Sometimes it seems monitor manufacturers are so obsessed with high volume, low cost business that the really cool tech gets neglected. Trying to find one of the handful of 120Hz LCD screens on the market is often a frustrating experience, and the ASUS VG236H is the first such monitor to get seriously pushed in the Australian market, appearing in such non-esoteric stores as Harvey Norman.
Unfortunately it seems one of the drivers of this is NVIDIA, which means that ASUS is selling the VG236H as part of a bundle with NVIDIA 3D Vision kits. Now 3D is a wonderful novelty, especially in a game like CODBLOPS, which has been designed with 3D in mind. In reality though, this bundle is in danger of pricing itself out of the market thanks to the obligatory 3D glasses tax added to the price.
It is important to separate out the two advantages of a 120Hz screen. The first is that it is capable of displaying enough images to sustain LCD shutter-glass-based 3D. The second, infinitely more important thing about 120Hz screens is that they can sustain framerates higher than 60fps without tearing. We’d argue that while 3D is an occasional novelty, the real, consistent benefits of a 120Hz screen come down to this tear-free high framerate gaming.
We ran ASUS’ VG236H through its paces in various games. There was the obligatory CODBLOPS 3D stint (of all the games released this is probably the best ambassador for 3D) as well as some extended sessions in games like Civ 5 and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit . Our tests were done with the GeForce GTX 580 so the framerates were consistently over 60fps, and it was incredibly noticeable.
CODBLOPS is a great game to show off the advantages of 120Hz. Because of its console roots, the engine barely stresses a high end PC. Using a GeForce GTX 580 and Phenom II X6 1090T the game happily sat on 91fps for the most part, even with all the details cranked up. On a standard 60Hz screen with Vsync disabled this would be ugly due to the amount of tearing going on. But on the ASUS screen this framerate was delivered in a smooth as silk manner.
This great performance is backed up by remarkably good image quality for a TN panel. The screen is incredibly bright, which is of great benefit when using 3D glasses, colour reproduction is strong and images are free from ghosting.
We also dig the adjustable stand, as well as the ability to mount the screen in landscape or portrait (both are all too rare nowadays). DisplayPort would have been a nice addition rather than just HDMI and DVI, but the only major annoyance with the screen is the horrible glossy coating layered onto it. This makes some lighting conditions quite annoying.
We really dig the VG236H, but wish we could get it without having to fork out the extra cash for NVIDIA’s 3D Vision kit. When it comes to screens a gamer’s priority should be for 120Hz, with something like 3D a novelty that may be added later. This screen could be spectacular, but in the end it is too expensive to passionately recommend.