At Laptop Mag, we know a thing or two about the best cheap monitors. We've rounded up a best cheap monitors list -- some tested by us, others were thoroughly researched. We did the work so you don't have to.
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- We tested a 144Hz gaming monitor and a 360Hz gaming monitor
You should also know that an expensive price tag isn't an indicator of quality. While you're seeking to purchase the best budget monitor, you'll want to make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck. At the same time, protecting your wallet comes with some sacrifices -- you'll have to make some trade-offs somewhere, whether it's screen size, brightness, refresh rate or another attractive feature. This buying guide will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of our top picks for the best cheap monitors of 2020. This way, you can choose the monitor that's right for you.
If you don't want to make the mistake of buying the wrong budget monitor, stick around to find out top recommendations.
What are the best cheap monitors?
With such a budget-friendly price range, you should expect screens that are less than 30 inches and have 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, but not higher. Some of the monitors we looked at use IPS display technology, but the majority use the older TN panels, which often suffer from narrower viewing angles and less accurate color. You may also give up conveniences like built-in USB connections, faster refresh rates and height-adjustable stands.
That being said, the monitor that will give you the best bang for your buck depends on what you're looking for. If you want a cheap monitor with the best overall display, check out the Dell Ultrathin S2419HM Monitor. If you're looking for a best budget monitor for gaming, look no further than the ViewSonic Elite XG270. Laptop Mag editors took this monitor for a spin while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Lara Croft's blue-and-gold tunic caught their eyes on the Elite XG270’s panel; they could even spot the stitching on her sleeves.
The best cheap monitors you can buy today
1. Asus VS278Q-P
Best cheap monitor overall
Display: 27-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 60hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
There's a reason why the Asus VS278Q-P, rated 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon, is one of the best budget monitors out there. Customers who've had the pleasure of taking this beautiful monitor home gush about its sharp, crisp visual quality -- it's not as visually pleasing as a 4K monitor, of course, but the picture quality is impressive.
The Asus VS278Q-P monitor has a quick response rate of 1ms, which is particularly useful for games requiring fast reflexes or precise timing. This is a great selling point for gamers: in gaming situations where the difference between life and death is measured in milliseconds, having a speedy response rate is crucial to have an edge over your opponents.
The Asus VS278Q-P also features six visual presets: Scenery, Theater, Game, Night View, sRGB and Standard
This monitor is compatible for VESA mounting so that you can neatly place it on your wall. This 27-inch display is perfect if you're a budget-conscious consumer seeking cheap alternatives for your artistic, gaming or office needs.
2. HP Omen Monotor
Best budget gaming monitor with FreeSync
Display: 24.5-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: DisplayPort, HDMI, audio output, USB 3.0, | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 144hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
HP sells the Omen in several display sizes, but let's zoom in on the HP Omen 24.5-inch model that you can snag for less than $250. What we love about the HP Omen as the best cheap monitor is that it has everything a gamer needs to have a satisfying, immersive gaming experience.
It has a super-fast response rate of 1ms, it has a 144Hz refresh rate and it has AMD FreeSync, which is a technology that reduces input lag, screen tears and monitor stutter so that you can sweep the leaderboards and dominate fast-paced gameplay.
It also has an anti-glare panel, so if the sun is beaming at you through your windows, you won't be obstructed by its rays. This monitor also has tilt adjustment and wide viewing angles.
3. ViewSonic Elite XG270
Best cheap gaming monitor with best refresh rate
Display: 27-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, DVI, VGA | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: 240hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
For just $429, you can get the best cheap monitor for gaming. The ViewSonic Elite XG270 gaming monitor features a 27-inch, 1920 x 1080 display clocked at a 240Hz refresh rate with a 1 millisecond response time.
This IPS panel also comes with HDR10 support and is compatible with both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. It beat the 99% projected color rating, covering 132% of the sRGB color gamut and averaged 277 nits of brightness, which is pretty solid. If you're looking to play eSports games like Overwatch or CS:GO, this is a great budget monitor.
See our full ViewSonic Elite XG270 review.
4. Dell SE2417HG
Best budget monitor for viewing Netflix
Display: 23.6-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, audio-out, VGA | Response time: 2ms | Refresh rate: 60hz | VESA mount compatibility: No
Dell is targeting gamers with the SE2417HG monitor due to its 2ms response rate. Sure the the 24-inch Dell SE2417HG monitor would make an OK entry-level gaming monitor, but customers lauded the Dell SE2417HG as a perfect monitor for family entertainment activities, such as browsing through the internet and watching Netflix. Amazon reviewers also gushed about the Dell SE2417HG monitor's sharp, high contrast picture quality.
The Dell SE2417HG is easy to assemble, has a robust stand and has a matte-finish screen. The latter helps to minimize reflections from indoor lighting for a better viewing experience.
It's also worth noting that this monitor is the highest-rated on this buying guide with 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
5. Asus VS248H
Best budget monitor with awesome brightness
Display: 24-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, DVI, VGA | Response time: 2ms | Refresh rate: 60hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
The 24-inch Asus VS248H is a solid option for the bargain hunter. It offers a decent-size display, quick 2 millisecond response times and Asus’ standard three-year warranty. While the color accuracy (Delta-E of 0.10) and gamut (108 percent) aren’t anything special, it does offer some of the better brightness of the low-priced models we tested, averaging 241 nits. Additionally, the monitor’s controls are easy to see and use, thanks to clear labels and placement along the bottom of the bezel.
6. Acer KG251Q bmiix
Best cheap monitor with slim bezels
Display: 24.5-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, VGA | Response time: 1ms | Refresh rate: Up to 75Hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
Looking for a budget monitor with stunning good looks? The 24.5-inch Acer KG251Q bmiix monitor is perhaps the most modern-looking display on this buying guide. Its super-slim bezels and sleek design is a head turner for sure. If you want to impress your friends and family with a slender, slick monitor without breaking the bank, the Acer KG251Q bmiix is the monitor for you.
Customers praise the Acer KG251Q bmiix monitor's color accuracy and a bright display. However, many warned that the monitor will require some fine tuning and tweaking once you've pulled it out of the box for the best visual settings.
Video editors and photo editors seemed to enjoy this entry-level monitor as well. Gamers will appreciate that this monitor supports AMD FreeSync technology.
7. Dell SE2416HX
Best budget monitor from Dell
Display: 23.8-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, VGA | Response time: 6ms | Refresh rate: 60hz | VESA mount compatibility: No
The SE2416HX is the best cheap monitor from Dell. It has an attractive price for a 24-inch display. Viewing angles are quite good; thanks to an IPS panel. Its color accuracy is solid (0.11) -- if not the best we’ve seen -- and its 108% of the sRGB color gamut is in the middle of the pack.
However, there are some trade offs for the cheaper price tag. The Dell SE2416HX monitor suffers from dimmer-than-average brightness (averaging 179 nits) and slow response times (6 milliseconds) that result in image smearing when viewing fast-paced video or games. The monitor has an attractively sleek design with inputs for both HDMI and VGA, but it lacks any mounting support. It is covered by a one-year warranty.
8. ASUS VS228H-P
Best budget monitor with great color accuracy
Display: 22-inch (1920 x 1080) | Ports: HDMI, DVI, VGA | Response time: 5ms | Refresh rate: 60hz | VESA mount compatibility: Yes
The Asus VS228H-P monitor has a bargain price, but it comes at the expense of screen size, offering a 22-inch screen with a basic TN panel.
The display itself is capable, if not impressive: It boasts an average brightness of 184 nits and accurate color (Delta-E 0.10) while covering a fair amount of the sRGB gamut (110 %). The monitor also offers some versatility, thanks to VESA-mount compatibility and an audio jack for connecting speakers or headphones (when connected over HDMI). It comes with a generous three-year warranty.
How to choose the best budget monitor for you
In this price range, expect screens that are less than 30 inches and have 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, but not higher. Some of the budget monitors we looked at use IPS display technology, but the majority use the older TN panels, which often suffer from narrower viewing angles and less accurate color. You’ll also give up conveniences like built-in USB connections, faster refresh rates and height-adjustable stands.
Let's talk screen size. Monitors can be anything from 20 inches to 49 inches, more or less, in size. But if you don't want to spend too much on a monitor, you'll have to settle for a screen display that's under 30 inches.
You'll also want to consider resolution, which refers to the number of horizontal and vertical pixels -- the higher the number, the sharper your display will be. However, when it comes to cheap monitors, it's not likely that you'll get anything higher than 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels). The bigger your screen gets, the higher the resolution should be. For example, a 1080p monitor might be fine on a 24-inch monitor, but not so much on a 27-inch monitor because it would have to "stretch" itself to fit more screen real estate.
There are four main types of panels: TN, IPS, VA and OLED. TN and VA panels are usually the least expensive. On the plus side, TN panels feature decent response times and low input lag, but tend to offer not-so-great color richness and viewing angles. VA panels offer better contrast and vibrant colors, but typically are not recommended for budget gamers (TN may be a better choice for response rates, but you'll have to sacrifice image quality). IPS offers better image quality than TN and VA panels, but the response time may be subpar for a gamer. IPS panels are best for creators (e.g. video editors, image editors) seeking the best cheap monitor. OLED is the priciest option -- you likely won't find this premium panel on a cheap monitor.
If you're planning on mounting your monitor to a VESA mount, you'll want to make sure the monitor has VESA-mount compatibility.
Perhaps you'll want a cheap monitor that change angles, and if that's the case, look out for cheap monitors with tilt adjustment capabilities.
You'll also need to observe which ports you'll need. Most current laptops, for example, use one or more of the following for display connections: HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C (Thunderbolt 3). You'll want to double-check to see if your chosen monitor can effectively connect with your laptop.