Introduction

120Hz panels are definitely still market newcomers - in fact, look no further than Newegg, where there still isn’t a 120Hz category, much less a refresh rate field for drilling down products. The necessity for 120Hz panels arose entirely out of the ongoing 3D obsession across the entire consumer electronics segment, something that remains a difficult sell for many gamers. On a technical level, the necessity for 120Hz arises from the need to drive two discrete 60Hz images - one 60Hz image for each eye. In its current incarnation, consumer 3D technology relies primarily on active shutter glasses - parallax barrier 3D displays are still too expensive, and I’ve yet to see passive polarization methods used outside the movie theatre. But you probably already know most of the 3D story.

Though the 120Hz refresh frequency does make games playable in 3D, there’s another important benefit of using a faster refresh rate - everything looks smoother, and you can now drive up to 120 FPS without tearing. The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room. I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different.

If you’re the kind of person that cares about squeezing every last FPS out of your box - regardless of how you feel about 3D - don’t even bother reading the rest of this review, just run, don’t walk, to the store and get this 120Hz display. I’m serious.

ASUS’ VG236H isn’t perfect, like any product there are a few caveats. That aside, honestly, the completely unparalleled level of smoothness on a 120 Hz display has made me hyper attuned to just how flickery 60Hz looks on all the other LCDs I’ve got.

Oh and my initial skepticism about 3D? I’m still shocked about it, but I've completely changed my mind.

Let’s dive into this review.

Overview and Specifications
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  • B3an - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    It's the less pixels and the simple fact that it's not good for a monitor. If you watch movies all day then its great. But for pretty much ANYTHING else it's inferior, even for something like reading this review as you have less vertical space and have to scroll more.

    I also don't like paying the same as a 16:10 monitor for less pixels.

    It's getting harder to buy a quality LCD these days, you have shitty glossy screens, more and more ridiculously poor image quality TN panels, and now a inferior aspect ratio to top it off. Technology is meant to improve over time not go backwards.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Yes, the cut down pixels are a large part of my complaint. 16:9 is great for TVs since it fits the format of the content, but why deliberately cut down the vertical viewing space for a PC monitor? What could we possible gain from knocking it from 1920x1200 down to 1920x1080? It seems that the mainstream monitors are using 16:9 in the 24" space, while the higher quality models still offer 16:10. All 30" screens seem to be 16:10 yet, but who's got that kind of money?

    BTW, B3an, there are some newer 16:10 IPS screens kicking around. None of them are 120Hz though. :( TFTCentral has recently reviewed the HP ZR24W, NEC PA241W, Dell U2410, NEC LCD2490WUXi, NEC 24WMGX3 and HP LP2475W. They report that Hazro will soon be launching an updated line of 24" IPS screens as well, the HZ24W models a, b, and c.
    Reply
  • seapeople - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    I disagree, I think 16:9 is a good aspect ratio. Yes, you have to scroll a bit more vertically, but you always have to scroll vertically anyway so why does it matter that much? On the other hand, the wider aspect ratio makes it easier to look at content side by side and/or prevent horizontal scrolling on wide content which is a pain.

    With that said, obviously 1900x1200 is better than 1900x1080 because it contains more pixels. However, I've found 1920x1080 monitors to be generally cheaper than the 1920x1200 equivalent. My 1920x1080 23" Dell monitor that I bought on sale for $160 18 months ago is an example.
    Reply
  • DarkUltra - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    It really is a lot of display real estate you lose. It's not just a slim border at top and bottom. You can actually fit two Ribbon menus in the 120 vertical pixels, or two Windows 7 double-sized task bars. It's not about less width; there are bigger monitors. It's about having 3,7 cm extra height "for free" at same desk space.

    Old games like the 1600x1200 resolution better, and RTS games like Starcraft with a hud at the bottom is much better with 1920x1200.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    16:10 gives 23% more area with 4:3 pillarboxed content. That's huge. Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    To create 4:3 X inches monitor, you need 12% more stuff. Is it clear? Reply
  • Stokestack - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Glossy doesn't look better ANYWHERE. Even in a pitch-black closet, the image from the glossy screen still illuminates YOU, creating your reflection in the monitor. Therefore, those "deep blacks" and "rich colors" are neither; they're covered by a sheen of reflection in essentially all cases.

    It's a fraud that preys on consumer ignorance.
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    I miss my old 17" samsung LCD monitor. :(

    yeah, it was only 1280x1024 but... 5:4, not glossy and it... was pretty.
    Reply
  • Stargrazer - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    "Further, instead of getting tearing above 60 FPS like you would with vsync off on a traditional 60Hz LCD, you get smoother gameplay that just looks more fluid. I definitely can tell the difference, and now I don’t want to go back."

    How much of a difference do you notice when vsync is *on*?
    Reply
  • DarkUltra - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Twice as much I would say. IF the objects move across the speed at 120 pixels per second, or you got a big jittery object that darts all around the screen. To make an impression the object needs enough "samples" across the temporal dimension to let the eye follow it.

    In other words, if you look around slowly in an FPS game, even 10FPS could be enough. If you flick your wrist fast, or enemies move fast, you can track them at up to 60 movements per second in 120fps/hz.
    Reply

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