The writers of New York Magazine's Strategist tested "dozens upon dozens of gels, rollerballs, felt-tips, ballpoints, and fountain pens" and published a ranked list of the top 100 pens in existence.
While the number one pen is a pricey $55 Rollerball, the rest of the upper echelon is surprisingly affordable: number two is the $8 OHTO Needle Point Knock Ballpoint Pen Horizon Eu 0.7mm Ballpoint Silver Body ("you'll be amazed at how small you can write with this thing"); while number 3 is the Prismacolor Premier Fine Tip Illustration Markers, which sell at $7 for a five-pack (of course, the next one on the list, is Jet's $120 Aurora Ipsilon Resin Red Medium Point Fountain Pen, but then again, fountain pen people are weird).
One note: A lot of what makes one pen better than another is completely subjective. Some of us prefer a finer line and some of us a thicker one (even within the Strategist's ranks, there is dissent). One person's beautiful pen might be no more than inoffensive to another. The finer the point, the scratchier it's likely to be. And if you disagree (or have a favorite we missed), share it in the comments — we just might test it when we update this list in the future.
The 100 Best Pens, As Tested by Strategist Editors Gels, ballpoints, rollerballs, felt-tips, and fountain pens — we tried them all. [Karen Iorio Adelson and Lauren Ro/Strategist]
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)