The Best Budget Monitors

The Best Budget Monitors

Our pick

ViewSonic VA2456-MHD

ViewSonic VA2456-MHD

The best budget monitor

The VA2456-MHD is an affordable and reasonably color-accurate monitor with great contrast that pairs well with any laptop or desktop. Its main flaw is a basic stand that only tilts the monitor up and down, but that’s typical of almost all inexpensive monitors.

Buying Options

$120* from Staples
$150 from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $140.

The 24-inch, 1080p ViewSonic VA2456-MHD has the best contrast ratio of any budget monitor we tested, with darker blacks that make for slightly better images in games, movies, or web browsing. This model’s color accuracy out of the box isn’t good enough for professional photo and video work, but it is good enough for anything else and better than that of many of the other models we tested. The VA2456-MHD has both HDMI and DisplayPort connections—most budget monitors have one or the other—a modern-looking design, and a stand that doesn’t wobble too much (though like most cheap monitors, it only tilts up and down). The built-in speakers aren’t great, but they’re fine for YouTube videos or your operating system’s bleeps and bloops, and ViewSonic backs the monitor with a three-year warranty and a decent replacement policy for panels with dead or stuck pixels.

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Runner-up

Acer CB242Y bir

Acer CB242Y bir

A cheap monitor with a great stand

The CB242Y is the only monitor we found in this price range with a great stand that allows it to tilt, swivel, and pivot 90 degrees. But its display quality isn’t quite as good as that of the VA2456-MHD, and it doesn’t have a DisplayPort.

Buying Options

$185 from Amazon
$140 from B&H

If you don’t plan to get a monitor arm but still want to be able to adjust your monitor just right, the Acer CB242Y bir is a 24-inch 1080p monitor with a far better stand and a slightly worse screen than on the ViewSonic VA2456-MHD. This Acer monitor isn’t as color-accurate out of the box, and its contrast ratio isn’t as good—to the naked eye, its blacks aren’t as dark—but unless you’re viewing it side by side with another screen, looking at a test pattern, that isn’t a problem. It doesn’t include a DisplayPort (it has only HDMI), and it lacks internal speakers. But its stand is head and shoulders above all the other ones we tested, allowing for height adjustments as well as tilting, swiveling, and pivoting 90 degrees; most monitors in this price range can only tilt (and wobble). The CB242Y has a 75 Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling and gaming look a bit smoother than on typical 60 Hz monitors, and it supports FreeSync, which helps to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering while you’re playing games. It comes with a three-year warranty, though Acer’s dead-pixel policy isn’t quite as good as ViewSonic’s.

Upgrade pick

ViewSonic VX2485-MHU

ViewSonic VX2485-MHU

For MacBooks and other USB-C laptops

It costs more than our other picks, but this is the cheapest monitor we found with a USB-C port that will charge most 13-inch laptops with no other cables or power adapters required.

Buying Options

$170 from Amazon
$170 from B&H

The ViewSonic VX2485-MHU costs more than most other 24-inch 1080p monitors, but it includes one feature that you don’t usually find in a budget display: a USB-C port. A USB-C cable can carry data, a display signal, and power all at once, replacing a typical HDMI or DisplayPort cable and your laptop’s charger simultaneously. This monitor can provide up to 60 W of power, enough for 13-inch laptops like the MacBook Air or the Dell XPS 13 (though not enough for larger, 15- or 16-inch laptops). If you have a laptop that has only USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, the convenience of the VX2485-MHU is worth paying a bit more for. It also has an HDMI port, a stand that allows it to tilt and swivel (but not pivot or adjust its height), a 75 Hz refresh rate, FreeSync support, good-enough-for-YouTube internal speakers, and a three-year warranty.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

ViewSonic VA2456-MHD

ViewSonic VA2456-MHD

The best budget monitor

The VA2456-MHD is an affordable and reasonably color-accurate monitor with great contrast that pairs well with any laptop or desktop. Its main flaw is a basic stand that only tilts the monitor up and down, but that’s typical of almost all inexpensive monitors.

Buying Options

$120* from Staples
$150 from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $140.

Runner-up

Acer CB242Y bir

Acer CB242Y bir

A cheap monitor with a great stand

The CB242Y is the only monitor we found in this price range with a great stand that allows it to tilt, swivel, and pivot 90 degrees. But its display quality isn’t quite as good as that of the VA2456-MHD, and it doesn’t have a DisplayPort.

Buying Options

$185 from Amazon
$140 from B&H

Upgrade pick

ViewSonic VX2485-MHU

ViewSonic VX2485-MHU

For MacBooks and other USB-C laptops

It costs more than our other picks, but this is the cheapest monitor we found with a USB-C port that will charge most 13-inch laptops with no other cables or power adapters required.

Buying Options

$170 from Amazon
$170 from B&H

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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