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MSI launches a 31.5-inch 1080p monitor with a 180Hz refresh rate for $330, but why?

(Image credit: MSI)

It wasn't too terribly long ago when the monitor market was fairly stagnant, culminating in a 30-inch IPS display with a 2560x1600 resolution (as represented by Dell's UltraSharp series and a few others). These days, there are a lot more options, and the best gaming monitors combine high refresh rates with higher resolutions. MSI just added to them with its 31.5-inch Optix MAG322CR, but it's sort of an oddball addition in today's landscape.

It might very well be an excellent display—I haven't seen it in person. However, the main selling point is the pairing of a 180Hz refresh rate with a 1920x1080 resolution, on a large 31.5-inch curved VA (8-bit+FRC) panel. It's also a FreeSync display, though no word on G-Sync compatibility as yet.

Here's a rundown of the specs:

  • Panel size—31.5 inches
  • Panel resolution—1920x1080
  • Aspect ratio—16:9
  • Refresh rate—180Hz
  • Response time—1ms (MPRT)
  • Panel type—VA (vertical alignment)
  • Brightness—300 nits
  • Viewing angles—178 degrees (horizontal and vertical)
  • Curvature—1800R
  • Contrast ratio—3,000:1 (typical), 100,000,000:1 (dynamic)

Connectivity options consist of a DisplayPort (1.2a), two HDMI ports (2.0b), and a USB-C port. It also offers up a pair of downstream USB 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio output.

Fast-action games are the best candidates for high refresh rates, and being a 1080p display, taking full advantage of the 180Hz refresh rate is going to be more easily attainable without going completely bonkers on your GPU budget. But is there a big market for this display?

I'm not convinced there is one. There are higher refresh rates out there, up to 360Hz are coming, and I don't know that a 180Hz refresh rate at 1080p will look and feel all that different than a 165Hz refresh rate, which is much more common. Plus, the esports players that tend to go after refresh rate over resolution typically don't want to go larger than 27-inch. That's because larger displays can make it harder to see and track what's going on in your peripheral vision, and 24-inch is the 'standard' for the pro scene. (Which is why the upcoming 360Hz displays are 24-inch models.)

Had MSI been able to pair the same refresh rate with 1440p without jacking up the price, I think this would be a more interesting option. Nevertheless, for those who are intrigued (and don't care to wait for the reviews), you can find the Optix MAG322CR up for preorder at B&H Photo for $329.99.

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).