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Introduction

The widescreen gaming market continues to grow as these large format screens gather in popularity. The most common sizes available right now are 34" and 35", both with a 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio and nearly all modern offerings coming in a curved format. Some displays come with a fairly low 2560 x 1080 resolution, while many others are now pushing up to the higher 3440 x 1440 resolution. This provides a larger desktop area to work with, smaller and sharper text and a more detailed image for gaming and multimedia; so is generally preferred as long as you've got a system to power it. These ultrawide screens are available based on either VA or IPS technologies, with TN Film not breaking in to this sector yet. There's also a variety of different refresh rate options supported, depending on the model and also on the underlying screen resolution. Nowadays it's common for 1080p resolution models to be pushed up to 200Hz in some cases, while the 1440p resolution models are now common with native 100Hz refresh rates. This lower refresh rate support is down to current bandwidth limitations of the common DisplayPort 1.2 interfaces, not to mention what is actually supported and available from the various panel manufacturers.

We have with us now the new Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ, part of their Republic of Gamers brand. It's a 35" ultrawide model featuring a VA technology panel with 3440 x 1440 resolution. It offers a 100Hz native refresh rate, and supports AMD FreeSync for dynamic refresh rates. Asus have also added their additional Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB) backlight system to reduce motion blur in gaming, as well as some other gaming extras. We will see how this screen compares to other 34-35" models we have tested throughout the course of this review.

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Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen as advertised:

Monitor Specifications

Size

35"WS ultrawide, 1800R curve

Panel Coating

Light AG coating

Aspect Ratio

21:9

Interfaces

1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0

Resolution

3440 x 1440

Pixel Pitch

0.2382 mm, 106.55 PPI

Design colour

Matt black bezel and stand with some dark red trim in places

Response Time

4ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, 100mm height, swivel

Static Contrast Ratio

2500:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

n/a

VESA Compatible

Yes 100mm

Brightness

300 cd/m2

Accessories

Power cable and brick. DisplayPort, HDMI and USB cables

Viewing Angles

178 / 178

Panel Technology

AU Optronics AMVA

Weight

with stand: 12.2 Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD)
834.7 x (468.3 - 567.2) x 317.3 mm

Colour Depth

16.7m (8-bit)

Refresh Rate

100Hz native recommended
48 - 100Hz FreeSync range (DP and HDMI 2.0 only)

Special Features

AMD FreeSync, Extreme Low Motion Blur mode (ELMB), Aura Sync lighting, 2x USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, PiP / PbP options

Colour Gamut

Standard gamut, 100% sRGB

The XG35VQ offers a reasonable range of modern connectivity options with 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 2.0 and 1x HDMI 1.4  connections offered. The digital interfaces are HDCP certified for encrypted content and the video cables are provided in the box for DisplayPort and HDMI which is handy.

The screen has an external power supply and comes packaged with the power cable and small adapter you need. There are also 2x USB 3.0 ports located on the back of the screen with the video connections. A headphone-out connection is also provided if you need it.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Audio connection

USB 3.0 Ports

HDCP Support

Card Reader

MHL Support

Ambient Light Sensor

Integrated Speakers

Human Motion Sensor

PiP / PbP

Touch Screen

Blur Reduction Mode

Factory calibration

G-Sync

Hardware calibration

FreeSync

Uniformity correction

Wireless charging



Design and Ergonomics

The XG35VQ comes in an all black design with matte plastics used for the bezel and monitor arm. There is a section of dark red trim on the base of the stand as you can see from the provided images. Around the edges and top the screen is a "borderless" design (3-side) with a thin 2mm plastic edge. There is then an additional 7.5mm black panel border, creating a total ~9.5mm edge around the top and sides. Along the bottom edge is a thicker black plastic bezel measuring ~24mm thickness.

The base of the stand is a sturdy and quite heavy aluminium foot, finished in a matte black colour. It provides a wide and sturdy base for the screen to prevent wobbling given its ultrawide format. The screen and stand are quite deep at 317.5mm, which means that you will need a reasonably deep desk to accommodate the screen at a comfortable viewing position.

 

The back of the screen is enclosed in a matte black plastic, finished with an etching design in places. The stand attaches as shown above, but can be removed if you want to VESA 100 mount the display instead. There is a useful cable tidy hole on the back of the stand as you can see above.


    
Above: full tilt range shown

There is a good set of ergonomic adjustments offered from this screen. Tilt is smooth but fairly stiff to operate, but offers a pretty good range of adjustments as shown above.

 
Above: full height adjustment range shown

Height adjustment is a little stiff too but offers smooth movements, with a total adjustment range of 100mm measured, as advertised. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is ~90mm from the edge of the desk, and at maximum extension is is ~190mm.

Side to side swivel is also provided and is also a little stiff but It provides smooth movement. Overall the stand remains very stable on the desk with no real wobble at all when you re-position it. It's heavy and quite chunky, but it does a very good job.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Fairly stiff

Height

100mm

Smooth

Fairly stiff

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Fairly stiff

Rotate

No

-

-

Overall

Good set of adjustments. A little stiff to move some, although the screen is very stable and sturdy

The materials were of a very good standard and the build quality felt good and robust There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing.

 


Above: connection options on the back of the screen

The back of the screen features the connections. There are the 2x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort 1.2 connections offered, along with an audio headphone output and USB upstream and 2x USB 3.0 downstream ports.

With exclusive ASUS Aura Sync lighting technology, the ROG Strix XG35VQ provides ambient lighting that can be synchronized with other Aura-enabled components and peripherals. To achieve perfect synchronization, simply connect the screen to other peripherals by installing the Aura Sync software on your laptop or desktop. "Enjoy the coolest and most stylish backdrop for any gaming setup, and have all lights pulsing to the beat of your favourite music or game sound effects."

 

 

There is also the more familiar Asus "Light in Motion" light which projects from the bottom of the stand as shown above.



OSD Menu

 
Above: OSD control buttons on the bottom edge of the screen

The OSD menu is controlled through a series of 3 pressable buttons (and an additional power button at the bottom) located on the back right hand side of the screen, as viewed from the front. Above the buttons is a useful joystick control to quickly and easily navigate through the sections and settings. Initially we should comment that the buttons felt a little flimsy and plastic but they did at least work as intended.

Pressing any of the buttons brings up the quick access menu with a couple of menus available. There is quick access to the GameVisual preset mode menu as shown above.

Then there is also quick access to the GamePlus menu.

  

If you go in to the main OSD menu you are presented with a much larger range of options and settings. This is split in to 8 sections down the left hand side, with options available in each then shown in the middle area. If you drill in to an option, the actual selectable options are then shown to the far right.

The color menu gives you control over quite a few settings to help set the screen up and for calibration.

The image section also has some useful options relating to gaming, including the overdrive (OD) control, ELMB blur reduction mode, and the FreeSync setting.

The system setup menu is shown above, with options including the Light in Motion and Aura Sync settings.

All in all the menu provided a really good range of options. Navigation was quick and easy thanks to the responsive software and the joystick controller. No issues with the menu itself, just the buttons which felt a little cheap.



Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists typical usage of <43.0W (*measuring a screen brightness of 200 nits without audio/ USB connection), and <0.5W in standby. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (90%)

<43.0 *

61.2

Calibrated (14%)

-

35.3

Maximum Brightness (100%)

-

64.9

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

30.2

Standby

<0.5

0.6

Out of the box the screen used 61.2W at the default 90% brightness setting. Once calibrated the screen reached 35.3W consumption, and in standby it used only 0.6W. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption is comparable to most of the other 34" - 35" sized screens we have tested as you might expect, with some of the smaller 25 - 27" screens drawing slightly less power (comparing the calibrated states).



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Panel Technology

AMVA (VA-type)

Colour Depth

8-bit

Panel Module

M350QVR01.1

Colour space

Standard Gamut

Backlighting Type

W-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

Quoted 100% sRGB - actual ~115% sRGB (see tests below)

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ features an AU Optronics M350QVR01.1 AMVA (VA-type) technology panel which is capable of producing 16.7 million colours. This is achieved through a native 8-bit colour depth. It's the first time we have seen and tested this specific panel, although we have reviewed the very similar M350QVR01.0 panel used in the AOC AGON AG352UCG which has a slightly different 2000R curvature and not a borderless design, but rest of the spec of the panel remains the same.

Screen Coating

The screen coating is a light anti-glare (AG) like other modern VA panels. It retains its anti-glare properties to avoid too many unwanted reflections of a full glossy coating, but does not produce an too grainy or dirty an image that some thicker AG coatings can. It is not a semi-glossy coating like some older VA panels. There are some faintly visible cross-hatching patterns but nothing you should notice during normal use unless you go looking for them very close to the screen.


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a White-LED (W-LED) backlight unit which is standard in today's market. This helps reduce power consumption compared with older CCFL backlight units and brings about some environmental benefits as well. The W-LED unit offers a standard colour gamut which is approximately equal to the sRGB colour space. Asus quote 100% sRGB coverage. Anyone wanting to work with wider colour spaces would need to consider wide gamut backlight screens or those which feature technologies such as Quantum Dot for extending the colour space in to wider coverage of references like DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB. If you want to read more about colour spaces and gamut then please have a read of our detailed article. Remember, most content is produced in sRGB and so this standard gamut is likely to be sufficient for most average users.


Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a previously very common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor + oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.


100%                                                     50%                                                     0%


Above scale = 1 horizontal grid = 5ms

At all brightness settings a constant Direct Current (DC) voltage is applied to the backlight, and the screen is free from the obvious off/on switching of any PWM dimming method. The screen is flicker free as advertised.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

No

Cycling Frequency

n/a

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

No

0% Brightness

No

 


Contrast Stability and Brightness

We wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

376.24

0.19

1979

90

353.17

0.17

2077

80

325.63

0.16

2035

70

300.81

0.15

2005

60

270.24

0.13

2079

50

242.58

0.12

2022

40

213.45

0.11

1940

30

177.27

0.09

1970

20

144.42

0.07

2063

10

103.38

0.05

2068

0

65.65

0.03

2188

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

310.59

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.16

Average Static Contrast Ratio

2039:1

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

14

The brightness control gave us a good range of adjustment. At the top end the maximum luminance reached 376 cd/m2 which was a lot higher than the specified maximum brightness of 300 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. This is actually good as it will help boost the potential luminance of the strobed backlight mode we will test later on (ELMB). There was a good 311 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, and so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a low luminance of 66 cd/m2. This should probably be adequate for most people wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light although it doesn't reach as low as some screens. A setting of 14 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings. It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled without the need for Pulse Width Modulation for all brightness settings so the screen is flicker free.

    

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is basically a linear relationship as you can see.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was good thanks to the VA panel, measured at 2039:1 but this left it a little shy of the specified 2500:1. It remained mostly stable across the brightness adjustment range.



Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ
Default Settings


 

 



Monitor OSD Default Settings

 

GameVisual Preset Mode

Racing Mode

Brightness

90

Contrast

80

Color Temp

User Mode

RGB

100, 100, 100

Gamma

2.2

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

371

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.18

Contrast Ratio

2075:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

114.8%

DCI-P3 coverage

84.6%

Rec.2020 coverage

60.7%

Initially out of the box the screen was set with a high 90% brightness and so was too bright and uncomfortable to use, so you will definitely need to turn that down. The colours felt bright and well balanced and you could tell the screen was using a standard gamut backlight with a typical sRGB colour space produced.

We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2. The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends a little beyond the sRGB colour space (orange triangle). There is some minor over-coverage in most shades, but nothing major. We measured using ChromaPure software a 114.8% sRGB gamut coverage so that met the spec of 100% nicely, and extended a reasonable amount beyond that even. This measured colour space coverage corresponds to 84.6% of the DCI-P3 reference and 60.7% of the Rec.2020 reference. This screen is not using any Quantum Dot coating or anything to specifically boost the colour space, as those methods normally result in around 125% sRGB coverage in order to meet around 90 - 95% of the DCI-P3 reference for HDR content. However, the W-LED backlight unit here does offer a small boost in colours to 114% sRGB which helps them look bright and a little more vivid. We tested the sRGB preset mode in the menu in case that emulated a closer sRGB coverage but it did not make any difference.

Default gamma was recorded at a slightly high 2.3 average, leaving it with a small 4% deviance from the target. The OSD menu includes two other gamma settings which we measured. The 1.8 setting resulted in a measured 1.9 gamma average, while the 2.5 setting measured in at 2.6 average. We will stick with the default 2.2 option in the OSD menu to deliver a gamma closest to our target for general use. White point was measured at a slightly cool 6801k which left it a small 5% out from the 6500k we'd ideally want for desktop use. There are a range of other colour temp presets available in the menu along with a user configurable 'Custom Color' mode where you have access to the individual RGB channels for the calibration process.

Luminance was recorded at a very bright 371 cd/m2 which is too high for prolonged general use, you will likely need to turn that down. The screen was set at a default 90% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting without impacting any other aspect of the setup. The black depth was 0.18 cd/m2 at this default maximum brightness setting, giving us a strong static contrast ratio of 2075:1 thanks to the VA panel, although a little lower than the specified 2500:1 figure from the manufacturer. Colour accuracy was good out of the box with an average dE of 1.8, and a max of 3.3. Testing the screen with colour gradients showed fairly smooth gradients with some slight gradation evident in the darker tones. There was no sign of any colour banding which was good news. All in all a pretty decent factory setup to be honest which should suit most users without much need for calibration devices. A few minor tweaks to the OSD RGB controls and certainly the brightness setting should do the trick.



Calibration

We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ
Calibrated Settings


 


Monitor OSD Default Settings

 

GameVisual Preset Mode

User Mode

Brightness

14

Contrast

80

Color Temp

User Mode

RGB

100, 98, 95

Gamma

2.2

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

120

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.06

Contrast Ratio

1938:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

115.8%

DCI-P3 coverage

85.3%

Rec.2020 coverage

61.2%

We first of all switched to the 'Custom Color' preset mode which gives you access to adjust the RGB channels individually. When you first switch to this mode the screen is quite noticeably warmer than the 'Standard' preset, so we know we will need to bring down the red channel at least. We adjusted the RGB channels and brightness setting as shown in the table above as part of the guided calibration process. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

Average gamma was corrected now nicely to 2.2 average which fixed the small 4% deviance we'd seen out of the box. The additional small 5% white point deviance had now been corrected bringing the measured white point to 6530k. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at a far more comfortable 120 cd/m2. This left us a black depth of 0.06 cd/m2 and a static contrast ratio of 1938:1. This was slightly lower than default (2075:1) as we had made some minor changes to the RGB levels and then to the gamma curve at the graphics card level to correct the small variations. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was excellent, with dE average of 0.6 and maximum of 1.1. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed mostly smooth transitions with only some minor gradation in darker tones. There was a little added banding in medium dark shades which was caused by adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profiling of the screen to correct the gamma curve. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.



Calibration Performance Comparisons

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

Default setup of the screen out of the box was good with only small minor deviance in the gamma curve (4%) and white point (5%). Contrast was also strong thanks to the VA panel and there was a very good colour accuracy with dE of only 1.8 by default. The Acer Predator Z35 and AOC AGON AG352UCG are the most similar competitors and show slightly higher deviance from these measurements. The Acer uses a different panel generation as it is only a 2560 x 1080 resolution (but has a 200Hz refresh rate) and delivers a higher static contrast ratio than the AOC and Asus models here, but it's default setup is not quite as accurate in other areas. Overall no real issues with the default setup of the XG35VQ.

The display was strong when it came to black depth and contrast ratio thanks to the VA panel. With a calibrated contrast ratio of 1938:1 it was a little shy of the specified 2500:1 figure, but that was similar to what we'd seen from the AOC AGON AG352UCG as well, which had a 2500:1 spec and only reached 1944:1. The contrast ratio of the XG35VQ easily surpassed what is possible from current TN Film and IPS technologies which was certainly a strength of this panel tech.



Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the screen were moderate. The image behaved more like older generation VA panels than some of the modern VA screens we've tested. From a side angle, the image became washed out and pale in appearance as you can see. They were a little better actually than competing models like the AOC AGON AG352UCG from March 2017 and Acer Predator Z35 we tested in January 2016. There was a little less washout on the XG35VQ here than those models which was pleasing.

However the colour tone and gamma shifts were more noticeable of course than IPS-type panels, including the 34" Dell Alienware AW3418DW and Acer Predator X34 as an example. Users should also be aware that the panel exhibits the off-centre contrast shift which is inherent to the VA pixel structure. When viewing a very dark grey font for example on a black background, the font almost disappears when viewed head on, but gets lighter as you move slightly to the side. This is an extreme case of course as this is a very dark grey tone we are testing with. Lighter greys and other colours will appear a little darker from head on than they will from a side angle, but you may well find you lose some detail as a result. This can be particularly problematic in dark images and where grey tone is important. It is this issue that has led to many graphics professionals and colour enthusiasts choosing IPS panels instead, and the manufacturers have been quick to incorporate this alternative panel technology in their screens. We would like to make a point that for many people this won't be an issue at all, and many may not even notice it. Remember, many people are perfectly happy with their TN Film panels and other VA based screens. Just something to be wary of if you are affected by this issue or are doing colour critical work.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

We captured a photo of an all-black image as viewed from a side angle as shown above. This can help exhibit any glow you might see on different panel technologies. Here, the actual glow caused by the VA panel technology was quite low, with some pale areas picked up in the photo. This side-angle photo actually captures some of the uniformity issues we measure in the following section, and you can clearly see the darker and lighter areas of the screen. From a head on viewing position this is hard to see, but viewing the screen from a side angle accentuates it. We had seen a very similar situation on the AOC AGON AG352UCG incidentally.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.


Uniformity of Luminance

Uniformity of the screen was moderate. The upper area of the screen and the left/right hand sides were darker than the central and lower regions, which luminance dropped down to a minimum of 93 cd/m2 ( -29% deviance). Around 64% of the screen was within a 10% variance from the centrally calibrated 120 cd/m2 point which was average. This variance might be problematic for colour critical work, but remember this is a gaming orientated screen and you hopefully shouldn't really see any issues in practice with the luminance variation.


Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. The camera showed there was some lighter areas along the top and bottom edges, although from head on they were not overly noticeable. If you move to a side viewing position these areas of bleed were quite pronounced, as you can see more clearly in the above viewing angle section of the review.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.



General and Office Applications

One of the key selling points of ultra-wide screens like the this is it's high resolution and large screen size. The 3440 x 1440 resolution offers a sharp but comfortable picture. Its pixel area is about 1.8 times larger than an Ultra-Wide Full HD 21:9 monitor (2560 x 1080), and about 2.4 times larger than a Full HD 16:9 monitor (1920 x 1080). It provides an efficient environment in using Microsoft Office programs showing 47 columns and 63 rows in excel. Thankfully the high resolution is of a very comfortable size on the 35" panel, with a 0.2384mm pixel pitch is is comparable to a 27" 2560 x 1440 monitor (0.2331mm). This means you are basically getting a wider desktop to work with, with a similar font size to a 27" model, and maintaining the same vertical resolution as well. If you're coming from a lower resolution / larger pixel pitch you may still find the fonts look quite small to start with, but like the 27" 1440p models out there you soon get used to it. Side by side multi-tasking on this screen is excellent and you really do have a nice wide area to work with. We liked the curved format of the display actually for day to day office work. It just felt a bit more comfortable than a flat screen on a model as wide as this, bringing the corners a bit nearer to you. It was very nice to have this full 3440 x 1440 resolution as opposed to the 2560 x 1080 res we've seen on some other ultra-wide screens, including the Acer Predator Z35. On that model, resolution was scarified in favour of a higher refresh rate (144Hz native, 200Hz overclocked) and due to bandwidth limitations of the current DisplayPort 1.2 standards. On the XG35VQ here, the balance has been struck between a higher 3440 x 1440 res, and a native 100Hz refresh rate. We definitely prefer this 1440p resolution on a screen this size.

We did feel the text was not quite as sharp as some screens but it was hard to pin-point exactly why. It just seemed a little more fuzzy sometimes than we were used to. It is not quite as crisp as the 34" models due to the slightly larger pixel pitch and perhaps the sharpness was not quite optimal either. Nothing too major, just an observation of a minor picture clarity difference. The light AG coating of the panel is welcome, and much better than the grainy and 'dirty' appearance of some older IPS panels or many TN Film panel coatings. The viewing angles of the VA panel technology were fairly typical for this technology, and can't compete with IPS offerings. You will notice fairly obvious contrast and colour tone shifts if you move your line of sight around much of view the screen from an angle. Some contrast shifts may be evident because of the very wide size of the display, as you glance towards the edges from a centrally aligned position. That's hard to avoid on such a large desktop monitor from close up. The default setup of the screen was good and we were pleased with the strong ~2000:1 calibrated contrast ratio as well which is certainly a strength of the VA panel. It might not be as high as some other VA panels which reach nearer to 3000:1, but it's still a lot better than any IPS or TN Film offering.

The brightness range of the screen was very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between 376 and 66 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. Although it can't reach quite as low as some screens. A setting of ~14 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. On another positive note, the brightness regulation is controlled without the use of Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry. There are 4 low blue light modes offered on this screen which might be useful to some users. There was no audible noise or buzzing from the screen, even when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. The screen also remains cool even during prolonged use.

There are a few extras provided here as well including a 2x port USB 3.0 hub on the back. There is an audio output for headphone connection if you want, and PiP / PbP support for multiple input connections. There were no further extras such as ambient light sensors or card readers on this model which can be useful in office environments. There was a decent range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand allowing you to obtain a comfortable position for a wide variety of angles of tilt, height and swivel positions possible. Tilt and swivel were a little stiff to operate. The VESA mounting support may also be useful to some people as well.


Above: photo of text at 3440 x 1440 (top) and 2560 x 1080 (bottom)

The screen is designed to run at its native resolution of 3440 x 1440 and at a 100Hz native refresh rate. However, if you want you are able to run the screen outside of this resolution. We tested the screen at a lower 2560 x 1080 resolution to see how the screen handles the interpolation of the resolution, while maintaining the same aspect ratio of 21:9. At native resolution the text was sharp and clear although as we said we did feel it felt a little fuzzy on occasion. When running at a the lower resolution the text becomes noticeably more blurry. You do lose a lot of screen real-estate as well of course but it might be a more manageable resolution for some gaming if you want to push frame rates up to the upper end of the 100Hz support on some systems.

 

 
Responsiveness and Gaming

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

AU Optronics

Panel Part

M350QVR01.1

Quoted G2G Response Time

4ms G2G

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting

OD

Overdrive OSD Settings

Levels 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Maximum Refresh Rate

100Hz

Variable Refresh Rate technology

FreeSync

Variable Refresh Rate Range

48 - 100Hz

The ROG Strix XG35VQ is rated by Asus as having a 4ms G2G response time. The screen uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. There is a user control in the OSD menu for the overdrive under the 'OD' setting with 6 options available - Level 0, then Level 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The part being used is the AU Optronics M350QVR01.1 AMVA (VA-type) technology panel. This is a 100Hz native refresh rate panel with a full 3440 x 1440 resolution supported via DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0 interfaces. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.
 


Response Time
s

60Hz Refresh Rate



First of all we tested the screen at a 60Hz refresh rate and carried out a series of visual tests of the six OD modes. We didn't want to take measurements in all the modes if it was unnecessary and there was really no observable difference between Levels 1, 2 and 3 in practice. Level 0 (the slowest) showed slightly more blurring and trailing but you had to push the OD level up near the higher settings to make any noticeable difference.

So we start the measurements above at level 3 OD. Here you can see a lot of slow transitions, particularly on the rise times (changes from dark to lighter shades in the upper right hand part of the table). The 0 > 50 transition (black > dark grey) was particularly problematic and slow at 58ms, a common issue for VA technology panels unfortunately. This dragged the average response time figure down somewhat, so if we ignore that particularly slow transition the average G2G response time measured in this mode was 14.3ms. The response times here were too slow and produced a lot of noticeable blurring and smearing on moving content. Dark trailing was particularly common because of the slow changes from dark > lighter shades.

Pushing the OD setting up to Level 4 brought about some small positive changes in measurements and in practice. You could see with the naked eye that some of the dark trailing had been reduced where moving objects were on a lighter background (more on this in a moment). However, the image was still quite blurry and dark trailing was still a problem on darker backgrounds for sure. Rise times were still pretty slow and the problematic 0 > 50 transition was still at 54.5ms. If we ignore that very slow transition again there was an average 12.1ms G2G response time measured which was a bit better, but still not exactly fast.

Moving up to the maximum Level 5 OD setting helped reduce the response times quite a lot. If we ignore the problematic 0 > 50 transition again (still very slow!) the average G2G was now 7.7ms which was much better. In practice moving images were clearer and sharper and blurring had been significantly reduced. Unfortunately some fairly high levels of overshoot were now starting to creep in, and this resulted in some pale halos on certain colour transitions. We felt that in practice the Level 4 was probably a preferred option, as the overshoot and pale halos introduced when using Level 5 OD were more distracting than the additional blurring from Level 4. Ideally we would have liked something like a Level 4.5 somewhere in the middle of these two modes.

So for 60Hz inputs like external games consoles or Blu-ray players for instance we would probably recommend sticking with the Level 4 OD setting. Response times were just about fast enough overall to keep up with the frame rate demands of 60fps, which require pixel transition times to be <16.67ms on average.


100Hz Refresh Rate


The ROG Strix XG35VQ can support a native 100Hz refresh rate, so we tested the response time behaviour again at this higher setting. Some visual tests allowed us to determine the two settings at the higher end that you'd probably want to pick between, to save us measuring every mode again.

Level 4 behaved much like it had at 60Hz, although at this higher refresh rate there was a small improvement in the response times. They had been reduced from an average of 12.1ms G2G (ignoring the very slow 0 > 50 transition), down to 10.9ms here. This helped provide some small reductions in pixel response time related blurring which coupled with the way the human eye observes LCD refresh rates helped improve the motion clarity a bit. It's this boost in refresh rate that really makes the difference here when it comes to perceived motion clarity. There was no overshoot at all in this Level 4 mode.

Pushing the OD setting up to Level 5 improved response times again quite nicely as we had seen at 60Hz, now down to 7.2ms G2G. A bit of overshoot started to appear on some transitions but it wasn't as high as at the lower refresh rate, and so in practice was less noticeable. Level 4 is a bit slow to really handle the 100fps requirements (which needs pixel transitions <10ms consistently) so we would recommend using Level 5 if you are reaching those higher refresh rates up to 100Hz in your applications and games.

   

The screen supports AMD FreeSync as well for dynamic refresh rates. This controls a refresh range between 48 and 100Hz. We would recommend sticking with a Level 4 OD response time setting if you are achieving refresh rates in the lower range from 48 - 80Hz or so, as this will help avoid the pale halos from the overshoot caused by moving up to Level 5. Keep in mind the high 3440 x 1440 refresh rate is also a drain on your system resources here. If you are managing to achieve refresh rates in the upper 80 - 100Hz range then you will probably want to switch up to the Level 5 OD mode which reduces some of the blurring and improves response times nicely, and at this higher refresh rate range doesn't introduce too much noticeable overshoot. There is some, but we didn't find it too distracting in practice.



Detailed Response Time Measurements
Refresh Rate = 100Hz, OD mode = Level 5


We stuck with what was the optimal 'Level 5' OD setting and maximum 100Hz refresh rate. The average G2G response time was measured at 8.5ms overall, but 6.1ms if you ignore the couple of very slow problematic transitions from black to dark grey. On the most part then, the transitions were fast enough to keep up with the frame rate demands, where they need to be consistently under 10ms to support the 100Hz refresh rate. However, with a few being much slower, changes from black to dark grey shades are an issue and will introduce blurring and smearing with dark colours. This was slightly less of a problem than on the similar AOC AGON AG352UCQ (35", VA at 100Hz with same resolution) and Acer Predator Z35 (35" VA at 200Hz max overclocked refresh rate but with 1080p resolution) which both had slow rise times for other black > lighter grey transitions as well. So here, on the XG35VQ the black smearing was a little less pronounced than on those other competing 35" VA screens. It was still there on certain transitions though, and still a problem for most VA technology screens. The lowest response time measured was 2.1ms, reaching below the advertised 4ms G2G figure in fact.

If we evaluate the Response Time Compensation (RTC) overshoot then the results are moderate. In practice we actually felt this maximum Level 5 mode was fine as long as you were achieving the high refresh rates of around 100Hz. The actual overshoot levels was higher in this mode than we'd seen on the AOC and Acer screens set at their optimal modes, so although the response times had been pushed a bit faster here, it was at the cost of a bit more overshoot. As we say, we didn't find Level 5 too aggressive in motion tests, but if you see any problematic overshoot then you will want to move down to the Level 4 OD setting. The same goes at lower refresh rates too, as Level 5 is too aggressive then and we prefer Level 4.

We will make some more direct comparisons against the Acer and AOC models in a moment in the gaming comparisons section.



Motion Clarity (Pursuit Camera Tests)

We've already tested above the actual pixel response times and other aspects of the screen's gaming performance. We wanted to carry out some pursuit camera tests as well to give an even more complete idea of the performance of this screen.

Pursuit cameras are used to capture motion blur as a user might experience it on a display. They are simply cameras which follow the on-screen motion and are extremely accurate at measuring motion blur, ghosting and overdrive artefacts of moving images. Since they simulate the eye tracking motion of moving eyes, they can be useful in giving an idea of how a moving image appears to the end user. It is the blurring caused by eye tracking on continuously-displayed refreshes (sample-and-hold) that we are keen to analyse with this new approach. This is not pixel persistence caused by response times; but a different cause of display motion blur which cannot be captured using static camera tests. Low response times do have a positive impact on motion blur, and higher refresh rates also help reduce blurring to a degree. It does not matter how low response times are, or how high refresh rates are, you will still see motion blur from LCD displays under normal operation to some extent and that is what this section is designed to measure. Further technologies specifically designed to reduce perceived motion blur are required to eliminate the blur seen on these type of sample-and-hold displays which we will also look at.

We used the Blurbusters.com Ghosting Motion Test which is designed to be used with pursuit camera setups. The pursuit camera method is explained at BlurBusters as well as covered in this research paper. We carried out the tests at a range of refresh rates, in each of the 'response time' settings. These UFO objects were moving horizontally at 960 pixels per second, at a frame rate matching refresh rate of the monitor.

60Hz Refresh Rate
Level 4                                      Level 5

We took some pursuit camera photos first of all with a 60Hz refresh rate, and while using Level 4 and Level 5 OD control. We have included the UFO test images on the three different coloured backgrounds as this can help pick out any specific blurring issues. At 60Hz shown above you can see that there is a fairly large amount of motion blur. This is caused by the fairly slow response times and also the relatively low refresh rate. On the top images where there is the darkest background you can see some noticeable dark trailing behind the moving UFO object, which is caused by the slow rise times. This is noticeable in practice and common to many VA technology panels. If you push the OD setting up to the maximum Level 5 you can see some small improvements in motion clarity, which is a little more obvious in practice than is shown here. However you do start to see a pale halo behind the moving object, particularly on the lighter coloured backgrounds which was again quite noticeable in practice and probably a little more distracting than just sticking with the slightly more blurry Level 4 setting.

100Hz Refresh Rate
Level 4                                      Level 5

If you change to the 100Hz refresh rate of the panel then there are certainly some nice improvements in motion clarity. Blurring is considerably reduced, especially if you now use the Level 5 OD setting. This is a result of the improved pixel response times, combined with the nice increase in refresh rate which has a direct impact on perceived motion blur of LCD displays. Unfortunately you can still see some issues with black trailing and blurring on the darker backgrounds, which is due to a few lingering very slow rise times. It was a little better at the Level 5 OD compared with Level 4, and the blurring on the lighter backgrounds was noticeably reduced too in practice. There was only a moderate amount of overshoot at Level 5 if you are using 100Hz so the image looked better than at the lower refresh rates when using this OD mode. Certainly optimal if you can push up to the upper refresh rate range on this screen and use the Level 5 OD setting we felt.

For further motion clarity tests using the strobed backlight system see our Extreme Low Motion Blur section in a moment as well.
 


Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB)

Many NVIDIA G-sync capable screens feature a blur reduction option called Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB), which offers a strobing backlight system designed to help reduce perceived motion blur of LCD displays. Of course the XG35VQ is an AMD FreeSync screen instead, and so not to be out-done, Asus have created their own Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB) technology. This is not linked to FreeSync like ULMB is to G-sync, it is added separately to the screen and so in theory could be used on any display which supports a suitable refresh rate. We've had an in depth look at these blur reduction backlights in the past and would recommend a read of our detailed article if you want to know more about how they work, and what they can offer.

We have actually yet to see a 3440 x 1440 resolution ultrawide screen feature any blur reduction backlight, including those which are G-sync capable - as ULMB has been left off. The XG35VQ is therefore the first 1440p resolution ultrawide model to feature a strobing backlight which is positive news for those looking for blur reduction benefits.

On the XG35VQ the blur reduction backlight option is available only when running at either 100Hz or 85Hz refresh rate. The option is not available at lower 75Hz or 60Hz modes, and also not supported when using FreeSync. So you're not going to be able to use this feature for external games consoles which operate at 60Hz for instance. Actually it doesn't work when using HDMI input anyway, only with DisplayPort. When you enable it via the OSD menu the OD (overdrive) control is also locked and not available and it's unclear which setting is active.


ELMB backlight cycling, 100Hz (scale = 5ms)

We tested the strobing ELMB backlight at both 100Hz and 85Hz settings. Above is the graph at 100Hz which shows that the backlight is cycled on and off every 10ms in sync with the refresh rate. The 'on' period lasts 2ms, with the 'off' period lasting 8ms. A similar story at 85Hz where it is cycled on and off every 11.76ms in sync with the refresh rate. This is normal behaviour for these kind of backlights. There is no further control over the strobe length or strobe timing offered on the screen, so it's just a simple off/on strobing available here. At 85Hz we did feel that the strobing frequency was a bit too slow and so the flicker started to become a little more obvious to the naked eye. For maximum benefits, as long as your system can support the res/frame rate demands, we would recommend using ELMB at the maximum 100Hz refresh rate.

Brightness Range

Brightness Setting

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

163.78

0.09

1820

75

150.35

0.08

1879

50

134.63

0.07

1923

25

121.25

0.06

2021

0

105.28

0.06

1755

We also wanted to test the brightness range available when using ELMB. The table above confirms the range available through that control. You can achieve a slightly brighter display if you use the feature at 85Hz since the strobes are less frequent, but it's not a significant amount.

Unfortunately the brightness setting when ELMB is turned on is the same as when ELMB is off, so you might have to adjust the brightness control each time you enable or disable the setting. Although you can also save settings to one of the 'MyFavourite' modes so you could have one saved for general use, with ELMB off and a sensible brightness level, and then another with ELMB on and a different, higher brightness setting. You will probably want to bump it up when you're using ELMB and thankfully there's a reasonable range to use which is beyond some similar strobed backlight screens (see table below). It was higher than we'd seen from the Acer Predator Z35 for instance (111 cd/m2 maximum) which is another 35" ultrawide VA panel, but with a lower 1080p resolution.


Maximum Blur Reduction Brightness - Display Comparison

For ease of reference we have also provided a comparison table below of all the blur reduction enabled displays we've tested, showing their maximum luminance before blur reduction is turned on (normal mode) and their maximum luminance with the feature enabled. This will give you an idea of the maximum brightness you can expect from each model when using their blur reduction feature, if that is important to you. A lot of people want a brighter display for gaming and sometimes the relatively low maximum luminance from blur reduction modes is a limitation.

These comparisons are with the refresh rate as high as is available for the blur reduction feature to function. For most this is at 100 - 144Hz. You can achieve a slightly brighter display if you use the feature at compatible lower refresh rates since the strobes are less frequent, but it's not a significant amount. That can also introduce more visible flicker in some situations.

Model

Refresh Rate

Max Normal Luminance
Blur Reduction Off
(cd/m2)

Max Luminance Blur Reduction On
(cd/m2)

Acer XB270HU*

100Hz*

327

111

Acer Predator Z35

120Hz

359

111

Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ

100Hz

376

164

Asus ROG Swift PG258Q

144Hz

488

275

Asus ROG Swift PG278Q

120Hz

385

123

Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

120Hz

331

101

BenQ XL2720Z

144Hz

282

119

BenQ XL2730Z

120Hz

309

191

Dell S2716DG

120Hz

328

118

Eizo FG2421

120Hz

386

257

Eizo FS2735

144Hz

331

180

LG 34UC79G

144Hz

267

141

LG 38UC99

75Hz

308

213

Note: Pulse Width setting at max where applicable.
*Note 2: The Acer XB270HU was later updated to include a 120Hz mode, which will produce a slightly darker maximum luminance
 

Blur Reduction Tests with ELMB

Of course the main thing we want to test is what improvements the Blur Reduction mode offers when it comes to motion clarity and gaming. We were pleased with the results we'd seen from LightBoost backlights when we tested them, and also from the natively supported blur reduction feature on other displays including the other popular gaming models we've tested.


ELMB enabled, upper, middle and lower screen areas of the screen showing cross-talk

We were a bit disappointed with the actual motion blur reduction benefits here to be honest. We used the BlurBusters full-screen TestUFO online motion test to put the feature through its paces. The issue here was related to strobe cross talk and probably also linked with some slow response times in places. The strobe cross talk is caused by the timing of the strobe in relation to the refresh rate, and can result in a ghost image behind the moving object. The above results show the clearest image at the very top of the screen. Here, the moving UFO object did become sharper and easier to track, and motion clarity was improved quite nicely compared with standard ELMB-off motion blur tests. However, as you moved down the screen the cross talk and ghosting became very noticeable. It was quite bad in the middle area of the screen which is perhaps the most important given your focus there in gaming and multimedia. At the bottom of the screen it was really bad. You can't eliminate strobe cross talk completely, but this could have been tweaked better by Asus to provide a more central area of the screen with the minimal ghosting, and cut down on some of the more extreme examples resulting at the bottom area of the screen. Nice to see it included, and some people might like it but we felt the ghosting produced was a little too high to be honest.



Gaming Comparisons

These comparisons were based on the optimal Level 5 OD setting and 100HZ refresh rate.

Because of the few odd slow response times on these VA panels it is probably best to make a direct comparison at a more detailed level, rather than just consider the average figures. We have provided the response time and overshoot measurements of each of these 35" VA panels above for a quicker comparison. Overall the responsiveness of the Asus was a little better than the other two, mostly because some of the black > grey transitions had been sorted out here. The changes to dark grey were still slow and a problem, but at least the changes to light grey had been fixed. This resulted in less black smearing on moving content in practice. It's not completely eliminated, but it's a bit better than the AOC and Acer models. Yes, there was more overshoot introduced on the Asus screen, although we didn't find it too distracting in actual use to be honest. We suppose overall it's probably pretty even between these models all things considered, but the difference here really on the Asus is that it's a FreeSync screen (the others are G-sync) and there's also the added ELMB blur reduction backlight which some may like.

The above comparison table and graph shows you the lowest, average and highest G2G response time measurement for each screen we have tested with our oscilloscope system. There is also a colour coded mark next to each screen in the table to indicate the RTC overshoot error, as the response time figure alone doesn't tell the whole story.

High refresh rate 27" IPS models can reach a faster than the VA offerings, with response times down to around 5ms G2G from models like the Asus ROG Swift PG279Q for instance (1440p res, 144Hz refresh rate). The ultrawide IPS screens like the Dell Alienware AW3418DW (1440p res, 120Hz refresh) are also faster with a 6.9ms average. IPS panels do tend to offer better response times and freedom from the dark trailing that you see on nearly all VA panels. You have to live with lower contrast ratios of course, and concerns like IPS-glow but they do offer better motion clarity and speed for gaming.



Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - the screen has limited hardware level aspect ratio control options, with only 'full' and '4:3' modes offered. It would have been useful to include a 16:9 option for when connecting an external device which cannot dictate the aspect ratio of the display. There's no problem for PC's where the aspect ratio can be controlled via the graphics card, but for external devices the lack of a 16:9 mode might be a problem.

  • Preset Modes - There are 4 gaming preset modes available in the menu. There are options for Racing, RTS/RPG games, FPS games and MOBA (multi-player online battle arena) which gives you some flexibility for different uses and will allow you to set modes up to your liking. You can also save 4 favourite modes in the MyFavourite section which is very useful.

  • Display Widget Software - Asus provide a software widget which can allow quick and easy access to the screen settings and preset modes, which might be easier to use than messing around with the OSD regularly.

  • GamePlus settings - there are a few settings available in this menu including an on screen cross-hair, timer, FPS counter and also the ability to adjust the display alignment if needed. These can all be accessed via a quick launch menu as well.



Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,1000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 10ms / 1 frame lag at 100Hz - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 10 - 20ms / One to two frames at 100Hz - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 20ms / more than 2 frames at 100Hz - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming


For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

 

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

6.50

Pixel Response Time Element

4.25

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

2.25

Lag Classification

1


 Class 1

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

We measured a total display lag of only 6.50ms. With approximately 4.25ms of that accounted for by pixel response times we had an estimated signal processing of only 4.25ms; next to nothing. This was an excellent performance making the screen fully suitable for fast gaming needs. This was a really pleasing result as often screens with FreeSync and an additional scaler can have more moderate levels of lag. The Philips 349X7FJEW and LG 38UC99 for instance have 17.25ms and 19.40ms of signal processing lag. The ROG Strix XG35VQ behaved more like a G-sync screen which typically show 1 - 5ms worth of lag, basically nothing.



Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 35" screen size makes it a good option for an all-in-one multimedia screen, but being quite a bit smaller than most modern LCD TV's of course even at this massive size.

  • 21:9 aspect ratio is more well suited to videos, more so than the wide range of 16:9 format screens around, leaving smaller borders on DVD's and wide screen content at the top and bottom.

  • 3440 x 1440 resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content

  • Digital interfaces support HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • Limited range of connectivity options provided with 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI 1.4 and 1x HDMI 2.0 offered

  • Cables provided in the box for DisplayPort and HDMI

  • Light AG coating providing clean and clear images, without the unwanted reflections of a glossy solution.

  • Wide brightness range adjustment possible from the display, including a maximum luminance of ~376 cd/m2 and a fairly decent minimum luminance of 66 cd/m2. This should afford you good control for different lighting conditions. Brightness regulation is controlled without the need for PWM and so is flicker free for all brightness settings.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are excellent thanks to the VA panel at 1938:1 after calibration. Detail in darker scenes should not be lost as a result and blacks look deep.

  • There is a specific preset modes for cinema on this model which makes the image a bit cooler than our calibrated state. Might be useful to set up for specific movie viewing.

  • Decent enough pixel responsiveness which should be able to handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. You may wish to stick with Level 4 OD given the 60Hz refresh rate of movies (and external devices) to minimise any overshoot. You may experience some dark trails in places due to the slow transitions from black to dark grey.

  • Viewing angles are a little behind what we were hoping for and there is noticeable gamma and colour tone shift as you change your viewing position. The image becomes quickly washed out so we wouldn't advise using this screen for viewing from anything other than head on really. There is at least no pale IPS-glow on dark content like you see from the majority of IPS-type panels.

  • Some slight areas of backlight leakage but nothing too major on our sample which is good if you're viewing from head on. Some uniformity variations may be visible on darker movie scenes in darkened room conditions. On darker content if you are viewing from an angle you may see areas of bleed along the top and bottom (on our sample at least).

  • Good and generally fairly easy to use tilt, height and swivel ergonomic adjustments available from the stand making it pretty easy to re-position the screen for movie viewing from a distance, or with other people.

  • No integrated stereo speakers on this model but there is a headphone output connection if needed.

  • Limited hardware aspect ratio options with only 'full' and '4:3' offered. This may be tricky since many external devices will operate at a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the screens 21:9. Not an issue when watching movies from a PC where the graphics card can handle the scaling, but from an external device it might be an issue.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are also available.

  • HDR is not supported on this display.

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Conclusion

The Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ was another good offering in the ultrawide gaming space overall. There's a few VA panel options available in the ultrawide format, although to date there haven't been many choices with AMD FreeSync support. This was also the first screen of this format and resolution (1440p) to feature a blur reduction backlight, so that's currently unique to this model. Speaking of the ELMB blur reduction mode, while it was useful to see it included and it can bring some improvements in motion clarity, we did feel it was not set up perfectly here and so there was a fairly high level of ghosting and strobe cross talk evident unfortunately. Pixel response times were mostly very good, but as with most VA panels a few slow transitions from black to dark grey drag it down a bit, and can lead to some dark smearing in moving content. It was a little faster and better in this regard than the other competing 35" VA models we've tested though, and something you have to live with at the moment with VA technology for gaming in most cases.

A lot of people do prefer VA panels though as they certainly have some strengths elsewhere. The high static contrast ratio was an obvious benefit, achieving ~2000:1 which was much more than you'd get from any IPS or TN Film gaming screen. The viewing angles were moderate, better than TN Film but not as wide as IPS - although the technology is free from the pale and white IPS-glow which some people are sensitive to. We found the default setup of this screen good as well, and as ever it was great to see a flicker free backlight being used. There's quite a few extra features and functions provided with this model as well, with some high end Asus ROG design as well which looks attractive. If you're looking for an ultrawide VA panel with AMD FreeSync then this is a very good option right now.

If you appreciate the review and enjoy reading and like our work, we would welcome a donation to the site to help us continue to make quality and detailed reviews for you.

Pros

Cons

Fairly decent response times on par, or slightly better than many other VA panels in this sector

Some typical VA slow transitions may lead to some dark smearing in some gaming

Very low lag, FreeSync support, some nice gaming extras and ELMB available for blur reduction - unique at the moment on 1440p ultrawide screens

ELMB not particularly well set up so some strobe cross talk and ghosting is introduced and fairly noticeable

Decent factory setup and high contrast thanks to VA panel

Viewing angles are somewhat limited compared with other competing IPS screens


 

TFT Central Awards Explained

We have two award classifications as part of our reviews. There's the top 'Recommended' award, where a monitor is excellent and highly recommended by us. There is also an 'Approved' award for a very good screen which may not be perfect, but is still a very good display. These awards won't be given out every time, but look out for the logo at the bottom of the conclusion. A list of monitors which have won our awards is available here.

 

 

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