High Refresh Rate Panels and Displays
A Road-map and Round-up
Simon Baker, 15 September 2016 (Updated 22 June 2017)

Article Change Log - Update 22/6/17

  • Updated details for Acer Predator X27 - 27" IPS with 144Hz Ultra HD res panel

  • Added Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ and Acer Predator X35 to 35" VA panels roadmap with 200Hz support

  • Added Samsung C49HG90 to 49" mega-wide VA panels with 144Hz refresh rate

Article Change Log - Update 31/3/17

  • Added Samsung 49" 32:9 aspect ratio VA panel at 144Hz and 44" 29:9 aspect ratio VA  at 144Hz

  • Added 35" curved VA panel from AUO with 3440 x 1440 @ 200Hz

  • Added 27" 3840 x 2160 @ 144Hz IPS-type panel from AUO and updated HDR version info

  • Added summary tables in each section to help keep things simple

Article Change Log - Update 30/3/17

  • Added Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer Predator XB272-HDR to 4K IPS at 144Hz with date expectations

  • Added links to the Acer Predator Z271 (27" 1080p, VA, 144Hz), Asus ROG Swift PG258Q (24", 1080p, 240Hz, TN Film) and AOC AGON AG352UCG (35", 3440 x 1440, 100Hz, VA) reviews

Article Change Log - Update 13/3/17

  • Added AOC AGON AG352QCX to 35" 2560 x 1440 res VA technology models at 200Hz

Article Change Log - Update 25/1/17

  • Added HP Omen X35 and AOC AGON AG325UCG to the roadmap of 35" 3440 x 1440 res VA screens with 100Hz native refresh rate

  • Added link to AOC AGON AG251FZ review, now completed. Asus ROG Swift PG258Q review coming soon

Article Change Log - Update 15/12/16

  • Added AOC AGON AG251FZ to the list of forthcoming 24.5" 240Hz TN Film models - review coming soon

  • Added BenQ ZOWIE XL2540 to the list of forthcoming 24.5" 240Hz TN Film models

  • Updated details of the 34" 144Hz native 2560 x 1080 IPS panel from LG.Display used in the LG 34UC79G (review now available).

Article Change Log - Update 20/10/16

  • Updated status of 34" IPS Ultra-wide panel with 3440 x 1440 res @ 144Hz. Planned production delayed from Q1 to Q3 2017.

  • Added new detail of planned 37.5" IPS panels with 3840 x 2160 @ 144Hz

  • Correction to panel part numbers for 24.5" TN Film panels at 240Hz

  • Updated mass production dates for 240Hz TN Film panels. 24.5" now in mass production from Oct, and 27" from Nov 2016.

  • Updated mass production date for 27" 240Hz TN Film panels, Oct/Nov 2016. Panel part numbers also updated

  • Update to 35" 3440 x 1440 VA panels from AUO. 100Hz versions mass production delayed from June/July to Sept 2016. 200Hz version no longer listed (now 100Hz).

  • Update panel part for AUO 31.5" VA panel with 2560 x 1440 @ 144Hz. Mass production expectation of January 2017.

 

 

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Introduction

We get a lot of questions about high refresh rate panels of varying sizes and technologies and it’s a topic gamers are of course very interested in. We thought it might be useful to provide a round-up of some of the news we’ve brought you over the last few months in relation to panel roadmaps, and announced displays to help get this information all in one place. This will hopefully give you an idea of what is currently available in each technology now, as well as what is planned for the future and when to expect other options to arrive. As ever, keep in mind the increasing demands on PC’s and graphics cards with the increases in refresh rates, not to mention the push for higher resolutions at the same time. Also we’d like to make the distinction up front between panel manufacturers and monitor manufacturers here. Where we are talking about panel roadmaps and production, keep in mind that there is usually a lag of a couple of months after the panel goes in to production before we see any news of displays which will feature the new panel. There’s normally then a 3 – 4 month delay before that screen is released and widely available, so keep that in mind when we talk about dates in this article.

Here are the highlights by technology:


IPS-type

At the time of writing this article originally in September 2016 there was only one true high refresh rate option available in this technology, that being a 27” 2560 x 1440 panel provide by AU Optronics (their IPS-type AHVA technology). It is already used in a range of popular monitors such as the Acer Predator XB270HU, XB271HU, Asus ROG Swift PG279Q, Asus MG279Q etc. This is a flat (not curved) panel which is available in standard (M270DAN02.3) and borderless (M270DAN02.6) varieties and offers a native 144Hz refresh rate. Where the panel is combined with a G-sync module, manufacturers have been able to overclock the refresh rate a little to 165Hz. Blur reduction backlights have also been combined with this panel since the refresh rate support is high enough to make that a viable option.

Apart from those 27” panels, there were no IPS-type panels available at the time of writing this article which natively support high refresh rates. In the larger display space, display manufacturers had some success in overclocking a curved 34” 3440 x 1440 resolution panel which has been around for quite some years, produced by LG.Display. This IPS panel is actually natively 60Hz, but when it is combined with a G-sync module it has been possible to overclock that refresh rate up to 100Hz successfully. Monitors like the Acer Predator X34 and Asus ROG Swift PG348Q are two very popular options based on this panel and overclocked  with a lot of success 3440 x 1440 @ 100Hz. They offered high refresh rate support and response times suitable to keep up the demands of the frame rate.

So at the time of writing, these were the only real options for high refresh rate IPS-type panels.

Back in late 2015 LG.Display had a 27” module (LM270WF8) in their road-map which would have been their first venture in to high refresh rate IPS tech. That was a planned 1920 x 1080 @ 144Hz module, but as far as we know it was dropped and never emerged. Thankfully LG.Display are now investing in other high refresh rate IPS options, this time in the 34” ultra-wide space:

  • 34” curved ultra-wide with 2560 x 1080 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate - LM340UW1 was the original panel part listed – production in August 2016. This represents LG.Display’s first available native high refresh IPS panel. We have recently tested the LG 34UC79G which features a panel with the same spec, although a slightly different panel part number (LM340WW2). This edition of the panel already in production supports AMD FreeSync, but LG.Display are also working on a version which offers G-sync support. That version is expected to go in to production in January 2017.
     

  • 34” curved ultra-wide with 3440 x 1440 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate - LM340UW3 – production was originally planned for Q1 2017 but according to recent road-maps it has been delayed until Q3 2017. To run this resolution and refresh rate, a video interface beyond DP 1.2 will be needed, hence some of the wait. We expect it to be a couple of months after the panel goes in to production before we see a monitor announced featuring that panel, and then another 3 months or so before that monitor is released. Taking that in to account, we wouldn’t expect to see a 3440 x 1440 IPS based screen with 144Hz until probably Q4 2017 at the earliest we’re afraid.

 

LG.Display are also investing in even larger ultra-wide screens in the curved 37.5" space. We've seen the first of these appear in monitor form in September 2016 in the form of the LG 38UC99. These new panels offer a 24:10 aspect ratio and 3840 x 1600 resolution. The panel already in production and used in that LG screen is a maximum 75Hz refresh rate. However, we know that LG.Display are intending to produce a 144Hz compatible version. Sadly this isn't expected to go in to production until Q4 2017 at the moment. Panel part number to be confirmed.

AU Optronics don’t seem to have any ultra-wide high refresh rate IPS-type panels in their current roadmaps, so it seems that they are sticking to the popular 2560 x 1440 resolution 27” market, and leaving the 34”+ ultra-wide market to LG.Display for now (and visa versa). Samsung have so far not planned any high refresh rate PLS panels, which is their IPS-type technology.

In the “4k” high resolution space, AU Optronics have produced a prototype flat 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD) AHVA IPS-type module (M270QAN02) with 144Hz refresh rate which was showcased at Computex in June 2016 in the form of an Asus monitor prototype. It looks like there will be two flavours of this panel, a "normal" panel and then one that supports HDR. The normal version is the M270QAN02.3 with 144Hz refresh rate and specs in line with typical panels.

There's also then the more exciting M270QAN02.2 which offers HDR support and a full-array local dimming (FALD) 384-zone backlight. The Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ was the first model announced featuring this new panel, offering a really impressive feature set even beyond the 3840 x 2160 resolution @ 144Hz which is exciting enough. See the linked news article for more information. Acer will also release a competing model, their Predator X27 as it's now being called. They are pencilled in for Q3 release, although we anticipate that might slip in to Q4 given the spec and features here. The panel itself is due to go in to production in July 2017 according to latest AUO roadmaps, so perhaps Q3 will be possible.

IPS-type Panel Options Summary

Manufacturer

Size

Aspect

Resolution

Refresh Rate

Mass Production from

Example Monitors

AU Optronics

27" flat

16:9

2560 x 1440

144 - 165Hz

2015

Acer Predator XB270HU, XB271HU, Asus ROG Swift PG279Q, Asus MG279Q etc

AU Optronics

27" flat

16:9

3840 x 2160

144Hz

Q3 2017

 

AU Optronics

27" flat (HDR)

16:9

3840 x 2160

144Hz

July 2017

Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, Acer Predator X27

LG.Display

34" curved 3800R

21:9

2560 x 1080

144Hz

Aug 16

LG 34UC79G

LG.Display

34" curved 3800R

21:9

3440 x 1440

100Hz overclocked

2015

Acer Predator X34 and Asus ROG Swift PG348Q

LG.Display

34" curved 1900R

21:9

3440 x 1440

144Hz

Q3 2017

 

LG.Display

37" curved 2300R

24:10

3840 x 1600

144Hz

Q4 2017

 

 


VA-type

At the time of originally writing this article, there had only been a couple of high refresh rate VA panels released and used in mainstream monitors. Back in 2013 we saw a flat 23.5” panel emerge from Sharp, who aren’t really a big manufacturer of LCD panels for desktop monitors. Their 120Hz capable 1920 x 1080 VA panel was used in the very popular Eizo Foris FG2421. Much later on in late 2015 we saw AU Optronics release a curved 35” ultra-wide AMVA panel (M350DVR01.0) with 2560 x 1080 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, which was used in various monitors including the BenQ XR3501 and Acer Predator Z35 for instance. That relatively low resolution allows the refresh rate of 144Hz to be supported over DisplayPort 1.2 video interfaces. In some cases, like the Acer Predator Z35, the panel can be combined with a G-sync module and this allows overclocking of the refresh rate up to 200Hz. Although from our tests, the pixel response times are not really adequate to keep up with the frame rate and 120Hz is about the sensible limit for that panel.

AU Optronics AMVA

AU Optronics have a native 200Hz version of this curved 35” panel that went in to production in June 2016 (M350DVR01.2) and looks to have been adopted first in the AOC AGON AG352QCX. They are also working on a smaller curved 30” ultra-wide panel (M300DVR01.0) with 2560 x 1080 resolution and a 200Hz refresh rate. It remains to be seen whether they have managed to reliably drive response times low enough to make this 200Hz practical, as the overclocked options so far have not been great. The forthcoming Acer Predator Z301C is expected to make use of this 30” size 2560 x 1080 @ 200Hz VA panel.

In the higher resolution ultra-wide space AU Optronics have AMVA panels in production with 3440 x 1440 resolution and high native refresh rates. There is the curved 35” M350QVR01.0 panel which went in to production in Sept 2016 (delayed a little from June/July) which offers a native 100Hz refresh rate, allowing AMVA panels to rival the current overclocked IPS panels which offer 3440 x 1440 @ 100Hz. There is also a borderless version in production since September at 100Hz (M350QVR01.1). The 100Hz refresh rate will be possible using the current widespread DisplayPort 1.2 video interface. The first screens to be announced based on these 100Hz VA panels at 3440 x 1440 are the HP Omen X35 and AOC AGON AG352UCG (which we have reviewed).

Earlier roadmaps listed another 35" panel which would support 200Hz at 3440 x 1440 but that disappeared for a while, only to re-emerge again later. This is now pencilled in for mass production in Q3 2017. A couple of monitors have now been announced which look to be based on this forthcoming panel. There's the Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ and Acer Predator X35 which sport 200Hz refresh rate at 3440 x 1440 res, along with a 512-zone FALD backlight for HDR support.

They also have a curved 30” panel planned with 3440 x 1440 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate which is expected to go in to production during Q3 2016. We might well see 3440 x 1440 @ 144Hz screens available with VA technology sooner than the IPS equivalents as the panels are at least already in production whereas LG.Display’s IPS versions aren’t planned until Q1 2017 at the moment. It will depend on the adoption of new video interfaces though.

As well as the ultra-wide market, AU Optronics are also already producing a curved 31.5” 16:9 aspect ratio panel with a 2560 x 1440 resolution and 144Hz (now updated to 165Hz) refresh rate (M315DVR01.0). That was originally expected to go in to production in January 2017 but that's now slipped to April 2017.

A couple of curved 27” panels are planned. The first is without a confirmed production date, offering 2560 x 1440 @ 144Hz. There's also a 1920 x 1080 curved VA panel (M270HVR01.0) with 165Hz refresh rate support. That one has a production date of July 2017.

AU Optronics VA Panel Options Summary

Size

Aspect

Resolution

Refresh Rate

Mass Production from

Example Monitors

27" curved

16:9

2560 x 1440

144Hz

TBC

 

27" curved

16:9

1920 x 1080

165Hz

July 2017

 

30" curved 1800R

21:9

2560 x 1080

200Hz

2016

Acer Predator Z301C

30" curved 2000R

21:9

3440 x 1440

144Hz

Q3 2016

 

31".5 curved 1800R

16:9

2560 x 1440

165Hz

April 17

 

35" curved 2000R

21:9

2560 x 1080

144 - 200Hz

2015

BenQ XR3501, Acer Predator Z35

35" curved 2000R

21:9

2560 x 1080

200Hz

June 2016

AOC AGON AG352QCX

35" curved 1800R

21:9

3440 x 1440

100Hz

Sept 16

HP Omen X35, AOC AGON AG352UCG

35" curved

21:9

3440 x 1440

200Hz

Q3 2017

 Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ, Acer Predator X35

 

Samsung SVA

Samsung are also investing in the high refresh rate VA market with their equivalent technology, now commonly referred to by them as SVA. They have a curved 23.6” VA panel with 1920 x 1080 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate in production since July 2016 (LSM236HP02). The Samsung C24FG70 gaming display looks like it will be the first to make use of this new panel which was released in October 2016. There is also a curved 27” version with the same res/refresh (LTM270HP02) which went in to production in May 2016. The Samsung C27FG70 and Acer Predator Z271 (reviewed) which use this Samsung 27” VA panel with 1920 x 1080 @ 144Hz.

They also have a couple of curved 31.5” sized panels in production with a 144Hz refresh rate. The LTM315HP01 already in production since April 2016 (this may have slipped as they now have a similar spec panel listed as MP for Sept 17) and will offer a 1920 x 1080 resolution, while another currently un-named part will go in to production in September 2016 with a higher 2560 x 1440 resolution @ 144Hz. There is a monitor announced with a 31.5" VA panel and 144Hz, the AOC AGON AG322QCX although it is not clear whether that is using the Samsung or AU Optronics panel in this size.

Samsung are also investing in the ultra-wide space with a curved 29” mega-wide 32:9 aspect ratio panel offering 3840 x 1080 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate (LSM290DP01) which should be in production already. We haven’t seen any monitors announced in this format or using this panel yet. Perhaps of most interest is a curved 34” ultra-wide panel to rival those being developed by LG.Display in their IPS technology. The LTM340YP03 offers a curved format, 3440 x 1440 resolution and a 100Hz native refresh rate. It looks like that VA panel will first appear in the Samsung C34F791 display. There is no word on Samsung pushing these 3440 x 1440 beyond 100Hz yet from what we’ve seen, although we expect at some point they will develop a 144Hz version to rival what LG.Display are doing with their IPS panels in this space, but probably not until late 2017.

There are also plans to produce a massive 49" sized screen, with a curved 32:9 mega-wide (Samsung are referring to these as "Grand Circle") aspect ratio and "Double Full HD" resolution of 3840 x 1080. This will offer a 144Hz refresh rate and is due to go in to production in Sept 2017. The Samsung C49HG90 is the first display to have been announced based on this panel. There's also the slightly smaller 44" sized VA panel, being positioned by Samsung as "dual 24.7 inch" in size and offering a 3840 x 1200 resolution. There will be a 60Hz version available, but also plans to release a 144Hz version which should go in to production in September 2017 also.

Samsung VA Panel Options Summary

Size

Aspect

Resolution

Refresh Rate

Mass Production from

Example Monitors

23.6" curved 1800R

16:9

1920 x 1080

144Hz

July 2016

Samsung C24FG70

27" curved 1800R

16:9

1920 x 1080

144Hz

May 2016

Samsung C27FG70, Acer Predator Z271

29" curved 1800R

32:9

3840 x 1080

144Hz

2015?

 

31.5" curved 1800R

16:9

1920 x 1080

144Hz

April 2016

 

31.5" curved 1800R

16:9

2560 x 1440

144Hz

April 2016

AOC AGON AG322QCX?

34" curved 1800R

21:9

3440 x 1440

100Hz

Sept 2016

Samsung C34F791

44" curved 1800R

29:9

3840 x 1200

144Hz

Sept 2017

 

49" curved 1800R

32:9

3840 x 1080

144Hz

Sept 2017

Samsung C49HG90

 


TN Film

TN Film panels have been available for many years with high refresh rates of 120Hz and 144Hz. We won't try and cover those in this article. They were the first to be offered as the technology allows for fast response times and suitable pixel performance to keep up with the frame rate and refresh rate demands. So high refresh rate TN Film panels are certainly nothing new, and widely available already in many sizes.

More recently there has begun a push to extend the refresh rates even further. Some native 144Hz panels have been overclocked a little, such as the flat 24” panel featured in the Asus ROG Swift PG248Q, which has been boosted to 180Hz thanks to the addition of a G-sync module. There is also the flat 23.8” Dell S2417DG which has a slightly boosted refresh rate from 144Hz to 165Hz. The real changes in the TN Film market though will come through the increase of the native refresh rate.

We’ve seen a couple of panels announced by AU Optronics with a slightly higher native 165Hz refresh rate. More interestingly, they have planned panels with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a native 240Hz refresh rate as well which will mark a significant increase in native refresh rate support. These will be available in flat 24.5” (M250HTN01.0 and M250HTN01.3 we believe) and flat 27” (M270HTN02.0 and M270HTN02.3) sizes initially with 1920 x 1080 resolutions. Mass production saw the 24.5" panel going in to production in October 2016, and the 27" version in October/November 2016. We’ve seen a couple of monitors released already by key gaming manufacturers which make use of the 24.5" new panel. There are the Acer Predator XB251HQT, Asus ROG Swift PG258Q (reviewed and pictured above), BenQ ZOWIE XL2540 and AOC AGON AG251FZ (reviewed). Quite a few other models are being announced with a 24.5" TN Film panel at 240Hz so keep an eye on our news pages for more details.

The 27” panel with 240Hz refresh rate is a little behind the 24.5" version so we’ve yet to see any displays announced using that panel but expect to hear some early news probably during Q2 2017.

As ever, our panel parts database is kept as up to date as possible with available and planned panels, along with their specs. We will continue to bring you news when we can of any planned panels and displays.

AU Optronics TN Film Panel Options Summary

Size

Aspect

Resolution

Refresh Rate

Mass Production from

Example Monitors

24.5" flat

16:9

1920 x 1080

240Hz

Oct 2016

Acer Predator XB251HQT, Asus ROG Swift PG258Q, BenQ ZOWIE XL2540, AOC AGON AG251FZ etc

27" flat

16:9

1920 x 1080

240Hz

Oct/Nov 2016

 

 

 

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