A monitor might not always seem like the most necessary thing. If you're working on a laptop, you might already feel like you've got a good enough display, and maybe you spend most of your time gaming on a 4K TV. With those two displays already available, a monitor can come across as pointless, but there's actually a fair bit of value to get out of a decent monitor, and you won't have to spend too much either.
There's a wide variety of affordable monitors, and our top picks all offer at least a Full HD picture to ensure clarity for your work or games. The big perk is that most also deliver much more screen real estate than a laptop display to spread out multiple windows without shrinking text to illegible levels. It's also helpful to use a monitor as a second screen to get work done more efficiently. They also can have an edge over TVs, with a tendency toward fast response times and better handling of fine print (think all the black text on white backgrounds). If you've got a lot of work to do, these perks can make a computer monitor absolutely worth having around, and our budget picks will make it easy to find one that gets the job done affordably.
TL;DR – These are the Best Budget Monitors:
- Dell UltraSharp U2422H
- Asus VA24DQ
- Philips 288E2E
- Asus ProArt Display PA278QV
- AOC 27G2
- Viotek GFI27DBXA
- LG UltraWide 34WL750-B
- Dell C1422H
1. Dell UltraSharp U2422H
Best Budget Monitor
Dell’s UltraSharp U2422H provides a quality and affordable starting point for kitting out your desk with a monitor that does a bit more than the basics. The monitor provides a 23.8-inch display that’ll be a considerable jump over the laptop display you might be used to working on. That’ll provide a bunch more space for multitasking, getting a close look at fine details, or seeing more of large spreadsheets at once.
The display has a 1080p resolution that’s fairly basic at the budget-side of the market, but it actually has a variable refresh rate that can go up to 76Hz for slightly smoother visuals. While the display doesn’t offer much more visual excitement, Dell does provide some added convenience. The monitor can connect to the computer over HDMI and DisplayPort, but it also has a USB-C hub with display support, so you can connect a laptop to it and keep your desktop accessories plugged into the monitor for easy plug-and-play capabilities. That USB-C connection can also see it connect simply with phones that have a desktop experience, like the Samsung Galaxy S21’s Dex mode.
2. Asus VA24DQ
Ultra Cheap Monitor
Are you on the hunt for a super cheap display that gives you loads of extra workspace for your laptop or completes a desktop setup? Enter in the Asus VA24DQ. For under $200, you get a 23.8-inch monitor with a Full HD resolution. Its IPS panel offers a 178-degree viewing angle to ensure you have an easy time seeing the screen from just about anywhere. That’s essential as this pick only comes with a simple stand that only tilts and can be otherwise wall mounted.
The Asus VA24DQ comes packing a few extra smarts as well. You get support of Adaptive-Sync and FreeSync technology for smooth, tear-free visuals. And, the refresh rate of 75Hz is decent for the price, so it should also be able to handle some graphically intensive activities like gaming or video editing. Plus, with anti-flicker and low blue light features, you'll find you have less eye strain after looking at the screen for hours. The monitor itself connects newer hardware over HDMI or DisplayPort, while older hardware can connect over VGA. It even includes a 3.5mm audio port to conveniently connect headphones or computer speakers. And, if you want to arrange multiple monitors together, the thin bezels at the sides of the display will make for a tidier setup.
3. Philips 288E2E
Best Budget 4K Monitor
If you're after a 4K picture, you should make sure it's a good-looking picture and not just a sharp one. The Philips 288E2E can help with that, and it doesn't break the budget. This monitor comes in at just over $300, and it's packing all of its 8+ million pixels into a 28-inch panel for incredible sharpness. It may not blow you away with its brightness at 300 nits, but in most indoor settings, that'll be plenty bright as long as the sun is shining right onto the screen.
Where the Philips 288E2E steps things up is with its color. Using FRC, it's able to reproduce 1.07 billion colors for a rich color palette that covers 120% of the sRGB space. This monitor even has a variable refresh rate from 40Hz to 60Hz, giving it a bit more flexibility in how you use it. And, with two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort connection, you can set it up at the center of a multi-system setup. Whether that setup is for work, play, or both is up to you.
4. Asus ProArt Display PA278QV
Best Budget 1440p Monitor
If you need more space and resolution from a budget monitor, then the Asus ProArt Display PA278QV is what you're looking for. This 27-inch monitors gives plenty of space for your work, and it keeps the pixel density reasonably high by jumping the resolution up to 1440p. Going from 1080p to 1440p may not seem like a big difference, but it's actually close to double the number of pixels.
The Asus ProArt Display PA278QV not only delivers more picture in terms of size and resolution but also through speed. The display can run at up to 75Hz, giving you a 25% uptick in smoothness compared to standard 60Hz monitors. Better still, this bright IPS display offers 100% coverage of the sRGB color space and comes factory calibrated and is verified by Calman to have a Delta E below 2, so you'll get accurate colors you can rely on for work. The monitor has a few extra work-friendly features as well, including USB 3.0 passthrough and a versatile stand for flexible positioning options.
5. AOC 27G2 Gaming Monitor
Best Budget Gaming Monitor
A lot of gaming equipment can be on the expensive side, but there are the occasional gems that land at a budget price. That's the case with the AOC 27G2. This gaming monitor gives you an excellent 27 inches of screen, which is plenty to play on, and it uses an IPS panel rather than a cheaper TN panel. It's limited to a 1080p resolution and isn't the brightest at 250 nits, but that's definitely acceptable for gaming if you can avoid sunlight shining directly on your screen.
That 1080p resolution will also be easier for your system to drive, which means you can take better advantage of the 144Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming. And, if you're not always hitting 144 frames per second, FreeSync or G-Sync can keep your games looking good. As a nice bonus, this affordable monitor even has a fairly adjustable stand with a slot for routing your cables.
6. Viotek GFI27DBXA
Best Budget HDR Monitor
Who’d have guessed we’d be turning to a gaming monitor just to get a solid HDR experience from a budget display? Well, with everything the Viotek GFI27DBXA is offering in the $300 ballpark, we can’t really find a good reason to recommend anything else for HDR on a budget.
This monitor not only provides that excellent blend of size and clarity with a 27-inch, 1440p panel but also packs in a delicious IPS panel that steps things up in every department. It’s brilliant at a 600-nit peak brightness and combines with a 10-bit color depth for some quality HDR visuals. With a 180Hz refresh rate, it’s also incredibly smooth. Heck, it’s even got a highly adjustable stand.
7. LG UltraWide 34WL750-B
Best Budget Ultrawide Monitor
The LG UltraWide 34WL750-B sits right on the cusp of our self-imposed $500 budget but it’s all so worth it. This 34-inch ultrawide monitor sports a 21:9 monitor for the largest amount of screen real-estate on this list. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the monitor sports a sharp 3440 x 1440 resolution that gives you plenty of room to work and play.
It also happens to meet the HDR10 spec with a color depth of 1.07 billion and a peak brightness of 430-nits. You can also use this monitor as a USB-C hub for any laptops or smartphones you plug into it.
8. Dell C1422H
Best Budget Portable Monitor
For a monitor that’s not only affordable but also portable, you want to snag the Dell C1422H. This 14-inch display gives you some extra screen real estate, so it’s great for mobile use or as an additional monitor for your permanent workstation. Most importantly, it’s compact enough to go with you anywhere. However, to keep it lightweight, there is no built-in battery. Instead, a USB-C cable connected to your computer will transmit both power and image to the screen.
Offering up a Full HD 1080p resolution with crisp, vibrant visuals, the Dell C1422H also totes an anti-glare IPS panel featuring a 300-nit peak brightness. You won’t have to fuss over finding the right angle to get good visibility, though a built-in tilt stand that goes from 10 degrees to 90 degrees will ensure you get the best view possible. This makes it an especially handy device for presentations. The display also offers a 60Hz refresh rate, which is great for getting work done, but it’s not the best for heavy gaming, especially with no G-sync or FreeSync support.
Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam