Save on screens with the best budget gaming monitor

Best Gaming Desk HeroSource: Jura Greyling via Unsplash

Best
budget monitors for gaming
Windows Central
2022

Enjoyable PC gaming requires consideration of more than just the size of your monitor. Modern models support high refresh rates for smooth on-screen movements, and resolutions up to 1440p and 4K improve image quality. It might seem unlikely to find high-quality monitors on the cheaper end of the scale, so we found the best budget monitors for gaming, like the fantastic Monoprice Dark Matter, for that competitive edge without upsetting your wallet.

Best for 1080p: Monoprice Dark Matter 24-inch

Monoprice Dark Matter

Source: Monoprice

For gaming on a budget, it’s perfectly reasonable to aim for 1080p. This smaller resolution allows for a lighter workload on entry-level graphics cards, focusing on smoothing out jagged edges with anti-aliasing instead. The Monoprice Dark Matter is a 24-inch monitor sporting a 144Hz refresh rate, which nicely offsets the lower 1080p resolution with smooth movement, supporting AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync tech to prevent screen tearing.

Pair the adaptive refresh rate compatibility with its 1ms response time, and this Dark Matter monitor has an attractive deal for a reasonable price. The DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, and HDMI 1.4 ports provide modern high-speed GPU connectivity, and a bonus 15W USB-C port for charging your devices is alongside too, which is neat. The display has a max brightness of 286cd/m2 (or nits), which is decent for a budget monitor since anything over 250nits is reasonable for indoor use.

A single audio output is available should you need it since the Dark Matter does not include built-in speakers, which generally helps keep the cost down. Monitor speakers are rarely much to write home about anyway, so you could use this 3.5mm socket to connect some budget PC speakers instead.

Pros:

  • 144Hz
  • AMD FreeSync & NVIDIA G-Sync
  • 1ms response time

Cons:

  • 286nits brightness

Best for 1080p


Monoprice Dark Matter

Monoprice Dark Matter 24-inch

For the best 1080p gaming @ 144Hz

Monoprice pinches the top spot with their fantastic Dark Matter monitor, perfectly centered for all specifications. 1080p gaming at 144Hz with fast response and anti-tearing tech pairs with a brightness good enough for the price.

1080p alternative: Acer Nitro VG240Y 24-inch

Acer Nitro VG240Y

Source: Acer

Acer offers a similar solution to 1080p gaming at 144Hz with its Nitro monitor, this time with a more futuristic-looking aesthetic in its stand. It includes DisplayPort 1.2 and two HDMI 2.0 ports for connectivity, officially supporting AMD FreeSync for reduced screen tearing. A single HDMI cable comes in the box, so if your GPU needs a DisplayPort cord instead, order one in advance.

It’s worth noting that although Acer officially recognizes their support of AMD FreeSync with this Nitro monitor, it also works with NVIDIA G-Sync technology, as do many others. So if you have a compatible GeForce GPU, you can still enjoy the same benefits of reduced tearing on fast-moving objects. Pair this with the 1ms response time, and it’s one of the best 1080p gaming monitors for fast-paced gaming.

The brightness is a little underwhelming at 250cd/m2, just at the border of being acceptable, countered by its low price. Overall, the Acer Nitro is fantastic value for money if you’re not interested in any resolution higher than 1080p for the next year or so. The sleek design means it looks cool next to other gaming peripherals, too. It’s a great budget choice.

Pros:

  • 144Hz
  • AMD FreeSync
  • 1ms response time

Cons:

  • 250 nits brightness

1080p alternative


Acer Nitro VG240Y

Acer Nitro VG240Y 24-inch

Gamer-centric alternative

Acer leans more heavily into the gamer aesthetic with a sleek design on their Nitro monitor, offering similar specifications for more 1080p gaming at 144Hz. Slightly lower brightness is still acceptable, considering the lower asking price.

Best for 1440p: LG 27QN600-B 27-inch

LG 27QN600-B

Source: LG

Although 1080p still appears in Valve’s Steam hardware surveys as the most common resolution used today, 1440p is gaining popularity as an attainable in-between. It’s perfect for PC gaming, offering something more than standard full-HD without requiring a high-end GPU designed for 4K. The LG 27QN600-B offers a budget-friendly method to experience 1440p gameplay by sticking to a 75Hz refresh rate, bolstered by AMD FreeSync support for smooth movement.

DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 ports connect to a beautifully bright IPS panel capable of reaching a brightness rating of 350 nits, paired with HDR10 support for stunning contrast. Although the 75Hz refresh rate might lock the frame rate to around 60 FPS, it’s still a fantastic monitor with a gorgeous 27-inch screen, taking advantage of its larger 1440p resolution.

A slightly higher-than-normal response time of 5ms isn’t noticeable unless you’re testing for it, so don’t let the number worry you. Any higher than 5ms and you might need to start considering your options, but this LG monitor is a fantastic way to enjoy 1440p gaming on a budget. If you want the balance of a higher resolution with 60 FPS gaming, this is the screen for you.

Pros:

  • 350 nits brightness
  • AMD FreeSync
  • HDR10

Cons:

  • 5ms response time
  • 75Hz

Best for 1440p


LG 27QN600-B

LG 27QN600-B 27-inch

Pushing to 1440p for QHD gaming

LG pushes the desired resolution up to 1440p, the happy medium perfect for a mid-range GPU. HDR10 brings luxury color contrast to its bright panel paired with anti-tearing tech to balance the 75Hz refresh rate.

Best for 4K: BenQ EL2870U 28-inch

BenQ EL2870U

Source: BenQ

Pushing resolution further to 4K means considering more powerful PC components, so this BenQ monitor supports true 3840x2160p while sticking to 60Hz. It’s yet another screen supporting AMD FreeSync anti-tearing tech, so you’ll at least be able to enjoy your games without irritating image sync problems, even if capped at 60 FPS. It’s suited for any PC gamer with a mid-range GPU, capable of hitting the 4K resolution but sticking to a more realistic frame rate.

Considering the 4K resolution, BenQ manages to keep the response time down to 1ms, so this is about as fast as a budget 4K monitor can be. Connect either DisplayPort and HDMI ports to a compatible GPU, and you’ll enjoy HDR10 content, plus the 3.5mm jack port compensates for the lack of built-in speakers.

This monitor is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy 4K 60 FPS gaming on a PC without sacrificing other specifications, perfect for a mid-range build aiming for 2160p. You’ll enjoy the perks of Ultra HD gaming and HDR for a low price, as long as you’re happy with 60Hz for now. BenQ has triumphed with the EL2870U, an incredible deal for 4K.

Pros:

  • 1ms response time
  • HDR10
  • AMD FreeSync

Best for 4K


BenQ EL2870U

BenQ EL2870U 28-inch

Affordable 4K 60 FPS PC gaming

Sticking to 60Hz but pushing the resolution up to 2160p, generous visuals are on offer with this affordable 4K screen. If you’re aiming for visual fidelity over frame rate, BenQ has you covered.

Best ultrawide: ASUS TUF Gaming VG30VQL1A 30-inch

ASUS TUF Gaming VG30VQL1A

Source: ASUS

So, you’ve got plenty of desk space, and you want an ultrawide monitor without breaking the bank? ASUS has answered with their TUF Gaming 30-inch curved 21:9 panel, with the caveat of using 2560x1080p. It’s about as big and wide as you should get with this resolution before noticing the difference to Ultra HD. Fortunately, it counters its reliance on a smaller resolution with plenty of other visual luxuries.

Officially supporting AMD FreeSync, it’s compatible with most NVIDIA G-Sync tech, with a refresh rate up to 200Hz. Combined with a 1ms response time, this trinity of image processing means you’ll enjoy super-smooth gaming over a cinematic aspect ratio without pushing your GPU too hard. DisplayPort and HDMI join two USB 3.0 ports for charging, with the usual 3.5mm audio jack for speakers or headphones.

It might be pushing the limits of 1080p, but this 30-inch TUF Gaming monitor still has plenty to offer. If your gaming desk has space to fit an ultrawide screen and you want to keep the spending reasonable, look no further. Its resolution will serve you fine for a few years, keeping any mid-range GPUs viable for 21:9 gaming at high frame rates.

Pros:

  • 1ms response time
  • AMD FreeSync
  • HDR10

Cons:

  • 2560x1080p

Best ultrawide


ASUS TUF Gaming VG30VQL1A

ASUS TUF Gaming VG30VQL1A 30-inch

Cinematic gaming for less

Pushing the 1080p resolution to its limits, ASUS offers the most affordable 30-inch ultrawide monitor without sacrificing other luxuries. HDR support with a low response time and AMD FreeSync make for gorgeous cinematic gaming on a budget.

Best for 240Hz: ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM 25-inch

ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM

Source: ASUS

If we’re going for maximum frame rates on a budget, we’re sticking with ASUS. The TUF Gaming VG259QM is another 1080p monitor suited for mid-range graphics cards, but this time with a refresh rate up to 280Hz when overclocked. Its full potential might be a pipedream for a budget build, but 1080p @ 240Hz is reasonable, depending on the game.

For a 25-inch monitor, 1920×1080 will be acceptable compared to the fabulously high frame rates possible around 240Hz. Certified for NVIDIA G-Sync tech and a 0.5ms response time means it’s one of the fastest monitors available at this price point. If you absolutely must have peak performance over resolution, this is for you. Competitive gamers will feel right at home pushing their games to 240 FPS and beyond for the ultimate advantage.

Still offering HDR support with DisplayHDR rated for 400 nits makes it a beautifully bright IPS panel, if a tad underwhelming with contrast. The usual DisplayPort, HDMI, and audio jack ports are present, built into a sleek design aiming for a gamer aesthetic. Impressive performance from a budget monitor, you’ll reach immense frame rates with a suitable graphics card without spending too much cash.

Pros:

  • AMD FreeSync & NVIDIA G-Sync
  • 400 nits brightness
  • HDR10

Cons:

  • Low contrast ratio

Best for 240Hz


ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM

ASUS TUF Gaming VG259QM 25-inch

Super-smooth PC gaming

When only the highest frame rates will do, this ASUS monitor can reach a maximum refresh rate of 280Hz. Sticking at 1080p means a mid-range PC could realistically aim for 240 FPS on this bright and beautiful 25-inch panel with AMD and NVIDIA anti-tearing tech.

Bottom line

Pushing your cash to the limit might allow for some of the best computer monitors around, but budget PC gaming doesn’t need to be ugly. Plenty of modern gamers still use the Full HD 1080p resolution, pushing instead for higher frame rates. That’s why the Monoprice Dark Matter 24-inch took top choice for the best budget monitors for gaming, it’s the perfect mix of features and value.

If you prefer to aim for 4K or higher refresh rates, then you have plenty of options, as long as your rig can handle the extra strain. Building a gaming PC doesn’t need to be so explicitly expensive if you cut costs on unnecessary hardware and enable lesser-known features, like NVIDIA G-Sync on a FreeSync display.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author: Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson is a freelance writer for Windows Central with technology expertise. Keeping up with cutting-edge electronics, his experience in technology sales helps him make informed recommendations. Usually fueled by coffee, you would likely find him behind one screen or another.

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