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Best budget gaming monitor 2021: Black Friday deals on the best cheap 1080p, 1440p or 4K monitors for your PC or console

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We take you through our favourite cheap 1080p, 1440p and 4K gaming monitors

Choosing the best budget gaming monitor for you is no easy task: even after you've assembled the gaming PC, selected a keyboard/mouse and constructed the gaming chair, picking a good gaming monitor is a major hurdle to clear. The problem is, most of the best gaming monitors are seriously expensive.

Fortunately, it is still possible to nab a high-quality monitor for less – if you know where to look. You'll have to be willing to make a few sacrifices: monitor manufacturers keep the costs down by opting for less impressive panel technology, and often by removing a few quality-of-life features such as height/swivel adjustments.

If these things don't bother you – or you're desperate to save some cash – then read on. You'll find our pick of the best budget gaming monitors to buy below; before that, though, take a look at our handy guide to buying the best monitor for you (and your wallet).

SAVE on our favourite budget ultrawide gaming monitor this Black Friday

The Huawei MateView GT launched very recently and cemented itself instantly as our favourite cheap ultrawide gaming monitor. It's currently enjoying a hefty £120 discount at several retailers - and you can get a six-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for free.
Amazon
Was £500
Now £380

HP X27qc: This cracking 1440p panel is ridiculously cheap this Black Friday

Another brand-new monitor, the HP X27qc literally shone in our tests, producing unusually high brightness alongside accurate colours and a high contrast ratio. It's on offer for the first time ever at Very right now.
Very
Was £279
Now £229

Best budget gaming monitor: At a glance

  • Best budget 1080p gaming monitor: BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 | Buy it now
  • Best budget 1440p gaming monitor: HP X27qc | Buy it now
  • Best budget 4K gaming monitor: BenQ EL2780UE | Buy it now
  • Best budget ultrawide gaming monitor: Huawei MateView GT | Buy it now

READ NEXT: Our favourite gaming monitors

How to choose the best budget gaming monitor for you

Here are the things you need to consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Picking a resolution

Choosing the best resolution for you is reliant upon the kind of device you're going to be gaming on.

If you own a PS4 or Xbox One, your choice is limited to monitors that have a resolution of up to 1,920 x 1,080, more commonly known as Full HD. The Xbox One S can play 4K Blu-ray discs, and also supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), but buying a monitor that supports these things will push the price up considerably.

If you've splashed out on a PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, meanwhile, we recommend buying a monitor with a maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, or 4K/UHD. Although these monitors tend to be more expensive, there is very little point in owning either of the above consoles if you can't take full advantage of their extra power.

Owners of a gaming PC can explore anything from Full HD, through Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440) all the way to 4K. The only caveat here is that the monitor you can purchase is limited by the power of your hardware: given that you're here, on this page, looking for a budget gaming monitor, we would recommend sticking to Full HD – although Quad HD is generally perceived to be the ideal resolution for PC gaming.

Refresh rates vs frame rates: A budget explainer

A frame is a still image. Your gaming PC combines a vast number of frames into a sort of virtual flip-book to create what you see on your monitor. The number of frames your gaming PC can combine in a second is known as a frame rate (measured in frames per second), a figure that will vary depending on the intensity of the task. Got it?

Measured in hertz (Hz), a monitor’s refresh rate is the maximum number of times it can refresh the entire panel per second, to show each individual frame being created by your gaming PC. This means that the refresh rate is ALSO a measure of how many of those frames per second your monitor can display – a 60Hz monitor will display a maximum of 60 frames per second.

So what?

The higher the refresh rate, the more frames your gaming PC can pump out onto your monitor, and the smoother moving images will look. It's like a flip-book: the faster you flip the pages, the more fluid the animation looks.

Ordinarily, we’d advise looking for monitors with a refresh rate of 144Hz. Given the price point, however, that might be a struggle, but don't worry: 60Hz (or even 75Hz) is still very smooth indeed.

AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync

If your monitor refreshes at 60Hz, and your gaming PC is pumping out 120 frames per second, you're losing a total of 60 frames every second because your monitor cannot refresh fast enough. This deficit might cause "screen tearing", which looks like it sounds: horizontal lines that run across your screen and distort what you're seeing.

AMD and Nvidia both offer technology that removes screen tearing by synchronising the refresh rate of your monitor with the frame rate of your PC. This technology is known as FreeSync and G-Sync respectively, and you'll find at least one built-in to just about any given gaming monitor.

FreeSync is more common among budget gaming monitors, as it costs nothing to implement – there's a hefty premium on Nvidia's G-Sync. While there is a list of monitors that support G-Sync, nowadays both technologies are supported by graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia.

To read more about the technologies and even learn how to get Nvidia G-Sync working on an AMD FreeSync-certified monitor – even one that might not be officially supported – read our dedicated article.

Response time

Response time is the time it takes a monitor to go from displaying one colour to another. Manufacturers quote the time it takes a pixel to shift from grey to white and back to grey (often written as GTG or G2G in monitor specifications) and denote this number in milliseconds (ms).

The lower the number – say 1ms vs 10ms – the more quickly your monitor will be able to display onscreen action, which makes for a better gaming experience.

Panel type

In the past, Twisted Nematic (TN) was the only panel type a gamer would have considered: it’s not just the cheapest tech on the market, it also boasts the fastest response time. However, rival technologies such as Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-Plane Switching (IPS), once avoided for their slow response times, are now considered to be an excellent choice for gamers.

Input lag

Input lag is often confused with response time, but it’s just as important if not more so: it’s the delay between your graphics card sending an image to the monitor and the monitor displaying said image. Input lag – also measured in milliseconds – is crucial in games, as it determines how quickly you can respond to onscreen action; a monitor with low input lag will feel more ‘responsive’ and thus be more suitable for competitive gaming.

Input lag isn’t quoted by manufacturers but should you be in the market for a gaming monitor, be on the lookout for the term in our full-length reviews.

READ NEXT: Our favourite monitors for work

The best budget gaming monitors to buy

1. BenQ Mobiuz EX2710: Best budget gaming monitor

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

If you can bear the expense, the BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 is the best budget gaming monitor for just about anyone. The relatively high price is proportionate to the number of desirable features this monitor packs into its 27in frame. With a 144Hz refresh rate, 1080p resolution and 2ms G2G response time plus support for HDR 400 and AMD FreeSync Premium, this is very nearly the last word in budget gaming monitors. 

The panel produced an impeccable 94.5% of the sRGB colour gamut when tested, with a delta E colour variance score of just 0.8. Most budget monitors struggle to reach the 90% boundary for what we’d describe as a colour-accurate monitor, so this result is fantastic for the price, and it means colours will appear natural across the board. Max luminance and contrast aren’t quite so spectacular, so you may find the HDR 400 certification doesn’t quite do the vibrant light and inky dark of HDR content justice - although again, colours will look suitably vivid. 

Even the stand is impressive, another novelty for a budget monitor. It offers 130mm of height adjustment plus swivel and backwards tilt, so your posture won’t be compromised. The port selection is perhaps the only bad thing about the EX2710, with just HDMI and DP represented on the rear. But provided you don’t need a USB hub, there’s very little else out there to match this BenQ monitor where value for money is concerned.

Read our full BenQ Mobiuz EX2710 review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: HDMI 1.2, DisplayPort 1.4; Refresh rate: 144Hz; Response time: 2ms; Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync Premium

2. HP X27qc: Best budget 1440p gaming monitor

Price: £279 | Buy now from Very

Curved VA panels with 165Hz refresh rates are very trendy at the moment, and the HP X27qc knows exactly how to capitalise on that fact. This 1440p monitor has a blistering peak luminance of over 500 nits and an equally impressive peak contrast of 5,719:1; even though it doesn’t support HDR, you can be sure that SDR content will look suitably impactful all the same. It’s not a ridiculously vibrant panel, but it produces around 117% of the sRGB colour gamut with reasonable accuracy (excluding blues, with which it struggles a little) and an almost-perfect colour temperature of 6600K. 

This is a slim, light monitor with little exuberance beyond the gentle 1500R curve. The stand is basic, but not totally without merit; it offers 100mm of height adjustment and 20mm of backwards tilt, which to our eyes is enough to keep you in good posture. It lacks a USB hub, meaning you might not want to use this monitor for work, but again: have you seen the price tag? 

One final point to note is that competitive gamers or those with an interest in shooters should steer clear. VA panels produce lots of ghosting, and the X27qc is no exception. For the casual gamer, however (the kind who enjoys a trip to Skellige over a gunfight in Nuketown) the X27qc is phenomenally good value.

Read our full HP X27qc review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440; Screen technology: VA; Video inputs: 2 x HDMI 2, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; Refresh rate: 165Hz; Response time: 1ms; Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync

Buy now from Very


3. BenQ EL2870UE: Best budget 4K gaming monitor

Price: £260 | Buy now from Amazon

If you've been looking for a cheap 4K monitor that supports something resembling HDR (high dynamic range) for your PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One X or Xbox Series X, look no further. The BenQ EL2870UE is a basic 27.9in 4K (3,840 x 2,160) display that ticks a few crucial boxes without costing the earth. The TN panel doesn't offer the best viewing angles in the world, but the inclusion of rudimentary HDR support at this price is commendable, and we certainly weren't disappointed by the image quality.

Given that the EL2870UE costs under £300, the refresh rate isn't spectacular, although a peak of 60Hz is still ideal for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X (even on PS5/Xbox Series X, very few games run at anything higher). It supports AMD FreeSync to reduce image tearing, and has a response time of 1ms, meaning immersion-breaking stutter or response delay is kept to a minimum. Our only real complaint is that adjustment options are limited, although we should also note that the built-in speakers are nothing to write home about.

Key specs – Screen size: 28in; Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160; Screen technology: TN; Video inputs: HDMI 2.0 x2, DP 1.4; Refresh rate: 60Hz; Quoted response time: 1ms; Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync

4. Iiyama G2530HSU-B1: Best small budget gaming monitor

Price: £160 | Buy now from Box

This stylish Iiyama monitor is far too well-specced to be worth so little. The larger 24.5in 1080p panel is definitely a more appealing choice for most gamers, and the 75Hz refresh rate certainly sweetens the deal in that regard. In fact, the display itself is impressive in many ways: with low input lag, excellent viewing angles and AMD FreeSync support, this is a panel that won't hinder your gaming experience in the slightest.

The stand only supports tilt adjustments, but that can be forgiven at such a competitive price. Three bezel-less sides and a matte black paint job help lift this budget monitor far above its station, and you'll even benefit from a pair of built-in speakers – an unusual addition at this price. 

Simply put, this is the best budget gaming monitor we've tested in quite some time.

Key specs – Screen size: 24in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: TN; Video inputs: DisplayPort, VGA, HDMI; Refresh rate: 75Hz; Quoted response time: 1ms; Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync

5. AOC C24G1: Best budget curved gaming monitor

Price: £159 | Buy now from Currys

The AOC C24G1 is a 24in monitor that oozes a premium look and boasts a responsive VA panel. Much like the Samsung above, the AOC surpasses expectations for colour accuracy and contrast ratio.

It’s no slouch for competitive gaming, either, as it features a low input lag mode, a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz and its 1500R curvature helps keep you immersed in your favourite games. If you want something a little more responsive and you’re willing to sacrifice on image quality, consider the BenQ Zowie XL2411P instead.

Key specs – Screen size: 24in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: VA; Video inputs: DisplayPort 1.2, 2 x HDMI 1.4, VGA; Refresh rate: 144Hz; Quoted response time: 1ms; Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync

6. AOC Q27V4EA: Best budget gaming monitor for work

Price: £300 | Buy now from Amazon

The Q27V4EA joins this list from our best budget monitor roundup to replace the ageing AOC Q3279VWFD9. This monitor has more going for it in the gaming department than meets the eye; with a 75Hz refresh rate, a response time of 4ms G2G and AMD FreeSync support, you can hop straight into a casual game of Counter-Strike straight from work. 

These surprising credentials are hidden behind a distinctly professional exterior. The Q27V4EA is a good-looking monitor with three bezel-less edges, a slim profile and a small, flat stand that won’t consume much space on your desk. On the rear you’ll find HDMI and DP connections plus a 3.5mm jack, so don’t expect particularly strong connectivity; the stand is also a little bit uninspiring, with just 21.5 degrees of backwards tilt to improve viewing angles. 

The panel, however, is excellent, particularly for a budget monitor. It produced 88.7% of the sRGB colour gamut out of the box, with an average delta E of 1.48 indicating that colours are being accurately reproduced across the board. Brightness and contrast are also strong, so you won’t have any issues with visibility in bright sunlight - or at funny angles, since the Q27V4EA’s IPS screen is easily visible no matter where you sit.

Read our full AOC Q27V4EA review for more details

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort; Refresh rate: 75Hz; Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync

7. Huawei MateView GT: Best budget ultrawide gaming monitor

Price: £500 | Buy now from Amazon

Alright, so the MateView GT isn't quite as cheap as the other entries on this list. By ultrawide gaming monitor standards, however, it's miraculously inexpensive, especially when you consider that it goes beyond the minimum to offer a USB-C port and a built-in soundbar complete with LED lighting. Performance is excellent, too: this monitor produced accurate results in sRGB mode and covered a decent portion of the DCI-P3 colour gamut to boot. Thanks to its VA panel, the MateView GT managed to produce a peak contrast in SDR of around 4,500:1, and although this panel tech does produce a bit of ghosting the overall effect is remarkable. Games look and run great – though we'd recommend avoiding the HDR mode. 

This is a 34in panel with a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 and an impressive 165Hz maximum refresh rate. It curves gently, as many ultrawide monitors do, sucking you into the action and helping to prevent you from swiveling your head too much. We weren't amazed by the built-in soundbar, but it beats having to buy a dedicated pair of PC speakers. 

If you want a good budget ultrawide for gaming and work duties, the MateView GT is an excellent choice. 

Read our full Huawei MateView GT review for more details

Key specs – Screen size: 34in; Resolution: 3,440 x 1,440; Screen technology: VA; Video inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C; Refresh rate: 165Hz; Adaptive Sync: AMD FreeSync