MSI Oculux NXG251R Gaming Monitor Review
For people who play twitchy shooters, or eSports titles, a monitor’s refresh rate is a higher priority than its size, resolution, or niceties such as HDR or wide viewing angles. While monitors with a 144Hz refresh rate will suffice for most gamers, there are a select few gaming monitors that deliver insanely high 240Hz refresh rates. The MSI Oculux NXG251R (See it on Amazon) is one such monitor, and in addition to its 240Hz refresh rate, its 24.5-inch TN panel features a 1920×1080 resolution, a 1ms response time, and Nvidia’s G-Sync technology to prevent frame tearing. At $400 (street) the Oculux NXG251R from MSI is one of the least expensive 240Hz monitors with G-Sync on the market, but should anyone other than a twitchy eSports gamer consider it?
From the front, there is no way of knowing who made this monitor. It is utterly and blissfully devoid of branding. There’s no logos, no model number, no nothing. On the back panel though you’ll spot the red MSI shield next to a large Nvidia G-Sync logo. The shield and logo are illuminated, and there is also a strip of green light (read: Team Nvidia) on the other side of the back panel that adds a little flair to the display. A tiny, white LED sits next to the power button on the bottom edge of the display and it’s a clever and appreciated addition as you can’t see its light until your finger is directly underneath it, at which point it helpfully guides you to the power button.
Connectivity covers the basics. In back, you get a DisplayPort 1.2 port, a HDMI 1.4 port, a headphone jack, and a USB Type B port that you use to connect to your PC to power the monitor’s three USB 3.1 Type A ports. Those are conveniently located along the monitor’s left side, where I wish the headphone jack was as well instead of in its harder-to-reach spot facing downward in the back. DisplayPort and HDMI cables are included in the box along with the USB cable needed to make the connection between the display and your PC. To run at the display’s max 240Hz refresh rate, you need to use DisplayPort; HDMI 1.4 tops out at 60Hz.
A small joystick sits on the back panel for controlling the OSD. It makes navigating the OSD much easier than a row of buttons would. You can press the joystick to access the full OSD menu, and there are also shortcuts built in. Press the joystick to the right to change the input source and to the left to set a timer. Move it up to select a different display mode (Standard, FPS, Racing, RTS, RPG and Profile 1 or 2) and move it down to turn on screen assistance, which places a crosshair overlay at the center of the screen. The OSD itself offers minimal settings. You can adjust the brightness and contrast but there are no controls for color temperature, gamma, hue, or saturation.
MSI Oculux NXG251R – Performance and Gaming
I used Lagom LCD monitor test pages to measure performance including gamma, black and white levels, color gradient, and response time. The MSI Oculux NXG251R excelled on all but one of the tests. Let’s start with the test on which it had trouble. On the gamma test, the target is 2.2 and most monitors hit that number or come close to it at 2.0 or 2.1. With the Oculux NXG251R, it was considerably lower at 1.7. Low gamma results in a washed out image, and I did see some evidence of a lack of contrast and depth when viewing photos (less so, however, when playing games, which looked detailed and rich).
Low gamma can also lead to poor results on the black level and white saturation tests, but that was not the case here. In fact, the Oculux NXG251R turned in a perfect result on the black level test with all 20 gray squares clearly visible against the black background. On the white saturation test, it was nearly perfect; I was able to see 11 of the 12 light-gray checkerboard patterns against the white background. On the gradient test, I saw no evidence of banding; the gradient pattern transitioned smoothly. On the response time test that uses small squares of pixels, turned off and on repeatedly, the Oculux NXG251R performed well, not a surprise given its speedy 1ms response time. It showed only the slightest flicker on three rows of the test. Usually, a monitor will exhibit a greater degree of flickering on this test and on at least half of the test’s eight rows of test patterns.
The monitor is fast and bright with exceptional contrast, but its viewing angle is narrow.
As I saw on another 240Hz, 1920×1080 TN panel with the Alienware AW2518H, the Oculux NXG251R exhibited poor viewing angles. The monitor is fast and bright with exceptional contrast, but its viewing angle is narrow. MSI claims a viewing angle of 170 degrees, but the image degraded by growing dim and colors shifting when I moved only slightly off axis, whether my eyes moved to the side, or up or down. Thankfully, the monitor offers a great deal of height adjustment and enough tilt adjustment to position the display correctly in front of you so this won’t affect most people.
After the Lagom tests, I fired up two fast-twitch shooters, CS:GO and Overwatch. The combination of the 240Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, and Nvidia G-Sync made both games buttery smooth. These games have never looked so good, even if the speed advantage of this fast panel didn’t improve my performance in Overwatch. Despite dying repeatedly in Overview, the game’s movement was fluid and I saw not one instance of motion blurring or tearing. I thought I might feel restricted by the 1920×1080 resolution and pine for a finer 1440p picture, but 1080p is more than sufficient for a 24.5-inch display. Games looked crisp and realistic with no screen-door effect of individual pixels showing.
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I also played Civ V to see how the monitor handled the opposite of a twitchy shooter and was impressed. The monitor’s contrast allowed details to pop on the map and the picture was sharp. Civ 5 looked especially dynamic using the monitor’s RPG preset mode, which added needed saturation to colors.
The MSI Oculux NXG251R has an MSRP of $499.99, but is usually a bit less on Amazon.
The MSI Oculux NXG251R is pretty great, offering eSports athletes and twitch gamers a speedy panel along with an edge on the competition thanks to its buttery smooth visuals. It’s also good deal at $400, which is a bargain for a display this fast with G-Sync, assuming you value refresh rate over screen size and resolution.
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