Introduction, Availability & Price
I went into this review knowing ASUS might be a bit mad at me over this review, because I told the team I work with at ASUS for samples to review at TweakTown that I would not be returning this monitor if they sent it to me.
Why? Because it is my dream display.
The ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is about as close to "as good as it gets" when it comes to larger-than-life gaming displays, as it measures in with an oh-so-perfect (but depending on the desk, sometimes-too-big) 43 inches. The 43-inch display packs in the 3840 x 2160 native 4K resolution perfectly and makes it buttery smooth with its 120Hz refresh rate.
I told ASUS before they sent this to me that I would not be sending it back, so now that it's in the headline and I've told you guys -- ASUS will feel too guilty to take it back now, right? The ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is just too good that even if ASUS decided to demand it be returned, I'm predicting there will be a thief that will break in that night and steal it. If I'm pictured gaming on it after that... well, that's some great deepfake technology being used.
In all seriousness, the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is a f***ing amazing monitor, so much so that one -- I'm wearing (starred it out) in a review... and I'm willing to hurt ASUS' feelings by keeping this display for myself. It has become my workstation display as well as my gaming display, something I normally split between and have a higher-end panel to work on and then a high refresh rate panel (and bigger, normally at 32-inch 16:9 or 34-inch 21:9).
But the 43-inch size and 4K resolution actually work perfectly, whereas most 4K displays come in at a smaller (and definitely not as useable) 27 inches which I really don't like. I've got the Acer Predator X27 gaming monitor with its native 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rate and while "yay it's 4K 144Hz" it's also "ugh, 27 inches wtf".
But the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is a monster 43 inches in size, packs the 4K resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, AMD FreeSync 2 HDR technology, dual 10W speakers, an LED light, and so much more. It truly is a helluva deal, which used to be found on Amazon for around $1099 -- although at the time of writing it wasn't available on Amazon.
Detailed Specs & AMD FreeSync 2 HDR
ASUS has specced out the ROG Strix XG438Q with some of the highest-end specs you could ask for: native 4K resolution so we have 3840 x 2160, joined with a super-slick and smooth 120Hz refresh rate. ASUS has included FreeSync 2 HDR support, but for 95% of my time with the display I had it powered with an MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti LIGHTNING Z graphics card -- I also used an NVIDIA TITAN RTX for some testing, and finally an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT.
AMD FreeSync 2 HDR Support + DisplayHDR 600 Certification
ASUS includes Radeon FreeSync 2 HDR support, but this is something I really don't like -- HDR gaming in general. Windows 10's HDR implementation is absolutely shocking, so I don't even bother with it for the most part. Normal gaming however, is an absolute achievement in all senses of the word on the ROG Strix XG438Q.
Also, there's literally zero Radeon GPU hardware on the market that can handle a majority of games at 4K 120Hz... so you'd be reduced to playing games that don't tax the graphics card that hard at 4K to hit 120FPS in the first place.
But, if you did want to enable HDR then ASUS has your back with DisplayHDR 600 certification and DCI-P3 90% color gamut.
Connectivity & Design
ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q - Connectivity
ASUS offers up some pretty damn good connectivity with the ROG Strix XG438Q, as the display packs 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 and 3 x HDMI 2.0 ports so you can plug a bunch of devices into it.
The display connectivity is split into two -- there's 1 x DP1.4 and 2 x HDMI 2.0 connections in a hidden away section on the back, something I really love the look and functionality of. The other ports (1 x HDMI 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, audio input and headphone jack) are located on the side of the ROG Strix XG438Q -- just above and to the left of the hidden away DP/HDMI ports in the bottom left of the display.
ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q - Design
ASUS have put their all into the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q, so I'll run through some of the design choices you get with the display.
An anti-glare screen has been used, which comes into good effect as I used it in a room with some natural light coming in and was not distracted from any glare.
There are dual 10W stereo speakers built into the back of the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q, packing ASUS SonicMaster technology which deliver "incredible audio fidelity for rich, satisfying sound". In my testing this wasn't great, but it also wasn't crap either -- I had gaming headphones on for the most part.
There is some actually kinda cool ASUS Aura Lighting on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q, but it's done a little differently here -- ASUS includes an Aura Sync ROG logo projector that screws into the back of the display. You can synchronize this with other Aura-enabled products, too.
I went over this on the Connectivity part of the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q review, but I'm going to point it out again because the design of the display is just that good. All of the I/O is hidden, with easy access ports on the side for USB 3.0 and HDMI 2.0 when and if required.
RGB On Monitors - ASUS Aura Sync Lighting
ASUS bakes in its Aura Sync lighting technology into the monitor itself, with an Aura Sync ROG logo projector that gets screwed into the back of the monitor itself. You can sync all of this up with ASUS Aura Sync components like your ASUS gaming PC and ASUS gaming peripherals.
It's easy to do as well -- as the projector gets screwed into the back and the USB cable fed into the monitor to power it. It will cycle on its own through its colors, but you can also tweak it with the Aura Sync software, too.
Test System Specs
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (buy from Amazon)
- Motherboard: ASRock X570 Taichi (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: G.SKILL Trident Z Royal DDR4-3600 (buy from Amazon)
- GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti LIGHTNING Z (buy from Amazon)
- SSD: AORUS NVMe PCIe 4.0 2TB (buy from Amazon)
- PSU: NZXT E850 - 850W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
I've been waiting so long for a larger-than-life 43-inch 4K 120Hz gaming monitor to fall into my lap, so I put the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q through its paces with 10s of hours of gaming in two of my favorite games -- Apex Legends and Overwatch. I also dialed up every graphical knob that I could in one of the best-looking games ever made -- Control, and enjoyed every single minute of it.
I played 30-40 hours of Apex Legends over the course of over a month on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q -- falling in love in the first few seconds of firing up EA and Respawn's addictive battle royale game, I was in love. Hell, even the menus in games on the 43-inch 4K monitor look great.
I found that I needed a graphics card faster than my MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti LIGHTNING Z, as it could not keep up with Apex Legends at 4K and getting anywhere near 120FPS on the highest in-game detail settings. I reduced virtually everything to low or medium and was keeping much better 100FPS or so averages, making the entire experience buttery smooth on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q.
Sliding down the sides of hills and mountains in Apex Legends has never felt better, with the only thing coming close to this being a 21:9 UltraWide gaming monitor. ASUS has you covered and so do I with a review on the ASUS ROG Swift PG35VQ -- a 35-inch 3440x1440 @ 200Hz G-SYNC ULTIMATE gaming monitor. I came to love the larger 43-inch panel with its higher-res at 4K and didn't mind the 120Hz over 200Hz. 200Hz is absolutely ridiculous and hard to drive, too.
Overwatch is a favorite game of mine, where I spend my time battling it out as a Mercy main that will also play Moira more these days, but man do I love playing D.va sometimes and on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q it has never felt better.
The 43-inch panel really is a game changer and draws you into the game much more, and thanks to Blizzard not implementing (proper) 21:9 UltraWide support, gaming on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q in Overwatch is even better than the higher-end ROG Swift PG35VQ. Overwatch looks sublime at 4K and is super-sharp, and almost even sharper on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q.
I was easily hitting 120FPS minimum with a mix of low/medium/high detail levels in Overwatch at 4K, which once again felt so super smooth to play.
Another great-looking game that looks even better on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is Control, but even with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti powering my AMD Ryzen 7 3700X gaming PC, I couldn't hit anywhere near close to 120FPS. But, Control is a game that isn't about FPS and is more about visuals -- something that looked truly amazing on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q.
Enabling all of the RTX effects capable on the RTX 2080 Ti, Control looked out of this world on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q. At a razor sharp 4K and all RTX bells and whistles enabled, Control was easily the best-looking game I had the pleasure of playing on the monitor.
Workstation & Media Impressions
I used the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q for 10s of hours owrking in front of it, which meant hundreds of news articles written here for TweakTown and a bunch of hours re-organizing my GPU benchmark charts in Google Sheets. I knew before I received the monitor that I wouldn't be returning it because I loved it so much, but then it improved my workflow... that was when I had the "I have to keep this display" moment.
Seriously, it felt like my entire workflow was improved using this monitor -- with the native 3840 x 2160 resolution feeling way more at home on a 43-inch panel versus a 27-inch panel. Don't get me wrong, I've used professional-grade 32-inch 4K IPS-based workstation monitors before, with that also being an ASUS model in the ProArt PA32UC (my review on that here) and while the 32-inch panel is better for 4K, it doesn't come close to how great 3840 x 2160 is on a 43-inch panel.
Oh, and the super-fluid 120Hz refresh rate helps with that, too. Anyone who says that you "can't feel the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz" is insane (in my eyes) as I can feel it within the first millisecond of moving the mouse in Windows. But once your muscle memory adapts to the new screen, your mouse movements and muscle memory with your mouse and using Windows adapts -- and my God, does the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q feel like home.
I also blasted through a series of high-end 4K Blu-ray movies on the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q, including stellar-looking movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Interstellar, and others. They all looked out-of-this-world good, and that's a big deal these days as you're not just buying a monitor like the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q for purely gaming -- and while some might, it's great to have it also kick ass for media consumption, too.
I also watched through countless videos on YouTube with most of them being in 4K and they too looked great. You will not be disappointed with the visual quality of the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q for workstation use, media consumption, or gaming.
ASUS has also included some cool features like picture-in-picture modes that actually make sense as the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is a 43-inch panel, versus PiP modes on a smaller 27/32-inch display which would be too small for four sources of video at once.
Wrapping things up, I'm head over heels in love with the ROG Strix XG438Q. So much so, that I refuse to return my sample. I warned ASUS that this was my dream monitor when it was revealed at CES 2019 nearly a year ago now, and now that it is in front of me (literally as I type this) it's everything I thought it would be, and much more.
Between then and now I've been talking with ASUS about it and wanting to get it in my lab as soon as I could and now that it is here, it's not leaving. The ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is that good that I simply can't part with it now, and while I normally have these feelings with other high-end gaming displays the ROG Strix XG438Q is just so different.
Once it's on your desk, the ROG Strix XG438Q will change your gaming world (for the better) forever. It's packing a gorgeous larger-than-life 43-inch 4K panel, with a rocket-fast 120Hz refresh rate (and while there's 144Hz panels out there, it's much harder to tell the difference between 120Hz and 144Hz versus the huge chasm between 60Hz and 120Hz).
ASUS also has another big but very subtle win with its ROG Strix XG438Q -- there's no active fan. Unlike my Acer Predator X27 with its near-similar specs (4K 144Hz), the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is silent. The Acer Predator X27 is notorious for being noisy with its active fan, something I constantly forget about when I finish gaming for the night and hear a fan thinking "what the hell have I left on" and it's my damn monitor. The ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is silent in its operation, which is another tick for the larger-than-life 43-inch 4K 120Hz gaming beast.
If you're in the market for a new monitor and wanted something bigger than the current and overcrowded flock of 27-inch gaming monitors, but didn't want to go for 'just' a 32-inch panel, and didn't like the 21:9 UltraWide displays... then the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is perfect.
Hell, for any enthusiast like myself you're going to absolutely fall in love with the ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q -- it is my best monitor of 2019 and now my daily driver. Sorry ASUS, you've lost your monitor to me and I hope you're not too mad about it. You shouldn't have made such a kick ass display.
The Bottom Line
The ASUS ROG Strix XG438Q is a larger-than-life gaming monitor that feels like it has dropped from Heaven. 43 inches of 4K glory at 120Hz - gaming has NEVER been better than this.