Jul 10, 2019 Written by:Hilko_Black

The curved ROG Strix XG35VQ immerses gamers in 100Hz FreeSync goodness

Articles: Hands On Monitors
Article Tags: Hands On

I used to think that curved displays were a gimmick. It wasn’t until I got my hands on one that I came to understand how utterly delightful they are. Even a relatively small curved panel is more immersive than the best flat screens I’ve ever used, but the 35” ROG Strix XG35VQ is in a league of its own. The ultra-wide monitor gives you tons of screen real estate to work with, while a reasonably compact vertical measurement doesn’t overwhelm your vision with a towering wall of pixels.

Once I put the kids to bed, the ROG Strix XG35VQ quenched my thirst for gaming greatness. Wrapping around my head, the 1800R ultrawide screen drew me into my favorite titles in a way I’ve never experienced before. The curvature of the monitor and narrow bezels made me feel like I had stepped right into the action. It helped that I had our beastly AMD Ryzen build hooked up to the XG35VQ, so my system was more than capable of driving this display's native resolution with quality settings dialed up in every game

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Although the XG35VQ is first and foremost a gaming monitor with a 100Hz refresh rate, expansive 3440 x 1440 resolution, and FreeSync variable refresh rate support, I also fell in love with this screen for how it improved my productivity. It allowed me to keep my eyes on multiple applications in many windows at once without the need for a second or third display. My word processor, web browser, and chat applications all fit neatly next to each other as I worked through the day. Full sRGB coverage meant that the XG35VQ could show every color I needed to see for content creation, too.

Next-level visuals

A monitor’s refresh rate tells you how many times per second it’s able to display new information. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother animations appear on-screen. At 60Hz, that’s a new frame every 16.7 milliseconds. Although 60Hz is generally acceptable for a smooth gaming experience, we want more. The XG35VQ’s 100Hz refresh rate achieves an ideal balance at 3440x1440. Other monitors offer higher refresh rates, but we’re talking about an ultrawide screen pushing nearly 5 million pixels. Even maintaining 100 FPS with quality settings cranked up is a challenge for the fastest graphics cards available. 

It’s tough to describe the difference a 100Hz refresh rate makes over 60Hz in words alone, so we’ll just show you. We captured the same game sequence at two different refresh rates using a high-speed camera. This footage is in super slow motion, making it easier to see the advantage of updating a screen more often. Of course, 60Hz doesn’t look nearly so choppy in real-time, so the difference at 100Hz isn’t as exaggerated in real life. However, the improvement in smoothness is certainly perceivable while you’re gaming.

FreeSync freedom

The inherently variable output of a graphics card can create some issues with monitors that refresh at a fixed interval. When the two components aren’t in perfect sync, you can end up with stuttering or screen tearing, depending on whether the GPU is rendering faster or slower than the monitor’s refresh rate. 

When the graphics card’s output varies considerably between monitor refresh cycles, pieces of multiple frames can end up being displayed at the same time⁠—an artifact called screen tearing. VSync prevents screen tearing by forcing GPU frame delivery into lockstep with the monitor refresh rate. Unfortunately, if the graphics card can’t keep up, old data remains on the screen for an extra refresh interval or more, causing a hitch or stutter that can be just as annoying as tearing

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That’s where AMD’s FreeSync technology comes into play. It synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the graphics card’s frame rate, even as it naturally varies during gameplay. That way, the monitor’s refresh stays matched to the frame rate anywhere under 100 FPS, resulting in much smoother visuals. Turn on AMD Enhanced Sync in your Radeon drivers, and you can even enjoy tear-free gaming and low-latency input when frame rates exceed the monitor’s refresh rate.

Even with a wicked-fast PC like our high-end Ryzen build, anchored by the sizzling ROG Strix Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB OC graphics card, the frame rates you experience from game to game (or even scene to scene) can vary by quite a bit. The system we configured keeps up with the XG35VQ’s 100Hz refresh rate in most titles if we fiddle with graphics quality settings, even at its native resolution. But we like to play with the details maxed out. Cranking the realism to 11 caused the frame rate to bounce around, often landing in a range between 60 to 100 FPS.

We played through a variety of titles to test the XG35VQ. In Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, we saw anywhere from 80 to 130 FPS throughout our benchmark, so we didn't necessarily need the help of variable refresh rate tech to keep our gameplay smooth. FreeSync really makes a difference when frame rates drop lower, though. Although our PUBG performance was mostly above 60 FPS, dips under that mark have the potential to cause stuttering with Vsync enabled. Using FreeSync instead keeps the gameplay smooth by matching the XG35VQ’s updates to our Radeon RX Vega 64’s frame rate.

Between FreeSync and Enhanced Sync, Radeon gamers have much better options for tear-free gaming these days than plain old Vsync, and the XG35VQ is more than ready to make the most of both.

Eye candy

The XG35VQ’s 35” of curved screen space is at its best when it’s positioned right in front of your face. Not only does the stylized ROG stand allow for fine-tuned adjustments for a comfortable viewing experience, but it also adds some RGB LED goodness to your battlestation. Its asymmetrical tripod design is set off by a red twisted-metal accent and a customizable projector that shines onto your desktop. Integrated Aura Sync lighting around the stand’s rear attachment point can be altered to match other Aura-capable devices in your battle station.  

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The nearly bezel-less panel hangs from its stand on a sturdy hinge, and 100 mm of vertical movement ensures you can get the XG35VQ situated at eye level. Further, tilt adjustments from +20° to -5° and a +50° to -50° swivel make it possible to offset the display on your desk or show off your work to a colleague without affecting comfort. Anyone walking by is going to know you mean business, whether you’re working or playing.

An ultra-wide panel makes the Picture-in-Picture (PiP) and Picture-by-Picture (PbP) features especially practical when you have a second device to connect. Using PiP, you can pipe in the feed from a cable box, allowing you to watch the big game as you work. PbP gives both inputs side-by-side billing, putting the pixels from a second PC or a game console alongside your main input.

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All of the XG35VQ’s settings are accessible through its on-screen display, which is controlled by four convenient buttons and a small joystick. They’re hidden on the monitor’s backside but parked in the lower-right corner to keep them within easy reach. The buttons are big, with tactile indentations that let you know what you’re touching without the need to peek around the bezel. There are plenty of options for selecting preset color modes, turning features on or off, changing inputs, and more. 

There are plenty of ports underneath the XG35VQ to maximize compatibility across all your devices, too. One HDMI 1.4 port, a single HDMI 2.0 interface, and DisplayPort 1.2 cover the most popular inputs. A pair of USB 3.0 downstream ports are conveniently located on the monitor for keyboards, mice, webcams, and headsets. There’s a 3.5-mm mini-jack for your headphones if you prefer to game without disturbing anyone else in the room, too.

Next level

If you’d prefer to tinker with monitor settings in Windows rather than through the on-screen display, our DisplayWidget utility has you covered with a bevy of profiles and tools for tweaking settings depending on the task at hand. GameVisual includes six presets for optimizing input lag, color, contrast, and brightness depending on the type of content you’re consuming.

App Sync allows you to assign those presets to specific apps. For instance, any time Forza or F1 2018 starts up the XG35VG can switch to Racing mode. When you exit out and launch Battlefield V, it knows to use FPS mode. Come raid time the monitor jumps into RTS/RPG mode for enhanced saturation and sharpness. On Monday morning, when you need an accurate color space above all else, sRGB mode gets the XG35VQ ready for Photoshop.

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To make long hours of working or gaming on the XG35VQ easier on our eyes, I took the time to set up its Blue Light Filter through the DisplayWidget software. This feature limits the amount of blue light emitted by your monitor to reduce eye strain, and it’s adjustable in four stages corresponding to different applications. Basic web browsing isn’t particularly hard on your eyes, and you don’t want a monitor setting to make significant changes to color reproduction, so Level 1 works best to reduce blue light by a relatively minor 20%. At the other end of the spectrum, working in dim ambient lighting conditions doesn’t require searing brightness from your monitor. Level 4 consequently filters blue light by an impressive 70% to maintain a comfortable computing experience. In between, Levels 2 and 3 are optimized for watching videos and word processing, respectively.

With your settings configured just the way you like, DisplayWidget lets you save an AXML file with all your parameters. Simply copy it from the other machine to restore all your customizations.

Availability and pricing

The XG35VQ ruined flat LCDs for me. Between the panel’s immersive curvature, extremely detailed 3440x1440 resolution, fast 100Hz refresh rate, and tear-banishing FreeSync technology, you’re going to find yourself in gaming heaven. The ultra-wide screen allows you to easily stack windows side-by-side, too, making it a multitasking powerhouse for those times when work takes priority.

  ROG Strix XG35VQ
Panel 35" VA
21:9 aspect ratio
1800R curve
   
Refresh rate FreeSync up to 100Hz
Response time 1ms (MPRT)
Colors 16.7M
97% DCI-P3/99% Adobe RGB gamut coverage
Brightness 300 cd/㎡
Contrast 2500:1 (Typical)
Viewing angles 178°(H) /178°(V)
Ports 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x HDMI 1.4, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x 3.5-mm audio
Price $799 USD / $999.99 CAD
Availability (USA) ASUS Store, B&H, Frys, Newegg
Availability (Canada) Memory Express, Newegg

The XG35VQ is available now for$799 USD or $999.99 CAD from the retailers listed above.

Articles: Hands On Monitors
Article Tags: Hands On
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