Can 240 Hz beat the competition?! Our Expert FPS Team puts the FORIS FG2421 to the test.
With fast-paced video games or titles where timing is everything, the performance of your LCD monitor has no small impact on winning and losing. Developed by EIZO, the much-anticipated FORIS FG2421 is a highly-advanced gaming monitor featuring an industry-first 240 Hz technology along with maximum input lag suppression. We wanted to see how top-level gamers would rate its capabilities, and so we got Japan’s finest FPS Team to put it through its paces.
This is a translation from Japanese of an article originally published by ITMedia on January 20, 2014. Copyright 2014 ITmedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.
If you love games then it’ll have been your dream at one point or another: playing an online shooter and blasting your way to win after win to become one of those legendary players of lore! Life isn’t that simple though. The gamer’s main battlefield has shifted away from the local arcade and into the online world, and the world’s top players now engage in battle in front of their computer screens. Only a small handful of players can create a run of wins on the more popular titles.
You might think that the only way to make any progress is to just get stuck into the grind, but actually there are other factors that determine who wins and who loses. With PC games in particular, your choice of keyboard and mouse – those input devices that connect gamer to computer – and your choice of monitor to show the action are also important. In fact, the number of players who invest in gaming displays – advanced, high-performance displays designed for video games – has been steadily increasing, especially among those who play first person shooters (FPS).
Against this backdrop, maybe you’ve heard of the FORIS FG2421 from the long-established Japanese monitor manufacturer EIZO; a truly advanced gaming display that is set to make waves.
The FORIS FG2421 23.5-inch gaming monitor from EIZO. Screenshot from Alliance of Valiant Arms.
The detailed specs are available on EIZO’s product information page. What’s great about the FORIS FG2421 is that it’s the world’s first gaming display to support 240 Hz (for color LCD monitors for computers as of October 2013, as researched by EIZO).
Conventional LCD monitors are 60 Hz (the screen image is refreshed 60 times per second). However, the great thing about operating at four times the conventional frequency is that you get a sharp, ultra-fast image rendering speed. 240 Hz isn’t its only feature though: it also incorporates EIZO’s proprietary Turbo 240 blur-reducing image smoothing technology.
Let’s explain how Turbo 240 works, so that you can see just how effective it is with video games.
Firstly, each of the 120 image frames received every second from the computer (120 Hz vertical synchronization) is doubled – the image stream thus being converted to 240 frames per second (not by generating an intermediate frame via double-speed interpolation, but by rendering the same frame twice). Next, the backlights are blinked at 240 times a second, interlaced with the 240 frames per second image stream, resulting in the insertion of a black screen between every single frame. On top of this, overdrive processing optimization is also implemented to increase the LCD response speed. These processes are interlocked to a high degree, thus realizing a display with reduced image blurring.
(1) You can use it with a standard GPU that has 120 Hz support
A high refresh rate (vertical synchronization rate) of 240 Hz puts a heavy load on the GPU and software, and existing display cables don’t have enough bandwidth for transmission. Because of this, you might think that without a high-end PC environment you couldn’t use a display with a refresh rate of 240 Hz. But that isn’t the case.
Even though Turbo 240 works with 240 Hz, an image signal with a refresh rate of 120 Hz coming from your computer will do the job just fine. It’s compatible with the middle-range GPUs that are widely used by PC gamers (i.e. the ones into which you would plug a 120 Hz gaming monitor). In terms of gaming monitors, 120 Hz models are quite popular recently, but transferring from one of those doesn’t have to entail getting a new graphics card.
Even inputting a 60 Hz image stream from a consumer games console, Turbo 240’s black-insert feature can reduce afterimage perception to a certain degree. Comparing it to the input from a 120 frame PC game image signal, there are instances when you will experience ghosting, but if this is something that bothers you, you can always switch to color mode with Turbo 240 off. In other words, PC games and consumer console games can be covered by a single display. You’ll be happy to know that if you move to the latest 240 Hz screen, there will be no big issues with your current PC or console environment.
The FORIS FG2421 has support for three image input types: DVI-D (HDCP compatible), DisplayPort, and HDMI. DVI-D and DisplayPort both support a maximum input signal of 1920 x 1080 dots at 120 Hz, while HDMI supports a maximum input signal of 1024 x 768 dots at 120 Hz. Supported synchronizing frequencies (horizontal/vertical) are 31–138 kHz/59–122 Hz for DVI-D, 31–138 kHz/49–122 Hz for DisplayPort, and 15–100 kHz/23–122 Hz for HDMI.
(2) Picture sharpness close to CRT, with bright images
The former standard display technology, the cathode ray tube (CRT), was known for having, in principle, less of an afterimage effect in moving images than was the case with LCDs. The response speed of LCDs eventually increased, and now high-spec products of 1 ms or 2 ms are not uncommon. However, compared to CRTs, there is still a higher occurrence of image blurring. The reason for this is that, in addition to the difference in response speed (the luminescence properties of CRT fluorescence give a response speed of tens to hundreds of µs) the display method used by each type is vastly different.
A CRT monitor is an impulse-type display that constantly blinks at a very high speed. An LCD monitor is a hold-type display that holds one image onscreen until the next image is shown. It might be difficult to imagine, but the human retina gives rise to a phenomenon called the afterimage effect. Inserting a black screen in between every single frame of a moving image and thereby resetting the image that is presented to the eye allows you to see a sharp picture with a lower afterimage effect. If we increase the frame count, a moving image can be viewed smoothly even on an LCD screen, but even at that it is still difficult, on a structural level, to obtain a moving image as sharp as that from a CRT.
The difference between hold-type and impulse-type displays is that with a hold-type display, the original image is maintained until the next frame in the moving image has been input. Moving images, preferably, have to be displayed as a sequence of non-step continuous images, but an LCD monitor does not function like this, and so the viewer perceives an afterimage due to the retinal afterimage phenomenon. With an impulse-type display, after an image has been momentarily displayed, a black screen is shown until the next frame has been input. The user is actually seeing a set of discrete images that are spaced out in time, but as the brain interpolates these frames, the user perceives a continuous moving image with a reduced afterimage effect.
Given this, with Turbo 240, by flashing the LED backlights 240 times per second in synchronization with the 240 Hz refresh of the LCD panel, and thereby inserting a black screen before each frame switches to the next frame, a pseudo-impulse type display is realized. This allows for the realization of a moving image display with a sharpness approaching that of a CRT, and greatly suppressing the afterimage effect of moving images compared to existing 120 Hz and 144 Hz gaming monitors.
In relation to the black-insert technology, we’d also like to talk about the differences between this and NVIDIA 3D Vision 2. 3D Vision 2 realizes stereoscopic 3D through the combination of a 120 Hz LCD display and specialist active shutter 3D glasses delivering different frames to the left and right eyes 60 times a second. If you use this mechanism in 2D, you can display either the right or left image, but in this case the result is 60 frame changes plus 60 black inserts per second.
Compare that to the same situation with Turbo 240. Because Turbo 240 supports 240 Hz, it can carry out 120 frame changes plus 120 black inserts per second. In other words, it realizes a smoother, sharper moving image display than 3D Vision 2, and also wins out in terms of screen brightness due to its high backlight blink speed. Specifically, the brightness with Turbo 240 off is 400 candelas per square meter, and with Turbo 240 on is 300 candelas per square meter, figures which certainly constitute good levels of brightness.
By the way, the flicker in still images resulting from pseudo-impulse display can be annoying, but with Turbo 240 off the FORIS FG2421 can also operate as a flicker-free 120 Hz monitor. Because of this, it is only in FPS mode (where there is lots of vigorous action) that Turbo 240 is switched on by default. For other display modes Turbo 240 is off by default to allow for flicker-free display.
(3) Low latency of less than 1.5 frames even at 240 Hz. And it doesn’t involve double speed interpolation
When talking about gaming monitors, it is important that the screen display response be very fast in relation to the input signal. When you hear about 120 Hz or 240 Hz, maybe you imagine LCD TVs that are twice as fast or four times as fast as the conventional 60 Hz. LCD TVs that claim to be 2x or 4x employ a mechanism that displays moving images smoothly by analyzing image input signals with a vertical frequency of 60 Hz and newly generating intermediate frames (not in the original image data) that link each existing frame.
The principle is the same as increasing the number of pages in a flip book. A smoother moving image display than normal is possible, but as it takes a little time to generate the intermediate frames, it is not suited to games that require immediate reflection on screen of the player’s control movements. This is because although the afterimage effect is low, the mechanism will result in a lag such that there is a slight delay between the player’s control movements and the onscreen movements of the game character, and so it will have a large influence on the result of a battle or on a score.
Turbo 240 also takes care of this issue. As was already mentioned, Turbo 240 converts image input signals of a vertical frequency of 120 Hz to 240 Hz inside the monitor itself, but as this is simply a doubling process where each frame is presented as two frames, the transform process is carried out in real time with no time lag from image input to screen display. Simply showing each frame twice does not result in a smooth moving image display, but when the extra frames are used for black image insertion (the backlight is switched off) it leads to a reduction in the afterimage phenomenon.
Furthermore, thanks to EIZO’s proprietary circuit design, the FORIS FG2421 achieves an amazing low-latency of less than 1.5 frames (under 0.012 seconds) even at 240 Hz (less than 1 frame delay for 60 Hz conversion). This means you can expect precise control expression for games that need high-speed and high-precision control like FPSs, racing games, fighting games and rhythm action games.
Illustrative example of time lag in a video game. In monitors with a long lag time, after aiming at an enemy and shooting there is a delay before this is displayed onscreen, and so it’s difficult to get your bullet on target (left). This is a critical problem when you’re playing an FPS. The FORIS FG2421 achieves a low-latency of less than 1.5 frames (under 0.012 seconds) even at 240 Hz, and so the series of controller inputs from taking aim to firing is reflected immediately onscreen, and you feel absolutely no response delay (right).
Related to the issue of display lag, many gamers are probably focusing on the new G-SYNC technology from NVIDIA. G-SYNC is a technology that aims to cancel – without display delay – the tearing and judder that are caused by a mismatch between the variable rendering rate and the display’s fixed refresh rate due mainly to the load on the GPU. Although this display disturbance can be solved, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the moving image’s afterimage phenomenon is reduced.
However, Turbo 240, unlike G-SYNC, was designed to reduce the afterimage phenomenon from the outset, incorporating the backlight blinking feature. Thus even when G-SYNC-compatible displays appear on the market, for games with ferocious movement that demand a fast response, the merits of FORIS FG2421 will still continue to be clear.
So now you know all about the superiority of the FORIS FG2421 with Turbo 240. But what kind of impact will it have on gameplay when we actually try it out? We gave the display to FPS players SyaNha1 and Seven and got them to give it a thorough testing over the course of about two weeks. Then we got them to give us their impressions of it, paying particular attention to the effect of Turbo 240.
SyaNha1 and Seven are top-class players who belong to Galactic, a Japanese gaming team (popularly known a clan in the FPS world). Galactic is active in the online FPS Alliance of Valiant Arms (AVA), which is hosted by GameOn in Japan. Since they formed in 2012 their progress has been significant, and in 2013 they came first in the “Demolition” section of an AVA official competition.
Based around leader SyaNha1, a clan fight is played for about three hours every day, but the players practice for eight hours or more a day before a tournament. As a team they prefer to use the latest devices, and they have actively sought out latest generation products like keyboards, mice and displays that have been optimized for video games. According to SyaNha1, “When you’re playing AVA, even the slightest concern leads to mistakes. For a team to win through in a tournament, everyone has to have total confidence. As well as practicing with your goal always in mind, having the latest devices at your disposal is important, as it is linked to having the confidence to win.”
In November 2013, EIZO announced that it had agreed to a sponsorship contract with Galactic. The logos of sponsors EIZO and MSI appear on Galactic’s new uniform, so everyone can see that this expert team even has the support of gaming device companies.
AVA is an online free to play FPS for Windows with in-game paid content. It has a reputation as a highly competitive FPS among all the eSports titles. In November 2013 the total number of players had broken through the 1.5 million mark, and in December of the same year the game had been in service for five years, having become firmly established and very popular. Around 1,200 AVA fans gathered to watch an official tournament held in Tokyo at the end of December of that year, and more than fifty thousand watched Niconico Live’s live stream of the event.
First, we asked our testers about their impressions after having spent some time playing AVA on our FORIS FG2421 with Turbo 240 switched on. Both agree that you can definitely see the difference compared to a 120 Hz gaming display. According to SyaNha1, “When I switched the display from 60 Hz to 120 Hz, there was a remarkable difference in rendering smoothness. With the FORIS FG2421 at 240 Hz, there was, to my surprise, an even greater reduction in afterimaging compared to 120 Hz.” Seven remarked, “You can see a clear difference when you move the mouse really quickly or change your point of view suddenly on screen. It’s reached a level where you don’t need to reduce afterimaging any more than this.”
With regard to the low-latency design of the FORIS FG2421, achieving less than 1.5 frames (under 0.012 seconds) even with Turbo 240 in effect, our two testers said that they could not actually perceive any lag in control response whatsoever.
And so the capabilities of the FORIS FG2421 have a positive effect on actual gameplay. Seven says, “Oversight of minute details was reduced when changing my point of view, and the hit rate rose in scenes like those where I could only see the head of an enemy. It’s a fact that before the tournament my aim started to get better.” SyaNha1 rates it very positively, saying, “Not only has my fast control accuracy increased thanks to the reduction in afterimaging, but the feeling of nausea I experience when playing FPS games has diminished, and I can now play in greater comfort. I hope I can use it at more tournaments and other game events.”
SyaNha1 playing AVA on the FORIS FG2421. In order to reduce the load on the GPU and give a little boost to processing speed, he likes to reduce graphics quality in the game as much as possible. His style is to set the game image resolution to 800 x 600 dots (aspect ratio 4:3), and to play with this enlarged on the FORIS FG2421 1920 x 1080 dot (16:9) screen. Naturally, a 4:3 square image is being stretched out to display on a 16:9 wide screen, but it means that enemy characters are also stretched out sideways (they look fatter) and so it’s easier to spot them and shoot them. Thanks to Turbo 240, the image is sharp even when scrolling quickly, and he doesn’t perceive any afterimaging when targeting or when enemies move. The low lag time means that control response is better, and he can take down enemies with certainty.
Seven playing AVA on the FORIS FG2421. Like SyaNha1, he lowers the graphics quality in the game device as much as possible, but his resolution settings are different. Seven uses a resolution of 1024 x 768 dots (4:3) for the game image (higher than SyaNha1) and displays this enlarged on the FORIS FG2421 1920 x 1080 dot (16:9) screen with the aspect ratio fixed at 4:3 (black bands are visible on the sides of the screen). In order to reduce overlooking anything, he raises the resolution slightly to render enemies more sharply and enlarges the image with fixed aspect ratio to make sure that the screen is kept within his field of vision. His skill as a player, coupled with the use of Turbo 240 and low latency, allows him to show us how good his aim is as he carries out continued fast, accurate bursts of fire on his enemies the instant they appear.
The basic display capabilities of the FORIS FG2421 are very high for an LCD monitor. Conventional high-refresh rate gaming monitors used TN panels with a narrow viewing angle and low contrast. However, the FORIS FG2421 utilizes a VA panel that has a much wider viewing angle than these and can provide a contrast ratio that’s about five times greater. It boasts a viewing angle of 176 degrees in both up-down and left-right directions and the contrast ratio is 5000:1 (15000:1 with contrast extension).
SyaNha1 says, “At23.5 inches, it’s the perfect screen size. Contrast is high and the colors are good, and so the display is easy to look at. Up until now I would experience eye fatigue for a while whenever I changed to a new model, but with the FORIS FG2421 the display is stable, and this could be why I was able to get used to it in about 4 or 5 days.” Seven commented, “Compared to conventional 120 Hz video game displays, dark areas are easier to see. I’m really happy with the wide viewing angle because it allows me to lean back in my chair in a relaxed posture, viewing the screen from somewhat below while still maintaining visibility.”
The FORIS FG2421 utilizes a 240 Hz VA panel, allowing you to have a wide viewing angle and high contrast. The conventional TN panels commonly used in high-refresh rate gaming monitors can’t maintain the kind of clear display you see in the photo, as viewing the screen from even a slight angle results in color cast or black-white reversal.
Another big feature of the FORIS FG2421, on top of Turbo 240 and low latency settings, is the bundled software called ScreenManager Pro for Gaming. By using it on your computer you can carry out fine color adjustment to suit a particular game or to fit your preferences.
Adjusted color mode and screen size settings can easily be switched back even during gameplay using your keyboard or an advanced-function mouse (you can assign settings to any key). You can also use the software to output your settings to a file, giving you the option of sharing settings with other users. These settings files, including files from pro-gamers, are shared on EIZO’s special website (gaming.eizo.com).
When putting the FORIS FG2421 through its paces, our two testers tried out all these functions while playing.
SyaNha1 employs a particularly bright range of settings; with brightness at 70, black level at 100, and gamma set to “power.” He makes it as bright as he can without letting it lead to eyestrain, and has the black level and gamma up fairly high so that he can easily see enemies who pop up in dark scenes. While Seven’s settings aren’t as bright as SyaNha1’s, he has the contrast slightly high, keeping display sharp, and gamma set to “power.” This maintains high visibility in dark scenes.
Our testers’ settings may be the complete opposite of how you would apply them on a conventional display. But in the FPS world having the display bright, having black colors stand out, and basically making characters as easy to see as possible is a real helping hand to victory. This isn’t just limited to the settings on the display itself, but is also related to the graphics settings on the game device. Little tricks like lowering resolution and rendering quality to lessen GPU load, and lowering the texture quality to make characters and backgrounds stand out from each other, let you create an advantage for yourself in AVA.
Commenting on the superiority of ScreenManager Pro for Gaming, SyaNha1 says, “Although multiple switchable settings are a must-have on any gaming device, to have this extent of fine settings options that result in a display that makes playing games easier is a big help. The feature that allows you to use other players’ settings files is also really handy. As well as being able to try out the settings of well-known players, it’s also a real plus for people buying their first display as they can start using finely-tuned settings straight away for video games.
In addition, game-oriented color modes are already implemented on the FORIS FG2421 without having to finely customize your settings. Moreover, these color modes were developed in cooperation with Fnatic, a world-famous professional eSports team.
These specialist color modes are named after game genres like FPS and RTS (Real Time Strategy), so when you’re playing these types of games it would be worth trying out these settings to start with.
There are seven color modes to choose from (User1, User2, User3, FPS1, FPS2, RTS, and Web). They can be used to suit your preferences or even for particular game scenes. FPS1, FPS2, and RTS use gamma correction to make dark areas stand out clearly, and FPS1 adjusts dark sections to be brighter than in FPS2. If you want to customize your settings even further, you can use the above-mentioned ScreenManager Pro for Gaming.
You can easily switch between color modes using the button on the front bezel. FPS1, FPS2, and RTS are special color modes that were developed in cooperation with Fnatic, a professional eSports team made up of players from all over the world.
In contrast to the simplicity of the front, the rear of the display features a white shining EIZO logo, and a vermillion handle and cable tie. It really looks the part of a gaming monitor, while at the same time embodying a practical understated design.
The FORIS FG2421 has capabilities and functionality optimized for video games, but also displays exceptional discernment in body design and stand construction.
Its external appearance gives it the air of a high end gaming monitor. The front has a simple thin edge design, and the rear has a large EIZO logo lit up with white LEDs, a vermillion cable tie and handle to allow it to be carried and positioned easily, and features air vents that allude to the form of an aircraft. A simple-looking stand is elaborately made to tilt upwards 25 degrees, swivel left and right 344 degrees, and be raised or lowered over a range of 60 mm. Two USB 2.0 ports are located on the side.
Commenting on these features SyaNha1 said, “The front is nicely refined, and I like how you can set the blue light on the power button to be turned off. The design really suits gamers: the handle makes it easy to carry, it has a tie to keep the cables together, and it has easy-to-push mechanical buttons rather than the touch-sensor type.” Adjusting the height of the screen, he went on to say, “It’s important to be able to change the screen height, and the precise way this screen can be lowered makes it very easy to use.”
SyaNha1 uses his smartphone and fingers to precisely adjust the height of his display.
At the end of our interview, SyaNha1 sums up his thoughts on the FORIS FG2421, saying, “I had always felt satisfied with the picture smoothness and control response of 120 Hz displays up till now. But having gotten used to Turbo 240 on the FORIS FG2421, I don’t think I could go back to a 120 Hz environment. Just like when gaming monitors went from 60 Hz to 120 Hz, the introduction of 240 Hz will be an opportunity for many gamers to replace their display. I feel that with the arrival of the FORIS FG2421 we have that same kind of history-making next-generation product.”
The FORIS FG2421 is built to be a gaming monitor that is advanced in every way; with its Turbo 240 functionality, low lag optimized for video games, color adjustment software environment, wide viewing-angle high-contrast VA panel, body design, and stand construction. Our two discerning FPS experts know a good thing when they see it.
The advantages of the FORIS FG2421 are obvious compared to rival models for highly competitive games (FPSs in particular) that demand high speed with no image blurring, as well as quick response. The FORIS FG2421 is currently available on EIZO’s Where to Buy page. For those who want to play fast-moving games in greater comfort, or who want to increase their online win rate, we really recommend that you get out there and try the FORIS FG2421!
“I really want EIZO to continue writing the history of gaming displays, starting with the FORIS FG2421” (SyaNha1, left). “They really have something with the screen viewability and low latency. My aim got better while using it, and so I can certainly feel the difference in its effectiveness” (Seven, right).
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- 240 Hz Gaming with Turbo 240
- High-Contrast VA Panel (5000:1)
- Color Presets by Fnatic