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Asus XG438Q Review & Perfect Monitor Settings


Color profile (default menu settings)

ASUS XG438 #2 2019-09-17 18-57 2.2 F-S XYZLUT (1.3 MB)

Color profile (sRGB menu settings)

ASUS XG438 #2 2019-09-18 16-24 2.2 F-S XYZLUT (953.7 KB)

color profile overall

Weird Glitches on Nvidia?

You need a firmware update for your 10-series Nvidia card. Still gitching? Your graphics card may need to be RMAd.

Oh no the text is weird/blurry! This monitor is not great for productivity!

It is fixable, but the out-of-the-box defaults are not sane, imho. First, if you run Windows at 125%, text is crystal clear and sharp and great. I don’t think Asus tested at 100% font scaling because it does look awful at 100% scaling on windows.

This can mean it doesn’t look great in linux, either. Fortunately, it is down to OSD Settings.

For me, the perfect settings on the monitor for clear text was:

(GameVisual was set to sRGB mode, but this doesn’t matter too much.)

Menu > Image > OD (Over Driver) > Level2

This was the best setting for my panel. Use

to find the best value for your panel. you’ll know it when you see it.

Menu > Image > Shadow Boost > Level1

This defaults to Level0, but Level1 seems to be the sweet spot for clear text (for me). It might not be the same for you, so experiment.

Menu > Image > Dynamic Dimming > Off

This is on by default, but I think legibility is harmed somewhat.

Menu > Image > ACSR

This is Asus’ smart contrast ratio. It’s not very smart, and not on in sRGB mode. If you run another mode, you might have to turn this off for max text sharpness. Experiment with it to your taste.

Et Cleartype, Brute?

So windows has Cleartype which uses sub-pixel rendering to smooth fonts. It assumes a BGR layout. Interestingly On a 5700 XT, I noticed the registry was set for BGR layout when plugging in this display but not on my 10 or 20 series nvidia cards.

set PixelStructure to 2 for BGR layout here in the registry:



Also, because SpaceCo monitor arms, I set the display upside down so I could have RGB pixel layouts on this monitor. This is how I discovered that the text still looked like crap even with the RGB layout (upside down). So I went digging through the menus on the monitor, cleared it up, then discovered text is okay right-side-up, too, if you set the menu.

With the above OSD tweaks, text looks great. Note that if you are running 10 bit, some of these menu options are disabled. It’s not a true 10 bit panel anyway, so maybe that doesn’t matter.


Can you see if you can make the picture upside down, and use a VESA mount to make the monitor upside down to fix the BGR pixel layout issue?

The most annoying issue is the BGR pixel layout.

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I noticed that right away plugging it in – text quality was terrible. I changed the subpixel hinting for cleartype as well as some OSD settings (detailed above) and it looks great now.

Hmm, so more ailasing in the text makes the text look clearer… Any chance using an image flipper in the GPU or an external scaler would make the anti-aliasing look better?

I can try it since I plan to use spaceo arms with this monitor anyway, but I don’t think the color of the sub pixel matters for the end quality. its just it will look bad when the [text smoothing] software assumes the opposite situation of reality. I think it looks fine w/cleartype off entirely too. but that’s old crt me speaking.

It would annoy the ever loving OCD out of me, so I would see about trying to fix the root of the problem with custom FPGAs like what Zisworks did for the Seiki TVs.

Would you be able to cover the “dark smearing” that other reviews have mentioned? I’m guessing it’s a bigger issue for people moving from IPS or TN to a VA panel, but as someone thats been using an AMH399U for the last 4 years, am I even going to notice?

I’ve noticed dark level smearing on my 60hz panel, but then again, it’s 60hz.

Overdrive modes are supposed to help some levels of dark level smearing.

How are you liking it? Couple questions… can it do 10bit at 98hz 4k like the Wasabi?

Is the panel 4:4:4 chroma capable?

*Just purchased one today, on it’s way. Looking forward to see how it runs.

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Here’s some reviews I’d dug up, see how they stack up with the review from @wendell when he publishes.

I’ve still got my finger on the trigger as I’m a bit on the fence, but I’ve got my eye on one with next day delivery… xD

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10bit becomes available at 96hz but for some reason won’t stick. At least haven’t found a way yet. Appears to be 4:4:4.

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I got that too but I think it was detecting noise on the line and dropping back. I had to get a cable matters cable then it was okay. The cable in the box was marginal.

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Let me know how it turns out. I think I have some cables around here somewhere to test.

*I wonder if you have to turn HDR or some setting off.

are you using freesync2 hdr or the asus one? (edit: oh, nvidia, guess not freesync2?)

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The Wasabi 43" 4k 120hz didn’t matter with those settings, granted it was HDR 400 I think… I’m thinking the same thing applies here. Firmware update maybe… I wonder if CRU can override. So far I’ve tried with HDR on and there’s only a freesync option

*This almost seems like it might be the same panel as the Wasabi though. Which is not a bad thing.

** Figured out so far that it does support 4096x2160. I’m currently trying to find a way to force 10 bit at 96hz

Just watched the review. There’s a mention of the BGR subpixel layout being attributable to the VA panel washing out at different viewing angles, but this is not elaborated on. I want to get this monitor, but I will potentially be running Windows, Linux and macOS on it, so I don’t want to mess with custom cleartype configs (if that is even possible on macOS, I imagine it is in Linux). What is the tradeoff if I mount it upside down on a monitor arm (other than having to set 180º rotation).

Also, my current monitor is the LG 43UD79-B which has an issue with the side edges fading off. I’m assuming this isn’t the case here but just want to be sure. I really hate it on the LG as I lose the first character or 2 of a terminal window that’s pinned to the edge of the screen.

I can shoot some more vid but there is broll of the side to side. You will have to change the osd displays but on the spaceco arm I didn’t see a problem using it upside down.

If you aren’t a tall person and you are looking “up” into the monitor that angle has the most color shift of any angle. Hence why it’s upside down. Probably.

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Not necessary. I have a good idea of what the color shift would be.

Ok, that makes sense then, although that’s quite a sacrifice. I think they would have been better off prioritizing a good legibility experience out-of-the box over color-shift for shorties. I’m going to feel a little stupid buying a $1100 monitor and mounting it upside down for usability.

I have the monitor either dead center on my eye level or slightly lower, so color shift shouldn’t be an issue.

On a separate note, how does cleartype negotiate subpixel layout on vertical screens?

It doesn’t negotiate squat. Hahaha.

You’ll be fine just follow the setups. I didn’t find it necessary to use it upside down but cleartype is disabled for me and I think that’s fine.

Oddly at 125% scaling it looks sharp either way . If you really want a brainf*ck just make a 1 pixel vertical line on Ms paint. Gotta be a bug in their overdriver or firmware. But it’s fine once you tweak the osd.

Macos is hard wired to RGB only afaik

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I figured. I wonder if there’s a quality difference between a clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation. I guess not, because it would just be uniform horizontal lines. You can imagine a crazy use-case where a display as a staggered subpixel layout to accommodate rotation.

Yeah, I’d assume so. I’ll turn it off and hopefully that will be fine.

Any plans on an upgraded displayport 1.4 kvm switch?