Entry level PC products, generally, tend to have similar characteristics. They're basic. They get the job done - just - and they're not known for being flashy, either in performance or looks. That's particularly true for monitors. Spend under $400 and you're faced with a low quality panel with decent refresh rate, higher resolution but garbage refresh rate and input lag, or a middle ground that doesn't really excel at anything.
Samsung's CRG5 monitor buggers that orthodoxy right off.
Samsung used to be one of the biggest names in gaming monitors, when LCD screens started hitting the market. They had a natural advantage in that they were an early backer of esports: the company was the prime sponsor of the World Cyber Games, which provided a natural route to convert a lot of gamers to LCD screens, since they wanted to practice on the monitors they'd be competing on.
Spin forward almost two decades, and Samsung is having a bit of a renaissance. The company backed away from the gaming monitor market, focusing more on TVs and phones as the Galaxy line began to take off. But as quantum dot technology grew in popularity, Samsung started putting it into monitors, and a few years ago they made a return to the gaming monitor market.
I played around with the first iteration of the CRG line, and it was a good start except for some frustrating issues with the hinge that caused the monitor to constantly wobble. There was also a persistent flickering at 144Hz, which was a bit of a shame.
A couple of generations have passed, and the quality of Samsung's panels have improved. Instead of having to overclock to the best refresh rate, the CRG5 does 240Hz out of the box with G-Sync support. The latter is surprising, since you're only paying $365 to get a decent 27-inch VA panel in the first place, with far better colours and roughly the same brightness (a maximum of 250 nits) than the other TN-based gaming monitors in the same price bracket.
But there's also one huge, huge thing that I love about the CRG5.
Here's the back of the CRG5. When you take it out of the box, there's basically two parts: the entire screen, which ships as a single unit, and the small hinge at the bottom. There's other bits of course - the manual, cords etc. - but the main assembly is literally as simple as clicking the stand into the rear and tightening the thumb screws on the bottom.
That's it. No other fucking around required. As an extra nice bonus, the CRG5 is relatively lightweight. That's nice for LANs - for those still into that - and it makes the whole setup process infinitely easier.
Just as good, and something I covered before, is the neat design trick with the CRG5's power plug. You can rotate the connector. As someone who lives in a regular apartment where all the power points have about a bee's dick gap between it and the floor, which never works for most power bricks, it's something I hugely appreciated.
The rest is the standard year-on-year improvements you'd expect. The 240Hz performance worked without flickering and, even though I have a 144Hz and 240Hz monitor as my daily drivers, jumping up to 240Hz makes a huge difference in the right scenarios. A game like The Witcher 3 doesn't benefit greatly from a refresh rate that high - you'd get much better return from a monitor that can do 1440p or 4K, since that has a better impact on the overall presentation. (The CRG5 tops out at 1080p.)
But that's not what the CRG5 is for. It's for games like Counter-Strike, PUBG, Escape from Tarkov, Apex Legends, Overwatch and anything with a lot of motion. I like PUBG and Apex here because those are games where you're moving quickly but you also need the ability to properly track small, sometimes minuscule, objects at distance.
Where I find it makes the biggest difference is tracking objects at speed, when you're trying to track a single target or if you're firing a gun and trying to follow the recoil as each bullet lands (something that's necessary in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or something more realistic, like Insurgency).
A great example of that in motion covering high refresh rates generally is from Linus Tech Tips below, which uses a high speed camera and a few runs across different test subjects to track their reaction times and performance between 60Hz and 240Hz.
Samsung's reworked the stability of their stand, too, so the monitor doesn't wobble around a heap when you're smashing the keyboard or flinging your mouse left and right.
For $365, the CRG5 is incredibly well priced. Most monitors in this price bracket will do 144Hz, but they won't do 240Hz, and they won't be VA-based panels. To get something that has a decent response time, a great refresh rate and has relatively good colour reproduction for that amount? It makes the CRG5 not only one of the best monitors at this price point, but probably one of the best monitors to buy for a multi-monitor setup, and just all-around good value.