Refresh vs. Resolution
Companies love bragging about 4k resolution and I don’t exactly know why. Sure, more pixels should equate to a better image, but the eye can only see so much. Regardless of how much pixel density the eye scientifically needs, gamers know when something looks right, or something looks wrong. Or do they?
We have another issue to deal with and that is confirmation bias. If you haven’t heard the “Laurel and Yanny” audio, that’s a great place to start. In essence, if a person is already thinking one of the words, that’s the word the person hears. You can make the audio change before your very ears as it were.
What if 4k resolution only looks better because we’re told it’s supposed to look better? Is it really worth it to spend extra money on those extra pixels, especially on a tight budget? Keep those questions in mind and let’s dive into the review of the Viewsonic XG3220 Gaming Monitor.
To be the preferred global brand of Visual Solution products. ViewSonic is dedicated to meeting the needs of our customers, generating profitable growth through efficient operations and delivering value to our shareholders.
Packaging and Accessories
A buyer should expect a monitor to be in excellent packaging and ViewSonic doesn’t disappoint. The box is simple enough, with just enough details to tell us what’s inside. The foam that encases the screen is nice and thick though, helping prevent any damage during transit.
The accessories included are the power adapter, the base, some connection cables and a manual. The XG3220 opted for a display port cable. At first, that seems like a great choice. The display port seems to have a bit higher bandwidth on this model. That said, I ran into some issues with setting up HDR. An HDMI would likely have been a better choice, but we’ll address that again shortly.
XG3220 Gaming Monitor Closer Look
ViewSonic offers a great first impression. The screen real estate is huge, compliments of the 32″ size. The bezels are narrow and the matte black finish is great for keeping prints at a minimum. ViewSonic is quite consistent with gaming aesthetics. The XG3220 has a nice amount of flair, but not so much that it stands out. The base looks sharp, the accent of red on the cable management hole adds a delicate touch, and there’s a small portion of RGB lighting right above the base as well. While the backside of the monitor is unlikely to be in view, it still looks sharp.
All the expected features are present on this monitor. The base swivels left and right, the screen can tilt up and down, but the screen can also be raised or lowered. The unit has a total of 4 USB 3.0 ports, two on the side and two on the back. It also has a line out to send audio to an external source. One display port and two HDMI ports top off the connection list. Once again, ViewSonic included a headset hanger on the back of the stand. The placement is a bit out of the way. On my desk, I can’t make use of it at all. I would still prefer to see a clip like this off the side of the screen, or in a back top corner of the screen so it can be unfolded to the outside of an edge.
OSD Settings Guide
Optimizing settings on the XG3220 is much easier than other models I’ve worked with. This largely in part due to how nice the screen looks regardless. The other reason is the amount of options that are either “Auto” or “Disabled.” That comes in handy. I noticed that because of the lower 60 Hz refresh rate, many of the response settings didn’t make as large of an impact on PC. However, I did notice it helping when I hooked my PS4 to the display. Spyro Reignited was more pleasant to play with the fastest response time.
One setting always worth pointing out from ViewSonic is their Black Stabilization. This model has 22 levels! The feature is really nice and helps find the perfect balance of light and shadows in gaming. The 22 levels is also perfect. I think anymore and it would be a bit too much. However, older models only had 5 levels, making it a bit harder to find a sweet spot that matches individual preference. For a more detailed look at the rest of the settings, check out the video for a more detailed guide to the OSD.
Setting Up HDR on Windows 10
I put the monitor together, hooked up my display port cable, made sure HDR was enabled on the screen, and started up a game. The game settings told me I didn’t have an HDR capable display hooked up. I proceeded to go through a plethora of steps to find out the problem was simple. HDR was only supported through HDMI. In hind site, that sounds familiar. However, I was surprised the XG3220 didn’t come with an HDMI cable instead as a result. While HDMI cables aren’t hard to come by nowadays, it would help prevent PC users like me from pulling their hair out trying to get it to work.
HDR and Windows is a bit of a mixed bag, at no fault to HDR. The simple fact is that Windows 10 only truly supports SDR content. Browsing the web or using regular applications will look pretty washed out when HDR is enabled. Once the game kicks in, HDR is great. However, the best way I could see myself using HDR at the time being is enabling it for supported titles, then disabling it again for Windows. It’s a bit of a hassle. I hope Windows 10 does better to support HDR with standard content in the future, but until then HDR displays might be better suited for consoles.
Performance Impressions, HDR and 4k Res
This was the moment I had waited for for years. I wanted to test HDR on a monitor for ages and I can say that it MOSTLY didn’t disappoint. The brighter, more accurate colors are amazing. Even though the XG3220 has a lower level of HDR than higher end models, it still added a nice touch to certain colors in Strange Brigade. I noticed that certain spells and explosions looked more vibrant, while hair colors and environments looked more realistic. HDR is definitely the future of gaming in my opinion.
However, disabling HDR didn’t hinder how good the screen looked. I don’t know how ViewSonic does it, but their displays always have great colors. Some that has to do with the VA panel. The colors are still very vibrant with HDR disabled, but they can lend themselves to a bit of a cartoonish look as well. That said, it only took a minor amount of tweaking to find a gaming experience I was very happy with.
I see why certain gamers like 4k resolution. I have a feeling it has less to do with pixels and more to do with aliasing. Some lines and edges look perfectly smooth, even with AA disabled. Another thing I noticed is that 4k seems to work better on larger screens. The 32″ size is far more complimentary of the amount of pixels than even what a 27″ screen would be. However, 60Hz is definitely noticeable to me. Once I start moving in a game, I quit noticing crisp scenery and smooth lines nearly as much. I personally prefer 144Hz over 4k since it makes the movements in game buttery smooth.
In the end, the XG3220 is an excellent quality display. I can’t fault it for the features I prefer, but judging it on the feature it has is easy. ViewSonic did a great job yet again. The company has become one of my favorites in the display space. Besides, I didn’t even spend a lot of time on FreeSync, or speakers that rate at 5w each. Everything ViewSonic does is top notch which I appreciate.
The price on this unit is $550. I found other monitors with similar features cheaper, and quite a few that were a lot more expensive. I would almost call it a fair price, but features are kind of important here. Monitors I saw that were less expensive also seemed to be cut down to bare bones. That said, comparing 4k monitors at this level is difficult because they differ so much in other areas. In the end, I see this as a fair price that leans towards a pretty good value. If you really like 4k, then the ViewSonic XG3220 Gaming Monitor would be a great buy this holiday season!