EXPERT INSIGHT & TRUSTED REVIEWS

EXPERT INSIGHT & TRUSTED REVIEWS

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The 10 Best Cheap Second Monitors in 2022

For gaming, work, and everything in between

Cheap Second Monitor

If you spend a decent amount of time (like most of us do) at your PC, a second monitor is a must.

But that shouldn’t mean you have to fork out the same price tag as your primary screen, it’s secondary for a reason!

That’s why today, we’ll be looking through the best budget second monitors for your setup.

We’re not just including the cheapest we can find, but the ones we confidently recommend despite their lower price tags.

Top Picks

Acer SB220Q

Overall Best Cheap Second Monitor

SPECIFICATIONS*

Screen Size: 21.5″ | Panel Type: IPS | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 75Hz | Response Time: 4ms | Brightness: 250 nits | Contrast Ratio: 1000:1

Our Rating: 95%

REASONS TO BUY

+ Incredible price

+ Good screen quality

+ Deceptively thin and well-built

REASONS TO AVOID
 − Better specs are available at higher prices
 
 − Limited adjustability

Topping the list is one of the most impressive value offerings in today’s market.

The Acer SB220Q somehow manages to pack in some decent specifications at a price point where many rival manufacturers don’t even offer a full HD monitor.

On top of the 1080p resolution (which, at 21.5″, looks very crisp), the cheap screen boasts an IPS panel with decent colors and contrast.

The 4ms response time means it’s perfectly serviceable for budget gaming (we do have a more recommended screen for gaming below if you can stretch your budget though).

We’re pleased to see that the listing includes 24″/27″ model options. These are not just similar in spec, but also in value (of course, always expect to pay a little more for larger sizes). Where possible, we recommend picking up a budget second display that’s the same size as your primary screen for aesthetics and ease of use across different content (that said, a smaller display is also OK for your second screen, which is why we specifically recommend the 21.5″ option as the best cheap choice).

At this price point, you can’t expect everything to be the best. As highly as we rate the SB220Q, its brightness is a tad low (250 nits is quite common in monitors, but if your screen faces a lot of sunlight, you may want to consider a slightly more expensive option). The picture quality is good, but you will certainly find better colors, blacks, and whites at higher prices.

We’re pleased to see the monitor is sturdy and well-built, with the only area lacking being limited adjustability (if you want your second monitor to align vertically, see our top streaming pick).

When we think of usages of a second screen, it’s often work-related, IMs, background video content, and internet browsing.

What we love about the SB220Q is, compared to other monitors at the same price, it is perfectly suitable for all these activities (and yes, we are keeping cost in mind, but one of the best things we can say is that it doesn’t feel like a cheap option).

The SB220Q is our comfortable top pick for the best cheap second monitor available today.

AOC G2490VX

Best Cheap Second Gaming Monitor

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen Size: 24″ | Panel Type: VA | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 144Hz | Response Time: 1ms (MPRT) | Brightness: 350 nits | Color: 125.95% sRGB & 92.85% DCI-P3 | Contrast Ratio: 4000:1

Our Rating: 95%

REASONS TO BUY

+ Unmatched value for a 144hz FHD screen

+ Great colors & contrast

+ Beauitful, sturdy design

REASONS TO AVOID
 − Some rare user defects reported
 

As much as we’ve raved about the top Acer choice for the average user, we’re pleased to report that those after a cheap secondary monitor for gaming have an option just as compelling

The G2490VX packs an incredible amount of value in its price tag.

The big changes that make this an ideal choice for gamers compared to our pick above are the fantastic 1ms response time & 144hz refresh rate. For anything from competitive to single-player titles, we can’t attest just how lovely it is to play on a high refresh rate display with very low input lag.

Now, as much as we like 144hz @ 1ms, what really gives this monitor such a high score from us is how AOC produced a screen quality that excels across the board: offering good color accuracy across DCI-P3 and sRGB, fantastic contrast, and decent brightness.

Even if the monitor had similar specs to our top pick outside of refresh rate/response time, we still would’ve been impressed, so adding better contrast, color and brightness is such a huge value add at the price.

The monitor runs off a VA panel, which compared to IPS, tends to offer better blacks at the cost of slightly inferior viewing angles and color. That said, we don’t think the monitor lacks in any of these departments, VA makes sense as its typically cheaper to produce a low response time screen at this price range (to put it another way, we don’t think you’ll find an IPS screen of the same quality at this price).

Most user reception of the G2490VX has been very positive, but it’s worth pointing out a small number of buyers who have had issues with defective panels/dead pixels.

We don’t consider this a reason not to invest as the AOC warranty here (including for dead pixels) is quite generous compared to some competitor options.

Between its picture, build, and price, we’re delighted that the G2490VX (and its 27″ counterpart) are available for those after a cheap second screen for gaming, it’s a fantastic choice that exceeds many options available at higher prices.

HP VH240a

Best Cheap Second Monitor for Streaming

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen Size: 24″ | Panel Type: IPS | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 60Hz | Response Time: 5ms | Brightness: 250 nits | Color: 72% sRGB | Contrast Ratio: 1000:1

Our Rating: 85%

REASONS TO BUY

+ Fantastic adjustable build

+ Good picture

REASONS TO AVOID
 − Too expensive if you don’t plan on using vertically
 

When it comes to purchasing a good second streaming monitor, one of the very common utilities we like to see is being able to align your monitor vertically (this often suits looking at chat, Twitch/Youtube analytics, and other second screen content best for streamers).

With that in mind, the VH240a is HP’s answer to what our top Acer pick accomplishes so well: a cheap yet high-quality jack of all trades monitor.

Its specs are similar (other than the larger 24″ screen) with a good (albeit somewhat average) color/contrast, and the same 250 nits of brightness.

Where the HP VH240a vs Acer SB220Q battle differs is in adjustability, the HP offering is one of the cheapest vertical monitors available, with a fantastic stand and durable build that would be suitable for work environments and regular movement.

That said, it comes at a premium: the VH240a runs at around 30% more expensive (at the time of review) compared to the 24″ version of our top pick.

If you’re a streamer or worker that could value a vertical alignment (e.g. programmer), we think the adjustability can be worth it.

But if you expect to just use your monitor in the traditional landscape orientation, the HP screen is great, but not worth the premium over cheaper second monitors like our top pick. 

Sceptre E205W-16003R

Cheapest Second Monitor Worth Buying

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen Size: 20″ | Panel Type: TN | Resolution: 1600×900 | Refresh Rate: 75Hz | Response Time: 4ms | Brightness: 250 nits | Color: 99% sRGB | Contrast Ratio: 3000:1

Our Rating: 80%

REASONS TO BUY

+ Very cheap

+ Surprisingly thin and well-built

+ Picture is a good quality

REASONS TO AVOID
 − Not full HD
 
 − TN panel
 
 − Better options available at only slightly higher prices
 
 

Although our top choices are already at very competitive price points, we appreciate some readers will just be looking for the cheapest option possible (perhaps those who only have very basic uses in mind for their second screen).

If this sounds like you, this Spectre offering is the cheapest second monitor on the market that we would recommend (yes, you can go cheaper, but you’ll be met with no-name manufacturers and screens of awful quality).

The e205W boasts some decent colors (we’re pleased to see 99% sRGB) and a good contrast despite its low price. The quality is decent, with the major caveat being its 1600×900 resolution means it’s not suitable for full HD content.

It’s a tiny monitor, at only 20″; for some second screen users, this may be a nice pick if you don’t want a large, imposing screen. It also means that the 900p resolution isn’t too problematic because the screen is small enough that the pixels per inch (PPI) will still look crisp.

We’re pleased to see that the monitor doesn’t look cheap, with a decent, sturdy build quality that includes some basic ergonomic tilt options.

One larger point to consider on picture quality is the TN panel this screen is built on.

TN (typically speaking) is good at offering decent specs at very low prices, which is why its compelling for budget options. A major problem with the panel type, however, is its poor viewing angles.

When you are not looking at the monitor dead-center, the screen can become more washed-out and unclear.

For a usual budget offering, we’d say this is manageable and made up for with the decent contrast and color, but as we’re considering a second monitor, we expect most users won’t be looking dead center at this screen (it will instead be off to their left or right). It’s still certainly usable, but it’s another reason to fork out a little more for an IPS/VA offering.

All things considered, we think the 10-15% it usually costs to upgrade to our top choice is worth it over this Spectre pick.

That said, if every cent counts, or you want the best small second monitor, this is still a great choice.

ASUS ZenScreen

Best Cheap Second Screen for Laptop

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen Size: 15.6″ | Panel Type: IPS | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Refresh Rate: 60Hz | Response Time: 5ms (GtG) | Brightness: 250 nits | Contrast Ratio: 800:1

Our Rating: 90%

REASONS TO BUY

+ Beautiful crisp screen for the price

+ High-quality build

+ Single cable for power & connectivity

REASONS TO AVOID
 − More expensive than no-name manufacturer options
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