Introduction & Test System Specs
For the past two weeks or so, I've been using ViewSonic's XG2703-GS monitor: a 27-inch display with a native resolution of 2560x1440 and refresh rate of 165Hz - one of the highest you can get right now on a 1440p panel.
ViewSonic hasn't really been well known in the gaming monitor world, especially up against the likes of ASUS, Acer, and BenQ - but they are a gem when you use one. The NVIDIA G-Sync-capable XG2703-GS is one of the best I've used so far, and its massive 165Hz refresh rate feels buttery smooth.
Is there a difference between 144Hz and 165Hz? Well, I'll have to spill those beans later on in the article.
Test System Specs
Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z170X-Designare
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K (stock clocks)
RAM: 16GB G.Skill DDR4-4000MHz
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal)
SSD: Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB M.2
PSU: Corsair RM1000X
CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H110i
Chassis: Corsair Carbide Air 540
The New Gaming Monitor Champion
A New Champion
I used the ViewSonic XG2704-GS for just over two weeks for my daily workstation use, writing content and normal use - as well as my gaming side with Overwatch and Resident Evil 7.
Before the glorious 165Hz refresh rate was bestowed upon me, I was gaming on the Acer XB270HU with the same 1440p resolution, but 144Hz refresh rate. It was, and still is, one of the best gaming displays on the market. I'm someone who isn't into 4K gaming (until ASUS and Acer release their upcoming 4K 144Hz HDR G-Sync displays later this year), but I need 144Hz or above for my first-person shooters.
ViewSonic has used a SuperClear IPS-based panel, offering one of the best quality images but with the 165Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync on top. On top of that, ViewSonic's display also uses NVIDIA's Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) technology which decreases the motion blur and ghosting when the frames start ticking over 165FPS.
The thing is as I said earlier on, ViewSonic isn't a brand most people look to for gaming monitors, but now we know that we really should. The ViewSonic XG2704-GS is one of the best gaming displays on the market regarding raw specs, with its 1440p native res, IPS panel, 165Hz refresh rate, ULMB, G-Sync... it has it all.
ViewSonic has crafted the XG2704-GS with a mean design, so it doesn't look so 'ViewSonic-y.' There's an awesome looking stand that blends the NVIDIA signature green/black scheme, with a not so in your face green LED on the base.
The bezel isn't too bad, but it doesn't compare to some of the other gaming displays out there with thinner bezels. I'd rather have the guts of ViewSonic's XG2704-GS and a thinner bezel - but we can't have it all, right?
After around 60 hours of Overwatch at 165Hz, I walked away beyond impressed. I always find myself feeling more tired or weighed down with 60Hz. I don't know if it's because the screen isn't refreshing anywhere near as quick as 120/144/165Hz displays, or that 60FPS is just so slow for me in first-person shooters.
I love to judge the refresh rate performance of displays, as it really takes somewhat of a trained eye to feel it. The difference between 60FPS and 120FPS is nothing short of staggering, but when we first received 120Hz displays they had a 1680x1050 native res, and soon moved to 1920x1080.
1080p is a great resolution, but the PPI offered by 2560x1440 on a 27/28-inch panel can't be matched. 4K on a 27/28-inch panel to me is next to useless, with a personal preference of at least 31/32-inch for 4K displays.
So when 1440p received 144Hz, it was a no-brainer. 2560x1440 at 144FPS is sublime. It's the new gold standard of high-end gaming displays. 4K is a buzzword for me until we hit 144Hz, and having HDR mixed into the recipe, has me smelling the sweet silicon of my future Vega and Volta GPUs burning to keep up... with 3 x 4K 144Hz displays.
But is there a difference between 144Hz and 165Hz? That is something only you can see.
Personally, yes. I can feel it, ever so slightly in the fastest, most intense moments of a game like Overwatch. It almost feels like the monitor can slow time down ever so slightly, with those additional 21FPS. It might not sound like much, but you're receiving slightly more frames per second from 144-165Hz, than a console pumps out in a game at 30FPS.
Those additional 21FPS, alongside the ULMB tech on the display, made Overwatch felt incredible. It's a smooth first-person shooter, without the 'rugged' feeling of Battlefield, or something similar. The environments of Overwatch are a great match for 50 hours+ of testing at 165FPS, as they are smooth and nearly cartoon like.
The environment, the fight - with rockets, spells, ice walls, bullets, explosions of Overwatch, is beyond smooth at 165Hz. In the middle of a battle, 165Hz comes into play over 120/144Hz by being completely smooth. It feels like you get to know the screen better and adapt to gaming at 165FPS. It doesn't sound like much - 'Oh, whatever - I can't really tell the difference between 30/60/120Hz' - well, I'm going to be blunt, you're wrong.
There's a huge difference in not just what you see but what you're rendering. To render 165 times per second at 2560x1440, you're drawing a shit load more pixels than 1920x1080 at 60 frames per second. Think about console gaming, at nearly 1600x900 and sometimes even 1280x720 or less - at 30FPS.
The amount of GPU horsepower you need for 165FPS in all games at 2560x1440 is immense. I had NVIDIA's new Titan X and could not keep up in all games. Overwatch and Resident Evil 7 were mostly fine, with Overwatch hitting 165FPS without a problem - Resident Evil 7 was sitting at around 100-140FPS.
There IS a Difference Between 120/144/165Hz
As for gaming, it comes down to the game you're playing. In Twitch shooters like CS:GO, or fan favorites in Overwatch, League of Legends, and other massive hardcore games, 165FPS makes a big difference, but only from 120Hz.
If you've got a 120Hz monitor but at the 1080p native res, you'd skip over the 144Hz monitors and dive right into the ViewSonic XG2704-GS with its 165Hz refresh.
Moving from a 1080p 120Hz monitor to the 1440p 165Hz is a big upgrade on the visuals, but it also requires much more GPU horsepower. You could've gotten away with an older GTX 980 Ti with games like CS:GO and Overwatch at 120FPS at 1080p, but at 1440p and 165Hz, you're going to need a GTX 1080 or Titan X at least.
Multi-GPU is where it'll be at for the future with 4K 144Hz, as it's not going to be easy to do 4K at 144FPS minimum on a single-GPU anytime soon.
ViewSonic's XG2703-GS - The Best Gaming Display, Period
NVIDIA needs to receive multiple credits with ViewSonic's excellent gaming display, with both G-Sync technology helping to smooth out the refresh rate, and the Pascal-based Titan X which is the single-fastest graphics card on the market.
Without NVIDIA's new GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards (alongside the much more expensive Titan X), there is no card fast enough from AMD for gaming at 1440p at 165FPS. The Fury X is the fastest single-GPU graphics card from AMD currently, and it isn't capable of that. AMD will change this with Vega in a few months, but NVIDIA needs credit for crafting and owning the high-end enthusiast market.
I've explained that I think gaming at 165FPS is amazing, but everyone is different. I think the difference between 60FPS and 120FPS is large, but the 120FPS to 165FPS difference is a different argument. It comes down to how much you play FPS games, and whether or not the additional frames above 120FPS are worth it.
If you saw the difference between 60FPS and 120FPS easily, you should notice a sizable difference between 120FPS and 165FPS. As it stands, there are no 1440p 120Hz monitors that I'm aware of, as they all started at 144Hz. But now 144Hz has been replaced by 165Hz, and ViewSonic has the market to itself at the moment with the impressive XG2703-GS.
If you've got the GPU horsepower to back it up, you won't regret the ViewSonic XG2703-GS - it's gaming at the current ultimate level in resolution and refresh rate. That is until the upcoming 4K 144Hz HDR displays get here - but even then, they will be $1500-$2000.
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