You don't need to spend a fortune to get a good one from LG, Samsung or Dell.
Updated March 10, 2023 9:00 a.m. PT
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Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
A good monitor is an essential piece of workstation equipment for everyone, from remote workers to gamers and creatives. Even if you typically work on a laptop, adding a second screen to your desk space for everyday use can make a huge difference in your productivity. You don't have to drop $500 or more to get your hands on a decent display. We've rounded up some of the top monitors on the market right now that you can pick up without setting you back too much. Check out the options we've found for the best monitor under $200 below.
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the best monitors: When buying a budget monitor, you should check out the listing to see what's included. Make sure it's not missing items that you would have to purchase separately and that would drive the price above that "cheap monitor" threshold, like a stand or cables. The stand might not be an issue if you're planning to use the VESA mount to put it on a wall or arm. But in that case, you should ensure the mount screws on the back of the monitor match yours: The bulk of these have 100x100-millimeter mounts, but in some cases, they have 200x200mm or 75x75mm mounts -- or they don't support a VESA mount at all.
Got a Mac? If it's an old MacBook Pro with an HDMI port, or an iMac or Mac Mini, you won't have a problem. MacBooks with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connections will require an adapter or cable with conversion built-in because they won't have a dedicated display port. You may also need to fiddle with the resolution and scaling settings in Mac OS, since it natively prefers a 16:10 aspect ratio, not the 16:9 aspect ratio that's much more popular on Windows.
Watch this: Watch me set up a TV review lab in my basement
Unless you're a hardcore gamer or creative professional, many of the most technical specs -- latency and color gamut, for example -- won't really matter to you (though many of these could serve as a budget gaming monitor). You should always take them with a grain of salt, anyway.
For less than $200, you can generally expect to get:
A maximum of 1,920x1,080-pixel screen resolution (dubbed by marketers as "Full HD resolution" and also referred to as 1080p or 2K for its roughly 2,000 pixels across). Below 27 inches, that's fine. At 27 inches or larger, it's not great except in one important case. Essentially, the reason you buy a 27-inch monitor over a 24-inch is usually because you want to fit more on to it. But if it's using the same number of pixels, it just makes everything bigger -- it doesn't put more on the screen. And because it's spreading them across a bigger screen, some people (like me) may get annoyed at seeing the pixel grid. I find a pixel density (the number of pixels per inch, or ppi) of at least 90 a good balance, but YMMV. The exception? If you actually need things like text to be bigger, such as if you have impaired vision.
A stand that lets you tilt the computer monitor, not raise or lower it. We want to reduce eye strain and optimize ergonomics wherever possible.
While there might be one or two larger, the monitors go mostly up to 27 inches.
Between 250 and 350 nits of brightness. That should be fine for most uses.
Up to 75Hz refresh rate for an IPS (which stands for in-plane switching) monitor or 144Hz refresh rate for a TN (twisted nematic). A high refresh rate matters if you're planning to play a lot of FPS, racing, fighting or other motion-sensitive
. An IPS monitor is better for general-purpose use, since it's superior for off-angle viewing and typically has better color. But the fastest IPS monitor you'll find for the money is 75Hz. A TN monitor is better for fast gaming and a better gaming experience; it has a higher contrast ratio, but poorer viewing angle -- color accuracy and contrast changes as you move further from looking straight-on.
If it comes with built-in speakers, don't assume they're a replacement for real standalone versions. They're occasionally better than expected, but think of the speakers as a nice perk for basic system sounds or videoconferencing and consider it a windfall if they're satisfactory for entertainment. (I've been relatively impressed with the speakers in BenQ's EW series.)
A curved monitor, which can make a wide display fit into your field of view without requiring you to sit too far back, isn't worth paying more for in monitors 27 inches or smaller; then the bezels are too far within your field of view. One potential exception is if you plan to span across three identical monitors for gameplay. Then they wrap around you better than three flat screens.
Upping your budget to between $200 and $300 will bring more 32-inch screen size options and 2,560x1,440 resolution. And, of course, the more you're willing to spend, the more you're likely to find something in stock and ready to ship.
If you are looking for budget gaming monitors, this budget FHD monitor's 75Hz refresh gives you a little latitude for gaming and has an IPS panel for better color and viewing angle in the sea of VA competitors; plus, this cheap gaming monitor option is pretty attractive with thin bezels and a stand that's less clunky-looking than some. You'll get an HDMI cable in the box, and it has a 100x100 VESA mount. There are some drawbacks, such as some backlight bleed that buyers have noticed, and it has an HDMI 1.4 connection instead of 2.0 (if you care), plus the stand only allows the screen to tilt, not raise or lower.
The LG is a solid, attractive general-purpose choice with some gaming perks. Though I'd hardly call it a gaming monitor, it has features for a good gaming experience, such as AMD FreeSync support, the ability to overdrive the response time, a 1ms motion-blur reduction mode and an optional center crosshair. It's slightly brighter than most, and there's a Photo mode that seems to improve the color accuracy. It's got a VGA connector in addition to the two HDMIs (though that's not uncommon in this price range) if you've got a really old device to connect. The 24-inch is a smaller version of the 27-inch monitor we tested which has since been discontinued (though still available in places at a much higher price).
This looks to be a more recent follow-up to the 27MK600M-B we tested, with a different stand and a DisplayPort connection instead of the second HDMI. Like that one, it's got some gaming perks, identical to the 24-inch LG I mentioned above.
LG 29-inch UltraWide FHD FreeSync Monitor (29UM59A-P)
This big 'un doesn't have ultraskinny bezels or a curved screen -- it's four years old -- but when you consider its size, a 75Hz refresh rate and USB-C DisplayPort connector (as well as two HDMI 1.4 ports), you get a lot for the money. It often lists for closer to $300, but right now you can snag it for less than $200 at Amazon and Walmart, making it a pretty good value for the features. There's a slightly more game-oriented model for $200, the 29WP60G-B, with FreeSync support, thinner bezels and a slightly sleeker design, but don't get FOMO over the "HDR" you'll see in the name; it has the same color and brightness specs as the cheaper model. LG has simply added decoding hardware that lets it more-or-less intelligently cram real HDR content to the dim, small gamut display, which is never pretty.
Gigabyte G27FC A 27-inch 1080p 165 Hz Curved Gaming Monitor
I don't like curved 27-inch monitors or VA panels much, but in a sea of 75Hz options, the Gigabyte is a refreshing 165Hz. That makes it a lot more suited to gaming than all the 75Hz models. It also has a greater-than-sRGB color gamut, low-power stereo speakers and a USB hub, which you rarely find together in this price class. The lowest price you'll find on this monitor right now is $230, but we're keeping it on this list for the moment as we've often seen it discounted to $200 or even lower.