MSI Oculuz NXG253R Gaming Monitor Review
Refresh rate, resolution, black levels, panel size: pick any two. It’s been the PC monitor buyer’s dilemma for several years now, since we’ve collectively realized that yes, playing at a higher refresh rate actually makes you better at Counter-Strike. MSI’s latest panel, bearing the eye-catching moniker Oculux NXG253R (opens in a new tab)aims to at least solve the most common trade-off in modern gaming panels: refresh rate for color quality.
While the majority of high refresh rate panels are VA or TN screens with limited viewing angle and shallow colors, MSI’s latest is built around an IPS panel, with all the inky blacks and the rich colors that technology brings. Traditionally, IPS has been slower to the party because it’s more expensive to make high refresh rate panels, but obviously enough of us are sold at 120Hz and beyond.
Way beyond that, in fact. This is the first 360Hz monitor I’ve played on, and I have to admit I’m skeptical of any marginal performance gains I might see. 60Hz to 120Hz is transformative, but 120Hz to 360Hz? True, a person’s gaming performance does not increase exponentially. And don’t the eyes only see 60 fps anyway?
It turns out that while that performance boost doesn’t exist on a linear curve, 360Hz looks and feels smoother than 120Hz, and the decrease in ghosting of all your shooter’s targets of choice makes them a bit easier to connect. If your aspirations for online competition are serious enough, that’s really all you need to know.
Oculux NXG253R Specifications
Panel size: 24.5 inches
Native resolution: 1920×1080
Refresh rate: 360Hz
Response time: 1ms GTG
Panel Type: Fast IPS
Maximum brightness: 400 cd/m²
Synchronization technology: Nvidia G-Sync
Submissions: 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0b (Max: [email protected])
Price: $400 (opens in a new tab) | £499 (opens in a new tab)
At the enthusiast level, there’s still just a sense of sheer enjoyment watching Overwatch or Quake Champions spin. Anecdotally, I found D.Va’s out-of-costume gun combat a bit easier with frames and refresh rate up to 300 (the game is capped there) since my targets were still there where my screen told me they were. In similarly frenetic Quake Champions matches, I also pulled off Ranger’s tricky teleport kill with a bit more ease. (I can attest to that, having seen Phil do it in a game -Ed.)
Assetto Corsa Competizione definitely benefits from the higher numbers of the Oculux, though good luck running it at a stable 300+ fps even at 1080p. And I was also running on an RTX 3080. Not the monitor’s fault, of course, but something to keep in mind: you still need the GPU to boost your frame rate by the hundreds in order to feel the benefits of this 360Hz refresh.
It’s an IPS panel with generally darker blacks, it certainly looks more vivid in-game than even a good TN screen, and colors hold up from any viewing angle. You have a few preset brightness and color balance modes to cycle through on the OSD, categorized by genre. The FPS is super bright and saturated, the running is a bit more subdued in contrast. Out of the box, the default color and brightness settings are easy on the eye and really sell the IPS advantage.
However, these dark blacks are not always useful in a competitive gaming environment. We all know how much those sneaky Ts like to hang around in the shadows under Mirage Palace, and in those cases, you don’t want you surveilling in collusion with them. As such, this panel has the G-Sync Esports mode ready on the OSD to absolutely neutralize the color balance. In the right direction. Turning it on turns the darkest areas of a scene into saturated grays that really show whoever is hiding there. It looks visually awful, sure, but that’s not the point. Remember to turn it off again before playing anything you would actually like to enjoy.
G-Sync itself is present here too, and while that’s not a big deal for competitive gamers due to the tiny increase in latency it does add to the signal chain, for the rest of us down $400 (opens in a new tab) (£499 (opens in a new tab)) on a 1080p monitor, that sweetens the deal. Whether or not that’s smoother than 300+ fps of unsynced gameplay is really in the eye of the beholder, but it’s always been and remains a useful tool in one’s arsenal for those slower games, Fallout 4s and Cyberpunks, which need all the help they can get to make it all right.
Finally, one of the three USB ports on the monitor itself is Nvidia Reflex compatible, meaning you can monitor total system latency directly on your monitor if you wish. It’s a handy way to check that everything is working as expected and to highlight drops in-game. Not one to keep all the time, though, for your sanity’s sake.
So the Oculux NXG253R’s tenure is solid, but there are still trade-offs to be made in this pricey 1080p monitor in order to maximize esports performance. The most obvious are the screen size and resolution, 24.5-inches and 1080p respectively. You could definitely say that nobody gets 360fps at 4K in… well, anything outside of CS:GO or MOBAs, and rightly so. But spending that much on a monitor that won’t even give you 1440p seems like a serious trade-off, and that resolution dictates a smaller panel size. No one wants to see individual pixels at 1080p on a 32-inch screen.
MSI’s bezel and stand design doesn’t work particularly hard to wow you, either. It’s incredibly adjustable and can be oriented fully vertical if you need to, but the plastic finishes and slightly dated “gAm3r” aesthetic don’t reflect the price it’s priced at.
Anyone buying a monitor right now faces the same dilemma, then, one that the Oculux NXG253R only partially solves. This magical combination of screen size, resolution, refresh rate and lighting technology is still beyond the reach of the masses, but at least with the latest MSI you can enjoy the benefits of a high refresh rate. up to the extreme extreme that technology allows – 500Hz from Asus panel notwithstanding.
There’s a real performance advantage here and a real fun multiplier. You just have to accept the idea of buying specialized equipment, not general-purpose equipment.