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
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.