Best budget monitors in 2023


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Jun 21, 2023

Best budget monitors in 2023

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good monitor these days — here's what you need to know. Not everyone needs a 4K monitor or has the budget for one, including the hardware needed to push

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good monitor these days — here's what you need to know.

Not everyone needs a 4K monitor or has the budget for one, including the hardware needed to push smooth frame rates at that resolution. The good news is that even value-orientated monitors are generally great these days, as panel technology has matured to the point that both IPS and VA are viable options. Maybe you need specific features, like USB-C input, to use with one of the best laptops as a one-cable connection for power and display. Or you could want a faster refresh rate for high-intensity gaming use.

Whether your goal is productivity or gaming, we’ve got you covered with the best budget monitors available.

Calman Verified for color accuracy

The Asus ProArt PA278CV is a great all-rounder, with a high-resolution panel that is Calman Verified for great color accuracy out of the factory. It also comes on a great stand, which features height, swivel, tilt, and pivot adjustments.

Creators need a monitor with great color accuracy, so that they can be sure their creative vision is going to look how they want it to. The Asus ProArt PA278CV is an excellent choice for creators on a budget, with Quad HD resolution and a color-calibrated screen straight from the factory. This monitor has a 27-inch IPS screen with Quad HD (2560x1440) resolution. That’s plenty crisp for desktop use or photo editing, and will be great for documents or media use. It also has a 75Hz refresh rate with Adaptive Sync, so it can be used for light gaming as well.

The stand has plenty of stability, according to our reviewer, and it has rotation, tilt, and height adjustments. It also can swivel to put the display into a vertical orientation, if you need that workflow. Asus has a generous port selection here as well, with four USB-A ports, 3.5mm audio, HDMI 1.4, two DisplayPort 1.2, and a USB-C port with DP Alt mode. That means you can charge your laptop at up to 65W while using the same USB-C cable to provide an image to the display.

Of course, the selling point of this monitor is the Calman Verified panel, which Asus says covers 100% of the sRGB and Rec. 709 gamuts. That’s in line with our testing, which showed the panel covers 100% of sRGB, 81% of AdobeRGB, and 86% of DCI-P3. It won’t rival more expensive professional displays, but at this price, it doesn’t have to.

Covers all the basics

The HP 24mh is a great monitor to pair with a first computer or to add a second monitor for productivity tasks. It comes with a Full HD IPS panel, a 75Hz refresh rate, and a fully adjustable stand which is rare at this price point.

Sometimes, all you need is a basic monitor to get you started, or as a way to add a second screen to an existing setup. The HP 24mh is a perfect choice for this, and it’s my recommendation for those on a tight budget. While it’s a fairly basic 24-inch, Full HD (1080p) resolution panel, it uses IPS technology which promises wide viewing angles and decent color. That’s not a given on any cheaper display, and the panel HP has used runs at 75Hz, so it’s going to give you smooth desktop transitions and animations.

Connectivity-wise, you get HDMI and DisplayPort, and a rarity – a VGA port in case you want to use an older computer. That makes it great to rescue an aging PC from the scrap heap, upcycling it into a homework machine. It also has in-built stereo speakers, so you don’t have to budget for audio output early on.

The design is fairly dated by modern standards but does still have impressively small bezels on the top and sides. The stand is better equipped than most, as well, with tilt and height adjustments and the ability to turn the display 90 degrees. That makes it perfect for scrolling through feeds or Slack, or whatever other chat programs you use daily.

Again, if all you need is a basic screen, why spend more on things you don’t need? The HP 24mh covers all the basic needs, and we’ve regularly seen it cheaper than the $150 MSRP, which is already a great deal.

Fast refresh rate

The Asus TUF VG259QR is a solid gaming monitor with a 24.5-inch Full HD IPS panel with great viewing angles that budding competitive gamers will appreciate. It has a smooth 165Hz refresh rate with Adaptive Sync, for buttery smooth frames during frantic gaming sessions.

Not every gamer wants to run high-resolution displays or has the PC hardware required to do so. And that’s totally fine. After all, most esports players run 24-inch Full HD (1920x1080) displays since it means being able to keep the entire screen in the center of your vision. That’s what we’ve got here, with the Asus TUF Gaming VG259QR. The Full HD panel also has a 165Hz refresh rate and Adaptive Sync for smooth frames when gaming.

While most cheaper gaming monitors use VA panels, this Asus display uses IPS. That means, while it sacrifices some contrast level, it has wider viewing angles and better color accuracy. IPS also handles fast motion better than VA, with less blurring, so your experience will be better. Asus rates this monitor at 300 nits brightness, so it’ll be plenty bright enough for indoor use.

You’ll need to use DisplayPort to get the full 165Hz refresh rate, as it is limited to 120Hz on HDMI. Asus also includes Adaptive Sync, which works with both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards to match the display’s refresh rate to the frame rate put out by the monitor. This makes things look smoother and removes visual artifacts like screen tearing. Something has to be left out on a budget monitor, and in this case, it’s additional connectivity. There is no USB-C input and no USB hub for additional ports. That’s probably a decent trade-off to get a fast refresh rate panel on a budget.

Quality visuals and handy connectivity

The Gigabyte M27Q has a speedy Quad HD 27-inch IPS panel with a 170Hz refresh rate, perfect for gaming use. It also has an inbuilt KVM, which allows control of two devices with the same keyboard and mouse.

While it’s becoming more common to have multiple monitors, sometimes you want to have multiple devices plugged into one monitor. This could be for using a laptop alongside a desktop PC, or even a tablet. The Gigabyte M27Q enables this with an inbuilt KVM, allowing you to control two devices from the same keyboard and mouse when plugged into the monitor.

To do this, one of the two devices needs to be using USB-C with DP Alt mode. Many recent laptops have this functionality, including MacBooks and Windows devices. You could also control an iPad or Android tablet, making your desk a productivity powerhouse. While the USB-C port can charge mobile devices at 10W, you'll need to have a secondary power source for larger devices. You also get two HDMI 2.0 ports and a DisplayPort 1.2 port for additional connectivity.

Of course, all the connectivity tricks in the world wouldn’t replace a good-quality display. The M27U has a Quad HD (2560x1440) IPS panel, which boasts wide viewing angles and good color accuracy. It’s also got a 170Hz refresh rate with Adaptive Sync, so it is equally at home on the virtual battlefield as it is when creating documents. Gigabyte says the display has 350 nits of brightness and is VESA Display HDR400 certified for HDR performance.

Our favorite budget-friendly 4K monitor

The Dell S2721QS is one of the best-looking budget 4K monitors you can buy today. It supports HDR, and has 99% sRGB coverage, so everything you put on this screen will look fantastic.

The Dell S2721QS is a great 4K UHD monitor, especially for those who are looking for high resolution on a budget. It uses a 27-inch IPS panel with a 3840x2160 maximum resolution. That’s about as small a display as I would recommend for UHD, as you don't really get many benefits from that high resolution at smaller sizes. It has classic Dell styling with thin bezels and will look good on almost any desktop.

The picture quality of this Dell display is going to be great, with a peak brightness of just under 400 nits and an IPS panel with a 4ms response time. What it might struggle with is gaming use, as the lower response time and 60Hz refresh rate will hold it back somewhat. Dell has put AMD FreeSync support into this display, though, which makes it a bit more usable for gaming.

The included stand is sturdy and supports tilt, pivot, swivel, and height adjustments. It has two HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. You also get stereo speakers, which will get you started without needing any other audio equipment. While it does support HDR, the lower brightness means I don’t recommend buying this display for HDR use. The peak brightness is too low for even HDR400 certification, meaning SDR content will look better.

Replace two monitors with this ultrawide beast

The Gigabyte G34WQC is a 34-inch ultrawide monitor with a 21:9 aspect ratio for immersive gaming experiences. It has a fast 144Hz refresh rate and is curved to wrap around your peripheral vision.

Using multiple monitors for productivity is great, but what if you’re bothered by the bezels in between them? Putting an ultrawide monitor on your desk is one answer, replacing two screens with one at a much wider aspect ratio. The Gigabyte G34WQC has a 34-inch VA display that has a 1500R curve to wrap around your field of view, keeping every point at a comfortable distance.

While that additional width on the display panel is great for immersive gaming, that’s not all an ultrawide is good for. I wouldn’t be without one nowadays, as I can have two web browsers side-by-side for checking facts while writing. Not that this panel isn’t great at gaming too, as it has a 144Hz refresh rate with Adaptive Sync to support AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-SYNC. The included stand is adequate for keeping the large monitor stable and features height and tilt adjustments. It won’t rotate into portrait orientation without first going onto a VESA monitor mount, as the stand isn’t tall enough.

The VA panel is rated for 350 nits of brightness and has a DisplayHDR 400 certification. That’s the bare minimum for HDR performance these days, as you really need 1,000 nits of peak brightness or more for a good HDR experience. It’s also rated for 120% sRGB coverage and 90% DCI-P3, although we’ve not had the chance to test this for ourselves. The main drawback to the VA panel is that it doesn’t have the wide viewing angles afforded by IPS or other screen technologies like OLED. This might not be an issue if you sit right in the center of your screen.

Affordable USB-C connectivity

The ASUS VA24DCP is an affordable way to connect up a USB-C device to your desktop monitor, adding a second screen to many laptops or for using an iOS or Android device as a desktop replacement.

With more and more laptops or mobile devices supporting USB-C DP Alt mode output, you might be looking to add a second screen for productivity. No doubt you’ve noticed that most of the monitors with USB-C input are higher-priced alternatives, but not this Asus VA24DCP.

The 23.8-inch Full HD display uses an IPS panel running at a 75Hz refresh rate. That’s already great specifications for a monitor of this price, but then this display has a few more awesome features. Firstly, it supports Adaptive Sync for smooth video playback and even some light gaming. It’s also got a wide viewing angle, thanks to the IPS display. It does only have 250 nits of brightness, but that’s perhaps expected of a screen at this price point. It has nice colors, high contrast, and is great for everyday use. It isn’t a great choice for creatives who need color accuracy on their monitor, but other options on this list cater to those needs.

Connectivity-wise, it has a single HDMI port and a USB-C input. The USB-C also supplies up to 65W of charging power, enough for all but the most power-hungry laptops on the market. The other thing you miss at this price is a fully-adjustable stand. The display can tilt up and down, but that’s it, with no height or swivel adjustments possible.

Portable 2K display

Portable monitors are becoming more common, but none are as good value as the Arzopa Portable Monitor 2K. The 13.3-inch Quad HD screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio for better productivity use, and it can connect via one USB-C cable or USB-A and HDMI.

If you’re used to having multiple displays at home, working on the go from a single laptop screen can feel like you’re being unproductive. The solution is to carry a small portable monitor like this 2K one from Arzopa, which gives your laptop a second screen at a moment’s notice.

The best part about this monitor is that it is a one-cable affair, for the most part. It uses USB-C DP Alt mode for both display and power, so as long as your laptop has a USB-C output, you’re off to the races. That also means it’s great for Samsung’s DeX mode, turning any Galaxy handset into a laptop replacement. It can also be used with iOS devices, but you will have to get the cable separately. It's also a great screen to use your Nintendo Switch in docked mode with, so you can still be mobile but have a larger screen to play on.

The 13.3-inch screen is a perfect size to keep in your laptop case, ready to set up any time you want to work. It’s actually a little over Quad HD resolution, as due to the 16:10 aspect ratio, it works out at a resolution of 2560x1600. The screen has a 60Hz refresh rate, and some user reviews mention that it works with AMD FreeSync, even though the display is not certified for this. It also comes in a stylish case that folds into a kickstand, which is handy.

While deciding which of the best monitors belonged on this list, we had a short list of features to look for. These include multiple connectivity options, good image quality, and at least a 24-inch display panel. I recommend the Asus ProArt PA278CV as my top choice, as it fulfills all of these requirements while also having factory-calibrated color accuracy, and Adaptive Sync with a 75 Hz refresh rate. It also has additional connectivity options, including USB-C with DP Alt mode and 65W power pass-through, to charge tablets and laptops while they're being used.

Quality Quad HD display

The Asus ProArt PA278CV is a great all-rounder, with a high-resolution panel that is Calman Verified for great color accuracy out of the factory. It also comes on a great stand, which features height, swivel, tilt, and pivot adjustments.

Gamers will be well-served by the Asus TUF Gaming VG259QR, which is a 24.5-inch, 1080p panel with a 165 Hz refresh rate. It’s also G-SYNC compatible and supports AMD FreeSync Premium for smooth variable refresh rate gameplay. For a hair over $200, that’s a fantastic set of gaming-focused features.