MSI Optix AG32C Review: 1080p 165Hz FreeSync Curved Gaming Monitor

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Introduction

Want a huge curved gaming monitor with a high refresh rate that’s also affordable?

Meet the MSI Optix AG32C, a cheap 32″ curved monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate, 1ms MPRT, and FreeSync.

Image Quality

The first thing to note is that the MSI AG32C features Full HD resolution (1920×1080) which on its 31.5″ screen results in a pixel density of only 70 pixels per inch.

This means that the picture is quite pixelated; you’ll be able to notice individual pixels, especially if you get a bit closer to the screen.

Moreover, you will have very limited screen space and there’ll be a noticeable lack of details.

But, it’s not all that bad.

A good side to this is that 1080p is not very demanding on your PC system.

Sure, a 1440p or 4K 32″ monitor would have a much better picture quality; But not only is such a high-resolution display significantly more expensive, it also requires a more expensive PC rig to properly utilize it.

Besides, for video games and other entertainment purposes such as watching movies and web-surfing, the lack of pixels isn’t all that noticeable.

Because the screen is so big and curved, you will also be able to sit a bit further from it which will make the pixels less distinguishable.

Additionally, if you crank up some anti-aliasing, video games will look much better.

If you need your monitor to be viable for work though, you should consider a smaller 24″ 1080p monitor or a higher resolution display.

Moving on to the panel itself, the MSI Optix AG32C monitor is uses the VA technology with true 8-bit color depth and  extended 110% sRGB color gamut which ensures vibrant and lifelike colors.

Further, it’s got a stunning contrast ratio of 3,000:1 which provides true, deep blacks for vivid details in shadows of the image.

Performance

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There’s no big difference between 144Hz and 165Hz though experienced and professional players may notice a slightly more responsive ‘feel’ in fast-paced games.

Whether you’re gaming at 144Hz or 165Hz, the gaming experience with FPS, racing, and other games with fast-moving objects is significantly smoother and more immersive than on regular 60Hz displays.

The MSI Optix AG32C input lag performance is very good amounting to ~4ms

There’s next-to-none backlight bleed which will make those deep blacks really stand out.

Moreover, the 178° wide viewing angles will ensure that there are no shifts in contrast, color, or brightness when the screen is looked at from askew angles.

The backlight of the MSI Optix AG32C curved monitor is flicker-free and has an integrated filter that prevents harmful low-blue lights.

Lastly, the monitor has a standard response time speed of 4ms (Gray to Gray) which you can push to 1ms (MPRT) by setting the ‘OverDrive’ setting in the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu to ‘Extreme’.

Note that by enabling this feature, you are causing the backlight to strobe which will decrease the perceived motion blur and ghosting of fast-moving objects, but also make the screen dimmer.

AMD FreeSync

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If you have an AMD GPU or an Xbox One console, you can make the  MSI Optix AG32C change its refresh rate dynamically by enabling FreeSync which will eliminate all screen tearing and stuttering with minimal input lag penalty (~1ms).

The MSI Optix AG32C FreeSync range is 48-165Hz which means that as long as your FPS (Frames Per Second) rate is within that range, there’ll be no screen tearing or stuttering.

In case your FPS drops below 48, the AMD LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) technology causes the monitor to automatically multiply the GPU’s frame rates to reduce the visual artifacts until your FPS rate recovers.

Keep in mind that FreeSync doesn’t work with other consoles than the Xbox One/S/X. What’s more, it cannot be active at the same time as the 1ms MPRT technology.

Update: FreeSync also works without any issues when using a compatible NVIDIA G-SYNC graphics card.

Features

You can use the monitor’s hotkeys to navigate the OSD menu, or you can download the MSI Gaming Center desktop application and adjust your preferred settings there.

There are five pre-calibrated picture presets to choose from including Movie, FPS, RTS, Eye Saver, and Standard.

You can also save two profiles (Gaming and Working) and effortlessly swap between them in MSI’s application.

Other than that, there aren’t any particularly interesting features; there are standard adjustments such as contrast, brightness, input source, aspect ratio, etc but no advanced 6-axis color settings and only two gamma presets.

Design & Connectivity

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The MSI Optix AG32C 165Hz gaming monitor features a slim design with ultra-thin bezels and four red LED strips, but its adjustability is limited as you can only tilt the screen by -5°/15° or VESA mount it using the 100 x 100mm pattern.

However, note that once you detach the screen from its base, a part of the stand is not removable which is an obstacle for VESA mounting. So, you will need a dedicated VESA mount adapter or the tools to make one yourself.

At the back of the monitor, you will find HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and Dual-Link DVI-D ports. Both HDMI and DP support FreeSync up to 165Hz.

Price & Similar Monitors

The MSI Optix AG32C price is around $300 which is a bit steep considering it’s just a 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor, despite its size and 165Hz overclocking ability.

If you want a 32″ 144Hz gaming monitor, we highly recommend investing another $20 in the AOC CQ32G1 which has a higher 1440p resolution.

In case 1440p is too demanding for your PC rig, consider a smaller 24″ 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor instead. It is much cheaper and yet it will provide you with a better image quality due to higher pixel density.

We recommend checking out the AOC C24G1 with a VA panel or the AOC 24G2 and the Acer VG240YP with IPS.

If you don’t mind the low pixel density and really want a 32″ 1080p 144Hz display, the MSI AG32C will suit you just fine as its performance, contrast, and colors are otherwise top-notch.

Conclusion

So, should you buy this monitor?

Well, if you want a big curved screen with a rapid refresh rate that’s affordable and easy on the GPU, then you should; just keep in mind its downsides i.e. the low pixel density.

MSI Optix AG32C Specifications

Screen Size31.5-inch
Screen Curvature1800R
Resolution1920×1080 (Full HD)
Panel TypeVA
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate165Hz
Response Time4ms (GtG)
Motion Blur Reduction1ms (MPRT)
Adaptive SyncFreeSync (48Hz-165Hz)
PortsHDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, DL-DVI-D
Other PortsHeadphone Jack
Brightness250 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio3000:1 (static)
Colors16.7 million (true 8-bit)
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros

  • Wide color gamut and high contrast ratio
  • AMD FreeSync up to 165Hz
  • Plenty of features including 1ms MPRT

The Cons

  • Low pixel density
  • Tilt-only design
  • VESA adapter required
  • Moderate ghosting in fast-paced games
MSI Optix AG32C Review
  • 8/10
    Design - 8/10
  • 7.3/10
    Display - 7.3/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 6/10
    Price/Value - 6/10
7.3/10

Summary

The MSI Optix AG32C is an affordable 32″ curved gaming monitor with a rapid 165Hz refresh rate, FreeSync, and 1ms MPRT. Moreover, its VA panel offers rich colors with deep black shades. Its low resolution, however, makes this monitor strictly for gaming and entertainment purposes only.

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