Continuing this weekend's trend of consumerism, “Cyber Monday” sees the introduction of several more PC hardware and video game sales. Note well that, despite banners on retail websites, sales at this point in the year will remain a constant until the final days before the 25th. Most shockingly, we found a $160 R9 280 3GB GPU, $870 Y50 gaming laptop, 480GB SSD for $180, cases / coolers, CPUs, and a 49" HDTV.
These buyer's guides we've published may provide further assistance, in the event the below (active) sales do not contain what you're after:
Many aspects of the hardware industry are cut-and-dry facts that are easy to understand -- X GPU gets 40 FPS while Y GPU gets 60, for instance. One item that is largely ignored, in part due to its complicated and over-marketed nature, is monitors. Contrast ratio, input delay, response time, pixel pitch, and resolution are all important aspects of monitors, but aren’t always well understood by consumers. On top of this, marketing speak from competing vendors has inflated some specifications to a point of being entirely useless as a unit of comparison.
Due to this, monitor selection can be intimidating or overwhelming. For this reason, we’ve pulled together the best gaming monitors for our 2014 monitor buyer’s guide, including 1080, 1440p, and 4K displays.
A large portion of the enthusiast market caters to overclocking: Intel sells unlocked CPUs at a premium, Asus, Asrock, and MSI all market their motherboards as “overclocking ready” and guaranteed to OC higher, and GPU manufacturers market their graphics cards as having better cooling, a bigger VRM, and binned chips. All this, and monitor overclocking is rarely -- if ever -- advertised or discussed. This may change with the recent popularity of Korean off-brand monitors, like the QNIX 2710.
A lot of enthusiasts have been buying off-brand Korean monitors lately. Now, this alone is hardly newsworthy, but these monitors are a little bit different than the average off-brand product. The QNIX 2710 ($333) is an LED-backlit, 27” PLS -- Samsung's version of IPS -- monitor at 1440p resolution. The QNIX 2710 is abnormal due to its lack of a scaler, which does require you to use DVI-D input, but allows the screen to be overclocked to 96Hz+. Yes -- these monitors can be overclocked. In fact, most users can overclock their QNIX 2710 to 96Hz, and some lucky people reach 120hz (though very rarely).
Due to the lack of a scaler, the QNIX does require DVI-D as the input source, adapters won't work, and consoles are not compatible with this monitor. The QNIX uses Samsung PLS panels, so the colors are quite vibrant and color-banding (inaccurate color presentation) isn’t common. These monitors do use cheaper casings, stands, and packaging to help decrease the cost. The standard QNIX 2710 comes in at $300 with a maximum of 5 stuck/dead pixels, and the “Pixel Perfect" version comes it at $345 with up to 3 stuck/dead pixels -- not quite pixel perfect, eh?
In recent years, 1440p Korean off-brand monitors like the QNIX 2710 have become popular among PC enthusiasts; these korean screens have unique advantages -- including the ability to overclock refresh rates -- at low prices, but often have stuck/dead pixels, backlight bleed, and bad stands. With 4K being all the hype at CES, along with AMD and nVidia both touting their newest “4K Gaming Ready” GPUs, Korean manufacturers have not ignored this upcoming market and the profit that can be had from it.
Scott's taking a break this weekend for vacation, so I'll be filling-in for the regularly-scheduled hardware sales round-up. This weekend, we spotted an ASRock Z97 Extreme4 board marked down to $130, 27" Acer IPS panel for $195, and Tt eSports Poseidon Z keyboard for $70.
This test was spawned out of a general lack of equipment in the GN lab. We've got a few monitors available for testing, but of the three best units (120Hz displays), only one natively operates at 1920x1080; the others -- fabled unicorns among monitors -- run at 2048x1152 and 1920x1200.
The 1920x1080 120Hz display isn't always available for our game GPU benchmarks, making it desirable to use one of the larger displays at a lower-than-native resolution (for consistent / comparable testing). In effort of honest benchmarking, we decided to double-check an existing suspicion that forcing lower-than-native resolutions would not negatively impact FPS or produce synthetic artifacts that do not exist at native resolutions.
The hypothesis says "nope, should be identical performance other than visual scaling." Let's see if running a monitor at a non-native resolution will negatively impact testing with artifacts or lower FPS.
ASUS has announced that the ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q we saw during CES is officially shipping at the end of August. It's a fair bit later than the Q2 target they were shooting for, but if all goes to plan, it will be here shortly. This is the first WQHD screen to use NVIDIA's G-Sync. The 27" monitor will feature a 144Hz refresh rate at 2560x1440 for normal 2D viewing; the Swift PG278Q drops to 120Hz in 3D mode. It also has a response time of 1ms (GTG) and 2xUSB 3.0 ports in addition to the DisplayPort 1.2 input.
There were a few major PC hardware trends at CES this year; gaming monitors supporting higher resolutions and new technologies (G-Sync, FreeSync) were among those trends. While at CES 2014, we reported on nVidia's G-Sync and how it actually works, a hardware solution to decrease frame tearing and stuttering by using a variable refresh rate (rather than a fixed 60 Hz or 120 Hz solution). Technologies like G-Sync (and FreeSync) are absolutely something I can get behind -- the overall experience delivered to the gamer is far smoother and very noticeable in gameplay; visuals lose that choppiness exhibited when using a fixed refresh rate and frame tears largely vanish.
In this round-up, we'll walk through some of the best G-Sync gaming monitors of CES 2014, with a heavier focus on 1440p and 4K resolutions (though 1080p is still most prevalent). We've already written about a few of these new monitors, including ASUS' ROG and BenQ's options.
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