Years ago I remember a friend of mine purchasing a TFT monitor and marveling at how thin it was compared to the clunky CRT’s which cluttered up PC users desks at the time; he eagerly invited me round to marvel at his new investment, and being the tech-head that I am I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. The 15 inch screen (for its time) was state of the art – and despite the thin and sleek design being undeniably impressive compared to 19″ CRT behemoth threatening to snap my own desk in half, I knew when I saw it in action it’d be some time before I upgraded. It wasn’t just that 19″ screens were absurdly expensive – but it was latency and color range of the monitor, and playing a bit of a fast paced FPS on the screen sealed the deal – I was resigned myself to CRT for the next few years.
Fortunately flatscreen technology has rapidly evolved, and now gamer’s have a dazzling array of choices when shopping for a TFT monitor. AOC’s G2460PF is a 1080P 144Hz FreeSync monitor, aimed squarely at gamer’s on a budget but still demanding a high performance and low latency screen. FreeSync is doubtlessly the biggest feature separating it and many other monitors sitting at a similar price bracket, AMD’s new technology eliminates both screen tearing and latency in input produced by traditional monitor refresh rate methods.
The AOC GM2460PF First Impressions and Features
The monitor comes in a hefty and well packaged box, with surprisingly little marketing information on it, just a brief mention of the size, resolution, FreeSync and boasting of the various connections the monitor possesses. As you would hope, the display is rather well packaged and comes with screen protection, along with a myriad of various accessories; including: power cable, DisplayPort cable, HDMI and USB connections. This is rounded off with an adjustable monitor stand (which we’ll discuss more later in the article), a cable management bracket (which we’ll also talk about) and of course the usual manuals and driver CD’s. Just for your information, I downloaded the latest monitor software from AOC’s website rather than using the disc bundled in with the G2460PF.
First impressions of the GM2460PF are positive, a black brushed metal textured bezel measuring 15mm for both the sides and the monitors top and 24mm (just shy of an inch) for the bottom of the screen, which also provides a dark red stripe for just a hint of color. The monitor proudly displays the text “FREESYNC 144Hz” at the top left of the screen, and a shiny AOC logo at the bottom (plus the usual certificates adorning the display, which you’re of course free to remove, though we didn’t with our model). Perhaps somewhat more unusual for many displays, the model number is displayed at the top right of the monitor “GM2460PF”.
The screen offers a variety of signal inputs: HDMI, DVI, VGA and DisplayPort (a single connection for each) and a USB connection to hook up 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 devices directly to the screen. Should you need it, the topmost of the right hand USB connectors (colored in red) provides fast-charging for USB devices (such as phones and tablets). There is also two audio connectors (one input and an output too) which are also located at the bottom of the display.
As you’d expect, setting up the monitor was easy enough – and within a few minutes I’d plugged in the requisite DisplayPort, power cables and USB connections and went through the necessarily steps to enable FreeSync on the display and setting the monitor’s refresh rate to its maximum (144Hz).
As is typical with most displays, the out-the-box color settings weren’t the best, with far too much brightness and contrast (making the display look super ‘hot’ and washed out compared to my other calibrated displays). I spent a few minutes fiddling around with the various toggles on the display to get a picture that was more in-line with what I was seeing on my other displays and promptly loaded up a few games to test the display with.
The OSD, Functionality and Buttons
Like any modern screen, AOC’s GM2460PF packs a plethora of features inside the On-Screen Display (OSD) for users to tinker with; from various color adjustments, setting different input ports and languages to adjust volume of the built in speakers or playing around with the pictures location on screen. The buttons are located at bottom of the monitor (as in under the front bezel) of the monitor, and feel sturdy enough – perhaps a little too much so, requiring just a hint too much pressure to press. Your preference for buttons on under the display or in the front is a personal one, and my larger hands finds them a little uncomfortable to access for long periods of time – but let’s be honest, how often do you spend more than a few moments tweaking settings in the OSD?
Essentially, each of the buttons serves a few functions, for example: two buttons are dedicated tweaking the volume (up/down toggles) and also adjusting your position in the OSD, another changes display inputs (between VGA, HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort) and also backs out of menus, and finally there’s also a menu button which also serves as an “okay” button too – oh and there’s also a power button too and a small LED which glows either green or amber to let you know if the screen is either on or in stand-by mode.
It won’t take you long to start tweaking the various settings to your personal requirements. Like many monitors, there’s a tab (labeled Extra on the GM2460PF) which shows information such as the resolution and refresh rates you’re pumping into the monitor – which is handy as a “let’s just be sure Windows is outputting at the settings I’d selected”.
FreeSync is AMD’s attempt to provide a solution to one of the oldest problems in PC gaming (though it does affect consoles too… but it’s down to game developers to fix that) Screen Tearing. Screen Tear is caused by the refresh rate of a monitor being “out of sync” with the number of frames of animation a graphics card provides. To put it simply, a traditional monitor has a set refresh rate which it must stick too (let’s say 60hz), meaning 60 times per second the monitor will show a new image – which is great, until you start factoring in the demands placed on the graphics card. Because your card will be throwing out frames of animation as fast as it possibly can, sometimes it doesn’t have time to fully render a new frame of animation before it’s sent off to the monitor to display, meaning you will be shown an image that’s say 75 percent a new frame of animation, and the remaining 25 an old frame of animation.
One of the oldest (and simplest) solutions for this has been around for some time now – Vertical Sync; forcing the monitor and graphics card to refresh at the same speed – 60FPS. In a perfect world, this is a great solution – but because hardware performance varies considerably (even if your hardware greatly outmatches the title you’re playing, background texture loading for example) can result in frame rate hitches. Essentially the monitor is thus forced to draw a repeated frame of animation, so frame A and B would look identical – and this can result in something almost worse than tearing – input lag and stuttering.
So how does FreeSync work then? Well, as you’ve probably gathered from reading the above (fairly length) paragraphs, the issue is that the monitor and graphics card aren’t on the same page – both happily doing their own thing and not really caring about the other’s workload or settings. Both FreeSync and G-Sync fix this by “syncing” the monitors refresh with that of the graphics card, so in the case of the 144Hz G2460PF monitor, in one second you might get the full 144Hz, while the next it could update only at 120Hz. This collaboration between both monitor and GPU offers the best of both worlds.
AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync are very similar in principal, but it’s hard to argue with the pricing difference because of Nvidia’s insistence to use proprietary hardware which bumps up the price of a screen by a heft chunk of change. It’s a pity Nvidia’s solution requires this custom hardware, because a more open standard would certainly benefit gamer’s; AMD’s monitors don’t require special hardware – meaning it’s little more than the GPU taking advantage of the Adaptive Sync technology. With Nvidia’s refusal to support this it locks gamer’s GPU and monitor choices together – assuming they still want to take advantage of the Adaptive refresh rates.
So while an Nvidia GPU isn’t going to explode if you plug it into say the G2460PF, FreeSync won’t function – but obviously you’ll still have full access to the 144Hz refresh rate; and the same is true vice-versa. This certainly isn’t great for Gamer’s – particular at the speed GPU technology moves along – but it also does plop a feather in AMD’s cap – lowering the barrier to entry (in this case, pricing). The extra cash saved on either buying the GM2460PF (or indeed any FreeSync monitor) can instead be plonked down on a beefier GPU, CPU or kept in your wallet.
My Experiences with FreeSync and 144Hz
As you might have gathered from the opening paragraphs of this review, one of the reasons I was initially dubious of making the moves to TFT’s back in the day was screen latency; essentially how far “behind” the screen was to your actions. Fortunately, monitor technology has moved on rather quickly, and from a personal standpoint, 60hz refresh is typically enough (on a decent low latency screen) for me on most games genres (examples include Dark Souls, Batman Arkham series and Skyrim). But other titles, such as faster, twitch based games (the Call of Duty’s, Counter Strikes, Star Wars: Battlefront and other such experiences) certainly benefit from monitors over 100hz.
I decided to try out FreeSync with a couple of different video cards and games. For the GPU’s I opted for both the Radeon R9 380X and the Radeon R9 390 and for the games I tried out a few popular FPS games, and one of the poorest PC ports in recent memory, Batman Arkham Knight. Batman Arkham Knight has certainly improved from an onslaught of patches released by Warner, aiming to improve both graphics options and the games performance, but there are still a number of frame rate hitches, particularly on graphics cards sporting 4GB of less of vRAM (as an aside, the R9 390 8GB model I’m using for testing rarely suffers from such dips) if you plan on maxing out the graphics options – Textures are particularly hungry for VRAM.
Testing between both cards (the R9 380X and the R9 390) and a few different monitors, and the differences between the experiences were pretty obvious, made all the more apparent because some games suffer rather horribly from tearing without V-Sync, Batman being a particularly notorious culprit. FreeSync eliminated virtually all of the tearing, and controls feel nice and responsive; the best of both worlds if you will.
As you possibly guessed based on my rather length description of how FreeSync works, if a situation arises where the GPU is capable of maxing out your screens refresh rate, the difference between V-Sync and FreeSync diminishes considerably. So if you’re running older games on a CrossFire Fury X solution pumping out 200FPS, you’re going to notice the difference much less than say a mid to high range card (say the R9 380X) pushing the frames in Crysis 3. But, in the real world a myriad of things can cause frame rate hitches – even down to Steam deciding to thrash your hard drive with an update and cause slightly slower texture streaming in an area. But for the latest and greatest games out there, it’s hard to go back to the regular solution of V-Sync on or off after trying out FreeSync for some time.
Words, videos and images aren’t really sufficient to convey the difference made either in terms of visual quality or responsiveness. While there’s certainly a lot of excitement on Virtual Reality, some games are simply going to be best played on a 2D screen – and whether you’re planning on running G-Sync or FreeSync, I’d encourage you to embrace the new technology – you’ll not regret it.
G2460PF Color Accuracy, Backlight Bleeding and View Angles
Like virtually any display in the world, the monitor’s default brightness and contrast were several notches beyond what you’d want in to run in your home; this is primarily done to “pop” in a shop or showroom, where the bright lights of the display threaten to overpower the display and make it look dull and lifeless compared to its peers. Sat on your desk at home is a different story altogether, and the excess brightness results in washed out and bleached colors and blowing out blacks to become more like dark grey.
Fortunately, on the review model of the G2460PF the white balance and general color settings were fine; and it took just a time to figure the best way to resolve the color inaccuracy was to simply switch to Gamma 3 and turn the brightness all the way down. Depending on your own tastes and lighting setup you’ll probably want to start at a figure of “0” for brightness and work your way up slowly to a maximum figure of between 5 and 10. For my tastes “0” is perfect, and represents the best color accuracy and using the infamous “gradient tests” we spotted nice smooth transitions across the screen without any harsh or obvious banding.
One of the side affects of modern monitor technology is BackLight bleeding, caused by the LCD or TFT’s Backlight not being fully obscured by the monitors panel. The backlight is a crucial component as it helps provide the brightness to the image and helps create proper brightness and contrast. Unfortunately, virtually every monitor produced suffers from some degree of backlight bleeding, and how lucky (or unlucky) you are is down to a mixture of luck of the draw, the components of the monitor and the manufacturers own quality assurance.
We tested the G2460PF in a dark room using a fully black image we knocked up in Photoshop (a 1920×1080 image simply filled with solid black) and looked around the edges of the monitor. On the review sample we were sent, the monitors coloring is fairly uniform, with slight bleeding seeping up from the bottom of the screen, more noticeable on the screens right hand side (above the power buttons). Fortunately it wasn’t something noticeable in regular gaming and usage but of course, your mileage may vary.
Finally in this section we move on to viewing angles – which far you can start moving from viewing the screen square before color accuracy starts suffering. AoC boasts the G2460PF is capable of 178 horizontal and 170 Vertical, but in practice you’ll probably find the results are lower in real life. Color accuracy at more extreme angles does start suffering, for example while 255 red is fine, pure yellow can start to pick up a subtle tinge of green if viewed top-down, and pick up a slight tinge of orange if viewed side on. Pink is fairly uniform aside from when viewed from below, where the top portion of the displayed image can become a deeper pink, ranging to a few shades from purple. A deep green looks fantastic from all angles aside from once again top down, where the colors end up rather muted, almost to the point of greying out if you stand up and look directly down at the screen (from an extremely harsh angle).
So does that mean you’ve anything to worry about? If you’re viewing the G2460PF at standard viewing angles you’ll probably not notice any of this, but if you’re planning to use the screen in certain extreme angle usage scenarios then it’s certainly something to consider.
The G2460PF isn’t going to beat a professional grade monitor designed with image editing in mind, but for gaming the screen was bright, excellent color contrast and handled bright environments fairly well even at lower brightness values.
AOC G2460PF Stand And Build Quality
Some users would doubtless care little about the stand which comes with the monitor and instead prefer to use a third party mounting solution (such as an arm), but that doesn’t mean many gamer’s aren’t going to end up using the included stand. The base of the monitor is a black plastic, with much the same texturing found on the monitor’s bevel. It’s sufficiently large and heavy enough to easily support the screen without giving you concern that it’ll topple over during OSD adjustments. Fortunately it’s also not super deep, so should comfortably fit on even a fairly shallow desk arrangement.
The GM2460PF provides generous tilt and swivel functionality, allowing you to adjust the monitors viewing angles up or down and side to side – handy if you’re running in a multi monitor setup or you fancy watching a movie. Like many stands, you’re also able to rotate the screen 90 degrees for either landscape or portrait viewing – while this isn’t really that useful for many games, it can be handy if you also want your screen to double as a general workhorse (one infamous use of portrait is of course Microsoft Word).
The monitor, stand and even the leads feel solid enough – and don’t appear flimsy or cheap – which is great. While digital cables (such as the Display Port) aren’t reliant on gold plated connectors and cables for a good signal (it’s digital…) that doesn’t mean you want to be saddled with cables which feel they’ll snap at the slightest movement. All of the ports, connectors and shell feel solid and high quality – with no lose fitting connections or poorly designed areas.
Speakers and Audio
The monitor does indeed feature a set of stereo speakers and 2 audio ports (one input and an output, which you’d use on say a pair of headphones), with two of the front buttons providing adjustments for the volume. The speakers are a little weedy though, running at only 2W of power and located behind the unit and don’t face towards the viewer; but they’re not meant as a replacement for your speaker setup – they do a good enough job for light background music while working late at night, assuming you don’t fancy wearing a pair of headphones.
I tested the audio out jack with a few pairs of headphones, and all works as expected – with the audio amplified to a decent level (my ears certainly didn’t want me to max the volume out while listening to music a variety of music). The only negative is that the audio jacks are located at the bottom of the monitor at the left hand side, and isn’t particularly easy or quick to access. With that said, it might be handy to plug in headphones into the monitor and then use windows sound devices to switch to the G2460PF instead of your usual audio setup, other than that I don’t think I’d really use the built-in audio functionality for PC usage. If you’re plugging your PS4 or another console in, then I can certainly see a few usage scenarios.
Final Thoughts and Verdict On the AOC G2460PF
This is probably one of the lengthier reviews we’ve put out for some time on RGT, and also one of the reviews which really comes down to more than just “hard facts”. Such, color accuracy and balance can be measured, viewing angles tested and the number of monitor connections cataloged, but the biggest features of this monitor is touted to be an excellent entry level FreeSync and gaming screen with high levels of responsiveness.
To that end, a lot of time testing out FreeSync with different games and different hardware configurations to see if FreeSync makes a substantial difference. I’ll be honest, if you’re playing a really old game (such Counter Strike) only then FreeSync (or G-Sync) aren’t huge deals, but then the high refresh rate does certainly come into play – and if you’re used to playing on a unresponsive or laggy TFT the difference between it and the G2460PF is staggering.
But with demanding games such as the infamously Batman: Arkham Knight – the effects of FreeSync is tangible; and particularly noticeable when screaming around the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile. It actually struck me as a profound difference – particularly because I had actually played a few hours into the campaign before starting the review and I had become so used to the ugly tearing by that point. Playing Batman with V-Sync enabled (with the clunky and unresponsiveness that it brings) was more frustrating than the tearing – but all the HBAO, better textures, and geometry in the world can be ruined with a series of tears ripping through the center of the image – there’s little I find so immersion breaking.
The G2460PF resolution of 1080P means it won’t be the weapon of choice for gamer’s fishing for ultra high resolution displays, but for those who’re looking for a cheaper way to game on PC and experience lag free and responsive gaming, I’ve no qualms in recommending it.
Buying the G2460PF
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