Delayed past its original late 2017 timeframe, let alone the April and May estimates, NVIDIA’s G-Sync HDR technology finally arrived over the last couple months courtesy of Asus’ ROG Swift PG27UQ and Acer’s Predator X27. First shown at Computex 2017 as prototypes, the 27-inch displays bring what are arguably the most desired and visible aspects of modern gaming monitors: ultra high resolution (4K), high refresh rates (144Hz), and variable refresh rate technology (G-Sync), all in a reasonably-sized quality panel (27-inch IPS-type). In addition to that, of course, are the various HDR-related capabilities with brightness and color gamut.

Individually, these features are just some of the many modern display technologies, but where resolution and refresh rate (and also input latency) are core to PC gaming, those elements typically work as tradeoffs, with 1440p/144Hz being a notable middle ground. So by the basic 4K/144Hz standard, we have not yet had a true ultra-premium gaming monitor. But today, we look at one such beast with the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ.

ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ G-SYNC HDR Monitor Specifications
  ROG Swift PG27UQ
Panel 27" IPS (AHVA)
Resolution 3840 × 2160
Refresh Rate OC Mode 144Hz (HDR, 4:2:2) 144Hz (SDR, 4:2:2)
Standard 120Hz (HDR, 4:2:2)
98Hz (HDR, 4:4:4)
120Hz (SDR, 4:4:4)
Over HDMI 60Hz
Variable Refresh Rate NVIDIA G-Sync HDR module
(actively cooled)
Response Time 4 ms (GTG)
Brightness Typical 300 - 600 cd/m²
Peak 1000 cd/m² (HDR)
Contrast Typical 1000:1
Peak 50000:1 (HDR)
Backlighting FALD, 384 zones
Quantum Dot Yes
HDR Standard HDR10 Support
Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical
Pixel Density 163 pixels per inch
0.155mm pixel pitch
Color Depth 1.07 billion
(8-bit with FRC)
Color Gamut sRGB: 100%
Adobe RGB: 99%
 DCI-P3: 97%
Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.4
1 × HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5-mm audio jack
USB Hub 2-port USB 3.0
Stand Adjustments Tilt: +20°~-5°
Swivel: +160°~+160°
Pivot: +90°~-90°
Height Adjustment: 0~120 mm
Dimensions (with stand) 634 x 437-557 x 268 mm
VESA Mount 100 × 100
Power Consumption Idle: 0.5 W
Peak: 180 W (HDR)
Price $1999

As an ultra-premium gaming monitor of that caliber, the PG27UQ also has an ultra-premium price of $1999. For reasons we’ll soon discuss, the pricing very much represents the panel’s HDR backlighting unit, quantum dot film, and G-Sync HDR module. The full-array local dimming (FALD) backlighting system delivers the brightness and contrast needed for HDR, while the quantum dot film enhances the representable colors to a wider gamut, another HDR element. The new generation G-Sync HDR module deals with the variable refresh implementation, but with HDR, high refresh rate, and high resolution combined, bandwidth constraints require chroma subsampling beyond 98Hz.

In terms of base specifications, the PG27UQ is identical to Acer’s Predator X27 as it uses the same AU Optronics panel, and both monitors are essentially flagships for the G-Sync HDR platform, which includes the curved ultrawide 35-inch models and 4K 65-inch Big Format Gaming Displays (BFGD). Otherwise, there isn’t anything new here that we haven’t already known about in the long run-up.

NVIDIA G-SYNC HDR Monitor Lineup
  Acer
Predator X27
ASUS
ROG Swift PG27UQ
Acer
Predator X35
ASUS
ROG Swift PG35VQ
Acer
Predator BFGD
ASUS
ROG Swift PG65
HP
OMEN X 65 BFGD
Panel 27" IPS-type (AHVA) 35" VA
1800R curve
65" VA?
Resolution 3840 × 2160 3440 × 1440 (21:9) 3840 × 2160
Pixel Density 163 PPI 103 PPI 68 PPI
Max Refresh Rates 144Hz
60Hz (HDMI)
200Hz
60Hz (HDMI)
120Hz
60Hz (HDMI)
Backlighting FALD (384 zones) FALD (512 zones) FALD
Quantum Dot Yes
HDR Standard HDR10 Support
Color Gamut sRGB
DCI-P3
Inputs 2 × DisplayPort 1.4
1 × HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort 1.4
HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort 1.4
HDMI 2.0
Ethernet
Price $1999 TBA TBA
Availability Present 2H 2018?

Furthermore, Asus’ ROG Swift PG27UQ also had a rather insightful channel for updates on their ROG forums, so there's some insight into the panel-related firmware troubles they've been having.

How We Got Here: Modern Gaming Monitors and G-Sync HDR

One of the more interesting aspects about the PG27UQ is about its headlining features. The 3840 x 2160 ‘4K’ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate are very much in the mix, and so is the monitor being not just G-Sync but G-Sync HDR. Then there is the HDR aspect, with the IPS-type panel that has localized backlighting and a quantum dot film. G-Sync HDR means both a premium tier of HDR monitor, as well as the new generation of G-Sync that works with high dynamic range gaming.

Altogether, the explanation isn’t very succinct for gamers, especially compared to a non-HDR gaming monitor, and it has all to do with the vast amount of moving parts involved in consumer monitor features, something more thoroughly covered by Brett. For some context, recent display trends include

  • Higher resolutions (e.g. 1440p, 4K, 8K)
  • Higher refresh rates (e.g. 120Hz, 165Hz, 240Hz)
  • Variable refresh rate (VRR) (e.g. G-Sync, FreeSync)
  • Panel size, pixel density, curved and/or ultrawide formats
  • Better panel technology (e.g. VA, IPS-type, OLED)
  • Color bit depth
  • Color compression (e.g. chroma subsampling)
  • Other high dynamic range (HDR) relevant functions for better brightness/contrast ratios and color space coverage, such as local dimming/backlighting and quantum dot films

These features obviously overlap, and much of their recent developments are not so much ‘new’ as they are now ‘reasonably affordable’ to the broader public. For a professional class price, monitors for professional visualization have offered many of the same specifications. And most elements are ultimately limited by PC game support, even uncapped refresh rates and 4K+ resolutions. This is, of course, not including connection standards, design (i.e. bezels and thinness), or gaming monitor features (e.g. ULMB). All these bits, and more, are served up to consumers in a bevy of numbers and brands.

Why does all of this matter? All of these points are points of discussion with the Asus ROG Swift PG27UQ, and especially to G-Sync HDR at the heart of this display. Gaming monitors are moving beyond resolution and refresh rate in their feature sets, especially as games start to support HDR technologies (i.e. HDR10, Dolby Vision, FreeSync 2 tone-mapping). To implement those overlapping features, much more has to do with the panel rather than the VRR hardware/specification, which has become the de facto identifier of a modern gaming monitor. The goal is no longer summarized by ‘faster frames filled with more pixels’ and becomes more difficult to communicate, let alone market, to consumers. And this has much to do with where G-Sync (and VRR) started and what it is now aspiring to be.

From G-Sync Variable Refresh To G-Sync HDR Gaming Experience
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  • lilkwarrior - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    OLED isn't covered by VESA HDR standards; it's far superior picture quality & contrast.

    QLED cannot compete with OLED at all in such things. I would very much get a Dolby Vision OLED monitor than a LED monitor with a HDR 1000 rating.
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    You can't even call HDR with a pathetic low contrast IPS. Reply
  • resiroth - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    Peak luminance levels are overblown because they’re easily quantifiable. In reality, if you’ve ever seen a recent LG TV which can hit about 900 nits peak that is too much. https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/lg/c8

    It’s actually almost painful.

    That said I agree oled is the way to go. I wasn’t impressed by any LCD (FALD or not) personally. It doesn’t matter how bright the display gets if it can’t highlight stars on a night sky etc. without significant blooming.

    Even 1000 bits is too much for me. The idea of 4000 is absurd. Yes, sunlight is way brighter, but we don’t frequently change scenes from night time to day like television shows do. It’s extremely jarring. Unless you like the feeling of being woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night by a flood light. It’s a hard pass.
    Reply
  • Hxx - Saturday, October 06, 2018 - link

    the only competition is Acer which costs the same. If you want Gsync you have to pony up otherwise yeah there are much cheaper alternatives. Reply
  • Hixbot - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    Careful with this one, the "whistles" in the article title is referring to the built-in fan whine. Seriously, look at the newegg reviews. Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    "because I know"

    I wouldn't be so sure. Not for Gsync, at least. AU Optronics is the only panel producer for monitor sized displays that even gives a flip about pushing lots of high refresh rate options on the market. A 2560x1440 144hz monitor 3 years ago still costs just as much today (if not more, due to upcoming China-to-US import tariffs, starting with 10% on October 1st 2018, and another 15% (total 25%) in January 1st 2019.

    High refresh rate GSync isn't set to come down anytime soon, not as long as Nvidia has a stranglehold on GPU market and not as long as AU Optronics is the only panel manufacturer that cares about high refresh rate PC monitor displays.
    Reply
  • lilkwarrior - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    Japan Display plans to change that in 2019. IIRC Asus is planning to use their displays for a portable Professional OLED monitor.

    I would not be surprised they or LG created OLED gaming monitors from Japan Display that's a win-win for gamers, Japan Display, & monitor manufacturers in 2020.

    Alternatively they surprise us with MLED monitors that Japan Display also invested in + Samsung & LG.

    That's way better to me than any Nano-IPS/QLED monitor. They simply cannot compete.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    I would GLADLY pay the premium over the $600-1,000 alternatives IF I thought I was really going to take advantage of what the display offers in the next 2 or even 4 years... But that's the issue. I'm trying to move away from SLI/CF (2x R9 290 atm, about to purchase some sort of 2080), not force myself back into it.

    You're gonna need SLI RTX 2080s (Ti or not) to really eke out frame rates fast enough for the refresh rate to matter at 4K, chances are it'll be the same with the next gen of cards unless AMD pulls a rabbit out of a hat and quickly gets a lot more competitive. That's 2-3 years easy where SLI would be a requirement.

    HDR support seems to be just as much of a mess... I'll probably just end up with a 32" 4K display (because I'm yearning for something larger than my single 16:10 24" and that approaches the 3x 24" setup I've used at times)... But if I wanted to try a fast refresh rate display I'd just plop down a 27" 1440p 165Hz next to it.

    Nate's conclusion is exactly the mental calculus I've been doing, those two displays are still less money than one of these and probably more useful in the long run as secondary displays or hand me down options... As awesome as these G-Sync HDR displays may be, the vendor lock in around G-Sync and active cooling makes em seem like poor investments.

    Good displays should last 5+ years easy IMO, I'm not sure these would still be the best solution in 3 years.
    Reply
  • Icehawk - Wednesday, October 03, 2018 - link

    Grab yourself an inexpensive 32" 4k display, decent ones are ~$400 these days. I have an LG and it's great all around (I'm a gamer btw), it's not quite high end but it's not a low end display either - it compares pretty favorably to my Dell 27" 2k monitor. I just couldn't see bothering with HDR or any of that other $$$ BS at this point, plus I'm not particularly bothered by screen tearing and I don't demand 100+ FPS from games. Not sure why people are all in a tizzy about super high FPS, as long as the game runs smoothly I am happy. Reply
  • WasHopingForAnHonestReview - Saturday, October 06, 2018 - link

    You dont belong here, plebian. Reply

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