ViewSonic XG2401 FreeSync Monitor Review
There is certainly is no denying the XG2401 is indeed a PC gaming-orientated monitor, however with that said this is first and foremost a product which places value above all else. As such everything takes a backseat to keeping the price down. While ViewSonic have done an admirable job of including a whole plethora of features that are sure to please gamers, if there’s an expectation that any monitor in the $250-$350 dollar range to provide the gaming immersion and gameplay experience as a $600 – $750 monitor they will be extremely disappointed with what the XG2401 has to offer.
Make no mistake about it, the XG2401 is a supremely inexpensive option based on its abilities alone but there has to be some expectation management as well. With this caveat firmly in mind we must admit to being fairly impressed with what ViewSonic’s engineers have been able accomplish with such a limited budget.
Compared to nearly any monitor in this price range the XG2401 dominates in the gameplay department. To find this monitor’s equal, buyers will have to spend north of $500 dollars. This difference in price is quite literally the difference between having an entry level video card, or a downright excellent one.
When properly calibrated this TN-based monitor is more than capable of producing the limited color pallet demanded by most video games and the 144Hz refresh rate is equally up to the task of creating a smooth gaming experience in even the most fast-paced FPS games. Best of all FreeSync does indeed – sometimes – make a difference and reduces the reliance on V-Sync while still delivering extremely fluid gameplay moments. For its price, this is a winning combination.
Those are the benefits this monitor offers, unfortunately as ViewSonic’s engineers were limited in what they could accomplish there are issues that need to be pointed out. First and foremost while the XG2401 is capable of producing a surprisingly rich color pallet, it’s out of the box color profile is horribly off-putting. Budget limited consumers will need to either grab a colorimeter or do their best to modify the settings through the limited OSD or through their GPU’s various settings. In addition, if you happen to see this monitor in a store, don’t take it at face value since its capabilities are far beyond what’s initially being offered.
The next issue is actually AMD’s FreeSync or at least the way it has been implemented here. It may indeed net tangible benefits over V-SYNC but it is surprisingly constrained on the XG2401. Its effective range starts at a less-than-optimal 48Hz. Below that AMD’s Low Framerate Compensation (or LFC) kicks in which is good but can’t entirely compensate for the massive framerate step-downs when V-SYNC kicks in. This is unfortunate as quite a few of today’s FreeSync monitors feature a range that begins around the 30Hz mark. For many users there will be a delicate balancing act here since they will actually have to spend more on a video card to insure they remain within the 48 to 144Hz / FPS FreeSync window.
The last issue will only impact users who game in a darkened environment or those who pay careful attention to black reproduction. This is where the monitor’s backlight bleed steps into the equation. It is noticeable in all four corners to the naked eye and the lower left hand corner on our sample was bad enough to cause blacks to occasionally look washed out, bordering on gray. For example, in dark survival horror genres this issue will noticeably degrade the immersiveness of the game and can be jarring from time to time.
These hiccups lead to the the ViewSonic XG2401 being a sub-optimal choice for some but as previously stated this price range is so filled with absolutely horrible alternatives that this offering is still superior to most. Yes, this corner of the market is rife with sub-par products and as the old saying goes: in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. That is a very apt description of the XG2401, as it is not perfect but it still is one of the best competitors in its class.