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 8, 2010 - link

    Is 120hz possible on a 2560x1600 monitor? As the res is the highest a DVI dual-link cable can handle, and i'm not sure if the latest Display Port or HDMI specs have enough bandwidth for 120hz at this res? Anyone know?
  • mac2j - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    Is 120HZ possible on a 2560x1600 ?

    Yes. And personally I agree that would be my dream also ... although we're probably talking ~$2000. The mostly likely place to look would be Dell's next revision of the 2008WFP.

    The other consideration is you'd need a serious graphics card to drive 3D at that resolution with that framerate .... really with the current offerings you're probably looking at needing the top 1 or 2 models in SLI for good performance.

    I have a rudimentary understanding of where monitors excel in relationship to TVs in this area but can anyone tell me what kind of performance/picture you could expect using one of the new 240Hz 3D TVs as a monitor?
  • mac2j - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    Ugh type I meant 3008WFP ... need edit button...
  • DarkUltra - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    No you need DisplayPort to get 2560x1600 at 120hz. Dual link DVI maxes out at about 1300p 120hz. If you have such a high resolution and lack the 3d perfromance, why not run games at half, say 1280x800. Fonts in Windows look real nice in high dpi on my crt (1530p 134dpi)
  • mac2j - Monday, August 9, 2010 - link

    OK here's the breakdown as far as I can tell:

    Regular DVI & HDMI <1.3 max out at 1920x1200x60Hz.

    Dual-link DVI maxes out at 1920x1200x120Hz

    HDMI 1.3 & DisplayPort 1.0 max out at 1680x1050x240hz

    1920x1200x140hz or 2560x1600x120hz would require DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI B (which may become 1.5)

    Nothing I've heard of can handle 2560x1600x240hz as far as I know (would require =24 Gbit/s capacity)
  • mac2j - Monday, August 9, 2010 - link

    Its worth mentioning that as far as I know the first commercial cards to support DisplayPort 1.2 will be the ATI 6000 series late this year but I could be wrong.
  • B3an - Monday, August 9, 2010 - link

    I've got two 5870's and they run pretty much everything at 2560x1600 no problem, even with AA + AF... not really anything these days that really stresses cards like games used to, too much console port crap. Also had a single GTX480 and that could get way over 60+FPS at this res with 98% of games.

    So after looking into it... mac2j is right, Display Port 1.2 should definitely be able to do 2560x1600 @ 120hz.

    Just hope the 3008 replacement can do 120hz, but i highly doubt it will, these monitors are not really for gamers, even though it would benefit other things too...
  • ralgha2001 - Monday, July 11, 2011 - link

    I know this may be a dumb question.. but could I use a Samsung 40" Full HD TV (S-PVA supposedly 4 ms response) @ 120 hz for gaming and have 1920x1080 @ 120 hz (it has HDMI and RGB inputs). I don't quite care about 3D but I would like to know if I could do gaming on this and skip buying a new monitor for now..

    I'm actually building a new rig from ground zero. I'm thinkin in nvidia's GTX 580 and a mobo for the intel 1155 socket (maybe along the 2500K to save some bucks from 2600K). Since detailing the other components might not be needed or care about I'm stopping here.

    But I'm not sure if i should go for the AW2310 or another current monitor since I might still be able to go with my HDTV and save a bunch. Doesn't seem like an actual option since nobody seems to mention it and still wonder in with monitors @60 hz.

  • TareX - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    Any shutter glasses system is not the future.

    The future is autostereoscopic lenticular lens 3D screens.
  • bill4 - Sunday, August 8, 2010 - link

    I think you guys play fast and loose with the input lag tests. It's great that you do them though, dont get me wrong.

    For one thing as far as I know, turning almost any processing on only increases lag. For that reason I'm rather doubtful turning overdrive on reduced lag. I mean think about it, if the display has to process the image in any way, you're adding lag.

    Next you mention some monitor that you claim has no scaler and no lag. Well again as far as I know, ANY LCD display inherently has lag. So again I'm rather dubious.

    In total, it reads like you wanted this monitor to have low lag, because you liked it so much, so you sort of brushed aside evidence otherwise.

    I dont understand how in the same article you run a test apparently showing it to have 14 ms lag, then later claim it has 3.9 ms by comparing it with some third monitor. It just doesnt make sense, and is confusing at the least. Which test do you consider definitive? And if this third LCD has no lag, why didn't you test it versus a CRT? Simply having no scaler is not proof it has no lag.

    I mention this because in the HDTV lag thread at AVS forums, it's a generally accepted tenant that 120hz displays have more lag than 60 hz ones. That's why I would expect this 120hz display to have relatively more lag, such as your first test seemed to hint at.

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