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CNET: Best monitors under $200 for 2021

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Published in Science & Technology News

If you're in need of a new monitor but you're on a tight budget, it's not as easy to find one as it used to be. While we've passed the shortages caused by the initial spike in demand at the beginning of the pandemic, when a huge number of people began to work from home, I'm beginning to see rising prices likely due to the pandemic-driven shipping delays and component shortages. Now even a "meh" 24-inch monitor to meet your needs for work or school can run you over $150.

Upping your budget to between $200 and $300 will bring more 32-inch screen size options and 2,560x1,440 resolution. And, of course, the more you're willing to spend, the more you're likely to find something in stock and ready to ship. But for now, these are three of the best monitors we've found that can be had for less than a couple of Benjamins.

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Samsung T35F 27-inch FHD IPS monitor

CNET TAKE: If you are looking for budget gaming monitors, this budget FHD monitor from Samsung's 75Hz refresh gives you a little latitude for gaming and has an in-plane switching panel for better color and viewing angle in the sea of VA competitors; plus, this cheap gaming monitor option is pretty attractive with thin bezels and a stand that's less clunky-looking than some. You'll get an HDMI cable in the box, and it has a 100x100 VESA mount. There are some drawbacks, such as some backlight bleed that buyers have noticed, and it has an HDMI 1.4 connection instead of 2.0 (if you care), plus the stand only allows the screen to tilt, not raise or lower.

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Dell 27-Inch Full HD FreeSync IPS monitor with stereo speakers (S2721H)

CNET TAKE: This comes in three flavors, all based around the same 75Hz, 27-inch panel: the $190 S2721HN with two HDMI 1.4 ports and an audio line out, the $200 S2721H with those and a pair of 3w speakers, and the $210 S2721HS which has a sleeker model of the stand, an HDMI 1.4 and a DisplayPort 1.2 connector. We think it's worth $10 for the speakers; they may not be great, but we really miss them for system sounds and all the other incidental sounds we encounter over the course of the day.

 

Along with the screen size and design, you're getting a 75Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time and FreeSync support, which makes this a bit better for gaming and fast-moving video than your average office monitor. On the other hand, unexciting color performance and seemingly lower-than-spec brightness undercut it solely for that use. It's fine for mixed use even if it doesn't excel in any area.

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LG 24-inch FreeSync monitor (24ML600M-B)

CNET TAKE: The LG is a solid, attractive general-purpose choice with some gaming perks. Though we'd hardly call it a gaming monitor, it has features for a good gaming experience, such as AMD FreeSync support, the ability to overdrive the response time, a 1ms motion-blur reduction mode and an optional center crosshair. It's slightly brighter than most, and there's a Photo mode that seems to improve the color accuracy. It's got a VGA connector in addition to the two HDMIs (though that's not uncommon in this price range) if you've got a really old device to connect. The 24-inch is a smaller version of the 27-inch monitor we tested which has since been discontinued (though still available in places at a much higher price).

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The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior Editor Joshua Goldman, Senior Editor Lori Grunin and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.

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