AOC AG322QC4 curved 144Hz VA model with FreeSync 2
The AOC AG322QCX and similar models have found favour with users who like large screens with high refresh rate and decent all-round performance. A notable feature missing on that model but featuring on competing products from the likes of Samsung (C32HG70) is support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). The AOC AG322QC4, of the AGON range, redresses this balance by adding support for HDR and indeed FreeSync 2. Aesthetically, the monitor is similar to the original ‘QCX’ model, with glossy black plastics on the bottom bezel replaced with matte black plastic (a good design choice, AOC) and the silver-coloured stand being replaced with a matte black one. The LED lighting feature on the bottom bezel has been retained, with two ‘wings’ that can be set to red, green, blue or indeed off. The OSD (On Screen Display) is controlled by a joystick which faces downwards in the centre of the bottom bezel. Or a ‘QuickSwitch’ remote controller as featured on the earlier model.
A 31.5” VA (Vertical Alignment) panel is used, specifically the Samsung LSM315DP01 CELL with a custom backlight. This features a 2560 x 1440 (WQHD) resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and a 1800R curve – a moderate curve that most users find a subtle but welcome addition. AOC specifies a 2000:1 static contrast, although this is just being conservative as the Samsung CELL used (panel without backlight) has a specified 3000:1 static contrast ratio. A light matte anti-glare screen surface is employed, providing good glare-handling without obvious smeary graininess. The monitor supports AMD FreeSync 2 on compatible GPUs, which builds on the original version of the variable refresh rate technology with more stringent latency and variable refresh rate range requirements. The variable refresh rate range is 48 – 144Hz, but FreeSync 2 also makes LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) mandatory to combat tearing and stuttering below the physical variable refresh rate floor of the monitor. Another feature associated with FreeSync 2 is HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. This is generally decoupled from FreeSync (i.e. can be used by GPUs that don’t specifically support FreeSync but do support HDR).
The monitor doesn’t offer a full-fat HDR experience, but rather supports VESA DisplayHDR 400, responding to HDR10 content. The flicker-free backlight is not a FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) solution, but it can pulse up to 400 cd/m² for HDR content. The monitor uses a true 8-bit panel, but under HDR will work with a higher bit depth and compress it to an 8-bit output. A flicker-free backlight is employed that offers a colour gamut extending beyond sRGB and approaching the DCI-P3 near-term target for HDR content. Other features and areas of specification to note include a 4ms grey to grey response time (take with salt) and a low input lag mode which bypasses extraneous video processing to minimise latency. Although we’re not a fan of the implementation, AOC’s Shadow Control feature is also present which lightens up dark areas of the game to aid visibility at the expense of accuracy and ‘atmosphere’. Low Blue Light settings will also feature, aiding relaxing viewing. The rear of the monitor combines matte black plastic with a semi-matte silver ‘wing’ design. This has 2 LED strips at either side, which change colour alongside the ones on the bottom bezel (i.e. can be set to red, green, blue or disabled). The included stand offers tilt, height, swivel and pivot (rotation into portrait) and can be removed to make way for an alternative 100 x 100mm VESA solution. The ports face downwards and include; 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 DP 1.2a ports, VGA, 3.5mm audio input, 2 x 3.5mm microphone jacks (don’t ask) and 2 USB 3.0 ports. Simple integrated speakers are also included.
The monitor is currently slated for a June 2018 release at an MSRP of £529 in the UK. It will be availability in various other regions (Europe etc.) but US availability is not yet confirmed. If there’s sufficient interest and availability is broad enough, we’ll consider a review of this model.