Asus PG278QR Review
Editor’s note: The price for this monitor dropped on 6/2/17. We can consider most if not all of the gaming monitors available to us as cutting edge or the cream of the crop, and most of these models rarely get a refresh or a remodel. Newer iterations almost always come with a different model name or series, or incremental increases in capabilities. This marketing pattern is more widely seen on other hardware such as processors or video cards but is rarely applied to display products since most users would keep on using them for years, either until they break or if the specs become obsolete. Considering where we are at right now with display tech, becoming outdated seems to take quite a while, so most manufacturers do not even bother on upgrading all product lines since there are already available options that cover extended uses such as the ultra-wide screens we have seen. There are, however, a few exceptional offerings that have become so popular and well loved, and even after being available for a time, demand still is quite high. One such model is Asus’ PG278Q, which despite the availability of an IPS version (Asus PG279Q) and a 4K version ( Asus PG27AQ), still tops the list for the most sought after gaming monitors with its top-quality TN, a full array of features, and visionary looks. The manufacturer announced an updated version to this well-loved product, named the Asus PG278QR. This latest offering from Asus carries the same features we have come to adore with the previous version, plus a few more additions to push the meaning of cutting-edge further for the hardcore gamer.
Asus PG278QR Specifications
- Screen Size: 27 Inches
- Resolution: 1440p QHD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Panel Technology: Twisted Nematic (TN)
- Refresh Rate: 165hz
- Response Time: 1ms
- Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 (Static)
- Brightness: 350 cd/m²
- Built-in Speakers: No
- Stand: Height -Yes (4.72 inches)
- Stand: Tilt – Yes (-5°/+20°)
- Stand: Swivel – Yes (-60°/+60°)
- Stand: Pivot – Yes (0°/90°)
- VESA Compatibility: Yes (100 x 100)
- Connectivity: HDMI x 2, DisplayPort 1.2 x 1, HDMI x 1, USB 3.0 x 2
- Dimensions with Stand(WxHxD): 24.41″ x 21.77″ x 9.37″
- Dimensions without Stand: 24.5″ x 14.29″ x 2.6″
- Weight: 15.43lbs
Design and Features of Asus PG278QR
If you are familiar with the Asus PG278Q, one of the first 144hz 1440p Gsync monitors available, then the QR version offers no difference whatsoever from a physical standpoint aside from a few updates. This release still has the 6mm thin bezels which are almost unnoticeable against the massive viewing space, and the lines are clean apart from an Asus logo in the middle of the bottom bezel. The cabinet has a unique matte black finish all around, and once you turn your view towards the back, the slanting lines the passive cooling vents make are immediately noticeable. The ROG Swift design queues are one of the best in the market in my opinion, and this is a possibility why Asus decided to keep the scheme, while also cutting costs that would come with a newer look. The ROG Swift stand we see in this range is also one of the best, which gives plenty of ergonomics for ease of use. These adjustments are very critical for the Asus PG278QR since it still uses a TN panel which will require an acceptable position to avoid image degradation since TNs have limited viewing angles. Movements are still smooth and easy, and the display sits stable on top of your desk without wobbling or losing your preferred position. The red ring accent on the base illuminates with a red light from a LED source, and it also has a steady and pulsating setting users can define according to their preference. The mount also detaches to reveal 100 x 100 VESA holes for wall attachment.
One thing different about the QR version is its additional HDMI port, making the I/O layout similar to what the PG279Q has on its back. This feature is one of the few characteristics the two separate models have in common, and it is a welcome addition for consumers. Having an HDMI slot introduces an additional input source such as a game console or an HTPC, but the 165hz at 1440p operation still requires a DisplayPort connection to function. The I/O orientation remains the same, hidden in a down firing position, which makes cable management ideal since users will find it easier to slip the wires into the V-shaped cable tidy hole on the neck of the stand. The OSD buttons are also on this side of the monitor, at the lower left part of the back panel (accessible from the lower-right when facing the front). There are four buttons here, one for the power switch, one for a Turbo hotkey that toggles between fixed refresh rates, and the GamePlus key which activates four crosshair overlays and a timer. The OSD is accessed via the six-axis joystick found above the mentioned buttons, which is a favored feature that makes navigating between the menus convenient.
Display and Performance
The Asus PG278QR features a similar 27-inch TN panel with a 2560 x 1440 resolution to its predecessor which also features an 8-bit color LUT, 1000:1 contrast and 1ms response time. The improvement in this model is the additional ability to overclock the refresh rate to 165hz similar to what the PG279Q is capable of regarding speed. Most of us are skeptical of this spec since mostly it is a marketing ploy, and generally when refresh rates go over 120hz or 144hz, users would get diminishing returns regarding actual performance. For most, the difference is negligible, especially if your viewing experience is from a 60hz product. But in tests, some users have claimed to notice the difference, and at times, able to distinguish which is which in a blind test. Most of the testers who testified to seeing the difference have been using 144hz regularly, so that is a significant factor in experiencing actual improvement. Input lag is also unaffected by this in practice since the 21hz difference would mostly only add a 0.09 difference which is too little to perceive. But then again, experienced users or professional gamers may notice the improvement, but for regular users, this fact is irrelevant.
With regards to color-critical performance, the PG278QR still does not disappoint. This product still features one of the best color reproductions we have seen from a TN panel, making this a better option for fast-paced games such as Overwatch and CS: GO. The true 8-bit color interface helps this product a lot in this aspect, even when comparing it side by side against its IPS sibling, the PG279Q. Out of the box, colors, contrast and white balance appeared excellent, and this performance is something this newer model inherits from its predecessor. Still, some tinkering with the color options on the menu are better than using the built-in gaming presets, but even if you decide to tweak, there are only minor flaws which are easily corrected by an adjustment in the color menus.
Achieving 165hz is not an easy feat especially on demanding titles at 2560 x 1440, for that you may need a high-end card like the GTX 1080, which in some cases, still cannot produce the high refresh rates worthy of the ROG swift’s powers. For this dilemma, the PG278QR has Nvidia’s Gsync technology. In Battlefield 1 tests, frames kept dropping substantially from time to time, but these events did not produce any noticeable stuttering and blurs were hardly unnoticeable. Nvidia’s exclusive VRR tech may command a hefty premium, but once you have seen the advantage it brings to the table for yourself, you may forget the additional cost of getting a compatible product. If you have enough refresh rates to maximize the PG278QR’s performance and Gsync is not needed, this monitor also features an Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) feature syncs the backlight with fixed refresh rates. These two features make the latest Asus ROG Swift product a beast as far as gaming monitors go. On top of all of these features mentioned, the Asus PG278QR is also flicker-free like the rest of Asus’ monitor products and the blue light filter modes found in the OSD are also present for usage, so gaming for hours is eye-friendly and stress-free.
The Asus ROG Swift PG278QR offers a significant increase in the most important facet of gaming monitors, which is a high refresh rate capable of eliminating stutters and screen tearing. The benefits of this improvement may seem subjective or dependent on each, but this upgrade further bridges the gap between the TN and IPS versions of this product line. Aside from this fact, the newer version also inherited the outstanding performance which made the predecessor, the PG278Q, a popular choice among hardcore gamers. The featured speedy response rates, low input lag, and color-critical performance that is not quite good as what IPS panels can provide but still gives the latter a run for its money is still apparent in this model, and that is a good thing. The addition of an HDMI port is also a welcome change, as it allows users to add another input source to the monitor, resolving one of the biggest complaints against the outgoing PG278Q, which is its limited connectivity. The biggest question for this product is in the pricing. At the time of this writing, the Amazon and other popular online sellers still have no listing for the Asus PG278Q, but when switching over to the UK websites, they have it listed at a little over £600 Pounds or around $760. Currently, the predecessor is available for $679 on average, so the difference is around the $100 range. From a practical standpoint, the extra 21Hz and HDMI ports are hard to justify the additional premium of a newer model, but for the hardcore fans and gamers, that may not be a problem at all.