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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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    Because I use the same system for gaming and general desktop use. My main display is my biggest and best monitor and thus used for both. At some hypothetical point in time if I had a pair of high end displays as my both my center and as one of my side displays having different ones as my gaming and desktop use might be an option. But because I'd still be using the other as a secondary display not switching off/absolutely ignoring it, I'd still probably want my main screen to be the center one for both roles so I'd have secondaries to either side; so I'd probably still want the same for both. If I were to end up with both a 4k display and an ultrawide - in which case the best one to game on would vary by title it might become a moot point. (Or I could go 4 screens with small ones on each side and 2 copies of my chat app open I suppose.) Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    Still using the 32" Predator? Reply
  • edzieba - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    "Why not get an equally capable OLED/QLED at a much bigger size for less money ?"

    Because there are no feature equivalent devices.

    TVs do not actually accept an update rate of 120Hz, they will operate at 60Hz and either just do double-pulse backlighting or add their own internal interpolation. QLED 'HDR' desktop monitors lack the FALD backlight, so are not HDR monitors (just SDR panels that accept and compress a HDR signal).
    Reply
  • wolrah - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    A small subset of TVs actually do support native 120Hz inputs, but so far I've only seen that supported at 1080p due to HDMI bandwidth limitations.

    For a while it was just a few specific Sony models that supported proper 1080p120 but all the 2017/2018 LG OLEDs do as well as some of the higher end Vizios and a few others.
    Reply
  • resiroth - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    LG OLED TVs accept 120hz (and actually display true 120 FPS) but at a lower 1080p resolution. They also do 4K/60 of course. Not a great substitute though. If I were spending so much on a monitor I would demand it be oled though. Otherwise I’m spending 1500-1600 more than a 1440p monitor just to get 4K. I mean, cool? But why not go 2000-2500 more and get something actually unique, a 4K 144hz OLED HDR monitor that will be useful for 10 years or so.

    This thing will be obsolete the second oled monitors come out. There simply is no comparison.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    Regardless of all the technical refresh rate limitations already pointed out, not everyone wants to go that big. 40" is already kinda huge for a desktop display; anything larger takes over the desk, makes it tough to have any side displays, and forces a lot more window management that's just not optimal for people that use their PC for anything but gaming.

    I'd rather have a 1440p 165Hz 27" & 4K 32" on moving arms even than a single 4K 50"+ display with a lower DPI than even my old 1920x1200 24"...
    Reply
  • lilkwarrior - Monday, October 08, 2018 - link

    To be fair, most would rather have a 4K ultra-wide (LG) or 1440p Ultrawide rather than multiple displays or a TV.

    5K is an exception since more room for controls for video work & etc is a good compromise for some to the productive convenience of more horizontal real estate an ultrawide provides.

    Most enthusiasts are waiting for HDMI 2.1 to upgrade, so this monitor & current TVs this year are DOA.
    Reply
  • milkod2001 - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    This is nearly perfect. Still way overpriced what it is. I'd like to get similar but at 32'' size, 100Hz would be enough, don't need this fancy useless stand with holographic if price can be much cheaper, let it be factory calibrated, good enough for bit of Photoshop and also games. All at $1200 max. Wonder how long we have to wait for something like that. Reply
  • milkod2001 - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    Forgot to mention it would obviously be 4k. The closest appears to be: BenQ PD3200U but it is only 60Hz monitor and 2017 model. Would want something newer and with 100Hz. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, October 02, 2018 - link

    To be fair, a mix of photoshop an also games at that screen res 60Hz would prob be enough since can't push modern games that high for MOST part. I have that Acer Z35P 120Hz monitor, and even with 1080Ti its hard pressed to get lots of games max it out. That is at 3440x1440.

    My 2nd "work" monitor next to it is the awesome Dell U3818DW (38 inches) @ 3840x1500 60Hz I actually prefer the dell to strategy games because of size, because FPS is not as huge concern.

    But playing Pubg on the Acer 120Hz will get 80-90fps
    Reply

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