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Introduction

Maybe once or twice a year a new monitor arrives which gets the whole market excited, including ourselves. This is one of those occasions as Asus are soon to release their new ROG (Republic of Gamers) Swift PG278Q Gaming monitor. It's been "coming soon" for over 6 months already, and people have been very excited by this new screen ever since. What's gotten everyone so excited? This is the first 27" gaming-orientated screen released in the market with a 2560 x 1440 resolution for a start. All previous models have been 1920 x 1080 maximum. It is the first panel of any type to offer this resolution and also a native refresh rate of 144Hz. Not only that, but Asus have pulled out all the stops to provide additional gaming features including NVIDIA's new G-sync technology, NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 and an integrated "Ultra Low Blur Mode" (ULBM) to reduce perceived motion blur in gaming. The screen is backed by The "Republic of Gamers" (ROG) sub-brand of Asus. Much like AMG is to Mercedes, the brand means that any product with the ROG name has to go through the ROG department, and as such ROG products are always a rung above the norm, both in terms of technical spec / features, performance and also build quality and design.  The interest surrounding this new screen is phenomenal, and it's expected to be available in the UK and USA towards the end of July/early August if all goes well. We have one with us now for a full review and to see if it can live up to its hype!

We know how excited people were to get a detailed review of this monitor as quickly as possible, so we decided to release this as a full review straight away without making it a paid preview first. If you appreciate the early access to the review and enjoy reading and like our work, we would welcome a donation to the site to help us continue to make quality and detailed reviews for you.

The Asus ROG Swift PG278Q is available to buy from Overclockers.co.uk. Help support TFTCentral by using our affiliate link.



Specifications and Features

The following table gives detailed information about the specs of the screen:

Monitor Specifications

Size

27"WS (68.5 cm)

Panel Coating

Moderate AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Interfaces

DisplayPort 1.2 (with HDCP)

Resolution

2560x 1440

Pixel Pitch

0.233 mm

Design colour

Black bezel and base. Red light trim at bottom of stand

Response Time

1ms G2G

Ergonomics

Tilt, height, pivot and swivel

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

n/a

VESA Compatible

Yes, 100mm

Brightness

300 (typical)
350 (max)

Accessories

DisplayPort cable, power adapter and cable, USB 3.0 cable

Viewing Angles

170 / 160

Panel Technology

AU Optronics TN Film

Weight

Net weight: 7.0Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions

(WxHxD) with stand max height
619.7 x 362.96 x 65.98 mm

Colour Depth

16.7m (8-bit)

Refresh Rate

60 / 85 / 100 / 120 / 144Hz

Special Features

NVIDIA G-Sync, NVIDIA 3D Vision 2, Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB)

Colour Gamut

Standard gamut ~sRGB, ~72% NTSC

The PG278Q offers a limited range of connectivity options with only DisplayPort provided. This is for good reason though as it is the only interface supported for the high bandwidth needed to drive the 2560 x 1440 resolution at 120Hz/144Hz and also allowing support of the NVIDIA G-sync technology. The DisplayPort interface is HDCP certified for encrypted content. The DisplayPort video cable is also provided in the box.

The screen has an external power supply but comes packaged with the power adapter and power cable you need. There are also 2x USB 3.0 ports located on the bottom edge of the back section next to the video and power connections. They aren't particularly easy-access but at least they are provided. There are no additional extras such as integrated speakers, card readers, ambient light sensors or human motion sensors provided as those are more aimed at office uses, while this is firmly a gaming screen.

Below is a summary of the features and connections of the screen:

Feature

Yes / No

Feature

Yes / No

Tilt adjust

DVI

Height adjust

HDMI

Swivel adjust

D-sub

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Composite

USB 3.0 Ports

Audio connection

Card Reader

HDCP Support

Ambient Light Sensor

MHL Support

Human Motion Sensor

Integrated Speakers

Touch Screen

PiP / PbP

Hardware calibration

Blur Reduction Mode

Uniformity correction

G-Sync



Design and Ergonomics


Above: front views of the screen. Click for larger versions

The PG278Q comes in an all black design, with matte plastics used for the bezel, stand and base. It looks very attractive and sleek we have to say, a well designed product for sure.


Above: bezel and edges around the panel. Click for larger version

There is a very thin bezel around the panel. The specs like to talk about a 6mm wide bezel which is a little misleading, but not far off. The plastic bezel part along the sides is 6mm thick, but then there's also an outer plastic edge and also an "inner bezel" before you get to the actual image on the panel. Overall there is about 10mm of black edge from the very outside of the screen to where the image on the panel starts. In practice it still looks and feels very thin. The lower edge is a little thicker at about 15mm total. There is a shiny silver Asus logo in the middle of the bottom bezel but not other writing or model names on the screen itself. The panel sits almost flush with the bezel as well so it feels like it's near to you as opposed to being inset a little.


Above: rear views of the screen. Click for larger versions.

The back of the screen is also finished in a matte black plastic with a larger Asus logo etched into the top, and some angled air vents for heat dissipation.


Above: view of OSD buttons from the front (left), buttons on the back of the screen (middle) and power LED on the bottom edge (right).
Click for larger versions

Along the lower corner of the right hand edge are some subtle grey labels for the OSD buttons, which are located on the back of the screen out of sight. The power LED is situated on the bottom edge of the screen in the right hand corner, and from a normal viewing position you can barely see it. More on the power LED in a moment.


Above: view of the base of the stand from the front and rear. Click for larger versions

The base of the stand is quite large but provides a sturdy and strong base for the large panel. It is made a matte black plastic and there are NVIDIA G-sync and 3D Vision stickers attached, and a Republic of Gamers logo etched into the plastic on the right hand side. The monitor arm is triangular in shape where it connects into the base. There is a hole in the arm for cable tidying as you can see from the second photo above.


Above: view of the "light in motion" red LED where the arm connects to the base. Click for larger version

The monitor arm has an attractive pattern in the plastic where it attaches into the base. There is also a very nice looking red LED ring around the arm where it connects to the base. This can be turned off if you want from the "light in motion" option in the OSD, but it does add to the premium feel of the screen. Very futuristic!


Above: view of the back of the screen. Click for larger version

The back of the screen has a large Asus logo etched into the plastic and a textured plastic trim. There are air vents situated at angles on the back for heat dissipation and the overall design looks sleek, even from the back.


Above: ROG logo on the back of the monitor arm, and VESA compliant attachment into the back of the screen. Click for larger versions

The back of the monitor arm connects into the back of the screen with a VESA 100 compliant attachment. You might note the little rubber plugs covering each of the screw holes which was a nice little extra touch. There is a Republic of Gamers logo on the back of the arm as well. The stand comes attached to the screen but is easily removed if you want to arm or wall mount the screen. If you do, you will lose the sexy red light on the base though.

The screen offers a full range of ergonomic adjustments from the stand.


Above: full tilt adjustment range shown. Click for larger versions

The screen offers a very good range of tilt adjustment which is smooth and easy to move.


Above: full height adjustment range shown. Click for larger versions

The height adjustment is also very easy to operate and offers smooth movement. At the lowest adjustment the bottom edge of the screen is ~70mm from the edge of the desk. At maximum adjustment it is ~190mm above the desk, giving you a total 120mm adjustment range to play with.


Above: full side to side swivel adjustment shown. Click for larger versions

Side to side swivel is again smooth and very easy to move and offers a wide adjustment range. The base of the screen remains very stable on the desk and does not move as you move the screen side to side.


Above: rotated portrait mode. Click for larger version

There is also a rotate function to switch between portrait and landscape modes. This is a bit stiff to move but provides smooth movement.

A summary of the screens ergonomic adjustments is shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Height

120mm

Smooth

Easy

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Very easy

Rotate

Yes

Smooth

Stiff

Overall

Full range of adjustments, tilt, height and swivel all very smooth and easy to use.

The materials were of a very good standard and build quality felt sturdy and strong. There was no audible  buzzing noise from the screen even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained very cool even during prolonged use as well which was pleasing, but the power brick did get pretty warm.

 
Above: view of connections on the back of the screen. Click for larger version

The back of the screen features the connections. There is a connection for the power lead here, along side the single video interface, a DisplayPort connection. There is then the USB 3.0 upstream port and 2x USB 3.0 downstream ports. There's also a service connection shown on the far right hand side which isn't useable to the user.


Above: external power supply. Click for larger version



OSD Menu


Above: view of OSD buttons from the front (left), buttons on the back of the screen (middle) and power LED on the bottom edge (right).
Click for larger versions

The OSD menu is accessed through 4 pressable buttons and a small joystick (also pressable) which are located on the back right hand edge of the screen, as viewed from the front. The labels for the buttons are located on the front bezel in a subtle grey font as shown above. The power LED is located on the bottom edge of the screen, barely visible from a normal viewing position. The power button glows a different colour depending on the mode you are in which is a nice touch:

Power LED colour

Screen status

White

On

Amber

Standby

Off

Off

Red

G-sync

Green

3D

Yellow

ULMB

On another note the screen has an incredibly fast on/off time when pressing the power button. It is almost instantaneous in fact which was impressive.

Pressing the top OSD button (the joystick) brings up the main OSD which we will look at in a moment. The second button from the top exits whatever option you're looking at.

The third button down (with the small game controller logo) is a quick access to the "game plus" menu. This gives you options to display a crosshair or timer on the screen. You can choose the colour and type of crosshair as shown above, and the length of the timer. The GamePlus function provides a toolkit and creates a better gaming environment for users when playing different types of games. In addition, Crosshair function is specially designed for new gamers or beginners interested in First Person Shooter (FPS) games.

The fourth button down is quick access to the "turbo" menu, allowing you to quickly switch between different refresh rates if you need to.

Pressing the small joystick pops up the main menu as shown above. This is split into 3 sections down the left hand side, with the relevant options for each section then shown on the right.

The 'color' menu gives you access to the brightness, contrast and color temp modes as shown above. There are no preset modes available on this screen at all which is a bit of a shame, as it might have been nice to have some options so you could have different settings for gaming, every day use, movies etc. Again this is firmly a gaming screen so perhaps it was intended to be set up purely for gaming all the time.

The 'image' section allows you to control the overdrive setting through the "OD" option. There is also access to the ULMB mode (greyed out here in this photo example) from this section.

The final 'system setup' section gives you control over a few things relating to the OSD itself. You can turn off or on the red "light in motion" LED trim on the bottom of the stand here if you want.

The menu doesn't offer many options really. It is easy to navigate and the little joystick is very intuitive and simple to operate. We liked the layout and navigation. No issues here really, although it just felt a little limited in options.

 


Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption the manufacturer lists <90.0W maximum usage and less than 0.5W in standby. We carried out our normal tests to establish its power consumption ourselves.

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (100%)

<90.0

51.6

Calibrated (20%)

-

24.6

Maximum Brightness (100%)

-

51.6

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

19.7

Standby

<0.5

0.5

We tested this ourselves and found that out of the box the screen used 51.6W at the default 100% brightness setting. Considering this is the maximum brightness setting the additional power draw for the specified 90.0W consumption must be based on having other things connected to USB. Once calibrated the screen reached 24.6W consumption. When the screen was on standby it used 0.5W of power. We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption is very comparable to other W-LED backlit displays, with wide gamut GB-r-LED units like the Dell U2713H using slightly more (comparing calibrated states).



Panel and Backlighting

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Panel Technology

TN Film

Colour Depth

8-bit

Panel Module

M270Q002 V0

Colour space

Standard gamut / sRGB

Backlighting Type

W-LED

Colour space coverage (%)

~72% NTSC, sRGB

Panel Part and Colour Depth

The Asus ROG Swift PG278Q utilises a AU Optronics M270Q002 V0 TN Film panel which is capable of producing 16.77 million colours. This is achieved according to Asus' specs through a true 8-bit colour depth as opposed to Frame Rate Control (FRC) being needed. That is quite a rare thing in the TN Film panel market, and it is designed to be a premium grade TN Film panel, not like your normal TN Film offering. We have not seen the full panel spec sheet to confirm this incidentally. It is also the first 2560 x 1440 TN Film panel on the market, not to mention the first 2560 x 1440 of any panel technology to natively support 120Hz and 144Hz refresh rates.

The panel is confirmed when dismantling the screen as shown:

Screen Coating

The screen coating on the PG278Q is a medium anti-glare (AG) offering. It isn't a semi-glossy coating, and isn't as light as some modern IPS type panels either. It's in keeping with other TN Film panels we've tested really. Thankfully it isn't a heavily grainy coating like some old IPS panels feature, although there is some graininess noticeable sometimes. It retains its anti-glare properties to avoid too many unwanted reflections of a full glossy coating, but does not produce an too grainy or dirty an image that some thicker AG coatings can. There were no cross-hatching patterns visible on the coating


Backlight Type and Colour Gamut

The screen uses a White-LED (W-LED) backlight unit which has become very popular in today's market. This helps reduce power consumption compared with older CCFL backlight units and brings about some environmental benefits as well. The W-LED unit offers a standard colour gamut which is approximately equal to the sRGB colour space. We do not have the exact colour space coverages but Asus advertise a 72% NTSC gamut. Anyone wanting to work with wider colour spaces would need to consider wide gamut CCFL screens, or perhaps the newer range of GB-r-LED displays available now. If you want to read more about colour spaces and gamut then please have a read of our detailed article.


Backlight Dimming and Flicker

We tested the screen to establish the methods used to control backlight dimming. Our in depth article talks in more details about a common method used for this which is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). This in itself gives cause for concern to some users who have experienced eye strain, headaches and other symptoms as a result of the flickering backlight caused by this technology. We use a photosensor +  oscilloscope system to measure backlight dimming control with a high level of accuracy and ease. These tests allow us to establish

1) Whether PWM is being used to control the backlight
2) The frequency and other characteristics at which this operates, if it is used
3) Whether a flicker may be introduced or potentially noticeable at certain settings

If PWM is used for backlight dimming, the higher the frequency, the less likely you are to see artefacts and flicker. The duty cycle (the time for which the backlight is on) is also important and the shorter the duty cycle, the more potential there is that you may see flicker. The other factor which can influence flicker is the amplitude of the PWM, measuring the difference in brightness output between the 'on' and 'off' states. Please remember that not every user would notice a flicker from a backlight using PWM, but it is something to be wary of. It is also a hard thing to quantify as it is very subjective when talking about whether a user may or may not experience the side effects.


100%                                                  50%                                                  0%

This oscilloscope tests confirm that at all brightness settings a Direct Current (DC) method is used for backlight dimming, and Pulse Width Modulation is not used at all. The screen can be classified as flicker free as a result which is great news.

Pulse Width Modulation Used

No

Cycling Frequency

n/a

Possible Flicker at

 

100% Brightness

No

50% Brightness

No

0% Brightness

No

For an up to date list of all flicker-free (PWM free) monitors please see our Flicker Free Monitor Database.

 


Contrast Stability and Brightness

We wanted to see how much variance there was in the screens contrast as we adjusted the monitor setting for brightness. In theory, brightness and contrast are two independent parameters, and good contrast is a requirement regardless of the brightness adjustment. Unfortunately, such is not always the case in practice. We recorded the screens luminance and black depth at various OSD brightness settings, and calculated the contrast ratio from there. Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

384.95

0.38

1013

90

353.83

0.35

1011

80

323.45

0.32

1011

70

293.23

0.29

1011

60

261.38

0.26

1005

50

228.70

0.23

994

40

195.74

0.20

979

30

159.71

0.16

998

20

125.68

0.13

967

10

88.68

0.09

985

0

51.58

0.05

1032

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

333.37

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight?

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.33

Average Static Contrast Ratio

1001

PWM Free? 

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

18

The brightness control gave us a very good range of adjustment. At the top end the maximum luminance reached 384.95 cd/m2 which was very high, and even slightly more than the specified maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2 from the manufacturer. There was a large 333 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, and so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a low luminance 52 cd/m2. This should be adequate for those wanting to work in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. A setting of 18 in the OSD menu should return you a luminance of around 120 cd/m2 at default settings.

We have plotted the luminance trend on the graph above. The screen behaves as it should in this regard, with a reduction in the luminance output of the screen controlled by the reduction in the OSD brightness setting. This is a linear relationship as you can see from the line. It should be noted that the brightness regulation is controlled without the need of Pulse Width Modulation using a Direct Current (DC) method for all settings between 100 and 0% and so the screen is flicker free.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was very good for a TN Film panel at 1001:1. This was stable across the brightness adjustment range as shown above.



Testing Methodology

An important thing to consider for most users is how a screen will perform out of the box and with some basic manual adjustments. Since most users won't have access to hardware colorimeter tools, it is important to understand how the screen is going to perform in terms of colour accuracy for the average user.

We restored the graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings, and analysed using an X-rite i1 Pro Spectrophotometer (not to be confused with the i1 Display Pro colorimeter) combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.


Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - validates the colour space covered by the monitors backlighting in a 2D view, with the black triangle representing the displays gamut, and other reference colour spaces shown for comparison

  • Gamma - we aim for 2.2 which is the default for computer monitors

  • Colour temperature / white point - we aim for 6500k which is the temperature of daylight

  • Luminance - we aim for 120 cd/m2, which is the recommended luminance for LCD monitors in normal lighting conditions

  • Black depth - we aim for as low as possible to maximise shadow detail and to offer us the best contrast ratio

  • Contrast ratio - we aim for as high as possible. Any dynamic contrast ratio controls are turned off here if present

  • dE average / maximum - as low as possible. If DeltaE >3, the color displayed is significantly different from the theoretical one, meaning that the difference will be perceptible to the viewer. If DeltaE <2, LaCie considers the calibration a success; there remains a slight difference, but it is barely undetectable. If DeltaE < 1, the color fidelity is excellent.



Default Performance and Setup

Default settings of the screen were as follows:

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

80

Contrast

50

Color Temp

User Mode

RGB

100, 100, 100


Asus ROG Swift PG278Q - Default Factory Settings

  

 

Default Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

313

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.34

Contrast Ratio

928:1

 

Initially out of the box the screen appeared very bright at its default 80% brightness setting which is very normal. You could tell the screen was a normal standard gamut screen. The picture looked well balanced and seemed to offer a very good default setup from what we could tell with the naked eye. We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro.
 

 

The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) is roughly equal to the sRGB colour space. There is some over-coverage in some shades or blue and green, but not much. Default gamma was recorded at 2.2 average, leaving it with a 0% deviance from the target which was excellent. White point was measured at 6502k again being basically spot on to the target which was very pleasing. The screen is by default in the 'user mode' colour temperature setting, with RGB all set at 100 each. There are also 3 other pre-defined colour temperature modes available. We recorded the white point at each of these settings for reference:

Normal = 7344k

Warm = 6428k

Cool = 8679k

User Mode default = 6502k

Luminance was recorded at a very bright 313 cd/m2 which is far too high for prolonged general use. The screen was set at a default 80% brightness in the OSD menu but that is easy to change of course to reach a more comfortable setting. The black depth was 0.34 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a very good (for a TN Film panel) static contrast ratio of 928:1. Colour accuracy was also very good out of the box with a well balanced setup. Default dE average was 1.2, and maximum was 2.8. Testing the screen with various gradients showed smooth transitions with no sign of any banding thankfully. There was some gradation evident as you will see from most monitors. Overall the default setup was excellent, and very impressive considering this is a gaming screen. Gamma and white point were spot on, colour accuracy was very good, and contrast ratio was strong. A very impressive performance from the PG278Q.
 

 

 

Calibration

 

We used the X-rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

 

Monitor OSD Option

Default Settings

Brightness

20

Contrast

50

Color Temp

User Mode

RGB

100, 100, 100


Asus ROG Swift PG278Q - Calibrated Settings

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

120

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.14

Contrast Ratio

858:1

 

We stuck with the 'user mode' color temp setting as it would allow us to alter the RGB channels at a hardware level if we needed them, and we also knew that this had returned us a white point of 6500k out of the box. Adjustments were made during the process to the brightness control only in fact, as the other settings seemed optimum already. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimum hardware starting point and setup before software level changes would be made at the graphics card level. We left the  LaCie software to calibrate to "max" brightness which would just retain the luminance of whatever brightness we'd set the screen to, and would not in any way try and alter the luminance at the graphics card level, which can reduce contrast ratio. These adjustments before profiling the screen would help preserve tonal values and limit banding issues. After this we let the software carry out the LUT adjustments and create an ICC profile.

 

 

Average gamma remained at 2.2 average, and the white point remained very close to the 6500k target. Luminance had been improved thanks to the adjustment to the brightness control and was now being measured at 120 cd/m2. This left us a black depth of 0.14 cd/m2 and maintained a high static contrast ratio (for a TN Film panel) of 858:1. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was very good, with dE average of 0.6 and maximum of 1.3. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be excellent. Testing the screen with various colour gradients showed mostly smooth transitions. There was some slight gradation in darker tones but no banding introduced due to the adjustments to the graphics card LUT from the profilation of the screen which was pleasing. You can use our settings and try our calibrated ICC profile if you wish, which are available in our ICC profile database. Keep in mind that results will vary from one screen to another and from one computer / graphics card to another.

 

 

 

Calibration Performance Comparisons


 

The comparisons made in this section try to give you a better view of how each screen performs, particularly out of the box which is what is going to matter to most consumers. When comparing the default factory settings for each monitor it is important to take into account several measurement areas - gamma, white point and colour accuracy. There's no point having a low dE colour accuracy figure if the gamma curve is way off for instance. A good factory calibration requires all 3 to be well set up. We have deliberately not included luminance in this comparison since this is normally far too high by default on every screen. However, that is very easily controlled through the brightness setting (on most screens) and should not impact the other areas being measured anyway. It is easy enough to obtain a suitable luminance for your working conditions and individual preferences, but a reliable factory setup in gamma, white point and colour accuracy is important and not as easy to change accurately without a calibration tool.

 

From these comparisons we can also compare the calibrated colour accuracy, black depth and contrast ratio. After a calibration the gamma, white point and luminance should all be at their desired targets.

 

 

Default setup of the screen out of the box was excellent, especially when you consider this is a gaming screen, TN Film based, and not even aimed at colour critical work at all. Gamma and white point were spot on to our targets. Colour accuracy was also very good with average dE of only 1.2. Contrast ratio was strong for a TN Film matrix as well at 928:1 at default settings. Keep in mind that there are some other limitations with TN Film technology which mean that these panels aren't as suited as IPS for colour critical work or professional users. Viewing angles are the main area of weakness and will lead to some gamma and colour tone shift depending on your line of sight. For an average user, and certainly for gamers, this screen did offer a very reliable default setup which we were impressed with.

 

 

 

The display did do well in terms of black depth and contrast ratio for a TN Film type panel. A contrast ratio of around 1000:1 is a good result for this panel type so we were pleased here with the 858:1 figure. It was higher than we'd measured from other TN Film based gaming screens like the Asus VG278HE (799:1) and ViewSonic VX2739WM (807:1), but was only slightly lower than the recent BenQ XL2720Z (950:1) which is obviously a key rival to this model. Of course AMVA based screens like the BenQ BL3200PT (2464:1) and MVA models like Eizo's own gaming screen, the FG2421 (4845:1) can offer much higher contrast ratios still from VA panel technology.

 


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Viewing Angles


Above: Viewing angles shown from front and side, and  from above and below. Click for larger image

Viewing angles of the PG278Q were as you might expect from a TN Film panel. Unfortunately this panel technology is inherently poor in this field, and so viewing angles are more restrictive than other competing technologies like IPS, PLS and VA. Although the manufacturer will quote a viewing angle of 170 / 160 (a classic indication that a TN Film panel is being used by the way if in doubt), in practice there are some obvious contrast and colour tone shifts horizontally, and especially vertically.

As you move your head from side to side in a horizontal plane, there is a contrast shift and the image becomes darker and introduces a slight green hue. As you move to a wider angle the image can become more washed out as well. Vertically the fields of view are more restrictive still. From above the image becomes pale and washed out, while from below there is a characteristic TN Film darkening of the image. Unfortunately vertically the viewing angles will introduce noticeable shifts in the contrast and colour tone of the image which mean that for any colour critical work it is not really very well suited. TN Film panels have long suffered from these restrictive viewing angles due to the nature of their pixel structure. They are still fine for a single user for general use and certainly the TN Film panels offer their advantages when it comes to pixel response times and refresh rate for gaming. If however, you were hoping to do any colour critical or photography work you may find these shifts in the appearance of the image difficult. An IPS panel would probably be a wiser choice if you were looking for a screen with much wider viewing angles but having said that you are probably mainly interested in gaming if you are considering this screen. Remember, the ROG Swift PG278Q is specifically designed for gaming, and so you will have to live with some of the sacrifices of TN Film to get the kind of gaming performance that only this technology can offer.


Above: View of an all black screen from the side. Click for larger version

On a black image there is a pale grey tint introduced to the image when viewed from a wide angle. This isn't too severe and shouldn't present any real problems in practice. Certainly not the obvious white glow you get from most modern IPS panels in similar situations and fairly standard for a TN Film panel.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness and colour temperature was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance and colour temperature were taken at 35 points across the panel on a pure white background. The measurements for luminance were taken using BasICColor's calibration software package, combined with an X-rite i1 Display Pro colorimeter with a central point on the screen calibrated to 120 cd/m2. Measurements for colour temperature (white point) were taken using BasICColor software and the i1 Pro spectrophotometer which can more accurately measure the white point of different backlighting technologies. The below uniformity diagram shows the difference, as a percentage, between the measurement recorded at each point on the screen, as compared with the central reference point.

It is worth noting that panel uniformity can vary from one screen to another, and can depend on manufacturing lines, screen transport and other local factors. This is only a guide of the uniformity of the sample screen we have for review.
 


Uniformity of Luminance

The luminance uniformity of the screen was moderate. There seemed to be some imbalance along the top edge and right hand side. The luminance dropped in these regions by 25% maximum down to 96 cd/m2 in the most extreme example. The central and lower regions of the screen were more uniform, and in day to day use you wouldn't really spot any of the brightness variation in the other areas to be honest. Around 43% of the screen was within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated point.


Backlight Leakage


Above: All black screen in a darkened room. Click for larger version

As usual we also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. There was no obvious backlight bleeding detectable to the naked eye at all. The camera picked up some very slight clouding along the bottom edge, but nothing you should notice in day to day use at all, and hard to spot with the naked eye. A very good result in terms of backlight bleed here.

 


General and Office Applications

The PG278Q feature a large 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution which is only just a little bit less vertically than a 30" screen. The pixel pitch of 0.233 mm is very small as a result, and by comparison a standard 16:10 format 24" model has a pixel pitch of 0.270mm and a 30" model has 0.250mm. These ultra-high resolution 27" models offer the tightest pixel pitch and therefore the smallest text as well. We found it quite a change originally coming from 21.5 - 24" sized screens, even those offering quite high resolutions and small pixel pitches.  Some users may find the small text a little too small to read comfortably, and we'd advise caution if you are coming from a 19" or 22" screen for instance where the pixel pitch and text are much larger. The extra screen size takes some getting used to over a few days as there really is a lot of room to work with but once you do, it's excellent.

The massive resolution is really good for office and general use, giving you a really big screen area to work with. It is a noticeable upgrade from a 24" 1920 x 1200 resolution, and it's good to see the manufacturer have opted to stick with the high res panel here rather than reverting to some other 1920 x 1200 / 1920 x 1080 res panel as you may find in other 27" models. For those wanting a high resolution for CAD, design, photo work etc, this is a really good option. The image was very sharp and crisp and text was very clear. With its WQHD display, you enjoy 77% more desktop space than a full HD screen to spread out your windows and palettes. The thin bezel design and the way the panel is basically flush with the edge of the screen mean that the PG278Q could be easily integrated into a multi-screen set up, and would look very nice indeed.

The moderate AG coating of the TN Film panel is not a big issue and doesn't produce any major graininess to the image like some aggressive AG solutions can. It is however not semi-glossy or "light" so there is some graininess evident on white backgrounds in office applications. The text does appear very sharp and crisp though and the image quality is excellent. The limited viewing angles of the TN Film panel technology are perhaps the screens main weakness, meaning that you will notice colour and contrast shifts if you deviate from a head on view of the screen. This may be problematic if you are doing any colour work, or trying to view content from different positions. However, this model is firmly a gaming screen so we doubt many people would be considering doing colour critical work on it anyway. That is in no way its intended use, so we won't penalise the screen too much for using a TN Film panel. The default setup was excellent with a reliable white point and gamma setup, good colour accuracy and a strong contrast ratio.

The brightness range of the screen was also very good, with the ability to offer a luminance between a very high 385 and a nice and low 52 cd/m2. This should mean the screen is perfectly useable in a wide variety of ambient light conditions, including darkened rooms. A setting of ~18 in the OSD brightness control should return you a luminance close to 120 cd/m2. The backlight regulation is controlled without the need for PWM which is excellent news and so all brightness settings offer a flicker-free image. For every day use (non gaming) you will want to ensure the ULMB mode is disabled as that will introduce a deliberate screen flicker/strobe which can be distracting in static content.

There was no audible buzzing from the screen, even when specifically looking for it using test images with a large amount of text at once. The screen remains cool even during prolonged use. There are no preset modes offered by this screen so you will have to adjust the main mod to your liking. This might mean you need to change the brightness often when switching between normal use (where you want it around 120 cd/m2) and gaming (where you might want it brighter). The OSD control joystick is intuitive and changes in the brightness setting can be achieved quickly and easily at least if need be.

The only additional extra offered by the screen is the 2x USB 3.0 ports. Nice to see the latest generation included, and having USB ports available is certainly a good thing. It might have been nice if these were located on the side of the screen for easy access. There are no further extras like ambient light sensors, human motion sensors, card readers or integrated speakers on this model. The stand also offers a wide range of adjustments which are very easy and smooth to move.

 
Above: photo of text at 2560x 1440 (top) and 1920 x 1080 (bottom)

The screen is designed to run at its native resolution of 2560 x 1440 and at a 60Hz recommended refresh rate. However, if you want you are able to run the screen outside of this resolution. We tested the screen at a lower 1920 x 1080 resolution to see how the screen handles the interpolation of the resolution, while maintaining the same aspect ratio of 16:9. At native resolution the text was very sharp and crisp as you can see from the top photograph. When you switch to a lower resolution the text is larger of course but still reasonably clear with only low amounts of overlap between pixels. The screen seems to interpolate the image well although you of course lose a lot of desktop real-estate running at a lower resolution.



Gaming Introduction

The Asus ROG Swift PG278Q is of course exclusively designed as a gaming screen. Asus make no apologies for this, it's a gaming screen and a damn good one at that. As we've mentioned already it is branded with the Republic of Gamers (ROG) name and so carries a high end design and spec for gaming. Their press material states:

"Before the development of our ROG products, we seek feedback from pro gamers to create the gaming features that really help them win. ASUS ROG is sponsoring two League of Legends® (LoL) professional gaming teams, Taipei Assassins (TPA) and Taipei Snipers (TPS), that compete on the international stage. The new cooperation between ROG, TPA and TPS, is intended to shine a light on Taiwan’s outstanding gaming talent and hardware prowess, and its ability to achieve outstanding results on the world stage. ROG is a long time supporter of worldwide eSports teams and their participation in gaming tournaments worldwide, with ROG gaming gear the preferred choice for many of the world’s best players. Commenting on ROG’s latest sponsorship, TPA captain BeBe said: “The range of ROG gaming accessories not only has powerful performance, its smooth rendering and stability are also stunning. Team members will be fearless against strong opponents from around the world, and able to wipe out the enemies first. This is also one of the most important reasons why we choose ASUS ROG as our comrade.”

 

Graphics Card Support

To make the most of the ROG Swift PG278Q you will want a suitable NVIDIA graphics card. The screen is designed in conjunction with NVIDIA and certain features including 3D Vision, G-sync and the Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) mode only work with NVIDIA GPU's. You will need a graphics card from their range which supports G-sync, from the list provided on NVIDIA's website. You will also need to ensure that the graphics card has a DisplayPort output since the screen only has a single DisplayPort input. A lot of NVIDIA's graphics cards seem to omit this connection type (as it's more of an AMD connection), but some versions of their compatible cards do offer it. You can't unfortunately use regular and widely available DVI to DisplayPort adapters as they don't work when taking DVI output from the graphics card to DP input in the monitor. There may be some "active" adapters which could overcome this, but that might be hit and miss. Ensuring you have a suitable NVIDIA card with DP out will make life much easier. If you have an older NVIDIA card with DP output which does not support G-sync, you can still run the screen as normal. You should be able to achieve the 144Hz refresh rate but you wouldn't be able to use G-sync or ULMB which are linked to one another and only available on the more modern G-sync supporting cards. On another note, you might find different DisplayPort cables give you different results. Some we had lying around our lab didn't seem to work very well, but you can just use the bundled cable anyway which should be fine.

It should be noted that the screen can also be used from AMD graphics cards, again as long as you have a DisplayPort output. We had some issues though with achieving the maximum refresh rate on one of our test machines (AMD 7800 series). It seemed to accept up to 100Hz without issue, but 120 and 144Hz would return a "no signal found" message. Results may vary from one setup to another. Again, you'd probably have an NVIDIA card anyway if you were going to buy this screen since a lot of what you're paying for is the G-sync / ULMB features. These refresh rates worked straight away with our test NVIDIA GTX 780 card without issue. You will see from the screenshot above that the screen was detected as G-sync compatible as well.
 

Operating Modes and Graphics Card Considerations

Keep in mind of course that this is the first 2560 x 1440 resolution gaming screen on the market, and the first 2560 x 1440 panel to natively support refresh rates above 60Hz. The above table from the PG278Q manual explains the supporting operating modes of the monitor. As you can see, you can run at native resolution at 60, 85, 100, 120 and 144Hz which should meet most peoples needs. Below that there are actually limited supporting operating modes. You can run the screen at 1920 x 1080 if you want, but only at 60Hz maximum refresh rate according to this spec. We actually tried the screen at 1920 x 1080 and 144Hz refresh rate and it seemed to work fine, but maybe results will vary.

We expect if you're looking at such a high end gaming display that you will also have a pretty high end gaming PC to run it, so 2560 x 1440 at 144Hz would of course be preferable over anything else. You will see from our forthcoming response time tests that the increased refresh rate has a positive impact on response times (certainly if for some reason you had OD set to off). It also positively impacts any visible overshoot since it refreshes the screen more often, meaning any overshoot does not linger as long. What we are trying to say here is that we hope you have a system powerful enough to run this screen at its intended 2560 x 1440 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, as really that's where you will get the optimum performance. You do need to consider the power of your graphics card though as there will be a big demand on your system for gaming at these kind of settings. Fortunately though there is also the new NVIDIA G-sync technology which will offer you smooth gaming even at lower frame rate outputs. Read on for more information.
 


Response Times

Quoted G2G Response Time

1ms G2G

Quoted ISO Response Time

n/a

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

AU Optronics TN Film

Panel Part

M270Q002 V0

Overdrive Used

Yes

Overdrive Control Available to User

'OD'

Overdrive Settings

Off, Normal, Extreme

The PG278Q is rated by Asus as having a 1ms G2G response time which indicates the panel uses overdrive / response time compensation (RTC) technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes. There is user control over the overdrive impulse within the OSD menu using the 'OD' option. The part being used is the AU Optronics M270Q002 V0 TN Film panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

We will first test the screen using our thorough response time testing method. This uses an oscilloscope and photosensor to measure the pixel response times across a series of different transitions, in the full range from 0 (black) to 255 (white). This will give us a realistic view of how the monitor performs in real life, as opposed to being reliant only on a manufacturers spec. We can work out the response times for changing between many different shades, calculate the maximum, minimum and average grey to grey (G2G) response times, and provide an evaluation of any overshoot present on the monitor.

We use an ETC M526 oscilloscope for these measurements along with a custom photosensor device. Have a read of our response time measurement article for a full explanation of the testing methodology and reported data.


OverDrive (OD) Setting Comparison

We will first of all look at the differences in response time and overshoot under the different OD (overdrive) settings. The OD setting is accessed via the 'image' section of the OSD menu as shown above with options for Off, Normal and Extreme available.

OD =  Off at 60Hz

First of all we tested the screen with the OD turned to 'off' and at a refresh rate of 60Hz. This should turn off the overdrive impulse in theory, which should leave us with slower overall pixel response times, but hopefully no noticeable overshoot problems as a result. With OD off the response times were very variable and it's perhaps best to look at some of the graphs produced to explain what is happening. Remember, this is at a 60Hz refresh rate initially.


Transition: 0-255-0 (scale = 20ms) @ 60Hz

For the transition shown above you can see that the rise time from 0-255 is very slow, measured at 19.0ms in our table above. That is because there seems to be a step in the brightness curve as it tries to reach the desired brightness level (255). As a reminder, the lower flat line represents the darker shade of the transitions (0), and the upper flat(ish) line represents the lighter shade of the transition (255). It seems that the brightness only reaches part of the way towards the required level, in fact only reaching 73% of the target when it reaches the "step".


Transition: 0-255-0 (scale = 20ms) @ 60Hz

If you look at that time it takes for the step to complete, before the brightness starts to increase again up towards the desired level, it is 16.667ms, which equates to 1 frame at 60Hz refresh rate. So it seems that the pixel is driven to around 73% of its desired brightness with 1 frame, and then it takes part of a second frame to reach up to be within the threshold for a response time measurement - that being when the brightness reaches 90% of its target. As a result we are left with a very slow overall response time of 19.0ms to reach within 90% of the required brightness (the rise time). This same pattern can be seen on several of the transitions recorded in the table above, where a "step" occurs in the graph, and it takes 1 frame before the brightness is then increased again towards its desired level.

On the other hand, the fall time from 255-0 is very fast indeed, measuring only 1.4ms. There is no apparent 'stepping' of the brightness curve in this example.


Transition: 150-255-150 (scale = 20ms) @ 60Hz

If you then look at the above transition from 150 (light grey) to 255 (white) at 60Hz refresh rate the pixel transitions are different again. The rise time is again affected by this "step", but then so is the fall time. This results in a slow fall time as well of 18.1ms in this example.

It is all these variations which lead to the slow response times for many transitions when OD is turned off and you are using a 60Hz refresh rate. This left us with an average G2G response time of 12.2ms which was slow for a TN Film panel like this. The fastest transitions did reach down to around 0.9ms at best which was excellent, but the slower changes up to around 20.4ms were an issue. On the plus side, there was no overshoot evident at all with AMA turned off, as you might hope.

We saw a very similar pixel behaviour from the BenQ XL2720Z when we tested it as well. Of course none of this is a problem as I doubt anyone is going to use the screen at 60Hz and with OD set to off! We are only including it for completeness and to demonstrate the improvements then made to response times when you boost the refresh rate up as in the next section.


OD Off at 144Hz

You can reduce the response times though because of the way this stepping of the brightness curve is occurring. The way the pixels behave remains unchanged, but if you increase the refresh rate you can push more frames to the screen. The step in the brightness curve still occurs, and it still only increases the brightness again towards the desired level at the end of 1 frame. If you're running at 120Hz though, 1 frame now only last 8.33ms (half the time of 60hz), so overall the time it takes to reach 90% of the desired brightness is reduced. If you push the refresh rate up to the maximum supported 144Hz, 1 frame now lasts 6.94ms so again the response time is improved. The step is still there on certain transitions as it was before, but the frame lasts a shorter amount of time so it is quicker to begin the ascent up to the desired brightness after the step has occurred.

As you can see, at 144Hz the average G2G response time has improved now to 6.9ms with OD off. Rise times are slower than the fall times. As before, there is no overshoot as the OD function is off.


Transition: 0-150-0 (scale = 20ms) @ 144Hz

The graph for the 0-150-0 transition above shows that at 144Hz, the "stepping" in the brightness curve still occurs, but lasts a much shorter time since we are now running the screen at 144Hz instead of 60Hz. This reduces the response time measurement for the 0-150 transition from 20.4ms to 11.0ms.


OD 'Normal'

With OD turned to the middle setting of 'Normal' there was an obvious improvement in the response times. You will see from the table above that we now had an average G2G response time of only 2.9ms which was excellent, and a big improvement to what we'd seen before with OD off. The stepping of the brightness curve had stopped and transitions were now very fast, both for rise times and for fall times. The refresh rate doesn't have an impact on the response times here and it is the same at 60, 120 and 144Hz.

The improved response times aren't without their side-effects. There is some slight overshoot introduced on some transitions as you can see. It's nothing too severe, and it's worth it because of the vastly improved response times. In practice, moving images look sharper and smoother and there is less apparent blur than when OD was off.

 

OD 'Extreme'

With OD now turned up to the maximum 'Extreme' setting you can see that the overall response times remained very similar to the 'Normal' setting with some minor improvement. We achieved an average 2.4ms G2G response time here although much larger overshoot was now present. The overdrive impulse is too aggressive in this mode and it is leading to far too much overshoot. In practice there is basically no change to responsiveness, but a noticeable dark trail is now present across many colour transitions. The normal mode seems optimum on this screen, and extreme should probably be avoided.


Transition: 50-150-50 (scale = 20ms) @ 144Hz

An example shown above demonstrates the fast rise and fall times, but there is a high overshoot on the rise time (32.8%) and some on the fall time as well (5.4%).

 

If we also carry out some subjective assessment of the screen during gaming and with the use of the PixPerAn moving car tests, we can also see the differences between each OD mode easily enough with the naked eye. These images taken of the moving car test taken at 144Hz refresh rate, supporting what we've measured with the oscilloscope as well. With OD off there is a moderate blur to the moving image with a ghost trail detected. This is less evident when the screen is running at 144Hz refresh rate (shown here) than when running at 60Hz as well, and you of course then also benefit from a higher frame rate and smoother movement. There are no noticeable overshoot artefacts with OD set to off either. When you switch OD to 'normal' the blurring is eliminated greatly, and you see a sharper moving image as a result. There is some very slight dark trailing shown in the sample colour transitions used in PixPerAn which you can see in the images. It doesn't affect every colour transition  as we've already measured in this section and in gaming it isn't overly problematic. It is there in certain situations but the improvement in response times and reduction in blur is well worth the sacrifice we feel. If you then bump the OD setting up to the maximum 'extreme' setting there is not really any noticeable improvement to the movement on the screen, but the overshoot becomes far more noticeable. The dark trails become darker and more pronounced and there is also some additional pale overshoot introduced behind the car. OD 'normal' seems to be the best balance we felt in practice as well as based on our oscilloscope tests.

 


More Detailed Measurements - OD = Normal

Having established that the overdrive 'normal' mode seemed to offer the best response/overshoot balance we carried out our normal wider range of measurements as shown below:

The average G2G response time was more accurately measured at 2.9ms which was excellent overall. Rise times were slightly slower on average (3.4ms) than fall times (2.4ms) but not much to worry about at all. Response times were consistently low across the board, and this was a very pleasing result, even for a modern TN Film panel.

There was some slight overshoot on some transitions but on the whole it was not too severe. Some transitions showed quite high overshoot, but most were <10% which was pleasing. This was certainly the best OD setting, as the higher 'extreme' setting had far more noticeable overshoot.



Display Comparisons

The above comparison table and graph shows you the lowest, average and highest G2G response time measurement for each screen we have tested with our oscilloscope system. There is also a colour coded mark next to each screen in the table to indicate the RTC overshoot error, as the response time figure alone doesn't tell the whole story.

The response time performance of the PG278Q is excellent, and even a little faster than the other gaming TN Film screens we have tested here. With an average 2.9ms G2G response time in the 'normal' OD mode, it is slightly faster than the Asus VG278HE (4.1ms) and BenQ XL2720Z (3.8ms) which was very impressive. There was some moderate overshoot detected in this mode, mostly pretty minor, and nothing that should be too distracting in game play. These TN Film panels are clearly much faster than competing technologies, which is the reason why TN Film continues to be used for high end gaming screens.

 

The screen was also tested using the chase test in PixPerAn for the following display comparisons. As a reminder, a series of pictures are taken on the highest shutter speed and compared, with the best case example shown on the left, and worst case example on the right. This should only be used as a rough guide to comparative responsiveness but is handy for a comparison between different screens and technologies as well as a means to compare those screens we tested before the introduction of our oscilloscope method.


27" 1ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film @ 144Hz (OD = Normal)

In practice the Asus PG278Q performed best with the Overdrive setting on 'normal'. Motion blur was minimal and the moving image looked sharp and crisp. Motion felt very fast and fluid thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate, something which you can't really pick out with the camera. There was some minor overshoot evident in the form of a slight dark trail behind the moving car, but we've already established with our oscilloscope that overshoot is fairly low, only affecting a few transitions more noticeably.

 


27" 1ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film @ 144Hz (OD = Normal)


27" 4ms G2G AU Optronics AHVA (AMA Setting = High)


27" 12ms G2G Samsung PLS (Response Time = Advanced)


27" 8ms G2G LG.Display AH-IPS


27" 5ms G2G Samsung PLS (Trace Free = 40)


Firstly it is interesting to compare the PG278Q to some of the other popular 27" models we have tested with 2560 x 1440 resolutions and IPS-type panels (IPS, PLS and AHVA). You can see first of all a comparison against the BenQ BL2710PT and ViewSonic VP2770-LED which show a more noticeable blurred image. The Dell U2713HM and Asus PB278Q are faster, but in practice cannot compete with the speed of the ROG Swift PG278Q. The movement is clearer and smoother on the PG278Q and you also have the massive benefit of the 144Hz refresh rate.


27" 1ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film @ 144Hz (OD = Normal)


27" 2ms G2G Chi Mei Innolux TN Film +144Hz (Trace Free = 60)


27" 1ms G2G AU Optronics TN Film + 144Hz (AMA = High)


23.5" 4ms G2G Sharp MVA + 120Hz

We've also included a comparison above against 3 other very fast 120Hz+ compatible screens we have tested. The screens shown here are all aimed primarily at gamers and have various features and extras which make them more suitable overall for gaming. Firstly there is a comparison against the Asus VG278HE with its 144Hz refresh rate and fast response time TN Film panel. This showed very fast pixel response times and smooth movement thanks to its increased refresh rate. You are able to reduce the motion blur even more through the use of the LightBoost strobed backlight which we talked about in depth in our article about Motion Blur Reduction Backlights.

Then there is a comparison against the BenQ XL2720Z with another very fast TN Film panel and 144Hz refresh rate. This showed very low levels of motion blur, but some dark overshoot was introduced as a side-effect as you can see. This seemed to be more noticeable in these tests than on the PG278Q. This screen also includes a native Blur Reduction mode to help eliminate further perceived motion blur.

Lastly there is the MVA based Eizo FG2421 screen with a fast response time (especially for the panel technology being used) and 120Hz refresh rate support. There is also an additional 'Turbo 240' motion blur reduction mode which really helps reduce the perceived motion blur in practice.

The Asus ROG Swift PG278Q performed the best out of these gaming screens we felt. Response times were a little lower as measured with the oscilloscope, and in practice it felt slightly faster. It too has a native blur reduction mode (ULMB) which we will look at shortly. One other thing to note here is that these other screens can only support a maximum 1920 x 1080 resolution, and so there's a huge jump in resolution and image quality when extending to a 2560 x 1440 panel in the PG278Q. Overall a very impressive performance from the PG278Q.
 


G-Sync

Obviously a huge part of the ROG Swift PG278Q is the addition of NVIDIA's new G-sync technology. We thought it would be useful to give you some background on what G-sync is and what it offers. As an introduction, monitors typically operate at a fixed refresh rate, whether that is 60, 120 or 144Hz. When running graphically intense content like games, the frame rate can of course fluctuate somewhat and this poses a potential issue to the user. There are traditionally two main options available for how frames are passed from the graphics card to the monitor using a feature called VSYNC, whether Vsync is turned on or off.

Vsync Overview

At the most basic level VSync OFF’ allows the GPU to send frames to the monitor as soon as they have been processed, irrespective of whether the monitor has finished its refresh and is ready to move onto the next frame. This allows you to run at higher frame rates than the refresh rate of your monitor but can lead to a lot of problems. When the frame rate of the game and refresh rate of the monitor are different, things become unsynchronised. This lack of synchronisation coupled with the nature of monitor refreshes (typically from top to bottom) causes the monitor to display a different frame towards the top of the screen vs. the bottom. This results in distinctive tearing’ on the monitor that really bothers some users. Even on a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor, where some users incorrectly claim that there is no tearing, the tearing is still there. It is generally less noticeable but it is definitely still there. Tearing can become particularly noticeable during faster horizontal motion (e.g. turning, panning, strafing), especially at lower refresh rates.

The solution to this tearing problem for many years has been the VSync ON’ option which essentially forces the GPU to hold a frame until the monitor is ready to display it, as it has finished displaying the previous frame. It also locks the frame rate to a maximum equal to the monitor’s refresh rate. Whilst this eliminates tearing, it also increases lag as there is an inherent delay before frames are sent to the monitor. On a 120Hz monitor the lag penalty is half that of a 60Hz monitor and on a 144Hz monitor is even lower. It is still there, though, and some users feel it disconnects them from game play somewhat. When the frame rate drops below the refresh rate of the monitor this disconnected feeling increases to a level that will bother a large number of users.  Some frames will be processed by the GPU more slowly than the monitor is able to display them. In other words the monitor is ready to move onto a new frame before the GPU is ready to send it. So instead of displaying a new frame the monitor displays the previous frame again, resulting in stutter. Stuttering can be a major problem when using the Vsync on option to reduce tearing.

During Vsync ON operation, there can also sometimes be a sudden slow down in frame rates when the GPU has to work harder. This creates situations where the frame rate suddenly halves, such as 60 frames per second slowing down to 30 frames per second. During Vsync ON, if your graphics card is not running flat-out, these frame rate transitions can be very jarring. These sudden changes to frame rates creates sudden changes in lag, and this can disrupt game play, especially in first-person shooters.

 

NVIDIA G-sync Variable refresh rate solution

To overcome these limitations with Vsync, NVIDIA have just introduced a new technology they have dubbed G-sync. This technology can be integrated into monitors to allow them to adopt a variable refresh rate, dynamically altering the monitor depending on the graphics card output and frame rate. The frame rate of the monitor is still limited in much the same way it is without G-SYNC, but it adjusts dynamically to a refresh rate as low as 30Hz to match the frame rate of the game. By doing this the monitor refresh rate is perfectly synchronised with the GPU. You don’t get the screen tearing or visual latency of having Vsync disabled, nor do you get the stuttering or input lag associates with using Vsync. You can get the benefit of higher frame rates from Vsync off (within the G-sync range of 30Hz - 144Hz) but without the tearing, and without the lag and stuttering caused if you switch to Vsync On.

We don't want to go into too much depth about game play, frame rates and the performance of G-sync here as we will end up moving away from characteristics of the monitor and into areas more associated with the operation of the graphics card and its output. G-sync is a combined graphics card and monitor technology, but from a monitor point of view all it is doing is supporting this feature to allow the graphics card to operate in a new way. There are plenty of reviews and tests of G-sync online which cover the operation of G-sync in more detail. Our friends over at http://www.blurbusters.com/ have done some G-sync testing in various games which is well worth a read. They've also carried out various lag tests which have confirmed that using G-sync doesn't seem to add any noticeable lag, compared with running with Vsync off.


Above: G-sync options in the NVIDIA control panel

We did run some tests using Battlefield 4 to see how it worked ourselves. In Battlefield you will experience a lot of varying frame rates due to the changes in scenery and the complexity of your surroundings. Playing with G-sync enabled allowed the monitors refresh rate to synchronise with the graphics card frame rate, and this nicely removed the stutter we saw from using Vsync. It also meant there was no tearing like you'd see from having Vsync off which of course is a massive bonus. We were very impressed by the fluidity and smoothness of motion and the absence of artefacts which can be easily detected in similar conditions when using Vsync on or Vsync off. We'd encourage you to read some of the G-sync reviews online as they go into a lot more detail about graphics card rendering, frame rates etc as well.

It should be noted that the real benefits of G-sync really come into play when viewing lower frame rate content, around 45 - 60fps typically delivers the best results compared with Vsync on/off. At consistently higher frame rates as you get nearer to 144 fps the benefits of G-sync are not as great, but still apparent. There will be a gradual transition period for each user where the benefits of using G-sync decrease, and it may instead be better to use the ULMB feature discussed in the following section which is not available when using G-sync. Higher end gaming machines might be able to push out higher frame rates more consistently and so you might find less benefit in using G-sync. The ULMB could then help in another very important area, helping to reduce the perceived motion blur caused by LCD displays. Keeping in mind that the PG278Q features a massive 2560 x 1440 resolution, you'd need a pretty powerful system to achieve consistently high frame rates, so we'd encourage you to try G-sync of course to see how it affects your gaming usage. It's nice to have both G-sync and ULMB available to choose from certainly. Well done Asus!
 

For more information on G-sync from NVIDIA, please visit their website:
 http://www.geforce.co.uk/hardware/technology/g-sync


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Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB)

The Asus PG278Q also features an integrated Blur Reduction Backlight system, dubbed "Ultra Low Motion Blur" (ULMB). We have already seen a lot of positive improvements in perceived motion blur from such systems in the past. Our in depth article from June 2013 looked at this in a lot more detail, and tested some of the original LightBoost "hacks" to achieve a strobed backlight and blur reduction benefits. Since then we've seen a couple of monitors integrate a similar strobed backlight with simple user control from the menu. The Eizo Foris FG2421 and BenQ XL2720Z both had useful integrated blur reduction modes, and the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q also features one.

The ULMB feature is accessible from the image section of the OSD menu as shown above. It is only available when running the screen at 85, 100 and 120Hz modes. It is not available at 144Hz and it is also important to note that ULMB does not work when you are using G-sync, it's one or the other. When you enable the ULMB feature a new option appears for the "ULMB Pulse Width" as you can see from the screenshot above. We will test that in a moment as well, but it allows you to control the strobe length, and therefore adjust the visible persistence somewhat. You can adjust this between 100 and 10, and as you lower the setting the screen also becomes progressively darker as you reduce the "on" period of the strobe. Nice to see this included as an option within the menu for those who like to play around with the setting, much like you could do by adjusting LightBoost levels on older models using the "hack" method. There is no control to adjust the timing of the strobe to impact the strobe cross-talk it can introduce, so we will have to hope that the default timing setup is suitable.

 

Operation - 85Hz


ULMB backlight cycling, 85Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting= 100

We measured the screen using our oscilloscope when viewing a solid white image, with ULMB feature turned on and with refresh rate set at 85Hz. This is the lowest refresh rate at which you can operate the ULMB mode. As a reminder, it works at 85, 100 and 120Hz only. We left the pulse width (strobe length) setting at 100 initially. Normally the oscillograph would show a flat straight line when measuring a static white image (as no PWM is being used for backlight dimming), but here the ULMB feature is cycling the backlight off and on rapidly.

The time for each complete cycle is 11.76ms which shows that in this case the backlight is being cycled at the same frequency as the refresh rate, 85 times per second. The strobe is in time with the refresh rate of 85Hz.


ULMB backlight cycling, 85Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting = 50


ULMB backlight cycling, 85Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting = 10

As you reduce the pulse width setting you are adjusting the 'on' period of the strobe. As you reduce the setting the strobe 'on' time gets progressively shorter as you can see from the above 2 graphs, the first at a setting of 50 and the second at a setting of 10 (the minimum setting available). This impacts the perceived blur somewhat, with the shorter 'on' times resulting in a clearer image. At the same time though the brightness of the image is affected and it becomes very dark, the lower you go with the setting. More on that in a moment. There will be a point where the user does not see any further benefit to their eyes of reducing the strobe length further, but you can have a play around with the setting to find your personal preference to balance perceived motion blur and brightness of the image.
 

Operation - 100Hz


ULMB backlight cycling, 100Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting = 100

When running the screen at a 100Hz refresh rate the behaviour is exactly the same. The only difference is that the strobe is now synced with the new refresh rate, with a new strobe every 10ms (100 times per second).

 

Operation - 120Hz


ULMB backlight cycling, 120Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting = 100


ULMB backlight cycling, 120Hz (scale = 5ms)
pulse width setting = 10

Again when set at 120Hz refresh rate the strobes are in sync again, with a new strobe every 8.33ms (120 times per second). As you can see, as you reduce the pulse width setting (strobe length) in the OSD menu, the 'on' period gets shorter, reducing perceived motion blur, but also impacting brightness.
 

Pulse Width Setting - Strobe Length

We measured the strobe length at a variety of the Pulse Width settings, while running at the maximum 120Hz refresh rate mode. You can adjust the setting in steps of 1 incidentally. Each complete strobe lasts a total of 8.33ms (120 strobes per second):

Pulse Width Setting

On period (ms)

100

1.875

75

1.375

50

0.875

25

0.500

10 (min)

0.250


Pulse Width Setting - Brightness Range

Pulse Width Setting

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

122.67

0.14

876

75

92.59

0.11

842

50

62.3

0.07

890

25

31.4

0.04

785

10 (min)

12.76

<0.02

-

We tested the brightness output of the screen when ULMB was turned on. You can independently control the brightness setting as well if you want, but we left it at the default 100 and just changed the pulse width (PW) strobe length setting to establish the brightness range when using this option. With the PW setting at 100 the maximum achievable luminance of the screen was a moderate 123 cd/m2. This should be enough for a lot of uses, but you cannot get a brighter display when using ULMB if you wanted to. This is a typical performance from a strobe backlight anyway and represented a decent enough luminance level. As you reduce the PW setting the luminance drops significantly, at the lowest setting probably being far too dark for any practical use. At least you can control a reasonably wide range here, so you can find a level which suits your needs. We suspect a setting of 100 will probably be adequate for most normal users anyway, as the ULMB mode certainly brings about positive improvements to the perceived motion blur.


Brightness Range (PW at 100)

Brightness Setting

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

122.67

0.14

876

75

102.86

0.11

935

50

74.47

0.08

931

25

43.87

0.05

877

0

10.65

<0.02

-

We also wanted to test the brightness range when leaving PW at its default 100, and changing the brightness control of the screen instead. The table above confirms the range available through that control.
 

Colour and Other Setup Characteristics

We wanted to test the impact on the setup of the screen when enabling the ULMB feature to see whether it has a knock-on effect to white point, gamma or colour accuracy. You can see straight away that it impacts the luminance of the screen, which we've already looked at above.


Asus ROG Swift PG278Q - Calibrated Settings, ULMB Off

  
 

 

Calibrated Settings

luminance (cd/m2)

120

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.14

Contrast Ratio

858:1

 

Above is our calibrated state from earlier on in the review, with the ULMB feature turned off.

 


Asus ROG Swift PG278Q - Calibrated Settings, ULMB On

 

Calibrated Settings
ULMB On

luminance (cd/m2)

134

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.15

Contrast Ratio

888:1

 

We turned the ULMB mode on, but left the PW option at 100 here, and with the default maximum 100 brightness as well. We left our calibrated ICC profile active from our initial calibration to see what immediate impact the ULMB setting had on the colour performance. The gamma and white point were skewed slightly here, with gamma now a little lower at 2.1 average (6% deviance), and white point being a little warmer at 6233k (4% out). The contrast ratio remained very similar at 888:1. The colour accuracy was also a little off with average dE of 1.4 now, maximum of 3.1. No major impact really to the appearance of the screen of the colour rendering other than the reduction in achievable luminance of course. This was pleasing as we know from testing older LightBoost strobed backlight systems that they can really impact the colours and white point of a screen when enabled.

 

 

Blur Reduction Tests

 

Of course the main thing we want to test is what improvements the Blur Reduction mode offers when it comes to motion clarity and gaming. We were pleased with the results we'd seen from LightBoost backlights when we tested them, and also from the natively supported blur reduction feature on other displays. So we were keen to understand if Asus had achieved something similar here with their ROG Swift PG278Q. Results are hard to capture with a standard camera, and most of the improvement is down to perceived motion blur levels to the user and the human eye. Our new pursuit camera tests in the following section give you a good indication of perceived motion blur with and without ULMB enabled.

 

We were very pleased with the results though here with a marked improvement in perceived motion blur experienced. Tracking of moving objects became much easier and the image looked sharper and clearer. We used the BlurBusters full-screen TestUFO online motion test (all ULMB supported refresh rates) as well to put the feature through its paces and were pleased with the results. The upper half of the screen was a little clearer than the bottom, and in the bottom third of the screen some minor strobe cross-talk became apparent. It is impossible to eliminate strobe cross-talk completely due to the way they operate, but the important thing is whereabouts on the screen this manifests itself and to what level. The central region is probably the most important since that's where a lot of your gaming focus will be, where crosshairs and the likes are. We were pleased that there was minimal cross-talk here in the central region and the image looked very good. Having the ability to alter the strobe length through the PW setting was also very useful, and you could tweak it to your preference to reduce even more of the persistence if you wanted, as long as you didn't mind sacrificing some brightness.

 

A very good implementation of a strobe backlight system here, we were impressed. We suppose the only minor quibble is the inability to operate the feature at 144Hz or in an ideal World, at the same time as using G-sync.

 


Pursuit Camera Tests (New)

We've already tested above the actual pixel response times and other aspects of the screen's gaming performance. We wanted to carry out some pursuit camera tests as well to give an even more complete idea of the performance of this screen, and the improvements made to motion blur when using the ULMB feature also.

Pursuit cameras are used to capture motion blur as a user might experience it on a display. They are simply cameras which follow the on-screen motion and are extremely accurate at measuring motion blur, ghosting and overdrive artefacts of moving images. Since they simulate the eye tracking motion of moving eyes, they can be useful in giving an idea of how a moving image appears to the end user. It is the blurring caused by eye tracking on continuously-displayed refreshes (sample-and-hold) that we are keen to analyse with this new approach. This is not pixel persistence caused by response times; but a different cause of display motion blur which cannot be captured using static camera tests. Low response times do have a positive impact on motion blur, and higher refresh rates also help reduce blurring to a degree. It does not matter how low response times are, or how high refresh rates are, you will still see motion blur from LCD displays under normal operation to some extent and that is what this section is designed to measure. Further technologies specifically designed to reduce perceived motion blur are required to eliminate the blur seen on these type of sample-and-hold displays which we will also look at.

We used the Blurbusters.com Ghosting Motion Test which is designed to be used with pursuit camera setups. The pursuit camera method is explained at Blurbusters as well as covered in this research paper. We carried out the tests at various refresh rates, with and without ULMB enabled. These UFO objects were moving horizontally at 960 pixels per second, at a frame rate matching refresh rate of the monitor.

We carried out pursuit camera tests under each of the 3 OD (overdrive) settings, and at 3 different refresh rates between 60Hz and 144Hz. These tests can give you a good idea of actual perceived motion blur in practice on the monitor.

With OD first of all turned off there is a significant amount of motion blur perceived by the user when tracking moving objects across the screen. The pixel response times come in to play here as well as the refresh rate. With OD off at 60Hz, the response times were pretty slow with a 12.2ms G2G average recorded with our oscilloscope. This manifests itself with a significant motion blur in practice. Switching up to 100Hz and then 144Hz brings about positive changes in response times when OD is off and with the higher refresh rate. By the time you are running at 144Hz with OD off, the average G2G figure has improved to 6.9ms. The blurring is reduced at higher refresh rates (OD off) as a result of both the improved response times, and the improved refresh rate.

Switching the OD setting up to the optimal 'normal' mode, there are noticeable improvements in response times (measured earlier) and in resulting motion blur. At all refresh rates there is a marked improvement in blur compared with OD off, as you would expect. We had measured a consistent 2.9ms average G2G response time with OD normal at all refresh rates. As you increase the refresh rate with OD set to normal the blurring is reduced each time. It is not eliminated entirely due to the nature of the sample-and-hold LCD display and the tracking of your eyes. No matter how fast the refresh rate and pixel response times are, you cannot eliminate the perceived motion blur without other methods (which is where ULMB comes in).

With OD set to the maximum 'extreme' setting there is again an improvement in blurring as you increase the refresh rate. We had measured a consistent 2.4ms G2G average response time at all refresh rates in this mode, but you can see that some of the overshoot artefacts become clear by the time you reach 144Hz. There is a dark halo behind the moving object which is distracting. Remember also that these UFO tests are only testing a few sample colour transitions, but we had measured some significant overshoot across many different G2G changes with OD set to extreme. We will reiterate that OD normal is optimum on this screen.
 


ULMB Enabled (PW = 100)

We left the strobe pulse width length at maximum setting here as it has an impact on brightness if you lower it, in an attempt to reduce motion blur even further. We felt the results were very good without needing to reduce the strobe length anyway here. With ULMB enabled the backlight is strobed briefly, once per refresh, for low persistence. The brief backlight flash prevents tracking-based motion blur and the moving object is far easier to see when tracking it across the screen with your eyes (or by the pursuit camera). There is extremely little leftover ghosting caused by pixel transitions (virtually invisible to the human eye), since nearly all (>99%+) pixel transitions, including overdrive artefacts, are now kept unseen by the human eye, while the backlight is turned off between refreshes.

The clarity of the moving image is improved significantly and tracking across the screen with your eye is much easier and clearer. You will note there is some cross talk evident here in the form of the trailing image, and a result of the strobe timing. These images were taken at the centre of the screen vertically, so it gives you a good indication also of the strobe cross-talk levels on this display, in the central region. In the middle region of the screen it is at low/moderate levels but is not too bothersome in practice. The cross-talk is reduced as you increase the refresh rate as well which is pleasing. Again you can see the effects of some overshoot on the Asus screen with a bright halo behind the moving image being apparent. These tests give you a good visual indication of the improvements which ULMB can bring in perceived motion blur.




Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - The PG278Q does not offer any aspect ratio control options through the OSD menu at all. This is due to a limitation of using NVIDIA's new G-sync technology. As we understand it, it is locked to only one defined resolution, in this case 2560 x 1440 so it is not possible (or easy) to provide G-sync support with a scaler. This isn't really a problem for PC use since you can just control the aspect ratio through your graphics card settings. It would be an issue perhaps for external devices, but since the PG278Q only has one input, you probably aren't going to be using this screen for anything else anyway (consoles, DVD players etc). It's firmly aimed at PC gaming use and nothing else, so the absence of a scaler is not a big issue here. The native 16:9 aspect ratio is of course beneficial since a lot of content is in this aspect ratio anyway.
     

  • Preset Modes - There are no specific gaming preset modes available in the OSD or other preset modes. If you want different settings for different uses you may find it difficult, or have to adjust the OSD each time. It's quite quick and easy to change the brightness setting at least so you could easily change that if you need to boost it for gaming.

  • GamePlus and Turbo Modes - We've already spoken about these earlier but thought we would mention them again here.

    The third OSD button down (with the small game controller logo) is a quick access to the "game plus" menu. This gives you options to display a crosshair or timer on the screen. You can choose the colour and type of crosshair as shown above, and the length of the timer. The GamePlus function provides a toolkit and creates a better gaming environment for users when playing different types of games. In addition, Crosshair function is specially designed for new gamers or beginners interested in First Person Shooter (FPS) games.

    The fourth button down is quick access to the "turbo" menu, allowing you to quickly switch between different refresh rates if you need to.



Lag

We have written an in depth article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. It's important to first of all understand the different methods available and also what this lag means to you as an end-user.

Input Lag vs. Display Lag vs. Signal Processing

To avoid confusion with different terminology we will refer to this section of our reviews as just "lag" from now on, as there are a few different aspects to consider, and different interpretations of the term "input lag". We will consider the following points here as much as possible. The overall "display lag" is the first, that being the delay between the image being shown on the TFT display and that being shown on a CRT. This is what many people will know as input lag and originally was the measure made to explain why the image is a little behind when using a CRT. The older stopwatch based methods were the common way to measure this in the past, but through advanced studies have been shown to be quite inaccurate. As a result, more advanced tools like SMTT provide a method to measure that delay between a TFT and CRT while removing the inaccuracies of older stopwatch methods.

In reality that lag / delay is caused by a combination of two things - the signal processing delay caused by the TFT electronics / scaler, and the response time of the pixels themselves. Most "input lag" measurements over the years have always been based on the overall display lag (signal processing + response time) and indeed the SMTT tool is based on this visual difference between a CRT and TFT and so measures the overall display lag. In practice the signal processing is the element which gives the feel of lag to the user, and the response time of course can impact blurring, and overall image quality in moving scenes. As people become more aware of lag as a possible issue, we are of course keen to try and understand the split between the two as much as possible to give a complete picture.

The signal processing element within that is quite hard to identify without extremely high end equipment and very complicated methods. In fact the studies by Thomas Thiemann which really kicked this whole thing off were based on equipment worth >100,000 Euro, requiring extremely high bandwidths and very complicated methods to trigger the correct behaviour and accurately measure the signal processing on its own. Other techniques which are being used since are not conducted by Thomas (he is a freelance writer) or based on this equipment or technique, and may also be subject to other errors or inaccuracies based on our conversations with him since. It's very hard as a result to produce a technique which will measure just the signal processing on its own unfortunately. Many measurement techniques are also not explained and so it is important to try and get a picture from various sources if possible to make an informed judgement about a display overall.

For our tests we will continue to use the SMTT tool to measure the overall "display lag". From there we can use our oscilloscope system to measure the response time across a wide range of grey to grey (G2G) transitions as recorded in our response time tests. Since SMTT will not include the full response time within its measurements, after speaking with Thomas further about the situation we will subtract half of the average G2G response time from the total display lag. This should allow us to give a good estimation of how much of the overall lag is attributable to the signal processing element on its own.

 

Lag Classification


To help in this section we will also introduce a broader classification system for these results to help categorise each screen as one of the following levels:

  • Class 1) Less than 16ms / 1 frame lag - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 16 - 32ms / One to two frames - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming and FPS

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 32ms / more than 2 frames - Some noticeable lag in daily usage, not suitable for high end gaming

For the full reviews of the models compared here and the dates they were written (and when screens were approximately released to the market), please see our full reviews index.

(Measurements in ms)

 

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

4.0

Pixel Response Time Element

1.45

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

2.55

Lag Classification

1

 Class 1

We have provided a comparison above against other models we have tested to give an indication between screens. Those shown with blue bars in the bottom half represent the total "display lag" as at the time of review we did not have access to an oscilloscope system to measure the response time element and provide an estimation of the signal processing. The screens tested more recently in the top half are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests (using SMTT) and half the average G2G response time, as measured by the oscilloscope. The response time is split from the overall display lag and shown on the graph as the green bar. From there, the signal processing (red bar) can be provided as a good estimation.

The screen showed a total average display lag of only 4.0 ms as measured with SMTT 2. This remained the same at each refresh rate. Taking into account half the average G2G response time at 1.45ms while using the 'normal' OD setting, we can estimate that there is only ~2.55 ms of signal processing lag on this screen. This is extremely low and won't represent any problem for gaming at all. Another excellent result.

 


Gaming Summary

The overall gaming performance of the ROG Swift PG278Q was quite frankly pretty amazing! This screen is obviously aimed completely at gaming, and it won't disappoint. First of all you have the first 2560 x 1440 resolution 27" gaming screen on the market, providing a huge boost in resolution, image quality and detail compared with current 1080p models. The support for refresh rates up to 144Hz is obviously a huge benefit as well, providing smooth, fast and fluid movement and the ability to produce high frame rates for competitive gaming. Response times were very impressive and fast, and while there was a little overshoot introduced it shouldn't present any major problems. The response times of the TN Film panel are fast enough to keep up with the demand of a higher refresh rate and provide smooth, ghost-free movement. The increased 144Hz refresh rate helps reduce the perceived presence of overshoot as well since more frames are refreshing the image on the screen, meaning any overshoot doesn't linger as long as it would on a lower refresh rate display.

When you consider that Asus have then provided NVIDIA's new G-sync dynamic refresh rate technology AND a blur reduction backlight, you really do have a monster of a gaming screen on your hands (not to mention also the support for 3D gaming!). G-sync works extremely well, overcoming many of the problems associated with older Vsync usage. It certainly is one of the biggest upgrades in a long time when it comes to gaming and displays. The ULMB backlight worked very well also, offering noticeable and marked improvements in image quality and reduced motion blur when tracking movement across the screen. It was well implemented and even offered a useful control over the strobe length for those who like to tweak things a bit. It has minimal impact on the colour and appearance of the screen, although you do of course lose some brightness range. The lag of the display was also pretty much non-existent which was excellent news, and all in all this stacked up to what we consider to be the ultimate gaming screen currently.

There are a few slight issues we will address here as well. The graphics card support needs to be taken into consideration, and you will probably have to have a high end GPU and system to really benefit from everything this screen can offer. Given the screen's comparatively high price tag, we expect most buyers will already be equipped with the system they need. It would have been nice to see some preset modes available from the screen so you didn't have to manually adjust things between gaming and regular uses. It's missing some of the "extras" and bells and whistles that you might find from other dedicated gaming screens, but the ROG Swift PG278Q is obviously purely focused on power and performance!  We're not sure why the ULMB feature didn't work at 144Hz as well, that could have been useful.
 


Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance in video applications:

  • 27" screen size makes it a reasonable option for an all-in-one multimedia screen, but being quite a bit smaller than most modern LCD TV's of course.

  • 16:9 aspect ratio is more well suited to videos than a 16:10 format screen, leaving smaller borders on DVD's and wide screen content at the top and bottom.

  • 2560 x 1440 resolution can support full 1080 HD resolution content.

  • Digital interface supports HDCP for any encrypted and protected content

  • Only DisplayPort connections available on its own. If you're watching movies from your PC that isn't a problem, but you don't have the option to connect additional external devices here. Interface limitations are related to the support of G-sync and the nature of this panel.

  • Cables provided in the box for DisplayPort.

  • Moderate AG coating provides reasonably clear images with no major graininess, and without the unwanted reflections of a glossy solution. Some graininess apparent as with other TN Film panels, but shouldn't present a problem in movies.

  • Wide brightness range adjustment possible from the display, including a very high maximum luminance of ~385 cd/m2 and a decent minimum luminance of 52 cd/m2. This should afford you good control for different lighting conditions. Contrast ratio remains stable across that adjustment range as well and is high for a TN Film panel. Brightness regulation is controlled without the need for PWM and so is flicker free for all brightness settings.

  • Black depth and contrast ratio are strong for a TN Film panel at 918:1 after calibration. Detail in darker scenes should not be lost as a result.

  • There is no specific 'movie' preset mode or any other presets available so you will need to make manual adjustments if you want something different to your normal uses.

  • Excellent pixel responsiveness which can handle fast moving scenes in movies without issue. No major overshoot issues which is good news. Stick with the 'normal' OD setting.

  • 120Hz+ refresh rate support allows for stereoscopic 3D content with relevant active shutter setup from NVIDIA. Viewing 3D movies is possible on this screen as a result.

  • Viewing angles are limited due to the use of TN Film panel technology. May cause issues with gamma and contrast shift if you change your line of sight or have several people trying to see the screen at once. Not really an ideal technology for movies as a result of this viewing angle limitation.

  • No noticeable backlight leakage which is good, even in darkened room conditions.

  • Wide range of ergonomic adjustments available from the stand, allowing you to obtain a comfortable position for multiple users or if you want to sit further away from the screen for movie viewing.

  • No integrated speakers or audio connections on this monitor.

  • No hardware aspect ratio options on this screen, but given the lack of additional inputs, your graphics card should be able to handle the scaling for you anyway if needed.

  • Picture in picture (PiP) and Picture By Picture (PbP) are not available on this model.

     


Conclusion

We know how excited people were to get a detailed review of this monitor as quickly as possible, so we decided to release this as a full review straight away without making it a paid preview first. If you appreciate the early access to the review and enjoy reading and like our work, we would welcome a donation to the site to help us continue to make quality and detailed reviews for you.

Well, has it been worth the wait and the hype for this display? In a word - yes! As we unboxed the screen we knew straight away that this was a quality product. The design and aesthetics look sleek, futuristic and impressive. Little touches like the very thin bezel, red LED light on the base, joystick OSD control and patterned plastic trim gave it a premium feel. The stand provided a great range of easy to use adjustments as well which was pleasing. Powering on the screen provided a sharp and crisp image with an excellent default setup. We were impressed by the accurate gamma, white point, colour accuracy and also the strong contrast ratio. The use of a flicker-free backlight was also excellent news. Keep in mind this is the first 2560 x 1440 resolution gaming screen as well, and you really do get a noticeable bump in resolution, clarity and desktop real-estate. We've already talked a lot about the gaming performance of this screen, and we don't want to repeat what we've already written in the gaming summary section. We will just re-iterate that at the moment we feel this is the ultimate gaming screen. Response times, lag, refresh rate, G-sync and the ULMB feature all delivered and impressed. Sure, the screen misses some of the extras you might get from some other gaming screens and it might feel a little lacking in some options, but what it lacks there it makes up for in raw performance.

For gaming, this is no doubt an excellent screen. Obviously there has to be some sacrifices in some areas, such is the nature of the market. For non-gaming uses the restrictive viewing angles of TN Film panel technology may still be a pain, but colour critical work or photo editing is in no way an intended usage of this model. You are missing other connectivity options, with DisplayPort only being a little limiting. The lack of some options like preset modes and aspect ratio control were also a bit of a shame. The uniformity of our sample was also a little disappointing, but probably not an issue in dynamic content like gaming, and it may well vary from sample to sample as on most screens.

Overall though the screen delivers what it set out to. A very impressive gaming experience and truly some new and exciting technologies which we can only hope are adopted by other manufacturers sooner rather than later. If you were hoping this was going to be a brilliant gaming screen, you won't be disappointed!

 

Pros

Cons

Excellent gaming experience, low response times and lag. Support for NVIDIA G-sync and new ULMB mode

Restrictive viewing angles of TN Film technology

Flicker-free backlight

Lack of preset modes and some bells and whistles

Excellent default setup

Limited connectivity with DisplayPort only


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TFT Central Awards Explained

We have two award classifications as part of our reviews. There's the top 'Recommended' award, where a monitor is excellent and highly recommended by us. There is also an 'Approved' award for a very good screen which may not be perfect, but is still a very good display. These awards won't be given out every time, but look out for the logo at the bottom of the conclusion. A list of monitors which have won our awards is available here.

 

 

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