AOC, we need to talk about your product names. The monitor I need to check today has a name that is just too long and complicated for anyone to remember. It's called Agon AG322QCX and nobody will remember it after reading it. And that is a shame, because there is a memorable data sheet to discuss.
It's a curved 31.5-inch display with 1440p (1800R) and a maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz. It uses MVA technology so we get a great mix of contrast, color performance, viewing angles and response times. It supports FreeSync, which is great for users with AMD graphics cards.
And if you want an AG322QCX? You're seeing $ 430 in the U.S., which is a great price for this type of hardware.
Before I discussed anything else, I wanted to talk a little bit about the curve of this monitor. I'm usually not a big fan of curved displays unless they're extremely wide, but at this size – almost 32 inches – the curve works, provided you are reasonably close. The sheer size of this display means that it takes up most of your field of view at a comfortable viewing distance, and the subtle curve helps keep the display impressive for gaming.
The design is not one of the best from AOC. To be honest, the build quality looks a bit cheap: The majority of the display case is made of very simple plastic in black or silver, with eye-catching seams and a rather unattractive raised bar at the bottom of the panel. The stand is made of shiny silver metal, although the coating has only one thing that makes it look less high quality than other stands I've seen recently. It also requires a screwdriver to construct whatever is a bit painful.
But forget the build quality. The worst aspect when designing this monitor is LED lighting. This monitor offers lighting on the back and on the bottom edge, which can be set to one of three colors. Technically, it's RGB because it can display red, green, and blue, but that's literally it. It just doesn't look good either: the lower light strips are unevenly lit and the rear lights suffer the same fate. Turning off the lights is your best bet.
While this is far from the best monitor design I've ever seen, it has some positive aspects. The bezels are relatively slim – not as slim as what AOC says on its website, but still slim – and the stand supports tilt, pan, and height adjustment. The range of motion here is great and every position feels stable. However, you cannot use the display in portrait mode, which makes no sense anyway with a curved control panel.
Another great aspect is connectivity: there are many of them. Since it's not a G-Sync panel, there is no limit on the inputs, and AOC has taken full advantage by offering two DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and VGA. There's also a USB hub, plus a 3.5mm audio input (for the weak speakers), a 3.5mm audio output for headphone pass-through, and a few more 3.5mm jacks for microphone pass-through . These pass-through connections are practical for cable management and can be easily connected to the fold-out headphone stand on the right.
I'm really glad that AOC has changed the direction of the screen display. This is the only great way to navigate through the many options that modern gaming monitors offer. What you'll find here are all the usual things like game modes, dim blue light, a shadow enhancement feature, and even a weird mode called Picture Boost that I don't know if you were going to use it. Of course there are also some image quality controls that I will use a little later for calibration purposes.
Players will love the 144 Hz refresh rate that this monitor offers. High refresh panels of this size are relatively rare, especially with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. The combination of size, adequate resolution and high refresh rate makes this an attractive option for everyone who wants to immerse themselves in games, but would like to rather not spoil yourself on a large ultrawide.
In an article I wrote earlier this year, I discussed how high-refresh 1440p is currently the best option for gamers, and it still applies today. If you have a GTX 1070 or Vega 56, 1440p gaming at 60 FPS or better is very easy to reach, and those with faster GPUs can get to that 144 Hz limit more often. If your hardware isn't currently as good, a monitor like this will still give you room to grow if you upgrade in the future.
AMD users will of course be more likely to buy this monitor because it supports FreeSync. Those with Nvidia GPUs don't benefit from variable update technology. However, if you plan to play at high frame rates, this is not a big deal. At least as far as I know, there is currently no G-Sync alternative to this AOC monitor on the market.
Let's talk about the LCD panel. You will be glad to know that it is an MVA panel, so that despite the curvature we get excellent viewing angles and a relatively high contrast ratio of 2000: 1. The response times are OK, 4 ms from gray to gray according to the data sheet. This is not quite as fast as a top-end TN, but it is still appropriate for games. I have found that ghosting, pixel response or motion blur are not a major issue with this display, especially if you set Overdrive to Medium.
AOC claims the monitor is suitable for 300 nits of peak brightness, even though I have reached 266 nits in my tests, which is still far above what most people will comfortably use. The contrast ratio actually exceeded AOC's 2081: 1 ratio with a very good peak black point of 0.13 nits. This ratio is kept quite good in the entire brightness range: at 100 nits it was still 2066: 1.
There are some uniformity issues that are not uncommon for a curved display. My test device was tinted slightly red in the left half and it turned yellow in the right half. The DeltaE difference we're talking about is up to 4.8 relative to the center of the display, which is easy to see when looking at a solid color. Not a big problem for gamers, but it's a known issue with lots of curved panels and something you should be aware of.