A high quality 31.5in 240Hz QHD gaming monitor for less than £450
- Excellent VA panel
- Good range of I/O ports
- Very low ghosting
- Superb value
- No speakers
- No Type-C port
As high-end OLED gaming displays start to dominate the monitor world, it’s easy to forget that the majority of gamers aren’t going to cough up £1,000 for a monitor. For every Philips Evnia 34M2C8600 or Asus ROG Swift PG27AQDM sold there are probably a dozen or more displays costing half that much finding homes.
One of the best displays costing “half that” is the new Agon AG325QZN from AOC. It’s a gaming monitor that makes you wonder if parting with a bag of sand for a high-end OLED or Mini LED monstrosity is really a bit of a waste of money when for just over £400 you are getting a gaming and viewing experience that’s very, very similar.
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: What do you get for your money?
The AOC Agon AG325QZN costs £439 at the time of writing. That nets you a 32in VA panel with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, a max refresh rate of 240Hz and a quoted response time of 1ms G2G. You’ve got official AMD FreeSync Premium support and unofficial G-Sync compatibility, plus a basic VESA DisplayHDR 400 certification with no local dimming.
Adjustment is pretty standard with 20° of swivel, 150mm of height adjustment, tilt from -3.5° to 21.5° and 90° of pivot both clockwise and anticlockwise. That last isn’t common among monitors over 27in so it’s good to see AOC cater for fans of scrolling shooters or anything else that requires a portrait rather than landscape format.
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: What type of connections does it have?
Considering the price point the AG325QZN has a pretty decent array of I/O ports. There are four video inputs, 2 HDMI 2.0 and 2 DisplayPort 1.4, as well as a Type-B upstream USB port and four downstream USB-2 3.2 Gen 1 ports. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack which is just as well as the monitor doesn’t have any speakers.
I can see the argument that a Type-C port would really expand the AG325QZN’s appeal by potentially offering a fully fledged KVM facility but to counter that I’m sure AOC would say that it’s not an office monitor so KVM is not a deal-breaking feature, and that as it stands you are still getting a good selection for the money. It’s a valid argument.
At least the four USB ports give ample scope for connecting peripherals. Right now I’ve got my SteelSeries mouse and keyboard hooked up to the Agon along with the USB power supply for my desktop soundbar and the thumb drive I use to store all my testing apps and results.
READ NEXT: The best gaming monitors
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: Is it well made?
Physically the AG325QZN is an exercise in simplicity. The stand is robust and heavy and has a relatively wide footprint for something that only has to support a 31.5in display: The 58cm gap between the ends of the feet is only 12cm narrower than the width of the entire display. At least the feet are narrow. The stand also has a handy carry handle built into the top.
The monitor housing is made from good quality plastic and both it and the stand (they dock using a quick-release clamp that covers a 100mm VESA bracket) are in matching black with some red plastic racing stripes on the back of the monitor to liven things up.
This monitor’s housing is only 40mm thick and weighs just 6.2kg making it very suitable for mounting on a VESA arm. The bezels that surround the screen are only 8mm deep at the sides and top so putting two side-by-side won’t result in an overly wide black band between the two screens while the chin below the panel is deeper but only by an extra 20mm. For what is essentially a budget monitor it’s a smart and well-made bit of kit.
READ NEXT: The best monitors for work and gaming
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: How good is the image quality?
The basic spec of the AG325QZN is a sweet spot in my opinion. A 31.5in panel with a 2,560 x 1,440 matrix may only have the same pixel density as a 1,280 x 720 15.6in laptop (93.2dpi) but text is still largely immune from any visual pixelation and the payback comes in the form of that 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms G2G response time.
The display uses VA technology, a type that is often and unfairly dismissed on the basis of shabby VA displays of yore. I could detect no issues with viewing angles, a weakness often ascribed to VA panels, but which on the AG325QZN are every bit as wide as on a good IPS screen. And it’s bright and colourful.
Measured with a colorimeter the maximum brightness registered at 455cd/m² in SDR mode and peaked at 498cd/m² in HDR. Thanks to a low black luminance level of 0.12cd/m² the contrast ratio ends up at 3387:1 which is how the Agon gets its HDR400 VESA certification.
For a £400 gaming monitor, there was a surprising amount of colour on tap with 97.5% of the sRGB gamut present along with 86.1% DCI-P3 and 79% AdobeRGB. Switch to sRGB mode in the colour temp settings menu and measure the colour accuracy against the sRGB profile you get a very creditable Delta E variance of just 1.22. The sRGB mode does fix the brightness at 260cd/m² but that’s probably sufficient if you are doing something that requires a high level of colour accuracy.
At the lower end of the market, you have every reason to worry about issues like backlight bleed and display uniformity but the AG325QZN aced all my tests. There were no problems with luminance uniformity with most of the test swatches falling inside the recommended tolerance and the few that didn’t landing well within nominal tolerance levels. Backlight bleed was wholly absent.
Motion handling is equally impressive: Put the four-position overdrive selector into the Strongest setting and the motion blur all but vanishes. That’s nothing atypical, but using the highest level of overdrive doesn’t result in any overshoot or inverse ghosting, which is much rarer. AOC says that the AG325QZN has a moving picture response time of just 0.5ms, which is not a claim you’ll find me arguing with.
When it comes to adaptive sync the AG325QZN has AMD’s FreeSync Premium stamp of approval but it also worked perfectly with Nvidia’s G-Sync despite lacking any Nvidia certification so you needn’t worry about tearing.
The final feather in this monitor’s cap, at least in my book, is the glossy screen finish, which gives an OLED-like lustre to proceedings. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Returnal look sumptuous and beautifully colourful on the new Agon especially when in HDR mode.
Speaking of HDR: thanks to a high peak brightness and the good contrast associated with VA panel tech the AG325QZN handles high dynamic content as well as a monitor without local dimming can. Colour balance isn’t unduly affected either, meaning you can leave HDR on in Windows and enjoy vibrant colours at all times, although that does preclude using some of the monitor’s gaming features such as Shadow Control.
READ NEXT: The best gaming keyboards
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: Are there any other features I should know about?
The designers at AOC deserve a beer for giving the AG325QZN a menu system that is both simple to navigate and simple to use. Just reach around the right side and press the joystick and a six-panel OSD pops us. Navigation is simply a case of wiggle-and-push with indicators at the bottom of the panel showing you what each possible option will do in any given context.
As an exercise in elegance and simplicity it’s hard to beat, and the red and black colour scheme is fully in keeping with the gamer aesthetic. If you prefer, you can download the AOC IMenu and GMenu apps which do much the same but via the Windows interface.
READ NEXT: The best gaming headsets
AOC Agon AG325QZN review: Should I buy it?
For the money, the AG325QZN is a cracking bit of kit with excellent motion-handling abilities for when you are gaming and rock-solid basic performance for when you are not. The array of I/O ports is also impressive for a monitor in this price bracket.
Listing the absence of a Type-C port and a pair of speakers as drawbacks feels niggardly when the former would doubtlessly up the price and the latter would probably be a waste of space. When it comes to gaming performance per pound I don’t think the AG325QZN has any serious competition.