MSI OPTIX MPG27CQ Q

Gam­ing gi­ant joins the mon­i­tor may­hem

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PIC­TURE A PC MON­I­TOR. One with high re­fresh rates, low re­sponse times, snazzy styling, and RGB mood light­ing. Looks a lot like a new ROG gam­ing mon­i­tor from Asus, right? In­deed it does, but it also de­scribes MSI’s new Optix MPG27CQ. Al­ready a ri­val for Asus in other parts of the PC gam­ing arena, MSI is now siz­ing up a smack­down in the pre­mium gam­ing mon­i­tor mar­ket.

The MPG27CQ ar­rives slap bang into the sweet spot in PC gam­ing mon­i­tors. It’s a 27-inch panel with 1440p pixel grid. That makes for a very nice com­pro­mise be­tween vis­ual de­tail and smooth gam­ing. 4K gam­ing, af­ter all, is a nice idea, but even the very lat­est and great­est graph­ics cards can’t drive all those pix­els at the triple-digit frame rates re­quired for se­ri­ously slick and smooth game­play. Mean­while, if you stretch 1440p be­yond 27 inches, the re­sult is in­creas­ingly big, fat, and fugly pix­els.

There are 27-inch 1440p mon­i­tors, of course, and there are 27-inch 1440p mon­i­tors. A ba­sic model with a cheap TN panel limited to 60Hz re­fresh isn’t ex­actly the stuff of gam­ing fan­tasy. In­stead, what you want is some­thing with a qual­ity LCD panel, sup­port for 120Hz-plus re­fresh, low la­tency, fast re­sponse times, and maybe some adap­tive sync ca­pa­bil­ity. What you want is some­thing like the Optix MPG27CQ.

To the 2560x1440, 27-inch sweet spot, the MPG27CQ adds a long list of gam­ingfriendly fea­tures, in­clud­ing 144Hz re­fresh, 1ms re­sponse with user con­fig­urable over­drive and anti-blur, a low-in­put lag mode, sup­port for AMD’s FreeSync tech­nol­ogy, and a gen­tle 1800R panel cur­va­ture thrown in for good mea­sure. But that’s not all. You also get some funky styling, in­clud­ing RGB LED mood light­ing.

The net re­sult, as we im­plied, is more than a lit­tle rem­i­nis­cent of Asus’s ROG gam­ing mon­i­tors, al­beit without quite the same level of pol­ish and piz­zazz. But where the MPG27CQ dif­fers from the PC gam­ing norm is by virtue of its LCD panel. MSI has gone for VA tech­nol­ogy. That’s not un­heard of in the pre­mium PC mon­i­tor mar­ket; VA of­fers sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter col­ors and view­ing an­gles com­pared to TN pan­els, and su­pe­rior con­trast to IPS tech­nol­ogy. The prob­lem is that VA doesn’t ex­actly have a world-beat­ing rep­u­ta­tion when it comes to pixel re­sponse. Cer­tainly, it isn’t the ob­vi­ous choice for a gam­ing mon­i­tor.

How­ever, what does be­come clear is that the MPG27CQ is de­fined by its VA panel. On the up­side, the col­ors pop and the ben­e­fits of the 3,000:1 con­trast ra­tio are un­de­ni­able: deep blacks that even the best IPS mon­i­tors can’t match. The down­sides be­gin with the warm, over­sat­u­rated color bal­ance that’s a hall­mark of most VA screens.

For gam­ing, that’s no big­gie. Ac­cess to the very last word in color ac­cu­racy hardly mat­ters when you fire up another Fort­nite ses­sion. More of a con­cern is the pixel re­sponse. MSI has fit­ted the MPG27CQ with a snazzy OSD menu, with lots of gam­ing-cen­tric fea­tures, in­clud­ing user-con­fig­urable pixel re­sponse. The fastest mode in­tro­duces no­tice­able in­verse ghost­ing as a con­se­quence of what must be very ag­gres­sive pixel over­drive. It also forces on MSI’s anti-blur mode, which lim­its the back­light­ing to 50 per­cent. While the re­sult is im­proved re­sponse and re­duced blur­ring, the costs are too high. Even the mid­dle of the three set­tings comes with an in­verse ghost­ing trade-off.

The sense is of MSI try­ing to ham­mer a square VA panel peg into a round PC gam­ing hole. That doesn’t stop the MPG27CQ from be­ing a nice dis­play, but it does com­pro­mise its abil­ity to fully de­liver on its pre­mium gam­ing panel re­mit.

MSI Optix MPG27CQ

SMACK­DOWN Su­perb fea­ture set; nice styling; bold col­ors and con­trast.

LET­DOWN Flawed pixel re­sponse; not as pol­ished and pro­duc­tized as in­evitable Asus com­pe­ti­tion.

$ 476, www.msi.com

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