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.
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.
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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