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Gaming Monitors

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Desktop – Gaming Monitors

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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Gaming monitors or panels didn’t evolve much this year. We mostly saw more panels adopting higher refresh rates but in terms of innovation, there wasn’t much of note this year. The highest refresh rate for gaming monitors is still 240 Hz and going higher isn’t going to add much to one’s experience. Essentially, we’re saying that higher refresh rate gaming monitors have become more affordable.

Then there’s the ongoing adaptive-sync battle between FreeSync and G-Sync that seems to be favouring the former. We’ve also seen more sales of curved monitors but it continues to remain a measly fraction of the overall sales figures for this category. More games on the PC and console are increasingly incorporating HDR and to cater to this demand, we’ve seen more manufacturers offer monitors with HDR support but these continue to be on the expensive side of the spectrum.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Acer Predator XB271HK

The Acer Predator XB271HK is an extremely popular gaming monitor at the moment. It’s not a high refresh rate monitor but the AHVA panel on the XB271HK is very good and it has support for G-sync. Given that the market is dominated by NVIDIA cards at the moment, this gaming monitor makes for a great accompaniment.

After all, the whole point of getting a high refresh rate monitor is to enjoy fluid visuals and having an adaptive sync monitor does just that. There’s also the fact that the AU Optronics panel used in the XB271HK supports true 10-bit colour depth.

If you were to put all of these aside, then the primary factor why the XB271HK won this year’s Zero1 Award for the best gaming monitor is its low input lag of approximately 4 milliseconds. It also has one of the lowest average ΔE values from all the gaming monitors we’ve tested so far, so the victory is well deserved.

Runner-up: BenQ EL2870U

BenQ’s EL2870U is being marketed by BenQ as an entertainment monitor. So that doesn’t make it a true gaming monitor but we took a look at the hardware to judge it ourselves. It’s not a true 10-bit panel but an 8-bit panel with FRC. This makes it closer to an 8-bit panel than to a 10-bit panel.

That being said, it has a response time of 1 ms owing to the TN panel used. Not only that, even the input lag is very low but not enough to beat the Acer Predator XB271HK.

Gaming Monitors

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Desktop – Gaming Monitors

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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Display panels in general have improved by a huge margin over the last couple of years. Until a year or so back, gaming monitors were all built to operate at higher refresh rates coupled with adaptive synchronisation to ensure really smooth gameplay. So smooth that they appeared unreal for those using such monitors for the first time. The best monitor we saw last year was clocked at 100 Hz, and now that we’re at the end of 2017, 240 Hz has become the new norm. Another thing we noticed was that more manufacturers have adapted the open-source FreeSync technology. The Wiki page lists 92 models while NVIDIA’s G-sync only has 31 models. You can clearly see the winning standard, and we’re always glad to see an open-source standard win over a proprietary one. Let’s take a look at this year’s best gaming monitors.

2017 Zero1 Award Winner: BenQ Zowie XL2546

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In terms of colour reproduction, the ASUS PG258Q and the BenQ Zowie XL2546 were neck and neck. The ASUS PG258Q was ahead by a sliver in our Spyder tests but since this is Zero1, we’re more concerned with how they perform while gaming. So we switched on the respective motion blur reduction technologies in both monitors and ran Pixperan as the synthetic test. The difference in the two displays is that DyAc runs at 240 Hz while ULMB (Ultra Low Motion Blur) runs at just 144 Hz on the ASUS monitor. We then hooked up the monitors to a GTX 1070 Ti and played Overwatch and Counter Strike: Global Offensive on the two units side-by-side to gauge which had better motion blur. The difference is absolutely minimal when you move from 144 Hz to 165 Hz but with a 240 Hz display right next to it, you can perceive a better motion blur performance with DyAc. The difference is more visible in Overwatch compared to CS:GO owing to the more chaotic nature of Overwatch. There’s a lot more jerky movements in the game and blur reduction just makes everything appear so crystal clear. And for this reason, the BenQ Zowie XL2546 wins the Zero1 Award.

Runner-up: ASUS ROG SWIFT PG258Q

The PG258Q has better colours than the BenQ Zowie XL2546 and even has a really swanky design. Having produced near professional level colours in our Spyder test, the PG258 becomes more of a versatile monitor. You can undoubtedly game on it at 240 Hz and get some top-quality DTP work done on the side. We’d have loved it if ASUS had added a handle on top like BenQ did since it makes it easier to carry the monitor to lan parties. If it were not for the ULMB limitation, we have no doubt that the PG258Q would have won the Zero1, but runner-up isn’t exactly bad either.

Editor’s pick: Samsung C49HG90

We’ve put together multi-monitor setups many times over at the Digit Test Centre but every single setup had something lacking. Samsung’s C49HG90 takes all of those uncertainties and kicks them straight out of the window. Big panels have had issues with high-refresh rates, they were generally flat, which meant the sides were as good as useless and then there were always a couple of ugly bezels to look at. Not with the C49HG90. It’s a 49-inch panel to begin with, that’s clocked at 144 Hz and it has a 1800R curvature. Playing video games on this massive panel is an experience that’s unlike anything we’ve ever had the privilege for. And by incorporating all these features into one single panel, Samsung is certainly pushing the boundaries of display technology, which is why this unit stood out from everything we’ve seen this year.

Gaming Monitors

Zero1 Awards 2016 – Gaming Monitors

December 16, 2016 — by Digit0

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There’s a reason why gaming monitors is a category by itself. Unlike professional monitors that strive for colour accuracy and a wider gamut, gaming monitors focus on their ability to function at a higher frame rate or frequency. That’s the only they’re going to be able to keep up with the latest and greatest games launching in the market. In terms of technology trends, nothing changed severely in the gaming monitors space in 2016 when compared to 2015 – most of the gaming world’s busy gearing up for VR, and monitors seem low on everyone’s radar. NVIDIA G-Sync enabled monitors kept launching at the higher end of the market, but AMD’s FreeSync monitors seemed to have disappeared altogether. Let’s look at the year’s best performing gaming monitors!

Zero1 Winner: Acer Predator X34

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It was a close race to the top between the Acer Predator X34 and the ASUS ROG PG348Q, but the Acer X34 managed to beat out the ASUS challenge by a whisker. The Acer Predator X34 sports a gorgeous 34-inch QHD (3440×1440) IPS curved screen that just commands respect and attention on your desk. Of the four best gaming monitors we tested this year, the Acer X34 single-handedly aced six out of nine Spyder benchmark tests – which is pretty amazing. Clocked at 100Hz and supporting NVIDIA G-Sync, the X34 handles everything a modern game can throw at it. Hours spent playing games like Counter Strike: GO, Witcher 3 and Tomb Raider at native and Full HD resolution didn’t show any dropped frames whatsoever. The curved display ensures very high levels of immersion, no matter whichever game you’re playing on this ultra-widescreen display. It takes the cake and the cherry on top, winning our well-deserved Zero1 Award for this year.

Second Runner up: ASUS ROG PG348Q

Coming in second behind the Acer Predator X34 by barely just one point is the equally competent ASUS ROG PG348Q – another 34-inch QHD (3440×1440) IPS curved screen NVIDIA G-Sync enabled monitor that sits proudly, exuding a lot of “made for gaming” vibe. In terms of our synthetic tests, the ASUS ROG PG348Q largely plays second fiddle to the Acer Predator X34, but it beats the Acer by offering a superior White Point score. Great not just for gaming, but this ROG PG348Q monitor is a very good option for a multitasker and great for even pro-users, believe it or not. If you have a preference for ASUS products, don’t second guess yourself and go for this, because it’s almost as good a monitor as our Zero1 Winner.

Third Runner up: Benq XL2730Z

The Benq XL2730Z is the higher priced of the BenQ XL series siblings, selling exactly at the `50k mark, sporting a 144Hz refresh rate. It is FreeSync enabled and is amongst the highest performers as far as all our synthetic benchmarks are concerned – Spyder, Lagom.nl LCD test, not to mention PixPerAn and other audio-video tests. What’s more, in the FreeSync – G-Sync test parameters, this monitor outperforms all other G-Sync monitors and finishes second best in terms of gaming performance – except the top two, Acer Predator X34 and ASUS ROG PG348Q.

Best Buy: Benq XL2730Z

It offers roughly 75 to 80 percent of the ASUS and Acer monitors at half their price, thereby offering the best value for money as far as gaming’s concerned. Buying this monitor will ensure you’ll have more money to spend on a better GPU and get those games rolling!