ASRock Phantom PG34WQ15R2B
Thanks to a new generation of OLED panels, it’s now effortless to spend well over $1,000 on a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor from brands such as Alienware, Samsung, MSI, and Philips. However, these ultrawide OLEDs all have a resolution of 3,440 by 1,440 pixels, which begs the question: are they worth the hefty price tag? Enter the ASRock Phantom PG34WQ15R2B, a curved 34-inch ultrawide gaming panel with the same resolution as those high-end OLED monitors. It has a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz, which is within 10Hz of the best of those expensive OLED monitors, and it only costs $369.
|Resolution||3,440 x 1,440|
|Response time||1ms MPRT|
|Colour coverage||91% DCI-P3|
|HDR support||DisplayHDR 400|
|Adaptive sync||FreeSync Premium, G-Sync Compatible|
|Connectivity||DisplayPort 1.4 x1, HDMI 2.0 x2|
But here’s the catch: the ASRock Phantom PG34WQ15R2B doesn’t have OLED technology or even an IPS panel. Instead, it has the cheaper VA variety, which is not always ideal for gaming. VA panels typically have slower response times than IPS panels, but ASRock claims a 1ms response time for this monitor. However, this is measured using the MPRT metric, which is not as demanding as the gray-to-gray metric used for IPS panels. Despite this, VA panels do have their advantages, such as better inherent contrast, which in this case is 1,000 to one, three times better than most IPS monitors, resulting in better HDR performance without the need for an expensive, buggy mini-LED backlight.
The ASRock Phantom PG34WQ15R2B has a peak brightness of 550 nits, HDR 400 certification, and claimed 91 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. It has a single DisplayPort 1.4 input and a pair of HDMI 2.0 ports, with only DisplayPort supporting the full 165Hz refresh rate while the HDMI ports are limited to 100Hz. There is no USB, but an integrated high-gain Wi-Fi antenna is present.
In standard SDR mode, the ASRock monitor provides a reasonable visual experience with reasonably accurate colors and a pleasingly contrasty VA panel. However, in HDR mode, it truly shines. Tweaking the SDR brightness settings can also improve the SDR experience in terms of colors, brightness, and calibration.
This implies that there is no need to switch between modes as the HDR experience is satisfactory despite being a DisplayHDR 400 panel with no local dimming. The gaming monitor lags behind the top IPS panels by a small margin in terms of speed. However, the 165Hz refresh rate results in low latency, and the 34-inch ultrawide display provides an immersive experience. The 3,440 by 1,440 pixel resolution is a reasonable trade-off between visual detail and frame rates, making it an appealing gaming panel. In comparison to the OLED alternative, which costs three times as much, the experience is not significantly different.