MSI MAG342CQR Review: 3440×1440 144Hz FreeSync UltraWide Curved Gaming Monitor

The MSI MAG342CQR is a 34" 3440x1440 144Hz ultrawide gaming monitor based on a curved VA panel with wide color gamut, VRR, MBR and more!

Bottom Line

The MSI MAG342CQR is the best value 34″ 3440×1440 144Hz curved gaming monitor with a VA panel. It offers VRR, MBR, PiP/PbP, a wide color gamut and an ergonomic stand at an affordable price.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(4.8)
Performance:
(4.0)
Price/Value:
(4.0)
4.5

The MSI MAG342CQR is yet another 34″ 3440×1440 high refresh rate ultrawide gaming monitor based on a curved VA panel. Let’s see how it stacks up against the alternatives!

Image Quality

Based on a VA panel with a high 4,000:1 static contrast ratio the MSI Optix MAG342CQR delivers deep and inky blacks. In comparison, IPS monitors with the typical contrast ratio of 1,000:1 will have somewhat grayish blacks.

Next, the monitor has a decent 300-nit peak brightness, meaning that it can get more than bright enough under normal lighting conditions.

It also has a wide 90% DCI-P3 gamut coverage for more vibrant and saturated colors with a ~125% relative sRGB gamut size. In case you want to clamp the gamut down to ~100% sRGB for more accurate SDR color output, you can enable the sRGB emulation mode in the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is supported as well, but you won’t get a proper HDR image since the monitor lacks FALD (full-array local dimming). Some HDR content will look a bit better thanks to the wide color gamut, decent native contrast ratio and dithered 10-bit color depth, which makes for smoother gradients.

If you want a proper HDR display in this price range, consider the AOC Q27G3XMN 27″ 1440p 165Hz flat-screen VA monitor with a 336-zone mini LED FALD backlight.

Moving on, the VA panel of the MSI MAG342CQR monitor has 178° wide viewing angles, but there are minor gamma/saturation shifts at certain angles.

This isn’t an issue during gaming or everyday use, but if you plan on doing professional color-critical work, you should get an IPS monitor instead. For basic content creation, the MAG342CQR will do just fine though.

The 3440×1440 resolution on the 34″ screen of the monitor results in a high pixel density of 109.68 PPI (pixels per inch), which makes for plenty of screen real estate and sharp details without any scaling necessary.

The 21:9 ultrawide format provides you with extra horizontal screen space that’s especially useful for audio/video editing and productivity work. You also get a wider field of view in compatible games for a more immersive gaming experience.

You can think of the MSI MAG342CQR as a 27″ 2560×1440 monitor with ~33% extra width.

Performance

amd freesync logo

The MSI MAG342CQR has a 4ms GtG pixel response time speed and three overdrive modes: Normal, Fast and Fastest. We recommend using the Fastest mode as it has the quickest response time performance without adding any overshoot.

As expected from an ultrawide VA panel in this price range, there is some noticeable ghosting behind fast-moving objects, especially in dark scenes.

Some users are very sensitive to this, while others won’t be bothered by it at all – or will be able to tolerate it.

Unless you mainly plan on playing fast-paced FPS titles competitively or are particularly sensitive to ghosting, we believe that most gamers won’t mind the amount of dark-level smearing.

Input lag, on the other hand, is imperceptible at ~5ms, so you won’t be able to feel or notice any delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

Further, the MSI MAG342CQR supports AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate technology with a 60-144Hz dynamic range for tear-free gameplay up to 144FPS.

While the monitor doesn’t have an official G-SYNC Compatible certification by NVIDIA, VRR works with supported GeForce (10-series or newer) GPUs as well.

Another common drawback with high refresh rate VA monitors is VRR brightness flickering, however, it mainly occurs in in-game menus, loading screens and games with fluctuating frame rates. So, you can either disable VRR in affected games or ignore the brightness oscillations if you can.

The MSI MAG342CQR also offers Anti Motion Blur technology, which uses backlight strobing to reduce perceived motion blur at the cost of image brightness. It can only be enabled at fixed refresh rates of 85Hz or higher, so VRR must be disabled.

Further, this introduces flickering that’s invisible to the human eye but can cause headaches after prolonged use to sensitive users. Either way, due to the monitor’s slower response time and introduced strobe crosstalk, we don’t recommend using Anti Motion Blur.

The monitor’s backlight is flicker-free unless Anti Motion Blur is enabled, and there’s an integrated low-blue light filter.

Features

MSI MAG342CQR OSD Menu

Beneath the bottom bezel of the screen on the right side, there are four hotkeys for navigation through the OSD menu, as well as a dedicated power button.

Besides the standard image adjustment tools (brightness, contrast, color temperature, etc.), you’ll also find a few advanced settings, including sharpness, Image Enhancement (improves low-resolution images) and display scaling (auto, 1:1, 4:3, 16:9 and 21:9). However, there are no gamma or color saturation options.

The MSI MAG342CQR also supports automatic input detection, Night Vision (improves visibility in dark scenes by altering the gamma curvature), on-screen timers, a refresh rate tracker, crosshair overlays, and Picture in Picture / Picture by Picture modes.

Design & Connectivity

MSI Optix MAG342CQR Design

The stand of the monitor is sturdy and offers height adjustment up to 90mm, -5°/20° tilt, +/- 30° swivel, +/- 4° pivot for balancing and 75x75mm VESA mount compatibility.

The screen has a moderate 1500R curvature for added immersion and a light matte anti-glare coating that prevents reflections without making the image too grainy.

Connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.0 ports (limited to 100Hz at 3440×1440) and a headphone jack.

Price & Similar Monitors

The MSI MAG342CQR price ranges from $280 to $330.

At $280, it’s the most affordable 34″ 3440×1440 144Hz curved VA gaming monitor with a wide color gamut. Even at $330, it offers excellent value for the money.

There are also the MSI MAG342CQPV and MSI MAG342CQRV model with a lower 100Hz refresh rate, 250-nits peak brightness and 3000:1 contrast ratio, but we don’t recommend them as they’re not that cheaper.

You can also find similar 34″ 3440×1440 high refresh rate curved VA models without wide color gamut at a lower price ($250 – $300):

There are a few good alternatives with a wide color gamut available as well:

All three of the above-mentioned ultrawide monitors use the same panel, so the image quality and performance will be basically identical.

Therefore, you can simply choose according to your preference of the design/features or go for whichever is available/cheaper. Not sure which one to pick? Leave us a comment below!

If you don’t want to deal with slow response time and VRR brightness flickering, you’ll need an ultrawide monitor with an IPS panel, such as the Sceptre E345B-QUN168W with a flat screen or the Acer XR343CKP with a curved screen.

To learn more about monitors and ensure you’re getting the model most suited for your personal preference, visit our comprehensive and always up-to-date best gaming monitor buyer’s guide.

Conclusion

If you want a 34″ 3440×1440 high refresh rate ultrawide curved gaming monitor, the MSI MAG342CQR is one of the best models available.

As you can see, there are a lot of options available and the prices often vary, but the MAG342CQR usually offers the best value for money.

Specifications

Screen Size34-inch
Screen Curvature1500R
Resolution3440×1440 (UWQHD)
Panel TypeVA
Aspect Ratio21:9 (UltraWide)
Refresh Rate144Hz
Response Time4ms (GtG)
Anti Motion Blur1ms (MPRT)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (60-144Hz)
PortsDisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0
Other PortsHeadphone Jack
Brightness300 cd/m²
Brightness (HDR)300 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio4000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
90% DCI-P3
HDRHDR10
VESAYes (75x75mm)

The Pros:

  • High contrast ratio
  • Wide color gamut (sRGB mode)
  • High pixel density, ultrawide format
  • Plenty of features, including VRR and MBR support up to 144Hz
  • Ergonomic stand

The Cons:

  • Minor ghosting in fast-paced games, mainly in darker scenes
  • Brightness flickering when VRR is enabled in some scenes

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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.