The best computer in the world is near useless without a monitor for visual output, and for gaming specifically, if you’ve put together a gaming rig, you’re going to want to pair it up with a good monitor to see the games you’re playing on.
There are all sorts of gaming-centric features available in modern monitors. In the past, many of these features were limited to pricey top-end gaming, but over time we’ve seen functionality that was once the reserve of expensive premium gaming displays gradually filter down towards mid-range and even lower end. These days, there are options in budget-friendly price ranges that offer functionality like higher frame rate displays, where up to 144Hz frame rates are starting to become far more mainstream. There are also variable refresh rate technologies like AMD’s Freesync technology, and Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, that result in far smoother gameplay performance.
It would be a real shame to go to all the effort of putting together or buying yourself a gaming rig, only to let a dated or otherwise not fit for use monitor hamper your gaming experience. It’s entirely possible to pick out a gaming monitor that can offer you excellent image quality, performance, and offer a high resolution and detailed picture. Here is our roundup of the best gaming monitors you can buy today without breaking the bank.
Screen size: 24 inch
Pixel Density: 91.79 ppi
Refresh rate: 144Hz
VRR: Freesync & G-Sync
Input lag: 4.1 ms
Panel type: TN
- Freesync and G-Sync Compatible
- Highly adjustable viewing position
- Features a USB hub
- Resolution is adequate, not spectacular
- Has fairly large bezels
- Black & Red colour scheme may not suit all users
This is our top choice for a budget gaming monitor. You could pay a lot more for a larger or higher resolution display monitor, but in the 24 inch/1920x1080 range this screen is tough to beat.
You get variable refresh rate support for both compatible Nvidia and AMD graphics cards via both G-Sync and Freesync, so you can get smooth gameplay even in demanding scenes that push your hardware to the limit. It’s also got a relatively low input lag of just 4.1 ms, which whilst not the least input lag of any monitors on the market, is certainly fast enough to satisfy most players outside of professional-level competitive gaming.
It’s also a highly adjustable monitor, with adjustable height, swivel and tilt, to ensure that you can get the best view of the action possible, and achieve a comfortable gaming position during lengthy play sessions.
Particularly nice is the ability to pivot 90 degrees with ease, for portrait aspect ratios. This is great for Tate mode games like vertical scrolling shmups or pinball games. There are loads of modern games on PC that use a vertical screen orientation, plus a tonne of classic arcade games playable on modern PCs, and a monitor that can easily switch between orientations is a really nice bonus. Beyond gaming, this is also useful for anyone who may want a vertical monitor for productivity reasons. If you are buying this as a primary monitor today, you may end up using it as a secondary monitor in the future, and this flexibility could be really useful down the line.
Things to consider
There are larger and higher resolution monitors out there, but if you are in the market for a 24-inch 1920x1080 display, this makes an excellent choice, and it’s a big step up compared to a monitor not optimised for gaming.
Screen size: 21.5 inch
Pixel Density: 102.46 ppi
Refresh rate: 75Hz
Input lag: 10ms
Panel type: IPS
- Modern stylish design
- Freesync support
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Just 21.5-inch display
- No G-Sync support
- 10ms input lag
This is the best performing monitor in the under $100 range, for people on a particularly tight budget, this is a great choice. Despite its budget price, Acer has done an excellent job putting together a very capable monitor that can’t hope to match the quality and features of more premium displays but is still very capable in its own right.
The biggest drawback with a cheaper monitor like this with regards to gaming is the lower framerate. This display is capped at 75Hz, so you have to give up on the dream of high framerate gaming. Not a dealbreaker for many users, and if you’re already bottlenecked in that regard by your GPU or CPU, then the monitor is not going to hold you back.
It does still feature AMD’s Freesync variable refresh rate functionality, so you still get smooth gameplay when your system can’t quite maintain a solid 75Hz. Sadly there is no support for Nvidia’s G-Sync, which will limit your options. The input lag is 10ms, so just not the fastest on the market, but certainly within the range of acceptable for gaming, and very competitive for a monitor in this price range.
At only 21.5 inches, it's not the largest display, but it certainly doesn’t look cheap, so if you don’t need a larger screen, and you’re looking to save a few bucks, this is a great choice.
Things to consider
You’re missing out on higher framerate gaming with this screen, but if you don’t plan on going into high framerate gaming anyway, this should be more than adequate for your gaming needs.
Screen size: 27 inch
Pixel Density: 108.79 ppi
Refresh rate: 75Hz
Input lag: 13 ms
Panel type: IPS
- Larger resolution
- Big screen real estate for the price
- Limited frame-rate
- No variable frame-rate
For those of you after a larger and higher resolution monitor, this 2k monitor from ViewSonic is a solid choice. Still, within what we consider the budget price range, this monitor gives you a 2560 x 1440 resolution on a large 27-inch monitor.
The framerate is limited to just 75Hz, so you’re not going to get any higher resolution gameplay on this display, but for many users, this is still plenty. It’s not the best pick for anyone hoping to be competitive at twitchy fast-paced games like shooters, but for primarily single-player gamers, or those who enjoy turn-based or more cinematic games, 75Hz should be plenty.
There’s also no support for any kind of variable refresh rate with this display, so you may experience stutter when your rig is pushed to the limit. Not a deal-breaker, but it is a compromise worth bearing in mind.
The input lag is 13 ms, so the largest in this roundup and players who are particularly sensitive to latency in games may feel this difference, but for most players, the difference of a couple of milliseconds will be imperceptible.
Things to consider
This is a monitor to get if you want the highest resolution and largest display at a reasonable price. You’re giving up on advanced gaming features like VRR and low input lag, but it’s still a great screen for the price.
These are our top picks for gaming monitors that come in at reasonable prices. Like many components, you can spend a little or you can spend huge sums depending on your budget and requirements, but we think this selection will satisfy many users without asking for astronomical prices. What are the most important features in a monitor for you? Do you plan on going for a more premium gaming monitor, or will one of the monitors featured here suit your needs. Let us know how you get on in the comments.