Review: Asus ROG PG348Q 21:9 curved gaming monitor

Multiple monitors has been a staple of many productive desks for the last couple of decades now, but 21:9 displays are replacing them. This significantly improves the experience for...

Multiple monitors has been a staple of many productive desks for the last couple of decades now, but 21:9 displays are replacing them. This significantly improves the experience for users as it removes the dual bezel (right of the display and left of the right display), offering a seamless expansive display that lets users benefit from the increased productivity of side-by-side application multi-tasking with a single display. When these displays first arrived, resolutions were low, but now they’re amazing, at 3440×1440 they provide plenty pixels to deliver amazing clarity weather used for the largest excel spreadsheet or for the latest video game.

When it comes to gaming, the stakes are higher and a search for performance breeds important considerations where the differences between displays are exposed. Nvidia’s G-Sync technology (a feature supported by the PG348Q), allows the frames drawn by the GPU and pushed to the display, to avoid the dreaded vertical tearing while also reducing input lag.

The second big item is refresh rate, something critical to smooth, immersive gaming. The PG348Q offers a standard 60Hz, but can be overclocked to 100Hz at the push of a button. Delivering 5 million pixels (4,953,600 to be precise) at 100Hz, is no easy feat, so you will need a recent video card to achieve this level of performance. Once enabled, reboot the monitor and 100Hz options will be available in display configuration screens.

Design

Visually, this screen is stunning. The bezel on the left, right and top edges of the display are tiny at just 2mm and feel barely there at all. This engineering progress is a stark contrast to my 10 year old 27″ Dell monitor that has a now laughable 23mm bezels. The bottom bezel of the PG348Q is around 22mm but Asus have recessed the screen from this front edge, along with a nice brushed metal look that provides enough room for the centered embossed Asus logo. Thankfully there’s no distracting lights from the logo, instead Asus lets the curved display steal 100% of your attention.

This is an IPS display which means viewing from any angle delivers colour accuracy and brightness. Most of the time you’ll be sitting directly in front of this beauty and after awkwardly angling two flat screens in the past, the subtle, but important curvature of the display, gently surrounds your field of view. TV manufacturers went through a curved phase without any real justification as to why and in the lounge room, where people sit at different angles to the screen, it never really made sense. As a single display for a single person, the curve makes a lot of sense, it wraps around you meaning each pixel remains a similar distance away from you, rather than the edge of a flat screen being further away.

After using the curved 21:9 display, I’m completely sold on it.

Stand

Lets start by recognising the stand for this monitor is insane. It’s twisted design that’s finished in a Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper, turn up to a LAN with this bad boy and you’ll definitely get recognised. At the bottom of the stand lies a built-in red ROG light that projects effects onto your desk.

While the stand is impressive to look at, it actually does have some design flaws. The triple feet system keeps the large, weighty display sturdy, but it takes up a lot of desk space. Front to back, the legs of the stand require 30cm of space, if your desk is only 70cm deep, by the time you allow for keyboard and mouse space, you’re basically out of luck. Ideally you want the screen back as far as possible, given its 34″ scale.

My particularly desk is a stand and sit desk from Ergotron. This complicates the issue as the center of the desk (where the rear legs should sit) is taken up with the lift mechanism. This means the stand just doesn’t work on this desk.

Thankfully Asus have considered this already and do provide the standard 100x100mm VESA mount options. Just keep in mind, not all mounts will work as the space around the bolt / screw holes is limited. In the best case scenario, you’d wall mount this beauty to free up space on your desk.

 

OSD

The on-screen display offers configuration over many of the display’s options. The first is Overclocking which lets you hardware limit the max refresh rate. Overclocking allows the display to run at the max refresh rate of 100Hz. I’m not sure why anyone would, but you could tune this down by increments of 5, down to 75, or disable overclocking and return to 60Hz.

The next is GameVisual which offers multiple modes – Scenery, Racing, Cinema, RTS/RPG, FPS and sRGB. In theory you’d switch between modes when using the display for different purposes, but in reality I found myself settling on the best mix of colour, brightness and contrast and leaving it alone (racing was my pick of the bunch).

Next up is the Blue light filter. There’s 4 levels available here, or you can disable it completely. Given Windows 10’s Night mode offers essentially the same easy-on-the-eyes mode through software that can be schedules, I didn’t find the hardware option particularly useful. If you’re gaming away into the early hours using another input, then potentially you could find more benefit than I.

You can also select between inputs (Display Port and HDMI) in Input setup, but the most configuration options are available in the last OSD menu item, System setup. I love that you can control the location of the OSD, how transparent it is, how long it takes to timeout. This level of customisation is not often found, so its appreciated. Its the extent to which Asus allows you customisation that speaks to how well they understand their customer base. In repositioning the OSD, you don’t simple get TL, TR, BL, BR options, but you can use the navigation joystick on the rear of the display to move it anywhere you like on the display.

There’s another option called ‘Light in motion’ which allows you to adjust the brightness level (3 levels) of the ROG logo projection of the base. Next, there’s a sound option which is very limited, like the speaker itself, with just a volume slider and mute option.

Controlling the OSD does take some getting used to, as you have to reach around the back of the display, but once you spend a bit of time with it, it makes a lot of sense.

 

Software support

I used the display with Windows 10 via Display Port, connected to a machine with the STRIX Geforce GTX1080 Ti. Windows 10 features the ability to snap windows in 4 positions, top-left, top-right, bottom-left, bottom-right. On a standard 16:9 or 16:10 display, that is sufficient, but with 4K ultrawide displays, it needs to do better. with the 21:9 aspect ratio, and 3440×1440 pixels to play with, there’s more than enough room to snap 3 or even 4 windows side by side. With Windows 10’s inability to provide advanced windowing layout options, you’ll have to seek 3rd party software solutions.

Games
When it comes to games, many developers have done a pretty great job of supporting the format in games released in the last couple of years. Go back further than that and you’re likely to hit some issues.

Dota 2, Rocket League, Titanfall 2, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, Dusk, F1 2017, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Battlefield 1 are all examples of games that support the 21:9 aspect ratio. Actually there’s a great curated list of Steam games that support 21:9 available here if you need to check for your favourite before deciding to buy. As it lists, some titles have 21:9 support, but the cutscenes or menus many be in 16:9, not a deal breaker and something we’ll see less of going forward.

Not supported are classics like Portal 2 and even Steam’s Big Picture mode doesn’t support it.

Applications
Excel is fantastic on this display. Most of us don’t use more than a few columns and perhaps a couple of dozen rows in most excel documents. If you were in the finance industry, the sheer volume of glancable data on this display means you’ll be far more productive, requiring less scrolling to see the same data. With the ribbon collapsed you can see 60 rows and all the way across to BA, the 53rd column.

Windows 10 Mail – The background of the app spans the width of the display. While you can now resize the Inbox column in more recent builds, its still limited. The email itself is given a massive 2/3rds of the widescreen, which is complete overkill and doesn’t use the extra space well.

Websites
Facebook has been engineering to maintain a single column and has a max-width of around 1100 pixels, so additional screen real estate is wasted on either side. Twitter is awesome, you can just keep adding columns to fill the display.

Video
I’ve noticed there’s two different ways video services choose to deal with the wider aspect ratio. Given video content is typically created (or at least published) with a 16:9 aspect ratio, there’s either going to be black bars on the sides of the video as the vertical dimension is scaled to extend to fill the top to bottom of the screen. This isn’t great, but does allow you to see the whole contents of the video, remembering of course you can always side-by-side with another application. The alternative is something like Foxtel Play which in fullscreen mode actually cuts off the top and bottom of the video stream.

Other applications like VLC will let you choose how you want the scaling to be resolved.

 

Audio

The PG348Q features stereo speakers that are a tiny 2W, so don’t expect much. Anyone serious enough about gaming to buy this display will surely have either surround sound or a decent pair of headphones. The in-built speakers will get you by in a pinch, but is not a serious option for audio during gameplay.

Specifications

We know the smallest detail matters in your buying decision, so here’s the full list of specs for the Asus ROG PG348Q.

Display
Panel Size: Ultra-wide Screen 34” (86.72cm) 21:9
Color Saturation : 100% (sRGB)
Panel Backlight / Type : In-Plane Switching
True Resolution : 3440×1440
Display Surface Non-glare
Pixel Pitch : 0.2325mm
Brightness(Max) : 300 cd/㎡
Contrast Ratio (Max) : 1000:1
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) : 178°(H)/178°(V)
Response Time : 5ms (Gray to Gray)
Display Colors : 1073.7M (10bit)
Flicker free
Curved Panel : 3800R

Video Feature
Trace Free Technology : Yes
Color Temperature Selection : 4 Modes
GamePlus(modes) : Yes (Crosshair/Timer/FPS Counter)
Low Blue Light : Yes
HDCP support : Yes
GameVisual :6 Modes(Scenery/Racing/Cinema/RTS/RPG/FPS/sRGB Modes)

Audio Features
Stereo Speakers : 2W x 2 Stereo RMS

Convenient Hotkey
GamePlus, 5-way OSD Navigation Joystick, Turbo key

I/O Ports
Signal Input : HDMI, DisplayPort
Earphone jack : 3.5mm Mini-Jack
USB Port(s) : 3.0 x 4, 1 x upstream

Signal Frequency
Digital Signal Frequency : Display port 73~88kHz (H) / 30~100Hz (V)

Power Consumption
Power On: <100W*
Power Saving/Off:0.5W
Voltage: 100-240V, 50/60Hz

Mechanical Design
Chassis Colors : Plasma Copper + Armor Titanium
Tilt : +20°~-5°
Swivel : +50°~-50°
Height Adjustment : 0~115 mm
VESA Wall Mounting : 100x100mm
Frameless Design : Yes
Quick Release Stand Design : Yes

Security
Kensington lock

Dimensions
Phys. Dimension with Stand (WxHxD): 829 x 558 x 297 mm
Phys. Dimension without Stand (WxHxD): 829 x 323 x 109 mm(For VESA Wall Mount)
Box Dimension (WxHxD): 320 x 508 x 942 mm

Weight
Net Weight: 11.2kg, Gross Weight: 15.5kg

Accessories
Power cord, Power adapter, DisplayPort cable, HDMI cable, USB 3.0 cable, Quick start guide, Support CD, Warranty Card

Refresh Rate
DisplayPort: 3440×1440 (up to 100Hz), HDMI: 3440×1440 (50Hz)

Note: For smoother gameplay, G-Sync requires a GeForce GTX 980Ti and above to overclock the refresh rate up to 100Hz.

 

Price and availability

When it comes to pricing, you need to consider what you’re buying (or replacing) before your consider the price tag. This one display, is the equivalent of dual displays, so that needs to be priced into your value for money calculations.

The ROG PG348Q curved gaming monitor is available now from providers like PC Case Gear, Mwave, and Scorptech for $1,699.00. This is a specialist product, so don’t expect to walk into JB Hi-Fi or Office Works and find it. That’s likely to not be a concern to gamers who are usually comfortable buying online.

That price tag is certainly a premium, even over 2 large monitors, but here’s the good news. Asus just announced an updated model, the PG35VG with 200Hz refresh rate, so that will likely drive the price of this display cheaper closer to Christmas. If you can hold out till then, you may find a bargain.

There are other manufacturers with 21:9 34 inch 3440×1440 displays, with competition coming from Acer, Dell, HP and Samsung, but none of them have the 100Hz refresh rate of the Asus. If you can handle 60Hz, and are more focused on productivity than gaming performance, you can grab the Samsung S34E790C for A$959.00.

Overall

All things considered this is an amazing display, easily one of the best I’ve ever used. For more than a decade I’ve awkwardly tried to position 2 or 3 monitors on the desks I’ve owned or used. This single display does it all and its an absolute treat to use. If you’re using it for gaming, then you get immersed in the large field of view that this curved 34″ display provides. If you’re using it for productivity (between gaming sessions) then you’ll enjoy the expansive screen real estate afforded by the UWQHD resolution, 3440×1440 pixels.

You will naturally find your way to an application layout tool, something Windows 10 should do a better job of. At the end of the day, its a small issue considering the rest of what’s on offer here.

Having 100Hz and G-Sync means gaming on this display is awesome, just make sure your video card is up to it before you invest, or you’ll have another expensive investment to make. I’d love to see Asus bundle the monitor and a GTX1080/1080Ti so those investing in the brand get an extra incentive.

The stand size issues will only affect those with shallow desks, but is an important consideration. I found my way to a 3rd party stand, if you’re thinking in that direction as well, then make sure its solid enough to handle the weight, this is much heavier than any single monitor you’d buy in 2017.

While its not the thinnest display, it really wasn’t an issue, as day to day, you park yourself in front of it and enjoy the display and smile to yourself about saying goodbye to bezels.

All boiled down, this is a brilliant display, if you’re a gamer and after a great display to match your rig, then this would be a great choice. If you’re into productivity, this is a great way to replace your aging dual-screens.

9.2
Asus ROG PG348Q
The Good
  • Design
  • 100Hz
  • G-Sync
  • High resolution
The Bad
  • Stand is bulky
  • Design
    9.8
  • Features
    9.5
  • Value
    8.2
Categories
DisplaysGaming

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.