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You can have the most powerful gaming machine on the planet, but without a decent monitor, its potential will be wasted. Getting a good monitor used to mean forking over a considerable amount of dough, but today it is easy to find affordable monitors with impressive specs.
While we found that there is no single “best gaming monitor under $200” due to all the varying features monitors can have these days, we picked our top seven favorites and reviewed each one. We’ve also included a guide at the end of this article to help let you know how to make the right choice when spending your hard earned dollars.
How to Pick the Best Gaming Monitor Under $200 for Your Needs
Picking a monitor these days is not nearly as cut and dry as it was in the past. Not only do you have resolution and size to worry about, but also refresh rate and even more mystifying things like curvature and aspect ratio. Sadly, covering every minutia of various monitor features is far beyond the scope of this article, so we’ve narrowed it down to a few of the most important things you need to know.
Resolution and PPI
As most people already know, resolution is the measurement of how many pixels there are along the length and height of the monitor. You may have already noticed when shopping for the best monitor under $200 that you will pretty much exclusively find 1080p monitors.
This is where PPI comes in. PPI stands for pixels per inch and is a good way to compare two monitors that have the same resolution. Despite the fact that most of the monitors on our list have the same resolution, the PPI varies because the size of the monitors varies.
Smaller monitors with the same number of pixels will have higher pixel density, or PPI, resulting in them looking sharper when viewed from close up. The highest pixel density on our list is found with the LG 25UM58-P which has a PPI of 111 thanks to its 2560×1080 ultrawide resolution.
Most gamers are already familiarized with the importance of refresh rate. Refresh rate is measured in hertz, or Hz, and is a measurement of how many frames the monitors can display per second.
Higher refresh rates can offer smoother movement with less induced blur than lower refresh rates. This can actually lead to a competitive advantage in games as higher refresh rate monitors will show an enemy emerging through a doorway, for example, a brief moment before lower refresh rate monitors.
This smoother and more immediate motion makes a very noticeable difference in fast-paced games. As I mentioned, my first time playing Doom 2016 on a high refresh rate monitor was a life-changing experience that sold me on high refresh rate technology forever.
One of the more misunderstood aspects of monitors is panel type. Panel type refers to the actual method being used inside the display to render colors and images. This means that the type of panel being used in a given monitor has a huge impact on the color quality and vibrancy that the monitor is capable of.
TN Panels. At the lower end, you have the TN panels. Again, getting into the more nuanced differences between monitors and the technology behind them is far beyond the scope of this article, but we will cover the most profound differences between panel types. TN panels are typically the most inexpensive to produce and have poor color production as well as poor viewing angles. However, TN panels have a propensity for speed and are commonly found in very high refresh rate and low latency monitors.
VA Panels. Moving up the scale we have the VA panels. These panels have improved color accuracy and vibrancy compared to TN panels, but still suffer from poor viewing angles. This means that if you move too far to one side or another the colors can easily become distorted.
IPS panels. These are considered the epitome of color and vibrancy. Monitors that use these types of panels often have full sRGB color gamut coverage, meaning they are great for tasks like photo editing or color grading where having accurate true to life colors matters.
Response time is a measurement of how long it takes for the pixels in a monitor to turn from one shade of grey to another, or sometimes from white to black. If the response time of a monitor is too high it will not be able to keep up with the refresh rate of the monitor and the result is a streaky and blurry mess, even at high frame rates.
For a 144Hz monitor each frame is on screen for just under 7ms, which means that all of the monitors on our list have pixels that can transition from one state to another before the next frame is ready. Ultimately, panel type will have a much more pronounced effect than response time on the overall quality of the image on your screen.
TN panels are most often at 1ms.
VA panels range between 3-5ms.
IPS panels are usually 5ms but can be 4ms. It’s not a big difference either way.
It’s important to note that not all monitors fit into these ranges, but most of the monitors that we recommend here on PCGuide do.
We always try our best to give the most accurate recommendations and satisfy all of our beloved readers. Please also check our roundup of best gaming monitors under $150 if every monitors that we’ve listed above are a little bit outside of your current budget.