At a press event this last weekend AOC announced among other screens their forthcoming AGON AG353UCG display. This is a 35″ curved ultrawide display aimed at gaming and featuring a massive range of high end features. Although this was a pre-production sample, we had chance to see it in person, and also have a brief play around with it and run a few tests ahead of its exciting release later this year.
Key Features for Gaming
The key features of the new screen are of course focused around its gaming capability. It utilises a VA technology panel from AU Optronics offering a 3440 x 1440 resolution and 200Hz refresh rate. The screen features a G-sync v2 module supporting NVIDIA’s long-established variable refresh rate support, while also allowing support for HDR under the ‘NVIDIA G-sync HDR’ certification. The screen even features a 512-zone Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight offering better local dimming control than screens with fewer zones. The screen is certified to the VESA Display HDR 1000 standard as a result, offering also a 1000 cd/m2 peak brightness and 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut thanks to the use of Quantum Dot coating.
Within the press release and launch material AOC talk also about a 1ms response time spec, although that is a MPRT (Moving Picture Response Time) and should be taken with a pinch of salt. The underlying more traditionally quoted panel response time is rated as 4ms G2G. a 1ms MPRT would normally suggest that some form of strobing blur reduction backlight was used but we couldn’t see this listed as an option within the OSD menu when we looked. Low input lag is also talked about which should be achievable easily enough thanks to the use of a hardware G-sync module.
Spec and Design
Spec wise the screen offers a 21:9 aspect ratio with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. There is a 2000:1 static contrast ratio thanks to the VA panel. There are 178/178 viewing angles also. Connectivity wise you may see this confused in some places online as there was a bit of a mixture of versions listed within the spec sheets and press release material we were given, but the screen features DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 for video. There are also 4x USB 3.1 ports offered along with a mic in, line in and headphone out jack.
Design wise the AG353UCG looks pretty good too. The monitor inherited its 3-sides-frameless design, the ring-shaped RGB-lighting on the back and the red/V-shaped stand from its sibling AG273QCG, which won the “Red Dot Design Award 2018”. The height-adjustable (120mm), V-shaped stand with its red/black accents is elegant and compact, yet sturdy and leaves ample room on the desk. The height of the display panel is similar to 28” 16:9 displays, but provides more horizontal screen real estate thanks to its 21:9 aspect ratio. Its decent 35” screen size is not only highly immersive in games and anamorphic/ultra-wide movies, but boosts productivity, too. A crucial point to keep in mind for content creators or live streamers.
The redesigned, modern on-screen display of the monitor can comfortably be navigated via the 5-way joystick in the bottom bezel. The convenient headset holder from previous models now sits on both left and right sides. The monitor can easily be attached with one click-motion to its elegant metal stand or to a VESA mount. The stand offers a carrying handle, cable management, and ergonomic adjustments in height (120mm) and tilt. The screen can also be VESA 100mm mounted if you’d rather.
AOC Light FX (customisable ring-shaped RGB lights on the back side) lets gamers show off their unique flair. Additionally, AG353UCG is equipped with 2x 8W. Naturally, all the necessary cables for the monitor’s ports (DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0) are included in the box. Because of the use of the G-sync v2 module these are the only two connections provided by the way.
Our Observations and Brief Tests
This may be only because it’s a pre-production sample but the screen didn’t appear to have a fan in it which was interesting. It remains to be seen whether this is added later or is needed to sufficiently cool the G-sync v2 module and large backlight (we suspect it might given the screen did seem pretty warm).
We had chance to have a play around with the OSD menu to look at the options, as well as check a few things in Windows – and even run a few TestUFO tests to get a feel for responsiveness. Within Windows there are native options for 60, 100, 120, 144, 180 and 200Hz refresh rates available as shown above. You can run at up to 144Hz with full 10-bit colour depth output and RGB as that is within the bandwidth capabilities of DisplayPort 1.4 at 3440 x 1440 resolution. If you increase the refresh rate above 144Hz you need to drop to 8-bit colour depth or 4:2:2 chroma sub-sampling. This is the same situation as cutting edge models like the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ we’ve tested.
Running a few TestUFO tests shows that response times seemed to be very good for a VA panel which is good news. There are 3 options for overdrive in the OSD menu (Off, Normal and Extreme). Off was very blurry and extreme showed high levels of overshoot in the form of pale halos. But the normal mode was optimal and showed low levels of motion blur. There was a bit of the usual VA black smearing, but on first glances this appeared to be at a low level. We found that the image looked clearer at a lower refresh rate like 144Hz, with a bit more blur added by the time you reach 200Hz. It was still usable at 200Hz, unlike some of the early 200Hz VA panels we tested (e.g. Acer Predator Z35) but there was a bit of added smearing compared with something like 144Hz. This is perhaps not surprising as you need response times to be consistently <5ms G2G to keep up with 200Hz and that’s going to be a big challenge for most panels, especially VA. We will be able to more thoroughly test the final release version of course another time, these were only out initial, brief observations.
Price and Release Date
The AG353UCG is their alternative to models announced quite some time ago like the Acer Predator X35 and Asus ROG Swift PG35VQ. We don’t yet have expected prices for those competing models, but we were told that the AG353UCG will hopefully be available in the range of 1800 – 2200 Euro, which is likely to be cheaper than the Acer/Asus models. In the UK it is already available for pre-order at Overclockers.
While the slides we were shown suggested the screen might be available in June 2019, speaking with the product manager confirmed it was more likely a September/October 2019 release date while everything was finalised.
We hope to feature a full review of this screen once it’s available.