The other day my esteemed boss, Mark, popped the question: he needed a new monitor that he could plug his console into. Not a TV -- he's got one of those. Just a monitor. It had to be around 26 to 32 inches, and he didn't want to break the bank to get his gaming fix.
Fortunately, one of our colleagues came up with an incredibly helpful reply -- one that you might find very useful if you're in a similar position.
Hey Mark -- as luck would have it, you're looking right at the sweet spot of size, price and quality. If you want to buy a half-decent monitor at an affordable price these days, you'll want something around 24 to 27 inches, with 1920x1080p resolution, and with an IPS, PLS or TN panel. That suits console gaming very well.
What you don't need is a 1440p or 4K screen, any fancy G-Sync or FreeSync PC-specific dynamic refresh rate tech or 144Hz, or any high-res connectors like DisplayPort or MHL. You do probably want speakers, but at the bare minimum you'll want a screen that can output audio from its HDMI input through a 3.5mm headphone jack.
For gaming, especially on console where you're (usually) locked to 60Hz and 60fps frame rates, you absolutely want something with the lowest possible input lag -- this is one thing that you can't change too much in menu settings, short of a Game picture mode that cuts out the majority of image processing. This is the domain of high-speed TN panels and newer IPS screens.
If you look at the DisplayLag database -- which hasn't been updated in 2016, but still gives you a good guide to what screen technologies and brands to look at initially -- BenQ and Asus generally sit at the top of the pile, but Samsung's PLS monitors are also very well regarded.
My initial inkling was to suggest a 27-inch Dell UltraSharp to you, but Dell's cheapest 27-inch model is nearly $600 and way out of your price range. Instead, you should be perfectly happy with any of these choices below. I've linked to Victorian PC store Scorptec for all these, but you might be able to find a better price on StaticIce.
BenQ GL2760H -- for $300 you get a 27-inch 1080p monitor with a 2ms TN panel, HDMI input and headphone jack. This is a barebones, straightforward TN monitor -- no input lag, but not as pretty as a IPS or PLS screen.
Samsung S27D590P -- $380 gets you a 27-inch 1080p monitor with a 5ms PLS panel, two HDMI inputs and headphone jack. PLS is very similar to IPS, and has excellent viewing angles, decent response times and great blacks.
BenQ RL2755M -- this $350 "built for gaming" 27-inch monitor is a 1080p one, with a crazy low 1ms TN response time, dual HDMI, and inbuilt speakers as well as a headphone jack. This is your jack-of-all-trades choice.
Asus VC279H -- $350 gets you an IPS panel and 1920x1080p resolution, 5ms response times, and speakers in a really nice nearly frameless design. IPS has great viewing angles and this is one of the newest you can get.
If it was up to me, out of this list, I'd probably get the BenQ RL2755M for high-speed gaming -- it has speakers, excellent response time, and you can plug in both consoles (or a console and a PC) at once. If beautiful contrast is your number one deciding factor, the Samsung S27D590P probably takes that crown in this list.
Do you have another suggestion? Let us all know in the comments below.