Asus’s Designo line of curved monitors have yet to hit their stride on the market. While many of them are beautifully designed, a majority of PC players feel that curved monitors as a whole are just an expensive gimmick that adds nothing worthwhile to their gameplay experience. I used to agree with this until I started playing around with the Asus Designo MX34VQ, which showcases just how far curved monitors have come from their initial inception.
Retailing for $999.99CAD, the Asus Designo MX34VQ is a 34” ultra-wide monitor sporting a native resolution of 3440×1440, 21:9 aspect ratio, 100hz refresh rate and a 1800R curvature. The largest worry any consumer has buying a curved panel are its weak viewing angles, resulting in a major dip in picture quality. Thankfully, all of these listed specs result in a near perfect viewing experience from side-to-side, with the monitor delivering immersive visuals and vivid colours in a wide range of media. Compared to the previously reviewed Samsung CF591, I’m much more impressed with the MX34VQ and its VA panel. The high 3000:1 contrast ratio, paired with the native QHD resolution, exceeded my initial expectations and made me want to experiment with its extensive range of presets and features.
Before we go into crafting a viewing experience to our personal tastes, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this monitor. Asus Designo continues to excel at sleek and professional monitor design and the MX34VQ is no exception. What I’m sure will be the main eye catch for consumers are the extremely small top bezels, which perfectly showcase the ultra-wide screen and how much real estate users get to play with. Smartly integrated into the base of the monitor is a metal 5W Qi wireless charging plate, which shines an ambient hue of blue when a compatible device is charging off it. While convenient, this method of charging isn’t as fast as simply plugging your phone into a charge outlet or USB port. The only design disappointment I have is the static positioning of the monitor, but I understand why. Playing around too much with the positioning destroys the viewing angles for the user and breaks their immersion, but given the enhancements to this curved tech, I expected some improvements to be made by now to offer more diversity to the user.
When purchasing a monitor at this price point, consumers expect premium quality in all areas with no compromises. Sadly, many panels bundle in cheap, coarse, speakers that no user will want to listen to. The Asus Designo MX34VQ, however, wants to change that perception and compliments its overall user experience by including rich 8W Harman Kardon speakers. Utilizing the Asus AudioWizard, users can optimize their audio for music, movies, or games and notice a sizable difference in quality. Music mode enhances the bass and provides a more spacious sound, movie mode amps up the vocals and sound-effects for a theatre-like experience, and game mode enhances the in-game effects to increase the user’s depth of immersion.
Now comes the best part: the variety of visual preset modes. Compared to the cheapish monitors I’ve used throughout my life, tuning my monitor was essentially a lost cause. I either used the standard preset or yellowed the screen in case my eyes started to hurt because the other presets were egregious to look at. With the powerful visuals the Asus Designo was able to deliver, I finally was able to tailor my monitor to the piece of media I was viewing. Whether it was sRGB, scenery, theatre, or gaming, the monitor was able to enhance the visuals and bring more life to the content. Users can also customize a variety profiles to further personalize their ideal viewing experience.
Playing games on the Asus Designo MX34VQ was enjoyable. One of my core complaints that I felt greatly hindered the Samsung CF591 was that it seemed like I was locked out of entire genres of games. Fighting games looked wonky when I looked to the side, indies didn’t get along with the aspect ratio, and due to the latency of the panel, competitive titles greatly suffered. That’s no longer the case here. Despite having a 4ms delay, the smoothness of the 100Hz and the tailored curvature of the screen allowed me to enjoy a more diverse library of titles outside of cinematic AAA experiences. Lastly, users lucky enough to grab hold of any of AMD’s Vega GPUs will finally see a worthwhile experience using Freesync.
My one piece of advice for people considering purchasing the Asus Designo MX34VQ is to make sure you have a powerful enough rig to get the most out of it. If a user’s PC is built for 1080p gaming, then it’s best to go with a 1080p panel. Because that’s the native resolution of the monitor, the picture will look sharper than if it were downscaled from a QHD panel. Users lowering their res to improve performance will notice ugly blurring and softer shadows, ruining the premium experience they paid good money for. Identify how powerful your rig is and purchase gear that compliments the hardware properly.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my time with the Asus Designo MX34VQ. While I still personally use flatscreens because I love competitive games and better versatility, curved VA panels are becoming more appealing to me for cinematic experiences in AAA titles and streaming video content. Flatscreens will always remain the king of the market because of the wide variety of market targeted experiences and budgets, but it’s nice to see that even curved monitors like this one are worth a look at for users interested in experiencing something unique from the status quo.
A retail version of this device reviewed was provided by the manufacturer. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.
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