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Introduction

Over the last 3 years we have seen a steady increase in the number of super-high refresh rate 240Hz LCD displays on the market. In January 2017 models based on TN Film panel technology like the AOC AGON AG251FZ (reviewed) were the first to appear, where the panel technology lends itself well to fast response times and snappy gaming experience. In more recent times since around November 2019 we have started to see several 240Hz IPS monitors released as well, including several we have tested like the Acer Nitro XV273 X and the Asus TUF Gaming VG279QM for instance. VA panels with 240Hz refresh rate have also been announced, although we've yet to see any of those in person. One thing that all these current 240Hz panels have had in common though is that they are based on a 1080p (1920 x 1080) Full HD resolution only. That's fine on smaller sized screens like 24 - 25", but by the time you get to 27" and above most people are looking for a higher resolution.

There have been a couple of 27" TN Film screens released now that offer the combination of a 2560 x 1440 resolution and 240Hz refresh rate. We've already seen the Lenovo Legion Y27gq and HP Omen X 27 released and now AOC have joined the party with their new AGON AG273QZ. We've got AOC's new screen with us now for review. The AG273QZ also supports adaptive-sync for variable refresh rate support from both AMD and NVIDIA systems. There is a 0.5ms MPRT spec thanks to the additional Motion Blur Reduction (MBR) backlight option included. There's also a range of gaming extras and settings, including things like an RGB lighting system for instance.

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Specifications and Features

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

Monitor Specifications

Size

27"

Panel Coating

Medium AG coating

Aspect Ratio

16:9 flat

Interfaces

2x DisplayPort 1.4
2x HDMI 2.0
1x Headphone output, 2x Mic input
4x USB 3.2

Resolution

2560 x 1440

Pixel Pitch

0.233mm

Design colour

Black bezels, enclosure arm and foot

Response Time

0.5ms MPRT

Ergonomics

Tilt, 110mm height, swivel, rotate

Static Contrast Ratio

1000:1

Dynamic Contrast Ratio

80 million:1

VESA Compatible

Yes 100 x 100 mm

Brightness

400 cd/m2

Accessories

Power cable, DisplayPort, HDMI cables

Viewing Angles

170 / 160

Panel Technology

AU Optronics TN Film

Weight

with stand: 8.4 Kg

Backlight Technology

W-LED

Physical Dimensions (WxHxD)

613.5 x 562.4 x 289.45 mm

Colour Depth

16.7m (8-bit)

Refresh Rate

240Hz Native
48 - 240Hz VRR range

Special Features

Adaptive-sync for VRR from AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems, 'LightFX' RGB lighting system, 2x 5W speakers, Controller accessory

Colour Gamut

Wide gamut ~90% DCI-P3
93.7% Adobe RGB quoted

The AG273QZ offers a good range of modern connectivity with 2x DisplayPort 1.4 and 2 x HDMI 2.0 offered for video connections. These are located on the back of the screen along with a headphone output, mic input and 4x USB downstream ports. For PC connectivity the DisplayPort is the most common option, with HDMI being available then for connecting external games consoles or Blu-ray players potentially. The screen has an internal power supply and the screen also comes packaged with the power cable that you need.

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

USB type-C

Rotate adjust

DisplayPort

VESA compliant

Component

USB 2.0 Ports

Audio connection

USB 3.0 Ports

HDCP Support

Card Reader

Integrated Speakers

Ambient Light Sensor

PiP / PbP

Human Motion Sensor

Blur Reduction Mode

Touch Screen

NVIDIA G-Sync (native)

Factory calibration

AMD FreeSync

Hardware calibration

G-sync Compatible Certified

Uniformity correction

Meaningful HDR



Design and Ergonomics

    
Above: front view of the screen, click for larger version

The AG273QZ comes in a black and titanium grey design, with matte plastics used for the bezel and rear enclosure. There is a red 'AGON' logo in the middle of the bottom bezel. The screen has a 3-side "borderless" design with a thin 1.5mm black plastic edge around the sides and top, and then a 6mm black panel border before the image starts. The bottom edge has a more traditional 20mm thick plastic bezel. There is a small section on the bottom side of the screen where the OSD joystick is located that glows red during screen operation. If you enable the LightFX feature in the menu which adds the additional light on the back of the screen, this section on the bottom also mirrors the same settings, so you can change this to other colours/patterns if you want.

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

The back of the screen is encased in a matte black plastic for a fairly simple design. The stand connects in to the middle with a quick release mechanism and is a very sturdy metal design. There is a cable tidy hole in the back of the stand, and the arm and 3-pronged foot is titanium grey metal. There is a retractable headphone hook which extends from both the right and left hand sides of the screen if you need. This can of course be inserted back in to the monitor to hide it.


Above: top down view of the screen, click for larger version

The stand is heavy but very sturdy as it is a metal design. There is a carry handle at the top of the stand to make moving the screen around easier.


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

The screen has a fairly deep profile as the stand is quite chunky, so make sure your desk is sufficient to accommodate the 289.45 mm depth.

The stand offers a full range of ergonomic adjustments. Tilt provides a fairly decent range of adjustment and is smooth and easy to operate. Height is smooth and easy, and provides a wide adjustment range as well. At the lowest setting the bottom edge of the screen is 80mm from the desk. At maximum extension it's 195mm which provides a decent 115mm adjustment range for the height adjustment, slightly more in fact than advertised. Side to side swivel is quite stiff but still useable, and offers smooth movement. Rotation adjustment is available, although a little "bumpy" to operate. The screen remains very stable when you are moving it around thanks to the solid and sturdy base.

A summary of the ergonomic adjustments are shown below:

Function

Range

Smoothness

Ease of Use

Tilt

Yes

Smooth

Easy

Height

115mm

Smooth

Easy

Swivel

Yes

Smooth

Quite stiff

Rotate

Yes

A little bumpy

Fairly Easy

Overall

Very good range of adjustments and all pretty easy and smooth to move. Screen remains very stable and the stand is strong and heavy.

The materials were of a modest standard and the build quality felt reasonable. There was no audible noise from the screen, even when conducting specific tests which can often identify buzzing issues. The whole screen remained cool even during prolonged use.


Above: view of interface and connection options

The connections are available on the back of the screen and shown above. From left to right there are USB upstream, 4x USB 3.2 downstream ports (1 with fast charging and marked in yellow), mic input, headphone output, power input. Then on the right hand section there are 2x HDMI 2.0, 2x DisplayPort 1.4, a second mic input and the small connection for the provided controller accessory. contrary to some pictures online supposedly related to this screen there is no VGA port on this monitor.


Above: view of the LightFX ring on the back of the screen

The back of the screen features the 'LightFX' RGB lighting system in a ring around the stand attachment.

This can be controlled via the main menu with various different patterns and settings available. The light on the back of the screen isn't really bright enough to act as any kind of bias lighting where the screen is against a wall. The small section where the OSD control joystick is located (shown below) also matches the colours of the back lighting, or if the back lighting is disabled it just glows red. Again this isn't very bright so doesn't really offer much in the way of downwards desktop lighting.


Above: view of the joystick controller and normal operation red glowing section on the bottom edge of the screen


Above: the provided controller accessory

The OSD is controlled entirely through a joystick control located on the bottom edge of the screen. There are no other buttons available. We found the joystick a bit fiddly to be honest but thankfully AOC also provide a pretty cool controller accessory as pictured above, which connects to the back of the screen. There are 4 quick access buttons to different preset modes, and an easy to use and intuitive control around the rest of the menu. This accessory glows with a red circle when it's plugged in and powered on as well and we found it a very useful addition.

  

The menu is split in to 8 sections and offers a good range of options to play with. Using the controlled accessory was definitely easier than the joystick on the bottom of the screen and worked well. Navigation with it was quick, responsive and intuitive.



Power Consumption

State and Brightness Setting

Manufacturer Spec (W)

Measured Power Usage (W)

Default (70%)

52.0

42.1

Calibrated (0%)

-

27.6

Maximum Brightness (100%)

-

48.5

Minimum Brightness (0%)

-

27.6

Standby

0.5

0.5

We have plotted these results below compared with other screens we have tested. The consumption (comparing the calibrated states) is comparable to most of the other 27" sized screens we've tested as you might expect. The larger screens tend to have additional power usage as does the 27" Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ with it's FALD backlight.



Panel and Backlighting

Panel

Backlight

Panel Manufacturer

AU Optronics

Backlighting Type

LED

Panel Technology

TN Film

Colour space

Wide gamut

Panel Part

M270DTN02.7

sRGB coverage spec

not listed
(122.5% measured)

Screen Coating

Medium anti-glare

DCI-P3 spec

not listed
(90.3% measured)

Colour Palette

16.7 million

Adobe RGB coverage spec

93.7%

Colour depth

8-bit

Flicker free verified


(not using PWM though)

One of the first thing we noticed when hooking up the screen was how bright it was - not unusual for any display, and here it was set by default at 70% brightness. We turned that down but had to set this very low to achieve our normal luminance range. More on the backlight adjustment range in a moment. We noticed there was some faint "shimmering" of the screen though at lower brightness settings, not an obvious flicker as such like PWM would produce, just some minor fluctuations of brightness. This was more noticeable as the brightness setting got lower and on light solid backgrounds like office documents. We took some measurements with our oscilloscope to see what was going on:


Brightness set at 100                                           50                                                        0                

As you lower the brightness setting a fairly minor brightness oscillation starts to creep in. This becomes most noticeable at the lowest brightness settings. The frequency of these fluctuations is quite low, and seems to also reduce as the brightness control is lowered. For instance at 50% the frequency was about 66Hz, at 30% it was about 53Hz and was a bit more pronounced. And at 0% it was about 46Hz and the brightness fluctuations were slightly more. This is NOT PWM operation and there's certainly no on/off switching of the backlight to assist with screen dimming, but the minor fluctuations did produce some visible variations we found.

Oddly some brightness settings seemed to show these brightness fluctuations more than others, but there was no real logic to it. For instance setting the screen at 0 brightness seemed to produce a more visible "shimmering" than setting it at 1. Setting of 2 was ok, but 3 was more noticeable again. It was quite odd, and you could see it if you are working with general office documents on a lighter background. You can't see this in any dynamic content like gaming and we suspect not everyone will notice it either. In fact it may not impact every sample of the screen but we observed it on ours. We did try different settings and modes, and different graphics cards and cables but it seemed to be a feature of the backlight. Our recommendation would be to find a brightness setting that is comfortable for you, but try a few steps up/down in either direction to see if you can find one where the shimmering is less noticeable. We ended up sticking with a setting of 13 for office work which was a bit too bright, but seemed to show minimal issues with brightness fluctuations.



Brightness and Contrast

This section tests the full range of luminance (the brightness of the screen) possible from the backlight, while changing the monitors brightness setting in the OSD menu. This allows us to measure the maximum and minimum adjustment ranges, as well as identify the recommended setting to reach a target of 120 cd/m2 for comfortable day to day use in normal lighting conditions. Some users have specific requirements for a very bright display, while others like a much darker display for night time viewing or in low ambient light conditions. At each brightness level we also measure the contrast ratio produced by the screen when comparing a small white sample vs. a black sample (not unrealistic full screen white vs. full screen black tests). The contrast ratio should remain stable across the adjustment range so we also check that.

Graphics card settings were left at default with no ICC profile or calibration active. Tests were made using an X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter. It should be noted that we used the BasICColor calibration software here to record these measurements, and so luminance at default settings may vary a little from the LaCie Blue Eye Pro report you will see in other sections of the review.

OSD Brightness

Luminance
(cd/m2)

Black Point (cd/m2)

Contrast Ratio
( x:1)

100

434.75

0.59

737

90

403.24

0.55

733

80

376.35

0.51

738

70

343.48

0.47

731

60

316.32

0.43

736

50

284.45

0.39

729

40

254.00

0.35

726

30

221.89

0.30

740

20

188.53

0.25

754

10

162.22

0.22

737

0

129.94

0.17

764

 

Total Luminance Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

304.81

Brightness OSD setting controls backlight

Total Black Point Adjustment Range (cd/m2)

0.42

Average Static Contrast Ratio

739:1

PWM Free

---

Recommended OSD setting for 120 cd/m2

0

At the full brightness setting in the OSD the maximum luminance reached a very high 435 cd/m2 which was a little higher even than the 400 cd/m2 max brightness spec from the manufacturer. There was a pretty decent 305 cd/m2 adjustment range in total, so at the minimum setting you could reach down to a luminance of 130 cd/m2. This was limiting at the lower end, and unfortunately this doesn't afford you a low luminance option for working in darkened room conditions with low ambient light. It's fine for gaming and multimedia, as well as more well-lit rooms, but be a little wary if that is a specific requirement for you. A setting of 0 in the OSD menu is needed to return you a luminance as close to 120 cd/m2 as possible 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.

The average contrast ratio of the screen was measured at 739:1 out of the box which was low, and a limitation of some TN Film panels. It remained pretty stable across the brightness adjustment range as you can see above though.

 


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 our graphics card to default settings and disabled any previously active ICC profiles and gamma corrections. The screen was tested at default factory settings using our new X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with LaCie's Blue Eye Pro software suite. An X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter was also used to verify the black point and contrast ratio since the i1 Pro 2 spectrophotometer is less reliable at the darker end.

Targets for these tests are as follows:

  • CIE Diagram - confirms 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. Usually shown as a comparison against the common sRGB space

  • Colour space coverage volumes - we also measure using a piece of software called ChromaPure the colour space (gamut) volumes produced by the backlight in comparison to the sRGB, DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 colour spaces. sRGB is the most commonly used colour space so it is important to have a decent coverage from the screen here. If the colour space is >100% sRGB then the screen can produce a wider colour gamut, often reaching further in to the wider gamut DCI-P3 (commonly used for HDR) and Rec.2020 reference spaces.

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

  • dE average / maximum - we aim for 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:

AOC AGON AG273QZ
Default Settings

 

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Game mode

Off

Brightness

70

Contrast

50

Color Temp

Warm

Gamma

Gamma 1

RGB

n/a

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

332

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.45

Contrast Ratio

731:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

122.5%

DCI-P3 coverage

90.3%

Rec.2020 coverage

64.8%


 

Initially out of the box the screen was set in the 'warm' colour temp preset mode. The display was set with a very bright 70% brightness which was uncomfortable to use for long periods. You will want to turn that down as with most screens. The colour balance felt pretty good out of the box but you could tell that the screen was using a wide gamut backlight, as the colours looks vivid and bright, especially greens and reds. We went ahead and measured the default state with the i1 Pro 2.

The CIE diagram on the left of the image confirms that the monitors colour gamut (black triangle) extends a considerable way beyond the sRGB reference space (orange triangle), mostly in green and red shades. We measured using ChromaPure software a 122.5% sRGB gamut volume coverage which corresponds to 90.3% of the DCI-P3 reference and 64.8% of the Rec.2020 reference. There is also an sRGB emulation mode available via the colour temp menu which we will test in a moment.

Many people will prefer the wide gamut mode though for gaming and multimedia, which are clearly the target markets for this screen. The sRGB mode might be useful, despite being very restrictive, if you are doing any colour critical work and specifically want to work with the smaller colour space, although you probably wouldn't have chosen a TN Film screen that is so oriented towards gaming if that was your usage.

Key Quick Information Box

  • Default setup is moderate and a little more aimed at gaming than general uses

  • Easy to improve gamma and white point through OSD adjustments without the need for a calibration tool

  • Wide 90% DCI-P3 colour gamut

  • sRGB emulation mode not practically useable due to locked brightness

  • Weak contrast ratio due to TN Film panel

Default gamma was recorded at 2.0 average with a pretty high 11% deviance from the target. There are some gamma modes available in the OSD menu which we tested. In the default 'warm' colour temp mode, Gamma 3 seemed to be a bit better with an average 2.1 gamma (4% deviance) measured although that in turn then impacts the white point, making it even warmer at 5673k (14% deviance). See our section below to help you find the optimal balance of gamma mode and colour temp mode. Out of the box the white point was measured at 6212k, being only a little too warm with a 4% deviance which was pretty decent

Luminance at the default 70% brightness level was recorded at 332 cd/m2 which is a far too high for prolonged general use, you will need to turn that down. The black depth was 0.45 cd/m2 at this default brightness setting, giving us a low 731:1 contrast ratio which is often an issue with TN Film panel technology. Colour accuracy measurements should be ignored here really as they are comparing the produced wider gamut display colours against an sRGB reference which will always lead to errors. There was no sign of any colour banding when testing gradients which was good news, and some typical gradation in darker tones evident.

 


sRGB Emulation

We also switched to the sRGB colour temp mode which offered a reduced colour gamut and an attempted sRGB emulation.

AOC AGON AG273QZ
sRGB Emulation mode

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Game mode

Off

Brightness

70 (locked)

Contrast

50 (locked)

Color Temp

sRGB

Gamma

Gamma 1 (locked)

RGB

50, 46, 34 (locked)

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

370

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.45

Contrast Ratio

828:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

89.2%

DCI-P3 coverage

65.8%

Rec.2020 coverage

47.2%

Switching to this mode produced a noticeable change in the colour gamut of the screen, with the vividness of green and red shades reduced. There are quite a few problems with this mode that that make it largely unusable. The colour gamut is reduced, but a bit too much and we now only have a 89.2% sRGB coverage which is a bit low. The main issue though is that most of the OSD controls are locked, including for brightness and so you're now stuck at a very bright 370 cd/m2 which just isn't useable for any long periods of time. White point is also too warm by 10%, measured now at 5874k, and again you can't change this via the monitor. We really dislike sRGB modes where the brightness control is locked, it just seems totally unnecessary and most of the time makes the mode unusable.



Optimal Settings Pre-Calibration

We also measured the screen after adjusting only the OSD controls, to obtain the optimal setup without a full calibration, and without the use of an ICC correction profile. This represents what could be achieved through just simple changes to the monitor itself, and also what you could expect when working with content outside of an ICC profile managed workflow. The early stages of our calibration software helped identity these optimal OSD settings.
 

AOC AGON AG273QZ
Optimal Settings Pre-Calibration

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Game mode

Off

Brightness

0

Contrast

50

Color Temp

User

Gamma

Gamma 1

RGB

50, 50, 39

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

131

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.17

Contrast Ratio

787:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

122.5%

DCI-P3 coverage

90.3%

Rec.2020 coverage

64.8%

For this section we switched to the 'User' colour temp mode, which would allow us access to the RGB controls and therefore the ability to correct the white point. It seems that the 3 gamma modes behave differently in this colour preset though, so while Gamma 3 seemed to be optimal when we were in the 'warm' colour temp mode, Gamma 1 was actually optimal here in the 'user' mode. Anyway, we stuck with Gamma 1 and minimum 0% brightness, while then adjusting the RGB channels as shown.

This has helped correct the white point to 6500k and reduce the brightness to a much more comfortable level. The contrast ratio was still low at 787:1, although slightly better than we'd seen out of the box. These optimal settings helped the screen look a lot better than out of the box. Further calibration and profiling below will help improve things even further.

 


Calibration

We used the X-rite i1 Pro 2 Spectrophotometer combined with the LaCie Blue Eye Pro software package to achieve these results and reports. An X-rite i1 Display Pro Plus colorimeter was used to validate the black depth and contrast ratios due to lower end limitations of the i1 Pro device.

AOC AGON AG273QZ
Calibrated Settings

 


Monitor OSD Settings

 

Game mode

Off

Brightness

0

Contrast

50

Color Temp

User

Gamma

Gamma 1

RGB

50, 50, 39

Luminance Measurements

 

luminance (cd/m2)

126

Black Point (cd/m2)

0.17

Contrast Ratio

745:1

Colour Space Measurements

 

sRGB coverage

122.5%

DCI-P3 coverage

90.3%

Rec.2020 coverage

64.8%

The OSD settings were adjusted as shown in the table above, as guided during the calibration process and measurements. These OSD changes allowed us to obtain an optimal 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.

The default gamma curve of 2.0 had been improved to 2.2 average, correcting most of the 11% deviance we'd seen out of the box and leaving us with only a minor 2% error. The white point was also now improved to 6474k which was great news. The brightness control adjustment had reduced the luminance to a comfortable level now although we had to use the minimum 0% brightness setting to achieve this so there is no further adjustment room left at the lower end. Contrast ratio remained pretty poor because of the TN Film panel, but at a similar to the default setup at least. Colour accuracy of the resulting profile was very good, with dE average of 0.7 and maximum of 1.5. LaCie would consider colour fidelity to be very good overall. Gradients remained mostly smooth with no banding introduced thankfully.

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.



Setup 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. We have divided the table up by panel technology as well to make it easier to compare similar models. 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 some (gamma especially) are 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 moderate and like many TN Film screens, a bit more aimed at gaming than anything else. Gamma was probably the main issue being off by 11%, although thankfully pretty easy to correct through some basic OSD adjustments - even if you don't have a calibration tool. White point was not too bad, but contrast ratio was weak. Another issue with many TN Film panels although particularly low here when many can reach up nearer to 850 - 950:1.
 

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Viewing Angles


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

Viewing angles of the screen 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 and VA variants. 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 more pale and introduces a yellow hue. As you move to a wider angle the image can become more washed out as well and a more yellow hue is introduced. Vertically the fields of view are more restrictive still with more noticeable contrast shifts. From above the image becomes pale and washed out, while from below there is a characteristic TN Film darkening of the image and it goes very purple in colour. 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-type 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, this screen 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 and features offered here. There are some high refresh rate gaming IPS panels available now in larger sizes as well which can offer better viewing angles than TN Film models, although they are normally priced higher and have some other characteristic differences, and so TN Film models like this still have their place for many users. If you are after 2560 x 1440 resolution and 240Hz refresh rate combined, that is currently only available form TN Film panels, and there's only a few models like this one released.


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

On a black image there is a somewhat unusual pink/purple hue from an angle as shown above. Other AU Optronics TN Film panels we've tested in recent times haven't shown this characteristic, and have been much better. This discolouration becomes quite noticeable even with slight adjustments to your viewing position, and makes viewing dark content tricky unless you are head on.



Panel Uniformity

We wanted to test here how uniform the brightness was across the screen, as well as identify any leakage from the backlight in dark lighting conditions. Measurements of the luminance 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. 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

Note that because the screen has a limited lower brightness range, the centre of the screen was measured at 133 cd/m2 and so the deviance was relative to this central measurement. Luminance uniformity of the screen was fairly good on our sample, with 77% of the screen within a 10% deviance of the centrally calibrated area. The sides were a bit darker with the left hand edge showing the most significant variation, dropping down by 29% in the most extreme example. 


Backlight Leakage


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

We also tested the screen with an all black image and in a darkened room. A camera was used to capture the result. The bottom section of the screen seemed to show a little bit more leakage than the upper areas and the image looked a little purple here. On black content, this particularly panel seems to show some noticeable purple colour, especially as your viewing angle increases.

Note: if you want to test your own screen for backlight bleed and uniformity problems at any point you need to ensure you have suitable testing conditions. Set the monitor to a sensible day to day brightness level, preferably as close to 120 cd/m2 as you can get it (our tests are once the screen is calibrated to this luminance). Don't just take a photo at the default brightness which is almost always far too high and not a realistic usage condition. You need to take the photo from about 1.5 - 2m back to avoid capturing viewing angle characteristics, especially on IPS-type panels where off-angle glow can come in to play easily. Photos should be taken in a darkened room at a shutter speed which captures what you see reliably and doesn't over-expose the image. A shutter speed of 1/8 second will probably be suitable for this.



General and Office Applications

This screen features a 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution, a significant step up from the wide range of 1920 x 1080 screens on the market and a comfortable resolution for this size screen we feel. Nearly all the 240Hz refresh rate screens released to date have been limited to 1080p, so it was great to see something more offered here. These higher resolution 27" models offer a tighter pixel pitch of 0.233mm which results in a smaller text size than common 24" 1080p screens, although it is still a nice and comfortable size. We are very used to working with 27" 1440p screens all the time and find them very comfortable and a significant upgrade over 1080 / 1200p models. 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 smaller screen for instance where the pixel pitch and text are normally 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. 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 moderate AG coating of the TN Film panel could be considered a bit grainy, especially on white office backgrounds to a lot of people. It's not as clear as modern IPS coatings or any light/semi-glossy VA panel coating. Still, it's not as grainy as old IPS panels and is on par with other TN Film matrices we've tested. Perhaps the main issue with this panel technology though is the restrictive viewing angles, making contrast and colour tone shifts a bit of a problem when it comes to colour critical work. They are the same here as other TN Film panels, being restrictive especially vertically. The screen is fine when viewed head on though really for office and text work, but for colour critical work or photo editing etc you'd definitely be better off with an IPS-type panel.

The default setup of the screen was not great out of the box for day to day use being far too brightness and having a gamma curve that was a bit off. Although white point was fairly accurate at least and it is pretty easy to make some simple OSD adjustments to get a better setup without needing a calibration tool. There are a few fairly significant issues though when it comes to office work:

  1. The screen has a very limited lower brightness adjustment, only reaching down to around 130 cd/m2 at 0%. As long as your room is fairly bright this is probably still ok, but it does mean the screen isn't great in darkened room conditions or at night for office-type work.

  2. There is some visible brightness fluctuation as you use lower brightness adjustments. Not PWM flicker, but a "shimmering" of the image in some situations that some people may notice or find distracting in these uses.

  3. There is no practically useable sRGB emulation mode unfortunately. While an sRGB mode is offered, it restricts the colour space a little too much (down to around 90% sRGB), but the main issue is that you cannot alter the brightness setting in this mode, and so it's far too bright. That's an unfortunate limitation otherwise the sRGB mode may have been useful to some.

  4. As already discussed above, viewing angles of this technology are not very good for these kind of uses



Spectral distribution graph showing calibrated mode at 6500k


Spectral distribution graph showing LowBlue mode set to 'reading'

There are some blue light filter settings available in the OSD menu via the 'LowBlue' option. There are various named modes offered which get progressively warmer (and reduce the blue light output a little more) as you go. The maximum mode was "reading" and reached 5106k colour temperature. You can see from the above spectral distribution graph that this helps reduce the blue light output, and so may be useful for office uses and text reading.

There are 4x USB ports provided on this screen, all on the back so they aren't particularly easy access. There are no other extras like ambient light sensors, motion sensors or card readers on this screen which are sometimes useful for office-type uses. There is an added retractable headphone hook on the left hand side that might be useful. There is a decent range of ergonomic adjustments from the stand with tilt, height, swivel and rotate offered. There is also VESA 100mm mounting capabilities for those who want to mount the screen instead.


 
Responsiveness and Gaming

Panel Manufacturer and Technology

AU Optronics TN Film

Panel Part

M270DTN02.7

Quoted G2G Response Time

not listed

Quoted MPRT Response Time

0.5ms MPRT

Overdrive Used

Variable Overdrive supported

Overdrive Control Available Via OSD Setting

Overdrive

Overdrive OSD Settings

Off, Weak, Medium, Strong

Maximum Refresh Rate

240Hz DisplayPort native
144Hz over HDMI

Variable Refresh Rate technology

AMD FreeSync support via DisplayPort adaptive-sync

NVIDIA G-sync support
(not 'G-sync Compatible' certified)

HDMI-VRR for consoles

Variable Refresh Rate Range

48 - 240Hz (DisplayPort) + LFC

Motion Blur Reduction Backlight

Available - MBR Mode

Blur reduction available also when using
G-sync/FreeSync VRR

The screen uses overdrive technology to boost pixel transitions across grey to grey changes as with nearly all modern displays. The part being used is an AU Optronics M270DTN02.7 TN Film technology panel. Have a read about response time in our specs section if you need additional information about this measurement.

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.
 

 


Response Times and Refresh Rate

There's various things you need to consider when it comes to response times and gaming, particularly on a display with high refresh rate support. Gaming screens invariably give you a control for the overdrive impulse in the OSD menu which can help you tweak things, but response time performance and overshoot levels can vary depending on the active refresh rate. This behaviour is often different depending on whether the screen is a traditional G-sync screens (with hardware module) or whether it's an adaptive-sync screen as well, and not all screens behave in the same way. We always try to test each variable in our reviews but the key considerations you need to make are:

  1. Performance at 60Hz - this is important if you want to use an external games console (or other device like a Blu-ray player etc) which typically run at 60Hz. Response time performance may well be different than at the higher refresh rates supported, and you may need a different overdrive setting for optimal experience.
     

  2. Performance during VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) - bearing in mind that the refresh rate will fluctuate anywhere from 1Hz up to the maximum supported by the screen (e.g. 1 - 144Hz on a 144Hz display). It's important to understand if the response times and overshoot will vary as the refresh rate changes. There may be a need to switch between different overdrive settings in some cases, depending on your usually attained refresh rate output and graphics card capability. This can sometimes become fiddly if your refresh rates fluctuate a lot, especially between different games, so it's always easier if you can leave a display on a single overdrive setting which is suited to the whole range. Some screens also feature "variable overdrive" which helps control the response times and overshoot depending on the active refresh rate. This is particularly apparent with traditional G-sync module screens.
     

  3. Performance at fixed refresh rates including maximum - this is important for those who have a powerful enough system to consistently output a frame rate to meet the max refresh rate capability of the screen. They may want to run at max refresh rate without VRR active, or even is VRR is active they may know they will be consistently at the upper end of the range. Many gaming screens show their optimal response time performance at the maximum refresh rate. Knowing the performance at high fixed refresh rates may also be applicable if you want to use any added blur reduction backlight which typically operate at a fixed refresh rate.
     

  4. Whether the response times can keep up with the frame rate - you will also want to consider whether the response times of the panel can consistently keep up with the frame rate. For instance a 144Hz screen sends a new frame to the display every 6.94ms, so the pixel response times need to ideally be consistently and reliably under this threshold. If they are too slow, it can lead to added blurring in practice and sometimes make the higher refresh rates unusable in real life. We consider this in our analysis.
     

Key Quick Information Box

  • VRR supported from both AMD and NVIDIA systems thanks to adaptive-sync

  • HDMI-VRR also supported for consoles

  • 48 - 240Hz VRR range + LFC

  • 'Medium' overdrive mode is optimal for all settings

  • Variable overdrive is enabled

  • Response times not as fast as they could be, but free from all overshoot

  • Very good motion clarity at high refresh rates

  • Not very fast at lower refresh rates including 60Hz

  • MBR mode works well and gives a decent amount of control

We carried out some initial response time measurements and visual tests in each of the overdrive settings, and at a range of refresh rates. The overdrive control is available in the OSD menu via the 'Overdrive' option. There are 4 levels available - Off, Weak, Medium and Strong.

When you disable adaptive-sync a fifth option appears in the overdrive menu called "Boost" which is quick access to enable the Motion Blur Reduction (MBR) mode, but we will talk about that more later as it's not really an overdrive mode as such.


240Hz Maximum Refresh Rate


We are going to start with the maximum 240Hz refresh rate here. Visual tests allowed us to see that there was not much difference between the Off, Weak and Medium modes, although Medium was a little clearer than those lower settings. As you increase the the 'strong' mode though the image becomes a little sharper but you do start to see some artefacts appearing in the form of pale halos behind moving objects. As a result we measured the medium and strong modes as shown above. Medium showed no overshoot at all which was great news, and the strong mode recorded some fairly significant overshoot which was leading to the pale trails and artefacts we'd seen. We would recommend sticking with the 'medium' mode for optimal balance here, and in particular as refresh rate lowers...

Lowering Refresh Rate



We stuck with the medium setting for overdrive and recorded the response times as the refresh rate was lowered. To our surprise this screen seemed to feature 'variable overdrive', something commonly seen from Native G-sync module displays, but very rare for adaptive-sync/FreeSync type displays. This was evident in our measurements as the overdrive impulse, despite being set at 'medium' all the time, was reduced as the refresh rate lowered. This resulted in slower response times as refresh rate lowers, but does at least help avoid any added overshoot creeping in at all. They were getting perhaps a bit too slow though at the lower refresh rates, still fast enough to keep up with the frame rate, but they did mean that there were quite high levels of blurring unfortunately. The screen is of course much better at the higher refresh rates, both from a response time point of view and an overall motion clarity point of view as a direct result of the increased refresh rate.

The 'strong' response time mode was still too aggressive at all lower refresh rates, with the pale halos and trails becoming much more noticeable and distracting as you reduced the refresh rate. So we would definitely recommend sticking with 'medium' mode.


A note about 240Hz and colour depth

When we first switched to 240Hz refresh rate in Windows we found what is possibly a slight bug with the way the screen interacts with an AMD graphics card and the Radeon control panel. At refresh rates lower than 240Hz you can select the colour depth (shown at the top of the image above) as 8-bit or 10-bit and both outputs will displays on the screen. As far as we know, the panel used here is only capable of supporting 8-bit (16.7m colours) and so there is no real benefit of choosing 10-bit colour depth. Visually both looked the same as well from our various tests. When you move up to 240Hz you cannot select 10-bit any longer in the Radeon control panel, or rather you can but it won't activate it. We found that oddly on first attempt the Radeon control panel seemed to default to 6-bit colour depth here, which is noticeably different if you look at gradient tests. When we tried to switch back to 8-bit it didn't seem to activate it. 8-bit colour depth is supported though at 240Hz, and we found the best way around this was to first change the pixel format to 4:2:2 chroma and set 8-bit colour depth. Enable that, and then change pixel format back to full RGB. That stuck and worked fine as shown in the above screenshot confirming we were running at 240Hz, 8-bit, full RGB.

 


Variable Refresh Rates (VRR)

Maximum Refresh Rate

240Hz DisplayPort native
144Hz over HDMI

Variable Refresh Rate technology

AMD FreeSync support via DisplayPort adaptive-sync

NVIDIA G-sync support
(not 'G-sync Compatible' certified)

HDMI-VRR for consoles

Variable Refresh Rate Range

48 - 240Hz (DisplayPort) + LFC

  

The screen supports VESA Adaptive-sync and so can support variable refresh rates from both AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-sync systems. The VRR range supported is between 48 and 240Hz. The screen has not currently been certified by NVIDIA under the 'G-sync Compatible' scheme. It does fall under AMD's new FreeSync certifications though, to the 'Premium Pro' level in fact. This includes support for Low Framerate Compensation (LFC) and HDR also. Although the HDR support is very limited given it's only a VESA DisplayHDR 400 screen with no local dimming capability.

The screen also supports HDMI-VRR which will allow support for variable refresh rates from compatible games consoles. If you connect a PC via HDMI then the VRR range supported is reported as 48 - 144Hz. It's worth noting that the screen can also support a "virtual 4K" input, meaning that you can input a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD resolution from a games console, and have the screen scale that down to 2560 x 1440, as opposed to having to input a lower 1920 x 1080 and have the screen try and scale that up.

The support for G-sync and FreeSync will be very useful given the significant system demands of running a screen at 2560 x 1440 resolution and up to 240Hz refresh rate. It was of course very good to see it included here. You might also want to read our newly updated article about Variable Refresh Rates here for more information.

 


Detailed Response Times

To achieve the optimal performance from the AG273QZ we would recommend sticking with the 'medium' response time setting. This works as the optimal level across all refresh rates including 60Hz inputs and up to the maximum 240Hz refresh rate. The screen despite being an adaptive-sync screen surprisingly does support variable overdrive which helps control the response times and overshoot across the refresh rate range, making it easy to stick with the 'medium' mode for everything.

The higher refresh rates supported by the screen really do help improve motion clarity and reduce perceived  blur, making the screen far better for gaming than 60Hz-only models. There is only a noticeable improvement in motion clarity as well as you go from 144Hz > 240Hz as well which was great, as a result of both the improved response times and the additional refresh rate/frame rate.

Recommended Settings

Optimal Refresh Rate 

240Hz

Optimal Overdrive Setting (for above) 

Medium

Optimal Overdrive Setting for 60Hz 

Medium

Optimal Overdrive Setting for VRR 

Medium


     Detailed Measurements at 240Hz, Overdrive = Medium

We carried out some further response time measurements at 240Hz which is the maximum refresh rate of the screen. We measured an average 5.2ms G2G response time in this mode which was good although not as fast as we might have expected from a TN Film panel to be honest. Remember, this was at the medium overdrive setting and the strong mode can push response times faster, but at the cost of noticeably high levels of overshoot. Many TN Film panels we've tested in the past to be honest have moderate to high levels of overshoot to achieve their fast response times, so here on the AG273QZ it was more a case of eliminating that overshoot altogether, but at the cost of the actual pixel response times. Some response times were very fast, reaching down as low as 0.9ms in fact which was excellent. But some transitions were quite a bit slower up to 9.4ms max, which impacted the average figure. At 240Hz the response times ideally need to be consistently under 4.17ms to keep up with the frame rate demands, which was only achieved here by a third of the measured transitions (33%). This was slightly more at 43% if we allowed an additional 1ms leeway.

Before you get too worried about this though, in practice the performance was still very good. There was a little bit of added smearing on moving content because the response times weren't fast enough to always keep up with the frame rate, but with a high 240Hz refresh rate the motion clarity was still excellent. It was noticeably better at 240Hz than at 144Hz as well, and the image looked sharp and clear overall. Had the response times been a bit faster and more consistent (without overshoot still), then the motion clarity could have been improved slightly further but it was still decent here.

    


Motion Blur Reduction (MBR mode)

The strobing blur reduction backlight option is available via the 'MBR' (Motion Blur Reduction) setting which is available only once you've turned adaptive-sync off in the OSD. You only want to enable MBR mode for gaming as it introduces a deliberate strobing flicker to the screen which is not what you want for day to day office-type uses. For gaming these blur reduction backlights can help improve the perceived motion clarity and make gaming even better.

This is available at all default refresh rates except 60Hz, but including 100, 120, 144, 165 and 240Hz fixed refresh rates. It is also available at custom refresh rates of 200Hz and 85Hz if you create them (and probably others in between if you need). 85Hz seems to be the lowest supported refresh rate for the MBR mode, but it was good to see it available at the upper end including 240Hz max. Like nearly all other blur reduction modes except a few Asus 'ELMB-sync' models such as the Asus TUF Gaming VG279QM tested recently, this feature cannot be used at the same time as FreeSync/G-sync variable refresh rates, it's one or the other.

The MBR setting is available with a slider control offering settings from 1 to 20, in steps of one. This controls the strobe pulse width, basically the "on" period of the strobe. As you increase the setting the on period is reduced, and therefore the screen gets darker. This does have a positive impact on perceived motion blur, helping to sharpen up the image to a point. At any setting the screen's brightness control is locked, so this is really the only way to control the screen's luminance output. Other settings in the OSD remain available like overdrive control for example, which should still be left at 'medium'. Thankfully when you turn MBR back off by setting it to 0, the screen remembers your previous brightness state which is good.

When you have disable the adaptive-sync option in the menu, and MBR is available, you will also spot that a new overdrive mode is available in that other menu. There is a new option labelled "Boost" which actually just acts as a shortcut to MBR mode 20 (the max setting). It's useful if you want to quickly access that mode, although we preferred MBR mode 10 which you'd have to set manually via the MBR option.


Example strobing at 240Hz, horizontal scale = 5ms (setting = 1)


Example strobing at 144Hz, horizontal scale = 5ms (setting = 1)

We measured the on/off strobing using our oscilloscope and confirmed that the strobing is in sync with the refresh rate. So at 240Hz for instance (shown above) the backlight is turned off/on every 4.17ms (240 times per second). As you reduce the refresh rate the strobing remains in sync with it well as you would hope.


Example strobing at 240Hz comparing a setting of 1 (top) and a setting of 20 (bottom)
 horizontal scale = 5ms

The examples above show the on/off strobing at 240Hz as you change the MBR setting from 1 to 20. You can see that the "on" period (the upper part of the peaks) is reduced significantly as the setting is increased. This reduces the screen brightness and should in theory help improve motion clarity. We found actually that in practice a setting of 10 seemed to be optimal, giving a nice balance between brightness and clarity. Beyond that we felt that the strobe cross talk became too noticeable and the image didn't look as good. It was also much darker. We measured the on/off period of the strobe as you increase the MBR setting below:

Strobing On/Off period (240Hz MBR)

MBR Setting

On period (ms)

Off period (ms)

1

3.125

1.04

5

2.500

1.67

10

1.875

2.29

15

1.125

3.04

20

0.500

3.67

Brightness Range

We also measured the maximum brightness of the screen as the MBR setting was increased. The screen is capable of delivering very high brightness even with MBR enabled which was great to see, as often this is an area that is impacted a lot by these strobing backlights. You have control to adjust it within a decent range as well which is good by using the MBR slider. It's a shame that the screen doesn't allow you to independently control the brightness as well, as you might find an MBR setting that looks visually right to you, but it may still be too bright for your needs. For instance we found mode 10 looked the best, but 258 cd/m2 may be too bright still for some people.

MBR Setting

Luminance (cd/m2)

1

431

5

350

10

258

15

160

20

67


Maximum Blur Reduction Brightness - Display Comparison

For ease of reference we have also provided a comparison table below of all the blur reduction enabled displays we've tested, showing their maximum luminance before blur reduction is turned on (normal mode) and their maximum luminance with the feature enabled. This will give you an idea of the maximum brightness you can expect from each model when using their blur reduction feature, if that is important to you. A lot of people want a brighter display for gaming and sometimes the relatively low maximum luminance from blur reduction modes is a limitation.

These comparisons are with the refresh rate as high as is available for the blur reduction feature to function. For most this is at 100 - 144Hz. You can often achieve a slightly brighter display if you use the feature at compatible lower refresh rates since the strobes are less frequent, but it's not a significant amount. That can also introduce more visible flicker in some situations.

Model

Refresh Rate

Max Normal Luminance
Blur Reduction Off
(cd/m2)

Max Luminance Blur Reduction On
(cd/m2)

Acer Nitro XF252Q

240Hz

413

226

Acer Nitro XV273K

144Hz

503

195

Acer Nitro XV273 X

240Hz

462

210

Acer Predator XB270HU*

100Hz*

327

111

Acer Predator Z35

120Hz

359

111

AOC AGON AG273QZ

240Hz

435

431

Asus ROG Strix XG35VQ

100Hz

376

164

Asus ROG Swift PG258Q

144Hz

488

275

Asus ROG Swift PG278Q

120Hz

385

123

Asus ROG Swift PG279Q

120Hz

331

101

Asus TUF Gaming VG279QM

280Hz

378

184

Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ

165Hz

318

199

BenQ XL2720Z

144Hz

282

119

BenQ XL2730Z

120Hz

309

191

Dell S2716DG

120Hz

328

118

Eizo FG2421

120Hz

386

257

Eizo FS2735

144Hz

331

180

Gigabyte Aorus AD27QD

144Hz

471

129

LG 27GK750F

240Hz

452

199

LG 34GK950F

144Hz

390

235

LG 34UC79G

144Hz

267

141

LG 38UC99

75Hz

308

213

ViewSonic Elite XG270QG

120Hz

434

203

Note: Pulse Width setting at max where applicable.
*Note 2: The Acer XB270HU was later updated to include a 120Hz mode, which will produce a slightly darker maximum luminance
 

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. The following pursuit camera photos give you an indication of observed motion clarity as the human eye would see it at the top, middle and bottom areas of the screen. These were captured at the maximum supported refresh rate.


Pursuit camera photos capturing perceived motion clarity
Left - with MBR turned off and at 240Hz max refresh rate. Showing both medium and strong overdrive modes
Right - with MBR turned on at 240Hz max supported refresh rate (setting = 10), top/middle/bottom areas of the screen

As with most strobing blur reduction backlights it did help improve eye tracking of moving objects across the screen, making them sharper and easier to follow. That's one of the key benefits of this kind of technology. There was some strobe cross talk visible which cannot be fully eliminated due to the way the strobe timing works on these modes. The central area of the screen was clearest though which was good news as that tends to be where most of your attention is focused in a game. We stuck with the 'medium' overdrive mode so as not to introduce any overshoot that appears if you push up to the 'strong' mode.

We felt that the MBR mode of 10 delivered the optimal performance in our tests. This helped reduce the brightness to a more sensible and comfortable level for a start. It also seemed to deliver the optimal performance in terms of clarity of the moving image. Settings above 10 seemed to start accentuating the trail images and strobe cross talk too much. You can of course experiment to find the right balance for you.

 


Gaming Comparisons

We have provided a comparison of the display against many other gaming screens we have reviewed in a similar size range and across a range of panel technologies. This table is now split by panel technology to make life a bit easier and for quicker comparison.

The AG273QZ had slower response times than the other TN Film panels we've tested in this comparison section, although not by a huge amount. While the actual G2G response times were a bit slower, there was at least zero overshoot on the AG273QZ. The overshoot is at moderate to high levels on many of the other TN Film panels included here.

We know that TN Film can be pushed a little faster, even if a low level of overshoot starts to appear, like the Acer Nitro XF252Q (2.6ms G2G) and Asus ROG Swift PG258Q (3.4ms G2G) for instance. Those are both smaller 24.5" sized screens though and seem to be capable of slightly faster response times than the 27" models.

From the 27" models, some are pushed a bit faster than the AOC AGON AG273QZ, like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q (2.9ms G2G) and the Dell S2716DG (3.1ms G2G) for instance, although only by allowing some moderate to high levels of overshoot which is noticeable in practice. It looks like on the AG273QZ here, the response times were sacrificed slightly in order to avoid any overshoot at all (at the optimal 'medium' overdrive mode).



Additional Gaming Features

  • Aspect Ratio Control - the screen offers a range of aspect ratio controls from the menu including wide, 4:3, 1:1 pixel mapping and then a range of specific screen sizes/aspects like 17"(4:3) and so on. This provides a lot of flexibility. The default 16:9 aspect ratio of the screen should be common anyway, and your graphics card can always handle other aspect ratios if needed from a PC.

  • Preset Modes - There are quite a few gamer-oriented modes available in the 'Game mode' preset mode menu including FPS, RTS, Racing and then three customisable 'Gamer' modes.
     

  • Additional features - there are a couple of added features in the OSD which are a shadow control, to help boost gamma in darker content and bring out details. There is also a 'game color' slider which can help boost the vividness of colours if you want, and also a fairly common 'frame counter' graphic. There is also a cross hair graphic function available.

 


Lag

Read our detailed article about input lag and the various measurement techniques which are used to evaluate this aspect of a display. The screens tested are split into two measurements which are based on our overall display lag tests and half the average G2G response time, as measured by our oscilloscope. The response time element, part of the lag you can see, 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 of the lag you would feel from the display. We also classify each display as follows:

Lag Classification

  • Class 1) Less than 8.33ms - the equivalent to 1 frame lag of a display at 120Hz refresh rate - should be fine for gamers, even at high levels

  • Class 2) A lag of 8.33 - 16.66ms - the equivalent of one to two frames at a 120Hz refresh rate - moderate lag but should be fine for many gamers. Caution advised for serious gaming

  • Class 3) A lag of more than 16.66ms - the equivalent of more than 2 frames at a refresh rate of 120Hz - 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)

Low Input Lag
OFF

Low Input Lag
ON

Total Display Lag (SMTT 2)

7.50

3.70

Pixel Response Time Element

2.60

2.60

Estimated Signal Processing Lag

4.90

1.10

Lag Classification

1

1


 Class 1

The AG273QZ has an option in the OSD for 'Low Input Lag', so we tested the screen with this turned off and on for completeness. With it turned on (which is surely how everyone is going to use this screen?) the total lag measured was a very impressive 3.70 ms total. The pixel response times should account for most of that display lag at around 2.60ms, and so we can say that there appears to be around 1.10ms of signal processing lag on this screen which is basically nothing. An impressive result from this display and making it suitable for fast and competitive gaming.



Movies and Video

The following summarises the screens performance for videos and movie viewing:

Category

Display Specs / Measurements

Comments

Size

27" widescreen

Fairly typical for a desktop monitor nowadays and smaller than TV's by a lot

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Well suited to most common 16:9 aspect content and input devices

Resolution

2560 x 1440

Can support native 1080p content only, but not Ultra HD natively

HDCP

Yes

Suitable for encrypted content

Connectivity

2x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1x HDMI 2.0

Useful additional 2x HDMI input for external Blu-ray players or games consoles

Cables

DisplayPort and HDMI

Both cables provided in the box

Ergonomics

Tilt, height. swivel and rotate

Good range of adjustments suitable to positioning the screen in a variety of angles for different viewing positions. All pretty easy to move around.

Coating

Medium Anti-glare

Provides fairly clear image with a little bit of graininess, but avoids unwanted reflections of full glossy solutions

Brightness range

130 - 435 cd/m2

Good adjustment range offered including a high peak brightness. Limited at the lower adjustment range though for darker rooms. The backlight does not use PWM but does show some brightness fluctuations in some situations.

Contrast

745:1 after calibration

Only moderate IPS contrast ratio which should still be ok for most content. Buying an alternative VA technology panel would provide you a higher contrast ratio if you watch a lot of dark content and miss some shadow detail

Preset modes

None

There is no specific preset for videos or movies but you can customise one of the Gamer modes to your liking easily enough

Response times

5.2ms G2G, no overshoot at 240Hz

10.8ms G2G at 60Hz with no overshoot

Response times are very good overall at upper refresh rates, with no noticeable overshoot when using the optimal response time settings. Stick to the 'medium' response time setting for all refresh rates. At 60Hz the response times are quite a lot slower, so it is not as well suited to 60Hz inputs. The higher 'strong' overdrive setting is too aggressive and results in a lot of overshoot

Viewing angles

Limited

Limited TN Film viewing angles with noticeable contrast and tone shift from wider angles. Particularly restrictive vertically. Only really suitable for single person head-on viewing. Viewing darker content from an angle results in a purple/pink hue

Backlight bleed

Some bleed

Some bleed on our sample from the lower edge, but will vary from sample to sample

Audio

Headphone output and 2x 5W speakers

Basic integrated speakers on this model which might be ok for the occasional YouTube clip or mp3 and are reasonable quality. A headphone jack is also provided

Aspect Ratio Controls

Lots of modes supported

The default 16:9 aspect ratio is likely to serve most needs here anyway

PiP / PbP

Neither supported

n/a

HDR support

Nothing meaningful

It can accept an HDR input source, but is only certified to the rather meaningless HDR 400 standard which does not require any form of local dimming and so cannot offer improved dynamic range/contrast. There is some improvements on the colour side of things for HDR content with the wide colour gamut (90% DCI-P3)

 


Conclusion

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There is obviously a very limited choice at the moment if you are after a 27" sized screen and want 240Hz refresh rate, but don't want to sacrifice resolution and put up with a 1080p panel. The AG273QZ is one of only three models currently released with a 2560 x 1440 resolution and 240Hz and that's a significant improvement over 1080p, especially on a screen this size. The image looks sharper and clearer for all uses, and you have much more desktop real-estate to work with away from gaming. It was great to see that combo offered here. For gaming the screen performed very well, with good response times, no overshoot, very low lag and support for VRR from both NVIDIA and AMD systems. Response times were not pushed quite as fast as some other TN Film displays, although this did mean that the normal moderate to high levels of overshoot that appear on those other models was not a problem here at all. All things considered this is probably a better balance we felt. The response times were therefore not quite fast enough to keep up with the 240Hz frame rate demands, which resulted in a little more smearing than there perhaps should have been. But motion clarity at high refresh rates, especially at the upper end and 240Hz was still very good. The added MBR mode was also welcome, and worked pretty well with a decent amount of control offered. There's a familiar set of gaming enhancements included like shadow control, cross-hair graphics, RGB lighting and headphone hooks for instance that enhance the 'gamer' feel to the display. We also liked the added controller accessory which was very useful.

It's been a while since we've tested a TN Film screen and have probably been spoiled by the great colours and wide viewing angles of the many IPS panels we've seen released. You do of course have to live with some of the inherent limitations of TN Film with this screen, with the viewing angles being particularly restrictive on this display. The off-angle purple hue was distracting on darker content for instance. The contrast ratio was also weak, common on TN Film panels, but many can reach higher so it was a shame that it was so low here. There were a couple of other things we disliked including the odd brightness fluctuations at lower brightness settings, not a major issue like PWM but noticeable in some situations. The brightness adjustment range at the bottom end was also limited which was a bit restrictive for general day to day uses, and the lack of a useable sRGB emulation mode was also a shame. Although as a gaming screen the wide gamut will be attractive to many. These were just a few areas that could have been better and tweaked to allow more versatile usage away from gaming.

The AG273QZ is available to pre-order now (at the time of writing) and you can check pricing and availability using the links below. If  you're after a 27" 240Hz gaming display but want one with a higher 1440p resolution than the majority of options out there, take a look.

 

Pros

Cons

Combo of 1440p and 240Hz is very attractive

Weak contrast ratio, even for a TN Film panel

Very good motion clarity thanks to 240Hz, with fast response times, no overshoot and no lag

Some brightness fluctuations visible at lower brightness settings in particular

Useful additional gaming extras, especially the controller accessory

Limited lower brightness adjustment range and lack of a useable sRGB emulation mode

 

Check Pricing and Buy - Direct Links

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