We’ll start by discussing the two points that ASUS is so keen to promote. The first of these is the monitor’s 144Hz refresh rate. A refresh rate of at least 120Hz is standard on pretty much any 3D-capable display, of course, so that you can get a usable framerate when you halve that in order to push separate frames to each eye – but ASUS makes some bold claims about the impact of the 144Hz mode on 2D content, and you can be forgiven for being skeptical of their claims that it’ll make motion so much smoother.
In truth, though – it is a noticeable improvement. Pushing that many frames, compared to a standard 60Hz 2D display, means that you get a substantially smoother image in scenes with a lot of motion. It’s nothing as dramatic as the jump from 24Hz film to 60Hz video, but it is a real difference; ASUS has certainly embellished the impact of this feature, but it is worth having, and it does improve 2D content. Note, though, that the utility of the 144Hz mode is diminished by the software requirements. The VG248QE isn’t magic; you need to be able to push 144 frames per second, or the impact will be limited to what can be done by the tweening algorithm. That’s still smoother than simply displaying 60 frames per second, but it’s far less pronounced; you need either seriously high-end hardware or older titles to fully utilize the refresh rate.
The 1ms gray-to-gray response time is always useful, though! Losing a little bit of the post-processing done by other monitors enables the VG248QE to provide incredible levels of responsiveness. In single-player titles, this is a marginal increase in efficiency, but if you’re good enough to make it relevant you’re also good enough to trivialize the entire campaign anyway. However, in multiplayer, it helps to cut down on the input lag that’s already going to result from the connection latency, and can make the difference between victory and defeat in a particularly close match.
Since the ASUS VG248QE is intended for gaming, it also made a good testbed for ASUS’s new GamePlus hotkey system. This provides an optional overlay on the screen, depicting an aimpoint crosshair for shooters or a timer for real-time strategy games. It’s nothing out of this world, but it’s neat, and the timer in particular can be useful for working on your techniques. There are also integrated 2W stereo speakers; those are nice to have, but realistically there’s no compelling reason to use them over a decent pair of satellites. They run into the same problem that television speakers tend to – modern displays are in the thinnest cases possible, which makes including decent speakers in that same box much harder than with the bulky CRTs of old.
ASUS VG248QE Image Quality
Most high-response-time monitors get that by compromising on image quality. You have to lose some of the normal post-processing in order to shave off those milliseconds between when a frame is rendered and when it’s put on the LCD; there’s necessarily going to be some amount of quality loss. However, the ASUS VG248QE does very well in spite of this necessary handicap.
Let’s start by mentioning the big issue: the ASUS VG248QE is a TN panel, not an IPS. That’s necessary in order to achieve the response times this screen has, but it means that colors will never be as bright or as vivid as a high-end IPS panel; if gaming isn’t a priority for you, there are going to be better monitors for you to spend $280 on. Still, compared to other TN panels, colors are reproduced incredibly well; tones are realistic, and contrast is simply fabulous due to the dynamic LED backlighting. You’ve got blacker blacks and whiter whites; compared to any screens that even come close in that all-important metric of response time, the picture is astounding.
3D Image Quality
The ASUS VG248QE’s 3D mode comes through NVIDIA 3D Vision 2. That means that you have to buy the 3D Vision kit separately to enable 3D video functionality, but once you’ve gotten that out of the way you’re going to be rewarded with a stunning 3D image. The comfortable active shutter glasses provide an excellent sensation of depth; with the closeness you typically maintain to a computer screen, playing a first-person game will be incredibly immersive. Get some nice headphones or a surround sound system, and you’ll forget that you’re sitting in a chair wearing your (admittedly goofy-looking) glasses and staring at a screen; without any of the visual glitches that mar some 3D implementations, you’ll almost be drawn into the picture.
On the downside, though, using NVIDIA’s technology means playing by NVIDIA’s rules; if you aren’t using an NVIDIA video card, then you can’t use the VG248QE in 3D mode. AMD’s video cards are still quite competitive, and it’s completely understandable if you’d rather just look at a different monitor than replace a $400 piece of hardware so that you can use all of the VG248QE’s features. But if your existing hardware setup is compatible – or if you aim to replace your entire system – NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 is a fantastic solution, and using it was a smart move on ASUS’s part.
The ASUS VG248QE 3D Monitor does sacrifice some level of image quality to achieve its incredible 1ms response time, and the inability to use 3D mode without an NVIDIA video card is a legitimate problem. Still, the combination of stellar video quality in 2D and 3D mode with the aforementioned response times and a 144Hz refresh rate make it a fantastic monitor for any gamer; considering the fact that you can easily obtain one for under $270 from Amazon, it’s a great purchase. Do note, though, that the 3D Vision 2 system must be purchased separately, and will run you at least $120 at the current time.