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- Good overall image quality
- Fantastic gaming performance
- Stylish and versatile stand
- FreeSync works well
- Plenty of connectivity
- 240Hz is niche
- Not the slimmest of bezels
- Low resolution for the money
- 240Hz refresh rate
- 1ms response time
- TN LCD panel
- 1920 x 1080 (1080p) resolution
- Adjustable stand with height, tilt, pivot and rotation
- Manufacturer: AOC
- Review Price: £400.00
WHAT IS THE AOC AGON AG251FZ?
The AOC Agon AG251FZ is one of a handful of new 240Hz refresh rate gaming monitors that have just hit the market. These new displays offer a much higher refresh rate than the 144Hz panels that have come before them, and look to be the perfect choice for eSports gamers.
That extra speed comes at a price, though, since this 25-inch display with a resolution of just 1920 x 1080 pixels costs the better part of £400. With AMD FreeSync onboard, a versatile stand and plenty of connectivity, it’s loaded with extras, going someway to justify the price.
AOC AGON AG251FZ – DESIGN AND FEATURES
This is a great-looking monitor. The elegant angular stand has a solid metal base, while the matte black finish of much of the rest of the frame looks great. A small red Agon logo on the lower bezel is the only “gamer” addition visible from the front, although round the back there’s a rather more obvious large red plastic panel. Even then, it’s a relatively muted red, and therefore isn’t too garish.
The only area that isn’t quite as sleek as I’d like is the rather chunky bezel. While the likes of the Asus PG279Q have incredibly thin, low-profile bezels, here they stand proud, and there’s no avoiding them.
When it comes to features, though, this display has many. The stand offers a full complement of adjustments, with 130mm of height, +/- 20° swivel and -3.5/+21.5° tilt variation, and the display can pivot 90° into portrait mode. There’s even a numbered indicator that can be used to pinpoint your preferred height, so that you can dial the monitor straight back in after you’ve had to move it or plug something in. If you’d rather use a monitor arm, the stand can also be removed, exposing a standard 100x100mm VESA mount.
There are plenty of connectivity options too. For video, there’s a DisplayPort, two HDMI, DVI and VGA, and there are analogue inputs and outputs for audio and a USB 3.0 hub.
Two of the USB ports are found on the side, one of which is able to charge devices – such as your phone – while the monitor is in standby mode.
Just above the side ports is a fold-down headphone hook. It’s such a simple addition, but it adds yet another line-item in an already-bursting features list.
AOC AGON AG251FZ – IMAGE QUALITY
I was prepared to be somewhat underwhelmed by this display’s overall image quality, expecting gaming performance to trump quality. I’m happy to say I was wrong.
This monitor performs brilliantly out of the box. If you have the patience, some tweaking will enable you to get the best out of it, but you can certainly get away with using it right away.
Most striking is how good the viewing angles are for a TN LCD panel. Moving from left to right there’s almost no obvious change in the image, and it’s only when you make a real effort to view the screen from a very low angle that you get any significant change.
The backlighting looks nice and even, there’s no obvious backlight bleed and the matte – but not grainy – finish to the display keeps reflections to a minimum.
What’s more, there’s no tendency for bright colours to become crushed together. Some TN displays can struggle to correctly display the subtle grey shading used in apps such as Outlook, or the grey boxes that surround the Pros and Cons on TrustedReviews. They can often look off-colour or be indistinguishable. Here, though, the display largely gets everything right.
Firing up our colorimeter, I measured this display’s colour performance and found that, on the whole, it backed up my initial impressions. Its colour temperature of 6814K is close enough to the ideal of 6500K to be acceptable, while a contrast ratio of 961:1 is good enough to provide a punchy-looking image.
It also covers a decent 93% of the sRGB colour space (68% AdobeRGB) and has an average Delta E of just 1.03 (maximum 2.74); closer to zero is better. Both these figures show that the monitor can display most colours properly and so is unlikely to suffer colour-banding issues.
The default setting has the brightness at only 90 out of 100, but this still delivered 318 nits of light, which is more than bright enough.
The only figure that’s slightly off is gamma, which is a little low at 1.84. This results in darker colours appearing a little lighter than they would at the correct value of 2.2. This is a feature sometimes found on gaming monitors where the manufacturer wants to give you “the edge” when facing foes in darkened corners.
The Agon AG251FZ’s figures changed very little at different refresh rates, too. The only measurement that adapted as I pushed it to 240Hz was the Delta E, which rose to an 1.27 average (3.42 maximum), suggesting the panel struggles a touch to display the finest colour differences when running at full speed.
AOC AGON AG251FZ – OSD AND SETUP
This display has five controls along the bottom edge of the front bezel to adjust any of the settings. They’re physical buttons rather than touch ones, but they’re clearly labelled and responsive – as are the menus themselves. The whole system isn’t quite as slick as the likes of Asus’ latest gaming monitors, but it’s quick and easy enough to get around.
I particularly like how the menus are split into luminance, colour and game sections, making it clear where you need to go to adjust each setting.
There are also a handful of gaming presets, none of which I felt the need to use for any length of time, plus a Shadow Control that adjusts the gamma so that you can see things more easily in dark scenes. An overdrive setting enables you to get those pixels switching even faster, plus there’s a low input lag mode.
To get what I felt was the best image from this display, I reduced the brightness to 35/100 (150 nits), set the gamma to its third setting, switched to the User color temp mode, and set the RGB values to 50, 47 and 41. With those tweaks made, this display looked great; the colour temperature was brought in line to 6568K, and the gamma was brought closer to 2.2, hitting 2.38.
AOC AGON AG251FZ – GAMING PERFORMANCE
When it comes to gaming, for the most part all you need to do is switch it to its 240Hz refresh rate via Windows’ display settings and turn on FreeSync in AMD’s drivers if you have an AMD graphics card. There are a few other tweaks that can be made, but the core combination of 240Hz and FreeSync clearly puts this display ahead of most others.
Back-to-back, there’s a discernible difference between 120/144Hz and 240Hz. That same sense of having a more solid, immediate and clear image that you get when moving from 60Hz to 144Hz is felt moving up again to 240Hz. The actual benefit in terms of your gaming performance is likely to be minimal, even for the most elite players – especially if you’re playing online – but there’s no doubt it feels faster.
However, the one thing the fast refresh rate can’t eradicate is eye-tracking motion blur. Although the refresh rate of this display does make it slightly less susceptible than 144Hz displays, it’s still a problem.
As such, monitors with backlight-strobing motion blur reduction technologies, such as the BenQ Zowie XL2735, do a better job when it comes to perceived picture clarity. It’s hard to say which technology is best – 144Hz with strobing or 240Hz without – but, certainly, a 240Hz monitor with blur reduction would be the ultimate combination.
Elsewhere, this display has an impressively low response time from its TN panel, which means its pixels can genuinely keep up with it fast refresh rate. That’s unlike the AOC C3583FQ, for example, which despite having a 160Hz refresh rate suffers significant ghosting blur from the slow response time of its VA panel.
Similarly, FreeSync works properly all the way up to 240Hz, making for tear- and stutter-free gaming for those whose PCs can’t quite deliver a consistent frame rate above 240Hz.
As for input lag, I couldn’t use our usual Leo Bodnar tester since it only works up to 60Hz. However, I certainly didn’t notice any significant extra delay – and other sources have measured a figure of 12.2ms, which is impressively low. What’s more, there’s a low input lag option that further reduces this figure to just 3.7ms.
SHOULD I BUY THE AOC AGON AG251FZ?
This is an impressive monitor, and it performed better than I initially expected. A refresh rate of 240Hz may sound like a gimmick, but it feels tangibly better than 144Hz. For most people it’s complete overkill, of course, but if you want the absolute fastest then you’re looking right at it.
The only twinge of disappointment comes from the lack of anti-motion-blur technology, which would have sealed the deal.
Nonetheless, elsewhere this is a great-looking monitor offering excellent image quality; this makes it a surprisingly good all-rounder.
As such, although it’s pricey for a 25-inch monitor with a 1080p resolution, it isn’t more than I’d be willing to pay for the ultimate in high refresh rate panels.
If you’re looking for an alternative for a little less cash, the Samsung C24FG70 will set you back £300, comes with a Full HD curved display running at 144Hz.
The AG251FZ proves 240Hz isn’t a gimmick, and packs it into a great-looking, quality package.