If you're on a budget and you're looking for a monitor, there's a good choice you'll find a good option for your needs. Although they're usually smaller, with simpler designs and fewer added features, budget monitors can still offer a good overall user experience for work or play. Even if you're looking for a budget gaming monitor, many monitors include gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support or higher refresh rates.
We've bought and tested over 250 monitors, and below you'll find our top picks for the best monitors available for purchase at a low cost. Also, check out our recommendations for the best monitors under $200, the best budget gaming monitors, and the best 1080p monitors.
The best budget monitor we've tested is the Dell S2721QS. It's mainly designed to be an office monitor and provides excellent office performance, especially for its price. It's uncommon to find a 4k monitor at a budget-friendly price, which is why the S2721QS is a good choice, as you get a high resolution for a low cost. The 4k resolution helps result in sharp text, which makes it ideal for productivity as you won't have any issues reading text, and the 27-inch screen is big enough to open two windows side-by-side. Despite its budget price, it's a well-built monitor with impressive ergonomics, making it easy to place in an ideal position.
It's a good choice to use in a well-lit room thanks to its high SDR peak brightness and very good reflection handling, meaning you won't have any issues with visibility. It also has wide viewing angles that make the image remain consistent from the sides. There are a few downsides, though, as it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, so it isn't the best for PC gaming. All said and done, get this option if you need a 4k monitor for work.
If you want something bigger for around the same price range, you can still get the Gigabyte M32Q. By going up in size, you have to make a few trade-offs compared to the Dell S2721QS, as this monitor has a lower 1440p resolution. With the bigger screen size, it also has a lower pixel density, meaning text isn't as clear, but the text clarity is still good. It also has a higher 170Hz max refresh rate, which is great if you want to use it for gaming and you don't mind the lower resolution. It's excellent for gaming as it has smooth motion handling, low input lag for a responsive feel, and it has variable refresh rate (VRR) support to reduce screen tearing.
It's even very good for office use thanks to the extra screen size, and it has good ergonomics. One of its advantages is the remarkable out-of-the-box accuracy, so you won't need to get it calibrated, even if you're a photo editor. It also displays a wide range of colors both in SDR and HDR, making images look life-like.
If you prefer a smaller screen, particularly if you're a gamer, consider the ViewSonic XG2431. Getting a smaller monitor is generally more beneficial for gaming as you can get a higher refresh rate, but if you're using it for productivity, you don't get as much screen space. The ViewSonic has a lower 1080p resolution compared to the Gigabyte M32Q, but because of this, it's easier for your graphics card to reach the monitor's max 240Hz refresh rate. With this, you get a smoother gaming experience, and the response time is fast across its entire refresh rate range, resulting in minimal blur trail behind fast-moving objects. It also has a customizable backlight strobing feature to reduce persistence blur, which isn't something all monitors have, and is a nice addition for a budget-friendly display.
Although it doesn't have many extra features, it has a USB hub with two USB ports. It's good if you want to connect your mouse and keyboard directly to the keyboard or if you need extra USB ports for other devices. Like the Dell S2721QS and the Gigabyte, it has great ergonomics, making it easy to adjust to your ideal viewing position while gaming.
If you find the budget-friendly monitors above too expensive, look into getting a cheap monitor. While you won't get as many features with a cheap monitor as you would with a budget monitor, which tends to cost a bit more, many monitors are still good for different uses, including gaming. Something like the ViewSonic XG270 is an excellent gaming monitor with similar specs to the ViewSonic XG2431 but with a larger 27-inch screen. The XG2431 still has a few extra features, like the customizable backlight strobing feature, which explains its higher price tag.
It has a 240Hz refresh rate, so the motion handling is fantastic, especially at high frame rates. It also has low input lag for a responsive feel while gaming, and its native FreeSync FVFRR support and G-SYNC compatibility both help reduce screen tearing. While it's also good for office use thanks to its wide viewing angles and good ergonomics, it has limited text clarity due to its 1080p resolution, so you might have to increase the scaling to read text easier.
If you still want the best cheap monitor but prefer something smaller than the ViewSonic Elite XG270, then the HP X24ih is a good alternative. It has the same 1080p resolution as the ViewSonic, but with a lower 144Hz refresh rate, so while you can't use it for high-frame-rate gaming, it's good if you're just getting into PC gaming and want a simple monitor. It has remarkable motion handling as you won't notice any blur with fast-moving objects, and like with the ViewSonic, it has low input lag and VRR support to provide a great gaming experience.
If your main focus is productivity, this monitor is better than the ViewSonic. Its smaller screen results in a higher pixel density, which helps with text clarity, but you can't open multiple windows side-by-side. Still, it has a wide viewing angle that makes the image remain consistent even if you have it as your secondary display at an angle, and it gets bright enough to fight glare for use in a well-lit room.
Oct 04, 2022: Complete restructuring to reflect current prices and availability; replaced the Dell S2721D with the Dell S2721QS because it has a higher resolution; replaced the ASUS VG246H and the LG 32QN55T-B with the ViewSonic XG2431 and the Gigabyte M32Q because they're better. Removed the Acer Nitro XF243Y Pbmiiprx and the Gigabyte M27Q; added the ViewSonic Elite XG270 and the HP X24ih as 'Cheap' categories; updated Notable Mentions based on changes.
Jun 13, 2022: Restructured article to reflect user needs; added the Dell S2721D, ASUS VG246H, and LG 32QN55T-B; renamed the Acer Nitro XF243Y to 'Best For Gaming' and the Gigabyte M27Q to 'Best For Photo Editing'; removed the ASUS VG259QM, Dell S2722QC, and the Acer Nitro XV340CK.
Mar 24, 2022: Replaced the Dell S2721QS with the newer S2722QC and removed the LG 32UL500-W as an alternative; added the Acer Nitro XV340CK in a new 'Best Ultrawide' category.
Jan 26, 2022: Added the ASUS ProArt Display PA278CV as 'Alternative With Better Ergonomics' to the Gigabyte M27Q because it's available again; added the LG 32UL500-W as 'Larger Alternative' to the Dell S2721QS to reflect user needs; removed the LG 32N650-B because its price went up; updated Notable Mentions based on changes.
Nov 23, 2021: Removed the ASUS ProArt PA278QV and the Acer Nitro XV340CK as 'Best Office' because of low availability; moved the Gigabyte M27Q to a new 'Best 1440p' and added the ASUS VG259QM to an alternative; added the LG 32GN650-B as 'Best 32 Inch'; updated Notable Mentions based on recent changes.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best cheap 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.