A monitor is one of the most important peripherals you’ll purchase for your PC or laptop, but finding a good one at a great price can be a struggle. Unlike other devices, monitors rarely wear out or become entirely obsolete. That means the monitor you buy today could easily be the monitor you use a decade from now, which is why it's important to find one with everything you need.
But don’t worry—we’ve tested dozens of monitors to find the best bang for your buck. Our top pick is Samsung’s 24-inch 390 Series monitor, which also goes by the model name Samsung LC24F390FHNXZA(available at Best Buy for $129.99). Unlike most affordable monitors, the C24F390 has great contrast and good color reproduction, traits that help it stand out from the crowd. We’ve also selected several strong alternatives, in case our top pick doesn’t meet your needs.
Editor's Note: Due to supply chain issues some of the monitors on this list may fluctuate above $200, but all of them are priced close to that range.
These are the best computer monitors we tested, ranked in order:
Monoprice Dark Matter (42770)
AOC Agon C24G1A
HP Pavilion 22cwa
Uperfect 15.6-inch 1080p Portable Monitor
Acer Nitro VG240YP
Samsung’s 24-inch 390 Series monitor, is the best computer monitor you can buy in this price range.
The C24F390 wins the nod thanks to its image quality, which clearly beats most monitors in its class. Its advantage comes thanks to the contrast ratio of its Vertical Alignment display panel. This monitor can display deep, inky black levels in scenes where most budget monitors only show a hazy, disappointing gray. Yet it’s also much brighter than competitors we tested in everyday use. You might not notice the C24F390’s advantage when editing a spreadsheet, but it’s obvious in movies and games, which look vibrant and crisp.
Thankfully, the C24F390 doesn’t sacrifice other elements of image quality in the name of contrast. It has a reasonable color gamut, passable color accuracy, and decent image uniformity, tying the competition in each area. It also has 1080p resolution which, on a 24-inch display, looks fairly sharp from a typical viewing distance. The display has a slight curve, which makes it look sleek, but doesn’t change the experience of using it.
There’s only one downside, and that’s the stand. It feels flimsy, only adjusts for tilt, and is too short to be comfortable for most users. The monitor does have a standard VESA mount, so you can add a third-party stand for better ergonomics.
Overall, the C24F390 simply outperforms its peers. If you need an ergonomic stand, we’d still recommend buying this monitor and purchasing a $25 stand to add to it later. The C24F390 will still be a better value than the alternatives and makes for a value-packed way to brighten up your workstation.
The AOC Agon C24G1A brings some extra speed to the sub-$200 market, though its price can sometimes be a few dollars over $200, depending on where you buy the monitor. The 24-inch 1080p display isn’t offering much in terms of size or resolution, but it’s an effective pairing. And the resolution makes it all the easier to have your system push for the display’s max 165Hz refresh rate, which comes smoothed out with FreeSync Premium. The fact AOC could still bother to sit the AOC C24G1A onto a highly flexible stand at this price is a big bonus.
The display itself is a stunningly colorful curved VA panel with fairly compelling contrast ratios compared to what’s found on most IPS panels. It’s punching well above its weight class for color gamut and accuracy, even offering exceptional uniformity across the display. But, where’s it’s still visuals excel, it struggles a bit with motion. Ghosting can be a bit extreme in the wrong conditions, and no overdrive settings fix that, but it isn’t always distracting in games and beats coronas.
The Monoprice Dark Matter 42770 offers bright, punchy visuals. Its color accuracy is astounding for a monitor at this price, let alone when considering that it comes alongside gaming performance on a 144Hz panel. The minimal ghosting makes this a solid option for gamers looking for clarity while they play without worrying about how much they’ll have to pay.
The design of the monitor also makes it a worthy addition to your desk. The stand is sturdy and doesn’t let the monitor wiggle too much, and its wide legs won’t occupy too much desk space.
Monoprice also includes a wide port variety with two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort. The USB-C port with 15W power delivery is icing on the cake, as it’s easy to use for charging up a phone or even plugging into a laptop/phone to use for a display—and Monoprice includes all necessary cables with the monitor to truly maximize its value. An effective joystick for menu navigation and some subtle red accent lights round out the experience.
The BenQ EW2780 is a nice, utilitarian monitor. It comes on a pretty straightforward stand that only offers vertical tilt adjustments, but you can always swap it over to a VESA mount. Three HDMI ports let you set it up with multiple devices, though DisplayPort is notably lacking here. For a neater setup, the included basic 2.5W speakers are helpful, though they aren’t loud enough to fill a room and can be a bit harsh when maxed out.
The display panel itself isn’t overly exciting, but it offers what it promises. In our testing, it actually exceeded BenQ’s specs in some regards. It managed to cover 97% of the sRGB color space and pulled off an average color accuracy of dE 0.74, which means this monitor has excellent color accuracy for the price. At max brightness, it can even provide a contrast ratio of 1110:1. All that said, the uniformity of the display could be a bit better, but it’s not noticeable or unreasonable for a display in this price bracket.
The monitor provides some headroom for higher refresh rates, going up to 75Hz. It’s not blisteringly fast, but 25% extra smoothness never hurts. It can also run FreeSync. Just don’t expect the HDR feature to do much for you. The display isn’t that bright, and enabling the HDR mode just saturated the colors to the point of making the display wildly inaccurate.
The HP VH240a stands out as the most flexible monitor of the options we tested for this roundup. Its claim to fame is its highly adjustable stand/tilt options. It's one of the only monitors in this price range that offers a combination of panel tilting, adjustable height, and portrait rotation. This means you can easily find a comfortable viewing position, which is important if you work from home.
You're also getting a 24-inch screen, an IPS panel, 1080p resolution, and pretty respectable response times (5ms) for an IPS-equipped LCD monitor. Overall, this gives the VH240a widespread appeal, and the display works well in most situations.
The monitor’s major flaw is one it shares with other affordable IPS monitors: contrast ratio. This monitor can’t display deep black levels, yet isn’t all that bright either, so it struggles to deliver a sense of depth in movies and games. If you need a good monitor for work, however, the HP VH240a is an excellent choice.
Acer’s XFA240 is a rare and affordable gaming monitor. It’s a 24-inch, 1080p display with a 144 Hz refresh rate. It’s compatible with both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, which ensures smooth gameplay no matter the brand of video card you own.
The XFA240 is well built for the price. It feels sturdy and includes a stand that has height, pivot, tilt, and swivel adjustment. Most gamers will have no need to buy a third-party stand or monitor arm.
It’s not all good news. This monitor achieves its high refresh rate at a low price by using a TN panel and, frankly, it shows. The monitor’s contrast ratio, color gamut, and color accuracy are just OK. It also has very poor viewing angles, which can be distracting when viewed even slightly off-axis.
Still, the Acer XFA240 is superior to the other budget gaming monitors we've tested, many of which have only a 60 Hz or 75 Hz refresh rate. This is the best budget monitor for hardcore gamers.
The BenQ GW2780 is a budget 27-inch monitor that we recommend primarily because of its price for the size. Your choice of monitor slims if you want a 27-inch screen, but the GW2780 is no more expensive than most 24-inch monitors on this list.
Its image quality is extremely similar to the HP VH240a, which is good news for most owners. The BenQ GW2780 has a decent color gamut, reasonable color accuracy, and is bright enough for most rooms. The monitor’s 1080p resolution doesn’t look as sharp as it would on a 24-inch monitor, but that’s a compromise you’ll have to accept on this budget.
Unlike the smaller HP VH240a, the BenQ GW2780’s stand only adjusts for tilt. The monitor is VESA compatible, however, meaning it can be mounted on a variety of third-party stands, and it’s so inexpensive that it remains good value even if you budget a bit extra for that purpose. Also, because this BenQ has a larger 27-inch screen, the included stand sits the monitor at a usable height for most people under six feet tall.
Still, value is what gives this monitor the nod. The BenQ GW2780 is extremely inexpensive and cuts few corners to reach its affordable price.
This monitor from HP is teeming with value. Having stripped away almost all unnecessary extras, this small monitor boasts a high-quality IPS panel and 1080p resolution, which is an ample pixel density for its 22-inch screen.
While it's on the small side, 22 inches is a big step up from most laptop screens. Its crisp IPS panel and space-saving stand give it wide appeal for writing, coding, or browsing the web. Standing in as an upgrade from your laptop screen is likely where this generalist HP monitor will shine the brightest.
It's not the best choice for gaming with a native 60 Hz refresh rate. Also, this monitor’s stand only adjusts for tilt, and it’s not compatible with third-party stands.
This is the least expensive monitor we recommend, significantly undercutting our top pick, Samsung’s C24F390. We think the Samsung is well worth its price but, if you absolutely must keep your budget to a minimum, this HP will do the trick.
The Uperfect 15.6-inch 1080p Portable Monitor (DS-15608) almost seems too good to be true. In a way, it is, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a pretty decent option for workers on the go. The display offers up a 15.6-inch IPS panel that’s got plenty of room and is easy to see. 1080p at this size gets the job done and doesn’t inflate the price like a 4K panel might.
If you’re just trying to get extra screen space for spreadsheets, text documents, or chat applications to the side of your laptop’s primary monitor, this display is up to the task. However, the claims of a 350-nit brightness, 2000:1 contrast ratio, and 100% sRGB color gamut didn’t hold up in our testing. You’ll want to stick to using this monitor indoors, and its limited color volume and contrast range won’t make it too useful for color-critical work or showcasing the beautiful graphics in games like Cyberpunk 2077 or films like Mad Max: Fury Road.
But at least the Uperfect 15.6-inch 1080p Portable Monitor offers a decent setup and nice flexibility. It has two USB-C ports, one for charging only and another that can handle a DisplayPort video feed as well as power. So, the monitor can run off a single cable connection.
There’s also a mini-HDMI port, which may be somewhat inconvenient, but at least Uperfect includes all three cables you might need in the box. It even includes a USB-C power adapter. The monitor has a magnetically attached folio cover that’s nice for protection, but it can be a bit tricky to set up. Awkwardly, there’s no distinct model name/number for this product, but this is the one we tested.
The Acer Nitro VG240YP keeps almost everything basic so it can deliver a 144Hz refresh rate with FreeSync support at this price point. It sticks to a compact 24-inch size, doesn’t go past 1080p, and doesn’t upgrade the brightness level beyond the typical 250-nits typically found at this price point. The buttons on the back don’t quite line up with the on-screen display (OSD), but at least it does use a directional joystick for some of the interactions.
But, it’s bright enough for a modestly lit bedroom gaming setup and looks good enough while gaming. We didn’t notice any ghosting or coronas while playing, so it’s managing a high pixel response time even without pushing into overdrive settings. That’s a boon for anyone looking to get a competitive edge in esports without needing an expansive budget for hardware.
Mark Knapp has covered tech for most of the past decade, keeping readers up to speed on the latest developments and going hands-on with everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate the marketing from the reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or on Reviewed, PCMag, IGN, TechRadar, T3, and Business Insider.
Hi! I'm Matthew S. Smith, a technology journalist and hardware reviewer. I started writing about computer hardware 13 years ago. I've worked for numerous publications including PCMag.com, TechHive, Business Insider, Lifewire, Digital Trends, and, of course, Reviewed.
I believe that standardized testing matters, and I have something most testers don't: a log of results going back a decade. This unique perspective helps me compare how monitor brands have performed over time. I can confidently say the top pick on this list outperforms the best monitors available 10 years ago.
Lee Neikirk is the Editor for Reviewed's Home Theater vertical and also contributed to this guide. He has a strong background in display evaluation and is an ISF-certified calibrator who has been honing Reviewed's screen-testing methodology since 2012.
Image quality is our top priority when testing a monitor. A display should have a strong contrast ratio, decent color gamut and accuracy, good image uniformity, and high enough brightness to appear vivid in a typical home office.
We’re more lenient when testing monitors in this price range than we’d otherwise be, as displays in this class simply can’t deliver the near-perfect color or crystal-clear sharpness found on expensive alternatives aimed at niche use cases or gaming. Still, we think a budget monitor should be enjoyable to use across a broad range of tasks, from Word documents to Netflix movies.
Our testing was conducted with Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite. This consumer calibration tool offers many detailed tests that gauge how a monitor performs against industry standards, such as the AdobeRGB color gamut. If that means nothing to you, don’t worry. Just know we’ve performed instrumented, objective testing to go along with real-world tests so we can rank monitor performance with confidence.
We’ve also put these monitors through their paces with at least several days of hands-on testing for productivity, gaming, and web browsing. This step makes us confident these monitors don’t have hidden flaws that will annoy or disappoint you down the line.
What Size Computer Monitor Do I Need?
24 inches: You'll see 24-inch computer monitors most often and, with a few rare expectations, this is the smallest size you'll find. A 24-inch monitor is a perfect size for a typical home office. Larger monitors look more impressive but, if you’re sitting two and a half or three feet away, their extra screen real estate will often end up in your peripheral vision.
27 inches: A 27-inch monitor is the most common next step up and the largest size that makes sense for most people. Upgrading to a 27-inch monitor won’t make you more productive, but it can make for a more immersive and impressive experience. A 27-inch monitor is also wise if you sit more than three feet away from your monitor.
32 inches: Especially popular as gaming peripherals, a 32-inch monitor is too large for most users. It will dominate your desk and leave much of the screen outside your focus. A 32-inch monitor can make sense if you have a small living space and intend to use the monitor as a TV alternative. However, we can’t currently recommend any 32-inch display in the budget category.
What Resolution Do I Need: 1080p, 4K, or Something Else?
Budget shoppers only need to think about 1080p resolution. Quality monitors with a higher resolution aren’t available in this price range. You should beware of monitors that offer a resolution below 1080p, which can still be found on the market, but every monitor we recommend here is 1080p.
The Three LCD Panel Types: IPS, TN, and VA
A monitor’s LCD panel sits between the glass or plastic on its surface and the LED backlights at the rear. The panel is largely responsible for the image quality of a monitor. There are three distinct technologies common in the budget market.
IPS: Short for "in-plane switching," IPS panels tend to be bright, with good color and subdued ghosting behind fast-moving objects. However, IPS struggles to show deep black levels, which is a problem in movies and games. These panels are extremely common and good for general use.
TN: This means "twisted nematic." These are the cheapest panels and generally perform poorly in color, contrast, and viewing angles. However, they have fast response times and still reign as the go-to option for affordable, high-refresh gaming monitors.
VA: This means "vertical alignment." This panel technology has far superior contrast than IPS or TN, and its color performance isn’t bad, either. A good VA panel can also be very bright. VA panels have poor viewing angles compared to IPS, but this problem is less noticeable on a monitor since you’ll usually sit directly in front of it.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
Mark Knapp has covered tech for most of the past decade, keeping readers up to speed on the latest developments and going hands-on with everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate the marketing from the reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or on Reviewed, IGN, TechRadar, T3, PCMag, and Business Insider.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.