When you think of gaming monitors, your first thought is probably not ViewSonic. While they have long been in the display market, gaming-oriented products have never been a big part of the company's lineup. This changed recently, with the launch of the new XG product lineup, featuring three individual displays designed with gamers in mind. We recently got our hands on the entry-level option, the 24-inch XG2401, and have spent the past few weeks putting the display through a series of tests to see just how well it performs.
Design and features
If you are looking for something flashy to act as a center piece for your desk, then you may want to look elsewhere. While the Viewsonic XG2401 is in no way unattractive, it sports a fairly standard design that surrounds its 1920x1080 panel surrounded with a flat black bezel. This is all supported by a red-accented black base stand that gives you 175 degrees of swivel, 4.7 inches of height adjustment, and 27 degrees of tilt adjustability. Of course, if you don't care for the stand, the monitor is also fully VESA-compliant for use with any number of monitor arms or wall mounts.
You will find all of the monitor's physical controls underneath the panel, directly in the center below the ViewSonic logo. Controls include five physical buttons that can be used to turn power on and off, change inputs, switch between various game modes, or dive into the full menu. While we love the tactical feel of the buttons ViewSonic chose -- we have never been big fans of touch-sensitive buttons on displays -- the positioning of the buttons is a little troubling for our particular setup. We generally keep a laptop screen directly below the monitor, meaning it needs to be moved in order to access any of the controls. This is a fairly specific issue however, so we can't really knock ViewSonic for it; we just wish they opted to place these off to either the right or left.
Move around to the back of the display, and you will find all of the inputs, including two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort (required for FreeSync), a USB uplink, two USB 3.0 ports, and a headphone jack. Look to the top of the stand, and you will see a small retractable clip that can be used for hanging headphones, while another small clip halfway down makes cable management a breeze.
In addition, two 2-watt speakers have been hidden within the XG2401's frame. While these particular speakers are better than those we have seen in other monitors, they are not going to do you any favors in the way of immersion. Sound quality is perfectly acceptable for light listening and system sounds at lower volumes, but the speakers lack the necessary low-end response to properly support higher volumes.
The XG2401 houses a 1920x1080 TN panel that boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms (gray-to-gray) response time, and support for AMD FreeSync. While all of these specs are encouraging, what it really comes down to is how the display functions in real life. After setting up the monitor, we connected our Retina MacBook Pro via DisplayPort, and began doing a little testing with the out-of-the-box settings.
Coming from an Asus PA248Q, we must say that our initial impressions of the XG2401 were a little dreary. The default settings resulted in an image that felt washed-out, and not as sharp as we were hoping to see. Determined to get the most out of the display, however, we dove into the OSD and spent some time calibrating the panel to our particular needs. A few hours later, we found ourselves sitting in front of a display that we would be more than happy to use as a daily driver.
We started by bringing the brightness down quite a bit, as the max settings was a little overpowering, and followed this up with a few adjustments to the contrast settings. Just these two changes made a huge difference in our perception of the display, and with only a few minor color tweaks we arrived at a point that looked very natural. Compared side-by-side with the PA248Q, we could see that color accuracy is not perfect, however, it is certainly good enough for some light photo editing. If you are looking to do more serious photo or video editing, this is likely not the display for you, but then again, it was not designed for that. When it comes to gaming, the display's main purpose, these small color inaccuracies are no issue, and games look fantastic.
The speedy refresh rate ensures that motion is smooth and snappy, while the low input lag means actions appear on the display almost instantaneously. The OSD includes a few options for both of these features, giving you the ability to tweak performance to your liking. At default settings, ghosting is not at all apparent, however, boosting up to Ultra Fast settings results in the tell-tale ghosting "halos" around moving objects. Anyone with recent AMD video cards will also benefit from FreeSync support, which should reduce tearing, however we do not currently have access to a supported card to test this.
There are, of course, a few caveats though. Being a TN panel, you should expect to see color shifts when viewing the display from either side, while vertical offsets will result in significantly washed-out images. As annoying as this can be, it only really becomes a factor if you are working in a multi-display setup where your screens are not all directly in front of you. If the XG2401 is the only display on your desk, then chances are you will be viewing it head on, and these issues are moot.
If you are on a budget and are looking for a gamer-friendly display, then ViewSonic's XG2401 is a very compelling option. What the TN panel lacks in viewing-angle performance, it makes up in quick pixel response, FreeSync support, and a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth motion. For only $300, you are getting a display with ridiculously fast response times, good-enough color accuracy, and enough features to keep most gamers happy. ViewSonic may not have been known for gaming displays in the past, but based on the XG2401, it seems as though they are serious about getting into the market.