Gaming monitors without G-Sync or FreeSync are rare in today’s marketplace. The question then becomes: Are there enough other features to make that display a good gaming monitor? Can good image fidelity alone produce a good experience without FreeSync or G-Sync? There is no definitive answer, so we’ll resort to, “it depends.”
The MSI Optix MAG321CURV has several things going for it. The fact that it’s a 32-inch 4K monitor for $400 is a big plus. You don’t have to go back very far in time to find the same form factor for $3,000. Early adopters know what I’m talking about. If you want a large 3840 x 2160 pixel screen with accurate color and good contrast, this panel delivers the goods.
But how it fares with gaming will depend on what games you’re playing and your skill level. With a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz and no Adaptive-Sync, there will be occasional screen tearing artifacts. If you have a graphics card that can maintain 60 fps, however, the impact is minimal. Those with higher skill levels will probably want to look elsewhere.
Though it is billed as an HDR monitor, the MAG321CURV doesn’t do the technology justice. In our experience, HDR images didn’t look much different than SDR ones. When we played Call of Duty: WWII, we preferred the superior shadow detail of SDR mode. On the plus side, we had no complaints when playing SDR games based on the sRGB color space.
If you want a low-budget 32-inch 4K monitor, the MAG321CURV is a good choice. If you want a high-performance gaming monitor, look elsewhere.