ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ Monitor Review: Glorious 4K HDR, 144Hz G-SYNC Gaming
ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ: Panel Testing
It's fair to say that the average user just wants to unbox a new monitor, plug it in, and start using it without having to spending an inordinate amount of time dialing it in, or any time at all. You can certainly do that with the PG27UQ since it comes pre-calibrated from the factory using professional grade equipment. For our testing, we left the color temperature on Normal, the contrast at 50, and the Auto Black Level disabled.
Brightness, Contrast, Gradient, and Pixel Response
To kick things off, we headed over to Lagom's LCD monitor test pages and cycled through the image quality tests. It provides test pages for saturation, banding, sharpness, uniformity, and a few other variables. We supplemented this with the online monitor testing page at FlatpanelsDK, as that gives us a better look at the gradient response and pixel alignment.
One thing users may want to spend some time fiddling with is the brightness. This is a little tricky because there are several different places to do this—on the monitor itself, within Windows 10's display settings (the aforementioned slider for SDR content), and of course most games allow you to adjust the brightness in-game as well. It's a little daunting, but worth it in the long run.
Out of the box, the PG27UQ is a brilliant display. It's not just bright, but accurate as well. On some monitors, you can lose subtle details when cranking up the brightness, and you also run the risk of washing out colors. That is not the case with the PG27UQ. We also didn't notice any major banding issues, at either 10-bit (HDR turned on) or 8-bit (HDR turned off) color depths. Just as importantly, colors and backlighting appeared uniform across the panel.
One thing we did notice is that the gamma level appears lower than the 2.2 level that ASUS measured with its equipment. We looked at a variety of image tests, and in each case, the gamma level appeared below 2.0 to our eyes. This didn't seem to affect the overall picture quality though, as seen with the naked eye.
Viewing angles are very good on the PG27UQ as well, just as we have come to expect from IPS panels. The picture quality stays true to form at steep angles, save for a slight decrease in brightness on the far edge. That has more to do with physics than the panel itself. More importantly, images remain clear and easily viewable when looking at the monitor from an angle.
What's with the picture above? We took a photo of the monitor, in the dark, with a black background to highlight the lack of backlight bleeding. You'll notice that the only visible specs of light are the ROG logo beamed on the wall, and the glowing bits from our Razer Seiren microphone. As for the monitor itself, our test unit didn't exhibit any backlight bleeding in the sides or edges.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also took measurements of a white background with our lux meter to gauge any changes in luminance. Here are the measurements we took in SDR:
- Center: 659 lux
- Top Left: 598 lux
- Top Right: 598 lux
- Bottom Left: 604 lux
- Bottom Right: 604 lux
And here are the measurements in HDR:
- Center: 1,564 lux
- Top Left: 1,435 lux
- Top Right: 1,420 lux
- Bottom Left: 1,470 lux
- Bottom Right: 1,440 lux
Our measurements indicate only a slight decrease in brightness in the corners and edges, compared to the center. These are imperceptible differences and indicative of uniform brightness across the entire panel.
Finally, we used our Datacolor Spyder5 calibration tool to tune and measure the color accuracy of the PG27UQ, and specifically to see if it lives up to the claimed 99 percent coverage of the AdobeRGB color space (or 98.2 percent, as indicated on the included calibration report). In short, it did. Our analysis came up with a 98 percent reading, along with 94 percent NTSC and 100 percent sRGB.
Those numbers held true when testing in both RGB (4:4:4) at 98Hz and YCbCr 4:4:4 at 144Hz.
Measurements aside, we looked at some high resolution photographs and 4K HDR videos to see what our eyes would tell us. The video above offers a nice mix of visuals to see what 4K HDR brings to the table. It's also viewable on SDR displays, you just won't see the images in all their glory.
Obviously this is not something we can demonstrate, as the quality of the video depends entirely on what monitor you're watching it on. However, we can say it looks appreciably better than it does on non-HDR monitors, and even most HDR ones. The brightness capabilities of the PG27UQ serve this kind of content well, to the point where it's difficult to go back to using a different monitor. There's a scene early on where a dirt bike is kicking up dirt, and we can see surface details of some of the rocks in the background. These same details are lost on other displays, or at least muted—you don't have to look closely for them on the PG27UQ.
We also fired up a bunch of videos on Netflix, including a mix of HDR and non-HDR content. Chasing Coral falls into the former category and offers some interesting looks of the ocean and its inhabitants, though it's not the best demonstration of HDR in our opinion. However, there are some well lit scenes where different people are being interviewed, and those gave us an opportunity to examine flesh tones. They looked accurate to our eyeballs, and did not exhibit a reddish tint that you sometimes find on lower quality panels and displays that are not properly tuned. In addition, the high refresh rate and relatively fast response time prevent any instances of ghosting that we could detect.
Of course, ASUS built this monitor for gaming first and foremost, so let's see how it handles actual gameplay...