MSI Optix MAG24C Gaming Monitor Review: Premium Contrast at a Budget Price

There’s no shortage of premium gaming monitors. If you have $700 or more to spend, there are dozens of big-screen displays with refresh rates up to 240Hz, adaptive sync and long feature lists that cater to every kind of game. But when you’ve spent less than $1,000 on your entire system, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to spend that same amount on a display. So what can you get for $250?

MSI’s Optix MAG24C is a curved, 24-inch VA (vertical alignment) panel with Full HD (FHD) resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync. What does it lack? Not much. Sure, there no blur reduction or fancy lighting effects, and there isn’t a bounty of picture modes or gaming features. But the MAG24C delivers solid gaming performance with fast response, smooth motion and high contrast.

Specifications

Brand & ModelMSI Optix MAG24C
Panel Type & BacklightVA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size & Aspect Ratio23.6 inches / 16:9
Curve Radius - 1800mm
Max Resolution & Refresh1920x1080 @ 144Hz
FreeSync - 60-144Hz
Density - 93ppi
Native Color Depth & Gamut8-bit / DCI-P3
Response Time (GTG)1ms
Brightness250 nits
Contrast3000:1
Speakers-
Video Inputs1 x DisplayPort 1.2
1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x DVI
Audio3.5mm headphone output
USB-
Power Consumption20w, brightness @ 200 nits
Panel Dimensions
WxHxD w/base
21.1 x 15.5-18 x 8.1 inches
537 x 394-457 x 205mm
Panel Thickness3 inches / 76mm
Bezel WidthTop/sides - .3 inches / 7mm
Bottom - .8 inches / 18mm
Weight10.8lbs / 4.9kg
WarrantyThree years


You may be asking, “what’s the point of a 24-inch curved screen?” We wondered the same thing as we pulled the MAG24C out of its box. 1,800R seems like a fairly extreme radius, but in a 24-inch, 16:9 format, it’s subtler than you’d expect. In fact, we barely noticed it in actual use. It won’t create the same effect as a similarly curved 21:9 display, but it brings the sides in just enough that your peripheral vision won’t have to work as hard.

The monitor’s resolution is just 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, but with its size, density is a detailed 93ppi. That isn’t too far from a 27-inch QHD (Quad HD, 2,560 x 1,440) monitor, which offers 109ppi. The goal here is performance for the dollar. FHD resolution means high frame rates from a wide variety of value-priced video cards, which is key since FreeSync operates from 60-144Hz.

The MAG24C also takes an interesting approach to color. It doesn’t offer HDR or advertise DCI-P3; however, our testing showed it’s capable of rendering over 83% of the DCI-P3 gamut (we’ll show you how that works on page four).

So, for less than $250, MSI is offering a no-frills package that promises solid performance in both gaming and image fidelity. But does it deliver?

Product 360

The Optix MAG24C ships in three pieces and requires a Phillips-head screwdriver for assembly. The upright snaps onto the panel, which has a 75mm VESA lug pattern. If you want to use an aftermarket arm or bracket, you’ll need four bolts and an appropriately sized adapter. The package includes an external power supply, which takes a standard IEC power cord. Also included are HDMI and DisplayPort cables and a small clip to keep the wires tidy.

The MAG24C is clearly styled for gamers but doesn’t scream for attention. A nice combination of angles and accent lines lends a futuristic appearance. The front features a flush bezel that’s only 7mm wide at the top and sides. A larger 18mm trip strip goes across the bottom edge. The anti-glare layer is both effective and clear with no visible artifacts. The curve radius is 1,800mm, but in practice, it’s barely visible. You can see it plainly from the top, but its effect on the image is slight. It neither detracts nor enhances.

A well-designed and intuitive joystick/button combo controls all monitor functions and has a solid feel to its movements. There is a lighting effect around back made from two thin LED strips that follow the molded contours of the chassis. They pulse with a soft red glow and can be turned on and off. There are no color choices or different effects available. The MAG24C doesn’t have any  speakers or USB ports; the only audio support is a single headphone output.

The stand is solid with firm movements. Height adjustments range over just 2.5 inches and you get 15° back tilt and 5° forward along with 30° swivel in each direction. There is no portrait mode. T

The input pack offers one each of HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 and DVI. The HDMI port operates up to 120Hz, while DP accepts the full 144Hz without need for an overclock setting in the on-screen display (OSD).

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