MSI’s new ‘Rapid VA’ gaming monitors are the budget displays I’ve been waiting for

One of MSI's new gaming monitors as part of a PC gaming desk setup.
(Image credit: MSI)

MSI is steamrolling ahead with a ton of new monitors for PC gamers. The Taiwanese brand recently unveiled a new selection of OLED displays, and has now revealed a range of gaming monitors using the company’s new Rapid VA technology.

For those not in the know, Vertical Alignment (VA) screens are a type of LCD display; essentially the opposite of In-Plane Switching (IPS) displays, in which the liquid crystal cells are aligned horizontally. VA panels are more commonly found in LCD TVs, while IPS is generally the more popular choice for the best computer monitors.

VA panels typically offer better contrast and deeper blacks than their IPS counterparts, but may have a higher response time that results in ‘ghosting’ (a sort of visual defect) in fast-paced games where the display struggles to keep up with the action on-screen. But MSI’s Rapid VA tech promises to make this a thing of the past, by using improved manufacturing techniques to create a thinner liquid crystal layer with a higher driving voltage that boosts the response time to just 1ms.

VA, away!

The first monitors from MSI to receive the Rapid VA treatment are a stack of four products, all sitting within MSI’s MAG brand, which caters specifically to gamers. The new monitors will range from 27 to 35 inches in size, and feature refresh rates of either 170Hz or 240Hz, making them ideal for fast-paced games now that MSI has solved the VA response time issue.

All four displays are also curved, something that has become increasingly common among gaming monitors, where viewing angles don’t matter so much. I personally owned one of MSI’s curved displays in the past (the Optix MAG321CURV) and enjoyed using it for years, so I’m excited to see how these new MAG monitors perform. You can check out the product pages on MSI’s website already.

By not using OLED panels, they’ll hopefully be more affordable than MSI’s other upcoming displays. MSI is already known as a more budget-friendly PC gaming brand, and this could cement its position as the monitor maker of choice for cash-strapped gamers. Expect to see one of these snaking its way onto our list of the best gaming monitors in the future.

All four models are 1440p QHD resolution (my personal favorite gaming resolution - 4K screens are just too expensive) and will feature the usual selection of features we’ve come to expect from MSI’s monitors, such as Quantum Dot technology for improving brightness and color accuracy, and a Smart Crosshair for shooters.

If I had one complaint, it’s that they all have stupid, hard-to-remember names. How am I supposed to remember the difference between the MAG 325CQRXF and the MAG 325CQRF-QD? Sure, this isn’t a problem unique to MSI; PC monitors have historically had terrible, nonsensical naming conventions. But perhaps it’s time we shifted to a slightly more grounded method for naming displays, hmm?

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Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.