MSI MAG301RF Review: 2560×1080 200Hz 1ms FreeSync IPS UltraWide Gaming Monitor

The MSI MAG301RF is a 30" 2560x1080 200Hz IPS ultrawide gaming monitor with a fast 1ms GtG response time speed, FreeSync and MBR.

Bottom Line

The MSI MAG301RF offers an immersive viewing experience thanks to its ultrawide format and IPS panel with vibrant colors. It has a rapid 1ms GtG response time speed and a high 200Hz refresh rate, making it ideal for competitive gaming too! Further, it offers plenty of useful features and an affordable price.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(4.7)
Performance:
(4.8)
Price/Value:
(4.7)
4.8

The MSI MAG301RF is a 30″ flat-screen ultrawide gaming monitor with a 2560×1080 screen resolution, a 200Hz refresh rate, a 1ms GtG response time speed, an IPS panel, AMD FreeSync (G-SYNC Compatible) and MBR (Motion Blur Reduction)!

It’s one of the first ultrawide monitors viable for serious competitive gaming!

Image Quality

Now, ultrawide monitors are mainly praised for the extra immersion they bring to the gaming experience thanks to their wider format for an extended field of view. So, how can something intended for immersive gameplay be great for competitive gaming?

Well, the MSI Optix MAG301RF has an uncommon combination of specifications that offers just that!

To start with, most competitive FPS players prefer small screens (ideally ~24″) as it allows them to see all the action at once without having to move their eyes/head a lot.

While the MSI MAG301RF has a 29.5″ viewable screen in diagonal, its 21:9 aspect ratio actually makes it as tall as a regular 24″ 16:9 monitor, just with ~25% extra width.

So, at a reasonable viewing distance, you can still see all the action, including the extended horizontal screen space of the ultrawide format, allowing you to sooner spot the enemies trying to flank you.

However, some competitive games don’t support ultrawide resolutions due to this competitive advantage, though there are only a few of them (Overwatch, StarCraft and Valorant as far as the popular titles go).

In these games, you have to choose between playing with black bars at the sides of the screen or with a stretched-out image.

In most other eSports titles, ultrawide resolutions are supported without issues.

The MSI MAG301RF is the first 30″ 2560×1080 ultrawide monitor with a fast 1ms GtG pixel response time speed and a high refresh rate, which is why it’s perfect for competitive gaming.

In the past, if you wanted a fast ultrawide gaming monitor, you had to settle for a 34″ sized screen (which many find too big for competitive gaming) or one with the 3440×1440 screen resolution, which is substantially more demanding on your PC than 2560×1080, resulting in lower frame rate and choppier performance.

Related:What Is The Best Monitor Size For Gaming?

Besides being easy on your CPU/GPU, the 2560×1080 resolution of the MSI MAG301RF monitor also results in a decent pixel density of 94 PPI (pixels per inch). So, details and text are sharp and you get a decent amount of screen real estate.

Further, the IPS panel ensures 178° wide viewing angles for flawless image quality regardless of the angle you’re looking at the screen.

The colors are vivid, consistent and accurate, covering the entire sRGB color space with minor extension beyond it (105% sRGB).

Lastly, the contrast ratio amounts to 1,000:1, as expected from IPS technology, while the brightness peaks at ~300-nits, which is more than enough under normal lighting conditions.

Performance

The MSI MAG301RF has a fast 1ms GtG pixel response time speed, allowing it to prevent visible trailing behind fast-moving objects. The overdrive is well-implemented, so there’s no pixel overshoot (inverse ghosting) either.

There are three overdrive options: Normal, Fast and Fastest. ‘Fastest’ can add some overshoot, so we recommend sticking with the ‘Fast’ option.

Thanks to the monitor’s high 200Hz refresh rate, the gaming experience is buttery-smooth provided that you can maintain a high frame rate.

Variable refresh rate (VRR) is supported with both AMD’s FreeSync Premium (48-200Hz) and NVIDIA’s G-SYNC Compatible (60-200Hz) certifications, ensuring tear-free gameplay as long as you’re within the supported VRR range; LFC takes over below that.

Input lag is imperceptible at ~2ms of delay and there’s an optional MPRT motion blur reduction implementation.

MPRT can further reduce perceived motion blur by backlight strobing, but it can’t be active at the same time as VRR and it decreases the maximum brightness while enabled.

As it’s the case with all IPS monitors, some IPS glow is noticeable, but it’s manageable.

Features

MSI Optix MAG301RF OSD Menu

The OSD (On-Screen Display) menu of the monitor is well-organized and offers plenty of useful features. You can easily navigate the menu via the directional joystick placed at the rear of the monitor.

Alternatively, you can use the MSI Gaming OSD application. Once installed, you can run this application regularly from your PC or via the ‘macro’ hotkey at the left side of the screen.

Useful gaming features include Night Vision (improves visibility in darker scenes by altering the gamma curvature), a refresh rate tracker, crosshair overlays, an on-screen timer and various picture presets (FPS, RTS, RPG, etc.).

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is supported as well, but the monitor can only accept and display the HDR10 signal. It lacks proper display capabilities, such as much higher brightness and contrast, as well as a wider color gamut for a meaningful HDR viewing experience.

The backlight of the MSI MAG301RF 200Hz display is flicker-free and there’s an integrated low-blue light filter.

At the back of the monitor, there’s an LED strip that can be customized via MSI’s Mystic Light RGB lighting technology.

Design & Connectivity

MSI Optix MAG301RF Monitor Design

The stand of the monitor is sturdy and ergonomic with up to 130mm height adjustment, -5°/20° tilt, +/- 45° swivel and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility.

Connectivity options include two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.2, a headphone jack and a dual-USB 2.0 hub. There’s no USB-C port as indicated on MSI’s product page!

The HDMI 2.0 ports are limited to 180Hz at 2560×1080, while DisplayPort 1.2 works all the way up to 200Hz. Therefore, the FreeSync range over HDMI is 48-180Hz.

In order to use 10-bit color depth, you need to set the refresh rate to 180Hz over DisplayPort or 144Hz over HDMI. However, as most games use 8-bit color anyway, we recommend sticking with 8-bit color depth.

Price & Similar Monitors

The MSI MAG301RF price ranges from $280 to $330, which is great value for money considering it’s the only monitor with this set of specifications.

Be sure to visit our comprehensive and always up-to-date best gaming monitor buyer’s guide for more information and the best display deals.

Conclusion

The MSI Optix MAG301RF is the perfect gaming monitor for those who enjoy fast-paced games that support the ultrawide format and that can be run at high frame rates.

Specifications

Screen Size29.5-inch
Resolution2560×1080 (UWHD)
Panel TypeIPS
Aspect Ratio21:9 (UltraWide)
Refresh Rate200Hz
Response Time (GtG)1ms (GtG)
Response Time (MPRT)1ms (MPRT)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (48-200Hz)
G-SYNC Compatible (60-200Hz)
PortsDisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0
Other PortsHeadphone Jack, 2x USB 2.0
Brightness300 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
105% sRGB
HDRHDR10
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • Accurate and consistent colors
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Quick response time, low input lag
  • Plenty of features, including FreeSync and MBR up to 200Hz
  • Ergonomic stand, USB hub

The Cons:

  • IPS glow and mediocre contrast ratio (as expected from this panel technology)

Related Reads

ASUS ROG Strix XG17AHP Monitor Review
ASUS XG17AHP Review: Portable 240Hz IPS FreeSync Gaming Monitor
Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.