If you've been looking for a gaming monitor that takes advantage of some of the latest screen technologies, then the AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition could be for you.
After all, as a screen connoisseur, life can be tough. It’s nigh impossible to find a panel that ticks all of those boxes you’re after. Need a super fast refresh rate? Well that means poor colors. After strong inky blacks, and good contrast? Your viewing angles are going to suffer. Want high resolution and incredible pixel density? Now you’ve gotta find a GPU to power that beast, even if there is one. And all that at a reasonable price? Ha! It’s tricky, real tricky.
Arguably, right now, the sweet spot for casual AAA gaming is a 1440p resolution. Whether it’s the usual 16:9 2560x1440 or the super-wide gorgeousness of 3440x1440, if your main aim is to play the latest and greatest mainstream titles and RPGs, the crispness provided by that mid-ground between 1080p and 4K is undeniably perfect.
When it comes to refresh rates, we’ve seen 120, 144 and 165Hz 2560x1440 panels for quite some time now. They’re nothing new. What we haven’t seen, however, is that spec transposed across to the world of the super-wide.
The reason is fairly simple: there’s just not been enough demand, as 21:9 is a niche aspect ratio, and although we’ve seen some higher refresh screens (75 and 100Hz at most), there’s never been enough drive to manufacture panels capable of pumping up that refresh rate further.
Combine that with the fine balance of bandwidth available on DisplayPort 1.2 and you immediately run into problems. So why are high refresh rates such a big deal?
Simply put, it makes everything smoother, it’s one of the more noticeable changes you can perceive, akin to going from 1080p to 4K in image quality. And on top of that it’s hard to come back from too.
Price and availability
Admittedly the AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition does come with a high price tag, and at the time of review this monumental screen will set you back near £745 or $890 (around AU$1,200), but for the feature list it’s a price that we’d argue is a reasonable one.
This is where things get a little complex, though, and It’s to do with the Black Edition’s twin, the AOC Agon AG352UCG6. The big question is: why buy the standard version? Aside from the silver frame instead of a black one, the refresh rate is lower, and the contrast ratio less impressive. Yet, it’s identical in price.
This makes the AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition a far more compelling purchase.
This is where AOC has taken advantage of this latest tech. Not only does this beauty feature similar specs to the standard AG352UCG, (including VA panel, 4ms G2G response time, and G-Sync), but it also bumps up that panel refresh rate all the way to 120Hz, making it somewhat of an industry first in providing a frame rate that's higher than we’ve previously seen, and smoothing out your gaming and everyday activities.
So, refresh rate aside, what else does the Black Edition feature? Well, there’s a low blue light mode baked in, along with a flicker reduction setting, to stop those long night gaming sessions interrupting your sleep.
The Black Edition comes with a solid aluminium base, comprised of two pieces. The main portion clips into the back of the screen, and the second secures to the three-legged base, which provides more than enough support for that massive 35-inch display.
A single locking screw secures the base, and four individual screws lock the main support arm to the panel. By default that comes pre-attached, although you can remove it if necessary.
As far as the aesthetics are concerned, however, some might find this a bit too gaudy. It definitely has that gamer feel, which is a little odd when you consider the spec to be a bit too far on the high-end for the average 14 year old to afford.
It has a height adjustable swivel stand, although no portrait mode, which is to be expected given it’s massive girth, and of course the now industry standard RGB lighting. Oh and did we mention it’s curved too?
Out of the box the AOC Agon AG352UCG6 Black Edition is well calibrated, so there’s little need to tinker with the color profiles or settings, although a more experienced photo editor may want to have a quick look inside of the OSD menu.
Overall, it’s the blacks that capture the most attention here, as VA is not a second rate type of panel when it comes to color pop, and thanks to that ability to produce seriously crisp blacks on demand, it really helps boost up the contrast ratio.
Admittedly, it does suffer a touch on viewing angles, but given that you’ll be sat in the center of this 35-inch curved behemoth, we don’t overly see that as being a problem.
It’s that refresh rate that’s all-encompassing however. The 120Hz refresh of pure buttery smoothness makes this one of the only super-wide screens on the market than provides you with that feeling, and trust us, once you go up and above the 100Hz mark, you certainly won’t be coming back.
Downsides, then? Well, for the price, the OSD menu is less than intuitive. There’s a single joystick to control it, and it’s by no means obvious as to how you initially enter any menu,
This can be a big problem, as the option to enable that 120Hz refresh rate is buried in the second page of the drop-down menu. Making it all somewhat more dramatic than it actually is.
In short, you enter the OSD, set the overclocking to "on", then you can adjust the refresh rate in Windows.
It’s an unnecessary additional step to an otherwise pristine monitor. We assume it’s to invoke that feeling of the “big red button” kinda thing, but in reality it’s more annoying than anything else.
AOC really has pulled off something special here, the VA panel’s popping colors, that 120Hz refresh rate, and powerful 3440x1440 resolution combined with a curved 35-inch form factor makes it one of the best super-wide screens on the market currently, if you can stomach the price.
The only downside stems around the janky OSD menu, it’s just not a good way of enabling those menus.
On top of that, going into those same menus to enable the 120Hz refresh rate just seems rather pointless. It doesn’t damage the longevity, doesn’t invalidate the warranty (as typical “overclocking” would), and ultimately it’s just another hoop that you have to jump through. It just brings even more of your attention to how frustrating it is to use those on-screen menus.
The AOC Agon AG352UCG6 is an impressive marvel in the world of screens. If RPGs are your domain, and slower paced single player titles your thing, it’s a dream world. That’s not saying it’s bad at FPS, but if you really want to compete on the top end, you want something with a faster response time, and probably a 16:9 aspect ratio (as some FPS games don’t support 21:9).
The color is fantastic, the price is very much on point (although a little confusing compared to its younger, slower, sibling), and all in all it’s a screen that you’ll be more than happy with for the next four to five years as an absolute minimum.
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