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).
Best budget gaming monitor: At a glance
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.
READ NEXT: The best 1080p monitors to buy
Refresh rates vs frame rates: An 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.
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.
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.
READ NEXT: The best 1440p monitors to buy
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.
READ NEXT: Our favourite gaming monitors
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.
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 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
How we test budget gaming monitors
We feel it’s important to back up our verdicts with in-depth testing. Each new monitor that crosses our desk undergoes the same set of tests: using an X-Rite colorimeter and calibration software from DisplayCal, we measure colour gamut coverage, colour accuracy, colour temperature, peak luminance, black point, contrast and panel uniformity. We then make use of the various motion handling assessment tools on the Blur Busters website to check for ghosting, inverse ghosting and motion blur, as well as how these things are affected by overdrive/MBR settings (if applicable). Budget gaming monitors generally don’t have HDR with local dimming, but if they do, we use an HDR video of a bright moving shape to try and spot the zones in action.
Once we’ve completed our quantitative tests, we use the monitor for at least a week, spending time in our favourite test games (it’s hard work) to qualitatively assess performance. We’ll stress-test the panels to judge build quality and note the number of ports, the limits of the viewing angles and the versatility of the stand.
Find the results of these tests in our full-length reviews, linked below.
The best budget gaming monitors you can buy in 2023
1. BenQ Mobiuz EX2710: Best budget gaming monitor
Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon
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: £278 | Buy now from Amazon
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: 2ms (G2G); Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync
3. Gigabyte G27QC: Another great-value 1440p gaming monitor
Price: £290 | Buy now from Box
If you really, really need a USB hub, the Gigabyte G27QC offers a borderline identical feature set to the HP X27qc above (heck, even their names are similar) while delivering four USB-A ports for your peripherals. This is another 165Hz, 1440p gaming monitor with a curved VA panel that produces high contrast (3,100:1) and luminance (320cd/m²), but this one also supports HDR10 decoding, although it lacks an official DisplayHDR certification.
The panel is great for casual gamers, with vibrant colours and that immersive curve helping make the experience all the more enjoyable. The G27QC does exhibit a bit of ghosting, so competitive esports gamers should look elsewhere – but for everyone who prefers an RPG to an FPS, it’s absolutely fine.
From a practical perspective, the G27QC offers decent adjustment options: 130mm of height adjustment and 20 degrees of backwards tilt will help keep you from hurting your neck. And that’s all there really is to it: a comprehensive package at a very appealing price.
Read our full Gigabyte G27QC 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 (MPRT); Adaptive sync: AMD FreeSync
4. BenQ EL2870UE: Best budget 4K gaming monitor
Price: £200 | 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
5. 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