MSI Optix MAG342CQRV: Great Budget VA Ultrawide Monitor

Recently, I had the opportunity to unbox and test the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV, and I have to say, I’m quite impressed. This ultrawide monitor has a 34″ curved screen with a 3440×1440 resolution, making it perfect for both work and gaming. But does it live up to the hype? Let’s get into the details and find out!

Ghosting & Black Smearing

One of the biggest concerns with VA panels is ghosting and black smearing. While there is some minor ghosting present in fast-moving objects, it’s considerably less than what you would experience on other VA monitors. In fact, the ghosting on the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV is even better than on the highly regarded AOC CU34G2X, a 144Hz monitor. As for black smearing, it is minimal and comparable to high-end IPS displays. So if you’re worried about motion blur, this monitor handles it surprisingly well.

Motion Clarity

In terms of motion clarity, the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV performs admirably. Fast-moving objects don’t suffer from excessive blurring, and text remains reasonably sharp even during motion. While it may not be on par with premium 144Hz IPS panels, the difference is minimal, and it certainly outperforms older 60Hz IPS displays. Considering the price point, it’s an excellent compromise.

Contrast & Black Levels

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VA panels are known for their superior contrast and black levels compared to IPS displays. The MSI Optix MAG342CQRV doesn’t disappoint in this aspect. While it may not match the perfect blacks of OLEDs, it offers a striking contrast that outperforms most IPS panels. However, side-by-side with an IPS display, the difference is less pronounced. So if you’re considering a VA panel solely for improved blacks and contrast, it might not be the most significant factor.

Monitor Brightness

Although the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV isn’t an HDR display, it can get incredibly bright. In a moderately lit room, I found myself needing to lower the brightness to a comfortable level. Adjusting it to around 50% was sufficient for me. If you prefer a brighter screen, this monitor will certainly deliver.

BackLight Bleed & Screen Uniformity

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When it comes to black uniformity, the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV excels. There is no noticeable cloudiness, and the entire screen maintains a consistent black level. Backlight bleed is minimal and barely visible in a moderately lit room. The overall screen uniformity is exceptional, resulting in an immersive viewing experience.

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G-Sync

While the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV is not officially listed as G-Sync Compatible, I’m happy to report that G-Sync works flawlessly without any flickering or tearing on my 2080 Ti graphics card. The VRR range is between 48 and 100 fps, with noticeable brightness changes at the lower end. Installing the proper monitor driver from MSI’s website resolved any initial stuttering issues. Keep in mind that my testing was conducted using an older DisplayPort 1.1a cable, and cable choice might affect VRR performance.

Stand and Build Quality

The stand on the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV is solid and sturdy, providing excellent stability. However, the screen itself tends to wobble with slight desk movements or when pressing the menu buttons. Despite this minor issue, the stand offers a wide range of adjustments, including height, tilt, and swivel, which are easy to manage. From a build quality perspective, the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV impresses with its premium feel, thanks to its metal legs and quality plastics. There’s a distinct lack of “gamery” highlights, making it suitable for both gaming setups and professional environments. Installation is a breeze, with just three screws and a click to attach the stand.

RGB

While the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV was advertised with support for Mystic Light RGB control and sync, MSI has clarified that this was an “error.” So, unfortunately, there is no software control for the RGB lighting. It can only be modified through the OSD, offering seven preset options with solid colors or changing patterns. The RGB lighting intensity is relatively dim, making it hard to notice except in a dark room.

PBP/PIP

For multitaskers, the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV has you covered with Picture-by-Picture (PBP) and Picture-in-Picture (PIP) features. PIP allows you to customize the location anywhere on the screen and has three different size settings. PBP supports two inputs split evenly, enabling you to run both at a resolution of 1720×1440.

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Nitpicks

There are a few minor inconveniences to note. The external power brick is an additional component that accompanies the monitor, which some may find bothersome. The clicking sound of the menu buttons on the OSD is particularly loud. And out of the box, the monitor doesn’t support other 21:9 resolutions, but you can add custom resolutions manually if needed.

Final Verdict

The MSI Optix MAG342CQRV is undoubtedly an impressive monitor, surpassing many other VA panels in its price range. While an IPS panel may offer a slight upgrade, the difference may not be worth the price hike for everyone. With its excellent motion clarity, solid build quality, and stunning contrast, this monitor should be seriously considered by gamers and creators alike.

If your hardware can consistently push your FPS above 100, you might want to explore higher refresh rate options. However, for those running games between 30-50 FPS, the MSI Optix MAG342CQRV, with its proper G-Sync performance, might be a better fit. Overall, it’s a fantastic VA ultrawide that provides significant value for its price.

Before making a final decision, I do still have the Gigabyte G34WQC on my radar. Keep an eye out for my updated review as I spend more time with these displays.

Marcus Richardson
Editor-in-chief

I love testing and writing about new tech. I'm also a gamer and an engineer. Check out my Twitter for keyboard stuff.

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