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Best Budget Monitors for Photo Editing

Denis Leskovets
Denis Leskovets

Productivity Optimization Geek

budget photo editing monitor on a table

“The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.” – Stephen Pinker

This rings true especially for photo editors trying to capture the true essence of a photo. Trying to offset the cost of an expensive display by picking and choosing the features you need can be difficult.

It’s important to remember that these types of purchases are more like an investment in your work versus a casual decision.

Of course, not everyone still has the budget for a top tier, $2000 monitor with all the bells and whistles. We’ve picked this list of displays that offer the best at these price points, sacrificing as little as possible to make sure work with all editing styles, including manipulation, retouching, composition work, and more.

Best Budget Photo Editing Monitors Under $400

At this price point, you’re still looking to get some great options. You may not get all of the benefits from higher-end displays, but these still offer features like ergonomics and multi-purpose use.

Best Budget 32-Inch 4K Photo Editing Monitor

LG 32UD60-B

For those who are looking for a monitor without any frills, this is it. It only offers two ports (HDMI 2 and DisplayPort 1.2), which means those who are looking for a built-in USB hub or to connect it via USB-C are out of luck.

Yet, it does sport fantastic color accuracy. A DCI-P3 95% color gamut means it’ll have a wide spectrum of colors. There is however no indication of any AdobeRGB or sRGB ratings.

This means that amateurs who are publishing work on the web may have some color issues.  For editors working in the P3 color space, this one’s for you.

This display also comes with 4K resolution, which is great for crisp images. However, the panel is a VA panel instead of the more common IPS. That means there may be color distortion that occurs at different viewing angles, but better contrast.

Thankfully, the ergonomic stand it comes with can get your viewing angles to where you need them.

What We Love

Great color accuracy and high resolution for a reasonable price.

It’s got an ergonomic stand, allowing you to stay comfortable and prevent neck strain while editing during a long sprint.

Things To Consider

It’s a barebones product, and doesn’t support AdobeRGB, making it easy to outgrow if you need more editing features.

Best Budget 27-Inch 4K Photo Editing Monitor

LG 27UK650-W

Those wanting to pack a little more punch in a smaller form will enjoy this display. For a similar price to our 32-inch in this category, you get an additional HDMI port as well as HDR10 for vivid colors and lighting.

This display does have some light bleed and blacks aren’t truly black. Those who might be editing in dark rooms will see this impact their work, as the contrast is average.

While this display doesn’t mention any DCI-P3 color gamut numbers, it does come with 99% sRGB and AdobeRGB color accuracy. This makes it an excellent choice for those who mainly aim for color accuracy across most digital platforms. However, those looking to expand into video editing may want to reconsider.

Some purchasers have reported issues with quality control or longevity, so buyers beware. Issues with edge bleed and image retention after a couple of years spells bad news. However, these reports aren’t widespread and may just be bad luck.

What We Love

More common color accuracy with its 99% sRGB rating, while maintaining 4K and adding in HDR10 means it’s great for work and for play.

Things To Consider

Potential bad build quality, paired with a lack of DCI-P3 color gamut means this panel may not last long.

Best Budget Photo Editing Monitors Under $300

Once you’ve hit this price point, you’re still looking at some pretty good displays, though you’ll no longer have 4K as almost every dollar goes towards the highest color accuracy.

Best Budget 32-Inch 2K Photo Editing Monitor

LG 32QN650-B

For professionals who don’t need 4K for work, this display offers a great picture at 1440p. It sports an sRGB 99% color gamut for digital work. The IPS panel is also a welcome addition, offering brighter colors and better viewing angles when working.

Editors who want to have a monitor for work and pleasure won’t be disappointed. The display offers a decent refresh rate and AMD’s FreeSync for gamers. Paired with its bright colors thanks to HDR10, it also works great for consuming content during downtime.

The downsides come down to its stand and lack of features. You get what you pay for in terms of quality, and the included stand is fairly wobbly and takes up space on your desk.

Some users have reported issues with these displays having issues with flickering or difficulty reading text.

What We Love

High color accuracy at this size is hard to come by in budget displays, and this monitor happens to nail it.

This display offers an ergonomic stand too, which is rare for budget monitors.

Things To Consider

The poor stand build quality paired with potential flickering issues makes it a tough pick for some.

Best Budget 27-Inch 2K Photo Editing Monitor

Acer Nitro XV272U

Just like the last monitor we mentioned, this display lacks 4K but more than makes up for it with color accuracy, to a degree.

Running at 95% DCI-P3 color gamut and 130% sRGB means that you will have some amazing colors on this display but at a cost. Most consumer displays are far under that 130% sRGB threshold, meaning that they can’t recreate the colors on your monitor.

But, this means that there is a chance that your monitor is too good for other people, depending on the kind of work you do. Your final product can end up looking too saturated on other people’s displays if you don’t spend the time to calibrate it. It’s a blessing and a curse, but the DCI-P3 color space makes up for it.

This is also the only display so far to feature a built-in USB hub. Those who are looking to switch between devices, or hook up external drives will get plenty of use out of it.

What We Love

It’s got excellent color accuracy with a high refresh rate.

This display comes with a built-in USB hub, which is rare for this price point.

Things To Consider

Not calibrating this panel can be detrimental to your color accuracy, as the sRGB gamut is wider than the standard sRGB.

Best Budget Photo Editing Monitors Under $200

While not quite at the bottom of the barrel, these are usually just for beginners in the industry. They don’t offer too much flexibility or additional features aside from better-than-average color accuracy for a great price.

Best Budget 27-Inch 1080p Photo Editing Monitor

Sceptre E278W-FPT

This monitor offers several features for the price but still comes with a few drawbacks. Namely, the lack of resolution, as this panel is only a 1080p display. If a high resolution is important to your work, you might want to look elsewhere. It also doesn’t support DisplayPort, instead choosing to have two HDMI ports instead.

While the resolution may be an issue, its colors aren’t. Boasting a 99% sRGB color gamut means that any editor can get accurate colors for almost any display, making it suitable for photo editors and photographers on a budget.

Sceptre has opted to include a pair of speakers as well, but they aren’t great. The audio quality from these speakers is terrible, and you’re better off with headphones or external speakers. Think of them more as a backup audio output for a rainy day. 

Those looking to consume content or game will find this display lackluster, as the refresh rate is slightly above average and the resolution is industry standard, so nothing to write home about.

This display size is perfect for those who prefer a dual-monitor setup, too. Having dual monitors can help with your workflow for better multitasking, and having references or client specifications within view.

What We Love

The price makes it excellent for new professionals, with great color accuracy in a small package.

It has a passable gaming refresh rate for those who want to play games during downtime.

Things To Consider

Poor resolution paired with a lack of a DisplayPort means that this monitor can easily become more hassle than it’s worth for a longtime professional.

Drawbacks of Budget Photo Editing Monitors

Depending on your budget and your needs, you might not need a high-end monitor. Those who are working from home, and fledgling photo editors don’t always need ultra-high refresh rates and 4K resolution.

Yet, there are drawbacks. Budget monitors don’t usually offer built-in USB hubs or USB-C connections. Those who are used to working within Apple’s ecosystem will need to pick up dongles for compatibility, which can sometimes impact performance.

Budget monitors are often not always built to last, either. Professionals can easily outgrow a display if their work shifts to needing a higher resolution, or a different color gamut.

Points to Consider Before Buying a Budget Photo Editing Monitor

Of course, there are always some considerations you’ll need to weigh before biting the bullet on a new photo editing display.

What type of photo editing will the monitor be used for?

Depending on the type of work you do, you may need different specifications for your display. Color accuracy is always important, but those who primarily work on the web will prefer sRGB coverage over Pantone certification.

If you don’t need to see the fine details in your shots (such as landscape photography editing), you can get away with a lower resolution panel.

What ergonomic features do you need?

Those who are working in small spaces or editing in bulk may want better ergonomics out of their display. Having good ergonomics can improve your productivity by reducing neck and eye strain, and being more comfortable to look at for long periods of time.

Most budget monitors don’t offer much for ergonomics, though some may come with a height-adjustable stand. Those who are keen on making their display as ergonomic as possible will want to look for monitors that are VESA mountable, to achieve the perfect viewing angle.

What are your dealbreaker, must-have features?

The most important feature any photo editor can look for is having the best color gamut possible. Having high numbers for DCI-P3 and sRGB is crucial to make sure your color accuracy is on point and doesn’t look saturated on other displays.

Specifications like refresh rate and FreeSync don’t apply to most photo editors. Those who may want to blow off some steam after work may want those features in a display. However, a higher resolution is generally preferred across the board, though 4K is not a must-have.


Questions about budget photo editing monitors? We have the answers.

IPS (In-Plane Switching) tends to offer the most when it comes to color reproduction and accuracy. However, they tend to have issues with glowing effects on bright objects within a dark background. This is especially evident in those who work in black and white, or with heavy blacks for contrast.

In most cases, the resolution isn’t important for photo editing, at least up to a certain degree. Unless your work really requires you to capture minute details, most photo editors or photographers can get away with a 1440p monitor.

We recommend not going any lower than 2K, however. Once you’re in 1080p territory, you start to miss small details and your workspace can quickly become cramped with toolbars.

The most important features you need in a display for photo editing are color accuracy, followed by size and resolution. sRGB is the longtime standard since 1999 and is fit for most photo editors. However, some higher-end professionals may prefer the wider color space of AdobeRGB or DCI-P3. High DCI-P3 coverage is more important for those who are also looking to edit video, as the color gamut is a standard for films.

Those who are on a tight budget can get away with a 1080p display, though there are drawbacks. The lower resolution can often obscure fine details in larger photos without heavy zoom. The lack of screen real estate is a bigger problem, as you can quickly fill it up with toolbars and other editing tools.