It’s getting harder to buy a gaming monitor without adaptive refresh but if you’re OK with just 144Hz, there are some great deals available. We know that G-Sync adds around $200 to the price and even FreeSync monitors are sold at a premium. When framerates are high, tearing is less evident and the action becomes very smooth and fluid. While we recommend adaptive refresh for any new gaming monitor purchase, you can still have a great playing experience with one of these budget screens.

Monitors equipped with Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync modules give control of the screen’s refresh rate to the GPU (instead of the monitor) which allows the display to operate with a variable refresh rate. The result is a very smooth gaming experience with decreased input lag.Mar 2, 2015 – How to Choose the Right Monitor for Gaming

An average refresh rate for a gaming monitor is 8 milliseconds (ms) or less. Finding one with a refresh rate of 4ms or 2ms is even better. LCD monitors with slower refresh rates will be more susceptible to an effect called ghosting, where fast-moving objects on the display will appear to have a blurry shadow chasing them as they move across the screen. Ghosting effects only remain on the screen for a tiny fraction of a second, but they can be distracting, especially for someone playing a video game. CRT gaming monitors do not suffer from ghosting.

BenQ XL2430T

BenQ’s 24-inch XL2430T is a TN monitor like all the other gaming screens we’ve tested, and acquits itself well in pretty much all areas of build quality and performance.

Top 5 Budget Gaming Monitor BenQ XL2430T

To make the best use of blur-reduction, a monitor must have strong light output to overcome the dimming that occurs with backlight strobing. The XL2430T delivers in spades with almost 370cd/m2 of brightness. But here’s the best part – blur-reduction will only cost you 51 percent of that. That’s one of the smallest reductions we’ve measured so far. Where other displays force you to compromise, BenQ’s new screen gives you the best of both worlds. And you get nearly 1000:1 measured contrast to boot.

Other points in favor of the XL2430T are its excellent out-of-box color and grayscale accuracy. We understand that few gamers will calibrate their monitors. BenQ understands that too and endows its new display with a stock grayscale tracking error of only 1.44 DeltaE and a color gamut result of 2.4dE as measured in our tests. With those numbers, you can just plug and play without worrying about color quality.

Another cool feature we like is the S Switch. It controls the OSD with a wheel- and button-encrusted puck and can sit on the base or be moved around the desktop. It’s one of those features we wish came on every monitor because it makes using the menus super-easy. That coupled with superb build quality makes the BenQ XL2430T a winner in our book.

Asus also includes built-in blur reduction with its ULMB feature. Experienced users know that backlight strobing can reduce brightness, so the ROG Swift exposes multiple settings, allowing you to strike just the right balance between blur reduction and light output.

On top of that, you get a QHD (2560×1440) panel. High resolution and unparalleled speed (plus G-Sync) make this our favorite gaming monitor right now.

LG 24GM77

LG comes in right around the $300 sweet spot with its 24-inch 24GM77. In addition to excellent build quality, you get the best motion-blur reduction we’ve seen yet. Motion 240 uses backlight strobing like the competition but reduces light output only 15 percent thanks to a wider pulse width. With some screens cutting peak brightness by 50-percent or more, LG has set a new standard for others to follow. While you can smooth out motion very well by simply running at 144Hz, Motion 240 offers a more compelling option than others we’ve tested.

Top 5 Budget Gaming Monitor LG 24GM77

Also featured on the 24GM77 is Dynamic Action Sync. Not to be confused with G-Sync or FreeSync, DAS lowers input lag by nearly half. You do give up Motion 240 in the process but in our tests, delay was reduced from 32 milliseconds to 18.

The best part is all the gaming-specific functions are accessible from a special keypad in the bottom center of the bezel. It’s another detail that shows LG wants to cater to enthusiasts and make gaming features easy to use. We had no trouble awarding the 24GM77 a Tom’s Editor Recommended award. And we recommend you check it out.


AOC’s G2460PQU is a TN panel that also supports a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. It sports a full array of inputs, though taking full advantage of its speed and low input lag requires DisplayPort or DVI.

AOC doesn’t include any blur reduction in this display. It isn’t really missed when you’re using a 144Hz refresh, though. In fact, as we test more monitors with backlight strobing, we’re finding the luminance reduction to be anywhere from significant to extreme. While shortening the backlight’s pulse width is an effective way to reduce motion artifacts, it reduces light output by more than half. Using a fast refresh mode also reduces blur and doesn’t exact a penalty in brightness.

Top 5 Budget Gaming Monitor AOC G2460PQU

This company recently introduced a G-Sync-capable model that incorporates all of the G2460PQU’s features, but adds about $200 to the price. For users of GeForce GTX (650 Ti and up) video cards, consider checking it out. If you’re interested in saving a chunk of change or use an AMD graphics card, the 24-inch, 144Hz G2460PQU merits serious consideration instead.

BenQ XL2720Z (27-Inch Gaming Monitor)

BenQ packs this display with features that cater specifically to gamers. Not only can you run at a blistering 144Hz, but you get motion-blur reduction courtesy of a backlight strobe, too. It’s an on/off control that imposes a brightness loss of about 58 percent. Still, that’s less than many other monitors with the same feature. You’ll also enjoy a flicker-free backlight, full calibration controls, lots of image presets and a slick S-Switch for controlling the OSD.

Top 5 Budget Gaming Monitor BenQ XL2720Z

The XL2720 did extremely well in our contrast tests (over 1000:1) and proved to be very color-accurate with decent gamma performance. All-in-all, it’s a great choice for high-speed gaming with low input lag and almost zero motion-blur.

BenQ XR3501 (35-Inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor)

We’ve already professed our interest in curved panels for gaming and entertainment. The subtle wrap-around effect adds a nice sense of immersion to the experience. Many users are still asking “why?” but we say “why not?”

Top 5 Budget Gaming Monitor BenQ XR3501

BenQ has created an interesting twist on the category with its XR3501. First off it’s an inch larger than any other ultra-wide panel, curved or flat. Second, it’s the only display to feature an AMVA panel. That means you’ll see about double the contrast of any IPS or TN screen thanks to super-deep black levels. Third, it’s the only ultra-wide that runs at 144Hz. And fourth it has a little tighter radius curve of 2000R (2 meters) So what’s not to like?
Well we are a little disappointed that it doesn’t at least offer FreeSync. Granted, a 144Hz refresh rate eliminates a lot of artifacts and tearing is almost non-existent at framerates over 80 or so. And it will be easy to achieve those speeds thanks to the XR3501’s other omission, it only has 1080 pixels of vertical resolution.

On paper this might seem like a deal-breaker and we were skeptical at first too. But once we started playing games on it, the stunning image and high refresh rate made us forget about the lack of pixel density. This thing was an absolute blast in every game we tried. It really puts you in the environment and the resolution did not impact our experience one bit.

The XR3501 isn’t cheap. In fact it sells for about the same money as other curved screens with higher pixel counts. But it does have some unique features. We suggest looking at one in person before deciding. You just might want to embrace the curve after experiencing it!

Finally, it’s worth noting that the images on LCD gaming monitors look best when they are used at the monitor’s native resolution. Each LCD monitor will have a resolution at which it performs best. When running at a resolution other than the native resolution, images on the LCD may lose some of their sharpness. Games that require a particular resolution might not look as good on certain LCD monitors. A CRT monitor does not require a native resolution.