A few weeks ago I tested the Asus ROG Swift PG258Q, the currently most expensive 24.5 inch monitor on the market. It offers amazing features, especially the refresh rate of 240 Hz and G-Sync, making it the perfect monitor for those who want a responsive gaming experience with low latency.
However, there are alternatives to the PG258Q on the market for those who don't want to spend a whopping $ 600 on a 24-inch display. The AOC Agon AG251FZ is one such option: it swaps G-Sync for FreeSync, but you still get a maximum refresh rate of 240 Hz from an essentially identical panel. Its functionality is very similar to the PG258Q and even offers some extras at its lower price, which is currently around the $ 500 mark.
Let's get the basics out of the way. The AG251FZ is a 24.5-inch TN LCD gaming monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It has a maximum refresh rate of 240 Hz, a response time of 1 ms from gray to gray, a nominal contrast ratio of 1000: 1 and a maximum brightness of 400 nits. It is currently the only 240 Hz monitor on the market with FreeSync support.
Please note that the AG251FZ only supports a window with a variable refresh rate from 48 to 240 Hz, but it does support AMD's low frame rate compensation technology. This means that you get a variable refresh experience from 1 to 240 Hz, resulting in the same variable refresh experience as with equivalent G-Sync 240 Hz displays like the PG258Q.
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Of course, you need an AMD graphics card to take advantage of this monitor's variable update capabilities, although it can easily reach 240 Hz on Nvidia systems, only without variable update. The same applies to G-Sync monitors, except that the G-Sync variable update only works with Nvidia GPUs, although AMD cards work perfectly at 240 Hz.
The main feature of the AG251FZ is its high maximum refresh rate. Therefore most of what I said in my PG258Q test also applies to the AG251FZ.
I can easily tell the difference in responsiveness, smoothness, and even visual clarity when I switch from a simple 60 Hz display to a 144 Hz display, the most commonly available high-update monitors currently available. Above this point, it becomes much more difficult to notice the improved refresh rate, and at least for my eyes, there is little difference between 144 Hz and 240 Hz. There is a difference – it's not just a gimmick – but the price delta between 144 Hz and 240 Hz monitors bring the upgrade firmly into the "falling returns" category.
For professional games and esports enthusiasts, reduced input latency provided by the 240 Hz refresh rate could result in a small but still important competitive advantage over other players with lower refresh indicators. Playing at 240 Hz feels ridiculously snappy, and those with heavily set response times that respond to even the slightest delay should notice an improved experience when moving to 240 Hz.
Unfortunately for those connected to the AMD and FreeSync ecosystem, there is currently no AMD graphics card on the market that reliably achieves 240 FPS in 1080p games unless you are playing with low quality settings. Vega is just around the corner and promises high-performance AMD GPUs, but something like the Radeon RX 480 or Fury X won't really help at the moment. With equivalent G-Sync monitors, you need something like an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti to achieve 240 FPS in 1080p games, and AMD simply doesn't have any cards with this performance on the market right now.
However, that doesn't mean that 240 Hz is a waste with FreeSync. You can use this monitor with a GTX 1080 or GTX 1080 Ti. You only have to do without the variable update technology, which offers only limited advantages over 144 Hz. You can also use two AMD cards in CrossFire, which increases the frame rate in supported games. Finally, Vega is only a few months away, so we don't have to wait too long until this monitor is suitable for AMD systems with a GPU.
The AG251FZ is a much more attractive monitor than the PG258Q, thanks to a more traditional stand and the complete absence of gamer-style elements. The metal stand is large and heavy, but I appreciate its subtle matt silver surface and its construction is extremely robust. The column of the stand is suitable for a 24.5-inch monitor, although this is mainly for height adjustment, while the display area is much slimmer than the PG258Q.
The use of black plastic with red reflections for the display area is visually appealing. Although there is a large red stripe on the back, the front is traditionally designed and goes well with most desk structures. The bezels have a diameter of 10 mm on the left and right, a diameter of 12 mm at the top and a diameter of 19 mm: a few millimeters larger than the PG258Q, but still quite slim.
As you would expect from an expensive gaming monitor, the AG251FZ supports a variety of setting options. You can adjust the height and angle of the monitor and pan the display in portrait orientation. A swivel support is also integrated in the stand, with which you can tilt the monitor to the left or right without repositioning the stand itself.
A lot of connectivity is available on the AG251FZ. There is a DisplayPort, the main connector you need to use for FreeSync to get the refresh rate of 240 Hz, and two HDMI connectors, a DVI connector and a VGA connector! Yes, this 240 Hz gaming monitor still supports VGA. There's also a four-port USB 3.0 hub – two of these ports are on the back and two on the right – and two passageways with 3.5mm audio jacks that connect your headphones and a microphone to the monitor on the right side.
This monitor comes with two 3W speakers, although they are of terrible quality. Just stick to external speakers or headphones. On the right is a practical headphone stand that is perfect for those who use headsets with their PC.
At the bottom there are four buttons that form the main controls for the on-screen display (OSD). These buttons can be difficult to press and operating the OSD with just a few buttons is difficult. That's why I prefer the joystick switch that Asus uses on its monitors. However, AOC contains a control dongle that makes it easier to operate the OSD. The dongle is weirdly sized and has such a huge text that an older person would have no problem reading it. However, it is practical and can be removed after you have found the perfect combination of settings.
There is a typical collection of settings in the OSD, which are divided into useful control panels. The luminance and color panels are of great interest to those who want to calibrate the display. There is also a Picture Boost mode that brightens up a selected area of the screen, although I'm not sure what the exact use case for this setting is. In the game settings panel you will find common controls for things like "shadow control" (also known as another contrast control), "game color" (also known as saturation control), faint blue light to yellow the screen, overdrive and low input delay modes, and only general ones Game modes that adjust the color profile to what AOC thinks best for different game types.
Some of these settings should be changed to get the best experience, as I'll explain on the next page. For the most part, however, nothing stands out.