It’s a nightmare. You’ve spent most of your computer budget on a fancy new graphics card and CPU, and there’s not much left for a monitor. You’ve even considered plugging this incredible machine into your laptop/TV/grandma’s old CRT as a short time fix until your next payday, but wait! We’ve put together a list of some of the best PC monitors available for less than $100 so that you can connect your new computer to something worthy, something which can make output your PC’s display the way it was meant to be seen.
Below, you’ll find a brief overview of our recommendations for the best monitors under 100 USD. This is just a barebones guide, so consider it an “at a glance” review and not representative of the quality of the monitors.
|Monitor||Screen Size||Screen Resolution||Response Time||Current Price|
|Acer S220HQL ABD||21.5”||1920x1080||5ms|
|HP Pavilion 22CWA||21.5”||1920x1080||7ms|
These are all great monitors in their own right, but each has their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s take a more in-depth look at each, starting with the Asus VS228H-P monitor.
ASUS VS228H-P – Best Budget Office Monitor
Firstly, although this monitor is a touch over $100, Asus offer $10 back up to a month after purchase, so technically it sneaks in under budget. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what’s good with this model.
The Asus VS228H-P is a full HD 21” monitor with an impressive 5ms response time. Additionally, it has three inputs: D-Sub, DVI and HDMI which make it a great low-cost monitor to pair with a gaming PC. Depending on the size of your desk, a 21.5” screen may feel a little underwhelming, but the high image quality and relatively low cost make this a great choice for multi-screen setups too (as long as your PC can handle them).
The screen bezel and stand are glossy plastic, which looks good but can act as a fingerprint magnet. We’d recommend wiping it down once you’ve set it up the way you like it and trying to avoid touching it if possible. As far as adjustments go, the screen is can be tilted back and forward but that’s about as much as you can expect for the price. If you have a height adjustable chair (and you should if you value your health), you shouldn’t run into any issues, but the fixed height does mean it may be too high or too low if you have a standard chair at your PC. There is a slot on the back for a VESA mount if you’d like to hang the monitor on a wall too, which is a nice touch.
We found the picture quality to be above average for the price range. Colors appeared crisp and the blacks were nuanced, if a little muddy in high light conditions. There are also a few built-in color profile presets in case you prefer a warmer/cooler palette.
We believe this monitor would be perfect for office work, thanks to its low cost, above average image quality and the fact that it’s mountable. It’s very versatile though, and could also be used as a gaming monitor thanks to its low response time and a good range of inputs.
ViewSonic VA2246M-LED – Best Gaming Monitor Under $100
It’s hard to find a large gaming monitor under $100, but we’ve managed to locate a 22” screen that comes with all the features a good gaming monitor has.
The VA2246M-LED has VGA and DVI inputs, which is fine. We’d have liked to see an HDMI port, but since most graphics cards have DVI ports and there’s no difference in terms of video or audio quality, it’s not a huge deal.
This monitor comes with built-in speakers, which is something not often seen on models in this price range. We found their sound to be decent, if not amazing. They are clearly meant to be a stop-gap until you pick up a couple of dedicated speakers. They’d be fine for office use but at home, you’re going to want something a little higher quality.
The screen itself has a matte finish to reduce glare, and the image quality is good, with sharp contrast and colors that really stand out. It has a wide range of viewing angles, which makes it great for multi-screen setups, and the LED backlight is very bright, which helps the colors pop. You might actually want to reduce the brightness a touch to reduce eye strain in dark environments since it’s actually a lot brighter than it needs to be out of the box.
The image adjustment options are basic brightness and contrast sliders and when changed, the monitor overlays a very large message onto the screen, which is annoying but realistically, once you’ve set it up the way you like it, you likely won’t touch the settings again.
Like the Asus VS228H-P, this monitor has space for a wall mount on the back and a refresh rate of 5ms. If this monitor had an HDMI port and a few more image options, it’d be the perfect gaming monitor, however, it’s important to remember that this is classed as an “entry level” monitor and is actually one of the better ones in that bracket. If you’re a gamer on a budget, you can’t go wrong with this.
Acer S220HQL ABD – Best Monitor for Small Desks
The S220HQL ABD is an ultra-thin, 21.5”, full HD monitor for less than $100. This monitor is well suited for small work areas thanks to its slim profile and understated design. It uses advanced white LED technology to reduce power usage by up to 68%, meaning it has a low footprint both environmentally and in terms of desk space. But what about performance?
Well, the screen has a matte finish, which works to reduce glare from external light sources. This is a godsend if you work in an office with bright fluorescent lighting, or if you don’t have a desk lamp at home. The display has a maximum horizontal viewing angle of 160o, which is great and allows you to move your chair a little without color distortion.
The inputs are VGA and DVI again, and the picture is decent, although we found that the contrast can be a little off at times, most evident when dealing with nuanced colors like skin tones. For the most part though, the colors are bright and the darks are layered, which is all you can really expect.
The main complaint we have with this model is that it’s a little lower than we would have liked, especially since there is no way of raising it short of putting it on top of something. We realize that it’s designed with small spaces in mind, but it wouldn’t have taken much effort to include a height slider on the back.
We liked that all the inputs were hidden on the back as opposed to positioned on the side: in a small space, the visual effect of clutter is multiplied, and wires coming from the side of a monitor would really leave a negative impression, but when everything is plugged in at the back and rounded up with a cable tie or two, this model looks very clean cut.
This monitor performs pretty well given its price. It has decent picture quality and a slew of features that make it a great choice if you don’t have much room to work with. For this reason, it’s our top choice for use in a cubicle or on a small desk. Maybe you’re looking for a monitor to use in your dorm room? If so, this is the one for you.
HP Pavilion 22CWA – Best Monitor Under $100
People say it’s hard to find a big name brand on a tight budget, but this monitor by HP proves that this just isn’t the case. Sure, it’s not huge, but it’s still a perfectly respectable size, and HP have never been a company to sacrifice quality for the price.
Take the display for example. It’s a 1920x1080p IPS panel with an anti-glare coating. That’s a full HD, backlit monitor with a wide viewing angle for under $100. That’s a pretty good deal as is, but this monitor has even more up its sleeve. This monitor has a response time of 7ms. Whilst it’s on the higher end of the acceptable limit for gaming, 7ms is still fast enough to mitigate most of the ghosting you’d find on a slower monitor.
Unlike the other products on this list, you don’t get a DVI input, but you do get HDMI and VGA. The darks aren’t as deep as other monitors, but they’re deep enough to do the job, and the color range is similarly average. We found this monitor perfectly capable of making movies and games look great regardless, though.
The 22CWA comes with pre-set image quality adjustments and the HP Enhance+ filter which increases image sharpness, making it the perfect budget monitor for image editing, assuming you can make do with a slightly lower range of colors.
Aesthetically, you wouldn’t be able to tell that this monitor costs under a hundred dollars. The design is modern and stylish with an attractive stand which makes room for cables or even just a desk ornament if that’s your thing. We especially like that the HP logo is understated and positioned in a way that it doesn’t draw the eye to it.
This monitor is perfect for someone who wants good picture quality but doesn’t really want to spend a lot of money (most people). It comes with a lot of the features offered by higher priced models and minimal downsides, the biggest of which is the screen size and slightly thicker bezel. This is definitely the best gaming monitor under $100 around, and we can’t stress that enough.
Dell E2016HV – Best “Lower Than 1080p” Monitor
Sometimes you don’t need a fancy monitor, even though 1080p is not considered fancy at all in 2018. With the advent of single board PCs like the Raspberry Pi, the need for a screen which is “just a screen” is on the rise. But buying a generic 17” monitor is still going to be reasonably expensive, so why not spend a tiny bit more and get yourself a bigger monitor that you know will last?
The Dell E2016HV VESA isn’t quite full HD: rather it has a screen size of 20” and a resolution of 1600×900. This means that it still displays an HD picture that looks better than a 720p TV does. It’s a reasonable compromise taken in order to reduce the overall cost of the product.
A less welcome compromise is that VGA is the only input. This means that unless you purchase a VGA-DVI adaptor, you’re limited to older display inputs. These aren’t expensive, but we’re a little sore that it’s necessary at all. That said, the display does its job pretty well. Colors are bold and bright. We found that dark colors tend to display more as grays than blacks, so this would work better as a workstation monitor than a home movie screen.
The monitor is pretty energy efficient, using only 14W of power where similar models use up to 35W. It’s unlikely you’ll see any savings in your bill, but it’s good to know. Additionally, the monitor is very light – only four pounds with the stand detached. This means you could even mount it as part of a project without fear of it falling off the wall. Luckily, there are VESA mounting holes on the back to facilitate this.
This monitor won’t be for everyone, that much is true. However, for use in a work environment or IT work setting, this will definitely do the job. We’d recommend this monitor for someone who debugs hardware since it’s light, portable, energy efficient and inexpensive. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles offered by the other products in this list, and just want a screen for a PC, believe us, this one is worth the money.
There are some important factors to look at when considering a monitor, and we’ll walk you through these below to help get you up to speed and set your mind at ease. You’ll find that most monitors will have pretty similar specifications for this price range, but some might be better than others, so you can use this guide to help make sense of the numbers.
Arguably the first specification that you should check, resolution refers to the number of pixels a screen can display. It’s measured as horizontal pixels X vertical pixels, like 1920×1080. Higher resolution means a sharper image and higher overall image quality. This applies on every screen, so always pay attention to this number.
Response time is the amount of time it takes for each pixel to change from black to white or one shade of gray to another. It’s measured in milliseconds, and lower is better (especially for gamers), since if a monitor has too high a response time, you can get “ghosting” where images on screen momentarily blur when moving since the pixels take too long to change shade. For gamers, we’d suggest a maximum response time of 8ms.
Bigger is better, right? Not always, especially for a budget model. If you’ve found a 32” monitor for the same price as a 21”, ask yourself what they’ve left out to reduce costs. Most of the time, you’ll find that the colors aren’t as vibrant or the viewing angles are narrower. Make sure the monitor will actually fit your desk, and that it’s sensible. Even if you get that huge screen on your desk, is it possible to move your chair to the center of it? Will you have to sit further back? Can you reach the keyboard from all the way back there? If not, try downsizing.
There are three main types of panels in monitors these days. The first is twisted nematic (TN), which are cheap and have low response times. The decrease in price comes at the cost of color depth and narrowing of viewing angles. The second type is vertical alignment panels. These excel at displaying deep dark colors like shadows, but again, have narrow viewing angles and cost a bit more than TN panels. Lastly, we have In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels. These usually display vibrant colors and have wide viewing angles, but they can’t display anything above 60Hz and sometimes have higher response times than the alternatives. For more information about these different panel types, take a look at https://www.scan.co.uk/tekspek/monitors/display-panel-types.
Here’s another big part of your monitor. The refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz) and is how many times per second that your monitor can redraw every pixel on the screen. Standard monitors refresh at 60Hz, although gamers have recently been upgrading to 120Hz or 144Hz monitors for smoother gameplay. These higher monitors are often double what you’d pay for a 60Hz monitor though, so factor this into your purchase decision.
So there you have it, we’ve compared the best of the best, weighed their pros and cons and whilst every monitor in this list is fantastic in its own way, we’ve come to the decision that the best monitor under $100 has to be the ViewSonic VA2246M-LED. It’s a gorgeous piece of hardware with some really nice, crisp colors, built-in speakers and a wide viewing angle. In short, it’s perfect for a lot of different situations.
As ever, we hope this list has been helpful to you and with a bit of luck, by now you’ve come to a decision on which monitor is right for you. Rest assured, our research was thorough and in depth, so we’re confident that the perfect monitor for you is somewhere in this list. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!