Best Gaming Monitor Under 500 USD For 2020 – Buyer’s Guide And Monitor Reviews

For under $500, you can get one of the best 240Hz displays for competitive eSports gaming, a decent 4K display, an excellent ultrawide monitor, or an impeccable 1440p 144Hz gaming monitor for the most balanced performance.

Deciding which one is the best for you depends on what type of games you mostly play as well as on your PC configuration. In this guide, we’ll help you decide which is the best gaming monitor under 500 USD for you!

Top 5 Gaming Monitors Under $500 For 2020

TypeMonitorSizeResolutionPanelRefresh RateVRR 
Best 240Hz Monitor25”1920×1080TN240HzFreeSync
(G-SYNC Stable)
Best 1440p 144Hz Monitor27”2560×1440IPS144HzFreeSync
(G-SYNC Compatible)
Best UltraWide Monitor34”3440×1440VA100HzFreeSync
(G-SYNC Stable)
Best 4K IPS Monitor27”3840×2160IPS60HzFreeSync
Best 32” 4K Monitor32”3840×2160VA60HzFreeSync

All of the gaming monitors in this table are available between $400 and $500. Depending on your budget, you may want to visit our other gaming monitor buyer’s guides:

In order to ensure you’re getting the perfect monitor for your needs and preference, stick to our guidelines and tips in the monitor reviews below.

Additionally, you can visit our comprehensive gaming monitor buyer’s guide where you can learn more about what’s the best panel typerefresh ratescreen size, and resolution for you as well as what features you should look out for.

Ideally, you should pick a FreeSync monitor if you have a FreeSync compatible AMD graphics card or a G-SYNC monitor if you have a G-SYNC compatible NVIDIA card in order to get variable refresh rate (VRR) which removes screen tearing and stuttering.

In case you have a GTX 10-series or newer NVIDIA GPU, you can also get VRR on FreeSync monitors.

However, it won’t work equally good on all monitors. Displays marked as ‘Stable’ offer a stable FreeSync performance with NVIDIA GPUs whereas those marked as ‘Unstable’ will have certain issues or not work at all. G-SYNC compatible FreeSync monitors will work without any issues as they are certified by NVIDIA.

Acer XF252Q – Best Pick For Competitive Gaming

Best Monitor Under 500 For 2020

About the Monitor

The Acer Nitro XF252Q is our top recommended 240Hz display and it’s actually the best 240Hz gaming monitor you can get under $400.

It offers everything a high-end competitive gamer may want including a rapid response time speed, low input lag, AMD FreeSync with a stable G-SYNC performance, and Motion Blur Reduction.

Image Quality

Unlike most 240Hz displays with a 1ms GtG native response time speed, the Acer XF252Q is based on a slightly newer 240Hz panel with a response time speed of ~0.5ms for even less ghosting in fast-paced games.

Of course, at this price range and with the display technology available at the time of this writing, you have to sacrifice image quality for the best performance which is something serious gamers won’t have any problems with.

The drawbacks of using such a fast TN panel display are the narrow 160°/170° viewing angles and inferior contrast and color quality.

Further, the Acer XF252Q features 1080p resolution which may seem underwhelming considering that you can get a 1440p 144Hz monitor at this price range.

However, 1920×1080 does result in a decent pixel-per-inch ratio on a monitor of this size, and low resolution is preferred among competitive gamers anyway as it allows them to reach higher frame rates.

Other panel related specs include a decent 400-nit peak brightness, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, and 8-bit color depth support with ~100% sRGB color gamut.

The Acer XF252Q also supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), but it’s software-emulated only. Basically, you can completely ignore the HDR support here as it won’t improve the image quality of HDR content nor does it affect the monitor’s price.

Features

Best 2k Monitors

AMD’s FreeSync technology allows you to synchronize the monitor’s refresh rate to your GPU’s frame rate which will eliminate screen tearing and stuttering up to 240Hz/FPS (Frames Per Second).

The variable refresh rate (VRR) range on the Acer XF252Q is 48-240Hz.

Alternatively, you can use VRB (Visual Response Boost) which when enabled, strobes the backlight at 120Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz for CRT-like motion clarity.

Note that backlight strobing cannot be active at the same time as FreeSync. Further, it reduces the screen’s maximum brightness while active and introduces screen flickering.

Although the flickering isn’t noticeable, those sensitive to it may experience headaches/eye strain. So, enable this feature only when playing fast-paced games.

For most people though, just using the monitor at 240Hz with FreeSync or uncapped frame rates will be more than quick and clear enough.

In order to get the best performance, make sure the overdrive preset is set to Normal as Extreme introduces pixel overshoot i.e. inverse ghosting. For more details, check out our Acer XF252Q review.

Other useful gaming features include Black Boost for better visibility in darker games, customizable crosshairs, and customizable picture presets.

Design & Connectivity

Best 1080p Monitor For 2020

The Acer XF252Q 1080p 240Hz monitor has a robust and versatile design with full ergonomic support (height, tilt, swivel, pivot, and VESA mount compatibility) while its connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a headphones jack, two 2W built-in speakers, and a quad-USB 3.0 hub (one upstream and fourdownstream ports).

Alternatives

The Acer Nitro XF252Q is also available with a built-in G-SYNC module as the Acer Predator XN253QX which is $150 more expensive.

Overall, we recommend sticking with the XF252Q as now that you can use FreeSync with compatible NVIDIA cards, there’s no reason to spend extra money on the G-SYNC module.

While the G-SYNC model does offer a wider VRR range (30-240Hz) and variable overdrive – the input lag, response time speed, and image quality are virtually identical on both monitors.

In fact, the XN253Q has ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) which can only strobe at 100Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz – but not at 240Hz like VRB (Visual Response Boost) of the Nitro model.

Overall, the Acer XB252Q is the best gaming monitor under 500 USD when it comes to competitive gaming.

In case these two monitors are unavailable to you, check our best monitors for FPS game buyer’s guide for the best 240Hz alternatives.

The Pros

  • AMD FreeSync and MBR up to 240Hz
  • Low input lag and quick response time
  • Fully ergonomic design
  • Rich connectivity options

The Cons

  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Inferior colors and contrast to IPS and VA panels
  • Only 1080p resolution

LG 27GL850 – Great Visuals And Smooth Performance

Best 1440p 144hz Ips Gaming Monitor

About the Monitor

For most people, 240Hz is not necessary. The difference between 240Hz and 144Hz is not as noticeable as it is between 60Hz and 144Hz meaning that you can enjoy smooth and responsive performance as well as vivid details and better colors with a 1440p 144Hz IPS display.

The LG 27GL850 is hands-down the best 1440p 144Hz gaming monitor you can get.

Image Quality

First of all, the LG 27GL850 monitor has the perfect screen size for the 2560×1440 screen resolution as it hits the pixel density sweet spot of 108 pixels per inch (PPI) meaning that you get plenty of screen space as well as sharp and clear details without any scaling necessary.

Secondly, the display boasts LG’s Nano IPS panel technology with an exceptional color gamut of 98% DCI-P3 and 10-bit color depth support. The colors are accurate, consistent, and vibrant.

Just like the XF252Q, the LG 27GL850 supports HDR and even though it has amazing colors, it lacks local dimming for a higher contrast ratio. So, some HDR content may look a bit better, but you’ll mostly prefer it disabled.

For a really good HDR viewing experience, you would need to spend at least $1,000 more for a display with full-array local dimming such as the ASUS PG27UQ.

There are HDR monitors under $500, such as the Samsung C32HG70, which offer a decent HDR picture quality (better than the LG 27GL850, but not nearly as good as the PG27UQ), but they have flaws of their own such as severe ghosting due to the slow response time.

The LG 27GL850, on the other hand, offers an excellent response time speed of 1ms GtG – plus, it has gorgeous colors, crisp and sharp details, and wide 178° viewing angles. 

Features

AMD FreeSync is supported with a 48-144Hz VRR range over DisplayPort and it is certified by NVIDIA as G-SYNC compatible meaning that VRR will work without any issues with compatible NVIDIA cards.

Other useful features include Game Mode (FPS, RTS, Reader, sRGB presets + 2 customizable Gamer profiles), Black Stabilizer, Cross Hair, and advanced picture adjustments.

For the best performance, use the ‘Fast’ overdrive preset. For more information about the monitor, visit our LG 27GL850 review.

Design & Connectivity

Best Gaming Monitor 2020

The design has a fairly good ergonomic support with VESA mount compatibility, tilt, height, and pivot adjustments but no swivel to the left/right option.

At the back of the monitor, you will find two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, a headphones jack, and a dual-USB 3.0 hub. HDMI 2.0 supports 1440p up to 144Hz, but the FreeSync range is limited to 48-100Hz on this monitor over HDMI.

Alternatives

We highly recommend the LG 27GL850 as the best 1440p 144Hz gaming monitor.

Alternatives such as the Aorus AD27QD and the ASUS XV272U cost the same yet they are based on a notably slower IPS panel by Innolux.

The ASUS VG27AQ is another similarly priced 1440p 144Hz IPS model which is overclockable to 165Hz and has the unique ability to run VRR and MBR simultaneously via ASUS’ ELMB-SYNC technology.

Using this feature, however, has other drawbacks such as reduced brightness and introduced screen flicker which although invisible to the human eye can cause eye strain/headaches after prolonged use to those sensitive to it.

Besides, with the LG 27GL850, there’s no need for backlight strobing of any kind as there’s no noticeable ghosting or overshoot anyway.

The Pros

  • Vibrant colors and crisp details
  • Quick response time
  • AMD FreeSync
  • Ergonomic design and rich connectivity options

The Cons

  • Limited FreeSync range over HDMI
  • Design lacks swivel option

MSI MAG341CQ – Stunning Viewing And Gaming Experience

Best Curved Monitor

About the Monitor

If you’re after something a bit different, the MSI Optix MAG341CQ is the best ultrawide monitor under 500 USD that you can get!

Image Quality

Thanks to its ultrawide format (21:9 aspect ratio), the MSI MAG341CQR provides a more immersive viewing and gaming experience as well as extra horizontal workspace.

Further, it features a VA panel with a high static contrast ratio of 3,000:1 which makes for deep and vivid black shades. In comparison to IPS panels, the colors aren’t as accurate and consistent but they are vibrant and rich nonetheless with true 8-bit color depth and 110% sRGB gamut.

3440×1440 (UWQHD) resolution also provides a rich pixel density of 110 PPI on this 34″ screen thereby ensuring crisp details and plenty of screen space.

The viewing angles are somewhere in between those of IPS and TN. They aren’t quite as wide as that of IPS, but they are a lot better than the viewing angles on TN panels.

Generally, the main downside of VA panels is the response time speed; pixels take a bit longer to change from one color to another which causes noticeable ghosting which is negligible in most cases.

However, in fast-paced games where dark pixels are predominant in the picture, there is evident smearing of fast-moving objects which may be tolerable to some, but game-breaking to others.

Overall, if you mostly play fast-paced games competitively, you should avoid VA panels; otherwise, it’s not a big deal as you get an exceptional image quality for the price as a trade-off.

Features

The VRR range of the MSI MAG341CQ is 48-100Hz and FreeSync works without issues with NVIDIA cards. Note that 100Hz provides a notable improvement in motion clarity and responsiveness as opposed to 60Hz-75Hz.

Other features include pre-calibrated picture modes (FPS, RTS, etc), custom crosshairs, and Picture in Picture/Picture by Picture. To learn more about the monitor, visit our MSI Optix MAG341CQ review.

Design & Connectivity

Best Curved Monitors

Alas, the MSI MAG341CQ has a tilt-only stand and it’s not VESA mount compatible meaning that you will need to purchase an adapter if you wish it to mount the screen on a third-party stand. The screen curvature of 1800R provides a more immersive viewing experience by increasing your field of view and decreasing distortion.

Alternatives

  • Viotek GN34C B/W – A cheaper model by Viotek. It’s based on the same panel but has a lower quality build
  • Samsung S34J55W – A cheaper 3440×1440 75Hz FreeSync ultrawide monitor with a flat screen
  • LG 34UC79G – A 2560×1080 144Hz gaming monitor with an IPS panel. Its higher refresh rate and faster response time provide a better fast-paced gaming experience, however, the lower resolution results in a more pixelated image quality

The Pros

  • High contrast ratio
  • AMD FreeSync up to 100Hz
  • Immersive gaming experience

The Cons

  • Tilt-only stand
  • Not VESA mount compatible
  • Moderate ghosting in fast-paced games, particularly in darker scenes

LG 27UL650 – Best 4K Monitor For Mixed Use

Best 2k Gaming Monitor

About the Monitor

Looking for a 4K monitor? You can visit our dedicated best 4K gaming monitor for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X and best 4K PC monitor buyer’s guides for a more diverse selection.

Image Quality

The LG 27UL650 is the best 4K monitor under $500 for overall use. It’s great for console gaming, PC gaming (if you have a good enough GPU), and content creation/consumption.

It’s based on an IPS panel with dithered 10-bit color depth, 99% sRGB color gamut, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, a 350-nit peak brightness, and 4K Ultra HD resolution for crystal-clear detail clarity thanks to the 163 pixel-per-inch ratio.

The monitor also supports entry-level HDR, however, HDR content only gets a boost in brightness up to ~400-nits. There’s no wide color gamut support or local dimming, so the display only qualifies for VESA’s entry-level DisplayHDR 400 certification.

Features

LG offers a bunch of useful features including On-Screen Control for adjusting OSD settings in a desktop application, Screen Split, Black Stabilizer for better visibility in darker games, and HDR Effect which simulates HDR for non-compatible content.

FreeSync is supported with a 40-60Hz range over both HDMI and DisplayPort which makes the LG 27UL650 the best 4K HDR monitor for Xbox One X under $500 since Xbox One supports FreeSync.

Additionally, FreeSync works with NVIDIA cards as well but only within the ‘Basic’ mode of FreeSync which limits the VRR range to 48-60Hz.

Design & Connectivity

Best Gaming Monitor Under 500

The LG 27UL650 has a fairly ergonomic design with tilt, height, pivot and VESA mount adjustments, but no swivel option. As far as the connectivity is concerned, there are two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, and a headphones jack.

The same monitor is also available with a USB-C port that features power delivery up to 60W and DisplayPort Alternate Mode at a bit higher price tag – the LG 27UL850.

Alternatives

Since the HDR support is only software-emulated on the LG 27UL650 due to the lack of display capabilities, you may want to save some money and go with the LG 27UL500 instead. It offers a slightly lower sRGB gamut (98%) and lower peak brightness (300-nits), but it’s $100 cheaper.

We have a detailed comparison between all LG’s UK- and UL-series of 4K monitors in our LG 27UK650 review which you should definitely check out if you’re interested in a 27″ 4K IPS monitor.

The Pros

  • Vibrant colors
  • FreeSync over HDMI and DP
  • Ergonomic design

The Cons

  • No wide color gamut
  • Only entry-level HDR support

LG 32UK550 – Best 4K Monitor For Movies

Best Budget 4k Monitor

About the Monitor

If you want a bigger 4K monitor, the LG 32UK550 is the best 32-inch gaming monitor under $500.

Image Quality

Unlike the LG 27UL650, the LG 32UK550 has a VA panel with a higher contrast ratio (3,000:1) but not as accurate colors. So, it offers a more immersive viewing experience, but it’s not as good when it comes to content creation. It also has more ghosting and smearing in fast-paced games, but it’s tolerable for casual gaming.

Features

Moving on, the LG 32UK550 supports HDR and has a wide color gamut with 95% DCI-P3 color space coverage. It offers the same features as the UL650 including Screen Split, On-Screen Control, Black Stabilizer, and AMD FreeSync (40-60Hz range over both HDMI and DP, but 48-60Hz for NVIDIA cards).

Design & Connectivity

Best Cheap 4k Monitor For Gaming

You can adjust the height of the screen, tilt it, or mount it using the VESA pattern. Connectivity options include two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2, a headphones jack, and dual 5W integrated speakers.

Alternatives

  • LG 32UD59 – Older version of this monitor without HDR support nor built-in speakers
  • LG 32UD60 – Same as the UD59 but with built-in speakers
  • Samsung U32J590 – A cheaper 32″ 4K VA monitor without HDR, height-adjustable stand, speakers, nor wide color gamut

The Pros

  • High contrast ratio
  • FreeSync over HDMI and DP
  • Height-adjustable stand

The Cons

  • Minor ghosting in fast-paced games, but tolerable for casual gaming

Conclusion

Still not sure what monitor to get? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll gladly help you out.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with the LG 27GL850. It provides the perfect balance between image quality and performance.

For a more immersive gaming experience, the MSI MAG341CQ is the perfect pick and an exceptional monitor for the money while competitive gamers will certainly be satisfied with the Acer XF252Q.

Finally, the two 4K monitors offer incredible detail clarity and striking image quality regardless of which model you pick, but the PC gaming performance won’t be as smooth due to the low refresh rate.

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