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 110 monitors, and below you'll find our top picks for the best cheap monitor 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 we've tested so far is the ASUS VG279Q. This is a 27 inch monitor, sporting an IPS panel with a 1080p resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. Despite having a full plastic construction, it feels well-built, and its outstanding ergonomics allow you to adjust it however you like. Viewing angles are excellent, which is great for co-op games and gets bright enough to overcome glare in most lighting conditions. It's not the best for dark rooms, though, as its low contrast ratio and poor black uniformity make blacks look grayish.
Surprisingly, it has an excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy. It has near full coverage of the sRGB color space, and while its coverage of the Adobe RGB color space is good, it's not enough for professional content creators. Additionally, it can't display a wide color gamut, since it doesn't support HDR. Response time is excellent, and there's also an optional black frame insertion feature that can help reduce the appearance of motion blur.
It supports FreeSync natively, but it's also compatible with recent NVIDIA graphics cards. Input lag is exceptionally low, even when variable refresh rate is enabled. It's not the most feature-rich monitor out there, but you do get some integrated speakers if you don't have dedicated ones. If you're on a budget and need something with good overall performance, this is a great choice.
If you find the ASUS VG279Q a bit too large, then check out the Dell P2417H. Its smaller 24 inch screen is well-suited for tight spaces like dorm rooms, and it can also be an advantage over larger monitors, as the increased pixel density on the smaller screen makes text and images look sharper. It has great ergonomics that allow you to adjust it to your optimal viewing position easily, and its build quality is just as good. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform much better in dark rooms due to its IPS panel's low contrast ratio, and the black uniformity is poor, as there's severe clouding throughout the screen. It doesn't get very bright, so it's best to use it in a moderately-lit room. Lastly, it doesn't support variable refresh rate of any kind, and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz. On the upside, it comes with four USB ports, with two of them conveniently located on the side to charge your mobile devices.
Overall, if you can stretch your budget, the ASUS is a better choice, as it has a larger screen, a higher refresh rate, and it supports FreeSync. However, if you prefer a smaller monitor and don't mind compromising a bit on performance, the Dell is a decent alternative.
The best budget gaming monitor we've tested so far is the ViewSonic XG2402. It's a compact 24 inch 1080p monitor that stands out for its superb motion handling. It has an exceptionally fast response time that results in almost no motion blur, and its 144Hz refresh rate makes motion look incredibly smooth. It supports Freesync natively to help minimize screen tearing and is compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC. Its response time is excellent when playing at 60Hz, making it a good option for console gaming.
Unfortunately, this monitor isn't ideal for dark room gaming, as its TN panel's low contrast ratio makes blacks look grayish. It gets bright enough for use in a moderately-lit room; however, it struggles to overcome glare in bright lighting conditions even though it has great reflection handling. Its mediocre viewing angles cause images to look washed out from the sides, but thankfully, it has good ergonomics, so it's easy to adjust it to your optimal viewing position.
Despite its budget price, it comes with two USB 3.0 ports, integrated speakers, and even some LED lighting on the back. There's no HDR support, but you do get a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain during those long gaming sessions. Overall, it's a great gaming monitor that's wallet-friendly and that most gamers should be satisfied with.
If you tend to game in a dark room, then you should go with a VA panel monitor like the AOC CQ27G1. It has a significantly higher contrast ratio than the ViewSonic XG2402, allowing it to produce deep and inky blacks. It has a 1440p resolution that makes images look much sharper and it also has a 144Hz refresh rate. It has a great response time, low input lag, and it supports FreeSync natively. It has an optional black frame insertion feature that can help improve motion clarity; however, it can't be used at the same time as variable refresh rate. Of course, there are a few compromises, it has worse viewing angles, a lower peak brightness, and there's a lot of backlight bleed.
For most people, the ViewSonic is better, as it has better overall performance and more features. However, if you want better dark room performance, the AOC is a great 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. It 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-the-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 that 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 it's 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 that we've tested.
08/04/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
06/05/2020: Replaced Dell P2417H with ASUS VG279Q, replaced Dell P2217H with Dell P2417H.
05/08/2020: Replaced the Samsung CF398 by the AOC CQ27G1, updated notable mentions to reflect the current market.
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.