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AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 07The AOC AGON AG322QC4 costs £406 in the UK and $537 in the US, so it’s not a cheap gaming screen – but it does include a huge range of features that will tempt the keenest gamers. However, screens with loads of features do sometimes find themselves lacking in image quality – and that’s no good, because it makes games and films look fundamentally disappointing. How does this panel stack up? Find out the truth in our AOC AGON AG322QC4 review!

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review – HDR

The screen in our AOC AGON AG322QC4 review has one feature that isn’t often found on gaming screens – HDR. This technology is more frequently deployed on TV and has only recently started to appear on pricier gaming panels. It’s designed to make games and movies look more vivid by using a hugely powerful backlight to deliver higher brightness levels and deeper contrast.

It sounds great on paper, but the AOC AGON AG322QC4 does come with an HDR-related caveat. The AOC uses an HDR display standard called VESA DisplayHDR 400. While that does allow this monitor to display HDR content, it means that screens that use this standard only have to deliver a 400cd/m2 brightness level.

While a 400cd/m2 brightness level is better than the vast majority of gaming monitors, it pales in comparison to the HDR standards that are routinely used on admittedly more expensive TVs – those products often use HDR protocols that call for a 1,000cd/m2 strength backlight.

In real-world use, its entry-level HDR protocol means that the AOC AGON AC322QC4 will render HDR content – but only with a relatively small improvement when compared to non-HDR content. It’ll look better, but it won’t be a radical transformation.

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 05It’s also worth bearing in mind that HDR is a technology with one eye on the future – and so there isn’t a huge amount of HDR gaming content available right now. It’s supported in games like Hitman, Battlefield 1 and Forza Motorsport 7, and this will constantly improve. Right now, though, there’s not a huge amount of HDR content out there.

Still, the AOC AGON AG322QC4 does include HDR. That means it goes one better than the MSI Optix MPG27C. That screen wasn’t much cheaper than the AOC at £371 in the UK and $386 in the US, but it didn’t have HDR.

Click here for our huge guide on 4K monitors – from finding the best features to picking the right panel!

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review – Features

In other departments the AOC’s specification is more consistent with other gaming panels. The AOC AGON AG322QC4 has AMD FreeSync 2 that peaks at 144Hz. That 144Hz peak refresh rate matches the MSI, but that screen only had AMD FreeSync 1. The inclusion of FreeSync 2 adds support for HDR content and better input lag performance.

The inclusion of AMD FreeSync is a double-edged sword. The peak 144Hz rate means you can get butter-smooth gaming in the latest titles, which is a huge boost when compared to screens without FreeSync.

However, the use of AMD FreeSync means that you need an AMD graphics card to use this technology properly. If you have Nvidia hardware, you can run the screen at 144Hz and use V-Sync, but you can’t use FreeSync – so gaming won’t be quite as smooth.

AMD-RX580-672x372You also need a more powerful AMD graphics card when compared to the MSI. The AOC has a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, while the MSI could only muster 1,920 x 1,080. That means the AOC will have more detail and sharper images – but that your graphics card needs to push more pixels in order to deliver smooth gaming at 100fps and beyond.

The AOC has the usual 1800R curve to increase immersion during games. It’s a 32in panel – so five inches larger than the MSI. The increased size of the AOC means its higher resolution is necessary to keep games looking crisp, and the 1440p panel does deliver a density level of 92ppi. That’s only a moderate level when compared to widescreen and 4K panels, but better than the MSI’s 82ppi.

So, in short, it’s possible to get crisper and sharper panels elsewhere – but the AOC does deliver plenty of screen real-estate and a sharper gaming experience than 1080p screens. You’ll only see individual pixels on this panel if you look closely.

Under the hood the AOC uses 8-bit VA technology, just like the MSI. That means the screen should deliver solid contrast levels and response times. They’re both important for gaming. You don’t get the colour depth here that you would on a 10-bit screen, but that won’t make a difference for gaming.

One attribute that will make a difference is the 4ms response time. That’s fine for single-player gaming and for most competitive players, but particularly keen esports gamers will want a screen that has a 1ms response time – like the MSI. The most enthusiastic competitors will notice the difference.

Click here to read the latest tech headlines – perfect for staying informed!

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review – Design

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 09The screen in our AOC AGON AG322QC4 review has the usual slim bezels around three edges, and at the bottom there’s a row of lighting. However, those lights can’t compete with the row of adjustable RGB LEDs on the MSI – the AOC’s lights can only switch between red, green and blue.

The AOC is a kilo lighter than the MSI despite its larger size, and it has solid versatility. The AOC has 110mm of height adjustment, side-to-side swivelling, forwards and backwards tilting and VESA compatibility.

At the rear you get two HDMI 2.0 ports and single DisplayPort 1.2 and D-SUB connections. The two former connection types match the MSI, but that screen didn’t have D-SUB. Connectivity continues to impress elsewhere – the AOC has two USB 3.0 ports, two speakers and a headphone jack. The MSI Optix MPG27C had no speakers, and slower USB 2.0 ports.

There’s a handle at the rear of the AOC’s stand, and a headphone hook on the rear that unfolds neatly – two features the MSI didn’t include.

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 10 AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 11Build quality is excellent throughout. The AOC AGON AG322QC4 looks suitably bombastic, too – it stands proud of the desk with a huge stand that’s got curved legs, there’s a big AGON logo and the rear is decorated with a vast plate of metal.

Up until this point the AOC AGON AG322QC4’s design only makes minor mis-steps – like the disappointing lighting.

Delve into the on-screen display, though, and you’ll encounter the AOC’s first big problem. The OSD is navigated by a USB-powered remote rather than by using buttons or a joystick on the screen itself.

On paper, it’s a great idea. But, in practice, it’s a bit of a disaster. The buttons are divided into two vertical banks that don’t match up to the OSD’s on-screen prompts – the directional arrows are separated oddly, for instance. Selection methods that are displayed on-screen often change as you move around the menus, which robs the OSD of any consistency.

You don’t get separate buttons to open the menu and select “OK”, either. That’s an odd choice considering the remote control isn’t exactly small.

Kitting out the remote with conventional arrow buttons and separate buttons for different functions would have been far better. The on-screen software also needs to match up to the remote control a bit more – and be more consistent with its instructions.

It’s a shame, because the OSD isn’t that bad. Conventionally-organised menus display all of the usual monitor-tweaking options. It’s also possible to add reticules and framerate counters to your favourite games.

Click here for the rest of our gaming monitor reviews!

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review – Performance

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 01The testing in our AOC AGON AG322QC4 review returned mixed benchmark results. Its 322cd/m2 measured brightness level is excellent, and beats the MSI Optix MPG27C’s 261cd/m2 – but it’s not quite able to match the 400cd/m2 quoted by the VESA DisplayHDR 400 standard.

The AOC’s black level of 0.12cd/m2 is excellent. It’s not quite as deep as the MSI’s result, but not different enough to make an impact on screen quality.

Those figures combine for a contrast ratio of 2,683:1. Compared to most gaming screens, it’s a fantastic result. It’ll lend huge punch and vibrancy to every single game you play. It’s also a high enough figure to deliver a modest improvement when displaying HDR content.

However, the MSI is better here thanks to a contrast ratio of 4,350:1. That screen may not have HDR, but it will delivery more depth and vivacity in all scenarios when compared to the AOC AGON AG322QC4.

The AOC is better when it comes to colours. Its Delta E of 1.84 is very good, and better than the MSI’s 2.98. The AOC’s colour temperature of 7,101K is a little chilly, but nearer to the 6,500K ideal than the MSI’s 7,420K. And the AOC displayed 99.8% of the sRGB colour gamut – a near-perfect score that narrowly beat the MSI Optix.

Elsewhere, the AOC’s less important benchmarks are a mixed bag. Uniformity is solid, with a maximum backlight deviation of 11% and most sectors of the screen delivering a single-figure change – not enough deviation to be noticeable during games. The input lag time of 11.8ms is great, and easily good enough for all kinds of rapid-response esports titles and single-player games.

The AOC has three gaming modes for FPS, RTS and Racing games. They’re all poor. They all make colour temperature and colour accuracy worse, and they all have a negative impact on contrast too. Don’t use them.

Thinking of a new system? Here’s our in-depth guide to AMD’s AM4 platform – and the best motherboards

AOC AGON AG322QC4 Review – Conclusion

AOC AGON AG322QC4 review 08The AOC AGON AG322QC4 review shows that this screen isn’t worth buying if you want to invest in HDR. There isn’t a huge amount of content right now, and the AOC’s entry-level standards and relatively low brightness measurement means that HDR content will only see a small improvement on this screen.

Get beyond that, though, and the AOC AGON AG322QC4 is more impressive. It has better colours, connectivity and resolution than its rival from MSI. The AOC’s contrast can’t match the MSI, but the AGON’s contrast is still excellent, and won’t cause problems during gaming. And, while the remote control is poor, it’s not a feature you’ll be using consistently – so it won’t cause day-to-day headaches.

The MSI screen’s 1ms response time and 1080p resolution make it better for esports where it’ll be slightly easier to achieve high framerates for FreeSync.

However, the AOC AGON AG322QC4 will be better in the vast majority of gaming scenarios. It’s bigger, with a higher resolution, and better quality in most benchmarks. It has more features, too. The AOC costs more, but it justifies it with improvements in several key areas – so it’s well worth the investment if you want a large, feature-filled gaming panel.

The AOC AGON AG322QC4 costs £406 in the UK and $537 in the US.  Discuss our AOC AGON AG322QC4 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading the AOC AGON AG322QC4 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The GoodRecommended Award

  • Consistently solid benchmark results
  • Loads of game-friendly features
  • AMD FreeSync and HDR included

The Bad

  • HDR has limited impact
  • MSI screen has better contrast and response times
  • OSD remote control is poor

The Specs

Panel Technology: VA
Native resolution: 2,560 x 1,440
Diagonal: 32in
Maximum refresh rate: 144Hz
Syncing: AMD FreeSync 2
Display inputs: 2 x HDMI, DisplayPort, D-SUB
Speakers: 2 x 5W
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x audio
Weight: 6.6kg

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
AOC AGON AG322QC4

About Author

Mike Jennings

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