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Asus ROG PG248Q 24-inch 180Hz G-Sync Gaming Monitor Review

Asus practically founded the gaming monitor category with the VG248QE in 2013. Today we’re looking at its spiritual successor, the ROG Swift PG248Q. It’s a 24" TN screen with FHD resolution, G-Sync, ULMB, and a 180Hz refresh rate.

Our Verdict

Like an exotic sports car, the PG248Q is not without a few challenges in ownership. But when you make the right tweaks during setup, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest gaming experiences imaginable. The smooth and instant response of this monitor is without equal among the products we’ve reviewed to date. Ultimately, it is well-worth the expense and effort required. Highly recommended.

For

  • G-Sync
  • 180Hz
  • Superior motion quality
  • Low latency
  • Response
  • Accurate color with calibration
  • Styling
  • Build quality

Against

  • Needs adjustment to unlock the best picture
  • Contrast
  • Expensive

Introduction

In 2013 we looked at one of the very first monitors that could hit 144Hz from the factory. That was Asus’ VG248QE. Prior to that, gamers seeking more speed had to perform their own overclocks and risk damaging internal components to drive the refresh rate past 60Hz. Today there are plenty of gaming monitors available with both adaptive refresh, in the form of Nvidia G-Sync or AMD FreeSync, and rates of 144Hz and higher. We’ve looked at a few screens that boast 165Hz, but today there’s a monitor that can hit 180Hz: Behold, the Asus PG248Q.

Specifications

The VG248QE spawned a new era in gaming displays. Not only did it refresh reliably at 144Hz, it was the basis for Nvidia’s first G-Sync module. It came in the form of an add-on board that required the user to open up their expensive new screen’s chassis to complete the modification. Now G-Sync is available on many monitors, and, interestingly, it still carries that same $200 price premium Nvidia charged for the kit.

Adaptive refresh has also given rise to ever-increasing refresh rates. Even the fastest video boards can’t quite reach 144 FPS at FHD resolution, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from pushing the overclock past 160Hz. The PG248Q is the first screen we’ve seen that can reliably accept a 180Hz signal and run without any flicker, stutter, or artifact.

To keep speeds up, the panel is an AU Optronics TN part with a white LED backlight that runs at a constant current; that is, without pulse-width modulation (or flicker-free). In addition to G-Sync, it offers ULMB with a 100-step adjustable slider to balance brightness with the level of blur reduction. Color depth is a native 8-bits, so you shouldn't see banding in properly encoded content. You also get GamePlus with its on-screen aiming reticules, FPS counter, timer, and screen alignment tool.

The VG248QE has remained a top-selling gaming display for more than three years running. Can the PG248Q fill those big shoes? Let’s take a look.

Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories

The PG248Q comes packed in an oversize carton that provides far more protection than necessary for this premium display. Mail order buyers should have little to fear from even the most abusive shipping companies. The upright is already bolted on, so all you need to do is attach the base with a captive bolt.

Asus has included both DisplayPort and HDMI cables. You’ll need to use DisplayPort for 180Hz and G-Sync operation. The power supply is external and looks like a miniature Apple TV. A USB cable connects the two-port internal hub. You also get a warranty card, quick-start guide, and the users’ manual on CD.

Product 360

Asus ROG displays exude a little higher build quality than more rank-and-file products. The overall package isn’t too heavy but there is beef in all the right places. Styling is chunky and angular with a very sci-fi-tech look that extends across the entire line. Hard plastic is used everywhere except for the front bezel, which is a strip of thin black metal. It’s almost flush with the screen’s anti-glare layer, which aggressively prevents reflection from washing out the sharp vivid picture. Bezel width is only 11mm, making the PG248Q a great candidate for multi-monitor setups. Controls take the form of buttons and a small joystick, which can be found around back of the lower-right side. The stick truly is a joy to use and makes it easy to whip through the OSD almost without thinking. The keys are very responsive and feel like they belong on a high-end product.

The stand is as solid as it appears and offers a full suite of position adjustments. In addition to the pictured portrait mode, there’s 4.5" of height, 60° swivel in each direction, and 25° of tilt. Movements are damped perfectly, and we experienced no slop or play at any time.

The PG248Q’s angular design means the panel’s side profile is a tad thicker than most. One thing we missed here was USB ports. You get two in the bottom input panel but none on the sides. Another nice addition would be a headphone jack. That is behind the monitor as well.

Where some monitors eliminate straight lines, this ROG display embraces them. There isn’t a compound curve in sight anywhere. The flat spot created for the 100mm VESA lugs is recessed into the taper, so wall mounts will need to provide a little depth for clearance sake. Ventilation is more than adequate since the power supply is external. Our sample generated no significant heat during use.

Like most G-Sync screens, the input panel is sparse, providing a single DisplayPort and an HDMI port. The latter will support refresh rates up to 60Hz. The former accepts up to 180Hz and G-Sync, of course. There are also the USB 3.0 upstream and downstream ports, along with a headphone jack, and the power connector.


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  • shrapnel_indie
    Uh, another con that is NOT listed: lack of FreeSync. Why? G-Sync already excludes AMD cards (and while it is considerably less important to most of us, Intel iGPUs too.) With FreeSync not having the NVidia G-Sync "tax"... oh wait... NVidia might contractually exclude the possibility of any monitor that include FreeSync and/or older adaptive-sync technologies in addition to G-Sync.
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    1. Both Asus and Acer have always offered both G-Sync and Freesync versions of their Gaming monitors. The only impact on the consumer is the effort choosing the one that matches their card. No real mystery that the nVidia version hits the market 1st given the image below. Not really a mystery when vendors concentrate on the 82% of market before addressing the 18% of market.


    2. Either way, 144, 165, 180 Hz provides technology that represents the upper cost niches as opposed tot he lower. Peeps purchasing monitors at the upper price limits in any given category are likely to be purchasing GFX cards in the upper price limits. So what we see when pepes post their builds for the most part is GTX 1060s / RX 470s paired with $250 monitors. With 1070 / 1080s in the build, the monitor budget is a bit higher.

    3. It may be fun to call the price difference a "tax" but that is a misnomer:

    AMD Freesync package provides Freesysnc and no hardware module is installed in the monitor.
    nVidia G-Sync provides G-Syn and also includes a hardware module for ULMB

    When two monitors are made using the same panel, and electronics ... then one has a hardware module installed which provides ULMB and the other does not, is it not logical that that hardware module has a cost associated with it ? You can buy Freesync monitors with motion blur technology included but in such cases it is added by the monitor manufacturer. The difference being that w/ G-Sync, it's always the same module... with Freesync, the design and quality varies by monitor manufacturer.

    Never quite understood the mindset where there's an expectation that a company should invest millions of dollars in R&D and then should be required to share that technology for free. AMD has had the opportunity to license technology in the past and chose not to.

    4. As it says in this review:

    "While FreeSync offers the same net benefit, it takes a bit more digging to find the panels that can hit a 30Hz lower limit. Many stop the fun at 40Hz, which can be an issue for users of less expensive video cards."

    The digging will usually result in a monitor from a manufacturer who chose a more expensive panel which of course. like adding the MBR module, adds to the cost.

    I am not making a judgement as to whether the cost increase is "worth it".... that judgment will vary according to each individual. But the claim that the two technologies are "the same" or provide the same features and performance is just incorrect.
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    Regarding the article....

    1. Regarding the "out-of-box" accuracy, I expect that you will be able to download corrected ICC profiles for this monitor shortly on TFTcentral

    2. When Acer made the move to 165 Hz in their Predator line, the 165 Hz was considered of no significant impact and many called it a gimmick. 165 Hz tho made one very important impact.... it allows a 120 Hz setting under ULMB, up from the 100 Hz that was available w/ the 144 Hz model. It would appear that 180 Hz offers no advantage here.

    3. I keep wondering why we don't see IPS panels in this segment ... guess is that by the time one includes a gaming capable IPS panel and modern hi-end gaming technology to support it, the price is so close to a 1440p panel, most would just choose the larger panel.
    Reply
  • rwinches
    So The AOC 144Hz Freesync 35 - 144Hz. is the better buy and at ~$210 you can get two.

    As you said, once you use TH recommended settings and start gaming The AOC is a great choice. Tom’s Hardware Editor Approved Award

    Tom's Conclusion Page
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/aoc-g2460pf-24-inch-144hz-freesync-monitor,4743-6.html
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    I generally don't use THG reviews for decision purposes as the articles are the kind that "listen to Mom"" and follow the old adage "if ya don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all". As far as AOC, in my eyes, well let's just say I'm not a fan.... at least not till I see one I'm impressed with and that hasn't happened so far.

    As far as response time goes.... wish we had more detail and with lag added in for all reviews so that a valid comparison can be made.

    Would like to see something like this


    User reviews on newegg aren't too reassuring for the G2460PF with just 12 peeps contributing:

    5 eggs = 33%
    4 eggs = 42%
    3 eggs = 0%
    2 eggs = 8%
    1 egg = 17%

    and the ones complaining are citing no support and failure to meet spec.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA8X548C3991

    Compare that to the 1,171 Asus VG248QE reviews

    5 eggs = 72%
    4 eggs = 13%
    3 eggs = 5%
    2 eggs = 4%
    1 egg = 5%

    Again, for me I wouldn't touch that AOC ... I would touch this Asus either. Before I'd spend $500 on a TN 1080p panel, I'd save up another $200 and get a 1440p IPS, 165 Hz Acer Predator or Asus Swift. Peeps tend to keep monitors thru 2 or 3 builds so there's a tendency here to invest a bit and get something better since it will be around a lot longer.

    With today's video cards (i.e. 1070) ... I think if pushed into a corner @ 1080p until I could afford a 1440p, I'd be more likely to choose a VG248QE w/ no G-Sync. With every game above 60 fps ... G-Sync or Freesync really won't be missed since a) it's value is really below that threshold and b) you can do motion blur reduction via the toasty strobelight utility. Could then use the Vg248QE as an accessory monitor for monitoring utilities, ventrillo, etc

    http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/variable_refresh.htm

    It should be noted that the real benefits of G-sync really come into play when viewing lower frame rate content, around 45 - 60fps typically delivers the best results compared with Vsync on/off. At consistently higher frame rates as you get nearer to 144 fps the benefits of G-sync are not as great, but still apparent. There will be a gradual transition period for each user where the benefits of using G-sync decrease, and it may instead be better to use the ULMB feature included, which is not available when using G-sync. Higher end gaming machines might be able to push out higher frame rates more consistently and so you might find less benefit in using G-sync. The ULMB could then help in another very important area, helping to reduce the perceived motion blur caused by LCD displays. It's nice to have both G-sync and ULMB available to choose from certainly on these G-sync enabled displays.

    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    24 inch... Dorm room hardware. Price... Rich-folk dorm room hardware with no sense.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    Way above my padded price expectation of $400.
    THG, can you do a blind test comparing 120 Hz monitor versus this?This is to find if there's any value to ever increasing refresh rates.
    Reply
  • Bezzell
    That price is a kick in the nuts.
    Reply
  • Verrin
    Not sure why people still make a big deal out of the lower refresh limit on FreeSync monitors. AMD has been compensating for that in software (called LFC), much like Nvidia does, for more than a year now. I've not seen screen tearing below 35Hz since FreeSync monitors first came out.
    Reply
  • DornyeiJ
    The refresh rate has no impact after a certain limit as the human mind has its own refresh rate what is limited. I think that something like 120 Hz is already higher as needed. This is the reason games are not pushing higher refresh rate. Games instead add more detail and image quality. I think this monitor is overkill. However ASUS will be able to sell it as some people with a lot of money will buy it. I will stick to a cheaper monitor with about 120 refresh rate.
    Reply