Overview and Specifications

First off, let’s get the name down for this 23 inch, 120Hz display, because ASUS is selling the VG236 in two different packages and model numbers. One is the VG236H, which comes with a NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit and retails for $499. The other is the VG246HE, which is the exact same display, but comes without a bundled NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit and retails for $349. Both of those packages contain the exact same display, but just differ in whether they include the shutter glasses you’ll need to do stereoscopic 3D.

ASUS is basically selling you the 3D Vision Kit for $150, which is a pretty sweet deal. As of this writing, the same NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit is retailing on Newegg for $174.

The VG236H packs HDMI, DVI-D, and component video inputs, though the only one that will work with 120Hz refresh rates, and thus 3D, is DVI-D.

HDMI, DVI-D (120Hz and NVIDIA 3D), and Component Video

The VG236H display is glossy, as is nearly all of the bezel. ASUS claims to have added an antireflection coating to the display, as they well should. It no doubt mitigates the reflection a bit, but there’s still going to be unavoidable glare, especially if you have lights behind you. That might be killer for some, but it isn't a huge issue - I still wish it was matte though. The VG236H is also a TN panel, partly out of necessity to drive that super fast refresh rate, however color quality is actually pretty good as we’ll show in a minute. ASUS is using a technology called Dual Side driving to get to 120Hz.

Hate it or love it, the VG236H is also 16:9, and thus native 1920x1080. Finding 16:10 1920x1200 monitors which used to be the norm, not the exception, is increasingly difficult. Honestly, I’d rather have my extra 120 pixels of image height when hunting down people in games than deal with two black bars when playing back anamorphic video content. Oh well, 1080P is more marketable I guess.

Let’s go into the rest of the specifications:

ASUS VG236H - Specifications
Property Quoted Specification
Video Inputs DVI-D (120 Hz 3D), HDMI, Component YPbPr
Panel Type TN (with Dual Side driving), CCFL backlight
Pixel Pitch 0.265 mm
Colors 16.7 Million (24 bit)
Brightness 400 nits maximum
Contrast Ratio 1,000:1 (standard), or 100,000:1 (dynamic)
Response Time 2ms (g2g) with Overdive/"Trace Free" control
Viewable Size 23" (54.8 cm) diagonal
Resolution 1920x1080 at 120Hz (1080P)
Viewing Angle 170 degrees horizontal, 160 degrees vertical
Power Consumption (operation) <60 watts typical
Power Consumption (standby) <2 watts typical
Screen Treatment Glossy (with antireflection coating)
Height-Adjustable Yes: ~4" (100 mm) of travel
Tilt Yes: -5 degrees to 15 degrees
Pivot No
Swivel Yes: +/- 150 degrees
VESA Wall Mounting Yes - 100x100mm
Dimensions w/ Base (WxHxD) 21.7" (550 mm) x 16.5" (420 mm) x 9.8" (250 mm)
Weight w/o Stand 15.4 lbs (7.0 kg)
Additional Features NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit, 120 Hz operation
Limited Warranty 3 years - repair or replacement
Accessories DVI-D cable, power cable, quick start guide, manual, warranty card, support CD, NVIDIA 3D Demo DVD, NVIDIA 3D vision kit
Price VG236H (includes 3D vision kit): $499
VG236HE (w/o 3D kit): $349

ASUS definitely understands its gamer segment, as including component and HDMI video inputs is definitely an added plus for people who want to hook up a game console or two. Of course, the caveat with HDMI on a display like this is that there’s no audio out for connecting headsets, something which would definitely put this over the top for most gamers. We could get upset about DisplayPort being absent, but honestly it isn’t that big of a deal, yet.

 

Introduction Impressions and Subjective Analysis
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  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    If your livelihood depends on color accuracy, you can damn well bet it's worth spending money on. Monitors cheaper than $300 have terrible color reproduction. Reply
  • Seikent - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I have the Samsung 2233RZ monitor (120 hz, 3d ready, 16:10), it is a bit cheaper than this one, but it has some limitations.

    I don't have the shutter glasses, but I don't care too much because I don't have a Nvidia card. I bought it just because the 120 hz refresh rate. Playing with vsync on is awesome, the visual experience is much better, it feels fluid and it is hard to go back. It is hard to understand because you can't see it how it feels without having this monitor in front of you. I recommend you to try one.
    Reply
  • JGabriel - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Brian King: "I’d say the vertical angle you get isn’t quite as advertised, but honestly if you’re viewing the monitor from so far down below that this is noticeable, you’re probably doing something wrong ..."

    Or viewing it in portrait mode after attaching it to a pivot arm. Really, Brian, that should have occurred to you, as you bragged about "rolling your own" only a few paragraphs earlier.

    .
    Reply
  • JGabriel - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Whoops, sorry for getting your last name wrong, Brian. I mis-read it somehow. Apologies.

    .
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I agree, but the primary weird viewing angle is from below. From above, it seems much better (like many other TN panels, which is quite typical). I've encountered exactly that issue before putting a TN panel in portrait, and it definitely isn't desirable.

    I would definitely not recommend doing that with this ASUS ;)

    -Brian
    Reply
  • FH123 - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Are 3D games, like Metro 2033, any better than what we get to see at the cinema? I saw Avatar (the film) and thought the 3D effects were laughable. In many scenes I could discern at most 3 or 4 planes of depth and, within those planes, everything looked flat. For example there might be a computer monitor in the foreground, then Sigourney Weaver, then the background. Where 3D worked it was mostly when things popped into the foreground, but the actors faces and backgrounds usually looked completely flat. South Park immediately sprang to mind. The actors looked like cardboard cut-outs in front of a background picture.

    Am I the only one noticing this effect? I admit my experience is very limited, as I walked out of Avatar half-way through and haven't watched anything 3D since. Nor do I have the desire to. The 3D effect was jarring and the film lost much of it's brightness, contrast and color saturation. What's the point? I own a good (JVC) projector. Something well recorded and not over-processed like, say, Treme (the TV series), looks far better to me than what I saw at the cinema that day. Depth perception, in that case, comes from low black-levels and proper dynamic range. Less dramatic, but it seems better to me.

    Having said that, perhaps there is some advantage games have over films, even films that rely heavily on CGI, such as Avatar? Do they, perhaps by virtue of having a depth coordinate for every pixel on the screen, give a better continuity of depth perception?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I agree with you, so that weird senstation is partly an artifact of 3D being added in after the fact, and partly just poor cinematography.

    The nice thing about games is that the 3D models are there already and have much finer meshes. I'd say that on the whole, no, that experience of things only existing in a few planes of depth is completely absent from gaming in 3D in any of the games I've tested thus far.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • nvmarino - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Brian, great review, thanks!

    One of the benfits of a true 120Hz display (120Hz at the input) you didn't mention are the benefits for HTPC usage - a framerate that's evenly divisible by 60 and 24 means you can output both 24fps and 60fps content without having to change the refresh rate in the video card settings. Any chance you can confirm if the monitor supports HDCP on the DVI input? Also, any chance you could see if the commercial Blu-ray players (i.e. PowerDVD, TMT3, and WinDVD) play nice when outputting @120hz? Would also be good to know if Windows Media Center has any issues when outputting @120Hz as well!

    Also, one minor gripe about your review - I think you're incorrectly referring to the system you're testing as "3D Vision Surround". "3D Vision *Surround*" is when using 3D Vision with multiple displays. Since you're reviewing with a single display it's just "3D Vision"...
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Excellent catch on 3D Vision Surround versus 3D Vision, fixed that!

    I'll test to make sure, but I'm 90% certain that it supports HDCP. It'd be absolutely unforgivable to be shipping a monitor in 2010 without HDCP. Having HDMI onboard pretty much guarantees that at least that input does, but I'll double check. I don't expect any problems though.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Just tested with PowerDVD 10 Mark II Version 10.0.1830.51 and playback is perfect - tried a variety of BD titles. Looks good at 120Hz (no stuttering). HDCP apparently does work over the DVI-D datapath.

    -Brian
    Reply

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