MSI Optix MAG341CQ Curved Ultra-Wide Gaming Monitor Review: A Price Breakthrough

Conclusion

At this writing, the MSI Optix MAG341CQ is the least expensive 34-inch WQHD resolution ultra-wide, 100Hz, FreeSync gaming monitor currently available. That it delivers solid gameplay with good contrast and vivid color is simply icing on the cake. While a few features have been left out, this screen provides solid performance for gaming, video and general computing.

The downside is there are some grayscale and gamma accuracy issues.We wish we could have achieved a better grayscale calibration, and the monitor should have a darker gamma curve. And users looking for speakers, USB, or a headphone jack will have to search elsewhere because the MAG341CQ doesn’t have any. But this seems a worthy sacrifice to keep the price down.

Gaming performance is without fault. Though there are faster ultra-wide gaming monitors out there, like the Samsung C49HG90, the MAG341CQ makes the most of its 100Hz and even manages to match response and lag times with the 120Hz AOC AG352UCG6. Though there are no blur-reduction modes or overdrive levels (it’s either on or off), we enjoyed smooth play with instant response to control inputs and tear-free motion processing.

You can spend a lot more for an ultra-wide gaming monitor but if you’re willing to give up a few features, the MSI Optix MAG341CQ fills the bill at an attractive price.

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  • Energy96
    Why do these “high end” gaming monitors always seem to come with free sync instead of the Nvidia G-sync. Most people willing to shell out $450 and up on a monitor are going to be running Nvidia cards which makes the feature useless. With an Nvidia card it isn’t even worth considering a monitor that doesn’t support G-sync.
  • jason.gress
    Is there a VESA mount?
  • mitch074
    @energy96: because including G-sync requires a proprietary Nvidia scaler, which is very expensive, while Freesync is based off a standard and thus much cheaper. So, someone owning an Nvidia card would have to pay 600 bucks for a similarly featured screen.
  • stevehottois
    if u have a nvidia card free sync will still work
  • Energy96
    This is completely false. Free sync does not work with Nvidia cards, only Radeon. There is a sort of hack work around but it’s worse than just buying a g-sync monitor.
  • Energy96
    @energy96: because including G-sync requires a proprietary Nvidia scaler, which is very expensive, while Freesync is based off a standard and thus much cheaper. So, someone owning an Nvidia card would have to pay 600 bucks for a similarly featured screen.

    I know this. My point was most people who buy a Radeon card are doing it because they are on a budget. It’s unlikely they will have the funds for a high end gaming monitor that is $450+. That’s more than they likely would have spent on the Radeon card.

    Majority of people dropping that much or more on a gaming monitor will be running Nvidia cards. I know it adds cost but if you are running Nvidia a free sync monitor is out of the question. Free sync seems pointless in any monitor that is much over $300.
  • cryoburner
    Anonymous said:
    Why do these “high end” gaming monitors always seem to come with free sync instead of the Nvidia G-sync. Most people willing to shell out $450 and up on a monitor are going to be running Nvidia cards which makes the feature useless. With an Nvidia card it isn’t even worth considering a monitor that doesn’t support G-sync.

    The real question you should be asking is why a supposedly "high end" graphics card doesn't support a standard like VESA Adaptive-Sync, otherwise branded as FreeSync. You should be complaining on Nvidia's graphics card reviews that they still don't support the open standard for adaptive sync, not that a monitor doesn't support Nvidia's proprietary version of the technology that requires special hardware from Nvidia to do pretty much the same thing. It's not just AMD that will be supporting VESA Adaptive-Sync either, as Intel representatives have stated on at least a couple occasions that they intend to include support for it in the future, likely with their upcoming graphics cards. Microsoft's Xbox consoles also support FreeSync, albeit a less-standard implementation over HDMI.

    Nvidia doesn't support it because they want to sell you an overpriced chipset as a part of your monitor, and they want you arbitrarily locked into their hardware ecosystem once competition heats up at the high-end. I suspect that even they may support it eventually though. They're just holding out so that they can price-gouge their customers as long as they can.
  • Energy96
    I can agree with this, but currently it’s the only choice we have. I’m not downgrading to a Radeon card. It would be nice if some of these monitors at least offered versions with it. I know a few do but the selection is very limited.
  • mitch074
    Anonymous said:
    I can agree with this, but currently it’s the only choice we have. I’m not downgrading to a Radeon card. It would be nice if some of these monitors at least offered versions with it. I know a few do but the selection is very limited.

    A 1440p monitor and a Vega 56 go well together - if you have a 1080/1080ti/2070/2080/2080ti then yes it's a "downgrade", but if you run a triple screen off a Radeon card already, then it's not.
    I think my RX480 could run Dirt Rally on that thing quite well, for example - not everybody buy these things for a 144fps+ shooter.
  • Dosflores
    Anonymous said:
    Free sync seems pointless in any monitor that is much over $300.


    FreeSync isn't expensive to implement, unlike G-Sync, so why should companies not implement it? You seem to think that the only reason there can ever be to buy a new monitor is adaptive sync, which isn't true. People may want a bigger screen, higher resolution, higher refresh rate, better contrast… If they want G-Sync, they can expend extra on it. If they don't think it is worth it, they can save money. FreeSync doesn't harm anyone.

    Buying a $450 monitor seems pointless to me after having spent $1200+ on a graphics card. The kind of monitor that Nvidia thinks is a good match for it is something like this:

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/asus-rog-swift-pg27u,5804.html
  • glass330
    I purchased this monitor somehow from MicroCenter in October for $380. Also, you can 3d print a vesa mount, there are several plans out there already on the maker sites.

    This monitor is certainly not the best on paper but are all those other "buzz word" features worth 2x or 3x the price for a non-professional home user? Do you need a $1400 display for a $19 steam game? Freesync works great and productivity is through the roof. Just don't hit the fullscreen button ever again. Gaming is fun and no stutters! Vega64 user here. I really like this monitor and this is the first purchase I have made in several years without any Buyers remorse! Seriously!
  • helder3araujo
    First off NVIDIA announced they will now support freesync; they lost and conceded defeat to AMD. So no need to get overpriced g-sync monitors anymore or do work arounds. NVIDIA drivers as of tomorrow will support 12 Freesync monitors. Not only that they will allow you to use a tool to test and see if yours is compatible to use with their drivers. over time they will increase support for more monitors. Nothing wrong with buying this MSI.