There seems to be no shortage of premium gaming displays available with QHD resolution, high-end IPS panels and adaptive refresh. But not everyone wants to spend $600 and up on a monitor; especially if their video card is of the value-priced variety.
Thanks to FreeSync and an implementation that requires only DisplayPort 1.2 and no additional hardware, adaptive refresh can be added to an AMD-based system for an easier-to-live-with price. But don't think that means a free lunch. You will have to give up a few features if you want an optimized gaming experience for less than $350.
The two principal factors separating the expensive displays from inexpensive ones are resolution and panel tech. Naturally, more gamers want the 2560x1440 pixels of a QHD monitor. It doesn't take a thousand-dollar graphics board to drive most games to about 50fps at that density. But those extra dots will cost you at least $150 to $200 more. And if you want IPS instead of TN, plan on adding another $100 or so to the price tag.
If your max budget for an adaptive-refresh display is $300 (at this writing), you can figure on putting a 24-inch FHD/TN screen with FreeSync on your desktop. Today, we're checking out one such example from ViewSonic: the XG2401.
This combo deal includes MSI’s AM1I socket AM1 motherboard, which has a decent amount of connectivity options, with two SATA-III (6 Gbps) ports, a mini PCI-E slot, two USB 3.0 ports, and a PCI-E 2.0 x16 header operating at x4 speeds. Although AM1 systems are designed to be compact low-power computers, the full length PCI-E slot would permit you to install a budget graphics card to create a PC capable of playing games with low-end settings. The quad-core 2.05 GHz AMD Athlon 5350 APU is one of the highest-performance AM1 processors, and it contains a low-power iGPU with 128 shader cores. Because of the APU features, the system should also work well as an HTPC without needing a budget graphics card. During the sale, both items can be purchased together for $64.98, saving you $20 off of the full retail price of $84.98. Deal ends 3/17/2016.
Yes the panel is FHD and TN, but we suggest putting any preconceived notions on hold until after you've seen our benchmark results. This is an extremely well-built monitor with class-leading contrast, excellent color accuracy and FreeSync right up to the panel's 144Hz maximum refresh rate.
The 48Hz end of the XG2401's range may be a concern to those who can't maintain framerates above that consistently. But since you're only pushing 1920x1080 pixels, it won't take an expensive video card to maintain speeds north of 60fps.
The backlight is a white LED in a flicker-free configuration. Rather than using pulse-width modulation, the XG2401 features constant current drive at all backlight levels. Very few people actually experience flicker but this arrangement ensures that no one will.
Aside from a solid chassis and nice styling, there aren't too many bells and whistles here. There's no blur-reduction feature but ViewSonic's overdrive implementation works reasonably well. You also get an input lag option that lowers processing overhead for faster response to inputs. It will net you about two milliseconds.
On paper, the XG2401 looks like a good value and a decent performer. Now that we have our hands on one, it's time to take a closer look.