Upgrading or buying your first gaming monitor is always an exciting and important decision. There are inevitably trade offs and balances, whatever your budget, but ViewSonic offers decent quality monitors at attractive prices. Its latest VX3258-2KC-MHD monitor sticks to that ethos, making it a perfect ‘first gaming monitor’.
Panel Size: 32-inch
Native Resolution: 2560x1440p
Panel Type: MVA
Maximum Refresh: 144Hz
Response: 5ms (maximum, after setting change)
Display Inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.0; 2 x DP 1.2
VESA Mount: None
Warranty: Three years
The curved MVA screen is eye-catching. It's a lovely 1800R, 32-inch, 16:9 screen that never fails to be anything but aesthetically pleasing. At slightly under $400/£400, it's an accessibly-priced gaming monitor offering some decent specs on a WQHD 1440p display, so is likely to appeal to a vast range of players and PC users. In terms of aesthetics, it’ll melt into a gaming or office setup seamlessly, but for those looking for a bit of pizazz or character in their screen’s design, this is not a flashy panel. Setup is easy, straightforward, and secure; two screws complete the stand’s build and another two attach it to the monitor. And at 12.8 lbs/5.8 kgs, combined with the wide, splayed-feet style stand, it's a solid and stable monitor. It’s a sound design that puts function first, though it's a non-VESA monitor.
Housed in the functional design are a range of features, most of which are the usual suspects. The MVA panel hits the current sweetspot for PC gaming at 1440p with a WQHD screen. The monitor’s refresh rate is a reliable and speedy 144Hz helped along by AMD’s Freesync tech, which should provide a tear-free and stutter-less experience.
There is slightly less to shout about looking at the VX3258’s response time. It seems to be a sluggish 21ms by default, though it can be bumped to 5ms with a setting change. Still not lightning quick, but plenty quick enough for those at the casual end of the online multiplayer spectrum.
Dipping into the menu and settings, there are plenty of options with a lot of genuinely useful presets—enough to find your own ideal preferences. From color adjustments to view modes to black stabilization and everything in between, the VX3258 isn’t short on customisation options. This is a real plus.
There are a couple of onboard speakers, but they're nothing to shout about, and should only be used if you’re in dire straits (not the rock band, although we reckon Mark Knopfler might be fan). In terms of connectivity, you’re well looked after too, with one 3.5mm audio, two HDMIs, and two Display Ports. This should offer flexibility for more than just one PC, and enables you to at least have the option to hook up other devices.
From a general usage standpoint, this monitor has all the hallmarks of a great monitor for a small-medium setup: it’s a great size; the curved screen definitely helps with immersion and viewing angles; and its resolution and general color presentation, and image quality, made it a pleasure to use day in day out during testing.
Apex Legends is a good go-to testing game due to its ability to shine light on a monitor’s speeds (it being a fast shooter) and also general image quality (it being a new title with pretty good environments to evaluate). Overall, it was a enjoyable experience playing Apex on the VX3258. The colors were sufficiently, but not overly, vivid. The curved screen effectively increases immersion into the game and, combined with the speed of the display’s refresh rate and good image fidelity, it’s a cracking experience. The monitor’s refresh rate is more noticeable than overall image quality (despite the lovely resolution) with the picture being smooth even in the most frantic of exchanges, but not as crisp and detailed as higher-end panels—a microcosm of the perennial trade-off between speed and quality that prevails in gaming displays nowadays.
Turning to Metro Exodus, the VX3258 had a tougher time, with the smoothness of picture once again coming through most predominantly. Metro poses its own challenges for monitors due to its dark and grimy color palette (if you can call it a palette) and from the tighter spaces to the outdoors. On the whole, the darker shades and black colors of the game’s environments looked good, but were not the deepest. This monitor definitely does bright colors better.
We were able to run it on a powerful PC so cranked all the graphics settings up as far as they would go. However, there's a few shortcomings in picture quality that are worth highlighting, though. In images with high contrast, particularly with fireplaces and other light sources, there were notable areas of haze and fogginess where the monitor didn’t quite present the scenes as beautifully or as crisp as they were intended. Some environments also appeared grainy, leading edges to appear a little blurry and smudged upon close inspection. Not terrible, but a little lacking.
The same issues was present with a few older games like Skyrim and Elite: Dangerous: lovely speed and brighter colors; not so much with image quality and darker shades and contrasts. So, a few things to be concerned about, sure, but it's worth remembering the monitor’s price point and better handling of faster games to balance it all out. It's also it’s worth pointing out that screen glare is a huge issue, particularly on the darker colors, with any light source reflecting off the screen.
For an accessibly-priced curved screen, the VX3258 offers a decent balance of speed and picture quality, though doesn’t truly excel at either. If you don’t play online much, then there's no need to worry about the milliseconds. It's still decent as a fast-refreshing curved gaming monitor, but I’m tempted to recommend the BenQ EX3203R that we recently reviewed instead, or the ViewSonic XG240R for its speed.
But if you don't have the budget for something dearer or aren't too much of a speed-demon, the ViewSonic VX3258 could be tempting when on sale, particularly with that 3-year warranty chucked in.