The Eizo Foris FG2421 is the first of its kind. Eizo calls it a 240 Hz monitor due to a combination of 120 Hz input capabilities and a 120 Hz black insertion technology that aims to reduce motion blurring. But even more significant is the fact that it is actually a VA-based LCD panel instead of the inferior TN panel that is used in all 120 Hz monitors today. The combination of extremely fast response time and a VA panel that promises excellent black depth and contrast is what we have been waiting for, so we are thrilled that it is finally here with the 23.5-inch Eizo FG2421.
But can Eizo FG2421 deliver? It carries a higher price tag than most gaming monitors, but is it also better? What does the VA panel bring to the table in terms of gaming performance? FlatpanelsHD intends to answer all those questions in our in-depth review.
The Eizo FG2421 is a pretty standard-looking monitor from the front with a matte black frame with a slightly reduced bezel compared to previous Eizo models. The small Eizo logo in the bottom left corner is printed into the frame and there are some buttons to control the menus at the center of the bottom frame. The power indicator diode can be turned off, which is certainly a good thing. Lastly there is a small ambient light sensor that looks a bit like a camera flash.
The monitor is a bit more spectacular if you turn it around. There is an orange section, which is actually a carrying handle if you wish to move the monitor around from one gaming event to the next, and at the bottom of there is a cable holder. The monitor is fairly light (about 6 kilograms), but it still feels well-made.
The stand is fairly discreet, but still offers 6 centimeters of height adjustment, 344 degree swivel, and 25 degree backwards tilt. All input and output ports are found on the back side pointing downwards. See the specifications table above for more information on available ports. Please note that you need to use either DVI or DisplayPort to run the monitor at [email protected] HDMI is not fast enough, but it lets you connect FG2421 to game consoles.
After calibration we measured power consumption to 25.3 W, which is slightly higher than on the typical 24-inch monitor. Also note that the Turbo 240 requires a bit more juice to run. But besides that the numbers are fairly good, as expected from an edge-lit LED monitor. Stand-by consumption is 0.0 W.
We use the DVI input for testing. The graphic card is a Geforce GTX260.
The monitor will be measured and calibrated with a LaCie Blue Eye Pro calibrator. We also examine the monitor with the help of our monitorTest tool as well as in real use with games, movies etc.
Picture quality on Eizo FG2421
The FG2421 has several color modes, including 3 User modes, FPS1, FPS2, RTS, and Web. And with the bundled ScreenManager Pro program you can download even more, including picture presets from Counter-Strike gamers and more. But obviously, nothing beats accurate colors, so let us see how the FG2421 performs in the out-of-box settings (FPS1 and with power saving off).
The graph says:
The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.
A delta value higher than 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
A delta value between 1 and 2 results in accurate but not perfect colors.
A delta value lower than 1 results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.
The out-of-box result is not too surprising. FG2421 has slightly more oversaturated colors than typical Eizo monitors, but since this is a gaming monitor we had expected it to have. Gamma shows 2.2 in the graph, but that is the average value. It actually rises from around 1.85 in the dark tones to 2.35 in the bright tones, which is a trick we often see on gaming monitors and TVs too boost colors. It is not desirable, unless you have a poorly-optimized game. The color temperature is slightly too low. We are aiming for 6500 Kelvin.
Also notice that brightness was measured to 217 cd/m2. As you can see the specifications the monitor claims 400 cd/m2, bit 217 cd/m2 was actually achieved with the brightness setting at 100 % in the menu. This is the case because the Turbo 240 function is activated. More on that later.
We also took a reading of the Web mode, which has been optimized for allround, non-gaming use such as web browsing, editing, writing etc.
The Web mode is slightly better. Colors are still a bit oversaturated, but gamma is much more stable at 2.2, with only 0.06 variations across the scale. Brightness is considerably higher because the Turbo 240 function is deactivated by default in the Web mode (it cannot be activated in this mode).
None of the two color profiles are perfect, so we tried to calibrate FG2421 by switching to the User1 profile. We chose this profile because the Turbo 240 function can be activated and deactivated, unlike in the FPS and Web modes that have Turbo 240 either activated or deactivated, respectively, with no option to change it. The User1 profile is just as good for gaming, so do not worry. Here is our result.
The calibrated result is very good. Gamma is stable at 2.2 and color deviations are very low. We have managed to fix the color temperature after the green and red push in the FPS and Web modes. Regarding brightness, we have optimized for office use, but you might prefer a higher level for gaming. See our note after the calibration table below.
Our calibrated settings are as follows.
Please note that we have calibrated FG2421 according to the same goal values we use for all other monitors. These settings are typically optimized for a room with dimmed light (not dark). For gaming you will probably want a higher brightness level, so increase that setting. Might we suggest that you create User1 and User2 profiles:
User1 optimized for browsing, editing, and photos using the settings above (Turbo 240 off)
User2 optimized for gaming with the settings above + Turbo 240 activated + 100 % brightness
Let us move on and examine picture quality during real use. First of all, we should probably point out that Eizo FG2421 has 1920x1080 pixel resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio, which is not much by today’s standards. Standing next to a Dell 24-inch monitor with a 16:10 format the FG2421 actually looks tiny. The 16:9 format and the low resolution is not really preferable for allround use, but it is obviously optimal for gaming. 1920x1080 will allow you to run most games natively, and it also means that you can connect a game console, even the PS4 and Xbox One, and run games in native 1080p resolution. And since FG2421 is a gaming monitor that is obviously the whole point.
Another important point is that Eizo FG2421 is actually flicker-free even though it is not heavily advertised. We recently reviewed one of the first flicker-free monitors, also an Eizo, so please read our EV2436W review here and our backgrounder on why modern LED monitors have flicker that can cause headaches and tired eyes. In this context we just want to say that the FG2421 works pretty much the same way when the Turbo 240 setting is off, so we will not go over everything again. Read the EV2436W review if you are curious.
We also examined color gradation with our various color gradient test patterns. Eizo FG2421 is obviously not a monitor intended for professional photographers and graphic artists, but because of the VA panel it actually has the potential to be one of the few gaming monitors that can serve amateur photographers and graphic artists’ needs, too (just like some of Eizo’s 60 Hz IPS gaming monitors). And color reproduction is indeed quite good after calibration. We saw no major issues, and the monitor also manages to reproduce the darkest colors with quite good accuracy. The key take-away here is that it color performance on FG2421 offers a visible improvement over TN-based gaming monitors, which not only makes it suitable for light photography and graphics editing, it also has a positive effect in games. We really like what we are seeing here, considering that we are looking at a gaming monitor.
Via the bundled software – Screen Manager Pro – you can make adjustments to the monitor, but you can also download custom-made color profiles from gaming.eizo.com or export your own presets if that’s your thing. But really, if you follow our calibration settings above you don’t need gamma-regulating color presets for certain games. It kind of defeats the purpose.
People often complain about a “dirty screen effect” on PC monitors, mostly when using IPS monitors. The crystalized coating has been reduced over the years, but as we have pointed out several times throughout the review FG2421 is actually a VA-based monitor. It does not come with the same dirty screen coating. The panel surface not completely clean and it still has an anti-reflective coating as all other matte LCD panels, but comparing it to our IPS-based Dell monitors in our testing room it clearly exhibits a lesser extent of graining on white background. So great, especially if you are working with text documents or just like browsing the web (which is mostly white space).
Below we have measured black depth and brightness.
Contrast ratio +/- 100
Black depth was one of the parameters that we were excited to examine on FG2421 because VA panels are known to produce very deep blacks compared to TN panels and especially IPS panels that generally produce very weak blacks. So it came as no big surprise to us that that we measured black depth to 0.03 cd/m2, but we are still thrilled about the result. Compare that to the best IPS panels or 120 Hz TN panels that hover around 0.12 - 0.20 cd/m2.
You might think that it is a minor difference, but in practical use it is very significant. Especially when working in a dark room or watching dim and scary movies or games. The very impressive black depth adds dimension and vividness to pictures. It really does improve picture quality and we think that a lot of gamers will appreciate this in certain types of games, for example role playing games. The FG2421 is not the first monitor to reach these levels of black depth, far from, but it is the first to combine it with 120 Hz for gaming. It truly is a small revolution in gaming monitors.
One note here; the measurements above have been made with the Turbo 240 function deactivated. As mentioned earlier the Turbo 240 function reduces overall brightness, but it still maintains the same impressive contrast, according to our measurements. In FPS1 we measured brightness to 217 cd/m2 (100 % brightness setting in menu) and black depth to 0.05 cd/m2 = 4340:1 contrast ratio.
Shadow detailing is fairly good. VA panels are a bit weird in this regard. Actually if you look at a VA panel from a 0-degree angle, spot on, shadow detailing tends to fall a bit. VA panels can reproduce all the small steps in grey tones, but not from a 0-degree spot-on angle. Move your head just 5 degrees up or down and you will find that it actually reproduces pretty much all of them. This has to do with how the liquid crystals are oriented inside the pixels. Considering that it is recommended to sit higher than the monitor and look slightly down at it for ergonomic reasons (if you look straight out on your monitor you’re doing it wrong, straining your neck), we do not see it as a major issue, but you might want to be aware of this. At a 0-degree angle we were not able to distinguish the 2-3 darkest shades of grey closest to black, but from our normal viewing angle only the darkest grey tone 1 step from black was hard to distinguish. A very good result.
Lastly we examined light homogeneity to check for potential clouding or backlight bleeding issues.
As you can see our FG2421 model has some clouding in all four corner. It is not a great result, but not a big issue either. We never noticed it during gaming or movie watching and it did not ruin the very deep blacks.
Response time and gaming
Before we start talking about gaming performance we want to introduce the 240 Hz concept. As explained in the introduction the monitor cannot accept input signals over 120 Hz (frames per second) for a number of reasons, including the DVI and DisplayPort interfaces. 144 Hz is possible based on the current technology (but not in FG2421), which is why you see some 144 Hz gaming monitors out there, but a real 240 Hz input is not possible – yet.
Instead the FG2421 is capable of receiving 120 Hz input signals from a gaming PC, which means that you can play your favorite FPS or RTS games in buttery-smooth 120 pictures per second (if you PC can handle it). But Eizo can drive the LCD panel at 240 Hz by either showing each frame twice or by inserting black frames between the pictures, which is known to significantly reduce blurring on LCD panels. Eizo has dubbed the technology Turbo 240. See Eizo’s illustration below.
The two different driving methods are controlled with the Turbo 240 setting option in the menu. When Turbo 240 is activated it inserts black frames after every frame. If Turbo 240 is deactivated it reproduces each frame of the 120 Hz input signal twice on the panel, but as illustrated the two frames are identical. Eizo does not use video interpolation technology like in most LCD TVs, and thank god for that! One thing you also have to be aware of is, as mentioned in the calibration section, that the Turbo 240 function reduces brightness due to the black frame insertion. So when using Turbo 240 you need to turn brightness up to 100 % in the menu. Even at 100 % the FG2421 is a bit dimmer than we had hoped, at least during daytime with the sun shining in through our windows. It is not an issue on a cloudy day or after sunset. We have photographed the black frame technology below with a DSLR set to a fast shutter speed. As you can see the black line actually rolls from the top to the bottom.
So, bla bla bla… What about real-life performance? It is great! You probably already own a 120 Hz monitor if you are a gamer, but your monitor most likely does not have the black frame insertion technology, which means that motion blurring can still occur (even though there is not stuttering because of 120 Hz). These two factors are certainly not independent, but 120 Hz does not ensure zero motion blurring either, as some would have you believe. FG2421 is not motion-blurring-free, but it is a visible improvement compared to our 120 Hz LG W2363D standing in our testing room. Motion on FG2421 is as smooth because of the 120 Hz input, and the 240 Hz system further reduces motion blurring somewhat. We also examined FG2421 for overdrive trailing, and even though it did exhibit minor overdrive trailing in some dark-color transitions during stress testing, the effect was very minor and we did not notice it during real gaming.
Also, your current 120 Hz TN-based gaming monitor cannot achieve the same impressive picture quality of FG2421, guaranteed. TN panels use color dithering to reproduce all colors and during fast motion the dithering reduces color gradation and accuracy. FG2421 can also reproduce far deeper black, which is actually more rewarding than you might expect, especially during dark moments of FPS games or just those creepy role-playing games. The combination of 120 Hz and a VA panel is a small revolution in gaming monitors. We would not call it a no-compromise solution, but it is certainly a much less compromising solution compared to 120 Hz TN panels. We expect it to serve as the final important step before we move on to OLED monitors in the future.
Lastly, we just wanted to include a quick note about input lag. Eizo says “1.5 frame of input lag or less”, which we are inclined to believe. Our testing gave us a small range of measurements in the very low end of milliseconds close to zero, which is probably due to small inaccuracies with our testing equipment. Input lag is virtually zero based on our testing. This is obviously great for gaming, but just compared side-by-side to a typical Dell office monitor it is actually noticeable when moving the mouse around on the desktop.
The VA panels are not the best in terms of viewing angles. As a general rule you can say that within the LCD field TN panels are the worst, then comes VA panels with fairly good viewing angles, and IPS panels with very good to great viewing angles. Near-perfect viewing angles are only achieved on plasma panels or OLED panels.
But general rules do not always apply. We were surprised to see that viewing angles on FG2421 are actually worse than on most VA-based monitors. They are not outright bad, but certainly not good either. Colors start to get desaturated from around 30+ degrees, especially bright and intense colors.
FG2421 also has poor contrast when viewed from an odd angle. Interestingly, 100 % black did not fall too much, but the dark grey tones did. We actually noticed that at times when sitting right in front of the monitor the corners of the panel were a tiny bit brighter than the center of the panel when showing for example a dark gray color. Now, it is not often that you have a full-screen dark grey color on your monitor, but some applications use it, for example TweetDeck. We would not call it a critical error, but if you notice things like this it can be a bit irritating. We have tried to capture the effect below. Notice how the dark grey tones get significantly brighter – and inaccurate – when viewed from an angle.
Eizo moved into the PC gaming space a while ago, but didn’t seem to think that 120 Hz TN panels were optimal. Instead they decided to sell optimized 60 Hz IPS-based gaming monitors that didn’t sacrifice picture quality for speed, but didn’t match the speed of 120 Hz TN-based monitors either.
Eizo Foris FG2421 is a small revolution in gaming monitors, combining great picture quality with speed
The next step is obviously to combine the two worlds, and that is exactly what Eizo has done with the 24” FG2421 that boasts a 120 Hz VA panel with great picture quality and extremely low response time. FG2421 is best of two worlds in a simple black cabinet with some neat features and a carrying handle on the back side.
And it delivers. After having examined the monitor for a few weeks we have found that it has excellent gaming performance, while maintaining great picture quality. This is an important step forward for gaming monitors, and we think that it is fair to call it a small revolution in gaming monitors. Picture parameters such as very deep black, good color reproduction, excellent response time, and near-zero input lag makes FG2421 the complete package, unless you’re specifically looking for a monitor to satisfy photographer and graphics needs. If so the FG2421 is not for you, and it never claimed to be, but if you’re a casual photographer and edit graphics from time to time, we think you will find the FG2421 more than adequate. Allround users don’t need to fear. The only real issue we experienced with FG2421 is its poor viewing angles.
But most importantly: You’ll want this monitor if you’re a gamer! Even if you’re not a gamer the Eizo FG2421 offers great picture quality. We can highly recommend the Eizo FG2421.
Picture quality is assessed as overall picture quality, including color reproduction, contrast, viewing angles etc. Features is an evaluation of the built-in functionality how useful it are, as well as sound quality and ports Speed is an evaluation of how good the monitor is for gaming, meaning response time, Hz, input lag, overdrive etc Ergonomics is an evaluation of adjustment options, stability, power consumption, degree of flicker etc. Total score weighted as: 40% Picture quality, 25% Features, 25% ergonomics and 10% Speed. All scores are calculated based on a moving maximum target, defined by what we currently consider the best on market. It is then presented as a percentage. This means that a score will fall over time as new and better monitors set new standards. This allows you to compare scores across years. A score of 100% in a given category means that it is consider the best available monitor in this category to date.