The Best Budget Gaming Monitors in 2021

In the world where top gaming monitors sell for four-figure numbers, you would think that a quality gaming monitor has to cost a small fortune. But the reality is different. Unless you demand the ultimate HDR experience there are excellent budget monitors out there that can offer most of the features found in high-end models. The thing is, the budget monitor market includes tons of models, and finding the best budget gaming monitor can be a tricky business.

Instead of scouring the internet for days to find the monitor that suits your needs, check out our list of best budget gaming monitors. It’s pretty diverse. We have high refresh rate models on offer as well as 1440p monitors. The list also includes a couple of niche picks such as ultrawide and curved monitors. And when it comes to refresh rate, they all have high refresh rate panels, which is the most important feature for many gamers. Let’s check them out.

asus tuf gaming vg279ql1a
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 2560 x 1440, 170Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort 1.2

The ASUS TUF Gaming VG279QL1A is quite impressive for its price. It comes with a 1440p IPS panel that has an amazing SDR color gamut along with a pretty solid wide color gamut, used with HDR content. Colors aren’t great out of the box but with a bit of tweaking, you should get quite good results.

As for the contrast, it’s below par, like on most other IPS gaming monitors. Still, it goes over 1000:1 value, better than on many pricier models. The regular peak brightness value is pretty good, making the monitor great for bright rooms. HDR brightness can almost reach 480 nits, which is enough for this model’s DisplayHDR 400 spec but the experience isn’t great due to just four edge-lit local dimming zones.

The usual issues with IPS glow and backlight glow are also here, resulting in poor black uniformity. That said, the ASUS VG279QL1A is great for gaming. Aside from great colors, it has excellent response time, ultra-low input lag, 170Hz max refresh rate (easily reachable with OC), and is G-Sync compatible. Finally, the monitor is well-built and it features a simple yet good-looking design.

Pros:
  • Excellent Colors After Calibration
  • Superb Response Time For The Price
  • Well-Built And Good Looking
  • 170Hz Refresh Rate And 1440p At A Very Attractive Price
  • G-Sync Compatible
Cons:
  • Contrast Is Below Par
  • Noticeable IPS Glow And Backlight Bleed
  • Poor Factory Calibration

Acer Nitro VG271

Best Budget 144Hz Gaming Monitor

acer nitro vg271
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 1920 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort

If you want excellent and saturated colors to go along with high refresh rate and low response time, check out the Acer Nitro VG271. This monitor features a pretty good IPS panel that has low response time but also much better color performance than TN panels. 144Hz refresh rate works excellent if you have a powerful enough GPU, with zero ghosting and both Freesync and G-Sync support for zero tearing experience. Viewing angles are also great.

Contrast is surprisingly high for an IPS panel and maximum brightness can reach almost 450 nits. This is an excellent result for SDR content but HDR experience is limited. At least you get HDR on a budget monitor, so that’s something. When it comes to performance, the only major downside is noticeable IPS glow. The build quality is pretty good but the stand is pretty basic. There’s no height adjustment whatsoever and the stand only supports tilting the display. Also, there’s the issue of 1080p resolution on a 27-inch display.

Overall, the Acer Nitro VG271 is an excellent high refresh rate gaming monitor for gamers on a budget. IPS panel means excellent color performance and wide viewing angles. This model also has excellent contrast for an IPS monitor. The Acer Nitro VG271 is also a decent choice for watching movies and other multimedia since it has a pretty good color performance.

Pros:
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Rich And Saturated Colors With Very Bright Display
  • Freesync And G-Sync Compatible
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Excellent Contrast For An IPS Monitor
Cons:
  • Barebones Stand
  • 1080p On 27-Inch Display Looks Grainy
  • Noticeable IPS Glow

BenQ ZOWIE XL2731

Excellent 144Hz TN Gaming Monitor

benq zowie xl2731
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 1920 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: TN
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort, DVI-D, Headphone Jack

While not the fastest budget TN monitor on the market the BenQ ZOWIE XL2731 comes with a 144Hz refresh rate which is still blazing fast for most users. The high refresh rate is combined with a TN panel and the result is surprisingly good. Color performance is decent, contrast is one of the highest you’ll see on a TN panel, and response time is extremely fast enabling zero smearing and zero blur gaming experience.

Max brightness reaches about 320 nits, which is an excellent result for a gaming monitor. You can play your favorite games in a brightly lit room and still see all details thanks to the high brightness. The monitor also comes with some gaming-specific settings that reduce overall color accuracy but increase details in dark scenes, which can help you see enemies before they see you. You also get Freesync and G-Sync support, and they both work rather well.

When it comes to the build quality the BenQ ZOWIE XL2731 is built like a tank. The stand is also well built and it supports swivel, tilt, and height adjustment of 140mm. Overall, this is another excellent choice for gamers on a budget. TN panel doesn’t offer the best color performance but this panel does offer pretty good colors along with solid contrast for a TN monitor. On the other hand, gaming performance is excellent, with low input lag, fast response time, high brightness, and various settings that can make details pop in dark areas.

Pros:
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Display Is Bright And Has Solid Contrast For A TN Panel
  • Superb Build Quality
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Freesync And G-Sync Compatible
Cons:
  • Average Color Performance
  • 1080p On A 27-Inch Display Can Look Pixelated

Acer KG241Q

Extremely Affordable 24-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor

acer kg241q
  • Size: 24 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 1920 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: TN
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort

The Acer KG241Q is a very affordable 24-inch monitor that comes with a 144Hz refresh rate, making it an excellent choice for esports gamers who are on a tight budget. Gaming performance on this monitor is pretty good thanks to the low response time, solid brightness, and Freesync support. Color performance is average, as is the contrast. But in fast-paced games, this doesn’t matter much and what is important is that high refresh rate and the Acer KG241Q definitely delivers in that department.

The build quality is only decent and the provided stand is very limited. You get tilt and that’s about it. The design is also dated, with thick bezels and visible OSD buttons on the front. On the flipside 1080p on a 24-inch monitor looks pretty good so there isn’t any pixelation, especially if you turn antialiasing in games on.

Overall, this is a pretty good and very affordable budget 144Hz monitor. It doesn’t have the best color performance but its gaming performance is superb for the money. And for gamers on a tight budget who prefer playing fast-paced esports titles, that’s all that matters.

Pros:
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Very Affordable
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Freesync And G-Sync Compatible
Cons:
  • Average Color Performance
  • Poor Contrast Even For A TN Panel
  • Barebones Stand
  • Dated Design

AOC CQ27G1

The Best Budget 1440p Gaming Monitor

aoc cq27g1
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 2560 x 1440, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: VA
  • Inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort

If you’re looking for a fast refresh rate gaming monitor with 1440p resolution the AOC CQ27G1 should make it to your shortlist. This is a budget 27-inch 1440p monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate based on a VA panel. It offers excellent gaming performance thanks to the low input lag and quick response time. There’s no VA smearing or ghosting no matter which refresh rate you pick. Colors are also great out of the box as is the contrast ratio that’s excellent even when compared with other VA monitors.

The AOC CQ27G1 excels both in gaming and color performance making it a great all-around budget monitor. You can play games at high refresh rates and have a magnificent experience but you can also enjoy movies and even use this monitor for color-accurate work (in that case you’ll have to calibrate the display). The cherry on the top is full Freesync support along with G-Sync compatibility. On the flipside, the brightness is average but high enough for enjoying content in all environments sans outside, directly under the sun. Also, viewing angles are poor, but the image is excellent when sitting right in front of the monitor.

One feature that may divide users is the 1500R curvature. It makes games more immersive but the curve might bother users who want to use this monitor for color-critical work or video editing. When it comes to build quality, it’s excellent for the price. The stand is also well built and it supports tilt, swivel, and height adjustment with a range of 138mm. Overall, this is an excellent budget 1440p gaming monitor that runs at 144Hz. It has excellent performance and the only major downsides are poor viewing angles and average max brightness.

Pros:
  • Excellent Gaming And Color Performance
  • High Contrast
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate And 1440p Resolution At Budget Price Point
  • Freesync And G-Sync Support
Cons:
  • Not Very Bright
  • Poor Viewing Angles
  • The Curve Might Bother Some Users

ViewSonic VX2758-P-MHD

144Hz 1080p TN Gaming Monitor With Rich Colors

viewsonic vx2758-p-mhd
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 1920 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 1ms
  • Panel Type: TN
  • Inputs: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort

The ViewSonic VX2758-P-MHD offers a high refresh rate and 1080p resolution on a TN panel that has a pretty good color performance. Unlike most other TN panel monitors, this one has rich and saturated colors that make this monitor great for movies and other multimedia, not only for gaming. And when it comes to gaming performance, this monitor rocks. Low response time combined with high refresh rate, Freesync, and G-Sync support makes the VX2758-P-MHD one of the best budget 27-inch gaming monitors out there featuring a TN panel.

When it comes to viewing angles they could’ve been better but the image is fine when sitting in front of the monitor. Brightness is also pretty solid but there are brighter models out there that sell for similar amounts of money. What we don’t like is the stand, which supports tilt and nothing else. No height adjustment is a negative even for budget monitors these days. And, of course, there’s the issue of having a 1080p resolution on a 27-inch monitor. Overall, this is a pretty good choice for budget gamers. Color performance is better than on most other TN monitors while the gaming performance rocks. On the flipside viewing angles are poor, there’s no height adjustment, and the contrast is average.

Pros:
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Color Performance Is Great For A TN Panel
  • 144Hz Refresh Rate
  • Freesync And G-Sync Support
Cons:
  • No Height Adjustment
  • 1080p Resolution On 27-Inch Monitor Can Look Pixelated
  • Average Contrast
  • Poor Viewing Angles

Sceptre C305B-200UN

The Best Ultrawide Budget Gaming Monitor

sceptre c305b-200un
  • Size: 27 Inches
  • Maximum Resolution And Refresh Rate: 2560 x 1080, 144Hz
  • Display Response Time (Advertised): 5ms
  • Panel Type: VA
  • Inputs: HDMI x 3, DisplayPort

Those looking for an ultrawide gaming monitor had to pay a fortune to get one just a couple of years ago. But today there’s a nice selection of budget ultrawide monitors and the Sceptre C305B-200UN is one of the best in the 29-30-inch category. It has a 200Hz refresh rate and 1080p UW resolution (2560 x 1080) that looks excellent on a 30-inch ultrawide display. Its gaming performance is pretty good but the monitor can exhibit some ghosting on the highest refresh rates. You can lower the native refresh rate in Windows settings, which can noticeably reduce the amount of ghosting.

As for the color performance, it’s solid but not the best among VA panels. It’s more than good enough for gaming and it’s even fine for watching movies. That said, anyone who needs a monitor for color-accurate work should skip this one. Another slight downside is max brightness. It isn’t disappointing but it also won’t win any awards. Contrast is pretty high and while clearly better than on TN and IPS panels, it doesn’t match the best results among VA panels.

The 1800R curvature increases immersion while playing games and it can also improve movie watching experience, in case you’re watching movies yourself while sitting right in front of the monitor. For certain use cases though, the curvature can be an issue. When it comes to build quality, it pretty solid for the price. The stand feels rigid but it only supports tilt function. No height adjustment or swivel here. Overall, this is a pretty good budget UW gaming monitor. It doesn’t have the highest brightness and it does show some ghosting when running at 200Hz but lowering the native refresh rate should deal with the issue and still keep the high refresh rate performance of this monitor.

Pros:
  • 200Hz Refresh Rate At A Budget Price
  • Pretty Good Gaming Performance
  • 30-Inch Ultrawide Screen Is Great For Gaming
  • Excellent Contrast
  • Freesync Support
Cons:
  • Not The Brightest Panel We’ve Seen
  • Ghosting Is Present At The Highest Refresh Rate
  • Stand Doesn’t Offer Height Adjustment
  • Curved Screen Might Be An Issue For Some Users

How To Choose A Budget Gaming Monitor

Picking a budget gaming monitor can be a drag because there’s a huge difference in performance and image quality between different budget models. When in the market for one you should focus on what you need the most since you can’t get everything in a budget monitor.

If you’re a fan of fast-paced esports games focus on gaming performance, response time, Freesync and G-sync compatibility, refresh rate, and input latency. Color performance and stuff like HDR should take a backseat.

If you rather play single-player games and an occasional multiplayer title you don’t need an ultra-fast response time. Even something like 100 or 120Hz should be enough. Also, image quality should be an important factor if your games of choice are single-player titles. Below you’ll find other important things to focus on when in the market for a budget gaming monitor.

Don’t Forget About Brightness

The maximum brightness on a monitor shouldn’t be overlooked. Some budget models are quite dim and can ruing gaming experience if you play games in a brightly lit environment. The best way to test this is to watch the monitor in person. But if you cannot do that, know that something like 240-250 nits of brightness should be enough to enable pleasant gaming in a brightly lit environment. In a dim room and during the nightly gaming sessions, even 230-240 nits can be too bright for some users. If you want to give your eyes some protection against bright screens and long gaming sessions, the thing about getting some gaming glasses.

You Can Find 1440p 144Hz Displays In The Budget Market

While the budget high refresh gaming monitor market was limited to 1080p models there was a shift some time ago and 1440p models started entering the market. Prices are affordable enough these days that you can find a quality 1440p 144Hz budget gaming monitor. Just do your research and look for expert and user reviews and don’t forget to check out the monitor you’re interested in person if possible before buying it.

Most Gamers Shouldn’t Go For Anything Higher Than 144hz

While a high refresh rate does drastically improve the gaming experience, these gains become academic once you pass the 120Hz mark. Most gamers don’t need anything more than 120Hz or 144Hz in order to enjoy high refresh rate gaming in all its glory. Focus on 165Hz or higher refresh rate monitors only if you play esports titles on a semi-pro basis since there are some gains (although very small) to be had when running a 240Hz monitor.

Make Sure That The Monitor You’re Interested In Has Enough Video Inputs

This can creep behind you and ruin a perfectly fine monitor. Before even thinking of buying one check out whether the said monitor has all the video ports you need. Some users maybe want to run the same device on two PCs or to hook up their gaming PC along with multiple consoles and in the budget market, many monitors come with only two ports, three at best.

Many Budget Gaming Monitors Support Both Freesync And G-Sync

While the full G-Sync support is reserved for high-end monitors (the G-Sync adapters cost a pretty penny), many budget models include Freesync support along with G-Sync compatibility. This isn’t official G-Sync support but it does mean that the monitor in question will work fine with adaptive sync and an Nvidia graphics card.

Some models do have certain issues (image flickering, weird image artifacts) when running adaptive sync on Nvidia cards so make sure to read expert and user reviews that tested Nvidia cards and adaptive sync feature on the monitor you’re interested in.

1080p On A 27-Inch Display Can Help When Playing Esports Titles

Look, the truth is that 1080p resolution on a 27-inch monitor doesn’t look great. The image can be grainy when you look closely at it but during frantic scenes in most competitive multiplayer shooters, you’ll hardly notice the pixelation.

On the other hand, those who prefer single-player games and visuals over high refresh rates should definitely check out a 27-inch 1080p monitor in person before buying it. Antialiasing definitely can help but in slower-paced games and titles focusing on visuals, the image can look a bit too blurry (if using antialiasing) or overtly grainy (without AA).

Differences Between TN, VA, And IPS Panels

Last but not least, let’s talk a bit about the differences between the three types of panels in the budget gaming monitor market. If you want an in-depth article about different display panels, here’s a good one.

TN (twisted nematic) panels offer the best response times, lowest input lag, and no ghosting. On the other hand, they don’t have the best color performance, they lack in contrast, and have poor viewing angles. Just remember that viewing angles on modern TN panels aren’t as bad as before. They look fine when viewed from an angle and show color degradation only when looked from extreme angles that are near their maximum viewing angles. TN-based monitors are the best choice for esports gamers and those who prefer response times and refresh rates over image quality. In fact, most budget gaming monitors under $200 use TN panels.

Next, we have IPS (in-plane switching) displays that offer the best colors and viewing angles but also excellent response times (on high-end panels) and very high refresh rates. In fact, the first 360Hz gaming monitor features an IPS panel. Even IPS panels found on budget monitors offer very good response time and virtually zero ghosting. That wasn’t the case back in the day when IPS panels had very slow response times on average.

But even modern IPS panels suffer from poor contrast (even high-end models have low contrast ratios) and IPS glow, which is usually less prevalent on more expensive monitors. They are also the most expensive to make so they are usually reserved for mid-range and high-end monitors although you can find budget gaming monitors with pretty good IPS panels.

Finally, we have VA (vertical alignment) panels. These come with excellent colors and the best contrast out of all three popular panel types. They offer deep blacks and great image quality. But they are the slowest when it comes to response time and cheaper panels can show noticeable ghosting even when you turn on the response time overdrive setting.

VA panels also have poor viewing angles that are present even on high-end models. They can also exhibit black smearing (lack of details in dark scenes). But response times are perfectly acceptable on quality VA panels and VA monitors can offer high refresh rates, up to 240Hz. They are more suited for 60Hz gaming but you can find budget VA gaming monitors that offer excellent response times and virtually zero ghosting.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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