Asus ROG Swift PG248Q review: A 180Hz miracle monitor?

Asus PG248Q

Buying a monitor used to be a fairly simple affair. You’d pick one black rectangle from the dozens of other black rectangles, and if you really pushed the boat out you might get one with an adjustable stand, or, heaven forbid, a rotating screen.

These days, there’s a lot more going on. You can still opt for the faithful black rectangle, but if you’re the type of person who likes rainbow-coloured keyboards, mice and motherboards, you can now get a monitor to match. Take Asus’ ROG Swift PG248Q. This 24in display has a glowing red ring round the base of the stand, as if the resulting monitor has arrived from another dimension inside its slate-like base. Thankfully, it can be turned off via the surprisingly easy-to-use menu buttons on the rear of the screen, but at least the option’s there if you happen to like that sort of thing.

Of course, there’s a lot more to the PG248Q than some fancy LEDs, the main one being that this Full HD (1920×1080) screen has a much higher refresh rate than normal. Whereas most monitors max out at 60Hz, or 60fps in games, the PG248Q can go all the way up to 144Hz (144fps), allowing for buttery smooth gameplay provided you’ve got a graphics card that can make the most of it. It also has Nvidia G-Sync support. This won’t be any use to AMD owners, but those with compatible Nvidia cards can use it to help eliminate screen-tearing and pull up the frame rate when numbers start to take a bit of a tumble.

If all that wasn’t enough, it’s also highly flexible, with a generous amount of tilt, swivel, rotation and height adjustment all built in. Plus, you get a pair of USB3 ports for your mouse and keyboard and a headphone jack. Asus hopes its relatively thin bezels (the black frame around the outside of the screen) will make it a good candidate for multi-screen gaming as well, but for now we’ll focus on how it stacks up as a regular single screen.

When the whole screen can rotate 90 degrees, connecting your cables has never been easier.

When the whole screen can rotate 90 degrees, connecting your cables has never been easier.

Getting back to that refresh rate, this essentially lets you break that all-important 60fps barrier and more than double the number of frames appearing onscreen – handy if you find your current graphics card is completely maxed out on all your favourite games. The catch is that you have to use the monitor’s DisplayPort connection to use it, as the HDMI port is limited to regular old 60Hz. As a result, you’ll need to check your graphics card has the right port before deciding to buy.

Provided you’ve got the right card, though, the PG248Q lets you enjoy frame rates up to 144fps. You can actually boost that number all the way up to 180fps if you enable the so-called ‘overclocking’ feature in the onboard menu, but this is really a bit of a cheat, as Asus is simply using additional software to achieve this kind of smoothness rather than the screen actually displaying that number of frames. In practice, though, it’s highly convincing, and I’d be none the wiser if I didn’t know it wasn’t a proper 180Hz display.

Indeed, if wielding Doom’s super shotgun wasn’t already one of gaming’s greatest pleasures, watching demons just melt into a sticky pile of limbs under its barrel certainly is. Likewise, leaping around Middle-earth in Shadow of War made Talion feel as if he should be in a Team Ninja game, and hunting down prey in Rise of the Tomb Raider almost felt like I’d entered a state of zen tranquility as I tracked my target across the screen.

Monitor buttons are notoriously fiddly to use, but Asus' five-way navigation stick is a rare exception.

Monitor buttons are notoriously fiddly to use, but Asus’ five-way navigation stick is a rare exception.

Of course, all this is pretty meaningless if the colours are wonkier than a revenant’s flight path. Fortunately, the PG248Q acquits itself well in this department, offering plenty of brightness and contrast to help pick out that fine detail. It’s not the most colour accurate screen out there, but compared to other monitors I’ve seen with this type of panel, it’s certainly more balanced than most.

Annoyingly, it doesn’t remember any adjustments you make when alternating between its six pre-set colour profiles, resulting in a lot of unnecessary fiddling when you switch modes. Cinema was by far the most accurate one of the lot, so I’d stick with that if you want to keep things simple. If you suffer from eye strain, you’ll also appreciate Asus’ various ultra-low blue light options. This will have a natural knock-on effect on the monitor’s colour accuracy, but your eyes will thank you for it after a late-night Destiny 2 raid.

One of the hazards of being carted around multiple journalists is you occasionally find a column of dead pixels on your review sample. This wouldn't be the case if you bought one new off the shelf, of course...

One of the hazards of being carted around multiple journalists is you occasionally find a column of dead pixels on your review sample. This wouldn’t be the case if you bought one new off the shelf, of course…

Admittedly, I could do without the Nvidia 3D Vision support and rather hideous crosshair and timer overlays that come as part of the PG248Q’s ‘GamePlus’ package, but put that aside and you’re still left with a highly capable gaming monitor. The only hurdle is the fact it costs £399 / $399. I’d prefer a slightly more colour accurate monitor for that kind of money, especially if you’re going to be using it for any kind of video work or photo editing. Indeed, the successor to my trusty AOC Q2770PQU, the Q2775PQU, currently goes for £359, and that buys you a 27in screen with near picture-perfect image quality and a 2560×1440 resolution. It doesn’t have a high refresh rate or G-Sync support, but I’d say it’s a better overall buy.

There are also cheaper 24in 144Hz monitors out there, too, such as Acer’s Predator XB240H, which costs £215. I can’t vouch for its image quality, but it goes to show how much of a premium you’re paying for that extra G-Sync support. Sadly, you’re looking at paying at least £350 for a G-Sync-enabled monitor, so in that sense the PG248Q’s price isn’t too out of the ordinary (and of course it might be cheaper come Black Friday later this month). Personally, the extra 36Hz and additional HDMI port you get with Asus’ PG248Q over that £350 AOC G2460PG is probably worth the extra money, but I’ll be testing the AMD FreeSync version of AOC’s G-Sync monitor, the G2460PF, very soon, so I’ll be able to give you a better idea about its overall image quality over the next couple of weeks.

40 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    Is the “miracle” part the 180hz overclock? Because I’ve had a 1080p 144hz ASUS TN panel monitor for about five years now and there’s nothing really miraculous about it anymore.

    Miraculous would be something like HDR, an affordable high refresh IPS, or compatibility with both GSync and Freesync.

    • hemmer says:

      I completely agree, was waiting for the good part while reading, never came.

      24″ 1080p TN panel for that price is ridiculous.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mindful Robot says:

      I was wondering the same :-) Also have a 144Hz Asus for several years now (mostly used for Skyrim with 3D vision googles), so I am not sure how the “pseudo 180Hz” really deserves that amount of attention?

    • DinoSteak says:

      Yeah I’ve gone from monitors to high end TVs now because I can’t do without the HDR, and frankly the light output supporting true RGB only seems substantial enough on ~40″ TV, regardless of what manufacturers say. Response time will always be a little slower of course, but I’ll take that for most daily purposes over ‘contrast-y’ colors that come from a less capable backlight. My whites look WHITE, my blacks look BLACK, I like it that way…#nocontext

      • Nolenthar says:

        A pity most content you ca display on your super HDR TV is not HDR though, I’m sure you know that right ? As far as it pains to admit it, at the moment PC is not ready for HDR nor is most of everything really. You’ll only have an handful of games supporting it, your pictures won’t be, downloaded wallpapers from the internet won’t be as well, etc. And given OLED are hardly available in 40 inches, a 55 inches monitor on a PC may be a little big for that purpose :). Not mentioning Gsync or Freesync still doesn’t exist on those TV.
        Monitor still wins the day, but HDR OLED GSYNC monitor will be welcome when they come, but the content needs to grow up first.

        • Cederic says:

          erm. My pictures can be very HDR. My camera supports it, my post-processing software supports it and why shouldn’t my monitor also support it.

  2. Knurek says:

    Why is a monitor review not mentioning anything about the type of panel used? Is it TN? IPS? VA?
    What about viewing angles? Response time? Overdrive artifacts?

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      It’s definitely not an IPS, since you can’t get super-high refresh IPS Displays. It’s also probably not a VA, since most of Asus’s gaming monitors are TN displays.

      That said, I do agree with your sentiment; this isn’t exactly a very informative review, how am I supposed to know what this thing does except refresh faster than other monitors?

      • Buuurr says:

        180 is super-high? My IPS runs at 165… 15 Hz is really not a jump.

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          Sorry, that’s a boo boo on my part. I honestly though IPS hadnt gotten decent displays over 120hz yet.

          • MattM says:

            They are a little pricey, but have been around for a few years now. I got a ASUS PG279 IPS/144Hz/Gsync and am pretty happy with it. The backlight bleed is very noticeable on a totally black screen but I don’t see it during normal use including dark movies and games.

          • cqdemal says:

            Just picked up a 34-inch LG ultrawide at 2560×1080 and with 144Hz IPS panel. Looks fantastic with minor bleeding in the top right corner – only noticeable if I turn off all the lights in my room and look for it in a really dark game.

    • Colthor says:

      It’s a TN panel.
      And, as hemmer says, a 1080p TN panel for £400 is daft. Hell, an Asus 2560×1440 144Hz IPS screen can be had for £550, other less “brandy” models may be less.

    • jimmybones says:

      Agreed. The amount of actual information conveyed about the display over ten paragraphs was quite low.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    What a surprising shift between the breathless adoration in the article and the comments with people being so down on it.

    $400 is a lot of money for mixed sentiments.

    • Baines says:

      The article itself has trouble keeping the breathless adoration going once it starts addressing issues in the last two paragraphs.

      The last two paragraphs raises the price flag, and even calls a different monitor “a better overall buy.” It also points out that you are really paying a premium for that Gsync, and can otherwise get equivalent performance for less.

  4. Pizzzahut says:

    I don’t think I could ever go back to a tiny 24″ screen again.

  5. fish99 says:

    I don’t think I would buy another 1080p screen now, already having a 120Hz one. My next screen will be 1440p/144Hz and probably 27″, which can be had for pretty close to this Asus, assuming you don’t need the (imo) superfluous g-sync.

    Tough crowd eh? :p

  6. aircool says:

    I’m not sure if this ‘is’ a review as the monitor isn’t new. I have one and I do love the high refresh rate and G-Sync. Having DOOM (Vulkan) strolling along at 100-200fps is a visual treat.

    It’s not cheap, and G-sync is a difficult sell until you go back to a monitor that doesn’t use it.

    Once graphics cards get a good grip of 4K, then perhaps I’ll think about a new monitor, and see if G-sync survives and evolves, but that’s a few years away I guess.

  7. MattM says:

    To those who have had a chance to try it, is there a noticeable advantage between 144hz/fps and higher refresh/fps? I notice a significant difference between 60 and 120 but I’m not sure if its worth pushing higher.

  8. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    I’m not sure why there’s criticism of 3D Vision support – this is a prime reason why there’s 120Hz or higher refresh rates.

    Likewise, whilst G-Sync is expensive, the last I heard it actually worked. NVidia can be criticised for the fact they’re not very into open standards, but their stuff generally works. AMD’s 3d stereoscopic support has been virtually non existent for well over a decade, for instance.

    I doubt I’d buy it, as I use productivity more than game, but the review for the PG258Q in tftcentral.co.uk clearly showed its advantages over 1440p productivity monitors. This is a gaming monitor, and that’s why you buy it..

    There’s also the graphic horsepower argument, running 1440p at a substantial frame rate requires high end hardware.

    I do still have a Zalman ZM190 19″ passive 3D monitor. For productivity the display is sub par, but it’s lovely for stereoscopic gaming.

    • KenTWOu says:

      The lack of new releases on this page contradicts your statements.

      • Premium User Badge

        syllopsium says:

        I’m talking about driver software, not games. Some games work in stereoscopic 3D, some don’t, regardless of whether they’re designed for it or not.

        If you want to get it to work with an AMD card, third party software is usually required (and does work quite well, albeit usually not quite as well as 3DVision)

        • fish99 says:

          You say that but nvidia did a really sloppy job with 3D Vision drivers for Win10, meaning a lot of people get random BSODs when the emitter goes into power saving mode. I completely stopped using mine because of that.

          Also 3D Vision is being kept alive entirely by the community and not by nvidia, who abandoned it about 5 years ago.

  9. OmNomNom says:

    This seems less a review and more like a non-technical press release… but written for a piece of tech that came out 1.5 years ago.
    I am really confused. There is a strange lack of technical information and scientific testing in this article and it seems to stop short. What is going on RPS?

    • elvirais says:

      I love RPS but hardware reviews aren’t their best feature. Like with this monitor and previously some processor testing that was also a bit off (e.g. too much praise for Intel’s hastily released “burning hot” coffee lake series). Do they get paid for hardware reviews??

  10. Raoul Duke says:

    There is a repeated implication in the article that somehow if you have a 60Hz monitor you get no benefit from a graphics card pushing out more than 60fps.

    E.g.:

    “Whereas most monitors max out at 60Hz, or 60fps in games, the PG248Q can go all the way up to 144Hz (144fps)”

    That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works…

    Refresh rate != frame rate.

    • Asurmen says:

      But you don’t gain any benefit?

    • mukuste says:

      The refresh rate of your monitor absolutely does limit the maximum frame rate your game can display. Not sure what you’re talking about.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        FPS is what the computer is rendering, not what is being displayed to the screen per se. Amongst other things, higher FPS can make controls more responsive even if what is being rendered is at a lower refresh rate. This is pretty well established in competitive gaming circles, I gather, and is pretty noticeable even for non-competitive FPS gaming.

        In addition, screen tearing occurs because the video buffer can be updated while the screen is refreshing. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view and what your objectives are. So a 60Hz screen redraws the whole screen 60 times per second, but doesn’t necessarily draw 60 complete frames in that time (unless you have v-sync on). I.e. It’s possible to get more than 60 partial frames rendered per second even on a 60Hz screen.

        So basically: if you don’t care about control responsiveness and you have v-sync on, then sure, your max FPS and max Hz are effectively the same concept. But both technically and practically, they are not the same thing at all.

        • Asurmen says:

          While I get tearing is subjective, I want to call out the first paragraph. Just how does it make the controls ‘more responsive’?

          • Raoul Duke says:

            ‘Call it out’ all you like – do some googling, though.

            As someone who has written a couple of amateurish games/basic game engines at home for fun, there’s no doubt at all that speeding up the rendering loop can dramatically impact on how nicely a game controls, even when ultimately rendered on a fairly low refresh rate monitor (there are some subtleties like whether the game loop and the rendering loop are independent of one another in which case you can potentially obtain the same benefits without rendering each frame… which in turn raises the issue of what precisely is meant by ‘frame rate’ of a game).

            (Edit – sorry – to answer your question more directly – if a game is updating objects in the world, polling controls etc more rapidly than 60 times per second, or whatever your monitor refresh rate is, then control inherently becomes more fine-grained and responsive, whether or not it’s actually rendering the frame each time).

            It’s pretty easy to test if you can find an older game with frame rate limiting. Run it on a 60Hz monitor limited to 60fps, then run it on the same monitor with no limit and feel the difference.

  11. DodgyG33za says:

    Katharine, I am afraid you lost me at “Buying a monitor used to be a fairly simple affair. You’d pick one black rectangle …”

    Many of us lurking on RPS have been around a long time. These new-fangled black rectangles replaced old-fangled desk hogging boxes.

    As someone who has been buying monitors since 1986 I can tell you that there never has been a time when it ‘was a fairly simple affair’.

    Oh, and once again Betteridge’s law of headlines seems to apply.

  12. spectone says:

    Only 1080p and no HDR hard pass.

  13. pillot says:

    “You can actually boost that number all the way up to 180fps if you enable the so-called ‘overclocking’ feature in the onboard menu, but this is really a bit of a cheat, as Asus is simply using additional software to achieve this kind of smoothness rather than the screen actually displaying that number of frames”

    Sorry but you’re going to have to back this up with something, I can’t find any other reviews that mention that this is a ‘cheat’ and other monitors with the overclocking feature do actually go to the stated refresh rate.

  14. Premium User Badge

    wsjudd says:

    180Hz is nice, but there are a few 240Hz monitors these days that are cheaper than this model and have the same 1080p resolution. If you’re largely going to play less demanding games at high refresh rates (e.g. Counter-Strike, DOTA 2, League of Legends, COD: WW2, Fortnite) then having a higher refresh rate is much more useful than having an expensive G-Sync module that still adds a bit of input lag.

  15. geldonyetich says:

    I’ll just be over here with my weirdo Acer Z35 35 inch “VA” Panel (either TN nor IPS, but it has blacker blacks) that is an ultrawide that “only” does 2560×1080, and can to clocked as high as 200Hz refresh (that really is a bit of a cheat).

    I can’t really recommend it, though. I learned if you’re going ultrawide, you really need to go 3440 x 1440 to get the full benefit, and also the Z35’s panel is too slow to light up dark pixels, resulting in smearing in dark scenes. I do like those blacker blacks though. Probably the best blacks I can get outside of an OLED display.

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