Screen size: 24.5in
Brightness: 300 nits
Response time: 1ms
Colours: 16.7 million
Inputs: HDMI 2.0 x2, DisplayPort 1.2 x1, 3.5mm audio
Adjustment: -5/23° tilt, 130mm height, -30/30° swivel
Weight: 4.24kg including stand
Dimensions: 503mm x 557.3mm x 258.8mm inc stand
When a monitor like the AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK has ‘Gaming’ in the title, you kind of know what to expect. High refresh rates, bright IPS panel, moderate size and resolution, and an approach to colour accuracy only slightly better than your mum’s TV.
And that’s almost what you get from the 25G3ZM/BK, part of the manufacturer’s Agon range, but the screen still impresses. The panel is VA rather than IPS, which means its viewing angles are theoretically narrower (though AOC claims an IPS-rivalling 178°), but its response times and contrast, like for all the best gaming monitors (opens in new tab) should be excellent – just what you want for fast-moving action while you’re sitting right in front of it. The refresh rate can climb to 240Hz, while the 1080p resolution suits the 24.5-inch diagonal. Finally, it hits 100% of the sRGB gamut, but only 92% of DCI-P3.
AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK review: Design and build
AOC calls this a three-sided frameless design, which appears to mean it has four sides and a frame. It’s quite thin though, with only the bottom edge having any kind of chunkiness about it, and it would be easy to place two side-by-side with the minimum of interruption. Apart from the AOC logo, there's nothing to break the square lines of the frame, while a pair of red flashes add a bit of visual interest. The controls for the OSD are tucked away under the front right, almost flush with the casing.
The stand is particularly nice, its pair of angled feet allowing a clear space under the screen for sweets, USB hubs, discarded wristbands and pens to collect that’s not offered by the more solid, circular type of support. It connects to the 100mm VESA mount rather than a port on the base of the screen, has another red flash at the back you can’t see, and a hole in it for, um, reasons possibly to do with cable management. Those long feet have the effect of keeping the screen nice and stable, though you’ll need enough space, as they’ll protrude over the edge if you put the screen on something too narrow.
The video inputs are tucked under the thicker part of the monitor, about a third of the way up, and aren’t particularly easy to access without turning the screen completely backwards. Luckily, this is the sort of thing you don’t tend to do very often.
AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK review: Features
The 25G3ZM/BK is made for displaying fast action without smearing, blurring or flickering, something it manages well. The WLED backlight (just a normal LED backlight with a W for ‘white’ stuck on the front for marketing purposes) means it’s evenly lit, and most of the clever features are aimed at gamers, with the on-screen menu revealing the ability to place a target crosshair in the centre of the screen, and display the current framerate. There are even six custom game modes to switch between, each tailored to the requirements of a different videogame genre.
You get adaptive sync, another game-centric feature, and speedy response times which will please anyone using it for watching fast motion, which includes games but also sports and animation.
Additionally, the flicker-free tech and low-blue-light setting may be useful during those times you suddenly discover it’s 3am, the coffee and pizza have run out, and you still need to squeeze in some sleep before the 10am presentation, while being able to adjust the height through 130mm will be useful to prevent you hunching at your desk. It’s a comfortable monitor to use – even the size is about right for seeing everything at once, without making you turn your head like a larger screen would at the kind of distance we tend to use our computer screens from.
Having dual HDMI ports in addition to a DisplayPort is something we like to see on a monitor. While it’s not as convenient as a USB-C port for laptop users, the ability to connect three different devices (or more using a switcher) and swap between them is simply nice to have. The 3.5mm audio jack is a solid addition too, allowing you to bypass the monitor’s lack of noise-making ability and connect your headphones or a set of desktop speakers.
AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK review: Performance
With a density of 90ppi, the screen’s pixels are much larger than those in gadgets like smartphones, where 400ppi is common. Steve Jobs himself claimed, in 2010 when Apple’s first Retina display launched with the iPhone 4, that its 326ppi was enough. Will you notice the difference? Probably not. It’s perhaps a little low for a content creation screen, but it certainly doesn’t mean that anything you display on it will turn into an unrecognisable pixelated mess.
As this screen is designed to facilitate high frame rates for esports games - an Overwatch 2 character can move a long way in a fraction of a second - we can let the bog-standard resolution slide. Rendering at 1080p is a lot less work for a GPU than 1440p or 4K, and means less energy usage, heat generation, and initial outlay. We certainly wouldn’t want to go any lower though, and AOC has, while we were writing this review, announced a pair of 27-inch 1440p 240Hz screens in its Agon 5 range, one with an IPS panel, and the other a VA.
So what do you get from the 25G3ZM? It's actually a very nice picture, easy on the eye and plenty sharp enough. There's no flicker, and the low input lag means there's no sense of a gap between your actions, whether it’s moving the mouse pointer or bringing your sights to bear in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. The VA panel is contrasty, colourful, and bright enough to use in a room with the curtains open. It also deals well with shadows.
AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK review: Price
With an RRP of £189.99, the AOC undercuts a great many similar gaming monitors on the market, with examples from the likes of Dell and Acer breaching the £300 mark. While it’s entirely possible to buy a 24in 1080p screen now for around £100 - AOC will even sell you one – those at this reduced price point don’t have the speed or features of the 25G3ZM/BK. If it’s a high-refresh-rate screen you’re after, this is a good choice.
Should you buy the AOC Gaming 25G3ZM/BK?
Monitors of this size and resolution are extremely common and have been available for a long time, so a screen has to do something unusual to stand out from the crowd. The 25G3ZM/BK almost manages it, with its high refresh rate, gamer-centric features, and general ease of use, but is just a bit samey. There are a lot of other monitors out there with this combination of features, but the AOC screen can beat a lot of them on price.
It’s also a versatile screen, and if you’re the sort who likes to run a PC, games console, and maybe a streaming stick through their monitor – the audio out socket comes in handy here – then it makes a good choice. Entry-level esports athletes will appreciate the speedy response times and high frame rate, while it would also make a good second screen for content creators, whose main monitor is a higher-res, colour-calibrated one.