AOC are well known for their industrial design and good value-for-money monitors, and both seem well represented by their 35-inch curved gaming monitor, the AG352QCX. This monitor is relatively inexpensive given its size, with a moderate 2560 x 1080 resolution, but still manages to include a high 200Hz refresh rate and a litany of modes and features.
Let’s begin our review with a look at its design.
The focal point of the AG352QCX is the MVA panel, which measures 35 inches along the diagonal and reaches a resolution of 2560 x 1080. That’s not the highest pixel density we’ve seen on a monitor of this size, but it does ensure that you actually have a chance to drive it at its maximum refresh rate of 200Hz.
The panel has a 2000R curvature, which is sufficiently immersive without making straight lines (like on spreadsheets) look too weird.
The panel is contained by a glossy black bezel of moderate thickness. At the bottom there’s a large AGON logo. Running along the bottom of the monitor (and the back) are several glowing LED lights, which can shine in red, green or blue, or be disabled (if you just don’t like fun).
There’s also the singular OSD controller: a four-way joystick. This can be clicked in to open the entire menu, or shifted in any of the four cardinal directions to jump straight to a specific setting.
The AGON is a good-looking monitor, largely on the strength of its shiny brushed metal stand. It’s a bit too organic looking to be an Apple product — you’d have to imagine Ive would go for a straight line stand instead of a tripod — but you get the same vibe of solidity and quality. The stand is quite functional as well, allowing for 60 degrees of side-to-side rotation, 120mm of height adjustment and 35 degrees of up-down tilting.
The top of the stand has an integrated carry handle, although you’ll have to be careful to ensure that the monitor is screwed into the stand before you start to carry it around!
On the back of the monitor you can find a vast array of ports, in two planes. We have the usual downward-facing ports in the centre, and some additional ports following the diagonal path of the monitor’s frame to the left. In the centre, you can find DisplayPort 1.2a, HDMI 2.0, an MHL-capable HDMI port, DVI and VGA.
On the left, you have a USB 3.0 input, two USB 3.0 output ports (including a high-speed charging port) and a 3.5mm audio passthrough for headphones and the like.
Finally, there is a flip-out piece of metal that I can only assume is a headphone holder. Nice.
That just about covers it, so let’s move onto the testing!
To perform our testing, we used the Spyder4Elite colorimeter (the X-Rite i1Display Pro is still beyond our grasp). The monitor was set to the following settings:
- 120 nits brightness (OSD setting: 34)
- 6500K colour temperature
- Default contrast (50)
- Gamma 2.0 (setting 1)
- sRGB mode
Let’s get started.
First up is the colour gamut of the display. In the sRGB mode, it succeeds in hitting 100% of the range, as well as 80% and 77% on the AdobeRGB and NTSC colour specifications, respectively. These latter two are of limited use for most users, so we’re quite happy with that result.
Moving onto brightness and contrast, we recorded contrast ratios between 1060 and 1180:1. The Spyder4Elite consistently under-reads in our testing, so take it with a grain of salt. It’s higher than pretty much all other monitors that we’ve tested, which is expected given the manufacturer’s stated contrast ratio of 2000:1. The contrasts remains pretty constant throughout, with the best results coming between 50 and 75% brightness.
Measuring the each of the labelled gamma settings reveals what they actually correspond to. Gamma setting 1 is 2.0, Gamma 2 is 1.8, and Gamma 3 is 2.2. It’s confusing that they’re not in order, particularly as the corresponding values aren’t shown. AOC, please fix.
Moving onto colour uniformity now, and you can see decent results for all but the highest brightness settings. The upper right quadrant is a little off our expected values, with an error value of 3.7 at worst, but this comes down to 1.9 and 1.2 at 67% and 50% brightness, respectively.
Luminance uniformity is uniformly good to mediocre throughout, with the left and right centre quadrants reading a good 25-30% higher than the remainder. The curved surface of the screen may be giving the colourimeter some trouble, as it doesn’t appear to be that far out of whack to my eyes, so take this with a grain of salt.
Colour uniformity is excellent, with a low Delta-E error value of just 1.21. The vast majority of the error bars are under 1.00, with only blues, greens and some shades of grey escaping (and only teal has significant problems). Overall, that’s a great result.
Finally we’ll have a look at Datacolor’s built-in monitor rating, which dings the monitor for luminance uniformity and white point, but praises it pretty much everywhere else. I reckon that’s a fair roundup, and we’ll move onto my firsthand impressions.
We used the AGON monitor for gaming and work for a two week period in late April and early May.
In games, the AG352QCX is a tremendous performer, particularly in immersive first-person games like shooters or racing titles. The wide screen does a good job of filling your peripheral vision, while the strong contrast ratios and decent colours make the on-screen action look quite pretty indeed. I played quite a few rounds of Project CARS, and had a great time rushing around Spa in the cockpit view.
The high refresh rate also helps the cause, and helps to justify the relatively low resolution of 2560 x 1080. This is a monitor that you can drive even with a low or mid-range PC, although you will likely need something more high-end if you want to be maxing-out every setting and still hitting 200 frames per second.
One problem I did run into is that the monitor seems to suffer from smearing, which is particularly noticeable when playing fast-paced and competitive games like Counter-Strike. Players look a little blurry when moving quickly, and that makes it harder to take them down. I tried messing around with all of the various game mode settings — game mode on or off, low input lag on or off, overdrive off, weak, medium or strong… and nothing really improved things. I even backtracked to 144Hz to see if that would make an improvement, but I didn’t find a winning combination. It’s still playable, but it’s disappointing for a 200Hz monitor.
One downside to a monitor this wide is that UI elements like maps or ammo counters in the corners of the screen are more difficult to glance at than on a 16:9 display. I found that I stopped checking the minimap as often as I should in games like Counter-Strike, as it was simply taking too much of my attention away from the centre of the screen. In games where you’re sitting a little further back, like in strategy games, this was less of an issue.
Another downside to an ultra-widescreen display is that not all games support it, even in this day and age. Most modern and mainstream titles do, which is great, but many older games only support traditional 16:9 displays which leaves you with black bars on either side. However, the trend for 21:9 monitors continues to grow, so unless you are often playing old titles, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
What about work? Well, having a 21:9 display is definitely an upgrade over 16:9, giving you a nice opportunity to fit two windows side-by-side without sacrificing too much horizontal space. A 2560 x 1440 (or better yet, 3440 x 1440) monitor is even better, but 2560 x 1080 is still great.
I was impressed with the colour accuracy of the monitor too; hitting 100% sRGB is still not a given even at this price point. That made it possible to do photo editing and other tasks without worrying too much about the results looking weird on someone else’s screen. There was a bit of colour shift evident, but I didn’t find it difficult to stay in the monitor’s generously sized sweet spot.
Finally, this monitor is kick-ass for movies if you can find them in something approaching a 21:9 format. By default, even the official Netflix app doesn’t fill 21:9 screens, leaving you with black bars on all four sides, but it is possible to override this in various ways or seek alternate sources.
If you’re considering a 21:9 monitor for gaming and you’d rather have a high refresh rate than a higher resolution 3440 x 1440 display, then the AGON AG352QCX could be a nice choice.
The monitor looks great and has tons of features, so you can set it up just how you like it. The panel itself is nice with good colour accuracy and contrast, although it did exhibit some brightness uniformity and smearing issues in some games. That might make it a no-go for shooters set in darker areas, but racing games and other titles look great.
If you also want to get some work done, then the AGON can certainly do that too. The 21:9 aspect ratio means you can get two windows side by side without too much trouble, and the blue light feature keeps things easy on your eyes.
All in all, AOC’s AG352QCX isn’t without its flaws. The smearing issue is disappointing, and prevents us from giving the monitor a full recommendation. Otherwise though, this is a great monitor that will serve you well for work or play.