The Sceptre E255B-1658A offers not just excellent image quality, but also a high refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support and design that’s as attractive as it is functional.
- FreeSync support
- Fast 165Hz refresh rate
- Good image quality, accurate colors
- Dull speakers
There are lots of things that gaming monitors need to score to be worth the money. The Sceptre E255B-1658A monitor nails almost everything with its 24.5-inch, 1920×1080 display, boasting a very low one millisecond gray-to-gray response time, but more importantly, AMD FreeSync compatibility and a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz. That’s a whole new record we’re seeing yet, and a good 21Hz over the previous maximum of 144Hz.
But, does the 21Hz jump make this monitor any better? That’s a key question that need to be answered. The E255B is extremely affordable for a 165Hz display, and slightly more that Sceptre’s early 1080p gaming display. In other words, you’re paying slightly more per extra frame of refresh per second. Is that a good deal? Let’s see.
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Sceptre monitor design
Most monitors at this price range are boring to look at, with chunky black bezels supported by drab silver stands. Luckily, the Sceptre E255B-1658A is not most monitors. It combines an edgeless design with a host of other gamer-centric features than most 24-inch competitors, but does so for much less.
The cabinet is supported by a V-shaped stand that provides 15 degrees backwards and 5 degrees forward adjustments, in addition to a detachable neck and base.
The Sceptre monitor is as functional as it is attractive. It lacks pivot, swivel and height adjustments, not surprising at all. The wide stand base keeps the monitor in place without breaking the clean aesthetic. I honestly can’t thing of any single flaw in the 1658A’s design. A pair of built in speakers suffice for your audio needs – though, not loud enough for gaming.
Inputs and Presets
Like the curved Sceptre C248B-144R –our Editor’s Choice, input options are a bit limited with this Sceptre monitor. It offers HDMI and DisplayPort, with support for FreeSync. Compared to monitors as a whole, this is a limited selection of connectivity, but its just enough for a value monitor. The monitor also offers headphone out and a pair of speakers, adding to its range of convenience.
It comes with multiple color modes for different occasions: Preset Picture Mode (Standard, User, Movie, ECO); Preset Game Mode – RTS (Real Time Strategy), FPS (First Person Shooter and Eye Saver Mode which is aligned to Blue light shift to prevent eye strain, alongside adjustable gamma settings.
In the gaming world, having a monitor that can correctly render the signal from your PC or other source is very crucial, and one with a peak 165Hz refresh rate offers better prospects. Out of the box, the Sceptre monitor presents an overly bright and extremely bold image. That’s great for a store shelf, but might be a lot for home use. Nonetheless, out-of-box image quality is very respectable, especially in the color reproduction area.
Games like Battlefield 1 (PC Version) look well saturated and vivid on this monitor. While depth doesn’t live up to quite the same standard, there’s still enough perceived contrast to provide a three-dimensional look to high quality graphics. The TN panel provides excellent viewing angles on both the horizontal and vertical axis, though, an IPS panel would be much better.
All these are backed by the display’s maximum brightness of 300 cd/m2, putting in the same league as most monitors we’ve reviewed. Overall, this monitor performs well. It isn’t exceptional in any particular area, except for the higher refresh rate, which means it will be responsive and more fluid than most 144Hz monitors. Something to make gamers happy.
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Gaming at 60HZ, 144Hz and 165Hz
For some reason, you might come away liking this Sceptre monitor a great deal, but not specifically because of its high refresh rates. Try as you might, you won’t see much difference between gaming at 144Hz and 165Hz. Maybe…just maybe, you might notice animations in games like Diablo 3 look smoother, or maybe they won’t. It’s hard to say.
Certainly, the major issues that are tamed by AMD FreeSync, stuttering and screen tearing, are no different. They’re not any different at 165Hz than at 60Hz. Most games never provide use of the maximum refresh rate, anyway. Even Heroes of the Storm doesn’t max out the 165Hz potential, played on a rig with a Core i7-8700K processor and GTX 1070 graphics cards. Frame rates are usually in the 140 to 160 FPS range. Grand Theft Auto V, on the other hand, dips below 80 FPS with all details turned up.
Simply said, while the refresh rate is nice to have, I don’t know that even a 144Hz refresh rate is worth much, never mind 165Hz. The feature functions as intended, only that it doesn’t bring much to the table. And provided it doesn’t push up the price, we’re still okay with it. Personally, I’d be happy with a 60Hz refresh rate on a G-Sync or FreeSync supported monitor, but as always, higher is better.
Sceptre has a mission to make its monitor line world-class in every category, and the Sceptre E255B-1658A spares nothing in search of that effort. It offers not just excellent image quality, but also a high refresh rate, AMD FreeSync support and design that’s as attractive as it is functional.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t have the perennial issue of gaming monitors sacrificing image quality at the altar of response times. It doesn’t have such compromises, but we wish it had more ports.
Is there a better alternative?
It remains true that is not a lot to spend on a 1080p monitor with a 165Hz refresh rate, and FreeSync. If you’re looking for both image quality and refresh rate, there are few alternatives.
That said, if I were buying at this price range, I’d definitely go for the 25-inch AOC G2590FX, a frameless gaming monitor. It has the same 1ms response rate, a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync for adaptive sync for the smoothest game play. Its port options include DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA inputs. Over anything else, the frameless design is a real killer.
Should I buy it?
Yes, you should. It’s inexpensive, and for what you get it’s a good deal. Both the Sceptre and AOC G2590FX will outlast your current gaming rig, and if you’re buying either for a general use PC, they will last even longer – as a workspace.
Sceptre has outdone themselves with the Sceptre E255B-1658A, and with the below average retail price, this is one of the budget monitors you don’t want to pass up.
Sceptre E255B-1658A 24.5" 165Hz 144Hz 1ms Gaming LED Monitor 2X HDMI 2.0 1x DisplayPort, Metal Black 2019
2 used from $186.93