Getting into gaming and taking it seriously can be an expensive endeavor. Not only do you have to invest money in building a rig (if you’re not a console person) with components such as a CPU, GPU, RAM, hard drive, etc., but you also have to scrounge up enough cash to afford all of your peripherals. Outside of your keyboard and mouse, the most important peripheral in your gaming setup is your monitor. The good news is you don’t have to go for that ultra expensive 4K gaming monitor, there are plenty of cost-conscious yet quality options. We’ve gone on a hunt for the best budget gaming monitor and have put together a handy list just for you.
Don’t forget to also check out our guide to buying the best gaming monitor (period, not just budget-friendly options) so you can see what else is out there. In that guide, we also break down a few things you should consider before purchasing.
Finally, if you’re not seeing what you would consider to be the best budget gaming monitor here on our list, let us know about it in the comments below so we can check it out!
ASUS VG248QE 24″ (Best Overall)
We all know the name ASUS. Of course, finding the best product isn’t about picking something with the most well-known name, but it’s always comforting when you’re buying a piece of tech from a reputable company that offers a suite of gaming-related products ranging from laptops to phones and everything in between. The ASUS VG248QE isn’t part of the ROG line of products, but for the price you will pay for it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you get.
Great refresh rate. With a lot of budget gaming monitors, you won’t find the best refresh rates. Normally, in a lower price range, you’re most likely going to find a 60Hz refresh rate. However, the ASUS VG248QE makes an exception an offers a 144Hz refresh rate. This means that your fast-paced games, such as Call of Duty or Overwatch are going to look sharp in the heat of battle.
All the ergonomics. Another unfortunate sacrifice when it comes to budget gaming monitors is ergonomics. It’s not uncommon to find monitors that only have tilt adjustability (like some of the others on our list here) but the ASUS VG248QE has pretty much all of the ergonomic adjustments you could ask for. You can raise the monitor for height adjustability, it can tilt, pivot, and it can swivel which is great for developers.
Great response time. Finally, the ASUS VG248QE budget gaming monitor has an excellent response time. As is typical with TN panels, you’ll be pleased with the 1ms response time on this monitor, which means you’ll be able to react faster in the game than you might be able to if you’re using an IPS panel which typically has a gray-to-gray response time of 4ms.
Not the best viewing angles. Yes, TN panels do offer you the best when it comes to response times, but they aren’t the greatest when it comes to viewing angles or color reproduction. For the most part, you’re going to be looking at this monitor dead-on with eyes so wide open that they may begin to bleed. But, in the unlikely event that you have to look at this from an angle, you might start to notice some color shifts.
No USB ports. Last, and maybe least, the ASUS VG248QE doesn’t have any USB ports. This is a bummer considering that many of our other peripherals charge via USB, and having power coming from your monitor and not having to plug in the wall or to your gaming tower is very convenient. You also be able to use this monitor is a USB hub to pass through data. It’s just a screen that does screen things.
Samsung U28E590D (Best 4K)
Now, I know some of you reading this article are all about those pixels. The more pixels the better for folks like you. Well, if that’s what you’re into, the Samsung U28E590D is what we would consider to be the best 4K gaming monitor that fits into this price range. Given that you’re paying approximately ⅛ the price you would for other 4K gaming monitors (that, of course, have a little more to offer,) I’d say this is a pretty good budgeting gaming monitor buy.
Four 1080p screens in one. Yes, I know. That’s just another way to say it’s 4K. But, that’s a really good way for you to look at this. Just think – if you have the processing power, RAM, and GPU that can handle it, you can view four 1080p pieces of content at the same time with this monitor. On top of that, the actual picture you will get with this monitor isn’t bad at all. The colors are pretty solid, and there’s nice contrast. However, be wary of the color shift you might experience when looking at this TN panel from an angle.
Respectable performance. Even though you’ll be pushing so many pixels with this monitor, you can still get pretty good performance out of it, as long as your gaming rig can handle it. At 60Hz, you can maintain a pretty sharp picture when playing faster games, and the 1ms response time – thanks to that TN panel – is helping achieve that same thing.
AMD FreeSync ready. If you’re running an AMD GPU in your gaming rig, you have the added benefit of FreeSync with this monitor. What that means for you is your computer and monitor will be communicating with each other to mitigate screen tearing in fast-paced games. Screen tearing occurs when the GPU and the display are out of sync which results in the monitor displaying two frames at a time. This can be very disruptive in the middle of a game.
Lack of ports and speakers. Some might argue that you have all of the ports that you actually need with this monitor, but at $250, you might also expect that it have more. Here, you’ll find 2 HDMI ports, a Display Port (which you’ll need in order to get 4K at 60Hz) and a headphone jack. What you won’t get with this one is USB ports or a DVI port. You also won’t find any speakers here. Since you’re using this for gaming, you’ll likely be using headphones anyway.
Viewing angles aren’t great. Again, TN panels aren’t known for their viewing angles so much as they are known for their response time. Once you start looking at this monitor at an angle, you’ll start to notice some colorshifting. So, if you plan to use this monitor for anything other than gaming, such as watching movies, you’re going to have to sit directly in front of it.
BenQ XL2430 Zowie 24″ (Best Customization)
It’s hard to have a conversation about budget-friendly, yet quality monitors without talking about BenQ. They’re known in the gaming world for creating great products, and the BenQ XL2430 is no different. And, interestingly enough, this monitor is actually what is used in some competitive eSports competitions such as MLG CS:GO. So, if you want to have a professional monitor atop your desk, this one is worth checking out.
Super cool gaming design. There’s no arguing that most gaming gear has a certain aesthetic. From RAZER’s Chroma keyboards to ASUS’ ROG gaming phone, gaming devices have aggressive styling which really increases their appeal. The BenQ Zowie has a very unique look given how the display is mounted to the stand, and the settings controller (which we’ll get to in a second) compliments the monitor’s design. Altogether, this will just look really awesome sitting on top of your desk.
Very customizable. Speaking of the settings controller that comes with this monitor, there is a lot here in the way of customization. The settings controller, which they have deemed the S Switch, basically gives you 3 different game mode settings that you can switch between by hitting any one of the buttons. This is much more convenient than having to go into the on-screen menu to change individual settings. On top of that, there is a blue light filter option and a handful of different picture modes which make this a great monitor if you like to tune things to your liking.
All the ports. Unlike a lot of monitors you will find in this price range, the BenQ XL2340 actually has an impressive amount of ports. Here, you will find a D-Sub port, Display Port, DVI, two HDMI ports, a headphone jack and a microphone jack. On top of that, there are actually two USB ports which is practically unheard of in the affordable monitor space.
Only 1080p. Though this monitor has pretty much all of the bells and whistles you could ask for in a gaming monitor, the one thing it doesn’t have is a lot of pixels. Yep, you’re only going to get 1080p out of this guy – however, that resolution is partly responsible for the performance you’ll also get.
Console gamers not welcome. The other major downside to this monitor is that it is only compatible with Windows machines. It’s true, gaming isn’t as prevalent on Mac as it is on Windows, but this also means that you aren’t going to be connecting your console up to this which is kind of a bummer.
LG 34UM68-P 34″ (Best Ultrawide)
For you fans of the monstrous ultrawides, here’s something you might be interested in. The LG 34UM68-P (does anyone else really get a kick out of monitor names?) is a budget-friendly ultrawide that keeps gamers in mind. It doesn’t have the best features of every monitor on the market, but it’s still something worth considering.
Screen for days. So, the obvious benefit to this monitor is that you have enough screen to accomplish pretty much anything, and more than enough for gaming. In fact, some games aren’t going to support the 21:9 form-factor, but if find some that do, you can expect a pretty immersive experience. At 34” this ultrawide will be great for racing sims or RPGs where you don’t need a lot of vertical field of view. However, if you plan on playing something like Overwatch, you might actually be at a disadvantage when you can’t see enemies that are out of your vertical field of view. Just something to think about.
FreeSync. If you’re rocking an AMD GPU in your gaming rig, you can take advantage of the LG 34UM68-P’s FreeSync compatibility. Like I mentioned in regards to Samsung’s U28E590D, FreeSync basically ensures that your GPU and monitor are on the same page and aren’t trying to display more than one frame at any given time. Without it, under heavy load, there’s a chance you could experience some tearing while in gameplay.
Gaming modes. Another handy feature that makes this a great gaming monitor is that it comes pre-loaded with three different game modes. There is one for real-time strategy games, and two for first-person shooter games. If you don’t like the look that these modes give you, there’s more customization to be had with features such as Black Stabilizer which basically brightens up some of the darker areas within a game environment.
Lacking ergonomics. To be fair, you probably aren’t going to be moving a giant 34” monitor around much once you put it on top of your desk. But in the case that you might want to tilt the screen up a bit, pivot it in one direction or the other – no such luck. Height is the only thing that you can adjust with this monitor.
Lack of ports. Such is the story of our lives with these budget gaming monitors. With the LG 34UM68-P, you’re looking at two HDMI ports and one Display Port – that’s it. Missing are DVI and the sought after USB ports.
MSI Optix G27C2 27″ (Best Curved)
Curved monitors can go long way in increasing your level of immersion while in gameplay. The LG Ultrawide above has a curved display, but it pretty much has to be in order for you to take in the entire screen. However, at a normal screen size of 27”, the MSI Optix G27C2 doesn’t have to have a curved screen, but it does, and it’s great.
It’s curvy. If you’re looking for ways to increase your immersion when playing games, picking up a curved display is a good first step. It might seem odd at first, but once you’re sucked into a game, having some pixels in your peripheral view is quite enjoyable.
Great performance. It’s not all about the curve here, though. The MSI Optix G27C2 has performance that rivals that of other monitors of this size. You’ll get 144Hz refresh rate, and a respectable 4ms gray-to-gray response time. It would be nice if that response time was a little faster, but since this is a VA panel and TN, it’s to be expected.
Sweet design. Lastly, the design of the monitor is just incredible. I mentioned earlier that gaming gear has a certain aesthetic. If you’re like a lot of gamers and put a lot of time and thought into how your setup looks, you’ll be happy to find the red and black sleek design of this monitor likely fits right in.
Default calibration isn’t great. The color accuracy and white balance of this monitor aren’t the best right out of the box. Overall, the image comes across a little too cool with too much blues. However, if you play around with the picture modes that come pre-loaded, or if you happen to know somebody that knows somebody that has a screen calibrator, you can completely change the way this monitor looks and get a more true color representation.
Lacking design features. As with most monitors in this price range, there are a few things lacking in the ergonomics department. You won’t find any height or pivot adjustability with this monitor, and you also won’t find VESA mounting compatibility. There aren’t any speakers, and there aren’t USB ports. Overall, there’s still a little to be desired here.
If you’re looking for the best budget gaming monitor, you have some pretty great options available. More than likely you will end up with something that is 1080p, but you can actually find 4K at a reasonable price with the Samsung U28E590D. You can find some affordable ultrawides, and a lot of these options will still contribute to the overall aesthetic of your set up.
What would you consider to be the best budget gaming monitor? Have you already picked something up previously that you think we should check out? Let us know about it in the comments below!