Design and Features
Feature-rich gaming monitors and budget-friendliness often don’t go hand-in-hand. So, when a display like the CRG5 appears under the $400 mark, I pay attention. That more-affordable price point is usually accompanied by trade-offs, however. In this monitor’s case, it comes with a simplified design that eschews fancy RGB lighting for functional, yet still attractive, design.
Getting up and running is quick and easy. Setup requires some minor assembly but it’s painless since the arm snaps into the display and the feet attach with a single thumbscrew. The stand itself offers some minor cable management but is overall very limited. There’s no height or pivot adjustment and only 20 degrees of tilt. Limited adjustability is common to monitors in this price bracket but being locked into a single height could easily make for an uncomfortable viewing experience. If you need more than a simple tilt, you’ll be stuck looking into an aftermarket mount. Thankfully, there are many easy to find options thanks to the display’s VESA 75×75 compatibility.
Around the back, we also find the monitor’s I/O panel. The CRG5 supports two HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.2 input. There’s also a headphone jack, which is good to see since there are no built-in speakers.
The 27-inch panel is spacious and feels especially so thanks to the thin bezels on the top and sides. If you’re crafting a multi-monitor setup, the CRG5 will minimize the “black bar” effect where the displays meet, making for a better gaming experience.
Compared to most curved monitors, the CRG5 has a much more pronounced contour, which also works to make the screen space feel larger. There’s a slight wrap-around effect that I found more immersive in games as it took up more of my field of view. The downside to such a deep curve is that it can be a bit distracting for browsing and productivity, as text and still images appeared very slightly deformed to me. This is a very common trait of curved monitors and is identical to what I experienced with the Gigabyte CV27F which also has a 1500R curve.
The CRG5 makes good use of its 1080p VA panel. It features richer colors and darker blacks than TN-based monitors like the similarly 240Hz Acer Nitro XF252Q, as well as improved viewing angles. It also features an impressive 3000:1 contrast ratio, which is great for games that make heavy use of shadows and dark scenes. The trade-off for that improved picture is a slower 4ms grey-to-grey response time, which makes it more susceptible to ghosting compared to the wealth of 1ms TN gaming monitors on the market.
For gamers running Nvidia graphics cards, the CRG5 will be an especially good fit. It’s one of the few that’s been officially certified by Nvidia to be “G-Sync compatible.” Even though most FreeSync monitors will also work with G-Sync, official certification indicates that Nvidia has tested and ensured that it will work exactly as intended, 100% of the time.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Out of the box calibration wasn’t very good. Default brightness was too high for the native contrast which made the display look slightly washed out before I calibrated it. Peak brightness was also dimmer than I would expect of a gaming monitor in 2019, topping out at only 300-nits. In practice, this may not seem like a big deal, but coming from a monitor that’s even 100-nits brighter, the CRG5 is a noticeable step down. There’s also no high dynamic range or wide color gamut support, so it’s firmly SDR only.
For my own testing, I ran the monitor through Lagom’s LCD test pages. It performed admirably in the Black Level and White Saturation tests, and I was able to discern each of the patterns and squares so you won’t lose detail in very light or very dark scenes. Gamma was slightly off, coming in at 2.3 versus the standard 2.4.
I was most curious to see how the monitor performed on the Response Time and Ghosting tests. In keeping with its 4ms response time, I did notice slight color shifting in all but the lowest three squares. This means that the grey-to-grey shift is expectedly behind many of the faster TN, VA, and even IPS panels I’ve tested. Likewise, I noticed minor ghosting of the light and dark patterned blocks in the Ghosting Test. Aggressive use of the display’s overdrive setting introduced artifacts, so I left it on its medium setting.
When put through its paces in actual games, I didn’t notice any ghosting whatsoever. In fact, despite the 4ms response time, I found the display to feel quite snappy and responsive thanks to the ultra-fast 240Hz refresh rate.
If you’re considering a 240Hz monitor, there’s a very good chance that you’re a competitive gamer looking for an edge. The higher refresh rate provides a smoother gameplay experience than a 144Hz monitor (and much smoother than 60Hz), but the real benefits come in responsiveness and reduced motion blur, where the CRG5 shines.
Playing through Overwatch, the game felt incredibly snappy and smooth. Performing quick turnarounds and rapid target changes with Tracer felt completely natural. I was also able to enjoy the game more because of the better colors and contrast of the VA panel.
In Apex Legends, I really appreciated the smoothness of motion G-Sync and 240Hz provided. The game’s cadence of runs, slides, and rapid turns were well-suited to the CRG5 and made me feel nimble and fluid even during intense matches.
What I didn’t find helpful was the reduced motion blur when making quick turns. I don’t game at a competitive level, so my reflexes aren’t anywhere near a professional player, but even comparing Overwatch side-by-side with my 144Hz monitor and the Samsung CRG5, the motion of a turn is just too quick to make out more than a blur regardless.
I also found that the display’s “gaming” features were pretty hit or miss. Low Input Lag mode is akin to Game Mode on a television and was useful. Flicker-Free also worked well to adjust the backlight setting so I never felt eye-strain, even after two hours of straight play. Black Equalizer, on the other hand, feels flat. Turning it on to useful levels destroys the image, and since it’s tucked away in the menu, it’s difficult to turn on or off. There’s also the usual on-screen reticle for games that don’t offer them but it’s hardly a unique feature. Extra gaming “add-ons” are clearly part of the trade-off for the reduced price.