Introduction

120Hz panels are definitely still market newcomers - in fact, look no further than Newegg, where there still isn’t a 120Hz category, much less a refresh rate field for drilling down products. The necessity for 120Hz panels arose entirely out of the ongoing 3D obsession across the entire consumer electronics segment, something that remains a difficult sell for many gamers. On a technical level, the necessity for 120Hz arises from the need to drive two discrete 60Hz images - one 60Hz image for each eye. In its current incarnation, consumer 3D technology relies primarily on active shutter glasses - parallax barrier 3D displays are still too expensive, and I’ve yet to see passive polarization methods used outside the movie theatre. But you probably already know most of the 3D story.

Though the 120Hz refresh frequency does make games playable in 3D, there’s another important benefit of using a faster refresh rate - everything looks smoother, and you can now drive up to 120 FPS without tearing. The ASUS VG236H was my first exposure to 120Hz refresh displays that aren’t CRTs, and the difference is about as subtle as a dump truck driving through your living room. I spent the first half hour seriously just dragging windows back and forth across the desktop - from a 120Hz display to a 60Hz, stunned at how smooth and different 120Hz was. Yeah, it’s that different.

If you’re the kind of person that cares about squeezing every last FPS out of your box - regardless of how you feel about 3D - don’t even bother reading the rest of this review, just run, don’t walk, to the store and get this 120Hz display. I’m serious.

ASUS’ VG236H isn’t perfect, like any product there are a few caveats. That aside, honestly, the completely unparalleled level of smoothness on a 120 Hz display has made me hyper attuned to just how flickery 60Hz looks on all the other LCDs I’ve got.

Oh and my initial skepticism about 3D? I’m still shocked about it, but I've completely changed my mind.

Let’s dive into this review.

Overview and Specifications
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  • ganeshts - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Is there any monitor that supports HDMI 1.4a (and thus, 3D over HDMI)?

    With the upcoming HDMI 1.4 GPUs, I just wish we had a monitor capable of acting as a sink for those signals instead of having to hunt down a 3D TV to test it out!
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    two other 120hz computer monitors i can find online...

    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displa...

    i can't, for the life of me, figure out what revision of the HDMI standard it uses. alienware does not report those details, and dell offers no manual for this monitor in their support page. someone would have to call them and ask, but i live outside the US.

    and an acer model...

    http://us.acer.com/acer/product.do?link=oln85e.red...

    this product sheet has a maximum reported 75hz over HDMI, so I am going to say "NO," not 1.4a, but it doesn't actually say that.
    Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    If 3-D game technology works the same as 3-D Blu-Ray, then it's really only 60Hz x2 (alternating per eye). It may be capable of 120Hz natively, it may display 120Hz from 2-D, but for 3-D I'm pretty sure you're still only getting 60Hz per eye.

    What strikes me most about this whole 120Hz topic is that I had a Sony CRT that could handle 1280x1024 @ 240Hz about 10 years ago. And yes, VSYNC @ 240Hz is why the LCD boom disappointed me so much. LCDs, while thin and light, were a horrible step backward for gaming - at least for those of us who were used to high framerates and refresh rates.

    LCDs still have such catching up to do...
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - link

    you'll get no argument from me about lcds vs crts.
    but that's the way the industry has gone, oh well.

    in any case, the acer monitor specs the HDMI 70Hz, and a different refresh rate of 120Hz for using DVI.
    I believe that HDMI 1.4a is capable of delivering more than 70Hz, so I was attempting to answer that question, not to determine whether or not it is capable of playing 3D over HDMI. However, ganesh seems to think so, and I was giving him the benefit of the doubt there.

    As to the second question, is there a someone who can say with authority that 3D can (or cannot) play over HDMI with a limit of a 70Hz refresh rate?
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - link

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/3d-vision-requirement...

    this nvidia 3d vision compatibility chart is interesting.
    looks like 120Hz refresh is definitely a necessity for 3D.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Friday, August 13, 2010 - link

    It clearly states in the article that the 3D effect is 60Hz each eye. Brian's comments lead me to believe it is a true 120Hz display in 2D, but I can't say that's a fact.

    I have to agree about the refresh rate - and it's one reason why I run a Sony FW900 CRT. I run it @ 85Hz, 1920x1200. 60 Hz is a poor standard to settle for, in my opinion. I know we all live with 60Hz flashes in our modern lives and think nothing of it, we are conditioned to our lighting doing that, but it makes a difference. 100 Hz should be the standard we build to, not 60.

    I was excited about this monitor at first, but .265 dot pitch and 1920x1080 aren't what I want. .265 is better than the LCD I have, but not much, and I prefer the 16:10 over 16:9 ratio.

    ;)
    Reply
  • xef6 - Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - link

    I know this is an old comment, but I can confirm that it is indeed a 120hz 2D display. I haven't used it for 3D stuff yet. I just use it as a 120hz display and enjoy a much smoother interface. ATI config reports its maximum refresh rate as 120. Reply
  • Luke212 - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    hate to tell you but the highest ever Sony at that 1024 would have been 126Hz Reply
  • Cushgod - Wednesday, December 08, 2010 - link

    I 240% agree with you!! :P LCD's do have catching up to do ... its sad we are coming back to the Hz I used to enjoy. I am currently on an asus-vg236h, and I am thrilled to play all my games with better framerate, and clear and smotth scrolling left and right turning, awesome BF BC2, Warhammer, and Global Agenda look beautiful. Its night and day to me. Night and Day. Reply
  • Fleeb - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    Why HDMI for monitors when DisplayPort can do the job? Reply

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