Picking a monitor is a tricky process, if only because there are so many aspects to consider. Refresh rate? Size and resolution? Panel? Brightness? Curved, ultrawide, or a simple good ol' flat screen? There's just so much to look at, and as a result, the market is flooded with options. Adding a certain budget into the mix makes it even harder to take your pick.
Fortunately, with a $500 budget to spend, you'll find that there are many worthwhile monitors to choose from. Whether you're a gamer, a professional looking for an office monitor, or a casual user, we're here to help you find the best monitor to match your computer. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know in order to get the best display under $500.
LG Ultragear 27GL850-B
Best monitor under $500
- High refresh rate
- IPS panel guarantees bright colors
- Suited for gaming and daily use
- Lacking when it comes to darker colors
Why you should buy this: It's a fantastic jack of all trades, with high refresh rates, gorgeous color reproduction, and 1440p resolution.
Who's it for: Gamers who play all kinds of titles ranging from fast-paced esports games to immersive RPGs.
Why we picked the LG Ultragear 27GL850-B:
As we mentioned above, monitors come in many flavors, and oftentimes, these features don't mix very well — especially if you're on a budget. This means that being a gamer, you'll often be forced to choose between a high refresh rate and the best possible visuals. Your favorite games will help you choose whether you need to focus on a speedy screen that can keep up with the action or a display that delivers lifelike colors and depth. It's a tricky choice, but with the LG Ultragear 27GL850-B, it can be avoided.
This monitor is a favorite amongst gamers and one of the best gaming monitors in this price range. With a refresh rate of 144Hz, it'll tackle any shooter or esports game you'll throw at it, and it'll do so in style — all thanks to the beautiful Nano IPS panel. Surrounded by thin bezels, LG's display panel is intensely bright and returns images that are as sharp as they are vivid. While the blacks could stand to be a little darker, it's not an issue in games, and calibrating the monitor properly will help you even it out.
With a 27-inch screen and a 2560 x 1440 resolution, LG 27GL850-B hits the sweet spot between too big and too small. It has a high pixel density, a 1ms response time, and is compatible with both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium. For this price, it's a real steal, bound to help you enjoy your favorite games for hours on end if you pair it with the right gaming PC.
Acer Nitro QG241Y
Best 1080p monitor under $500
- Great value
- 165Hz refresh rate
- The panel makes it suited for most tasks
- It could stand to be a little brighter
Why you should buy this: It's an inexpensive monitor that can be used for all kinds of tasks, ranging from 1080p gaming to daily work.
Who's it for: Users on a tighter budget who still appreciate a high refresh rate.
Why we picked the Acer Nitro QG241Y:
Staying firmly within a $500 budget is one thing, but what if we told you that you could have a decent monitor for less than $200? The Acer Nitro QG241Y is one such display. There are cheaper monitors out there, but paying a little extra to get something of quality is a better idea than grabbing the cheapest option available and regretting it in a few months' time. With Acer, you're getting something solid without paying an arm and a leg for it.
Whether you're looking for something for your home office or you want to do some 1080p gaming, the Nitro is your friend. It's a 23.8-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display with a VA panel. The VA panel should ensure decent color reproduction without cutting into the seamless performance of this display. Admittedly, colors are exactly the thing where Acer could stand to do a little better — the contrasts could be deeper and the brights could be brighter. However, for that price and with such a killer refresh rate, it's a steal if you don't need the most lifelike colors a monitor can offer.
Our top recommendation for this monitor is lag-free gaming, but it will feel smoother than its less speedy counterparts even in daily office work. Pick it up if you don't need the best monitor ever but you still want to get something of value.
Best curved monitor under $500
- Gorgeous visuals
- Large 34-inch screen with a 2K resolution
- 1800R curvature
- It barely fits in the "under $500" category
Why you should buy this: It has just about everything you could want in a monitor, ranging from a high refresh rate to stunning visuals.
Who's it for: Gamers and content creators, but also those who simply want a satisfying experience no matter what they do.
Why we picked the Dell S3422DWG:
If you're not desperate to stay well under the $500 budget, here's a monitor that's worth splurging on: the Dell S3422DWG. With a gorgeous curve, beautiful VA panel, 3840 x 1440 resolution, and a more-than-adequate refresh rate, this monitor pretty much has it all. As long as you like the look of a wide, curved screen, you're bound to enjoy the immersion that this display can provide.
While the 144Hz refresh rate makes it a good pick for gamers of all kinds, it's also a match for content creators. Its color gamut delivers strong contrasts and solid black uniformity, and whether you use it in the dark or in full light, you should be satisfied with the way it reproduces different shades. However, it does suffer from a common flaw with VA panels — it's worse when viewed at an angle. This should be no problem if you tend to game alone, but if you're looking to play co-op titles on the same screen with a friend, they might enjoy the experience less than you will.
The Dell S3422DWG is good for pretty much everything if you don't mind the fact that it's a little on the pricier side. It's certainly one of the best curved monitors, so in that sense, it delivers the best bang for your buck — and it does so in style.
Asus ROG Swift PG259QN
Best 360Hz monitor under $500
- Unrivaled motion clarity
- Ultra-low input lag
- Buttery smooth gameplay
- Superbly stable stand
- Includes desk clamp
- Only 1080p
- Limited mainstream appeal
Why you should buy this: It's the perfect monitor for competitive gamers who want their hardware to help them win match after match.
Who's it for: Esports fanatics, first-person shooter fans, and other enthusiasts of speedy gaming.
Why we picked the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN:
Competitive gamers tend to pay a great deal of attention to a monitor's speed, so much so that it's often more important than its ability to produce outstanding visuals. When you need to see the exact movement of the enemy in the middle of a heated match, it's not the color gamut that matters to you; it's the refresh rate and the response time. Being able to track each and every little thing that happens in esports titles is often the key to victory, and as such, manufacturers sometimes go all-in on the refresh rate to make sure smudging never happens. This is exactly what the Asus ROG Swift is here to deliver — unparalleled speed and accuracy.
If you only care about gaming performance and don't need things to look intensely pretty, you're going to love this display. It's fast, even ultra-fast, and its entire premise is to deliver when it comes to all the gaming aspects. It's only a 1080p monitor, which is certainly a shame, but it does make it easier to track gameplay without your eyes darting all over the screen. In competitive gaming, it can certainly give you an edge over your opponent.
The sky-high 360Hz is still a novelty, but Asus has been known to push boundaries, recently unveiling a 500Hz monitor. In all fairness, most gamers really don't need that much. On the other hand, if you like to play to win, this is the monitor that will help you score higher. It's not exactly cheap, and it has a fairly limited use case, so if you're not a gamer, steer clear and move on.
HP Omen 27c
Best 1440p monitor under $500
- Ultrafast 240Hz refresh rate
- FreeSync and unofficial G-Sync support
- Stand frees up a lot of desk space
- Immersive 1000R curverature
- Solid out-of-the-box color accuracy
- Bare-minimum HDR
- No swivel adjustment
- Visual artifacts due to the VA panel
Why you should buy this: It's highly immersive and suited for all kinds of tasks, from gaming to work.
Who's it for: Chiefly gamers, but it will do the job for content creators and other users who will appreciate the immersion combined with performance.
Why we picked the HP Omen 27c:
The HP Omen 27c is yet another one of those monitors that attempts to tick all of the boxes. It delivers a really high refresh rate, a fairly subtle 1000R curve that is easy on the eyes, VESA HDR 400 certification to ensure adequate brightness, and a VA panel to strike a balance between visuals and speed. While many of these "jack of all trades" monitors tend to fall flat on one (or several) aspects, the Omen 27c pulls it off, for the most part.
The 240Hz refresh rate is going to help you breeze through pretty much any game you throw at it. We've tested the Omen 27c in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege, and a bit of League of Legends, and the refresh rate certainly proved to be helpful. If you're upgrading from a 144Hz monitor, you might not see that much of a difference, but going from 60Hz will be a mind-blowing improvement.
It sports a VA panel and delivered deep contrasts, vivid colors, and a peak brightness of 450 nits in our own tests. It just barely squeezes into our "$500 or less" bracket, but with all the features that it can provide, it's worth the money if you want to have something that satisfies most of the requirements.
Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q1A
Best 4K monitor under $500
- Reasonable pricing
- Bright IPS panel
- Not too massive
- Not just for gaming
- Only 60Hz
Why you should buy this: It's a surprisingly affordable 4K monitor that provides a satisfying visual experience.
Who's it for: Gamers who want to try out 4K gaming without breaking the bank.
Why we picked the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q1A:
In recent years, the hype for 4K gaming has slowly been growing. With some of the best graphics cards now fully capable of supporting 4K and console gamers also looking to upgrade, 4K monitors are certainly on the rise. Coincidentally, the Asus TUF Gaming VG289Q1A is one of the best 4K monitors in our ranking. Let's take a peek at this display.
It supports both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, and it comes with a modest refresh rate of 60Hz. Without beating around the bush, that's not a lot. Console gamers will certainly be satisfied, but if you're on a desktop with a beefy graphics card, you may feel it's a little limiting. On the other hand, getting a 4K monitor at this price makes the sacrifice of refresh rates a worthy trade-off. This Asus display will excel in games that focus on visuals, delivering a sharp, pixel-packed image that's intensely bright thanks to the IPS panel.
In terms of image quality, everything about this monitor is pretty great. You're getting solid color accuracy, high peak brightness of 350 nits, and a contrast ratio of 1000:1. If you're not much of an esports gamer and tend to prefer immersive RPGs, this is a budget-friendly winner for you.
Best ultrawide monitor under $500
- Massive ultrawide screen
- Solid 144Hz refresh rate
- Adequately bright
- Multitasking fiend
- The viewing angles could be better
- No swivel adjustment
Why you should buy this: It's a stunning ultrawide monitor that's ideal for gaming and multitasking alike.
Who's it for: Gamers and other users who will benefit from the additional screen real estate.
Why we picked the Gigabyte G34WQC:
Ultrawide monitors are not everyone's cup of tea, but for those who like them (or are willing to be convinced), they can be a real blessing. Packing as much screen real estate as two monitors placed side by side, these displays are excellent for improving productivity and watching movies in their native, cinema-style aspect ratio, and the Gigabyte G34WQC is no different. With its 1500R curve radius, it's impressive and immersive. It draws you in, minimizes distractions, and lets you sink into your entertainment of choice with ease.
With its 34-inch display and 21:9 aspect ratio, it makes for an unforgettable experience in games that can utilize its capabilities. This is enhanced by the speedy 144Hz refresh rate. Whether you're into League of Legends or Uncharted, you'll enjoy the gaming session thanks to the combination of immersion, great visuals, and raw gaming performance.
Like many screens in this price range and type, this Gigabyte model comes with a VA panel. As mentioned above, this means slightly subpar viewing angles, which is a shame if you tend to play co-op. However, if you're a solo player or you want to use it for productivity, this is a great pick at a reasonable price.
Trying to pick the best monitor panel is like trying to pick the best flavor of ice cream — everyone has their own favorite. However, unlike ice cream, display panels each have their own thing that they excel at, and that makes it easier to take your pick. There are three types of panels usually found in monitors. Let's go over them one by one.
Twisted nematic (TN) monitors are the cheapest and the most common. A TN panel is good if all you care about are high refresh rates and quick response times. However, in terms of visuals, it provides a less bright and vivid experience than the other two. Viewing angles are also problematic: If you look at the screen from an angle, the colors will look much, much worse.
In-plane switching (IPS) is, in theory, kind of the opposite of TN in that it provides beautiful visuals with a less responsive user experience. However, modern monitors combine IPS panels, with their bright colors and wide viewing angles, with higher refresh rates and lower response times. Unsurprisingly, getting such a monitor will cost more than a simple TN panel.
Vertical alignment (VA) monitors are somewhat of a middle ground between IPS and TN. They provide better colors, a high contrast ratio, and better viewing angles while upping the response times in comparison to TN. This technology is usually used in television screens, though, because it doesn't excel at either of the two things that IPS and TN shine at.
To summarize: If you want a speedy monitor for uses such as gaming, don't mind worse visuals, and don't want to overspend, go for a TN panel. If you want to focus on beautiful imagery, go for IPS. And if you want both, you can either get a cheaper VA monitor or spend a little bit extra and buy an IPS screen with a higher refresh rate.
Another important consideration when picking a monitor is the screen size. Do you want a massive display or something unobtrusive that will fit neatly on your desk? As you can see from our lineup of the best monitors under $500, there are plenty of sizes to choose from, although most monitors are in the 22-inch to 27-inch range, with some bigger models hitting 32 inches.
To determine the perfect monitor size, consider your use case and the amount of space you have available on your desk (or wall, if you'll be using a wall mount). You don't want to sit too close to a huge screen: Your eyes will get tired, as will your neck and shoulders. On the other hand, a tiny monitor will hurt your eyes just as badly.
We have a full guide on picking the perfect monitor size, so make sure to check that out if you're uncertain.
For a long while, the 60Hz refresh rate was a standard in most monitors, and anything above that was considered a welcome bonus. While that is still true to this day, the last few years have brought a popularity surge for higher refresh rates in gaming monitors. On your search, you'll find 75Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, and even 360Hz variants.
For most gamers, 60Hz will suffice, but it depends entirely on the games you like to play and how powerful your computer is. If you have one of the best gaming PCs, you won't be able to make the most of it with a 60Hz monitor. On the other hand, if you're running a budget rig, getting something far above 60Hz will be a waste unless you're planning to upgrade in the near future.
In general, 60Hz may feel limiting if you like to play fast-paced games such as FPS or MOBAs. For other titles, it's enough for most uses, but the scales are slowly tipping toward higher refresh rates like 75Hz or even 144Hz.
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