ViewSonic XG2401 FreeSync Monitor Review
Date: April 25, 2016
Product Name: XG2401
Part Number: XG2401
Warranty: 3 Years
It’s an interesting time to be looking for a gaming monitor. Never before have there been so many options regardless of whether you are looking for a budget-friendly solution or a flagship class panel that offers everything from high refresh rates to adaptive sync to superlative color fidelity. We’ve covered quite a few of the higher end offerings as of late, many of which have gone towards a curved design which is supposed to increase immersion. However, we’d be doing a disservice if we ignored all the affordable yet still awesome options which have been launched alongside those halo displays. Hence we have Viewsonic’s XG2401 on tap today, a display which costs less than $300 yet offers features which are sure to please nearly everyone.
Even with large format displays grabbing the lion’s share of attention recently, the fact still remains that the 24” class of monitor is actually the most common. The same holds true for gaming systems as a 1920×1080 resolution is by far the most popular with the average consumer since it combines price with a good size and an easy-to-drive number of pixels. This combination has been the de-facto standard for years, and probably will continue to be for years to come. While there are many reasons for the 24” 1080P monitor to be the most prevalent they all boil down to one major fact: this combination offers consumers the best overall value.
Value may indeed be an intangible idea that can be difficult to pin down – as everyone has slightly different ideas on what the term “value” means – but that’s what the XG2401 is trying to offer. It is targeted towards buyers who are looking for the benefits of adaptive synchronization technology (in this case FreeSync) alongside a high refresh rate of 144Hz.
In the past, FreeSync-equipped displays typically had a very narrow “range” in which the technology actually worked. Moving below that zone caused some major visual problems as V-SYNC stepped into the equation, causing drastic framerate fluctuations. While AMD’s Low Framerate Compensation improves this situation, there were still challenges as many monitors still had a refresh rate floor of between 35Hz and 40Hz. Second generation FreeSync monitors like the Nixeus VUE24A moved that yardstick to 30Hz. Unfortunately, Viewsonic’s XG2401 moves back a step with a range of 48Hz to 144Hz. The LFC algorithm will need to work overtime on this one….
Past the obvious benefits FreeSync brings to the table for AMD users, there’s a whole lot to like about the XG2401, beginning with its price. At just $299 it competes directly against the aforementioned Nixeus offering while also retailing for significantly less than G-SYNC alternatives. Just don’t expect miracles for $299. Viewsonic has equipped this monitor with a relatively basic TN panel, a plain exterior design and quite portly bezels. This isn’t a monitor you’ll want to use for a triple-screen setup.
Now TN technology does offer a lot of positives but a wide color pallet is not one of them. Inexpensive TN panels are also not known for their default color fidelity, and also have a reputation for severe backlight bleed. With 6-bit IPS and even 8-bit A-MVA panels becoming extremely competitive price-wise this use of TN may tarnish some of the XG2401’s luster.
Equally important hidden underneath those aggressive looks is a rather decent list of input options. Not only does ViewSonic include the expected DisplayPort but also two HDMI ports. This should allow much more flexibility but of course, to get FreeSync’s ‘Adaptive-Sync’ benefits consumers will need to use the DisplayPort and not HDMI ports since Viewsonic hasn’t included the new FreeSync over HDMI.
Rounding out the I/O options is a four port USB 3.0 hub that will also increase the usefulness of the monitor. Though once again this feature is a tad limited as all four are located at the bottom of the panel with none at the more useful bezel-side locations.
The base which the XG2401 uses is sure to please and comes with almost no caveats or issues. Like any good base this it allows for a good amount of height adjustment (120mm), swivel (175°), portrait/landscape mode, as well as twenty-seven degrees (-5 to +22) of tilt. The only issue here is that while it provides a perfectly stable foundation the two scallops molded into the sides are a dust and dirt magnets. These two areas are also a different color than the rest of the base, expect to have to routinely clean them as even a speck of dust will be painfully obvious.
The last included feature of the XG2401 are physical buttons instead of sensor based ‘touch-less’ On Screen Command buttons. Even with rather flimsy and plasticky feeling buttons – like the XG2401 has – we much prefer this interface to either sensor based options or the dreaded single joystick setup that we have seen on some ASUS offerings. Mix in a decent if not standout On Screen Display and the XG2401 does appear to easily justify its asking price.