Asus VG248QE: A 24-Inch, 144 Hz Gaming Monitor Under $300

Every performance-oriented gaming rig needs a speedy display to keep up with cutting-edge GPUs. Asus delivers up to 144 Hz with its VG248QE 24-inch TN-based monitor. Is its display performance as impressive as the company's sub-$300 price tag?

To satisfy the enthusiast's never-ending lust for speed, hardware vendors roll out higher-clocked CPUs with more cores, complex graphics processors, fast solid-state storage, and evolving memory technologies able to push higher bandwidth. Almost ironically, the last frontier for speed-obsessed gamers is the display, which we interface with no matter what we're doing in front of our PCs.

A majority of LCD monitors are limited to 60 Hz, which is fine for smooth video and productivity. But when a high-performance rig is pumping out frame rates above that, you want a panel able to keep up.

Even though consumer TVs have offered 120 and even 240 Hz through frame interpolation for some time, the same technology isn't common in the computer world. It’s certainly not bleeding-edge. I remember seeing 120 Hz TVs in Circuit City years ago, and that place went out of business back in 2009.

Even though we've tested true 120 Hz displays in the past (particularly in conjunction with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology), Asus is hearing the call from power users for screens with even higher refresh rates. The company has 24- and 27-inch monitors able to operate at up to 144 Hz, and sent us its VG248QE, which has an amazing claimed response time of one millisecond. If you pick the 27" model instead, that increases to a still-amazing 2 ms. Not only is the screen draw time substantially reduced, but input lag (as we discover in the pages to come) is extremely low as well.

Asus achieves this performance with a two-part design approach. First is an overclocked input PCB. While you can modify the input board of any monitor to increase its refresh rate, many screens become unstable right around 72 Hz, though there are a few vendors online selling monitors they've tweaked up to higher frequencies. Asus uses its own parts to create a stable platform that can handle the higher rates. The second element is a six-bit TN panel manufactured by AU Optronics. That requires its own bit of explanation.

TN is generally faster at screen draws than IPS because the majority of panels have a six-bit native color depth. This means they are only capable of rendering 262,144 actual colors instead of the 16,777,216 possible from an eight-bit panel. Since the color information coming from the monitor’s processor requires far less bandwidth, the entire signal chain gets a boost in speed.

Of course, then we run into a problem of what to do with the eight-bit color information in the incoming signal. Displays with reduced color bit depth tend to exhibit banding in areas of similar color. The easiest way to see this is in an image of blue sky. There are many fine gradations that simply can't be rendered by a six-bit panel. Instead, you see unnatural transitions between colors.

This is an extreme example, and you shouldn't see anything so problematic on a modern display. But when a monitor operates at a reduced bit depth, banding is one of those artifacts that has to be dealt with.

In order to combat it, TN-based panels use a process called dithering. The more technical term is frame rate control, but the process is the same. Random noise is inserted into the color gradations in order to fuzz-out, for lack of a better term, the color bands. With modern video processing, this technique can be very effective in reducing the effect.

The display in the example to the right can only render red or blue. To make purple, an increasing amount of red and blue noise is inserted into the image until the eye perceives the desired color, even though there is no actual purple in the bottom-right square. Obviously this is a gross over-simplification. The actual technique is far more complex, and the result is practically indistinguishable from an eight-bit panel.

Brand
Asus
Model
VG248QE
Street Price
$270
Panel Type
TN
Backlight
W-LED
Screen Size
24"
Max Resolution
1920x1080
Aspect Ratio
16:9
Response Time (GTG)
1 ms
Brightness (cd/m2)
350
Speakers
2 x 2 W
VGA
-
DVI
1
DisplayPort
1
HDMI
1
Headphone
1
USB
-
Max Refresh Rate
144 Hz
Dimensions w/base
WxHxD
22.4 x 19.7 x 9.1 in
569 x 500 x 231 mm
Panel Thickness
2.3 in / 57.3 mm
Warranty
Three years

In addition to superlative response and lag specifications, Asus provides a nice package that caters to the enthusiast. Let’s check out what else comes in the VG248QE’s carton, besides blazing speed.

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101 comments
    Your comment
  • CaptainTom
    I gotta wonder if 1 ms vs 5 ms really makes a difference...
    3
  • ff6shadow
    I own this. Bought when it was first available. Great monitor for gaming. I use 2x GTX Titans with it.
    4
  • iam2thecrowe
    i don't like the sound of this dithering BS, i guess that's why its cheap....
    -8
  • SWEETMUSK
    if I have $300 dollars I will not buy for 24 inch "TN" screen
    IPS is much better then TN
    0
  • Axonn
    People who think 144 Hz is more important than an 8-bit panel are in for a big, big fail.
    -3
  • ryude
    This monitor uses PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) for the backlight, which causing flickering. The only 144hz monitor that does not use PWM is the BenQ XL2420TE.
    4
  • Plusthinking Iq
    they only sell BenQ XL2420T version in my country, so i bought the asus for the double pwm hz. pwm, the scourge og the lcd monitor.
    2
  • CraigN
    ryude - yes, it uses PWM, however, as an owner of one of these monitors, I have not noticed any flickering at all. It's a really solid performing monitor. That same PWM comes in real handy when running in Lightboost mode for even more reductions to input lag.

    CaptainTom, 1ms makes a huge difference over 5ms. I didn't think it would at first until I bought one of these. Next to my old 24" HDTV that was my monitor for awhile, the difference is insane.
    0
  • CraigN
    PS , Christian, your SmartBuy award photo at the end of the article is the wrong ASUS monitor ;) Also, would you guys mind releasing the ICC profile you guys calibrated for your tests?
    -1
  • Turik
    The final picture is not of the VG248QE?
    0
  • Turik
    As someone with a high quality 1440p IPS and 2 of these monitors, for most gaming I prefer these. For World of Warcraft or other MMOs where screen space is a luxury, it's hard to give up the high-res IPS, and the color quality is noticable, but with a proper ICC profile and some tweaking, it's a good looking monitor.

    ICC profile is use is here: http://pcmonitors.info/reviews/asus-vg248qe
    0
  • ubercake
    The thing is contrast is lacking big time on IPS monitors less than $500. So who cares about color accuracy if you can't see all the shades? Cheap IPS monitors are not only slow because of inherent input lag, but also a fail when it comes to contrast.

    These high refresh rate monitors offer an incredible performance boost for first-person shooters if you have video cards that can produce frame rates close to the high refresh rates (or higher than 60Hz consistently). I've tried 1440p 60Hz monitors and can't stand the lower refresh. I've tried 60Hz surround setups and can't stand the low refresh. Once you go to these monitors, you develop a need for them. Nothing with lower refresh rates compares any longer. If you've never had it, you don't miss it and don't know what you're missing.

    If you don't have the kind of GPU power to consistently get you beyond the 60fps mark at 1080p, 60Hz monitors are the way to go. I still wouldn't settle for cheap IPS monitors with crappy contrast ratios though. For shooters, the input lag is also a terrible characteristic of the cheap IPS monitor.
    -6
  • twztechman
    Anonymous said:
    I own this. Bought when it was first available. Great monitor for gaming. I use 2x GTX Titans with it.


    2 Titans for 1980x1080 resolution? That's a bit silly. You have spent $2000 for video cards and you are gaming on one 1980x1080 24 inch monitor!
    You should have at least 3 of these monitors for a surround set-up.
    6
  • CraigN
    Turik - I'm aware of the one at pcmonitors.info, as well as the one included with the disk. I was just wondering if it was (possible) for them to release their post-calibrated icc. I have no idea how monitor calibrators work (I didn't need to alter much on my personal VG248QE to be satisfied, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better) so I just thought it couldn't hurt to ask.

    Also - does anyone own one of these and notice that opening Pictures come up darker/dimmer than they look as thumbnails or in image preview??
    0
  • BigMack70
    I just wonder if/when we'll ever get a panel like this at high resolution (1440p/4k), because I'm done with 1080p.

    ASUS... could you pretty please make us a 144 Hz 1440p IPS screen ??????
    9
  • ubercake
    Anonymous said:
    I just wonder if/when we'll ever get a panel like this at high resolution (1440p/4k), because I'm done with 1080p.

    ASUS... could you pretty please make us a 144 Hz 1440p IPS screen ??????


    I second the 'pretty please'.
    8
  • moogleslam
    If I understand things correctly, if your monitor updates faster than the frame rate pumped out by your graphics card, you don't have screen tearing anymore, and therefore no longer need vsync?
    0
  • jdon
    I've looked at IPS panels and TN panels in some depth, and found that other than the viewing angle, I'm not able to perceive much difference. Then my fiancee laughed at me and said, "You really are THAT colorblind, huh?" ....It actually kind of makes me glad that I can appreciate the better frame rates without being disappointed by the lack of color depth!
    0
  • vpnuser
    I own one of these as well as a 27" Dell 1440p IPS panel, and I prefer this one for gaming. 120hz with 2D lightboost has 0 ghosting. Sure the color is crap compared to the IPS, but what good is color when it looks like 24fps movie blur in games? Quoted from my girlfriend, who can't tell the difference between 1080p and 720p movies, within 5 minutes of me setting up the monitor ; "That's really smooth."

    I would prefer the best of both worlds, but I don't think current graphics cards are quite up to the task. (At least not for less than a $2500 machine) Current IPS panels out there can pull the hz, but can't match the response times just yet.

    Add in the fact that the industry will be pushing for 4k soon, and you can kiss 120hz goodbye for a while.
    3