A few months ago we featured Acer’s Predator Z35 Curved Screen, which has 35″ screen. While the display was great, it lacked the competitive edge for its price tag, especially when you consider that LG and BenQ have been operating in this space for a short time longer than Acer. Asus has thrown its hat into the ring with it’s large, curved gaming screen, the ROG Swift PG348Q.
While the BenQ XR3501 has a minimalist design, the LG Thunderbolt™ 34UM95-P a more elegant approach, and the Acer Predator Z35 a lore more savage, the Asus ROG Swift PG348Q is bar far the best looking of the bunch. The competition, however, isn’t decided on sheer looks, but the resolution, refresh rates, performance and additional features. So how does the Swift face up to the likes of the other manufacturers, and is it worth your hard-earned cash?
Build, Design and Features
As stated in the intro, the curved screen from the Asus Republic of Gamers range looks great. The Swift is nothing short of a monster. Asus has done a lot in terms of the looks of the Swift to impress prospective buyers, something that is sometimes amiss amongst other gaming monitors. For starters, the stand looks like reactor core with its copper accents on the stand. One half of the textured grey rear is smooth, while the other side has features resembling a circuit board of some kind. The stand is almost all metallic with a light grey finish, while the monitor is predominantly plastic with a much darker grey. The official colour scheme for the Swift is Armor Titanium and Plasma Copper, which is pretty much bang on in terms of the description.
The base of the stand is lifted slightly from the surface, which has a special purpose. The unit is fitted with built-in lighting effects, which add to the notion of it being a nuclear reactor. The LED lights project the ROG logo onto the desk, and because of my glass desktop, it shines right down onto the floor, making it appear much larger. For many, a more elegant approach would suffice, but since this is a gaming monitor after all, a more flamboyant approach is justified. I enjoy the sheer size of it, the accents, and the lighting. It may be a little distracting at times, but a quick toggle of the OSD and you can turn it off in seconds.
The design of the Swift is pretty impressive, and there’s no wondering why it has already won a few awards in its short existence, including an Innovation Aware at CES 2016. The design elements range from the extravagant, which I’ve already discussed, to the more fine tuned, such as the ventilation system, which takes air in from the bottom with hot air exhausted from the top. The design is also frameless, which allows users with more than one monitor to position them next to each other without a huge gap between the screens. The curve of the screen has a radius of 3,800R, which may seem less significant than its competitors, but with good reason. While it may seem trivial, there is actual purpose to the configured radius on the Swift, that being that each pixel on the screen is equidistant from your eyes. And this makes a huge difference during longer hours of gaming, since your eyes don’t have to adjust its focus to the corners of the screen.
Now, down to the more technical aspects and specifications of the Asus ROG Swift. The unit has a 34″ panel, which measures 829x323x109mm without the stand, and 829x558x297mm with the stand. Given its bulky look, there’s no surprise as to the 11.2KG weight. All of the buttons are fitted to the rear of the panel, towards the bottom left side (when viewing from the back). There are 5 buttons in total, which includes, from bottom to top, the power button, Turbo hotkey, GamePlus hotkey, Exit Button, and 5-way OSD toggle. The Turbo hotkey switches between 7 different frequencies ranging from 60Hz to 100Hz. The GamePlus hotkey launches a separate menu, where you’ll be able to choose from crosshair targets, game times, and toggle the FPS counter.
The interfaces are positioned at the bottom of the rear, facing downward. This does make it a little trickier to connect all your required cables at first, but there good reason for this. The panel has its own cover, which hides the cables while also making it a bit neater. The interfaces include x1 HDMI, x1 DisplayPort, x3 USB 3.0 (one upstream, two downstream), and x1 3.5mm audio jack. Other connections on the panel include a Kensington lock and power input. There are also a pair 2W stereo speakers fitted to the rear, but the sound quality here isn’t great, and not worth mentioning in detail.
There’s no doubting the build and design of the Swift is impressive, but its large size does have the potential to pose a few questions when it comes to the actual device setup. The extravagant designs does mean it takes up a lot more space than usual, measuring close to 30cm from front to rear. So finding sufficient space on your desk may be a little more tricky, but nothing severe. Having a separate stand for the monitor on my glass desk, the monitor’s stand just about fit. I was a bit skeptical as to whether the stand would be able to support all of its 11.2KG, but there were no issues in the end.
Upon unboxing, there are 3 parts to assemble, the monitor panel, the arm and the base. The arm fits snuggly into the base. Although it isn’t required, you may fit this into position by means of two screws. From there, you simply place the monitor face down on a soft surface (such as your couch), and attach the stand assembly into position. There are grooves that you need to align, but it isn’t overly complicated to position. From there, turn the monitor right side up, and place on your desk. Fit any cables you require, along with the power cable, and place the cover onto the rear.
Once completed, you have a full range of motion to adjust to your liking, including the height adjustment (115mm), tilt (25 degrees), or swivel (100 degrees). The unit does have a 100m VESA mount support, but given that this is a review unit, I wasn’t prepared to do any mounting. All in all, a pretty quick, and painless setup, of which the hardest part is taking the unit out the box itself.
The on-screen display (OSD) is quite handy, and not cumbersome to use at all, thanks to the 5-way toggle, which acts as a joystick. Scrolling through the menus are quite fast and responsive, with each submenu loading in milliseconds. There are loads of settings to adjust via the OSD, which include Over Clocking, Game Visuals (Scenery, Racing, Cinema, RTS/RPG (Real Time Strategy/Role Playing Game, FPS (First-Person Shooter), and sRGB modes), Blue Light Filter (0-4), Colour adjustment (Brightness, Contrast, Color Temperature, and Saturation), Image adjustment, Input Select, and System Setup.
Display and Performance
In short, the performance of the Asus ROG Swift PG348Q is very good, and very impressive. The 34″ screen has an IPS panel, with a native resolution of 3,400×1,440px with a 21:9 aspect ratio, a pixel response time of 5 milliseconds, and peak brightness of 300 cd/m2.
Aside from the factory specifications, we take a closer look at the image quality and performance. The brightness levels are quite good, with good deep black as well. The contrast ratio, as a result, is also quite good, not just on paper. Running through a series of benchmark tests, and checking through a few comparisons, the Swift performs very well against its competitors, lagging only behind the Samsung S34E790C in terms of the brightness levels and clarity. But, the Swift regains some of its early losses by having the best sRGB levels from the 5 devices compared against. Out of the box factory settings aren’t great, however, but there are sufficient options available to boost the image performance quite drastically. Choosing the best setting for your preference is crucial. Switching the GameVisual option on in the menu makes a huge difference in terms of colour and brightness, and was my preferred setting throughout the review period.
While comparing the different monitors, there’s no doubting that the Asus’ Swift is geared specifically for gaming, while some of the others tend to offer a more rounded performance for both work and play. But, that may be an advantage for the Swift, as it delivers excellent gaming performances, even pushing the refresh rate to 100Hz. The performance was good, with no signs of ghosting, motion blur, or any other performance issues for that matter. For those who suffer from tearing issues on occasion, the Swift offers Nvidia’s G-Sync support for a cleaner and smoother look. The unit also consumes around 39W of power at the brightest levels, which is about 10W more efficient than the Acer Predator Z35 (although there is an Eco Mode to drop that down to the mid-30s). The input lag also yielded some impressive results, with a response time just over 10ms at it’s best, and 12ms on average. Good gaming performance is considered around the 20ms mark, which it beats by some stretch.
The Ultra WQHD means that you’ll get the most out of games that support this resolution. The ultra-widescreen means you’ll get a lot more peripheral view of the scenery, backgrounds, and action scenes. While the monitor isn’t true 4K (typically 4096×2160px), it is still a lot more impressive than the standard 1080p resolutions. Running your games on 4K settings is well-displayed, although it downscales a tad to the native resolution. Already noting that the curve was designed to create an equidistant view from the eye to all corners of the monitor, it is worth noting again that it is quite a unique feature. I expected to move my head around quite a bit to view the different positions on screen while gaming, but I found that quite minimal. The monitor includes a few hotkeys, as mentioned previously, but, apart from the Turbo button, I didn’t make use of these very frequently, as the monitor performed well as is.
Faults and Issues
Despite being quite an impressive gaming monitor, there are a few niggles to be discussed. For starters, there’s some backlight bleeding on the two top corners of the screen. While it isn’t severe, it is still noticeable on a completely black screen. The second niggle I had was the lack of HDMI ports. Although I do have an HDMI hub, a monitor of this nature should have at least two, preferably three.
The Asus ROG Swift PG348Q Curved 34″ Gaming Monitor is a very good, and very able device. Not only does it look the part, but it also performs extremely well under almost all conditions. It has a rich and accurate colour palette, and sharp image. There are a number of features dedicated specifically for gamers, making an ideal for all competitive gamers looking for a widescreen monitor. Apart from the lack of HDMI ports, slight backlight bleeding and poor speakers, there isn’t much to fault with the Swift. In fact, aside from the HDMI ports, the issues are negligible, if noteworthy at all.
The Swift, though, doesn’t come cheap, and at an RRP of R26,333 (available at) it will make you think long and hard about the purchase. At the same time, however, considering the price points of its competitors, relatively similar, the Asus ROG Swift is positioned extremely well, and maybe your best choice all things considered.