Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ

TECH­NI­CALLY, IT’S THE BEST MON­I­TOR EVER MADE. IN RE­AL­ITY IT’S AN EX­PEN­SIVE LUX­URY

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - NICK ROSS

Some­times be­ing a tech re­viewer is an en­vi­able po­si­tion while on other oc­ca­sions we’re tak­ing it on the chin for our read­ers. Hav­ing put Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ through its paces, I’m still not sure which end of the spec­trum this ex­pe­ri­ence re­sides. The mon­i­tor is un­de­ni­ably bril­liant. But mak­ing it work is an ex­er­cise akin to break­ing in a wild Mus­tang, ne­go­ti­at­ing with Rain Man and start­ing up a race car.

None­the­less, once we’d made the cal­cu­la­tions for hy­per­space, checked that its Flux Ca­pac­i­tor was flux­ing and set tur­bines to speed, an ethe­real glow came down from the heav­ens and told us all was well. That’s ac­tu­ally lit­er­ally what hap­pened: the first thing we saw was a Far Cry 5 load­ing screen with sun­light stream­ing into a for­est glade. It wasn’t just im­pres­sive graph­ics any­more, there was ac­tual light shin­ing into the im­age. We in­stantly knew that this was some­thing spe­cial.

THE SUPERMONITOR

The PG27UQ rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of a two-and-a-half-year jour­ney by Nvidia to pro­duce the best 4K HDR gam­ing mon­i­tor on the mar­ket. While many gam­ing mon­i­tors ex­cel in some ar­eas, it’s of­ten at the ex­pense of oth­ers. The PG27UQ aims to ex­cel at ev­ery­thing and Nvidia cer­ti­fies it for do­ing so. That cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process starts at the be­gin­ning of the panel’s man­u­fac­tur­ing process and stretches all the way through it. It’s also why this mon­i­tor costs a whop­ping $3,899. But the re­sult is G-Sync HDR... In this man­i­fes­ta­tion, a 27-inch IPS panel of­fers HDR10 colour depth (with one bil­lion colours), High Dy­namic Range, 1,000-nit bright­ness, 144Hz dy­namic re­fresh rate, dy­namic pixel re­sponse time over­drive, 4K res­o­lu­tion, 178o view­ing angles and low in­put lag. All at once. It cov­ers 99 per cent of RGB colour space and an im­pres­sive 97 per cent of the film-in­dus­try­derived DCI-P3. The key hard­ware re­volves around a 120Hz IPS panel (over­clock­able to 144Hz) which is il­lu­mi­nated by 384 zones of lo­cal­ly­dimmed back­light­ing. The re­sult is one of the widest colour gamuts on the mar­ket, HDR con­trast and some of the smoothest, clear­est mo­tion avail­able on a mon­i­tor.

We won’t dwell on all the sci­ence, but in the past some of these tech­nolo­gies have been in­com­pat­i­ble: IPS and fast pixel re­sponse times for ex­am­ple. Nvidia’s com­pli­cated “vari­able over­drive” tech­nol­ogy ad­dresses this but do­ing so with dy­namic re­fresh rates makes the process dra­mat­i­cally harder.

Dy­namic re­fresh rates mean that the screen can scan and match the fram­er­ates pro­duced by the GPU on the fly. It’s par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial on a 4K dis­play be­cause it’s hard for even the beefi­est com­put­ers to main­tain con­stant high fram­er­ates at UHD res­o­lu­tions. When those fram­er­ates fluc­tu­ate you get im­age tear­ing and stut­ter. Fix­ing this by ac­ti­vat­ing VSync is un­re­li­able and can pro­duce stut­ter­ing im­ages and in­put la­tency. Ad­dress­ing all this on a reg­u­lar HD mon­i­tor with stan­dard

“Ad­dress­ing all this at 4K while sup­port­ing HDR10 is ex­tra­or­di­nary”

Er­gonomic and ver­sa­tile de­sign with height ad­just­ment of 0-120mm, pivot 0º-90º (clock­wise), swivel +35º - -35º and tilt of +20º - -5º

dy­namic range colours is hard enough, but to do so at 4K while sup­port­ing HDR10 is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

IN THE REAL WORLD

There are cur­rently over 30 ma­jor ti­tles op­ti­mised for HDR. We fo­cused on Far Cry 5, Fi­nal Fan­tasy 15 and Call of Duty WWII. Far Cry 5 looks amaz­ing even on a bad day, what with its ‘Wilds of Mon­tana’ set­ting, bright skies, lush green­ery and wa­ter­ways. With HDR, the light il­lu­mi­na­tion is no­tice­ably di­alled up a notch. The light is that bit brighter and yet more de­tail can be seen within it. Where it re­ally comes to life is in night scenes when street lamps in the dis­tance il­lu­mi­nate ob­jects; it’s like there’s a light-source ac­tu­ally il­lu­mi­nat­ing them – not just clever light­ing al­go­rithms. Gen­er­ally, the whole game gained an ex­tra level of vi­brancy.

But there’s more to it than that. At 4K, our beefy Nvidia GTX 1080-based test rig still saw fram­er­ates fluc­tu­ate be­tween 30 and 60fps. The mon­i­tor’s on-screen read­out (plus FRAPS’ fram­er­ate num­bers) showed us that the re­fresh rate and frame rate were in­deed syn­chro­nised. Smooth­ness was very good and tear­ing was com­pletely ab­sent, even with rapid fluc­tu­a­tions of 100Hz/FPS. None­the­less, rapid move­ments still could leave a mess of mo­tion when the mov­ing the mouse around rapidly.

Fi­nal Fan­tasy XV saw ma­jor ben­e­fits of the dy­namic fram­er­ates pro­vided by G-Sync. This game fre­quently fell un­der 30fps when at 4K but, de­spite some stut­ter­ing from the GPU ren­der­ing, tear­ing and re­lated im­age aber­ra­tions were ab­sent. None­the­less, we ended up drop­ping the res­o­lu­tion to 1080p (which pushed Hz/FPS up to an av­er­age of 60fps) and ev­ery­thing ran silky smooth. But it’s the light­ing ef­fects in the dark that re­ally jumped out: bright ar­eas glow­ing, while re­tain­ing de­tail, are enough to make you want the mon­i­tor for this game alone.

These games un­der­lined the im­por­tance of hav­ing an ex­tremely pow­er­ful PC. Nvidia rec­om­mended we test with a 1080 Ti(!) graph­ics card and, frankly, you’ll likely need more than that to get the best out of this mon­i­tor.

We used Call of Duty (plus SDR games like Rain­bow 6 Seige and Fort­night) to test how the screen held up in fast-and-fran­tic shoot­ers and were im­pressed. The smooth­ness in­crease was no­tice­able and (in CoD) flame-ef­fects were cer­tainly en­hanced. Most im­por­tantly, ac­cu­racy and twitch­like aim­ing was as fast and ac­cu­rate as com­pet­i­tive gamers re­quire.

But CoD also gave us pause. The PG27UQ is all about be­ing the ul­ti­mate com­pet­i­tive gam­ing mon­i­tor. How­ever, other gam­ing mon­i­tors use large screens, low res­o­lu­tions and con­trast set­tings which pur­posely wreck and im­age in or­der to, for in­stance, ex­pose peo­ple hid­ing in shad­ows by re­mov­ing all dark ar­eas. By en­hanc­ing the con­trast to more re­al­is­tic lev­els, sud­denly flares be­come more-re­al­is­ti­cally blind­ing and shad­ows be­come more-re­al­is­ti­cally dark. That’s a per­for­mance hit that you don’t re­ally want in com­pet­i­tive gam­ing – it’s a bit like putting comfy leather seats and into a race car.

The zoned back­light­ing pro­vides a mas­sive 50,000:1 con­trast ra­tio and means black ar­eas stay black most of the time. There were some halo ef­fects ev­i­dent (light leak­age sur­round­ing bright ob­jects on dark back­grounds) but we found it wasn’t dis­tract­ing, even in space scenes. If you live in space games, it may be more prob­lem­atic.

CON­CLU­SION

As stated up front, get­ting ev­ery­thing work­ing prop­erly can be a has­sle: some­times the mon­i­tor’s set­tings con­flict with Win­dows’ HDR set­tings and these can in­ter­fere with a game’s own HDR set­tings. Some­times, chang­ing set­tings on the fly, gave us a black screen which was fixed by a re­boot. It’s early days for this tech­nol­ogy and au­to­ma­tion takes a back seat to the man­ual tweak­ing of set­tings. It can be frus­trat­ing.

Other fea­tures in­clude on­screen crosshairs plus the usual colour/ bright­ness tweaks plus con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions. The screen it­self is rather boxy-look­ing by ROG stan­dards but it’s ap­pear­ance is some­what res­cued by the usual, solid, flam­boy­ant ROG stand.

For the same price you can buy a mas­sive LG OLED TV with even bet­ter con­trast and colours which, un­like the PG27UQ sup­ports HDR on Net­flix. How­ever, that doesn’t of­fer such smooth (and im­por­tantly, re­spon­sive) gam­ing per­for­mance. Also, note that Acer’s forth­com­ing Preda­tor X27 has the same panel and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

If money is no ob­ject, then you will love this screen. But you may just tear some of your hair out while us­ing it. Ul­ti­mately, it’s an un­af­ford­able tri­umph of en­gi­neer­ing that will drive the mon­i­tor in­dus­try for­wards through its very ex­is­tence. As such it gets top marks from us, but – at least at this launch price -- it’s not for ev­ery­one.

KEY SPECS

27-inch di­ag­o­nal • 16:9 as­pect ra­tio • 144Hz re­fresh rate • IPS panel type • 1,000 nit bright­ness • 4ms (dy­namic over­drive) re­sponse time • 3,840 x 2,160 res­o­lu­tion • G-Sync HDR • HDMI 2.0 • DP 1.4 • head­phone out • 2x USB 3.0 Type-A

$3,899 • www.asus.com/au

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