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 is the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. This 1440p 27 inch screen is geared towards professionals and has thin bezels and superb ergonomics. You can easily adjust the height of the screen or swivel it to portrait mode, and its bezels make it a good option for a multi-display setup. The stand is fairly small but prevents most wobble, and it feels fairly solid and well-built overall.
It uses an IPS panel which gives you excellent viewing angles, great if you need to share work with a coworker. It can get bright enough to easily fight off glare in a bright environment, and its colors are quite accurate out-of-the-box, making it a very good choice for media creation. While its 75Hz refresh rate isn't as high as some dedicated gaming displays, it's still good for a budget option, and it even supports variable refresh rates to help reduce screen tearing while gaming.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support HDR, which could be disappointing if you like to game on your PC. Its contrast ratio and black uniformity are also only mediocre, though this is to be expected from something with an IPS panel. Overall, this is an impressive option, especially considering its budget price point, and is among the best computer monitors we've tested.
If you want something a bit smaller, check out the Dell P2417H. It can't get as bright as the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV, and its ergonomics aren't as good, but its smaller screen size makes it better-suited for tight spaces, and helps keep text looking sharp, even with its lower 1080p resolution. While its ergonomics aren't as good, its height can still easily be adjusted, and you can swivel it to portrait mode. It feels equally well-built and has four USB ports on the side of the screen to easily plug in your devices. Unfortunately, as is expected from an IPS panel, it has a low contrast ratio, as well as poor black uniformity, resulting in severe clouding throughout the screen. It also has a lower 60Hz refresh rate, and it doesn't support any form of variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing while gaming.
Overall, if you'd rather a larger screen with better ergonomics and higher peak brightness, go with the ASUS; however, if you're limited on space and want something smaller, consider the Dell.
The best budget monitor for gaming that we've tested is the ViewSonic XG2402. It's a compact 24 inch 1080p option 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, it 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 most gamers should be satisfied with it.
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 monitor for office use that we've tested is the Dell U2415. The screen's a bit taller than most with a unique resolution of 1920x1200, so there's a bit more space for multitasking. It has a versatile stand that allows swivel, tilt, and height adjustments, and you can switch it into portrait mode if needed, or easily adjust the height for a more comfortable and ergonomic work station.
The viewing angles are also good, so you can share your work with colleagues without the image distorting. 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 it 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.
10/01/2020: Replaced the ASUS VG279Q with the ASUS ProArt Display PA278QV. Moved the VG279Q to 'Notable Mentions'.
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.