A common problem with the monitor market right now that I’m seeing, is that gaming monitors are usually a lot more expensive than their standard counterparts. It’s almost as if gamers are charged a hefty premium just to get those fast pixel response times or refresh rates, Granted, AMD Freesync monitors are so much cheaper than G-Sync monitors due to the tax that manufacturers are charged when creating G-Sync panels, but there’s now brand new monitors being released, like the AOC G1 gaming series, that are offering complete gaming packages for a much cheaper price.
The monitor I have in front of me right now while I write this review is the AOC CQ31G1, which is a 31.5″ gaming monitor that comes with all the trimmings for some decent gaming performance, and it’s something I have experienced over the last couple of weeks, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
The monitor itself uses VA technology, which is a great medium between TN which offer super fast response times and IPS which usually gives you very healthy looking colour reproduction. with the G1 series I have in front of me, we’re treated to a 1ms MPRT response time, as well as a nice 16.7 million 24-bit colour. It also includes the now popular AMD Freesync which will also work now with Geforce GTX 10 series graphics cards and newer thanks to their driver update.
The panel sits at 32″ and although heavy, can be mounted on a wall bracket thanks to its VESA mount on the back. It does come with a stand as well if you wanted it straight on your desk too. The stand is made from plastic but still does a great job of keeping the panel sturdy. One problem though is that the monitor starts roughly around 4-inches from the desk which for me is a little too high for my setup, and there’s no way of raising or lowering the monitor on its stand like you can with something like the LG 34GK950 that we reviewed some time ago. It can be tilted forward and back but it can’t be twisted.
It also follows in the same footsteps in terms of design of older AOC gaming monitors like the AOC G2590VXQ by retaining that sleek looking red streak at the bottom. There are also very subtle red finishes too like at the base of the arm where it meets the stand. The bezels on the left, right and top all measure at well under an inch, making this a contender for multi-screen setups. The whole panel is also curved too, making it easier for your peripheral vision to track unwanted enemies sneaking into the corner of your screen in first person shooters.
On the back you will find a single DisplayPort 1.2 and two HDMI 1.4 ports. I used the DisplayPort 1.2 when testing this monitor. There’s also a VGA for those older machines if that’s more your thing, and a headphone jack if you typically use your HDMI as an audio passthrough as well.
As a gaming monitor, the AOC CQ32G1 ticks all the right boxes that gamers look for when selecting a panel. Competitive gamers have generally preferred TN panels as they can give you super fast 1ms response time, though the colour reproduction is horrible when compared to IPS panels. Take note, that the 1ms response time advertised is Moving Picture Response Time. Grey to grey response times are being quoted at around 4ms. However, I never noticed any banding issues during my testing thanks to its game settings, but more on that in a bit. Being a VA panel, the G1 can still offer those decent response speeds, but also give you a nice colour reproduction as well as larger viewing angles. There’s also the inclusion of Freesync and a 144Hz refresh rate which will only heighten the smoothness of the image in front of you when playing faster paced games like Overwatch.
There’s also several gaming profile modes that the monitor can be set to which fall under first person shooters, racing titles and RTS strategy games. There are also some custom profiles that offer full customisation options too. I found myself for most games and desktop work under a custom profile called Gamer 1. Inside this I had the Low Input Lag setting turned on as well and the LowBlue Mode switched off. The Overdrive feature I had set to Medium which is designed to reduce motion blur. If set to Strong, I found it introduced artifacts that weren’t there before. Turning it off altogether made the monitor produce a very blurry image.
While gaming, I actually had quite a pleasant time. I play a mixture of titles ranging from the MOBA Heroes Of The Storm, to Metro: Exodus and the new Apex Legends. All games looked absolutely fantastic, especially Metro thanks to its wide colour gamut and 3000:1 contrast ratio. Diving underground in that game, with corners of the room being lit by candlelight looked absolutely stunning. Motion although not the best still performed well for the types of games I play, and the Overdrive setting really helped with this. Freesync for those lower refresh rates will kick in nicely providing a smoother image again. The Freesync range to let you know sits comfortably at 48Hz-144Hz. Just to let you know as well, I was using a DisplayPort 1.2 when testing on my gaming PC.
By no means is the AOC CQ32G1 monitor the best for ultra smooth gaming, but for the price, and what it can offer you is very good. As I said before, it ticks all the right boxes for those wanting some decent gaming features, all the while giving you wonderful colour reproduction. The 1800R viewing angle is subtle enough not to intrude but doesn’t give the immersion I think AOC were hoping for. Never-the-less, the AOC CQ32G1 Gaming Monitor costs just over £300 on Amazon right now which is a bit of a barg if I do say so myself.