AOC Q2963PM 21:9 SuperWide Monitor Review
Over the Christmas period, I wasn’t just running around for last minute gifts or eating and drinking to excess (tiss the season to be jolly!), but I also had the opportunity to test and review not only our first monitor from AOC (Admiral Overseas Corporation), but our first 29″ SuperWide screen. The AOC Q2963PM 21:9 SuperWide Monitor has as the name entitles, a super wide format (or UWHD) of 2560×1080 with a aspect ration of 21:9, an IPS panel, with a 5ms response time and 60HZ refresh rate.
or in brief by AOC themselves…
‘A new dimension of entertainment is here: the myMulti-Play (q2963Pm). The giant 73.7 cm (29”) display delivers true cinema feeling at home, thanks to its 21:9 format and UWHD resolution of 2560 x 1080 pixels. Watch Cinemascope movies in their native format without disturbing black bars. In addition, the energy-efficient myMulti-Play with LED backlights is equipped with MHL connectivity, which allows you to directly display the content of any compatible mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet PC on the big screen. The included Screen+ software qualifies the widescreen display as an ideal solution for office applications. With this software you can divide the extra-large desktop into different practical panes, which are accessible through shortcuts. This perfect entertainer takes you to an entirely new dimension of thrill!’
The AOC Q2963PM arrived in a large predominantly blue box with an artists impression of the monitor itself, an angled photo of the AOC from the front and behind and a few of the features highlighted (see below), as well as the brand and model name. There’s no image of the back of the box as it’s the same as the front. 😉
- Panoramic screen with screen-splitter function for multitasking ease
- Cinematic Screen with 21:9 Aspect Ratio
- WFHD maximum resolution of 2560 x 1080 at 60Hz
- PBP or PIP multitasking function for enjoying an image from two sources at once
- Multimedia connectors for VGA, DVI-D with HDCP, HDMI (MHL), DisplayPort
- Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) to connect and charge the phone
- IPS Panel with full HD 1080P and an LED backlit screen
Now the fun part! After working out how to get into the box (ok, I was a little over excited and I’m not very patient at the best of times), I found the monitor, stand and a bag of components. All of which came very well protected in a large Styrofoam block. Both the screen and stand were protected within additional protective bags, to help prevent any potential damage whilst in transit.
The contents of the box are listed and shown above:
- AOC Q2963PM – Panel
- AOC Q2963PM – Stand
- Power Supply and Cable
- HDMI Cable
- VGA Cable
- Audio Cable
- Drivers and Documentation CD
courtesy of AOC
In my haste I hadn’t gathered together any tools that may have been needed to put the AOC Q2963PM together… As luck would have it, they weren’t even required! Just simply push the monitor into the stand until the clips snap into position and it’s securely in place. 🙂
Surprisingly the panel is extremely manageable too, at only 6.9Kg.
The front of the AOC Q2963PM monitor is largely featureless, mainly because it’s just a bloody large screen! It does look slightly odd at first due to its 2560×1080 ratio (kinda reminded me of the widescreen TV boom in the 90’s), when off and viewed from your average seating distance it actually looks bezelless (OK – made up word by me to describe a lack of bezel!). The bezel (13mm top, 20mm sides & 18mm bottom) is predominately a dark metallic grey colour, with a black strip running across the bottom. In the centre we find a smart silver AOC logo.
The back of the monitor houses the stand arm and a removable panel with AOC moulded into it. Upon removing this panel you’ll find a 100mm VESA wall mount.
Just underneath the stand arm we see five of the available connectivity ports.
Stand Arm IO Panel (underside)
The stand arm also houses a secondary IO panel to the right and if you look at the very top of the arm you can see a 3W speaker (also on the opposite side, providing stereo sound).
Another feature you may have noticed lacking from the front are the control buttons, that’s because they are hidden on the right side of the panel (see below).
Stand Arm IO Panel (right)
The AOC Q2963PM’s fairly chunky looking stand only allows for tilt (-5/+15), but there is no height or tilt adjust. I’d assume this is because of the Super Wide format, nonetheless it’s also a slight disappointment. I like to have the centre of my screen at eye level, an adjustable stand would have been most welcome…
So far so good. The AOC Q2963PM looks sleek, is easy to assemble, has plenty of connectivity ports and a very welcome 3 year warranty.
Now lets see how the Super Wide 2560×1080 fares in Gaming!
As per the norm, our Test Rig received a fresh and shiny new install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit (Service Pack 1). No calibration software was used, instead relying on AOC factory settings. Seeing as this is predominately a visual test, I did however put in some fresh contact lenses!
For this review I shall be using the following games and applications over my two week test period.
- Battlefield 4
- Metro Last Light
- Crysis 3
- Need for Speed – Rivals
- Total War – Rome 2
- Grid 2
- VLC Player
So here we are, the AOC Q2963PM is all hooked up and so am I! Normally for testing purposes, we here at pcG would choose a smaller selection of games or benchmarking tools. In this instance I wanted to see exactly what benefit the 2560×1080 resolution offered in the way of Gaming (or more importantly, how much of an unfair advantage it would give me!), as well as the obvious monitor performance of course.
On it goes. Straight away I could tell I was going to be happy with this screen. When testing monitors, you tend to find you’ll be playing around with pre-sets and re-calibrating to suit your own personal taste. Not for me, the AOC Q2963PM factory settings are bright, colourful, sharp and vibrant. Maybe a little too much gamma for some, but to me the settings were nigh on perfect. Also rather happily I couldn’t find any pixel problems. When playing around with the menu, I found it to be fast and responsive, better still, instead of throwing the menu right across the screen, the options where in a tidy column down the right side of the screen and never in the way.
In both Grid 2 and Need for Speed – Rivals, having the extra few viewing inches either side does give a small benefit whilst cornering, but visually the 2560×1080 looks somehow natural. In most driving games I’m an avid fan of the external 3rd person view (gives me a better view of who I’m trying to ram!), in recent times developers having chosen to increase the player image size, showing off the focal graphic (or car in this case) in front of you. Whilst undeniably good to look at, I find this a pain in the ass from a gaming perspective and prefer to have a view from slightly further back. Because of the 2560×1080 resolution, the extra wide viewing angle gave me exactly this, while still looking good.
The Super Wide screen also massively benefits all of the FPS games tested (and most likely any!). Having that little extra bit a screen on BF4 gives you a more competitive edge and it’s actually very surprising how much more you see.
It would also seem apparent that RTS games improve with the additional screen estate offered by the AOC Q2963PM. It gives a massive panoramic view in Total War – Rome 2, especially good to watch whilst sitting back and watching your plans unfold across the battlefield.
As many owners of Super Wide screen monitors will already be able to tell you, there is a slight draw back to the resolution. This being that at the moment, 2560×1080 isn’t universally recognized by many games (Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Black Flag being one), thankfully in some cases there are workarounds for this. Then in some games I noticed a slightly odd fish-eye-lens style image (DayZ and to a lesser extent Total War – Rome 2). Another small issue in Crysis 3, Need for Speed – Rivals and Battlefield 4, found the menu’s and loading screens to be the traditional HD 1920×1080 format, yet thankfully in-game displayed happily at UWHD 2560×1080. Obviously this is no fault of the monitor and as popularity for the aspect ratio gains momentum (which given the benefits it surely will), developers will start to reap the benefits of the extra size.
One non-gaming feature I feel I should mention is the actual MultiPlay feature. This essentially does exactly the same as Window’s 7 Aero Snap, but instead of two equal windows side by side, there are three, it may not sound like much, but it’s bloody handy (work, surf and watch a film on the same screen!).
Talking of which, films… Wow, now I’ve a better grasp of the word cinematic. The AOC Q2963PM’s 21:9 aspect ratio, clarity and depth of colour makes watching films (and Games for that matter!) somewhat magical, Awesome!
Something else that’s worthy of note is GPU performance. The UWHD 2560×1080 resolution has substantially more pixels (691,200 pixels to be precise, which is approximately 33%) than a standard HD 1920×1080. How much of a knock on effect is this going to have? Will I need a new GPU to get the most of my new monitor? The bad news is on average you’ll be losing about 18% of your GPU performance (take a look at this for more detail).
AOC’s Q2963PM has two 3W speakers hidden at the top of the stand arm. It’s nice to see them out of the way, leaving a nice, tidy looking monitor. The quality of the sound is surprisingly clear, with good tone and treble, but rather lacking in the bass department. This is of course a feature that I and most likely 95% of gamers would never use, instead opting for a head-set or speakers.
The AOC Q2963PM 21:9 SuperWide Monitor arrived well packaged and was incredibly easy to set up. I found the 21:9 29″ panel a little strange at first (almost like viewing through a letter-box), but after a couple of days I got used to the new format. So used to in fact, that I really didn’t want to part with it!
The monitor looks sleek and minimalist and would suit any environment, more importantly the panel is sharp, colourful and concise, in short, Stunning! When set up next to a Dell UltraSharp U2713H 27”, I honestly could not decide which I’d prefer to use. I believe it to be the only screen I’ve been happy with straight out of the box and not had to calibrate to my own personal taste (something which can seemingly take forever).
Productivity is something we seldom mention here at pcG, but the Multiplay option is bloody handy (to be fair with three windows open, it didn’t really make me any more productive, I guess I get distracted too easily!).
For FPS, RTS and in fact any kind of Gaming the AOC Q2963PM was a joy to view. The IPS panel can seemingly be viewed clearly from any angle (although to get the best, I’d advise you to be sat right in front of it of course, as I was), and with its 60Hz Refresh Rate and a 5ms response time I didn’t notice any input-lag or ghosting whatsoever. Will the AOC Q2963PM with it’s 21″ 21:9 Super Wide screen make you a better gamer? It’s not likely, but at least you’ll get to enjoy the view more. Could this be the perfect screen for gamers? Hmmmm… Well if you want a very impressive IPS screen, extra screen estate, a good 5ms response time and a 60Hz refresh rate without having to sacrifice superior picture quality for a high speed TN panel. You know what? I think it very nearly is.
At the time of review, the AOC Q2963PM had an recommended retail price of £399.99, which put’s it in the same pricing bracket as the cheaper 27″ 2560×1440 screens. This isn’t a bad price, but looking across the internet I’ve been able to find it for as little as £309.94, which I consider to be very good.
As you can probably tell, I rather like the AOC Q2963PM. So much so that after a lot of thought, gaming and deliberating, I very nearly gave it our highest accolade, the infamous pcGameware Platinum award, but just one thing stopped me. The lack of a height adjust, for me it would have been the icing on the cake. Would this stop me from recommending one? Bloody hell no, I even want one myself! (and a of course a small stack of books).
NOTE (by pcG James): I have also had the pleasure of playing with the AOC Q2963PM over the last couple of weeks and I could almost do a review of my own, but to cut to the chase. This is probably the best product I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing here at pcG, and I WANT ONE! In fact as this monitor has to be returned soon :(, I think I’m going to have to treat myself, as I can’t bear to be without it! I guess I don’t need to say much more.
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