ASUS VG27AQ Review: 1440p 165Hz FreeSync IPS Gaming Monitor

The ASUS VG27AQ is a 27" 1440p 144Hz (165Hz OC) gaming monitor based on an IPS panel with FreeSync + MBR support.

Bottom Line

The ASUS VG27AQ is a decent gaming monitor, but there are better options at this price range with better optimized overdive, faster response time and wider color gamut.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(4.5)
Performance:
(4.2)
Price/Value:
(3.5)
4.3

Most gamers find 27″ 1440p high refresh rate displays to be the sweet spot for PC gaming. To their luck, the IPS variants have been regularly dropping in price lately, so let’s see how one of the more popular albeit older models, the ASUS TUF VG27AQ, stacks up today.

Image Quality

The 2560×1440 WQHD resolution nicely complements the 27″ screen of the VG27AQ monitor. You get a high pixel density of 108.79 PPI (pixels per inch), which translates to plenty of screen real estate with sharp details and text, and without any scaling necessary.

In comparison, 1080p resolution looks pixelated and smudgy on 27″ sized screens, while 4K UHD offers sharper details, but it’s a lot more demanding on your CPU/GPU and you have to use scaling to make small text readable.

Further, the IPS panel of the ASUS VG27AQ provides vivid and consistent colors with 178° wide viewing angles and full sRGB color gamut coverage.

The colors don’t extend over the standard sRGB color space, so there won’t be any over-saturation, however, this also means that the display lacks the vibrancy of wide color gamut displays, which are available around this price range with similar specs.

Regardless, some gamers actually prefer the more subdued colors of the sRGB color space as it is the native gamut for SDR content.

Thanks to the display’s full sRGB gamut coverage and wide viewing angles that ensure the image won’t degrade in quality at basically any angle, the ASUS VG27AQ is suited for entry-level color-critical work too. For professionals, a calibration via a colorimeter is required for proper accuracy.

Moving on, the monitor has a static contrast ratio of 1,000:1, so you won’t get quite as deep blacks as that of VA panels, which usually have a contrast ratio of around 3,000:1.

However, VA displays at this price range have other disadvantages, such as significantly slower response time speed that results in smearing, narrower viewing angles and variable refresh rate brightness flickering.

Another thing to keep in mind about IPS panels is IPS glow. It can be characterized as visible glowing around the corners of the screen that’s most noticeable when displaying dark content in a dark room with high brightness settings. The intensity of IPS glow varies from unit to unit, but it’s manageable in most cases.

Lastly, the monitor has a strong peak brightness of 350-nits, so it can get more than bright enough even in well-lit rooms. It can also accept the HDR10 signal, but it lacks proper hardware for a noteworthy HDR (High Dynamic Range) viewing experience, therefore, HDR should be disabled.

Performance

freesync and gsync

Moving on, the ASUS VG27AQ has a native refresh rate of 144Hz that can be overclocked up to 165Hz for a small boost in motion clarity.

Its pixel response time is not as fast as that of modern 1ms GtG IPS displays, so you might be able to notice some trailing artifacts behind fast-moving objects, but there’s no dark level smearing associated with even slower VA panels.

There are six overdrive levels under the Trace Free setting in the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu, ranging from ‘0’ to ‘100’ in increments of 20. At a fixed 144Hz – 165Hz refresh rate, we recommend going with ’60’ in order to avoid inverse ghosting.

Bumping it up to ’80’ can help remove some ghosting, but it will be replaced with some overshoot, so it’s up to you what you can tolerate more.

If you’re using a variable refresh rate (FreeSync or G-SYNC Compatible), you’ll have to change the overdrive setting at lower refresh rates. We recommend ‘0’ for around 60Hz/FPS and ’40’ for around 100Hz/FPS.

Variable refresh rate (VRR) synchronizes the monitor’s refresh rate with GPU’s frame rate in order to prevent screen tearing and stuttering at no perceptible input latency added.

It works up to 165FPS without any issues. The supported VRR range is 40-165Hz, but LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) will multiple the frame rates below 40FPS (39FPS -> 156Hz) to keep tearing at bay.

Input lag is low at around 4ms, which makes for imperceptible delay between your actions and the result on the screen.

Moreover, the monitor supports ELMB (Extreme Low Motion Blur) technology, which uses backlight strobing to reduce motion blur at a cost of picture brightness. You can even use VRR and ELMB at the same time via the ELMB-Sync feature.

In order to use ELMB-Sync, your refresh rate must be set to at least 75Hz, whereas if you want to use just ELMB, the minimum supported refresh rate is 100Hz.

Lastly, the monitor’s backlight is flicker-free (unless ELMB/Sync is enabled) and there’s an integrated low-blue light filter.

Features

ASUS GamePlus and GameVisual

At the rear of the monitor, there’s a directional joystick for quick and easy navigation through the OSD menu. You’ll also find three additional hotkeys for shortcuts and a power button/indicator.

Noteworthy gaming features include Shadow Boost (improves visibility in dark scenes by altering the gamma curvature), various picture presets, three customizable profiles, crosshair overlays, Sniper (zooms in the area around the crosshair), on-screen timers and a refresh rate tracker.

Besides the usual image adjustments (brightness, contrast, color temperature, aspect ratio, input source, etc.), the ASUS VG27AQ also offers saturation and sharpness settings, but there are no gamma options.

We recommend using the default Racing picture mode, while the VividPixel, Eco Mode and ASCR options should be disabled for optimal image quality.

Design & Connectivity

ASUS VG27AQ Monitor Design

The stand of the monitor is sturdy and offers a good range of ergonomics, including up to 130mm height adjustment, -5°/33° tilt, 90° counter-clockwise pivot, +/- 90° swivel and 100x100mm VESA mount compatibility.

Further, the screen has a light matte anti-glare coating that prevents reflections without making the image too grainy.

Connectivity options include DisplayPort 1.2, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a headphone jack and two 2W built-in speakers.

The HDMI ports are limited to 2560×1440 144Hz 8-bit color depth. With DisplayPort 1.2, you can use either 2560×1440 165Hz 8-bit or 2560×1440 120Hz 10-bit. We recommend going with 165Hz as the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit color isn’t noticeable in most content.

Price & Similar Monitors

The ASUS VG27AQ usually goes for $300.

At that price range, we recommend the MSI G273QF instead. It has a faster response time speed with better overdrive tuning as well as a wider color gamut.

It doesn’t have as an ergonomic stand, but you can pair it with a desk-clamp mounting stand or get the version with a more versatile design, the MSI G273QPF. It can also be found on sale for $300.

Keep in mind that there’s also the ASUS VG27AQL1A model, which is an entirely different monitor. It has a wider color gamut than the VG27AQ, but we still recommend MSI’s models due to their faster pixel response time speed and less overshoot.

Another thing to note is that the ASUS VG27AQE is the same monitor as the VG27AQ.

Conclusion

While the ASUS VG27AQ is a decent gaming monitor, there are better options available at this price range.

Specifications

Screen Size27-inch
Resolution2560×1440 (QHD)
Panel TypeIPS
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate144Hz (165Hz OC)
Response Time (GtG)Not specified
Response Time (ELMB-Sync)1ms (MPRT)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync (40-165Hz)
G-SYNC Compatible
Speakers2x2W
PortsDisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0
Other PortsHeadphone Jack
Brightness350 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio1000:1 (static)
Colors1.07 billion (8-bit + FRC)
99% sRGB
HDRHDR10
VESAYes (100x100mm)

The Pros:

  • High pixel density, wide viewing angles, consistent colors
  • Good response time speed
  • Plenty of features, including VRR + MBR up to 165Hz
  • Fully ergonomic design

The Cons:

  • IPS glow and mediocre contrast ratio (as expected from this panel technology)
  • Not as fast as modern IPS panels
  • No wide color gamut

Related Reads

Samsung C27H711 Review
Samsung CH711 Review (C32H711/C27H711): 1440p QLED Curved Gaming Monitor
Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.