One of the most important parts of your computer is your monitor. The monitor of the computer is what most people call the screen which hooks up to your processor to show you the games, internet or programs that you’re running.
Though most home desktop packages include a monitor, one of the best ways to save money is by buying an affordable computer and replacing the generic monitor with a higher quality model.
Getting your hands on a high-quality monitor doesn’t have to mean spending an arm and a leg. We’ve rounded up some of the best low-cost monitors available this season, as well as some tips on what you should look for when you shop.
Specs to Consider Before You Buy a Monitor
Unfortunately, not every monitor is of equal quality — and you need to be especially careful when you’re shopping for an affordable model. Look for these characteristics and manufacturer’s specs while you browse.
The most expensive (and best looking) monitors feature 4K display, meaning that the screen of the monitor uses over 4,000 pixels to display webpages, videos and images.
Keep in mind that 4K computer monitors are still in their tech infancy, meaning that they’re still on the more expensive end. Skip the 4K section if you’re shopping for an affordable monitor and look for a model that offers 1,920p x 1,080p display. This display is commonly called “Full HD” or “FHD.”
Matching Input Connections
You probably already know that when you hook up a gaming system, tablet or another device to your computer, you’ll need to hook it up to your CPU. But don’t forget that your monitor also needs to be connected to your CPU in order for your system to work.
Look at your CPU and see what types of ports it offers — there are probably more than one. Before you buy a monitor, check what type of port it uses and make sure it matches up with one of the ports on your CPU.
A Screen Large Enough For Your Needs
Whether you’re using your computer for school, gaming on the weekends or your day job, you’ll spend a lot of time staring at your monitor — so it’s worth it to take the time to find a screen that suits your needs.
Choose a model with a larger monitor if you can. Larger monitors help to reduce eye strain by showing colors and pictures more clearly. Most monitor shoppers say that they never regret buying a monitor that’s too big but do regret buying a monitor that’s too small.
Fast Refresh Rates
The refresh rate of a monitor tells you how fast the monitor can receive information from your CPU and update its screen with new information. High refresh rates are especially important if you want to use your computer for gaming, as low refresh monitors usually produce pictures that are choppy and laggy.
If you’re a gamer, look for a monitor that has a refresh rate of at least 75Hz. If you don’t plan on using your computer to play video games, a model with a refresh rate of at least 60Hz will work for you.
Automatic Power Saving Mode
Many computer monitors now feature an eco-friendly or green power saving feature. Monitor power saving features dim the brightness of your screen automatically if the CPU doesn’t detect movement for a certain period of time.
The monitor may also shut off completely if you don’t move the mouse or otherwise use the CPU for at least a few minutes. Look for a monitor that offers power-saving technology to save both energy and money.
Our Picks for the Best Budget Monitors
Ready to start shopping for your monitor? Check out these top affordable picks first.
Best Overall: LG 24MP59G-P 24-Inch Gaming Monitor
- Who it’s for: Gamers and non-gamers who want a fast, good-looking, responsive monitor at an affordable price.
- Price: $136.99
The LG 24MP59G-P offers a full HD 24-inch display with an incredibly fast blur rate, meaning that it has the power to display even the most high-definition games and graphics with ease.
LG’s monitor includes top-of-the-line Black Stabilizer technology, which senses dark scenes and web pages and brightens them to make them more visible. Its sleek V-line stand also makes the monitor’s design modern and aesthetically appealing, ditching the boxy design of the early 2000s.
Great for everyone (gamer or not), this model from LG is a perfect addition to any office or desktop setup.
Best Overall: BenQ GL2760H
- Who it’s for: Internet surfers who want a larger monitor and more technology to prevent eye strain without paying premium prices.
- Price: $169.99
The BenQ GL2760H is one of the largest monitors you’ll be able to find for under $200, boasting full HD display with a 27-inch screen.
The monitor’s Low Blue Light Plus feature filters out blue light, which can cause some people to get headaches when staring at their monitors for too long.
This model even features a no-flicker mode that eliminates annoying flicker sometimes seen when you first open very bright white pages. If you frequently suffer from headaches when using your monitor but you can’t afford to take prolonged breaks while you work, the BenQ GL2760H could be a great option for you.
Best Overall: Asus VS248H-P
- Who it’s for: Bargain hunters who need a middle-of-the-line model at a very low price.
- Price: $129.90
At just under $130, the Asus VS248H-P is one of the most affordable FHD monitors you’ll find online. But don’t let the low price fool you — this model also features a number of great specs that make it look and feel like a more expensive unit.
The monitor supports multiple types of inputs, which means that it’ll work with almost any CPU. Its 24-inch LED screen uses an ENERGY STAR-approved power saving mode to save money and electricity when the model isn’t in use. Powerful and responsive, this monitor from Asus is a great choice for almost any internet user.
Best for Freelancers: Dell S Series Screen LED-Lit Monitor
- Who it’s for: Graphic designers, writers or consultants who need a reliable monitor that works to prevent eye strain and also delivers a full HD experience.
- Price: $159.99
An attractive meetup of power and affordability, the Dell S Series is a simple yet attractive monitor that’s perfect for daily use.
Its sleek, slim 24-inch flat screen model fits comfortably on almost every desk and even the most finicky graphic designers will love the monitor’s 99% color range that delivers rich, gorgeous hues.
This model from Dell also includes blue light filtering and ComfortView anti-flicker technology to prevent eye strain — perfect for extended usage. Whether you’re popping on to check emails or you’re burning the midnight oil, the Dell S Series is an affordable and reliable choice.
Best for a Studio: Sceptre E248W-1920
- Who it’s for: Studio owners who need an easily-mountable monitor that can be set up quickly — even if you’re not handy.
- Price: $89.99
The Sceptre E248W-1920 comes ready to mount on most surfaces and features two separate HDMI ports as well as a VGA port — perfect for hooking up multiple devices for work.
Its 75HZ refresh rate offers users a non-laggy view and it’s also one of the only low-cost models that
Best for Gaming: Asus VG245H Full HD 1080p Gaming Monitor
- Who it’s for: Gamers who want to run the most graphics-intensive games with no lag and the brightest colors available.
- Price: $179.99
The Asus VG245H is a masterpiece for gamers. It features 1ms response times and a 75HZ refresh rate. The monitor showcases games and cut scenes with crisp clarity and no lag.
Exclusive GameVisual and GamePlus technology enhance colors and make them appear bolder and brighter from anywhere in the room. This model also includes blue light filtering and flicker-free technology for long gaming sessions without strain.
Best for Programming: LG 32MA70HY-P
- Who it’s for: Programmers who need a larger monitor with split-screen capabilities to complete their work that also takes steps to prevent fatigue and eye strain.
- Price: $191.40
This monitor from LG is one of the largest available at the sub-$200 price point and boasts a massive 32-inch screen that’s perfect for programmers who need to look at multiple code swaths at a time.
Split Screen capabilities allow users to open multiple tabs at once and view them in separate windows at the same time so they can test code and view results without constantly flipping back and forth between windows.
This monitor also features a unique “reader mode” that reduces blue light and alleviates eye strain. Perfect for long days at the office, the LG 32MA70HY-P is a powerful tool for programmers.
Best for Designers: BenQ EL2870U 28-inch HDR Monitor
- Who it’s for: Designers who need the absolute highest standard of quality and color resolution for their work.
- Price: $347.99
At almost $350, this monitor from BenQ isn’t what many casual internet users would consider affordable. However, if you’re a designer who relies on your monitor’s color resolution and clarity to earn a living, the extra splurge might be worth the investment.
The BenQ EL2870U is one of the most affordable 4K computer monitors currently available and offers the highest quality color range and motion movements available anywhere. This model’s “brightness intelligence” technology detects and differentiates between different colors and dark areas, automatically adjusting brightness depending on what’s on the screen.
With an ultra-slim design and some of the most affordable 4K technology on the market, the BenQ EL2870U might be worth using a budgeting app for a few weeks to save up for if you’re a professional designer.
Best 24-Inch Monitor: Dell UltraSharp U2414H
- Who it’s for: Anyone who’s looking for a simple 24-inch screen that hits all of the basic specs.
- Price: $189.99
Another excellent offering from Dell, this UltraSharp model offers everything that you would want in a 24-inch model.
Its sleek, lightweight design can find a comfortable home on most desks and an ultra-wide 178-degree viewing angle makes it perfect for in-home movies and TV marathons as well as day-to-day work.
The UltraSharp also includes some of the best power-saving features available, including ENERGY STAR approval and a TCO-certified display screen. Users can easily enable or disable power saving features through Dell’s PowerNap menu. A solid choice at an affordable price, the Dell UltraSharp is a universally solid choice.
Bonus: Best Portable Monitor | Corprit Portable Monitor
- Who it's for:
- Price: $179.99
You'll be bowled over by the Corprit Portable Monitor's sharp, vibrant colors, 1920 x 1080 resolution and 178 degree viewing angle. It's the perfect choice for high-definition entertainment and gaming. It offers USB Type-C, mini HDMI and mini DP video/audio signal transmission ports and plug and play. This means you can connect easily to phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, TVs, Xbox/PS4/Switches/Raspberry pi gaming systems and more.
You can do just about anything with the Corprit Portable Monitor, whether you need to showcase a business presentation or want to play games, stream shows, movies, photos, demos and more. You can connect it to your smartphone directly using a USB-C to USB-C cable or connect to your laptop or PC using a mini HDMI/DP to HDMI/DP cable as an extra or second monitor
Select the Right Monitor for You
Sometimes, the monitor is the last thing on your mind when you shop for a computer. However, you’ll spend hours and hours staring at your monitor, not the CPU — isn’t it worth the time to compare models?
Research the features that you need and the screen that you can afford before you begin shopping. Don’t be afraid to visit your local electronics store to test out a few models before you commit to an online purchase.
Looking to complete your office set up? Check out our top picks for the best computer desks to put your new monitor on. Or, take a look at the best internet service providers to power your workspace. Also, take your work on the go with the best cheap smartwatches.