Is Asus' VG248QE Fast Enough?
There’s no question that Asus achieved its design goals for the VG248QE. This is a gamer's display, through and through. Once all of your other subsystems are suitably cutting-edge, display technology surfaces as the final bottleneck in the ultimate system's performance. With a 144 Hz refresh rate, that limitation is no more. Most enthusiasts are perfectly accustomed to 60 Hz. But the most hardcore gamers, with lightning-fast reflexes to match, need more. You can spend thousands on CPUs, graphics cards, high-speed memory, and SSDs. If your monitor doesn't respond fast enough when you pull that trigger, you're not getting the most from your machine.
To be fair, you pay a price for this kind of display performance. TN technology does cause some issues if you're in the market for uncompromising image quality. Foremost is image degradation when the screen is viewed off-center. You can see from our photos that the VG248QE does much better from one side to the other compared to many TN screens. But it doesn't do well top to bottom. With such excellent side to side performance, though, at least you won't have a problem using three of these displays in a Surround or Eyefinity setup.
The other obstacle is the panel’s six-bit native color depth. On some screens, this results in obvious banding artifacts. However, Asus does a superb job minimizing the issue. It was only noticeable a tiny number of times, and even then only when we were deliberately looking for it. Obviously, the dithering algorithm in play is very effective. Don't be put off by this; it's just not a problem that'd stop us from using the VG248QE.
According to our measurements, Asus didn't skimp on any of the VG248QE's quantifiable performance characteristics. Contrast is most impressive, returning fantastic numbers for both on/off and ANSI. And this is one bright monitor. There is no situation where you won’t be able to dial in a vibrant picture, regardless of ambient light. Grayscale, gamma, and color performance aren’t the best we've seen. But then again, selling for a street price of $270, the display acquits itself well. While a graphics professional will likely seek out a higher-res, eight-bit IPS panel, this monitor should satisfy a majority of desktop enthusiasts with solid image quality and accuracy. And if 3D is important to you, Asus has you covered with Nvidia 3D Vision support.
Of course, we hope to see displays like this based on IPS panels in the near future. And we suspect we will. The aftermarket has already produced overclocked IPS monitors with refresh rates up to 120 Hz. For now though, the VG248QE serves as a benchmark for gamers looking to remove one more choke point from the signal chain. And it represents a terrific value. Among the seven 120 Hz-or-higher screens we found in our research, Asus' VG248QE is the least expensive, and the only one reaching up to 144 Hz. For that reason, we’re giving it Tom’s Hardware 2013 Smart Buy award.