Buying a new gaming monitor can add quite a bit of extra cost onto a new PC build, but the good news is that there are plenty of great gaming screens out there for less than £300 / $300. In our round-up of the best budget gaming monitors you can buy today, we show you that it's perfectly possible to get a great display with all the modern conveniences you'd expect from a top notch gaming monitor, including high refresh rates and even a 4K resolution in some cases, without breaking the bank. Whether you're upgrading an old screen or buying one for the first time, here are our top gaming monitor picks for those on a budget.
Buying a cheap gaming monitor can be fraught with problems when there are so many different models to choose from. At this end of the price spectrum, it's very easy to run into screens with mediocre colour accuracy and poor contrast, leaving colours looking washed out and lacking in detail. Many don't have height-adjustable stands, either, forcing you to prop them up on books to get a good viewing angle.Best graphics cards | Best CPU for gaming | Best gaming monitors | Best SSDs for gaming Best gaming headsets | Best gaming keyboards | Best gaming mouse | Best VR gaming monitors | What is HDR? | G-Sync vs FreeSync vs G-Sync Compatible
In our list of the top five budget gaming monitors, we believe all of these screens represent great value for money. All of them have been tested in-house, so we know exactly what these screens are like to use on a daily basis, and their image quality is absolutely superb. Nearly all of them come with height-adjustable stands, too, giving you plenty of flexibility to get the perfect viewing angle. We also explain all the different monitor types and whether you should get one with FreeSync or G-Sync in our FAQ section at the bottom of this article. For now, though, here are our top budget gaming monitor recommendations available right now.
The best budget gaming monitors 2021
AOC 24G2UThe best budget gaming monitor
The AOG 24G2U is hands down one of the best gaming monitors we've ever tested. Its 1920x1080 looks sharp and crisp on its 24in display, and its 144Hz refresh rate gives it plenty of headroom for playing games at high frame rates. Its IPS panel also produces wonderfully accurate colours straight out of the box, letting you get straight down to the business of playing games without spending ages tweaking its onboard menu settings.
Officially, this AMD FreeSync screen isn't one of Nvidia's certified G-Sync Compatible monitors, but our tests showed this monitor's variable refresh rate tech worked perfectly well with Nvidia and AMD graphics cards alike. As such, anyone with an Nvidia card that wants smooth, tear-free gaming needn't be deterred from buying this screen.
The AOC 24G2U also comes with a height-adjustable stand - a real rarity at this kind of price - and its lovely thin bezels give this monitor a fresh, modern look. It's one of the many reasons why this monitor is our gaming display of choice in the RPS Rig, which is our recommended PC build for less than £1000. In short, the AOC 24G2U is a brilliant budget monitor, and our number one pick for those after a great value gaming screen.
What we like:
✔️ Superb colour accuracy
✔️ Smart design with a height-adjustable stand
✔️ Great value for money
Read more in our AOC 24G2U review
AOC C24G1The best curved budget gaming monitor
Before the AOC 24G2U came along, AOC's curved C24G1 was my number one gaming monitor of choice for those on a budget. It's very similar to the 24G2U, admittedly, as you get the same 24in, 1920x1080 display and 144Hz refresh rate, but the C24G1 is still a great screen in its own right, and it remains one of the best curved budget monitors you can buy today.
It's also one of the cheapest monitors on this list, coming in under £200 / $200. That's a great price for what's on offer here, especially as you still get that all-important height-adjustable stand, too. Indeed, you may be wondering what's so great about the 24G2U when the C24G1 gets you a lot of the same features for less. Indeed, if all you're after is a great quality panel, then the C24G1 is a great buy if you don't mind its light curve. If you prefer a flat panel that comes with lots of extra features, though, such as a pair of in-built speakers and a USB3 hub, then the 24G2U is the one to get.
As we said earlier, we're still big fans of the C24G1, and it continues to be a great value display if you want something curved. We should note, though, that it has been replaced by the newer C24G2U now, which has an even higher 165Hz refresh rate, and adds in those missing speakers and USB hub. We've yet to review that model, but we'll do our best to get it in for testing asap.
What we like:
✔️ Super low price
✔️ Great set of features for the money
✔️ Great-looking VA panel
Read more in our AOC C24G1 review
BenQ Mobiuz EX2710The best HDR budget gaming monitor
The BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 has a lot in common with the AOC 24G2U, only here you're getting a larger 27in display, HDR support and AMD FreeSync Premium support. Admittedly, its 1920x1080 resolution doesn't look quite as sharp as the 24G2U when it's spread out over 27in, but it's still crisp enough for playing games, and in-game text is still perfectly legible. I'd strongly recommend opting for the smaller 25in model, the Mobiuz EX2510, if you plan to use it for work as well, but as a pure gaming display, the EX2710 offers great value for money.
Not only does it have a brilliantly accurate IPS panel, but its added HDR support helps make games look extra punchy and vibrant. It's not bright enough to deliver the full HDR experience (you'll need to pay a lot more money for one of those gaming monitors), but in terms of HDR's broader colour spectrum, the EX2710 delivers a great experience for the money.
Plus, its FreeSync Premium support adds AMD's Low Frame rate Compensation tech to the mix, which widens FreeSync's effective frame rate range to help you get a smooth, tear-free gaming experience at lower frame rates. Like the AOC 24G2U, it's not an officially certified G-Sync Compatible monitor, but I didn't have any trouble at all getting its FreeSync tech to work with an Nvidia graphics card. As a result, it's a great pick for AMD and Nvidia graphics card owners alike, and a good step up from the AOC if you want a bigger screen and entry-level HDR support.
What we like:
✔️ Brilliant colour accuracy straight out of the box
✔️ Good HDR experience
✔️ Comes with an ambient light sensor to help reduce eye strain
Read more in our BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 review
AOC C27G2ZUThe best 240Hz budget gaming monitor
While 144Hz gaming monitors are becoming increasingly common among budget circles, 240Hz displays still often demand quite a big, extra premium, making the low cost AOC C27G2ZU an even more extraordinary gaming monitor than it already is. This is by far one of the best and cheapest 240Hz gaming monitors out there right now, and another worthy step-up from AOC's 24G2U if you're really into competitive esports games and want the highest frame rates possible.
Like its smaller sibling, the C27G2ZU's curved VA panel delivers wonderfully accurate colours straight out of the box, along with deep blacks and great contrast. Again, its 1920x1080 resolution isn't the sharpest thing in the world on its 27in display if you're hoping to get some work done on this during the day, but it's perfectly fine for playing games.
Plus, if you want to save even more money, it's also available in a slightly cheaper model - the AOC C27G2ZE - which comes with a fixed stand rather than a height-adjustable one and removes the speakers and USB ports. Personally, we think the C27G2ZU is worth the extra cash, if only so you get the benefit of its more flexible stand. Whichever one you go for, though, this is a great value 240Hz monitor, and one of our favourite budget picks in recent years.
What we like:
✔️ Sleek, curved design
✔️ Superb colour accuracy, deep blacks and great contrast
✔️ A great value 240Hz panel for high frame rate gaming
Read more in our AOC C27G2ZU review
BenQ EL2870UThe best 4K budget gaming monitor
Most budget gaming monitors limit you to a 1920x1080 resolution, but for those that favour more pixels as opposed to high refresh rates, the BenQ EL2870U is the best budget 4K monitor money can buy. It doesn't have as many bells and whistles as some of the other monitors in this list, but its 28in TN panel provides plenty of room for juggling multiple desktop applications, and games have never looked sharper.
Naturally, you'll need a pretty hefty PC to play games smoothly at 4K, but even if your rig isn't quite up to the task of running games natively at this resolution, you still get the option of playing at 1080p and 1440p, too. In short, it gives you plenty of headroom for further upgrades down the line, and it's a monitor that gives your PC room to grow.
The EL2870U also has a top notch TN panel, and its rudimentary HDR support is perfectly serviceable for the money. Much like the BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 above, it's only able to deliver on the colour side of HDR rather than the eye-searing brightness bit, but it still produces a great image that really makes your games sing. It's a great monitor for the money, and you'll be hard-pushed to find a better 4K screen for less.
What we like:
✔️ Loads of space for everyday desktop tasks
✔️ Its 4K resolution makes games look sharp and crisp
✔️ A surprisingly good TN panel
Read more in our BenQ EL2870U review
Frequently Asked QuestionsAre cheap gaming monitors worth it?
Absolutely. As you can see from our selection of gaming monitors above, it's very easy to find a great gaming screen with accurate colours, a high refresh rate and a height-adjustable stand without breaking the bank. They provide everything you need for a top notch gaming display, and there's really no need to spend any more unless you're absolutely desperate for a screen with a higher resolution, for example (in which case, have a read of our round up of the best 4K gaming monitors), or you want to go all out on an all-singing, all-dancing HDR display.
It'd be a different story if the best monitor you could get for under £300 / $300 limited you to just a 60Hz refresh rate, say, or only came with a fixed stand, in which case we'd probably urge you to save up a little extra for those quality of life conveniences. Thankfully, we've moved past that point now, and today's budget gaming monitors are some of the best in the business.Should I buy a G-Sync or FreeSync gaming monitor?
Now that Nvidia have conceded the great G-Sync vs FreeSync war with the release of their G-Sync Compatible driver, which lets Nvidia graphics card owners take advantage of a monitor's AMD FreeSync tech, anyone looking to buy a new gaming monitor today should definitely get one with FreeSync.
Freesync monitors aren't just cheaper than G-Sync monitors, but there's a lot more of them to choose from, too. Indeed, all of our best budget gaming monitor recommendations are FreeSync monitors, and they all work beautifully with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards alike. Full-fat G-Sync monitors, on the other hand, are only intended for Nvidia cards, and their proprietary G-Sync hardware makes them much more expensive. You'll still find full-fat G-Sync gaming monitors at the premium end of the scale these days, but many monitor makers have stopped making entry-level G-Sync screens in favour of FreeSync-based G-Sync Compatible ones. You can find out how to enable G-Sync on your FreeSync screen by reading our handy G-Sync Compatible monitor guide.Which is better, a TN, IPS or VA monitor?
TN, IPS and VA are all different types of panel technology, but unfortunately there's no one panel type to rule them all. Instead, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, which you can explore in more detail in our full guide to the different types. The condensed version, though, is that in terms of colour accuracy, IPS panels are the best. If it's a super fast response time you're after for twitchy esports games, then you're probably better off with a TN monitor. As for great contrast and deep, deep blacks, VA monitors are ideal.
If we had to put them in order of preference, though, we'd recommend IPS first, followed by VA, then TN. Recent advances in IPS technology have not only made their response times much faster, but some displays even rival TN screens in this department now, all the while retaining their high levels of colour accuracy. VA panels, meanwhile, are often found in curved gaming monitors, as evidenced by the curved monitors we've listed above, but these, too, have come on leaps and bounds in terms of colour accuracy and response time over the years. TN panels, on the other hand, make for perfectly adequate gaming screens, but it's still rare to find one with good colour quality.