MSI Unveils Quantum Dot Gaming Monitors With Rapid VA Panel Tech, Why It Matters

hero msi mag rapid va monitors
Let's talk display technology. Almost all TVs and computer displays these days are based on LED-backlit LCDs. The only other common display technology anymore is OLED, and despite the similar name, those have nothing to do with this post, so let's set them aside for now—even though they're arguably a superior technology.

With LED-backlit LCDs, the primary determinant of picture quality is the type of LCD panel used. You've probably heard terms like "TN" or "IPS" being bandied about; these are referring to the type of LCD panel, with TN being the oldest still in common use. There are many, many different types out there, but generally speaking, LCD panels can be categorized into "TN-like", "IPS-like", or "VA-like", with IPS-type panels being far and away the most common on devices above the absolute bottom of the market.

msi rapid va monitors angle

It's important to understand that saying that your monitor is an "IPS" or "IPS type" doesn't really tell you a lot about the capabilities of the monitor; there are dozens of individual "IPS-like" technologies, and they all have different specs. However, these LCD panel classes do have broadly-shared characteristics: TN LCDs usually have rapid response times but poor colors, IPS LCDs usually have rich colors but poor contrast, and VA LCDs typically have excellent contrast and colors, but terrible response times.

Because of that, you may think that VA LCDs are poorly-suited for gaming, and that's actually a pretty reasonable point of view for the majority of VA LCDs out there. Experienced PC gamers will be well familiar with the unfortunate "VA smear", where dark objects are followed by an obvious trail on screen when they moved in a light area. This is caused by VA LCDs having a very poor response specifically on rising from 0.

msi rapid va monitors rear

Well, in recent years, Samsung has released a small handful of monitors that feature VA LCD panels with extremely good response times—around the same as high-end gaming IPS panels. This is very impressive, because these monitors retain all of the advantages of traditional VA LCDs, including excellent contrast, rich colors, and wide viewing angles.

What does that have to do with MSI? Folks who follow hardware are probably aware that MSI has been selling a whole range of gaming-oriented PC monitors for several years at this point. Most of MSI's monitors have been based on Samsung panels. Now, it seems like Samsung has finally seen fit to allow another vendor to sell its low-response-time VA LCDs, as MSI has just announced four monitors based what it is calling "Rapid VA" panels.

msi monitors chart

All of the monitors are in MSI's MAG lineup, and all of them are 2560×1440 resolution. Two are 27", and two are 31.5". The primary differences are that two of the monitors—one of each size—refresh at 170Hz, while the other two refresh at 240Hz. The monitors with the slower refresh rate use a Quantum Dot (QD) filter that gives them slightly wider color gamuts, which means richer and more saturated colors—although all of the monitors exceed the sRGB standard significantly. The 240Hz displays, meanwhile, have some limited HDR support in the form of DisplayHDR 400.

MSI claims a 1ms response time for these monitors, but as usual, the company is quoting MPRT, or "moving picture response time." This is representative of these screens' strobing backlight mode, which will drastically reduce motion blur, but doesn't really tell you anything about the real pixel response of these displays.

Back in 2020 when this type of VA LCD panel first debuted in the Samsung Odyssey G7, TFT Central found that display's VA LCD capable of an average G2G response time of 2.9ms. That is incredibly fast for a VA LCD, and more than fast enough for a 170-Hz or even 240-Hz refresh rate.

tftcentral samsung response graph
From TFTCentral's review of the Samsung Odyssey G7 C27G75T.

To be clear, MSI has not stated that it is sourcing its panels from Samsung for these displays. However, we're comfortable assuming as much, both because MSI has previously sourced Samsung panels for many of its monitors, and also because Samsung seems to be the only company with this "Rapid VA" technology.

If we then further assume that these MSI monitors are capable of the same kind of performance, then these should be some of the best gaming monitors on the market, particularly for the price. The two newer QD-equipped monitors are currently available at reduced introductory pricing that makes them especially attractive. We haven't seen them in person yet, but based on the specifications, these displays look like great deals for gamers.