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The best budget monitors to buy – our fully tested recommendations for 2024

Best budget monitor

Looking for a monitor on a tight budget? Here are our tried and tested recommendations

Not too long ago, budget monitors were known for poor colour accuracy, wobbly stands and hideous designs. Times have changed: today you can buy a quality panel with a premium look for under £300.

The trouble is, there’s a huge range of products out there to choose from. To help you pick the best budget monitor for you, we’ve put dozens of displays through our thorough testing regime, measuring their performance with specialist hardware and trying them out in the real world to get a true feel for their performance and ergonomics.

Read on for full details of how we test budget monitors. Below that you’ll find our pick of the best budget monitors that have come through our labs. And, to help you make an informed decision, our buying guide at the bottom of the page explains what to look out for before you splash out.

Best budget monitor: At a glance

Best overall:Acer K273 (~£126)Check price at Amazon
Best home office monitor:BenQ GW2785TC (~£200)Check price at Amazon
Best under £300: Philips 243B9H (~£195)Check price at Amazon
Best cheap 4K monitor:AOC U32P2 (~£380)Check price at Amazon

How we test budget monitors

We put every monitor through a combination of real-world tests and in-depth performance measurements. We start by setting up the monitor and assessing build quality, stand adjustability and the number and type of ports. We weigh up how satisfactory all of these factors are, and how they compare to other similar monitors.

Then, for each monitor, we run a series of tests that measure the panel’s colour accuracy, gamut coverage, peak brightness/contrast and motion handling. Motion handling tests are done using BlurBusters’ suite of monitor testing tools; for the rest, we use an X-Rite i1Display Studio colorimeter and DisplayCal software to generate our results.

You can always find the results of our in-house tests in our full-length monitor reviews, along with our conclusions about the overall quality and value of each monitor – and our recommendation as to whether you should buy it or not.

READ NEXT: Best monitors for home offices

The best budget monitors you can buy in 2024

1. Acer K273: The best budget monitor

Price when reviewed: £132 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… top image quality at a low price
Not so great for… those wanting a fully adjustable stand

The Acer K273 is our new favourite budget monitor. This 27in IPS panel has a 1080p resolution and a 74Hz refresh rate, plus AMD FreeSync support and even overdrive controls for gamers. It’s a pretty simple monitor, with just HDMI and VGA ports on the rear alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack, and its fixed-height stand has only 15 degrees of backwards tilt. However, it’s sensationally cheap, and it delivers where it counts.

In our tests, the K273 performed very well for such an inexpensive panel, delivering good coverage of the sRGB colour gamut and decent accuracy to boot. The IPS panel has good viewing angles and great motion handling – more good news for gamers – and it even managed a relatively high peak brightness (263cd/m²) and contrast (1010:1). On the whole this is a cracking budget buy for work and even a bit of play.

Read our full Acer K273 review 

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI 2.0; Speakers: Yes; Refresh rate: 75Hz

2. Philips 243B9H: The best monitor under £300

Price when reviewed: £210 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… a versatile, good-looking 1080p desktop
Not so great for… those wanting a large-scale screen or maximum resolution

The Philips 243B9H sits right at the top of the budget monitor range, but for around £300 we reckon there’s not much better out there. If you want a 24in, 1080p monitor with a versatile stand, a built-in webcam and a panel that performs well, the 243B9H is the one for you.

In our tests, its sRGB gamut coverage came in at around 90% in the default mode, with an average variance (delta E) of 2.09 and a near-perfect colour temperature of 6600K. We measured max luminance at 320cd/m² and contrast at 1,230:1; both of these figures are very good and higher than those quoted by Philips. Our results indicate that the 243B9H is an accurate, vibrant monitor with enough brightness for well-lit environments and no noticeable blue/red tint.

The 243B9H is a great little monitor in other ways too. The stand offers pivot, swivel and tilt plus an impressive 150mm of height adjustment, but if that’s not enough the monitor is VESA mount compatible too. We were also immensely pleased to see a USB Type-C port that supports video and file transmission adorning the rear of the monitor, alongside the HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.4 ports and three-port USB hub. And then there’s the Windows Hello-compatible 2MP webcam that retracts into the body of the monitor when not in use; quality is nothing special, but it’s great for Zoom calls.

Read our full Philips 243B9H review 

 Key specs – Screen size: 24in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0; Refresh rate: 75Hz

3. BenQ GW2785TC: The best budget home office monitor

Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… affordable big-screen productivity
Not so great for… demanding gamers

We often talk about monitors offering unbeatable value for money, and the BenQ GW2785TC is far and away the best example we’ve come across. This 27in 1080p panel has a huge feature set and a jaw-droppingly minuscule RRP.

The stand is fully adjustable, with portrait mode support, 130mm of height adjustment, 45 degrees of swivel left/right and 20 degrees of backwards tilt. There’s a USB-C port on the rear alongside one HDMI 1.4 port, one DP 1.2 “in” port and a DP 1.2 “out” port with which you can create a daisy-chain arrangement using a second monitor.

What’s important, though, is the image quality, and it’s here that the BenQ really impressed us. The panel is accurate and colourful, reproducing 95.6% of the sRGB colour gamut with a Delta E small enough to make any inaccuracies very hard to spot. We didn’t struggle with a dim, washed-out picture, either: in our brightness tests the GW2785TC reached a peak luminance of 272cd/m² with a contrast ratio of 1,165:1. We could go on, but the point is a simple one: everything about this monitor is made all the more remarkable by its ridiculously good price.

If you want something similarly well-specified but a bit smaller, we can also recommend BenQ’s 24in GW2485TC. It’s identical in every way apart from the screen size and the price tag, which is a tiny bit less.

Read our full BenQ GW2785TC reviewBenQ GW2485TC review 

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: 1 x USB Type-C, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2 out, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2 in, 1 x HDMI 1.4; Refresh rate: 75Hz

4. AOC Q27V4EA: The best budget 1440p monitor

Price when reviewed: £173 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… a sharp, accurate image at a great price
Not so great for… short on features and a basic stand

The AOC Q27V4EA is a no-fuss 1440p monitor measuring 27in across the diagonal. The feature list isn’t particularly extensive, but the monitor certainly looks like a premium product, with three bezel-less edges and a slim side profile that’s just 40mm thick at its widest. Adjustment options are limited to 21.5 degrees of backwards tilt, so you might need to prop it up if you prefer a monitor that sits high up.

It’s the panel that earns the Q27V4EA its place here, however. In our lab tests the monitor produced 88.7% of the sRGB colour gamut in default mode with little colour variance, a contrast ratio of 850:1 and peak luminance of 250cd/m². These figures are good for a budget monitor, and in use, we found that colours looked natural and content appeared bright, even in well-lit environments. With a response time of 4ms G2G, a refresh rate of 75Hz and AMD FreeSync support, moreover, casual gamers will find that the Q27V4EA is great for a couple of rounds of Apex Legends after work.

If you can deal with the non-adjustable stand, the Q27V4EA is a lovely all-purpose monitor for anyone who works and plays in the same place.

Read our full AOC Q27V4EA review 

Key specs – Screen size: 27in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; Refresh rate: 75Hz

5. AOC U32P2: The best budget 4K monitor

Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… a huge desktop at an excellent price
Not so great for… fast refresh rates or USB connectivity

Though it’s not the cheapest monitor on our list, the AOC U32P2 still represents extraordinary value for money. This 32in 4K monitor makes the most of its high resolution with a large MVA panel that manages to avoid the viewing angle issues often associated with this technology. The panel is bright, reaching over 400cd/m2 in our tests, and it’s pretty colour-accurate, too: we measured a high 99% sRGB coverage with an average Delta E of just 1.09. Those are very good results for a big, 4K monitor in this price range.

The U32P2 impressed us elsewhere too. The stand offers all four main axes of adjustment in style, with 90 degrees of pivot, 150mm of height adjustment, 22 degrees of backwards tilt and 180 degrees of swivel in either direction (meaning you can spin the screen all the way around). In short, it’s one of the most ergonomically friendly monitors we’ve tested.

The port selection is equally impressive. Although there’s no USB USB-C socket, you get a four-port USB-A hub plus two HDMI 2 ports, one DP 1.4 port and a headphone jack for good measure. Gamers might not drool at the thought of a 60Hz peak refresh rate and 4ms response time, but for pretty much anyone else, this 4K monitor is unbeatable value.

Read our full AOC U32P2 review 

Key specs – Screen size: 32in; Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160; Screen technology: MVA; Video inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4; Refresh rate: 60Hz

6. BenQ GW2280: The best small budget monitor

Price when reviewed: £125 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… a high-quality space-saving screen
Not so great for… those wanting a big workspace

This 21.5in monitor from BenQ is the smallest on our list, and it’s ideal for those on a tiny budget. The VA-based panel has a great contrast ratio and superb viewing angles, too. Despite having a slightly wobbly plastic stand that’s limited to tilt adjustment, its three-sided borderless design is not only space-efficient but genuinely attractive.

If you’re looking for something slightly bigger, consider its sibling, the GW2480, instead. It has a 24in IPS panel that matches this one’s Full HD resolution and can be found for just £158.

Key specs – Screen size: 21.5in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: VA; Video inputs: VGA, 2 x HDMI 1.4; Refresh rate: 60Hz

7. Asus BE24EQK: The best budget monitor with a webcam

Price when reviewed: £149 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… videoconferencing and general homeworking
Not so great for… maximum sharpness and colour performance

The Asus BE24EQK has something most monitors lack: mounted on the top of its 24in 1080p panel is a 2MP webcam with 315 degrees of rotation, a small amount of upwards and downwards tilt and a physical cover for those concerned about privacy. There’s a built-in microphone too, making it a ridiculously well-priced solution for home productivity and Zoom calls.

Panel performance is merely okay, but viewing angles are good thanks to IPS screen technology, and we measured peak luminance of around 275cd/m² –more than acceptable for all but the sunniest outdoor environments. In use, the display is plenty crisp enough for daily use, and the relatively high pixel density produced by the combination of a 1080p, 24in display keeps things from looking rough-edged. We would have liked to see a more adjustable stand, but the monitor is small and light enough to be propped up on just about anything and it won’t get in the way when not in use.

Read our full Asus BE24EQK review 

Key specs – Screen size: 24in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x DisplayPort 1.2; Speakers: Yes; Refresh rate: 60Hz

How to choose the best budget monitor for you

What monitor size and resolution should I choose?

A small budget no longer limits you to a small monitor. You’ll now find plenty of options between 22in and 27in – and a few even push past the 30in mark.

There’s more than just panel size to think about, though – resolution is a key factor. For instance, while a 22in monitor with a Full HD resolution monitor will look pin-sharp, a 27in monitor with the same resolution will look softer and more pixellated due to the lower number of pixels per inch (PPI). To put that in numbers: a 22in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) monitor equates to 100ppi, while a 32in Full HD panel is only 69ppi – 30% less.

We’d suggest sticking to 90ppi or above: a 24in Full HD monitor hits the sweet spot and similarly a 27in-32in 1440p (2,560 x 1,440) panel looks glorious, too. You can easily calculate the PPI with the help of a calculator or through this website.

One word of caution, though. Some older (read: rather elderly) computers with integrated graphics may not support higher-resolution panels. If your computer is a bit long in the tooth, then it may be wise to stick to Full HD. At the very least check we’d check the maximum resolution supported by your PC or laptop.

READ NEXT: Best 1440p monitors

Which type of panel is best?

There are three main types of LCD screens, with each having its own characteristics. Twisted Nematic (TN) are the cheapest type of panel technology. This sacrifices some colour accuracy and contrast, but has the benefit of being very cheap – and it’s also more responsive for gamers.

Vertical alignment panels (VA, AVA and MVA) generally have narrow viewing angles and very high contrast levels, although they don’t always have the greatest colour accuracy.

Finally, IPS/PLS screens generally have the best colour accuracy and viewing angles, but are also the most expensive, although the price gap between IPS/PLS, VA and TN has narrowed in recent years.

READ NEXT: Best 1080p monitors

Which other features should you consider?

Display inputs: Most have an HDMI input, while others still rely on VGA (D-Sub) and DVI-D inputs. You might even find DisplayPort takes centre stage on the pricier models.

An adjustable stand: Having an adjustable stand will you give you much more flexibility – and you won’t need to stuff books or magazines underneath to raise it to a comfortable height. It’s not uncommon to find a budget monitor with tilt and height adjustment. It’s not impossible to find one that can swivel and rotate, too, even if it is more of a rarity.

Low-profile bezels: Budget monitors are more elegant than ever before; most sport a three-sided borderless design, which makes them take up less space on your desk.

Built-in extras: Some budget monitors have built-in USB hubs and speakers. The former are genuinely useful, but bear in mind that the latter are almost always terrible. Most are easily bettered by a cheap pair of dedicated PC speakers.

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