Shootouts

Battle of the 27-inch gaming monitors

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - 23 Feb 2016

Overview

Three monitor enter, but only one will leave as the winner.

In the past, choosing a gaming monitor was relatively easy.

Due to the advantages TN displays had over IPS panels, it was an easy choice to pick the TN displays over the IPS ones. Sure, the colors weren't as good as those on an IPS display, but the refresh rate and response time advantage made that a worthwhile trade-off.

In recent times though, IPS displays have steadily been getting better.

Where they once had 8ms or higher response times, today's IPS monitors can boast a relatively speedy 4ms response time, almost catching up with the 1 to 2ms response time of some TN displays. With the narrowing response time between both display types, it's getting harder for gamers to pick a good gaming display.

That's where we come in. We've corralled three worthy displays for our gaming monitor shootout. Two have IPS displays, one has a TN panel.

To fit into our criteria for selection, the monitors have to have fast refresh rates, at least 1080p resolution and come with NVIDIA's G-Sync tech built-in. G-Sync synchronizes the refresh rate of the monitor to match those of the GPU's frame draw output. Doing so eliminates screen tearing, while also reducing input lag and stuttering. All this means is that you can have a better experience on an older system, without changing any hardware other than the monitor (and a compatible graphics card). 

G-Sync support is included from NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 GPUs onwards (the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti is G-Sync capable, though the base GeForce GTX 650 isn't) so if you have a relatively recent NVIDIA GPU, it probably supports G-Sync already. Alternatively, if you have AMD cards and want something similar to G-Sync, you might want to consider AMD's solution, FreeSync.

On the most basic level, FreeSync is AMD's version of G-Sync. Like G-Sync, FreeSync eliminates screen tearing, as well as reducing stuttering and input lag. However, the caveat is that FreeSync requires a supported AMD GPU, much like G-Sync requires a supported NVIDIA one. The difference is how both standards are deployed.

NVIDIA's G-Sync requires NVIDIA's G-Sync hardware module to be used in the monitor, and the screen will also need to undergo qualifications by the green camp. All this drives up the cost of an NVIDIA G-Sync qualified screen. AMD's FreeSync however doesn't require dedicated hardware to be implemented in the monitors other than adhering to the Displyport 1.2a specs (more specifically, DisplayPort Adaptive Sync, which is based on AMD FreeSync) as adopted by the open VESA standards authority. So as long as monitors are able to engineer their monitors to adhere to these specs, a monitor technically meets the AMD FreeSync standard, without any testing and qualification by a third party. This is the reason why an AMD FreeSync monitor is vastly cheaper than an NVIDIA G-Sync monitor, despite both trying to achieve the same thing - bringing about a synced screen refresh that adjusts in real-time to match the GPU's output capability for a stutter-free and tear-free gaming experience.

As a result, both standards have become a requirement for a monitor to have to be considered a worthy gaming monitor. G-Sync monitors however are far more widespread (at this point in time), which is why all of our finalists are G-Sync qualified monitors.

So without further ado, let's take a look at the contenders.

Test Display Compared
  Acer XB270HU ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ Dell S2716DG
  Acer XB270HU ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ Dell S2716DG
Model
  • Acer XB270HU
  • ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ
  • Dell S2716DG
Display Type
  • IPS
  • IPS
  • TN
Display Area
  • 27 inches (diagonal)
  • 27 inches (diagonal)
  • 27 inches (diagonal)
Native Resolution
  • 2560 x 1440
  • 3840 x 2160
  • 2560 x 1440
Brightness
  • 350cd/m2
  • 300 cd/m2
  • 350 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio
  • 1000:1
  • 1000:1
  • 1000:1
Response Time
  • 4ms
  • 4ms
  • 1ms
Viewing Angle
  • 178°(Horizontal and Vertical)
  • 178° (Horizontal and Vertical)
  • 160° vertical / 170° horizontal
Inputs
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 4 x USB 3.0
Special Features
  • G-Sync
  • ULMB
  • Overdrive
  • G-Sync
  • Blue Light filter
  • GamePlus
  • ULMB
  • Overdrive
  • G-Sync
  • ULMB
  • Overdrive
Tilt
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Swivel
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Power
  • <90W
  • <90W
  • <90W
Dimensions
  • 624 x 511 x 245mm
  • 619.77 x 552.53 x 237.9mm
  • 612.5 x 546.3 x 55.6mm
Weight
  • 7kg
  • 7kg
  • 7kg

Now that you've seen a rundown of the contenders, head on to the next page and see how they stack up.

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