The AOC G2460PG is a Full HD 24in monitor with a claimed 1ms response time, a super-fast 144Hz refresh rate, three USB3 ports and two USB ports. You can even rotate it between portrait and landscape mode. It’s also AOC’s first Nvidia G-Sync-enabled monitor, but in order to understand why this new technology matters, a brief lesson in refresh rates is required.
A typical monitor refreshes 60 times per second (60Hz). When you’re playing games, your graphics card is doing its best to render frames as fast as it can, but the time it takes to create each frame varies depending on how complex the task is. This means your graphics card can both exceed and drop under 60fps, creating a mismatch of frame rates between your monitor and your graphics card. This results in visual tearing, where two or more partial images are displayed on the monitor simultaneously each time the monitor refreshes.
^ Frame tearing occurs when multiple partial frames are displayed on the monitor at once
This can be solved by turning on vertical synchronisation (v-sync, also known as double or triple buffering), where the graphics card will only send a frame each time the monitor refreshes. However, because the graphics card is locked to a specific frame rate, it won’t always be able to keep up so will often send the same frame to the monitor twice. The net result of this delay is particularly pronounced in high-action, mouse-intensive games such as first-person shooters. This is why most gamers choose to keep v-sync off to maximise performance, even if it produces some ugly artefacts.
Nvidia G-Sync seeks to solve this problem by making the graphics card and monitor communicate with each other to produce a variable frame rate, eliminating tearing and reducing stutter simultaneously.
Monitors with Nvidia G-Sync, such as the AOC G2460PG, tend to be more expensive than a similarly specified non-G-Sync monitors. The G-Sync feature therefore needs to be pretty special to make it worthwhile.
The G2460PG certainly makes a great start, and we were very happy to see that the panel used has been improved since our review of the original G2460Pqu. Colour coverage out of the box was superb, at 98.2 per cent, making it significantly better than the vast majority of TN monitors we’ve seen. This translates to excellent colour accuracy, with the monitor displaying almost exactly what had been asked of it. Colours were bright and vibrant, its measured contrast level of 798:1 is good and its black level of 0.35cd/m2 is reasonable. Overall, the G2460PG’s image quality is very pleasing. Viewing angles are also better than the average TN panel, although you should still use the height-adjustable stand to ensure you get the best image quality possible.
G-Sync aside, the G2460PG also supports Nvidia 3D Vision, but you’ll need to buy a 3D emitter and glasses separately. You’ll also need a compatible Nvidia graphics card to use the G-Sync and 3D features. The G2460PG also has a crosshair tool, which overlays a targeting reticule on to the screen so that you know where your centre of vision is at all times.
Because AOC has partnered with Nvidia, the G2460PG does have some rather overt Nvidia branding, including a bright green go-faster stripe along the bottom bezel and a G-sync logo at the top and on the back. We rather liked these coloured highlights, but they won’t appeal to everyone.
Nvidia has its own G-Sync demonstration software (http://tinyurl.com/gsyncdemo), which provides the clearest example of how the technology works. Using a 3D model of a swinging pendulum, the demo lets you see how G-Sync eliminates screen tearing while keeping a smooth and consistent frame rate. The difference between V-Sync and G-Sync is also plainly obvious, as there’s no stutter or lag with G-Sync. The demo clearly shows how G-Sync improves the graphical quality of your system, but the big question is how it improves the quality of a real game.
In order to create a challenging gaming environment we used an Nvdia GeForce GTX 660 to run the bulk of our tests. We also used a GeForce GTX 760 to see how well that fared, too. Several cards from the GTX 700-series are also supported, as are 800M-series mobile GPUs, but your card will need a DisplayPort output in order to use the technology. Go to http://tinyurl.com/gsyncgpu to see if your card is compatible with G-Sync.
G-Sync won’t work properly below 30fps, so if a game can’t remain above 30fps you’ll have to reduce the graphics quality until it can. We tried three AAA games to see how our card fared: Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 and Titanfall. The latter proved to be the best example of how G-Sync can completely overhaul your gaming experience. To test the underlying technology, we set the monitor to refresh at 60Hz. This is where the effect of G-Sync is most pronounced.
Titanfall is an action-packed multiplayer first-person shooter, and while it isn’t the most graphically demanding game on the market, it does suffer badly from frame tearing due to the speed at which it’s played. Unsurprisingly, we saw a huge amount of tearing at 60Hz with v-sync turned off because the game was running between 35fps and 55fps, at odds with the monitor’s locked refresh rate of 60Hz. Double-buffered v-sync eliminated this tearing, but also drastically dropped performance to below 30fps at times, which meant that there was a lot of stuttered frames. A good compromise is to turn off v-sync and turn on G-Sync. Our average frame rate rose back to the mid-40s, and tearing was completely eliminated. This trend was repeated across all the games we tried.
However, G-Sync seems superfluous in the context of the G2460Pg. You can almost completely eliminate frame tearing by switching the monitor back to its maximum refresh rate of 144Hz. With G-sync and v-sync turned off, we experienced almost no tearing whatsoever in our games. If you’re looking for it, you may be able to see a small amount of screen tearing at 144Hz, but the problem is nowhere near serious enough to warrant spending so much extra money on a G-Sync module.
Another factor to bear in mind is FreeSync, an AMD technology that works with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync, which has been incorporated into the DisplayPort 1.2a standard. FreeSync is an open standard, and AMD claims it shouldn’t add to the cost of a monitor. Exactly how well FreeSync works, and whether monitor manufacturers will make use of Adaptive Sync remains to be seen. Even so, unless you’re itching to try G-Sync, you should wait before you buy.
The AOC G2460PG is a terrific monitor in its own right with superb colour performance, great looks, excellent build quality and lots of USB ports, but the premium that G-Sync levies is just too steep for us to be able to recommend it. G-Sync is a proven and brilliant piece of technology, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra cost when 144Hz or 240Hz monitors keep tearing to a minimum.
There are plenty of 144Hz alternatives to the G2460PG, including the excellent and Best Buy-winning Iiyama ProLite GB2488HSU-B1.