Best budget monitor 2019: The best 1080p and 1440p monitors in the UK

Not too long ago, budget monitors had – excuse the pun – a bad image; they were renowned for poor colour accuracy, wobbly non-adjustable stands and hideous-looking designs. Times have changed, however, as you can now buy a quality panel that oozes a premium look for under £200.

To help you make an informed decision, our buying guide explains what you need to look out for before you splash out. Scroll past and you’ll find a list of our favourite budget monitors of 2019. If you’re an avid gamer, however, you’ll want to read our separate article on how to pick the best budget gaming monitor – gamers have a very different set of priorities.

How to choose the best budget monitor

What monitor size and resolution should I choose?

A small budget no longer limits you to a small monitor. You’ll now find plenty of options between 22in and 27in – and a few even push past the 30in mark. 

There’s more than just panel size to think about, though – resolution is a key factor. For instance, while a 22in monitor with a Full HD resolution monitor will look pin-sharp, a 27in monitor with the same resolution will look more soft and pixelated due to the lower number of pixels per inch (PPI). To put that in numbers: a 22in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) monitor equates to 100ppi, while a 32in Full HD panel is only 69ppi – 30% less. We’d suggest sticking to 90ppi or above: a 24in Full HD monitor hits the sweet spot and similarly a 27in-32in 1440p (2,560 x 1,440) panel looks glorious, too. You can easily calculate the PPI with the help of a calculator or through this website.

One word of caution, though. Some older (read: rather elderly) computers with integrated graphics may not support higher resolution panels. If your computer is a bit long in the tooth, then it may be wise to stick to Full HD. At the very least check we’d check the maximum resolution supported by your PC or laptop.

Which type of panel is best?

There are three main types of LCD screens, with each having its own characteristics. Twisted Nematic (TN) are the cheapest type of panel technology. This sacrifices some colour accuracy and contrast, but has the benefit of being very cheap – and it’s also more responsive for gamers.

Vertical alignment panels (VA, AVA and MVA) have wide viewing angles and very high contrast levels, although they don’t always have the greatest colour accuracy.

Finally, IPS/PLS screens generally have the best colour accuracy and viewing angles, but are also the most expensive, although the price gap between IPS/PLS, VA and TN has narrowed in recent years.

Which other features should you consider?

Display inputs

Most have an HDMI input, while others still rely on VGA (D-Sub) and DVI-D inputs. You might even find DisplayPort takes centre stage on the pricier models.

An adjustable stand

Having an adjustable stand will you give you much more flexibility – and you won’t need to stuff books or magazines underneath to raise it to a comfortable height. It’s not uncommon to find a budget monitor with tilt and height adjustment. It’s not impossible to find one that can swivel and rotate, too, even if it is more of a rarity.

Low-profile bezels

Budget monitors are more elegant than ever before; some sport a three-sided borderless design, which makes them take up less space on your desk.

Built-in extras 

Some budget monitors have built-in USB hubs and speakers. The former are genuinely useful, but bear in mind that the latter are almost always terrible. Most are easily bettered by a cheap pair of dedicated PC speakers.

Reduced blue light mode

Some monitors now offer a reduced blue light mode, which is normally marketed as being in the interests of eye-health. This is a feature which has become more commonplace in recent years, in response to the fears that visible blue light emitted by monitors can cause long-term damage to the eye, and can cause issues such as eye strain and headaches. However, according to the UK Association of Optometrists, there are no peer-reviewed science journals to support this – we wouldn’t factor in as part of your buying decision. 

The best budget monitors of 2019

1. AOC Q3279VWFD8: The best budget monitor

Price: £200 | Buy now from Amazon

With its glorious 1440p IPS panel, AOC’s 31.5in monitor is our favourite budget monitor. It has excellent colour accuracy and also runs at a maximum refresh rate of 75Hz – gamers will find it a noticeable improvement over lesser 60Hz panels.

It might not have an adjustable stand or low-profile bezels, but you’re paying for a supremely affordable large-sized IPS panel that excels in both movies and games. If you’re looking for a big monitor and your graphics cards can handle a 1440p resolution, there’s no other monitor under £200 that surpasses it.

Read our full AOC Q3279VWFD8 review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 31.5in; Resolution: 2,560 x 1,440; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort; Refresh rate: 75Hz

2. BenQ GW2280: The best under £100

Price: £77 | Buy now from Amazon

This small-sized monitor from BenQ is ideal for those on a tiny budget. The 21.5in VA-based panel boasts a great contrast ratio and has good viewing angles, too. Despite having a slightly wobbly plastic stand that’s limited to tilt adjustment, its three-sided borderless design is extremely attractive.

If you’re looking for something slightly bigger, consider its sibling, the GW2480, instead. It has a 24in IPS panel that runs up to Full HD and can be found for just £95.

Key specs – Screen size: 21.5in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: VA; Video inputs: VGA, 2x HDMI; Refresh rate: 60Hz

3. Philips 241B7QPJKEB: An excellent IPS panel with a pop-up camera

Price: £200 | Buy now from BT

The Philips 241B7QPJKEB’s gorgeous IPS panel is partnered with a unique feature – it has an integrated pop-up camera and microphone. For under £200, you won’t find a better-looking panel that also has a built-in webcam – it’s our top pick for those who want an all-in-one solution.

That’s not the end of its talents. Its three-sided borderless design is elegant, and it has a fully adjustable stand, built-in speakers, a USB hub, and a sensor that automatically switches off the monitor when you’re away from your desk.

Read our full Philips 241B7QPJKEB review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 23.8in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA; Refresh rate: 60Hz

4. AOC I2490VXQ: Excellent design and an IPS panel for under £150

Price: £149 | Buy now from Amazon

The AOC I2490VXQ is a 23.8in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS monitor that oozes quality. With its three-sided borderless design, this budget monitor is one of the prettiest you’ll find at this end of the market. Its panel is no slouch either: the IPS panel boasts vivid, accurate colours that can be viewed from any angle.

Its stand doesn’t feature any height or pivot adjustments, but if you’re willing to spend an extra £30, you can grab the AOC I2490PXQU, which is an identical model that features a fully adjustable stand. Big-screen fanatics will be glad to find that AOC also offers a 27in variant of this monitor with the I2790VQ and I2790PQU (adjustable stand).

Key specs – Screen size: 23.8in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA; Refresh rate: 60Hz

5. Asus VC239H: A budget IPS panel

Price: £125 | Buy now from Amazon

If you can’t quite afford the AOC I2490VXQ (above), consider getting the Asus VC239H, instead. It has near-identical specs to the AOC with its 23.6in IPS panel that runs at 60Hz. The Asus has a three-sided borderless design and a tilt only adjustable stand.

The biggest difference between the two comes in the form of their design: the AOC has a sleek, stylish silver stand that oozes quality, while the cheaper Asus makes do with a plain-looking all-black stand instead.

Read our full Asus VC239H review for details

Key specs – Screen size: 23.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: VGA, DVI, HDMI; Refresh rate: 60Hz

6. AOC I1601FWUX: A portable USB-C monitor for sensible money

Price: £160 | Buy now from BT Shop

The AOC I1601FWUX is not your average monitor. Aimed at those who are looking for a portable setup, the AOC can be used anywhere on-the-go. Powered with a single USB-C input, you can use it as your primary or, better still, an extended display – making it an excellent choice for presentations and board meetings.

Its IPS display is visually good, but, with a limited brightness of around 220cd/m², it’s rather dull in bright environments. Regardless, the monitor adds a welcome dash of flexibility to any mobile setup, and the bundled flip-cover (somewhat reminiscent of the Apple iPad) means you can prop up the monitor anywhere.

Key specs – Screen size: 15.6in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: USB-C; Refresh rate: 60Hz

Buy now from BT Shop


7. Iiyama XUB2492HSU-B1: Adjustable stand and an IPS panel

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

The XUB2492HSU-B1 is an impressive IPS monitor that features a fully adjustable stand, a three-sided borderless design, all the right inputs and, most importantly, a colour-accurate display.

This Iiyama monitor is essentially the cheaper variant of the Philips 241B7QPJKEB. It has fantastic viewing angles, a good contrast ratio and accurate colours, which makes it a perfect monitor for working or watching movies.

Key specs – Screen size: 23.8in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Screen technology: IPS; Video inputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA; Refresh rate: 60Hz

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