Introduction

120Hz panels are definitely still market newcomers - in fact, look no further than Newegg, where there still isn’t a 120Hz category, much less a refresh rate field for drilling down products. The necessity for 120Hz panels arose entirely out of the ongoing 3D obsession across the entire consumer electronics segment, something that remains a difficult sell for many gamers. On a technical level, the necessity for 120Hz arises from the need to drive two discrete 60Hz images - one 60Hz image for each eye. In its current incarnation, consumer 3D technology relies primarily on active shutter glasses - parallax barrier 3D displays are still too expensive, and I’ve yet to see passive polarization methods used outside the movie theatre. But you probably already know most of the 3D story.

Though the 120Hz refresh frequency does make games playable in 3D, there’s another important benefit of using a faster refresh rate - everything looks smoother, and you can now drive up to 120 FPS without tearing. The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room. I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different.

If you’re the kind of person that cares about squeezing every last FPS out of your box - regardless of how you feel about 3D - don’t even bother reading the rest of this review, just run, don’t walk, to the store and get this 120Hz display. I’m serious.

ASUS’ VG236H isn’t perfect, like any product there are a few caveats. That aside, honestly, the completely unparalleled level of smoothness on a 120 Hz display has made me hyper attuned to just how flickery 60Hz looks on all the other LCDs I’ve got.

Oh and my initial skepticism about 3D? I’m still shocked about it, but I've completely changed my mind.

Let’s dive into this review.

Overview and Specifications
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  • DarkUltra - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    PS I use http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/black.php and http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/white.php and a few new 23" 1080p lcd we have at work are really bad at these tests. My dads benq g2400w is good, so TN can perform and I hope the LG W2363D is similar. Reply
  • AllenP - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    Hey, I had a question about this statement:

    "It just so happens that it’s pulling one frame behind, which on average worked out to a lag of 1.9 ms."

    Sorry, I don't quite understand where those numbers are coming from... what do you mean by "one frame"? One frame is 8.3ms at 120 Hz or 16.7ms at 60Hz... To be honest, I guess it really doesn't matter: the graphics card ends up being the one that decides how much latency exists between outputs, especially when it's working with two signals at different refresh rates.

    I would recommend using a more simple method of testing that always tries to get the exact same frame, refresh rate, and resolution to both monitors after it leaves the graphics card though one DVI-I port... This will eliminate all the confusion about how much latency the graphics card has when reading from the frame buffer to two different DVI ports. You'll need a really good CRT for that kind of test (one that can support like 1080P+ at 120Hz+), but I'm sure they exist. This way you can just split the DVI-I to a DVI and VGA using a passive component like this: http://sewelldirect.com/gefen-dvi-dvi-and-vga.asp -- Then the only element introducing discrepancies would be the DAC inside your graphics card that is used on the DVI-I (which I would assume is happens /after/ the frame is read from the frame buffer with most graphics cards that support this type of simultaneous output).
    Reply
  • v12v12 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    You know when I 1st read the review of this, I thought to myself; hrmmm could I too be "wrong" about this whole 3D-imagery non-nonse... Am I missing out on something really good, bc I'm bias towards CRTs? Thankfully the answer is NO! I'm not missing anything lol!

    I love my habit of always reading through the comments section; you REALLY can segregate the meat from the fat when you go through pages of comments. Comments with BRUTAL honesty and usually spot on; what you don't find in Klug's fanboy-hyped review. Seriously I started questioning my judgment(s) about 3D, 120hz, and (omg) TN-panels, LMFAO! TN—really (?!), for all this money and supposed advancement?!
    __Thanks to the numerous comments about these and many more "overlooked" features/technological implements, I've slammed the gavel on this ridiculous review; GUILTY! This monitor is nothing more than old technology, souped-up with some racing stripe, coffee-can exhaust like "advances," repackaged for the sheepish plebs. Yep I said Plebs; the sheep that will do EXACTLY what the OP has suggested; go out and get this monitor right now! ORLY? Then you read the comments and see all the major flaws of this ricer "technology..." I've been saying this for YEARS when I saw LCDs starting to take a market foot-hold; high-tech MARKETING is selling low-end technology as STANDARD FOR US ALL! WTF?
    Haha, I love having a marketing background; makes seeing all these smoke and mirror, Vegas light and dazzle shows so much easier... But nope, plenty of sheep out there that will be saving up or going out right now to support this con-artist marketing of low-tech "advancement(s)," which hurts the real technological enthusiast or just simply someone that knows the TRUTH about how most folks are being duped on the daily, which sets market precedent for EVERYONE to get with, or pay much more for what we all should demand!

    TN? Glossy? 1/2 arse 3D? No game port? Lack of real lag testing? 16:9???! PRICE? Yeah MARKETING folks...

    I'll PASS!
    Reply
  • Zoeff - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Brian, what would be your recommended settings for this monitor when using it for both playing games and some photo editing?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Deusfaux - Monday, October 4, 2010 - link

    a 16:10 monitor won't allow you to better see/hunt down enemies in a videogame, as you imply, with it's increased height.

    Almost all widescreen compatible games are Horizontal+, and the vertical FOV is constant. You're actually seeing less with a narrower 16:10 display than a wider 16:9 one.
    Reply
  • NiteTortoise - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - link

    Hey Brian Klug -

    I think you have the wrong model # for the display without the glasses. You list it as VG246HE, but its actually VG236HE per Asus's website: http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=RiEoeerrSbel...

    I spent a couple hours trying to find the display without the glasses, and I'm sure others have been in the same situation!

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • snuuggles - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    I've been gaming on an older 32" 720p lcd tv for about 3 years. In a pinch I can use it as a monitor for work or browsing email, but of course the resolution is a bit low for that stuff...

    I'd really like to replace it with a higher resolution monitor, but I don't want to go too much smaller, and I'm *very* sensitive to input lag/low fps/ghosting/motion issues.

    Basically for gaming, the things that matter (to me) are:

    - input lag
    - size of screen
    - native resolution that is a good comprimise between sharp/useful-for-work and not-a-frame-rate-killer (hellooooo 1080p, booooo 2560x1600)
    - minimal ghosting/trailing/whatever motion artifacts

    not important:
    - viewing angle (it's just me!)
    - color reproduction (I don't edit photos)
    - energy consumption (unless it starts costing dollars per day, PC gaming is just going to cost real money, and my electric bill is just not an issue compared to all the other costs, even if it *doubles*)

    Seems like a large-format (27"+), 1080p TN+Film 120hz monitor for 500-600 would be something I should expect to be able to buy. Why is there no such thing? For *any* price?!?!

    Can anyone say *for sure* that any of the new 3d TVs actually accept 120hz input. In other words, I know at least some (most? al?) of them use a funny "frame packing" method to get the two frames to the tv, basically using the same 60hz input with a funny resolution that the tv then just splits and displays one after the other. Are there *any* 3d tvs that actually accept a true 120hz 1080p input that I could use as a large monitor? Anything in the next year?

    Should I just say screw it and get the zr30w and game at 1280x800 and work at full rez? There's no way I'm dropping 600 every year just to have a video card that can play the latest games at full rez.

    Seems really really lame that the only two 27" 120hz monitors I can find listed anywhere on google have no release date. What is going on, should I just wait, or is there some reason that the things I care about just don't seem to be something people want to deliver a product for?
    Reply
  • snuuggles - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    Anyone (Brian) looking at this thread anymore? I know I'm basically posing on a dead article, but there's no 'display' section of the forums, and I haven't seen the answer to my questions anywhere (here, TFT reviews, avs forums)!

    My questions consolidated for convenience:

    - When are larger-format (27"+) 120hz input monitors coming out. Is there some reason they aren't out already?

    - assuming the above is going to take a while (6+ months), are there any TVs out there now that will take a 120hz input and display it at 120hz.

    - Assuming there are no tvs currently available that can do that, can anyone say with confidence that 2011 will bring some (given that they'll all have HDMI 1.4 and that supposedly would support 1080p@120hz input). Or will they continue to insist on the ridiculous "frame packing" bs, and not even allow 120hz input.

    It just seems strange that I can't get what I want which is a large (27-42"), low lag, 120hz input display at 1080p.

    Thanks again! Sorry if I'm posting in an inappropriate place.
    Reply
  • Onslaught2k3 - Saturday, December 4, 2010 - link

    Every single display won't have everything you need. People bashing 120hz calling it a gimmick are just silly. Gamers spend hundreds finding the best mouse around that'll move at 5000+ DPI. After buying this montior, going over 2500 DPI on a laser gaming-grade mouse is unnecessary because the 120hz display effectively doubles the DPI @ 60Hz. You can use a cheaper mouse with this monitor and save money on what you would otherwise be spending on a freaking peripheral! That on its own is pretty good. I have a Samsung T260 paired with this monitor (I've paid MORE for the T260 back in may of 2008 than I did for the VG236HE - the one without the nvidia 3d kit since I use a AMD graphics card) and the difference is plain stunning. Since I focus what's on screen and not on my reflection I find that the glossy screen resembles a CRT with regards to colour reproduction. But as people have said here I know for a fact that CRTs are far better in almost every regard to an LCD picture and colour-wise. My next monitor purchase will most likely be a 120hz IPS panel that is around 27". This probably won't happen for another 3-5 years. Reply
  • MLSCrow - Monday, December 6, 2010 - link

    The title of the Article is, "...120Hz is the future", but I think what you really should say is, "...240Hz is the future".

    Reason(s) being;

    In the introduction of your article, you wrote, "I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different."

    With that said, I agree, 120Hz is amazing in comparison to 60Hz. I've been noticing the difference ever since I tried noticing the difference, back in the CRT days, however, once you activate 3D mode, you break that value in half for each eye. So, as you said, the 120Hz, becomes 60Hz per eye in 3D mode. However, in order to have that same smoothness that you saw 120Hz prior to 3D mode, during 3D mode, you would need a 240Hz display and considering that 240Hz 3D capable displays (120Hz per eye in 3D mode) are currently available, I'm sure you'd agree that it really is 240Hz that is the future.

    Cheers.

    -Fan since genesis.
    Reply

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