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Asus ROG Strix XG438Q Review

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q Review

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 01The Asus ROG Strix XG438Q is one of the most outrageous gaming monitors that you can buy right now – because it’s a 43in beast that looks like more like a TV than a PC display.

This vast panel serves up a 4K resolution, AMD FreeSync 2 and DisplayHDR 600, so its huge size is matched with a broad range of features.

The huge size is paired with a huge price, though: in the US you’ll have to pay $1,100 for this screen, and in the UK it’ll cost you £1,112. Should you shell out for a big-screen gaming experience? Read our Asus ROG Strix XG438Q review to find out.

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q Review – Size and Resolution

The 43in diagonal means that you can comfortably play games on the Asus if you’re sat on the sofa – whether you’re using a small PC or your preferred console. It’s also an excellent option if you’re at a desk but play your games leaning back, with a controller.

The Asus’ overwhelming size does mean that it’s not the best option if you’re playing PC games conventionally, leaning forward with a keyboard and mouse. At that point you’ve got to spend a fair amount of time leaning back and looking around just to see the screen, and that’s hardly ideal.

This panel comes with a 4K resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, which is normal for expensive gaming screens. It also makes sense for a panel of this size, where you’re going to want more pixels to play with. As ever, though, make sure you have a graphics card or a console that can properly drive 4K gaming before you take the plunge.

The 4K resolution and 43in diagonal combine to deliver a density level of 102ppi. For sofa gaming and for other gaming scenarios, it’s a fine density measurement – it’s high enough to provide crisp visuals for all sorts of games.

However, it isn’t the highest available by some distance. A 32in 4K screen, for instance, produces a density level of 138ppi. If you’re bothered about having a crisper gaming experience rather than a larger screen, one of those will be worth considering instead.

Click here for all of our in-depth graphics card reviews – including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, RTX 2070 and RTX 2060!

Key Features

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 04The Asus ROG Strix XG438Q combines its vast size with loads of today’s most desirable gaming features.

The first is AMD FreeSync 2, which here runs at a peak refresh rate of 120Hz. It works with both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, which is useful.

The peak refresh rate of 120Hz isn’t quite as high as the 144Hz or 240Hz refresh rates that can be found elsewhere, but that’s no surprise. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for any modern graphics card to play 4K games at 100fps, so that peak refresh rate doesn’t really need to be any higher. And, crucially, the Asus ROG Strix XG438Q isn’t designed for esports, so you don’t need a higher rate for twitchier, competitive action. Single-player games will look brilliantly smooth at 120Hz.

The Asus is compatible with VESA DisplayHDR 600. This HDR standard is a mid-range offering that demands a screen deliver a 600cd/m2 peak brightness level in short bursts and a consistent brightness level of 350cd/m2. It also demands a 0.1cd/m2 black level.

It’s better than the DisplayHDR 400 options that are included with most gaming screens, but not by much. You’re only going to get a small boost to HDR content on this screen – a little bit more punch.

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 03The Asus ROG Strix XG438Q has 10-bit colour, which means it can deliver 1.07 billion shades rather than the 16.7 million that are displayed with cheaper 8-bit panels. There is a caveat, though: if you want to run 4K and 120Hz or HDR on this screen, you’ll have to use 8-bit. It’s not a big deal, though, because the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit is barely discernible, especially when gaming.

Underneath all of this is a VA panel, which makes sense. This type of screen technology delivers solid colours and speed while proving a little cheaper than IPS.

A TV panel rather than a PC panel is used here due to the Asus’ sheer size. That means it uses a BGR pixel layout underneath, not a conventional RGB layout.

That choice means that small text on the Asus isn’t quite as sharp – imagine how text on TVs doesn’t look as crisp when you see it up-close. It’s not an issue during gaming, and scaling up Windows 10’s text and icons does help solve the problem and make text sharper – and the 4K resolution means you’ll need to scale up anyway to use Windows properly.

There are also guides online that cover settings that can be tweaked to improve the experience. So, while RGB technology is better than BGR for PC monitors, there are ways around this minor issue.

Elsewhere, the Asus has a good specification. Its response time of 4ms is absolutely fine for single-player gaming and for casual competitive play, and the panel has a matte coating for easier viewing.

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Setup & Design

It’s not surprising that the huge Asus ROG Strix XG438Q looks like a TV when it comes to its physical design.

The panel sits on wide feet that have a metallic design and pads to make it easier to place this screen down. There’s a neat ROG logo in the middle of the bottom bezel. Build quality is exceptional throughout. The plastic chassis is sturdy, and so are the metal feet. Asus ROG patterns cover the rear panel. A neat plastic cover hides cabling.

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 05However, in some areas the Asus looks like a TV from a few years ago. Its screen bezels are pretty wide, and the rear of the display is chunky too. The screen itself is 70mm deep, which is a far cry from market-leading TVs that are getting slimmer and slimmer.

The Asus weighs a mighty 15.3kg, and it’s 975mm wide. You’ve got to make sure you have enough space before investing in this monster monitor.

Two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks handily sit at the side of the screen. There’s an HDMI port at the side, too, which is useful.

However, two further HDMI ports and the sole DisplayPort connection are both installed facing downwards, which makes access tricky. That’s a tad disappointing. There’s certainly enough room on the side of this screen for all the connections. It’s also irritating because the DisplayPort connection is the one that’s going to be used the most.

The huge size of this monitor also means that you don’t get many adjustment options. The screen can tilt back and forward and it can work with 100mm VESA mounts, but that’s it. There’s not height adjustment of swivelling, for instance.

The TV-inspired design means that this screen has two 10W speakers. They’re good – they have more volume than most monitor units, and they have impressive top- and middle-range punch. External audio kit will be better, but the speakers here are easily good enough for mainstream gaming.

The usual Asus on-screen display is responsive and well-organised, with all of the usual options sorted into sensible menus. It’s possible to use picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes, with up to three windows supported by the latter. And gamers can use the OSD to add FPS displays, crosshairs or timers to their titles.

A joystick and four large buttons that sit around the rear of the screen, between the banks of ports. They all work well, but the size of the screen makes them tricky to use – especially if you’re sat further away. Handily, Asus includes a remote control.

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The Asus ROG Strix XG438Q pairs its intimidating size with impressive image quality.

By default, this screen uses its Racing mode. In this mode the Asus delivered a huge brightness level of 412cd/m2. That’s very high, and it means that this screen has loads of backlight power – ideal for making games look punchy, even when viewed from across the room. The black point measures at just 0.11cd/m2. That is extremely low, and means that dark areas in games look incredibly deep and absorbing.

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 02That brightness figure easily exceeds the VESA DisplayHDR 600 regulations, while the black point just about matches them.

The brightness and black point figures are much better than most other gaming monitors. That’s important when the Asus ROG Strix XG438Q will likely be viewed from further away than most screens – it means that brightness, darkness and contrast will be maintained.

Those initial figures combine to create a measured contrast ratio of 3,745:1. That is a stunning figure – far better than most gaming screens. It means that the Asus panel delivers incredible punch, vibrancy and depth in all gaming situations.

The Asus delivered excellent colour accuracy, too. The Delta E of 1.96 is great – anything below 2 is below the point where human eyes can tell the difference. The colour temperature of 6,208K is great, too – not far away from the 6,500K ideal. Those results mean that colours are very accurate indeed.

The Asus rendered 99.9% of the sRGB colour gamut and 91% of the DCI-P3 gamut. The former figure means that the Asus ROG Strix XG438Q can render virtually every shade required by any game you want to play. The latter means that this screen can produce almost every colour that HDR content requires.

We’d recommend leaving the Asus in its default Racing mode. Not only are its image quality results excellent in this mode, its other options aren’t very good. The RTS, RPG and FPS modes reduce contrast to poor levels, which means games lack depth.

Activating HDR mode saw the Asus’ brightness ramp up to around 650cd/m2. That’s good, because it means that this panel meets the standards demanded by VESA DisplayHDR 600. However, the black level hovered at around 0.32cd/m2 in this mode – which means contrast at around 2,030:1.

That’s a great contrast ratio and a huge brightness measurement, but the contrast measurement is still lower than the Asus’ initial figures.

The increase in brightness means that HDR content viewed on this screen has a good level of punch and clarity – you’ll certainly see the brighter shades at the top end. However, the lesser contrast ratio means that there’s no real extra depth when HDR content is viewed.

HDR content on this screen does look reasonable, and it does have a brightness boost – but you’re not getting the full range of enhancements that you’d get from a proper HDR TV on this screen.

Our final test evaluated the Asus’ uniformity. It’s hardly a shock given the size of the panel, but the Asus was mediocre here: it lost up to 20% of its backlight strength on the left-hand edge and nearly as much on the opposite side. Happily, these uniformity results won’t have a discernible impact on gaming.

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Asus ROG Strix XG438Q Review – Conclusion

Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 06The Asus ROG Strix XG438Q is a stunning screen with an impressive design, but its vast size means that it won’t always be the best option for gaming.

Its 4K resolution ensures crisp gaming and the inclusion of 120Hz FreeSync 2 makes titles look smooth. Then there’s the size. The 43in diagonal means that this panel can be used in the living room or the bedroom, or for a big-screen experience when you’re at your desk.

Image quality is generally excellent, with incredible contrast and rock-solid colour accuracy. The Asus also serves up easy OSD navigation, decent speakers, reasonable connectivity and robust build quality.

It’s not perfect. Some of the port positioning is poor, the HDR option is mediocre, and the Asus could have better uniformity. A curve would have helped immersion levels too, and the BGR design means text is sometimes not hugely sharp.

The size itself is a double-edged sword, too. It’s too big for some more conventional PC gaming situations, and it may actually be too small for many living rooms, where 50in screens are required for solid visuals from the sofa. That would put the price up, though, and this panel is already expensive, too: $1,100 in the US and £1,112 in the UK.

Despite those caveats, though, the Asus ROG Strix XG438Q is the only way to get a screen at this size with 120Hz syncing, HDR and a 4K resolution – and so it ticks more gaming boxes than almost anything else around. If you’re seeking a big-screen gaming experience, this panel is versatile and impressive.

The machine in our Asus ROG Strix XG438Q review costs £1,112 in the UK and $1,100 in the US. Discuss our Asus ROG Strix XG438Q review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Asus ROG Strix XG438Q 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

  • Huge, impressive 4K screen with good image quality
  • AMD FreeSync 2 and HDR included
  • Robust build quality and decent speakers

The Bad

  • Not suitable for all situations
  • BGR rendering sometimes makes text less crisp
  • Very expensive

The Specs

Panel Technology: VA
Native Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Diagonal: 43in
Syncing: 120Hz AMD FreeSync 2
Display Inputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 3 x HDMI 2.0
Speakers: 2 x 10W
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x audio
HDR: VESA DisplayHDR 600
Weight: 15.3kg
Warranty: 1yr RTB


Review Date
Reviewed Item
Asus ROG Strix XG438Q

About Author

Mike Jennings

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