The Zowie XL2540 24” monitor came out early last year with a blistering 240Hz refresh rate. I reviewed this model and gave it a big thumbs up with the disclaimer that you needed to be playing CS or Quake competitively to really get the benefits of it. Unfortunately, from a marketing perspective, Zowie split the market by bringing out a competing model in the 27” size called the XL2735. It featured a new motion blur reduction feature called DyAc. It basically threw a wrench in the works. Did you want a bigger screen with some fancy new tech? Or did you want super high refresh rates to really get an edge in your online fragging?
With the newer XL2546 we are looking at today, that choice is made easier. Yes it comes back down to a 24” size, but you do get that juicy DyAc tech. The 240Hz function is basically as good as it was on the older model. You get the absolute best image in motion that you could get. Very little ghosting and colours free of contamination. Add in DyAc though and things start to get complicated.
DyAc is a feature that can’t really be shown without being able to see it in person. You get a motion clarity that is near perfect, with scrolling text being entirely legible. This clarity, translates into in game motion. I’ve delved deeper into the tech behind how this is possible in an earlier article (read here) and it is basically a simulation of the old CRT scanning method that eliminates the previous frame to ensure a clean slate for the current one. There is one big problem with this on modern LCDs though, and that is the requirement of frame rate matching refresh rate.
If your game is running consistently at the refresh rate of the monitor, you get the benefits of the motion blur reduction. If it dips significantly below for a good amount of time, you get a frame duplicating effect. This is a really big issue when the requirement is 240FPS. How many games will run at a constant 240 frame rate or higher? Only CS:GO and Quake Live come to mind. Dropping the refresh rate to 144Hz allows DyAc to then work at 144FPS which is an easier target to hit and great to have as an option, but if that’s what you’re aiming for the XL2536 is 24”, has DyAc and a 144Hz native refresh rate for $180 AUD less.
If you’re one of the few high level CS players who are able to really benefit from the difference of 240Hz over 144Hz, it is also worth noting that turning DyAc on will result in up to 1 frame extra latency over having it turned off. With 1 frame latency at this refresh rate being 4.16ms, most casual players won’t be able to feel this, but if you’ve got the “inhuman reactions” of Hiko, you might. In this case, ditch the DyAc and grab the XL2540 for $80 AUD less.
The XL2546 is in a conundrum. On one hand, it was the next logical technological step for Zowie. On the other, it’s even more niche than its predecessor. Get as high a frame rate as possible for the lowest latency, only to turn on DyAc and always be slightly behind. It’s sort of an oxymoron. You do have options though, and that might be enough to sway your purchase.
What’s the next logical step from here? To get the benefits of DyAc at both higher and lower frame rates, we’d need some kind of dynamic refresh rate changing technology.. Something that regulates the refresh rate of the monitor to match the current frame rate of the game… Ah if only a technology existed.
For our thoughts on the original XL2540 240Hz model without DyAc please see here.