What makes 4K monitors so exciting for gamers is the ability for a monitor to display games in an ultra-crisp format with a more brilliant and deeper color palette. Although 4K monitors were first invented more than a decade ago, it is only in recent years that the price has dropped, with many models now on sale at prices to suit nearly any gamer’s budget.Below is our complete guide to finding an affordable 4K monitor to make the most out of your gaming experience:
A Buying Guide for 4K Monitors
Beyond the screen resolution being true 4K, there are a number of other technical factors to consider when buying a gaming monitor.
How the hardware in the monitor controls the screen image is known as the panel type. The two most popular are known as TN (twisted nematic) and IPS (in-plane switching). Without going into the details of how these two technologies inform how the pixels behave, a general rule of thumb is that TN screens are faster but show slightly less crisp images while IPS screens have a deeper color palette and sharper images with the trade-off of being slightly less fast when refreshing and “drawing” the images on the screen. Games that require instantaneous response generally do better with TN panels while more slower paced games with rich visual imagery can benefit from IPS panels.
Not only is it critical that your peripheral (PC, console, etc) be able to connect to your monitor via the right input cable, it’s also important to consider how you want to use your monitor. If you plan on using it for multiple purposes, i.e. a console, PC, and television, then make sure that it has all the right input ports for your needs. Some monitors also have input ports for audio devices as well as both up/down USB connections for external storage or connecting smaller peripherals like mobile phones and game accessories.
Screen sizes are usually listed in inches, referring to the length of screen “real estate” between the two corners. In other words, the diagonal measurement of the screen is the screen size and not the horizontal length of the screen.
Depending on whether you need a portable screen or are planning on buying a monitor that’s going to remain in place, the screen size is very important. Portable monitors can be smaller, around 10-15 inches, and will do just fine. For semi-permanent installation, consider a screen at least 20.5 inches in size, moving up to 27 or even more inches if your budget can afford it.
The aspect ratio refers to the measurement of the horizontal width of the screen divided by the vertical height of the screen. Most of today’s games, including both PC and console games, rely on a 16:9 ratio where the screen is 1.8 times wider than it is tall. Some of today’s top-level games, however, use a 21:9 ratio, so it’s important to make sure that your monitor can properly display the right aspect ratio for your game (or for use when watching movies and TV).
The GTS or Gray-to-Gray time, usually measured in milliseconds, measures how long it takes the monitor to switch one gray pixel to another shade of gray. The reason it’s gray to gray and not one primary color (like red, blue or green) to another is that creating a shade of gray takes the most amount of work, and hence time, to perform.
The response time refers to how much lag there is between when a button is clicked or a control pad is pressed before that information is transmitted to and displayed on the monitor. Response time is measured in milliseconds and gamers usually need a 4 ms or faster response time in order to optimize the playing experience for intense games that depend on lightning-fast responses to the action unfolding on the screen.
All monitors (and televisions) work by re-drawing the image on the screen a certain number of times per second, known as the refresh rate. Usually described in hertz (Hz) or number of cycles (times) per second, a good gaming monitor needs to be at least 60 Hz in order to prevent “ghosting” (lingering images). Most console games are 60Hz or less, but some high-end PC games can transmit video information up to 144 Hz. If a monitor can’t keep up with the image data being sent by the game, an issue called screen tear will occur where broken fragments of the last image will be superimposed on the screen.
Many other features are now built-in to gaming monitors, including reduced flicker and blue light filters for reducing eye strain, the ability to set (or even download) presets to optimize the visual image for each of your favorite games, and special technologies to enhance image crispness during dark scenes or sort out important details on fast-moving image-dense areas of the screen.
10 Cheap/Budget Monitors for Gaming
One of the most popular budget 4K monitors for gamers, the Samsung U28E590D measures 28 inches in size and delivers stunning UHD quality. Capable of displaying more than 1 billion colors, the Samsung U28E590D has special flicker-free technology and an “eye saver” mode to make long gaming sessions easier on the eyes. The included FreeSync video display controller makes sure that the frame rate is always dynamically matched to your monitor to eliminate stutter and screen tear.
With a super quick 1 ms response time and 60 Hz refresh rate, you’ll never miss a moment of the action during your favorite fast-paced games. The Samsung U28E590D features two HDMI (including one 2.0 version) and 1 Display Port inputs for enhanced connectivity. The Samsung U28E590D also has special PiP (picture-in-picture) 2.0 technology so that even the second window still enjoys full HD picture quality. The Samsung U28E590D also has lightning-fast 1 ms GTG speeds and a wide viewing angle of up to 170 degrees to make sure that you never miss even the tiniest details of the onscreen action.
This true 4K (3840×2160) UHD monitor from Asus measures 28 inches in size and real 10-bit color technology. Special flicker-free “Eye Care” technology reduces eye strain while the 60 Hz refresh rate and 1 ms GTG response time allows for silky smooth game play during even the fastest gaming action. The 16:9 aspect ratio makes the most out of the gaming or video viewing experience and the ASUS PB287Q comes with 100 million to 1 smart contrast ratio capable of displaying 1.07 billion colors for stunning visual displays.
The ASUS PB287Q has 1 DisplayPort (version 1.2), 1 standard HDMI, and 1 HDMI port with MHL for enhanced connectivity and the ability to charge a mobile device. The ASUS PB287Q also features full PiP (picture-in-picture) and PbP (picture-by-picture) functionality. The ASUS PB287Q also comes with the manufacturer’s SplendidPlus Video Intelligence technology that automatically optimizes video for the ideal brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Special SplendidPlus technology has built-in presets for your favorite games and both flicker-free and blue light filters to minimize eye strain during lengthy play sessions. The ASUS PB287Q comes with a stand that can pivot a full 90 degrees as well as being adjusted for tilt, pivot, and height.
With a stylish stand that can pivot a full 90 degrees and be adjusted for height, the LG 27MU67-B uses a 27-inch screen and IPS panel technology to deliver true UHD (3840×2160) screen quality. The LG 27MU67-B is ENERGY STAR qualified to reduce power consumption and uses FreeSynch technology to reduce stutter and screen tear. With an sRGB capability of over 99%, you’ll enjoy stunningly rich and deep colors during all of your favorite games.
The LG 27MU67-B comes with three pre-set gamer modes: two FPS and one RTS to make sure that you instantly get the right viewing experience. The manufacturer’s special Black Stabilizer technology helps display all the important nuances in dark scenes without washing out the brighter areas of the screen. With a single button, the LG 27MU67-B can be used in either two or four-window split screens with up to eight different aspect ratios to improve productivity. The LG 27MU67-B comes with 2 HDMI and 1 DisplayPort input ports.
The BenQ BL3201PH features IPS panel technology to deliver true 4K (3840×2160) display on a huge 32-inch screen. With a 20 million to 1 dynamic contrast ratio, lightning-fast GTG time and true 10-bit up to 1 billion 100% sRGB colors, you’ll get a stunning image that will bring out the best in your favorite game’s arts. With a generous 178-degree viewing angle and two built-in 5-Watt speakers, the BenQ BL3201PH is designed to deliver an immersive gaming experience. The stand of the BenQ BL3201PH can be adjusted for height and the monitor uses special Pilot software along with zero-flicker technology and an eye protector sensor to make extended game play as comfortable as possible. An OSD controller that uses Bluetooth technology makes it very easy to adjust the display settings while the anti-glare coating ensures a crisp and eye-poppingly beautiful viewing experience every time.
The Dell P2415Q measures 24 inches in size but offers a full 4K (3840×2160) experience with 99% sRGB color coverage with a depth of 1.07 billion colors can be adjusted for your viewing preferences. The Dell P2415Q has a monitor that can be adjusted by height, tilt, or swivel as well as being pivoted to landscape mode for true viewing versatility. The Dell P2415Q also has a VESA-compatible design that can be mounted to a wall with brackets sold separately. Although this budget 4K monitor has no built-in speaker, it does have a line out jack for connecting to speakers or headphones.
Thanks to its IPS panel technology and wide viewing angle of 178 degrees, the Dell P2415Q produces super crisp and full spectrum images. The Dell P2415Q comes with a DisplayPort (version 1.2), MHL and 4 USB 3.0 charging ports. The Dell P2415Q features a mercury-free LED panel, arsenic-free glass on the screen, and frame made from at least 25% recycled materials to reduce the impact on the environment. The Dell P2415Q is also EPEAT Gold and TCO certified as well as being ENERGY STAR qualified for reduced power consumption.
With a huge 31.5-inch display size, the ASUS PQ321Q features full 4K UHD resolution for ultra-sharp viewing of your favorite games. The special ergonomically-desgined stand can be adjusted for height, tilt, swivel, and can pivot a full 90 degrees or be mounted on a wall with separately sold brackets. One of the thinnest 4K monitors on the market, the ASUS PQ321Q has 2 HDMI input and 1 DisplayPort ports and two 2-Watt built-in speakers. The ASUS PQ321Q also also be used in Picture-in-Picture mode and has a number of settings to adjust the screen to the ideal settings for every type of game. The ASUS PQ321Q relies on a 60 Hz refresh rate for full compatibility with most of today’s most popular games.
Measuring a giant 40 inches in size, the Philips 4065UC has a fast 60 Hz refresh rate that provides true 4K (3840×2160) resolution to get the most out of every game’s visuals. The Philips 4065UC has 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Mini DisplayPort, 1 HDMI, 1 MHL-HDMI, and 4 USB 3.0 input ports for maximum connectivity. With a contrast ratio of 5000 to 1, special flicker-free technology, and the ability to be used in PIP (picture-in-picture) or PBP (picture-by-picture) mode, the Philips 4065UC is truly a stunning monitor with a lively and responsive TN panel ideally suitable for fast-paced games.
One of the most affordable 4K monitors on the market today, the Upstar M280A1 measures 28 inches in size to deliver stunning 3840×2160 images with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. Thanks to its 5 ms response time and 60 Hz refresh rate, the Upstar M280A1 can handle the demands of today’s games. The Upstar M280A1 comes with 2 HDMI, 1 DVI, and 1 DisplayPort input ports and can be used with both PIP (picture-in-picture) and PBP (picture-by-picture) functions. The Upstar M280A1 comes with a 1000 to 1 contrast ratio and has a 8 millisecond response time to minimize ghosting. A special game mode setting automatically adjusts colors and contrast settings to optimize the action on the screen on the fly. There’s also a headphone jack for game playing sessions where you don’t want to interrupt other people.
With a very stylish stand that can be adjusted for the ideal viewing angle and an attractive silver design, the Acer S277HK measures 27 inches in size and features true UHD (3840×2160) resolution. The aspect ratio of the Acer S277HK is 16:9 and the Acer S277HK comes with a high-end speaker with DTS sound effects to enhance the gaming experience. With 1 HDMI (version 2.0), 1 DVI (with HDCP), 1 Display Port, and 1 Mini Display Port inputs, the Acer S277HK is designed for maximum connectivity to all of your devices and peripherals. With an IPS panel, the Acer S277HK has a very sharp and color-stable image processing power that will make the most out of the rich visuals of your favorite games. The Acer S277HK features a fast 60 Hz refresh rate and has a special glare-free screen design to minimize distractions during intense game play.
The Seiki Pro SM40UNP measures an ultra-wide 40 inches in size, making this a very attractive budget 4K monitor with full UHD (3840×2160) resolution. The Seiki Pro SM40UNP can be adjusted to up to 178 degrees of view for enhanced comfort while gaming and uses a special Super MVA panel technology to increase response time without sacrificing image quality. The Seiki Pro SM40UNP has 2 HDMI, 2 DisplayPort (version 1.2), 1 DVI, and 1 VGA input ports for true versatility when connecting to all of your peripheraps and accessories. The Seiki Pro SM40UNP also has a fast 60 Hz refresh rate and can be used with both PIP (picture-in-picture) and PBP (picture-by-picture) function to get the most out of your monitor’s real estate. The Seiki Pro SM40UNP also has a USB 3.0 hub that allows you to connect up to your devices.
While 4K monitors are getting cheaper all the time, they may still be too expensive for some gamers’ budgets. Nonetheless, if you shop around carefully, it’s possible to get a very good 4K monitor at a very attractive price.
If 4K screen resolution is your primary consideration to optimize your gaming experience, first look at the price and then carefully analyze all of the other technical specifications to make sure that you get the right monitor for you. Consider whether you want your gaming monitor to be used exclusively for gaming or whether you plan on connecting it to other peripherals for use with multiple devices. Weigh all the technical aspects, including screen size, the ability to adjust the stand (for height, swivel, and tilt), the refresh rate, the GTG rate, and the panel type.
Using our convenient guide, it’s definitely possible to find the right 4K monitor to make every moment of gaming a visually rich and enjoyable experience.