ASUS ROG Swift PG35VQ Monitor Review: Don’t Stare At The Sun!
Is This The Perfect Gaming Monitor?
(We welcome a new contributor to PC Perspective with this review, Paul Grohowski. A long-time reader/viewer/chatter, Paul bought this monitor and, naturally, I demanded a full review. Now we can all share in the $2500 gaming monitor experience! -Ed.)
Today we look at the ASUS ROG Swift PG35VQ, one of the best monitors available on the market today that checks off all the boxes in terms of feature set – with a matching $2500 price point, to boot.
This 35-inch, 200hz, 1440p ultrawide monitor includes G-Sync Ultimate, full array local dimming (FALD) with 512 independent LED zones, DisplayHDR 1000 certification, quantum-dot display technology supporting 90% of the DCI-P3 color space, and factory calibration out of the box.
Put on your sunglasses and apply that sunscreen as we dive head first into the glory that is 1000-nit HDR.
- Monitor Size: 35”
- Resolution: 3440×1440
- Pixel Density: 109ppi
- Refresh Rate: 180hz (200hz overclock)
- Response Time: 2ms GTG
- Peak Brightness: 1000 nits
- Contrast: 500,000:1
- Color Space: 99.8% sRGB, 90% DCI-P3
- Warranty: 3 years
- Tilt Vertical: -5° – +20°
- Tilt Horizontal: -35° – +35°
- Pan Vertical: ±100mm
- GSync Ultimate
- 512-Zone Full Array Local Dimming
- Factory Calibration
- Aura Sync
- Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier
Asus OSD Extras:
- Gameplus: Crosshair, Timer, FPS Counter, Display Alignment
- Gamevisual Scenes: Racing, MOBA, Cinema, RTS/RPG, FPS, sRGB, Scenery
- Ultra-Low Blue Light Filter: 0-4
- Overdrive: Off, Normal, Extreme
- Darkboost: Off, On (SDR Only)
“ROG Swift PG35VQ is a 35-inch ultra-wide gaming monitor with UWQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution, a 21:9 aspect ratio, overclockable 200-hertz refresh rate and a 2-millisecond response time that delivers incredibly expansive and super-smooth gaming visuals. Nvidia G-SYNC Ultimate technology, full-array local dimming (FALD) backlighting with 512 independent LED zones and a peak brightness of 1000 nits with DisplayHDR 1000 certification delivers a richly nuanced image with brilliant colors and detailed shadows and highlights for more realistic gaming experiences.”
What’s In The Box?
Once you wrestle the 35lb large box into your house and open it up the various contents will start appearing:
From top to bottom, left to right we have: the backplate cover, pouch for extra RGB lenses (with and without the ROG logo) with lens attachment plate, 5lb 280 watt power adapter, color calibration test report, ROG welcome card, 1x 6’ HDMI cable, 4x VESA mount screws, 1x 6’ upstream USB 3.0 cable, 1x 6’ displayport cable, ATX power cable, Warranty Booklet, Stand, quick-start pamphlet.
The first thing I noticed was the stand. This monitor is replacing my Asus ROG Swift PG349Q and one of my gripes with that monitor was how large the stand is. I would say the new PG35VQ stand is about 33% less bulky. This effectively gives me about an extra 2” of desktop keyboard space on my desk. With the panel’s back stand leg up against my wall, the center of the front edge of the monitor sits ~10.5” off my wall. Mounting the stand to the support of the monitor couldn’t be easier, with only one thumb screw required to seat the stand onto the monitor.
The bottom of the support hosts an RGB LED projector that supports Aura Sync, allowing your other Asus RGB components to quickly and easily sync their colors up to the monitor. The lens plate snaps easily into place and the provided extra acrylic lenses allow you to choose whether or not you want the ROG logo shining on your desk, or plain RGB. You can also turn the RGB off completely if you hate all things RGB.
The next notable inclusion is the factory calibration report showing color gamut, gray-scale tracking, delta e, and gamma values. It is nice to have calibration handled for you with such a premium priced monitor. Calibration was immediately evident upon bootup into windows. The rest of the accessories are pretty standard fare for a premium monitor.
King of Beers for reference.
The screen itself has a matte anti-glare coating and VA panel type. One of the benefits of HDR is that glare becomes a non-issue, even with full sunlight beaming into the room, with how bright this panel gets. There have been times where I would need to close the blinds on sunny days with previous monitors because even with a matte anti-glare coating, the reflections would wash out the panel. Not so with the PG35VQ.
The rear of the monitor aesthetically is pretty sharp. Especially when compared to its older PG349Q brother. The top right ROG Swift logo is awash in RGB goodness with a nice matte glow affect. It’s just too bad the effect is wasted on the back of the monitor which will most likely be hidden against a wall unless you plan on trucking this out to a LAN party.
Input/Outputs from left to right of the monitor are as follows: Power, HDMI, Displayport, Service, USB 3 Input, 2x USB 3 Output, Headphone.
The monitor sports a pretty deep curve (1800R) which I find is quite ideal sitting about 2 feet away from the monitor. The top ROG logo sports a rather bright red LED (that stays on when the monitor is in standby) which can and should be turned off with the LIGHT IN MOTION setting in the OSD.
Once everything is plugged in, you’re going to want to go into “Windows HD Color Settings” and enable HDR content. There is an SDR content appearance slider to control how bright SDR content will display. I noticed setting this slider too high will cause the regular cursor and text box cursor to be really hard to see on white background. I had to set mine to 45 or below to be able to see it.
Once you’ve enabled HDR in windows, head on over to the Nvidia control panel to start setting up the refresh rate and color settings for your panel. Due to displayport bandwidth limitations (and even less so on HDMI) you will not be able to fully max out all available panel features.
With the above in mind, I personally settled with 3440×1440 @ 144 hz, 10-bit color (RGB). I could have chosen to go with 8-bit color @ 180hz, but since not many games I play are going above 144 fps, I opted to go with the higher bitrate color.
I would recommend going into the OSD setup at this point and disabling Displayport (DP) Deep Sleep. I pretty quickly ran into an issue where my computer would go into standby after an extended idle duration and shut off the monitors, but the PG35VQ wouldn’t turn back on. I had to power cycle the monitor to get it working again. This problem was resolved by disabling DP Deep Sleep.
I also noticed a decent amount of wobble with the mechanism Asus uses for its tilt/pan adjustments. The monitor is held in place by what seems like a spring system and if you were to hit your desk, the panel will shake for about 3-4 seconds before coming back to rest. I would recommend Asus tighten this system up on future revisions or models. If you’re a gamer that tends to beat his desk after losing a firefight by a fraction of a second due to lag (it’s always lag), it’s something to keep in mind.
Asus also has a nifty RGB power led on the bottom-right of the monitor that lets you immediately know what mode the monitor is currently operating in. The statuses are as follows: White – On, Amber Flashing – Entering Standby, Amber – Standby, Green – HDR, Red – Gsync. This helps immensely trying to troubleshoot or just figuring out if GSYNC is still truly on after you’ve updated those video drivers. The same information and more is also displayed when going into the OSD menu.
The panel comes with active cooling, however in my setup, I have yet to hear the fans. Putting my ear directly next to the rear of the monitor I can hear a very low volume whir. It’s possible that in a dead quiet atmosphere, one would hear the fans, but in my circumstances, I have not and it is a non-issue for me.
At this point, with the monitor setup and fully supporting HDR I was free to start experiencing the monitor.
Let’s take a quick moment to discuss the PG35VQ’s software features built into the monitor. The ROG Swift line of panels come with a variety of built in feature sets tuned towards gaming and performance and I was pleasantly surprised to find that these features have been upgraded since the previous model lines.
GamePlus allows an overlay to be displayed on top of source material. When enabled, each overlay, except display alignment, is able to be positioned with the OSD digital pad on the back of the monitor.
Crosshair enables a crosshair in the middle of the panel with a choice of 3 distinct patterns of either red or blue for a total of 6 options. In survival games without a crosshair (think Rust) GamePlus allows you to have one. (Some would call this cheating.) It’s funny Asus opted to call this “Crosshair (Practice Mode)” this time around.
Second Overlay is a timer which will count down from the following set times: 30, 40, 50, 60, or 90 minutes.
The FPS counter is next which gives you a real-time framerate overlay. This is my favorite as it immediately allows you to see the effects of any graphics settings you are changing so you can dial in your preferred framerate range. Asus has added a bar graph as well which keeps historical framerate data over about 5 seconds or so. You can choose to go with the minimalistic plain digit mode as well.
The final GamePlus overlay is Display Alignment which shows tick marks along all edges in measurements of 1/3 and 1/2 the display area of the screen, handy for aligning multiple displays.
More of an SDR feature (this setting is entirely disabled with HDR On), GameVisual is more akin to the preset video settings on a TV. Racing mode is the lowest input lag of all options. Interestingly this is the mode that the panel is factory calibrated for, as well as the mode that is locked in when HDR is enabled.
MOBA mode enhances the colors of health/mana bars. Cinema mode enhances contrast and color saturation to make visuals pop. RTS/RPG mode enhances color saturation and contrast sharpness to bring detail out of the picture. FPS mode enhances contrast with an emphasis in making dark scenes easier to see. sRGB mode for viewing more accurately represented photos or graphics. And last but not least, Scenery mode increases the brightness range and contrast gradations with an emphasis on green and blue saturation, focused on making images of scenery pop.
This is where you enable a max refresh rate of 200hz. I have personally set this to Off due to the 144hz bandwidth restrictions of DisplayPort with my chosen display settings.
Blue Light Filter
With settings from 0 – Off, 1 – Least through 4 – Most, the blue light filter will start making the entire panel warmer (color temperature), reducing the amount of blue light being emitted. This is ideal for going late into the night, limiting eye fatigue and not allowing your brain to think it’s 1pm.
Monitors have been coming with an overdrive feature to overvolt the pixels of the display to vastly improve pixel response time. There are three settings to choose from: Off, Normal (default), Extreme. Extreme has potential to cause negative ghosting of the image as pixels can overshoot their intended value target.
An SDR only feature which will adjust the gamma curve of the monitor making darker details easier to see.
Controls the speed in which the full array local dimming backlight changes with respect to what is being displayed on the monitor. Available options are Gradual, Medium, and Fast. Fast is the default and is recommended for gaming.
Auto Black Level
Uses the ambient light sensor built into the top of the monitor to control the lower limit of the black level to make grey gradations more visible to the eye in brighter environments. To be honest, I haven’t noticed any difference between on or off with HDR on or off either blocking the sensor or shining a bright light onto the sensor.
I wanted to take a moment to discuss how contrast works and its visible effects in HDR. Out of the box, contrast is set to 50. While viewing SDR content (as HDR with windows), brightness is nowhere near what HDR1000 can display. You can increase the contrast setting to start making colors pop and start utilizing the full display brightness (blacks stay black).
What I’ve noticed is that above 75 contrast on certain media, whites will start to get squashed and below 50, blacks will start to get crushed. Interestingly, while doing the Battlefield V HDR calibration (each HDR game will have its own different in-game calibration slider), I could not get the reference white to match up even on its max settings. After increasing my contrast to 60, the two white reference boxes matched with an HDR setting of 2000 (in-game max). This is what I have set my panel to for all cases.
This pretty much covers most of the unique features that this panel offers. Everything else is pretty much offered on any other monitor you’re familiar with. One last point of advice I would like to point out however, is to disable “Eco Mode” under “System Setup” for the best image quality. By default, this is set to On.
Panel brightness uniformity is surprisingly really good. The number one culprit of bad uniformity is backlight bleed and because the monitor hosts full array local dimming, this problem is gone. (You will need to worry about haloing, however, which I go over in the next section.)
I took three pictures of uniform brightness: Black, Grey, and White:
- Black: I assure you the panel is as black as can be. The slight brightness you can see in the monitor is the reflection of the ambient light in the room. All backlighting turns off anywhere there is black in the picture.
- Grey: Grey also shows great uniformity with some slight fringing in the last <1cm of the edge of the panel.
- White: Pure white shows the same as grey, with near perfect uniformity and some slight fringing at the extreme edges.
Overall uniformity on a solid color is superb and quite impressive.
PG35VQ Viewing Angle
The PG35VQ uses an Advanced Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (AMVA) panel. VA panels of yesteryear were plagued with viewing angle issues. Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (MVA) greatly improved viewing angles vs regular VA types and AMVA further enhanced color washout and color distortion.
Below are various angles when viewing the panel off center. Keep in mind when viewing the panel head-on, because of the 1800R curvature, there is no perceptible color shift at about 2’ distance. You will however start noticing the opposite edge start to shift when you move your head about 1 foot left or right.
Each image was taken at about a 45° angle from center.
As you can see from extreme angles (in the gallery above), contrast is lost, colors shift, and some of the backlight will start to bleed through.
Full Array Local Dimming
Now we start getting into the meat and potatoes of what makes this monitor so great. First off is the full array local dimming tech present in the monitor. The reason why the PG35VQ is able to hit 500,000:1 contrast ratio is because of the 512 local zones of backlighting. What this means is that there is an array of 512 individual backlighting LEDS, each individually controlled. Depending on the brightness of that particular zone, the LEDs will vary their brightness from totally off up to shining a peak 1000 nits of brightness at that spot or multiple.
During a scene or game this works flawlessly, exposing the brightest of whites down to the deepest of blacks. This does however lead to a drawback and that is haloing. When you have a bright spot surrounded by darkness, a zone will turn on leading to some backlight bleed surrounding the bright point. Luckily, the monitor is smart enough to not turn on the backlight when mousing over a pure black background.
This distinction starts to fall apart over intermediately dark backgrounds, however. You will notice mouse haloing once the background reaches a medium luminosity color or darker, with the haloing affect being as wide as about an inch. The effect is very similar to that of the first local dimming televisions that came out in 2010 or so.
As you can see from the above image, there is a slight halo along the right and bottom of the monitor. This is brought about by the white scroll bars along those edges. Really, this is an only an affect you will see during productivity based work. Steam with its grey background also shows this affect. However, in most gaming scenarios, this affect is nearly non-existent. You may notice the affect in a real-time or turn-based strategy game when mousing over dark seas or forests.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. It’s an affect that I have gotten used to. There will be improvements just like televisions have done in the future as the number of local dimming zones increases, video processing controlling the local zones improves, and the panel’s technology increases. The 500,000:1 contrast that is achieved by using the technology is impressive and without going to OLED, one of the only ways of achieving such an impressive contrast.
Remember when I said put on your sunglasses? I wasn’t kidding. The PG35VQ is DisplayHDR1000 (High Dynamic Range) certified, meaning the monitor is capable of producing over 1000 nits of peak intensity. 1000 nits is roughly equivalent to about a 200 watt incandescent, 60 watt compact fluorescent, or 32 watt LED light bulb. Paired with the full array local dimming, that means you can be blaring a 1000 nit bright source next to some of the darkest black levels the screen is capable of.
Conversely, that also means you can be trying to shoot down a Call of Duty UAV out of the sky, trying to follow it away from a building, when all of a sudden, the sun pops up from behind it and your eye balls are temporarily blinded by it. True story; my immediate reaction was to look away from the sun in game. It was a pretty amazing and immersive experience.
The above image attempts to show the brightness difference between the PG35VQ and the PG348Q. I tried to show the best picture showing this difference on an SDR display. Ironically, due to the fact that most people will be viewing this image on an SDR screen, it will somewhat dull the actual difference between the two. The image on the left was enough to brighten my entire room.
In order to get the most of the panel, you will need to be playing an HDR enabled game, and as of now, there’s only 100 or so out. That’s not to say you won’t be getting benefits out of the panel with regular SDR games, but the games pop that much more when HDR is supported out of the box. Expect this feature on AAA games, however you will be able to play Doom (1993) and Heretic (1994) with it supported. I would expect HDR to be a rather popular, standard feature on future games. If you also have a game that supports RTX along with HDR, they were made for each other.
I did notice one caveat with HDR, however. I typically use Philips Hue Sync as well as an led backlighting system behind my monitor called Lightpack. Essentially, what these things do is capture the video information being sent to the screen and tie that color information to the various lights situated around your environment. There is a compatibility issue which breaks HDR in game causing massive oversaturation. This is just something to keep in mind if you have one of these products.
Image (“Snowy Village”) via pcmonitors.info
The PG35VQ has one glaring defect and that is flickering and/or vertical banding in specific scenarios. The above image, when moved around as a large image, will induce vertical banding and some intermittent flickering. I have only run into this issue in one scenario without purposely trying to induce it, and that was on Rocket League with their Stranger Things main menu.
I would get pretty constant flickering of the backlight and saw it once while going up the wall in a particular map. So to be fair, these problems show up in very particular scenes, but something to be aware of nonetheless. Hopefully NVIDIA can fix this behavior with a patch, or Asus able to provide a fix via a firmware update. The PG35VQ’s twin brother from another mother, the Acer X35, also exhibits this behavior.
There’s no doubt the PG35VQ is an impressive piece of display tech. GSync Ultimate at 180hz/200hz (overclock) ensures you will be chasing the latest video cards in an attempt to push those framerates as high as they can go for a while (144hz at 10 bit color). It is also one of the only monitors right now supporting full array local dimming for very high contrast ratios with HDR 1000-nit brightness.
If you can stomach the $2500 price tag and get past the haloing effect in dark scenes, you will not be disappointed in what this monitor has to offer. I haven’t audibly said, “Wow!” at a piece of hardware in a while, but have with this, and for that reason I had to give it a gold award. You’ll also have a reason to wear your cool sunglasses while gaming as well.