitor, it has a really low input lag and great motion handling, but without variable refresh rate support, it might only please more casual gamers.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support HDR and it doesn't get very bright, so despite having good reflection handling, it's not the best monitor to put in really bright rooms. The 1080p resolution might be too low for some people watching videos, but it still allows you to be productive during work, so this is the best budget monitor we've tested so far.
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 the smaller monitor still has a similar performance to the 24 inch model. The out-of-the-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 others. 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 so far is the ViewSonic XG2402. This 24 inch monitor has a 1080p resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate to provide a great gaming experience with smooth and fluid motion. Even at its low price, you're still getting a monitor that's well-built.
This monitor has a TN panel with exceptional response time, resulting in clear images and almost no noticeable motion blur. It supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing when gaming and it's compatible with recent NVIDIA graphics cards. This monitor has a very good peak brightness and great reflection handling that's well-suited for bright rooms. The stand has good ergonomics, so you can adjust it to your optimal viewing position. It also comes equipped with integrated speakers and a USB hub to charge your portable devices.
Sadly, there are downsides to this TN panel. Its contrast ratio and black uniformity are sub-par, which is less ideal for gaming in the dark, and it has poor viewing angles, causing images to degrade when viewed from the side. On the bright side, its input lag is amazingly low, even when VRR is enabled. Overall, it offers good value for its price, making it the best budget monitor for gaming.
If you're looking for a monitor with better dark room performance, then check out the AOC CQ27G1. Motion isn't as clear as on the ViewSonic XG2402, but the VA panel on the AOC produces deeper blacks that would please people who game in the dark. It has an incredibly low input lag, the response time at its max refresh rate is great, and it has a black frame insertion feature to help reduce any motion blur. It supports FreeSync VRR but unfortunately, it's not G-SYNC compatible on newer NVIDIA graphics cards. As is the case with most VA panel monitors, the viewing angles are disappointing, so it's not suggested for co-op gaming, but luckily, the monitor has impressive out-of-box color accuracy, so you won't need to get it calibrated.
If you're looking for the best budget gaming monitor, the ViewSonic is a great choice, but if you're looking for better dark room performance, the AOC is a good alternative.
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, it 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.
05/08/2020: Replaced the Samsung CF398 by the AOC CQ27G1, updated notable mentions to reflect current market.
04/10/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
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.