TECHNOLOGY

Prism+ X340: Come For the Gaming, Stay For the Productivity

The Prism+ X340 is great monitor for work or play with a price tag that is seriously impressive

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 22 Nov 2017

When Singapore-based boutique PC maker Aftershock announced they would also be selling monitors under a sub-brand called Prism+, many of us in the industry raised an eyebrow.

In a market that is frankly quite saturated with great products across the strata, it seemed a strange gamble for a start-up like Aftershock to expand beyond its core PC offering.

Aftershock’s strategy to beat the likes of Samsung, Asus, and Dell hedged on offering a smaller range of products but at a great price point while still keeping the features Aftershock’s core fans wanted such as an Ultrawide 21:9 display with a refresh rate of more than 100 Hz.

When Aftershock sent over the Prism+ X340, their SG$850 34-inch flagship, I must admit to being a bit skeptical since similar devices by the likes of Acer and Asus cost upwards of SG$1,000.

Did the new boys impress? Read on to find out!

Performance

The Samsung VA panel that sits at the heart of the X340 is seriously good, delivering vibrant colors and rich blacks. There is always the fear with VA monitors of wonky contrast, especially for rich color images, but on the X340’s 3000:1 contrast ratio display, images rendered without issue. The monitor also has solid viewing angles (178 degrees) and the pleasing 1800R curve is great for media consumption, productivity, and, of course, gaming.

It is perhaps gamers that stand to gain the most by purchasing the X340, as the key features read like a laundry list of things that matter: 100-144 Hz refresh rate, a 21:9 ultrawide display, the aforementioned 1800R curve, and various gamer-centric settings presets that work best for different game genres.

I tested the X340 with a variety of games including Overwatch, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, XCOM 2, and The Witcher 3—I have to admit that, to my eye at least, the Prism+ X340 performed as well as anything from the large Taiwanese brands.

On shooters like Overwatch especially, the 144Hz screen refresh rate is a joy. One caveat is that to play at 144Hz, you will have to drop the resolution to 2560x1080. If you would rather play on the monitor’s native 3440X1440 resolution, the max you can go is 100Hz which is still way better than the 60Hz most monitors run at. I set my monitor to 3440x1440 and left the refresh rate at 100Hz to keep from switching resolutions.

If gaming is not your thing or you only occasionally game, the X340 also serves as a great productivity monitor. On a whim, I started using the X340 as my work monitor, replacing my aging Samsung 27-inch display and now I don’t think I can go back.

The 21:9 configuration means that my job, which includes lots of Microsoft Office, suddenly becomes a lot easier because i can split the screen among four windows and still see each clearly. In Excel, for example, as a single window I can see rows A to AK in a single screen (at 100 percent magnification). For anyone that uses a lot of Excel, this is a godsend.

The X340 does have its share of issues, of course. For a gamer-focused monitor, the base 8ms response time is slow, and switching to “Overdrive” in the monitor’s setting page bumps it up to a much better 4ms, but one wonders why this wasn't just turned out by default. This is a downside of the VA technology that the screen uses, which is unlike TN panels that sacrifice great image quality and contrast of VA for super-quick response times.

Color accuracy could also be better. This shouldn’t be a problem for regular users, but for people doing color-critical work, there are better options out there.

The X340 also includes a pair of stereo speakers which, while not marketed by Aftershock, are pretty awesome for their tiny size. While in no way better than a pair of good headphones or a solid external sound solution, for inbuilt speakers, they are surprisingly loud with nice highs and lows.

Design and inputs

The X340 continues its mission of no-frills performance by eschewing the gamer aesthetic, RGB lighting, and angry logos of similar monitors for a clean grey and white affair that looks as good on a desk in the office as it does in any gaming den.

What you get is the 34-inch panel that, save for a grey chin at the bottom, has some impressively thin bezels. The panel is also quite thin and the 1800R curve makes it very attractive on a desk. The back panel is a nice white color with concealed compartments for cables, and speaker grills make the only defining feature.

In terms of ports, the X340 has the basics covered. You get interfaces for HDMI, DP, as well as Dual-Link DVI.

There are a few issues on the design front, chief among which is the inability to adjust the monitor’s height on the included stand. You could VESA-mount the monitor with the included spacers but that’s another hassle. Here’s hoping Aftershock fixes this in the next iteration of the X340.

Another issue is the stand itself, which is a shiny nickel-plated affair that attracts fingerprints with amazing skill. One plus point of the shiny stand though is that it acts as a mirror so you can see what buttons you are pressing on the OSD.

Another bugbear for me has been the monitor's on screen menu which is confusing and causes you to use the short, pointy buttons on the bottom to navigate. As my fingertips were getting stabbed by the buttons, I found myself missing the nub interface that my old Samsung had.

Should you buy it?

The Prism+ X340 is a very solid first effort by the folks at Aftershock. Like the P15 I reviewed earlier, this monitor is not looking to be on the bleeding edge of technology.

The real pull here is the value because at the X340’s current SG$850 price point, this piece of hardware is a good 400-600 dollars cheaper than something like an Acer Predator monitor. That low price point also makes the X340 my new favorite productivity monitor with the 21:9 curved display making productivity a breeze.

What the X340 does is open up ultrawide computing for people who couldn’t afford the thousand buck plus price tag of a decent ultrawide.

There are some teething issues: the lack of height adjustability, the irksome navigation menu, and less than stellar color accuracy. But these are nitpicks that will not affect the general user...well, the height thing, maybe.

The bottom line is this: If you are up for a solid bang for your buck, no-frills ultrawide monitor, the Prism+ X340 is a very solid buy that ticks all the right boxes and then some.