AOC AGON Pro AG324UX

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Introduction

We have with us at the moment AOC’s new AGON Pro AG324UX monitor, their offering in the expanding range of ~32″ sized 4K 144Hz monitors on the market. The AG324UX is actually of the slightly smaller 31.5″ size but features a 3840 x 2160 resolution IPS-type panel combined with a 144Hz refresh rate. This size is increasingly popular, and also more practical than older 27″ models for 4K gaming both from PC’s and from modern games consoles. The screen supports adaptive-sync as well for variable refresh rates (VRR) from both NVIDIA and AMD systems including ‘G-sync Compatible’ certification. There is also a quoted 1ms G2G response time (to be taken with a pinch of salt), and an added blur reduction mode for gamers.

AOC have also focused on promoting the screens other features and capabilities, including a wide colour gamut covering a reported 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space and 107% of Adobe RGB, making it potentially suitable for more professional uses beyond just gaming. We will check that later on in the review. There is a USB type-C connection as well including DP Alt mode for video, and 90W power delivery for simple, single cable connectivity.

Perhaps of most interest and focus has been on the inclusion of HDMI 2.1, which helps make the screen ready for the latest generation of PS5 and Xbox Series X games consoles. The screen also includes AOC’s RGB lighting system and a logo projection feature, as well as some recognisable “gamer aesthetics” from their AGON monitor series. An included ‘Quick Switch’ accessory for controlling the screen and OSD is a nice touch, along with KVM, Picture By Picture (PbP) and Picture in Picture (PiP) support.

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Specifications and Features

Design and Ergonomics

The AG324UX comes in a black and red design. There is a 3 side “borderless” design with a thin 1.5mm black plastic edge, and an additional 7mm black panel border before the image starts (total edge 8.5mm). The bottom bezel is a thicker matte black plastic with a dark red ‘AGON’ logo in the middle. This is ~23mm thick with an additional ~1.5mm black panel border. We should note here that the screen comes with a large power brick measuring around 180 x 85mm, and with 35mm thickness. It’s particularly big with this display.

The provided marketing photos are a little misleading, as the red is more dark maroon colour, and the strips are actually the RGB lighting system

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic, and actually the marketing images above are perhaps slightly confusing as the red sections are actually not as they first appear. The red sections on the back and top of the stand are actually more of a maroon red colour, as is the AGON logo that is at the top. The ‘wing’ sections are actually where some of the RGB lights are housed, in these promotional photos they are just set to red. They can be customised to different colours, patterns etc via the OSD menu or turned off altogether if you want.

The stand is a chunky, heavy and sturdy metal design with a useful carry handle at the top given its weight (and the screen itself). This attaches to a three-pronged metal foot which is again very sturdy. This is wide though and juts out quite a long way forward so you will need a deep desk to accommodate it. Especially if you have any gaming surfaces / large mouse mats etc. The stand can also be removed via a quick release mechanism and this reveals VESA 100 x 100mm mounting support.

You may also spot the useful headphone hook which can be extended from the back left of the screen (when viewing from the front) and can be retracted as well of course to hide it out of the way.

You can see the deep profile of the screen and the large footprint of the stand from this side-on view above. The stand provides a full range of ergonomic adjustments. Tilt is smooth and very easy to use. Height is a bit stiff sometimes to get moving but smooth once you do – at the bottom level the screen is 50mm from the work surface, and at maximum extension it is 180mm giving a 130mm total adjustment range. Side to side swivel is smooth and easy, as is the rotate function. Despite the very heavy and sturdy metal stand and foot, the screen does wobble quite a lot when you reposition it or use the OSD joystick.

FunctionRangeSmoothnessEase of Use
TiltYesSmoothVery easy
Height130mmSmoothA bit stiff
SwivelYesSmoothEasy
RotateYesFairly smoothEasy

There are a few ‘gaming lighting’ features on this model. First there is the AOC Light FX RGB lighting that is situated on the back of the screen and along the bottom edge too. This can be customised via the OSD to a range of patterns, effects and colours easily. The sections on the back of the screen aren’t particularly bright so they are not sufficient to cast a major glow on to a wall behind the screen or anything. They’re probably only “useful” if you can see the back of the monitor at some point.

The bar along the bottom edge is a bit more useful, and synced to the same colour and pattern you set for the rear lighting. This casts a reasonable glow under the monitor, and depending on your viewing position and height is likely to also be out of sight directly. You can turn all these off in the menu too if you’d rather.

There is also an AOC ‘AGON’ projection logo that shines from the bottom of the stand and projects on to the desk underneath the monitor. This can be customised in brightness and in colour via the OSD menu, or turned off if you’d rather.

AOC also provide a useful ‘Quick Switch’ accessory with the AG324UX. This plugs in to the monitor and allows you to control the OSD and settings more quickly and easily than using the normal OSD control joystick. It can also provide useful quick access to some modes. It’s a nice addition we felt.

Speaking of the OSD, this is controlled normally via a small joystick control on the back right hand side of the screen. There is quick access to the Game mode, cross hair graphic, input selection and Light FX by simply pressing one of the directions on the joystick. Within the main menu itself the navigation is quick and responsive, although sometimes a little unintuitive to control a setting. You have to press ‘right’ to select a setting instead of pressing the button in which is a bit confusing at the beginning. There is a really wide range of settings and options to play with though, although we did feel that the OSD software was perhaps a bit dated and chunky in appearance. One thing that doesn’t seem to be provided is user-updatable firmware, which would have been a nice feature to include to account for bug fixes or any changes that AOC might make in the future.

Panel and Backlighting

PanelBacklighting
Panel ManufacturerInnoluxBacklighting TypeLED
Panel TechnologyAAS (IPS-type)Colour spaceWide gamut
Panel PartM315DCA-K7BsRGB coverage125% quoted (relative)
Screen CoatingLight anti-glareDCI-P3100% quoted (relative)
Colour Palette1.07 billionAdobe RGB coverage107% quoted (relative)
Colour depth8-bit + FRCFlicker free verified

Please note that while the colour gamut coverage specs were listed by AOC as shown above, we measured something different in our testing. Discussed more below.

It should be noted that the 10-bit colour depth is available even at 4K 144Hz thanks to the inclusion of Display Stream Compression (DSC) on the DP 1.4 connection, and also over HDMI 2.1 thanks to the increased bandwidth of that interface. For DP 1.4, DSC is lossless from a visual point of view which means that unlike older 4K 144Hz models you don’t need to sacrifice colour depth or chroma levels to reach the maximum refresh rate. You need a compatible DSC graphics card though of course. The main take-home here is that you don’t need to drop to 8-bit colour depth which is great if your content or game is HDR and supports 10-bit. More importantly you don’t need to drop from 4:4:4 full RGB chroma here, which does cause some visual loss in clarity but was a necessary step in earlier generation of 4K 144Hz displays before DSC was adopted.

We will talk about HDMI 2.1 for console usage later on in the review, but for PC usage the HDMI 2.1 ports also seem to use DSC and otherwise have a 24Gbps bandwidth instead of the full 48Gbps capability of HDMI 2.1. This isn’t an issue at all for PC usage, and the screen just uses DSC to deliver 4K, 144Hz, 10-bit and 4:4:4 (RGB chroma). If you’ve got a graphics card with HDMI 2.1 output, it will include DSC already so that’s fine.

Confirmation of flicker free backlight operation, shown above at calibrated brightness level. Horizontal scale = 5ms

Brightness and Contrast

This section tests the full range of luminance (the brightness of the screen) possible from the backlight, while changing the monitors brightness setting in the OSD menu. This allows us to measure the maximum and minimum adjustment ranges, as well as identify the recommended setting to reach a target of 120 cd/m2 for comfortable day to day use in normal lighting conditions. Some users have specific requirements for a very bright display, while others like a much darker display for night time viewing or in low ambient light conditions. At each brightness level we also measure the contrast ratio produced by the screen when comparing a small white sample vs. a black sample (not unrealistic full screen white vs. full screen black tests). The contrast ratio should remain stable across the adjustment range so we also check that.

Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter paired with the Calman Ultimate software for very high levels of accuracy.

The upper brightness capability of the screen was 366 nits, just slightly higher than the spec of 350. There was a moderate adjustment range available, with the minimum luminance measured at 96 nits. This might not be quite dark enough for some users working in darker ambient light conditions, we would have liked a little bit more adjustment at this bottom end. The OSD brightness control changes the luminance in a linear relationship down to a setting of 30% (which is the default setting out of the box by the way). Beyond that, it controls a more subtle adjustment range as you can see from the graph above.

A setting of 23 in the OSD menu is needed to return you a luminance as close to 120 cd/m2 as possible at default settings. Backlight dimming is achieved with a flicker free backlight (no need for PWM) which should avoid eye strain and headaches that PWM screens often cause.

The average contrast ratio of the screen at default settings was measured at 983:1 out of the box which was good, but not excellent, for a modern IPS-type panel, and very close to the quoted 1000:1 specification.

Testing Methodology Explained

Performance is measured and evaluated with a high degree of accuracy using a range of testing devices and software. The results are carefully selected to provide the most useful and relevant information that can help evaluate the display while filtering out the wide range of information and figures that will be unnecessary. For measurement we use a UPRtek MK550T spectroradiometer which is particularly good for colour gamut and spectrum measurements. We also use an X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer and a X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus for measurements in various ways. Various software packages are incorporated including Portrait Displays Calman Ultimate package. We measure the screen at default settings (with all ICC profiles deactivated and factory settings used), and any other modes that are of interest such as sRGB emulation presets. We then calibrate and profile the screen before re-measuring the calibrated state.

The results presented can be interpreted as follows:

  • Greyscale dE – this graph tracks the accuracy of each greyscale shade measured from 0 (black) to 100 (white). The accuracy of each grey shade will be impacted by the colour temperature and gamma of the display. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green line on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (below the yellow line). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. In the table beneath the graph we provide the average dE across all grey shades, as well as the white point dE (important when considering using the screen for lots of white background and office content), and the max greyscale dE as well.

  • RGB Balance and colour temperature – the RGB balance graph shows the relative balance between red, green and blue primaries at each grey shade, from 0 (black) to 100 (white). Ideally all 3 lines should be flat at the 100% level which would represent a balanced 6500k average colour temperature for all grey shades. This is the target colour temperature for desktop monitors, popular colour spaces like sRGB and ‘Display DCI-P3’ and is also the temperature of daylight. It is the most common colour temperature for displays, also sometimes referred to as D65. Where the RGB lines deviate from this 100% flat level the image may become too warm or cool. Beneath this RGB balance graph we provide the average correlated colour temperature for all grey shades measured, along with its percentage deviance from the 6500k target. We also provide the white point colour temperature and its deviance from 6500k, as this is particularly important when viewing lots of white background and office content.

  • Gamma – we aim for 2.2 gamma which is the default for computer monitors in SDR mode. Testing of some modes might be based on a different gamma but we will state that in the commentary if applicable. A graph is provided tracking the 2.2 gamma across different grey shades and ideally the grey line representing the monitor measurements should be horizontal and flat at the 2.2 level. Depending on where the gamma is too low or too high, it can have an impact on the image in certain ways. You can see our gamma explanation graph to help understand that more. Beneath the gamma graph we include the average overall gamma achieved along with the average for dark shades (0 black to 50 grey) and for lighter shades (50 grey to 100 white).

  • Luminance, black depth and contrast ratio (static) – measuring the brightness, black depth and resulting contrast ratio of the mode being tested, whether that is at default settings or later after calibration and profiling. We aim for 120 cd/m2 luminance which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions. Black depth should be as low as possible, and contrast ratio should be as high as possible.

  • Gamut coverage – we provide measurements of the screens colour gamut relative to various reference spaces including sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and Rec.2020. Coverage is shown in absolute numbers as well as relative, which helps identify where the coverage extends beyond a given reference space. A CIE-1976 chromaticity diagram (which provides improved accuracy compared with older CIE-1931 methods) is included which provides a visual representation of the monitors colour gamut coverage triangle as compared with sRGB, and if appropriate also relative to a wide gamut reference space such as DCI-P3. The reference triangle will be marked on the CIE diagram as well.

  • dE colour accuracy – a wide range of colours are tested and the colour accuracy dE measured. We compare these produced colours to the sRGB reference space, and if applicable when measuring a wide gamut screen we also provide the accuracy relative to a specific wide gamut reference such as DCI-P3. An average dE and maximum dE is provided along with an overall screen rating. The lower the dE the better, with differences of <1 being imperceptible (marked by the green area on the graph), and differences between 1 and 3 being small (yellow areas). Anything over dE 3 needs correcting and causes more obvious differences in appearance relative to what should be shown. dE 2000 is used for improved accuracy and providing a better representation of what you would see as a user, compared with older dE methods like dE 1994, as it takes into account the human eye’s perceptual sensitivity to different colours. 

Default Performance and Setup

The screen comes out of the box in its full native wide gamut mode, with the colour temp set to warm and the brightness set to a fairly modest and comfortable 30%. The default gamma curve is reasonable, with a 2.10 average. This was better in the darker tones, with more deviance (down to 2.07) in the lighter shades which was a bit of a shame. This results in a bit of loss of detail in light grey shades. With the screen set in the ‘warm’ mode you can see it is delivering that, with a 5578k white point, warmer by 14% than our target 6500k but perhaps unfair to penalise too much when it’s deliberately set in the warm mode. Across the grey shades the image was warm too with an average colour temp of 5645k measured. Because the grey shades were too warm, and a bit reddish in colour as a result, we had a very high error in greyscale at 5.7 dE average. The contrast ratio of the panel was basically on spec at 996:1 and good, but not excellent, for an IPS-type panel.

By the way we also measured the other colour temp modes out of the box. They were Warm = 5578k, Normal = 6392k, Cool = 7441k, sRGB = 5939k, User = 6196k. So you can see that switching to the normal mode would return a more traditional colour temp and improve the overall appearance of the screen. The User mode affords you access to the RGB channels for calibration and customisation too.

Here’s where things get a bit strange. AOC are quite specific in their website spec when it comes to colour gamut. They list 125% sRGB, 100% DCI-P3 and 107% Adobe RGB, based on CIE 1976 as well. These are all presumably “relative” coverage specs, as opposed to absolute given they over-extend the reference space and are >100%. The reality of what we measured in practice was very different though, leading us to believe the specs are perhaps incorrect.

We measured a 117.7% relative sRGB coverage which translated to lower relative coverage for DCI-P3 (93.9%) and Adobe RGB (100.9%) which means all AOC’s specs are around 6 – 8% too high. The other problem with using these “relative” coverage numbers is that it is a bit misleading when it comes to considering actual “absolute” coverage of those reference spaces. For sRGB it’s fine, as the backlight can cover 97% of the actual sRGB space in this native mode. For DCI-P3 though it can only cover 90.5% and for Adobe RGB it’s even lower at 87.0%. You realise that by quoting a relative coverage spec, and including colours that stretch beyond those reference spaces, it is over-egging the actual capability.

A 90.5% absolute DCI-P3 coverage is still decent, and is adequate to meet VESA standards for HDR content, which is actually mastered in the much wider Rec.2020 colour space anyway. It’s pretty rare you’d work with or view content specifically in DCI-P3 and so the 93.9% relative coverage for DCI-P3 is useful as a spec there giving a bit of a boost towards the wider Rec.2020 area. Basically it’s reasonable enough for HDR content but the 100% DCI-P3 coverage spec from AOC is misleading whichever way you look at it.

sRGB and SDR content

Anyway for the top section of the above image you can see that as a result of the screen operating in a wide colour gamut, and extending a long way beyond sRGB, when you view sRGB content you can expect poor colour accuracy. Greens and particularly reds look over-saturated, and combined with the overly warm setup you don’t get very good colour accuracy. If you’re working with sRGB content and want accuracy, you’d definitely need to find a way to improve this, probably through profiling and calibration and working within colour-aware applications. We will look at the monitors sRGB emulation mode in a moment (spoiler: it isn’t very usable).

Adobe RGB content

Adobe RGB is another confusing area as that’s a more commonly used, defined and specific colour space for photo, image and professional uses. For Adobe RGB content you’d need the screen to reliably cover that space. Keep in mind you’d need to profile the screen to map the colours of the backlight back to the Adobe RGB area, but that’s likely to be what users would do if they are doing any professional work anyway. While the 100.9% relative coverage may sound like it can cover Adobe RGB, if you look at the actual colours it produces in the bottom left hand CIE diagram above you can see that the coverage of the defined Adobe RGB space is not very good. In fact it covers only 87.0% of the actual Adobe RGB space, falling short a bit in blues, and a lot more in greens. That 100.9% relative coverage measurement comes from the fact the screen produces more reds than the defined Adobe RGB space.


So overall this leaves us a bit disappointed with the default colour rendering capabilities. The colour gamut coverage is not really as good as the product spec would imply, and not really suitable for professional or photo work under the Adobe RGB reference space. It just can’t cover enough of that space. Then out of the box in this native mode it’s not really suitable for any accurate work with SDR / sRGB content, but for gaming and multimedia (clearly the target audience) the boosted colours are probably desirable anyway. There are still other issues though with the default setup as it is too warm – although it is set in that mode so we can maybe forgive that somewhat. The brightness is at least sensible, contrast ratio is on spec, and gamma is reasonably good.

Factory Calibration and sRGB Emulation Mode

Provided factory calibration report for our unit. Click for larger version

The AG324UX comes with a factory calibration report in the box. This informs us that the screen has apparently been calibrated in the sRGB colour temp mode to an sRGB dE < 2, and in fact our unit apparently has an average 0.98 dE. Although if you then look at the provided graph it looks like many colour patches show much higher errors between dE 2 – 3, and the average figure on its own is perhaps misleading in that regard.

We went ahead and measured the screen in this sRGB mode ourselves to validate the performance:

This preset mode also includes an sRGB colour space emulation. Unfortunately this mode is not very usable, as it is locked for other settings including brightness, gamma and colour controls. On first glance it looks like you have access to change those, but when you do, the screen moves out of this ‘sRGB’ colour temp mode.

Even though there is a locked brightness setting the luminance is actually decent and comfortable at 122 nits. Contrast ratio remains good at 975:1 taking only a small hit from the native 996:1 performance. Unfortunately that’s where the positives end, as the gamma is too low (2.06 average). Actually this mode has been set up it seems to an sRGB gamma, which explains the dip towards black. If we measure relative to the sRGB gamma curve you can see the result below, with the gamma still being too low in all the other shades. This results in loss of detail in mid to light grey shades unfortunately.

sRGB mode measured relative to the sRGB gamma curve

The other problem with this mode is that unfortunately the colour temp is too warm again, measured at 5870k average across the greyscale, and 5827k for the white point. This is 10% too warm and makes the image look a bit more orange than it should. With the inability to change the OSD controls for colours, we are stuck with this overly warm mode sadly. This again results in a large error to the greyscale at 4.1 dE average (compared to the target 6500k temperature and 2.2 gamma).

The colour rendering is a mixed bag as well. The sRGB mode does restrict the native wide gamut, getting close to sRGB but actually under-covering the space a bit. We are left with only an 89% coverage of the sRGB space, whereas we know the backlight is capable of ~97% from our earlier testing in the native gamut mode. This is a shame and we would have liked to see tighter emulation of the sRGB space.

At least in this mode we now have an improved accuracy for sRGB colours, but we still have some errors due to that under-coverage in gamut, and the inaccuracies with gamma and colour temperature we talked about earlier. We measured a 2.6 dE average, which is a lot more than the supposed 0.98 dE average on the calibration report, and also a bit above the target criteria of <2 dE. This represented reasonable colour accuracy for sRGB, but this mode is not really usable due to the locked settings and overly reduced colour space anyway.


If you want to work with sRGB content properly you would be better using the native gamut mode where you have full access to the OSD settings, and instead calibrate and profile the screen for colour-aware applications. This is fine for more professional use and for those who have access to a calibration tool and software, but makes life difficult for your average user.

Calibration

We carried out a calibration of the monitors OSD menu along with a software profiling of the screen using our calibration device and software. The OSD adjustments should help you reach a better white point and colour temperature balance close to 6500k, and a brightness close to 120 nits. If there is a gamma setting in the menu we may have changed this as well to reach the optimal display settings but this is recorded in the table below. These OSD changes ensure that the screen is set to its optimal settings before the profiling takes place.

With the screen set in its native gamut mode however, you need the ability to profile the screen using a calibration device and software in order to take the screen’s native wide gamut and “map” it back to the sRGB colour space as we have done here. This profile can be used by colour-aware applications (e.g. Photoshop) to accurately map the wide gamut colours back to the common sRGB colour space and that is what results in the improved colour accuracy for sRGB colours. Also in this profiling process the gamma and greyscale are further corrected. We have only calibrated here based on sRGB, you would need your own calibration device if you want to profile relative to other colour spaces like Adobe RGB.

Gamma had now been nicely corrected to 2.20 average with only some minor variation in the lightest shades that proved hard to correct. RGB balance was a bit tricky to get right through OSD adjustments alone as you had to prioritise either the white point balance, or the greyscale balance. But this was nicely corrected after the profiling stage and we had an average greyscale colour temp measured at 6520k and a white point of 6513k which was great. This resulted in a very low greyscale error as well, with dE average of 0.6, and a higher error in those lightest grey shades where gamma was hard to fully correct. The contrast ratio remained close to the out of the box setup, taking a small hit down to 976:1.

Validation of the created profile was good overall. We had left the screen in its native full wide gamut mode as you can see from the CIE diagram on the left, where the colour space of the screen extended a long way beyond the sRGB reference, especially in red and green shades. A reminder of the colour gamut coverage for common reference spaces is included below that again. The ICC profile was created relative to sRGB and when validating that profile against sRGB colours we had an excellent accuracy in most areas with a dE average of only 0.5. However this did creep up to a max of 3.8 in blue shades which is a result of the monitors gamut not quite covering the full blue area of the sRGB reference space. This profile can be used in colour aware applications to correctly map the wide gamut colour space to sRGB for accurate SDR work and offer very good overall accuracy.

You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

Setup Comparisons

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas – gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There’s no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and some (gamma especially) are not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

The most interesting comparisons to call out here are against the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U, and the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQ which are the two other similarly priced and spec’d 32″ class displays we’ve tested to date with 4K 144Hz and HDMI 2.1. We’ve highlighted all three on the above table. The AOC had the worst out-of-the-box setup of the three, and while gamma was reasonably close to the target (5% deviance) and contrast ratio was basically the same with them all, the white point was the biggest problem, being far too warm here. dE figures pre-calibration should probably be ignored as they are comparing the native wide gamut against an SDR / sRGB colour space which leads to high errors anyway.

On the AG324UX we also had other problems with producing sRGB, both through the emulation mode and through calibration profiling. The built-in gamut emulation mode was locked down and not very well set up by default, being too warm and clamping the gamut too much to something smaller than sRGB. Profiling from the native gamut mode was better, but the colour space coverage was a bit out in blue shades even in that mode leading to some high errors in those colours even after calibration.

Putting it all in context though, these three models are all aimed at gaming and multimedia usage and some of these issues are not likely to present any problems for normal users in those areas. The overly warm default setup is easy to correct through some simple OSD adjustments, and users will often like the more saturated and vivid colours of the wide gamut. Using the screen for sRGB content more strictly is difficult though and combined with the under-coverage for Adobe RGB we would not recommend this as a good option for any colour critical or professional uses.

Viewing Angles

Viewing angles of the screen were very good as you would expect from an IPS-type panel. There were some small contrast shifts as you moved to a wider viewing position but they were minimal here. The screen offered the wide viewing angles of IPS technology and was free from the restrictive fields of view of TN Film panels, especially in the vertical plane. It was also free of the off-centre contrast shift you see from VA panels and a lot of the quite obvious gamma and colour tone shift you see from some of the modern VA panel type offerings.

On a black image there is a characteristic pale glow introduced to the image when viewed from a wide angle, commonly referred to as “IPS glow”. This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen. The level of glow on this panel was pinkish white in colour, but it was pretty typical for this technology.

This type of glow is common on most modern IPS-type panels and can be distracting to some users. If you view dark content from a normal head-on viewing position, you may see this glow as your eyes look towards the edges of the screen depending on your viewing position. It will also be more noticeable in darker ambient light conditions and if you’re viewing a lot of dark content. Some people may find this problematic if they are playing a lot of darker games or watching darker movies. In normal day to day uses you couldn’t really notice this unless you were viewing darker content. If you move your viewing position back, which is probably likely for movies and games keep in mind, the effect reduces as you do not have such an extreme angle from your eye position to the screen edges.

Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor’s calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.

Luminance uniformity of the screen was good on our sample, with 91% of the screen within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated area which was pleasing. The left hand area was a bit darker than the right hand area, dropping down to 107 cd/m2 in the most extreme example (-12% deviance) on the left, and raising up to 129 cd/m2 on the right. This shouldn’t represent any major issues for general usage though, and is fine for gaming and multimedia.

Backlight Leakage

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room and a camera was used to capture the result. There were a couple of areas where the backlight shone through a bit more brightly in the upper corners and left some clouding, but they were hard to see in normal usage unless you are viewing lots of very dark content. Nothing serious here.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don’t just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 – 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn’t over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.

General and Office Applications

The AG324UX includes a KVM feature which can be useful for multi-device usage

One of the key features of this screen is its high 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD (“4K”) resolution. This 4K resolution is possibly still a bit too high to use at native scaling (100%) on a screen even of this pretty large 31.5″ size although some people may find it ok. Text is small but if you’ve got good eye-sight and are up close then it’s still reasonable and does provide you then with a massive screen real estate and very sharp picture. It’s certainly viable unlike on a 27″ model like previous 4K 144Hz screens. Other people will probably want to use operating system scaling to ensure fonts and text are a more sensible and readable size though. 150% is unnecessarily large, with 125% scaling offering a nice balance on a screen of this size we think. That gives you comfortable text size which is very similar to a 27″ 1440p screen, but does give you the equivalent desktop real-estate area of a 3072 x 1728 resolution. So that’s quite a nice jump up from common 2560 x 1440 resolution screens in this approximate size range. The extra pixel density of the 4K resolution will provide a very sharp and clear image for all uses including office and general applications. Just make sure that your software will support scaling effectively as it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get it right.

The light AG coating of the panel is fine, and much better than the grainy and dirty appearance of older IPS panel AG coatings. The wide viewing angles provided by this panel technology on both horizontal and vertical planes, helps minimize on-screen colour shift when viewed from different angles.

The out of the box setup was not great overall for office or any professional work, and while it offered a reasonable gamma and contrast ratio, the colour temp was too warm, the greyscale showed high errors and the wide colour gamut of course led to over-saturation of of SDR/ sRGB content. The gamut, despite the somewhat misleading specs is not as wide as some other screens on the market so it isn’t too crazy or neon in appearance but it’s not great for SDR content. Sadly while there is an sRGB emulation mode it’s basically unusable, offering an overly restrictive colour space coverage and being locked in all its colour settings (still too warm) and even brightness control. The colour gamut isn’t really sufficient to allow decent usage for professional / photo work in the Adobe RGB space either so it’s not really very practical for anything beyond gaming and multimedia unless you have access to a calibration tool. Calibration and profiling can produce some pleasing results for sRGB mapping, although not perfect due to some under-coverage in blue shades, and that’s only if you have the means to do so, which is probably unlikely for most of the target audience.

The brightness range of the screen was ok, with the ability to offer a luminance between 366 and 96 cd/mwhich gives you good flexibility in brighter conditions, but is a bit limited in darker room and low ambient light conditions. A setting of 23 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2 out of the box. The brightness regulation is controlled via a flicker free backlight, without the need for Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), and so those who suffer from eye fatigue or headaches associated with flickering backlights need not worry.

Low Blue Light modes

Spectral distribution graph showing calibrated mode at 6500k. Blue peak is at 462 nW/nm

This is a feature that AOC don’t promote on their product page, and in fact the AG324UX features a combination of “traditional” methods for reducing blue light, and more recent “Eyesafe” methods it seems. Traditional methods for low blue light modes or settings are usually just ways to make the image warmer and reduce the peak of the blue light as a result. The AOC does in fact include these kind of modes in the OSD menu which we will measure in a moment. One problem with that method is that the overall image is affected, and you get a warmer image. The ‘Eyesafe’ approach to reducing blue light on displays is instead on providing a backlight where the blue light spectral peak has been shifted to a reportedly less harmful frequency, away from the common and according to them problematic 415 – 455nm area. We are in the process of looking in to this situation in more detail for a future article on blue light, but if you want more information then Eyesafe provide some background thinking on why they believe this is important on their website.

While the AG324UX isn’t certified according to the ‘Eyesafe’ program webpage, it seems to offer the benefits of that approach. We measured a blue light peak at 462 nm at a calibrated 6500k white point which is shown above. So that in its own is supposed to be a benefit in terms of blue light output, at least according to Eyesafe and their approach. That’s an un-promoted feature of the AG324UX at the moment.

Spectral distribution graph in the warmest ‘reading’ mode, measured at 5262k. Blue peak still at 462 nm wavelength

On top of this there are also a range of ‘LowBlue Mode’ settings AOC make available in the OSD which do the operate in the more traditional way and alter the colour temp of the screen a bit. This might be useful if you also want a slightly warmer looking screen for office work, late night reading etc. The blue spectral peak remains at 462 nm wavelength, but reduces in height as the screen gets a bit warmer. Including our measured white points in brackets for each, there are LowBlue modes for multimedia (6193k), internet (5815k), office (5557k) and reading (5262k) available if you want.

USB type-C and other connectivity

For simple, single cable connectivity from laptops the AG324UX also includes a modern USB type-C connection, with DP Alt mode for video, 10Gbps data transfer and a decent 90W power delivery. There are also an additional 4x USB 3.2 ports on the back of the screen but sadly none are easy-access. There is also a DisplayPort 1.4 (with DSC) and 2x HDMI 2.1 connections for video from PC’s and other devices.

There is a mic input and headphone output too but it might have been handy if these and a couple of the USB ports were located on the side of the screen for quick use. The screen also includes built in 2 x 8W DTS sound speakers which should be sufficient for the odd mp3, YouTube video etc.

KVM, PiP and PbP

Thanks to the built-in KVM feature you can share one single keyboard, mouse and monitor between multiple computers. There is also Picture by Picture (PiP) and Picture by Picture (PbP) included which allow you to make use of multiple sources (e.g. from your laptop and desktop PC) simultaneously and display them on the same screen.

The provided AOC ‘Quick Switch’ accessory can be helpful for operating all of the screen settings and modes without needing to fumble behind the display for the joystick control.

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

HDR Capability Summary
VESA Display HDR Certification level = HDR 400
Certified to the lapse HDR 400 standard, although thankfully in this case AOC have included some form of local dimming for the backlight, a wide colour gamut and 10-bit colour depth support, even though these aren’t required to earn this certification.
HDR Technical Capabilities
Local dimmingYes, edge lit
High number of local dimming zones16 zones
Increased peak brightness400.1 cd/m2
Increased dynamic range (contrast) max7407:1
Increased “local” HDR contrast ratio max between adjacent areas1923:1
Wide colour gamut >90% DCI-P393.9% relative
10-bit colour depth support8-bit + FRC

Normally we would barely discuss “HDR” on screens that are certified under the lowly HDR 400 standard, as that certification doesn’t require the manufacturer to include any local dimming (needed to improve the dynamic range / contrast) or any colour enhancements either like wide colour gamut or 10-bit colour depth support. As we’ve said many times, it’s a really lapse and pointless standard in our opinion and we think it should be changed or removed.

While the AG324UX is rated as an HDR 400, this is only the second model we’ve tested (the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U being the other) that actually makes an effort to enhance the HDR performance and adds some form of local dimming to the backlight. It is quite limited, with (as far as we can tell) 16 dimming zones arranged vertically. This isn’t great but it is better than nothing (like nearly all other HDR 400 screens) so it was a nice bonus to see it included.

As well as some limited local dimming capabilities the screen also supports a wide colour gamut (93.9% DCI-P3 relative coverage measured) and supports a 10-bit colour depth through its 8-bit+FRC panel to offer the colour enhancements associated with HDR content. Another positive when it comes to HDR, even though to earn the HDR400 badge AOC didn’t need to do this.

Performance wise we measured a peak brightness capability of ~400 cd/m2 which just meets the HDR400 spec. The limited number of local dimming zones means that the local contrast ratio (between areas close to one another) is not improved that much, and we measured a moderate bump to about 1923:1, doubling the native panel contrast ratio actually. Across the whole screen (measuring a dark area further away from the bright test area) the total maximum contrast ratio was improved reasonably to 7407:1. There are fairly large areas of blooming because of the limited number of dimming zones, with large strips being quite noticeable in certain circumstances. Arguably better than other HDR 400 screens but of course it won’t offer you an amazing HDR experience due to the still limited local dimming capabilities and peak brightness. We applaud AOC for at least adopting a system that allows some local dimming, and also for providing the colour enhancements which helps improve things if nothing else.

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Further recommended reading

Our detailed HDR article

Gaming

Response Times
Panel ManufacturerInnolux
Panel TechnologyAAS (IPS-type)
Panel PartM315DCA-K7B
Quoted G2G Response Time1ms G2G
Quoted MPRT Response Time1ms MPRT
Overdrive Used
Variable Overdrive supported
Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting
Overdrive OSD SettingsOff, Weak, Medium, Strong

The screen uses overdrive technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. The part being used is an Innolux M315DCA-K7B AAS (IPS-type) technology panel. Our thanks to NVIDIA for hooking us up with an RTX 3090 for all our testing.

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Overdrive Modes and Response Times

Note that these measurements were taken using the traditional measurement method, which is quicker and easier to capture for these purposes.

We first of all tested the screen at its maximum 144Hz refresh rate in each of the overdrive modes using our oscilloscope, as well as a range of visual tests. With overdrive turned off we had a fairly respectable 7.1ms G2G response time, and there was no overshoot at all. Moving up to the ‘weak’ mode returned some noticeable improvements in performance, including sharper and less blurry motion in practice. We now had a 5.4ms G2G response time figure, and it was much better at keeping up with the fast 144 fps frame rate. There was basically no overshoot in this mode either.

Pushing up to the ‘medium’ mode returned some better response time measurements, with a 4.4ms G2G average recorded now. There was some moderate overshoot starting to creep in though, particularly on transitions that were close to one another (between similar shades of grey). In practice though this overshoot was not very easy to see, and actually the overall motion clarity was very similar to the ‘weak’ mode. It was slightly better in medium mode, but not by much. The ‘medium’ mode is marginally better for this max refresh rate, but we will need to consider VRR performance in a moment too where refresh rate can lowers.

One thing we dislike about many monitors in today’s gaming market, and something we wrote about recently, is the use of an overly aggressive overdrive mode for the sake of trying to reach an unrealistic 1ms G2G response time spec. The ‘strong’ mode on the AG324UX was set up to do that, reaching down to close to 1ms in our measurements but at the expense of some awful overshoot. This mode is totally unusable in practice with too many obvious dark and pale halos, caused by that excessive overshoot. The 1ms G2G figure from this IPS panel is pure marketing as with many modern gaming screens.

Refresh Rates

(at native resolution)Refresh Rate
Maximum Refresh Rate DisplayPort144Hz
Maximum Refresh Rate HDMI144Hz
VRR range48 – 144Hz

There’s various things you need to consider when it comes to response times and gaming, particularly on a display with high refresh rate support. Gaming screens invariably give you a control for the overdrive impulse in the OSD menu which can help you tweak things, but response time performance and overshoot levels can vary depending on the active refresh rate. This behaviour is often different depending on whether the screen is a traditional Native G-sync screens (with hardware module) or whether it’s an adaptive-sync screen, and not all screens behave in the same way. We always try to test each variable in our reviews but the key considerations you need to make are:

  1. Performance at 60Hz – this is important if you want to use an external games console (or other device like a Blu-ray player etc) which typically run at 60Hz. Response time performance may well be different than at the higher refresh rates supported, and you may need a different overdrive setting for optimal experience.
     
  2. Performance during VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) – bearing in mind that the refresh rate will fluctuate anywhere from 1Hz up to the maximum supported by the screen (e.g. 1 – 144Hz on a 144Hz display). It’s important to understand if the response times and overshoot will vary as the refresh rate changes. There may be a need to switch between different overdrive settings in some cases, depending on your usually attained frame rate/refresh rate output and graphics card capability. This can sometimes become fiddly if your refresh rates fluctuate a lot, especially between different games, so it’s always easier if you can leave a display on a single overdrive setting which is suited to the whole range. Some screens also feature “variable overdrive” which helps control the response times and overshoot depending on the active refresh rate. This is particularly apparent with traditional Native G-sync module screens.
     
  3. Performance at fixed refresh rates including maximum – this is important for those who have a powerful enough system to consistently output a frame rate to meet the max refresh rate capability of the screen. They may want to run at max refresh rate without VRR active, or even is VRR is active they may know they will be consistently at the upper end of the range. Many gaming screens show their optimal response time performance at the maximum refresh rate. Knowing the performance at high fixed refresh rates may also be applicable if you want to use any added blur reduction backlight which typically operate at a fixed refresh rate.
     
  4. Whether the response times can keep up with the frame rate – you will also want to consider whether the response times of the panel can consistently keep up with the frame rate. For instance a 144Hz screen sends a new frame to the display every 6.94ms, so the pixel response times need to ideally be consistently and reliably under this threshold. If they are too slow, it can lead to added smearing and blurring of the image in practice and sometimes make the higher refresh rates unusable in real life. We consider this in our analysis.

Through a range of visual tests it was quite easy to see that the ‘weak’ mode provided the best overall balance across the refresh rate range, and for VRR situations. While the ‘medium’ mode was a tad faster at 144Hz, the overshoot was already starting to appear in the measurements at that refresh rate, and as this lowered, the overshoot became more and more noticeable. At 100Hz, and certainly when you get down to 60Hz the overshoot was distracting. We instead stuck with the ‘weak’ mode which delivered a better visual performance at all refresh rates to ‘medium’. This is what is measured in the tables above.

The response time remained consistent across the refresh rate range basically, with around 5.1 – 5.4ms G2G recorded. There was no ‘variable overdrive’ used here unfortunately, something that could have perhaps made the ‘medium’ mode a bit better in fact. Variable overdrive is usually reserved for screens using NVIDIA’s Native G-sync hardware module, and basically slows down the response times as the refresh rate lowers so that overshoot is controlled and avoided. Because there is no G-sync module on this screen, and variable overdrive is not being used, the G2G response times remain consistent across all refresh rates. The result of this is that overshoot does start to get worse as refresh rate lowers, that’s the main reason why the ‘medium’ mode is not ideal. Using the ‘weak’ mode the overshoot still reaches what we would call moderate levels at 60Hz, but actually never becomes too problematic or distracting in practice. You can see some slight pale halos but nothing too severe.

As a result, we would consider the AG324UX to have a single overdrive setting experience, which is great news. You don’t need to bother switching the overdrive setting at different refresh rates or based on your frame rate or game. That’s often a pain on adaptive-sync (FreeSync) screens, but the ‘weak’ mode is fine across the range. If you’re consistently delivering in the 100 – 144Hz range from your system, you could try pushing up to the ‘medium’ mode, but visually it doesn’t offer much improvement and the risk of increased overshoot isn’t worth it in our opinion.

60Hz Refresh Rate

If you want to, you can also switch down to the overdrive ‘off’ mode for fixed 60Hz inputs like older games consoles, Blu-ray players etc. This cuts out all the overshoot, including the moderate/low levels seen in the ‘weak’ mode at 60Hz. Visually it cleans up the slight pale halos in motion so this may be useful for some inputs.

Variable Refresh Rates

(at native resolution)VRR capabilities and Certification
AMD FreeSync certified and levelFreeSync Premium *
Native NVIDIA G-sync module
NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certified
HDMI-org VRR (consoles via HDMI 2.1)

The AG324UX can support variable refresh rates from both AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems via adaptive-sync. It has been certified under the NVIDIA ‘G-sync Compatible’ certification programme already, but does not yet appear in the FreeSync certification list according to AMD’s website. *Although it is likely to have FreeSync Premium certification eventually and that’s what AOC list on their product page. The support for G-sync and FreeSync will be very useful given the significant system demands of running a screen at such a high 4K resolution and at high refresh rate up to 144Hz. It was of course very good to see it included here.

Detailed Response Times

Recommended Settings
Optimal Refresh Rate 144Hz
Single Overdrive Setting Experience
Optimal Overdrive Setting (for above) Weak
Optimal Overdrive Setting for 60Hz Off (or weak is ok too)
Optimal Overdrive Setting for VRR Weak

We also measured the response times of the screen using our updated and more accurate method. This provides measurements that are even more representative of real life experience, helping identify areas of strength and weakness. It’s a more thorough method for taking response time and overshoot measurements that should provide a great view of what you can expect from any given screen.

We stuck with the ‘weak’ mode here which is our recommended setting for VRR situations. We could have pushed up to the ‘medium’ mode for the maximum refresh rate which would have reduced the G2G figures a bit, but in real usage and visual tests there was very little benefit. Some very minor improvements in motion clarity if you looked very closely, but the trade-off in adding some overshoot artefacts, the increase in this overshoot when refresh rate lowers, and the annoyance of having to worry about which overdrive mode you were using for VRR was not worth it we felt. Just stick to the weak mode for everything and you have a nice, simple, single overdrive mode experience.

Using this updated method we measured an average 6.1ms G2G response time which was slightly slower than the average of the legacy method at 144Hz in this overdrive mode (5.4ms G2G) but now provided a more accurate overall reflection of real-world responsiveness. The response times were good overall here in the ‘weak’ mode still, and there was no overshoot of any significance at this maximum refresh rate which was excellent. Motion clarity was good, and thankfully you can stick with this single overdrive mode and be safe in the knowledge that overshoot never really becomes a problem if your refresh rate lowers.

Pursuit camera photos at 144Hz in the ‘weak’, ‘medium and ’strong’ overdrive modes

We have also captured the perceived motion clarity using a pursuit camera setup to show how the moving image looks in practice. These were all taken at the maximum 144Hz refresh rate and we wanted to compare three of the overdrive modes we’ve discussed above. You can see that in practice there is very little visual difference between the ‘weak’ and ‘medium’ modes, with only some very minor improvements in sharpness and clarity. This is why we recommend sticking with the ‘weak’ mode for a single overdrive setting experience across all refresh rates and VRR where it is largely overshoot free.

You can see the overshoot problems that appear when you push the screen up to the ‘strong’ mode, and this problem only increases and get more distracting as refresh rate lowers.

Refresh Rate Compliance

In this section for our reviews we look at the response time behaviour across the range of supported refresh rates and consider whether they are sufficient to keep up with the frame rate demands of the screen. The grey line on the graph shows the refresh rate threshold, that being the average G2G response time that the panel needs to be able to achieve to keep up properly with the refresh rate and frame rate. For instance at a 60Hz refresh rate the response times need to be consistently and reliably under 16.67ms, while at 144Hz refresh rate the response times ideally need to be under 6.94ms to keep up with the frame rate demands. If they are not then this can lead to some additional smearing and blurring on moving content as the pixels can’t keep up. For these tests we will plot the average G2G figure at a range of measured refresh rates, while operating at the optimal overdrive control.

The table to the right then explains whether that overdrive control needs to be adjusted by the user depending on the refresh rate (not ideal), or whether adaptive overdrive is utilised to keep things simple. Ideally you’d want to be able to stick with a single mode for all refresh rates especially when you consider how these will vary during VRR. We also include a measurement of the % of the overall response time measurements that were within the refresh rate, as well as a slightly more lenient measurement of how many were within the refresh rate window within a 1ms leeway.

The response time behaviour of the AG324UX was good overall, even offering a single overdrive setting experience that is rare for adaptive-sync (FreeSync) screens. As the screen lacks any variable overdrive, we saw consistent response times across all refresh rates at around 6.1ms G2G (after gamma correction of the measurements). At the maximum 144Hz refresh rate 67% of the transitions were within the refresh rate window, 77% if you allow a small additional 1ms leeway. This was good, although not perfect. It does lead to a bit of added smearing on moving content due to the inability to quite keep up with the frame rate. There are some very minor benefits in pushing the overdrive setting up to ‘medium’ at this top end of the refresh rate range, but not enough to make it useful when you consider everything else.

Console Gaming and HDMI 2.1

Console Gaming
Native panel resolution3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD “4K”)
Maximum resolution and refresh rate supported4K @ 120Hz
Virtual 4K supportNot required
4K at 24Hz support
4K at 50Hz support
HDMI connection version2.1
HDMI connection bandwidth24 Gbps (with DSC)
HDMI-VRR (over HDMI 2.1)
Adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Display aspect ratio controlsWide, 4:3, 1:1, range of 16:9 and 5:4 modes
High speed HDMI 2.1 cable provided

One of the biggest selling points for many people when this screen is the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 which is very useful for modern PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S games consoles as it will allow you to run at 4K 120Hz and should support all the modern features of those games consoles. HDMI 2.1 can support things like VRR and ALLM too, although we need to consider here what is supported and possible from this particular display.

HDMI 2.1 ports are 24Gpbs with DSC needed to deliver the full bandwidth

To start with we should say that looking at the technical implementation, the HDMI 2.1 ports here are not actually set to use the full 48Gbps bandwidth and instead operate at 24Gbps with DSC being used. We saw this same implementation on the Gigabyte Aorus FI32U recently which uses the same panel as the AOC too (another 31.5″ 4K 144Hz model). This configuration is fine for PC usage over HDMI 2.1 as DSC can be used without any visual impact, and we can happily select 4K 144Hz 10-bit 4:4:4 (RGB) chroma.

Confirmation of HDMI 2.1 support with 24Gbps max bandwidth used and DSC needed

It is not immediately clear whether this implementation of HDMI 2.1 at 24Gbps + DSC has any impact on chroma colour levels at the maximum 4K 120Hz 10-bit level that can be supported from modern games consoles. We know that from a technical standpoint the max output of an Xbox Series X is 40Gbps allowing for the full 444 chroma, but PS5 is limited to 32Gbps and therefore only 422 chroma for 4K 120Hz 10-bit HDR content. The question becomes whether the screen will allow those theoretical max levels that the consoles support?

AOC do not list anything specific in their product material, and there’s no easy way to tell what is running from an Xbox Series X that we have access to. We have reached out to AOC to ask the question anyway and will update this section accordingly when we hear back – for those who like to know all the technical intricacies!

We should point out that most content is not going to run at 4K 120Hz 444 chroma anyway, with a most games instead operating at 422 or 420 chroma. So even if the screen cannot support the full 4K 120Hz 10-bit 444 chroma, it might not even be an issue if you can’t find games that runs like that. Chroma sacrifice is also not really an issue visually for gaming and multimedia and it’s very unlikely you’d be able to see much difference or notice this colour sacrifice in this kind of content. The fact current games and other content like Blu-ray movies run like this without major problems anyway is probably a good sign you don’t need to worry.

In PC desktop usage a display would look inferior at 422 or 420 restricted chroma, with certain colours, patterns and text looking wrong and losing clarity. You can see our section about chroma sub-sampling from our older review of Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ for more information about what it is, and the image impacts it has in desktop usage. On that screen, 4:2:2 sub-sampling was needed for PC usage over DisplayPort to get to the maximum 144Hz refresh rate. Like we say though, it’s probably not even an issue for these consoles when very little content will even support it.

Still, some people like to know that their content is running at the higher 444 chroma without any sacrifices being needed if it can support it so when we get clarification we will let you know.


VRR support for Xbox Series X, but not PS5 as it’s not available yet from Sony

The AG324UX supports two forms of Variable refresh rates (VRR), the HDMI-VRR that is built in to the HDMI 2.1 standard, and also adaptive-sync (FreeSync) over HDMI. Both of those options are supported by the Xbox Series X already, and it doesn’t matter on this display whether you have adaptive-sync enabled or not in the OSD, VRR will still be selectable from the console. This does also mean that if and when Sony add VRR support, which is most likely to be via HDMI-VRR, it should be fine on this display too.

Note by the way that there is no need to use ALLM here which is a feature supported over HDMI 2.1 and mainly for TV’s to switch to their lower input lag Game mode. Since this is a monitor, and all modes on this model carry the same low lag, it’s not needed or used. It’s not available to select from the console/

AOC helpfully include an HDMI 2.1 ultra high speed cable in the box so you are ready to connect your latest gen console and make the most of the capabilities.

Blur Reduction (MBR Mode)

Motion Blur Reduction Mode
Motion Blur Reduction Backlight
Blur reduction available with G-sync/FreeSync VRR
Strobe length control
Strobe timing control
Brightness capability (SDR, max refresh rate supported)
Motion blur OFF – Max brightness 366 cd/m2
Motion blur ON – Max brightness283 cd/m2

The strobing blur reduction backlight mode is only available once you have disabled adaptive-sync (G-sync/FreeSync) from within the OSD menu, it cannot be used at the same time as VRR like some modern competing screens allow (e.g. Asus ELMB-sync and Gigabyte Aim Stabilizer-Sync offerings). There is an option available then for ‘MBR’ (Motion Blur Reduction) with settings from 1 to 20. Each step is designed to slightly improve the clarity of the moving image via adjustment of the strobe length, but at the cost of brightness. It does however afford you a lot of flexibility to find the right balance for your liking.

MBR setting in the OSD controls the blur reduction mode, only available when you’ve disabled adaptive-sync

At the lowest setting of MBR 1 the brightness was measured at ~283 nits, and at the highest setting of MBR 20 it was ~103 nits. An MBR setting of 18 would return you a brightness of around 120 nits, while a setting of 14 would be closer to 160 nits if you want something around those levels. As you can see there is a good range of adjustment possible.

You can still access the overdrive setting in this mode, and so given you are using a fixed refresh rate and not VRR, you could consider pushing up to the ‘medium’ overdrive mode for 120 / 144Hz settings. Sticking with the ‘weak’ mode that we’d recommend for normal and VRR situations is still fine. Pushing up to the ‘strong’ mode introduces loads of nasty overshoot halos again. In fact there is another hidden option that appears in the ‘overdrive’ menu when you have disabled adaptive-sync, and that’s labelled as ‘Boost’. This seems to just enable the blur reduction mode, but also sets the overdrive mode at strong, leading to loads of unwanted halos and artefacts. Don’t bother using Boost mode!

Pursuit camera capturing perceived motion clarity in MBR mode in top, middle and bottom areas of the screen

We took some more pursuit camera photos with MBR set at 14 (delivering a decent 160 nits brightness and a nice balance between screen brightness and image clarity). You can see that the motion clarity was good here overall, especially in the middle region with minimal strobe cross talk ghosting visible. There was a bit more visible in the lower areas of the screen but overall we were impressed by the improved motion clarity in this mode. It worked well. There is no control over the strobe timing by the way to adjust where on the screen the image is clearest, but given it’s currently set for the central area, that is generally going to be preferred anyway.

Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control – the screen offers has a wide range of aspect ratio modes including wide, 4:3, 1:1 pixel mapping and then a range of specific screen sizes in 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio. These settings are hidden in the bottom of the ‘extra’ menu by the way.
  • Preset Modes – There are quite a few gamer-oriented modes available in the ‘Game mode’ menu including FPS, RTS, Racing and 3 customisable ‘Gamer’ modes. You can set these up to your liking for different gaming uses.
     
  • Shadow Control– in the ‘Gaming’ section of the OSD there is a ‘shadow control’ option with a quite a few different levels designed to tweak gamma for darker content.
  • Others – There is a frame rate counter option, and also a ‘Game Color’ slider that tweaks colour vividness. There is also a cross-hair graphic available quick-launch by pressing the joystick arrow down.

Lag

Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:

Lag Classification

  • Class 1) Less than 8.33ms – the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate – should be fine for gamers, even at high levels
  • Class 2) A lag of 8.33 – 16.66ms – the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate – moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming
  • Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms – the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz – Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

The total lag measured was a very impressive 3.25ms. The pixel response times account for basically all of that at ~3.05ms, and so we can say that there appears to be ~0.20ms of signal processing lag on this screen which is excellent. A solid result from this display and making it suitable for fast and competitive gaming.

Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:

CategoryDisplay Specs / MeasurementsComments
Size32″Fairly large for a desktop monitor nowadays but smaller than TV’s by a lot
Aspect Ratio16:9Well suited to most common 16:9 aspect content and input devices
Resolution3840 x 2160Can support Ultra HD “4K” and 1080p content natively
HDCPYes v2.2Suitable for encrypted content including the latest v2.2
Connectivity1x DisplayPort 1.4
2x HDMI 2.1
Useful additional 2x HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles. This is the latest HDMI 2.1 for next gen games consoles as well, see our section earlier on about that
CablesDisplayPort and high speed HDMI 2.1Very useful to see an HDMI 2.1 cable provided as you may not have one of these high speed cables already, they are different to older HDMI cables
ErgonomicsTilt, height, swivel, rotateEasy to use adjustments with smooth movement . The stand remains very sturdy and stable but there is quite a lot of wobble from the screen itself
CoatingLight Anti-glareProvides clear image with no graininess, but avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions
Brightness range96 – 366 cd/m2 (SDR)
400 cd/m2 (peak HDR)
Pretty good adjustment range offered including a high max brightness (SDR) and reasonable darkened room adjustment range, although could have been a bit lower for really dark rooms. Backlight dimming is free from PWM and flicker free. HDR discussed in the earlier section in more detail but a small boost to peak brightness offered here with the HDR 400 tier.
Contrast976:1 after calibrationDecent enough contrast ratio for an IPS technology panel close to spec and better than some other modern IPS panels we’ve tested before, although still not as high as you can get from VA panels of course.
Preset modesNoneThere are no specific preset modes for movie viewing in the menu but there are 3 customisable ‘Gamer’ modes which you can easily set up to your liking
Response times6.1ms G2G with no overshoot in ‘weak’ overdrive mode (all refresh rates)Response times are good overall with no major overshoot in practice at any refresh rate if you stick to the recommended ‘weak’ mode. You may want to switch overdrive ‘off’ for fixed 60Hz inputs to eliminate the minor pale overshoot if you can be bothered
Viewing anglesVery goodThanks to the IPS panel technology, suitable for viewing from a wide range of positions. Typical pale IPS glow on dark content may become problematic from some wider angles
Backlight bleedNo major bleedNo major backlight bleed and nothing along the edges. Some clouding in the upper corners may be noticeable on a lot of dark content in a dark room. Will vary from sample to sample
AudioHeadphone output
2x 8W DTS speakers
Reasonable integrated speakers on this model but these are lacking in bass. Maybe ok for the odd YouTube clip or movie trailer. There is a headphone jack provided too.
Aspect Ratio ControlsFull, 4:3, 1:1 and a range of different screen size modesThe native 16:9 aspect ratio is very common for external Blu-ray players or DVD players so unlikely to need any others. Would have been useful perhaps to see an ‘aspect’ mode included for odd inputs.
PiP / PbPBoth supportedBoth supported with a wide range of configuration options available
HDR supportSee earlier sectionsee earlier section for detailed analysis

Conclusion

 Overall Recommended Settings
Refresh Rate  (Graphics card)144Hz
Overdrive SettingWeak
Preset modeUser preference
Brightness20
Contrast50
GammaGamma 1
Colour Temp settingUser
RGB values47, 49, 52
Shadow ControlUser taste, default is 50

If you enjoyed this review and found it useful, please consider supporting our site and future content. The AOC AGON Pro AG324UX is a solid all round gaming screen which provides a decent option in the 32″ 4K 144Hz HDMI 2.1 space. Although it does fall a bit short when it ventures away from that target market and tries to be something it perhaps isn’t.

From a gaming point of view we were pleased with the response time performance and real-use motion clarity, including solid performance across the refresh rate range and a rare ‘single overdrive setting’ experience from an adaptive-sync screen. The 4K resolution combined with 144Hz is a very attractive option for PC gaming, and of course to support modern games consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This is definitely more usable and useful on a screen in this size bracket too than it is on older 27″ models and ~32″ is a nice sweet spot for a desktop monitor. The inclusion of VRR support is as welcome as ever, and you’re definitely going to need to use that to power this combination of resolution and refresh rate! Reassurance around VRR performance via the ‘G-sync Compatible’ certification is also good news. We also found the screen to have super-low input lag, and a decent blur reduction mode with a range of settings and good performance for motion clarity improvement. We would have liked the ability to use that at the same time as VRR though. The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 is bound to be popular for games console use too. Some people might like the “gamer aesthetics” and RGB lighting etc, some may not – but you know what you’re getting yourself in to here when you choose the screen!

Away from gaming this is where the screen disappointed us a bit. AOC are keen to promote its usage for non-gaming, being quite bold in their specs for colour coverage for instance. The default setup is not great for general usage and needs adjustment which is simple enough for general users. The colour gamut coverage numbers don’t really stack up with reality though. The difficulties come when trying to map the native backlight gamut back to common sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces. The native mode is ok for common SDR / sRGB content as long as you can profile and calibrate the screen with a calibration tool to map back to sRGB, just don’t think you can use the sRGB emulation mode which is poorly set up and lacks any user control to improve things. That kind of makes the factory calibration pointless as well. The gamut is also over-clamped which is a shame. While those with a calibration tool can sort things out for sRGB content from that native mode instead, you can’t really use the screen for Adobe RGB content in professional uses as the colour space coverage is not wide enough. We would have also liked a better adjustment for dark room conditions from the backlight too.

On a more positive note the screen includes the general all-round performance benefits of IPS panel technology with wide viewing angles and a good picture quality, enhanced by the high pixel depth too. It also offers 10-bit colour depth support, a flicker free backlight and has some nice (un-promoted) low blue light settings and benefits. The added USB type-C connection with power delivery and DP Alt mode, KVM switch, PiP and PbP modes also make it a good choice for more general office work and provides a good deal of flexibility with inputs. We also liked the included ‘Quick Switch’ accessory which was a nice touch.

Check pricing and availability in your region

All in all it’s a good addition to the 32″ 4K 144Hz gaming market and if gaming and general office work are your uses it is worth considering further. It is available to order in some regions already including the UK, Germany and Australia from Amazon. You can check availability for your region and latest pricing using the link above.

ProsCons
Good response time performance including a single overdrive mode experience for VRRPoor default setup and an sRGB mode you can’t really use
HDMI 2.1 included for good console supportLimited brightness adjustment at the bottom end
Super low input lag and a decent blur reduction mode tooOver-adventurous colour gamut specs that don’t stack up to reality

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