If you’ve suddenly found yourself needing to work from home, you might be in need of a monitor so you’re not working off a smaller laptop screen and messing up your eyesight. If you are fortunate enough that work is footing the bill, you may find that their upper limit is less generous than it first seemed. That’ll leave you with under $200 to get a new monitor for your workspace, and like everything else necessary in this new normal – they’re flying off the shelves faster than cheap microwaves on Black Friday.
That’s not to say you can’t find a decent monitor for that price though. There are a few ground rules when going low budget. Make sure everything you need is in the box, like cables or stands, as scrambling to buy those separately at the last second will cost you. If you already have a monitor arm, make sure the monitor you select has VESA mounting compatibility, so you don’t get stuck with the included stand.
If your main computer is a Mac, there are a few things to notice here as well. Older Macs have HDMI out, so you should be fine there. New ones only have USB-C/Thunderbolt connectors so you will need an adapter or a cable with conversion built-in. You just won’t find monitors with USB-C/Thunderbolt as an input option at this price point either. Also, you will probably have to fiddle with the resolution and scaling settings inside macOS, because it’s designed for a 16:10 aspect ratio and most cheap monitors are 16:9.
Gamers will want to look at the refresh rate and if the monitor has FreeSync for variable refresh rate support. The last thing is that at this price point, you really shouldn’t worry about color gamut or accuracy, as the panels used in these monitors will all be around the same quality.
Here are the best monitors for 2020 under $200
Before we dive into the recommendations, there are a few things we should point out to temper expectations. At this price point, 1080p is pretty much the highest resolution you can expect. You’ll probably only get 27 inches as the largest panel as well, but that’s fine because that’s the largest you really want to go at that resolution, so you won’t see the individual pixels.
Other things to note are:
- The stand will likely allow tilt adjustments, not any other movements such as raise, lower or rotate
- Panels won’t be the brightest, often between 250 to 350 nits of brightness
- Refresh rates will top out at 75 Hz for IPS or VA, and 144 Hz for TN. This matters more if you want to game on the monitor as well as work
- You might get AMD’s FreeSync technology, which adapts the refresh rate depending on the output of the graphics card. Don’t worry if you have an Nvidia graphics card, as most FreeSync monitors are at least partly supported by Nvidia
- If the monitor has inbuilt speakers, just know they’ll never replace dedicated speakers
- In our opinion, curved panels are best left for monitors that are 32 inches in size or larger. They just make the bezels more prominent in anything smaller
- Adding another $100 to your budget will make a huge difference if you’re able to. At the $200 – $300 price point, you can step up to 2560x1440p resolution, higher refresh rates, and more connectivity options
Dell has a long history of well-priced, well-featured monitors and this 22 inch is no exception. For the cash, you get a stylish, small bezel design, an IPS panel, and a rarity at this price – a fully-adjustable stand with pivot, tilt, height, and rotation options.
Connectivity is also a strong point, with HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA inputs, two USB 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. It’s also VESA compatible, in case you prefer to use a monitor arm instead of the included stand. It doesn’t come with either an HDMI or VGA cable if those are the inputs you need, so you’ll have to buy those separately.
This HP monitor brings a 23 inch, 1080P, IPS screen running at 60 Hz. It’s also got full tilt, swivel, and height adjustments, VESA compatibility, and a bezel-less design.
Connectivity is also good, with VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, and anti-glare coating on the screen. HP also gives you all the cables you need, with HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort in the box.
If you want to game as well as be productive, this 24-inch monitor from ViewSonic is a good bet. It’s got a 1080P screen, with TN technology and a 144 Hz refresh rate. It’s also FreeSync compatible, for tear-free gaming. Screen tears that is, it won’t stop you from crying when you lose.
The 1 ms response time also cuts down on smearing, so you can call out headshots with impunity in your favorite FPS games. Black stabilization tweaks the contrast levels so you can see detail in even the darkest environment, and it’s even got a headphone hook for your gaming headset.
If you want your second screen to have touch control, this 22-inch, 1080P, IPS monitor from ASUS is a good bet. It’s got ten-point multitouch, just like your tablet. The screen is also toughened glass, just like your other touch-capable devices, and has VGA and HDMI inputs.
If you don’t like the idea of a bulky monitor stand, check out this portable monitor from ASUS. It’s 15.6-inches, the same size as most laptops, so you’ll have near-matching displays. It sends its display signal over USB, a departure from the usual HDMI or DisplayPort inputs, and it is also powered by the same cable.
It’ll automatically rotate if you put it in portrait mode, and has a blue light filter to be kind to your eyes. It’s not compatible with MacBooks though, so you will want to look elsewhere if you are an Apple user.
If you want something a little more stylish, HP’s Pavilion line has some of the nicest looking designs while still being kind on your bank account. This 21.5-inch IPS panel is 1080P, has a respectable 7 ms response rate, and has VGA and HDMI connectivity.
The snazzy stand has tilt adjustment only, and it is plug and play with all operating systems, including PlayStation. The box also has a VESA adapter, if you decide to go that route, and the anti-glare panel means you’ll still be able to see it, even if your desk is next to a window.
This 21.5-inch Acer IPS panel features AMD’s FreeSync for tear-free gaming. It’s also got a 75 Hz refresh rate to go with that, and a 4 ms response rate for less blurring during movement. HDMI and VGA inputs round out the rest of the specs.
The stand only allows tilt adjustments though, and there’s no VESA mount capability here. It’s also super-slim at 0.24-inches, a bonus if your desk isn’t that deep.
Almost breaking our budget, this 27-inch 1080P, IPS panel from LG features AMD’s FreeSync technology, dual HDMI inputs, and a borderless design that melts into your background.
It also has a handy reader mode, which reduces blue light so your circadian rhythm doesn’t get out of wack when you’re working late. It’s VESA compatible, and a handy utility for your computer lets you control settings with your mouse, instead of hunting for small, annoying buttons.
BenQ makes some of our favorite monitors, and this 27-inch, 1080P IPS panel is no exception. It’s got three HDMI inputs, perfect if you also have your games consoles on the desk with you, and the combination of a 75 Hz refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync is perfect for gaming during your off-time.
It’s also no slouch for movie watching, with two 5W speakers for stereo sound. BenQ also has integrated a light sensor into the monitor, which adjusts the onscreen image accordingly. Nifty.
ASUS VG275Q 27” Full HD 1080p 1ms Dual HDMI Eye Care Console Gaming Monitor with FreeSync/Adaptive Sync ($205)
Okay, let us address the elephant in the room first. Yes, this monitor from ASUS is $5 over our budget. Can you spare less than the cost of one drive-through cappuccino to get a better monitor? You bet you can.
This panel has a 1 ms response rate, FreeSync, a 75 Hz refresh rate, and more, meaning you’ll frag your way through games just as fast as you chew through spreadsheets during the day. It’s also got two low-lag HDMI inputs, a DisplayPort input, and tons of adjustments to control color, performance, and control.
All you need to do now is hit that order button before the rest of the work-from-home-force decides that it needs a monitor more than you do.
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