The robotically named PG279Q from ASUS’ “Republic Of Gamers” (ROG) Swift product line is by no means the newest of monitors available on the market. In fact it was released over twelve months ago in late 2015, which begs the question: why am I reviewing it now at the beginning of 2017?
Since it’s release the PG279Q has received an inordinate amount of praise. Reviewers and consumers alike consider it to be one of, if not the best, gaming monitor available today. Retailing at just under A$1200 it would want to be too and it’s for that reason I had to get my hands on one to see what all the fuss was about.
The PG279Q is powered by a beautiful 27” 2560×1440 (WQHD) IPS panel with a pixel density of 109 pixels per inch. IPS is the important acronym in that sentence (in case you wondering) and a distinguishing factor between this model and it’s predecessor the PG278Q. By using an IPS panel the new model now inherits ultra wide viewing angles (almost 180 degrees horizontally), as well as an 100% sRGB colour gamut meaning it outputs true colour representation, a feature enjoyed by professionals such as photographers and in printing services.
That’s all fine and dandy but where the PG279Q’s monitor truly out-does itself is in its ability to run at an incredibly fast 165Hz refresh rate. This means that in a single second the monitor is able to draw a full image on its screen up to 165 times – providing your video card and rig can push it out that fast of course. That may sound ridiculous but it can have a large effect on games reducing motion blur and lag. The difference between what is a vastly more common monitor refresh rate of 60Hz compared to newer, often gaming focused ones running at 120Hz, 140Hz and now 165Hz is palpable – especially for those playing first person shooters or racing titles.
ASUS’ ROG line is also popular for it’s continued Nvidia G-Sync integration of which the PG279Q also includes. Just as with its more open rival FreeSync (made use of by AMD video cards), G-Sync aims to remove any screen-tearing by syncing your display’s refresh rate automatically with the output from your video card.
Enough about function, lets talk about form
Aesthetically, just like any ROG or gamer-marketed product for that matter, the PG279Q makes a definitive and loud statement. Thankfully things can be somewhat toned down, it’s throbbing glowing red lighting scheme for example, easily disabled through the monitor’s on-screen menu system.
That’s not to say the monitor is unattractive, it’s more a matter of does it fit in? It’s enclosure is quite sleek and reminiscent of a stealth bomber with flat, angled surfaces for every component from its base to stand and of course the panel. The end result is quite effective but it does scream to a certain demographic and ultimately may not be the look you want when it’s sitting on a desk in the workplace or in an open study area of a family home.
The stand itself, which doubles as a cable management system by simply having a large hole in its centre, can be adjusted easily making it easy to find that perfect position. Height adjustable up to 120mm the panel can also be tilted from 20 degrees back to -5 and the entire screen rotated up to 60 degree in either direction. The screen can also be rotated a full 90 degrees for those wanting to use it in portrait mode but I can’t imagine many wanting to do that.
Communication is key
Asus have certainly opted for a minimalist approach when it comes to connectivity for the PG279Q. It’s actually kind of refreshing seeing so few ports on its under-belly. On it you’ll find a single DisplayPort 1.2 port, one HDMI 2 port, 2 USB 3 inputs and a single USB 3 type B port for connecting them to your rig.
Some might argue having a single HDMI limits the monitor’s appeal but realistically those buying a monitor with an up-to 165Hz refresh rate aren’t those likely to be using it as a monitor for plugging in multiple HDMI devices like a Chromecast or an Apple TV. This is unapologetically aimed towards PC gamers that may happen to want to add another PC or device via HDMI should they need to.
For example I had the monitor connected to my Apple MacBook Pro via the HDMI and then my gaming rig over the more suited DisplayPort. Noticeably annoying should you be using both inputs however was the sad exclusion of automatic input switching and the requirement to then trudge through it’s simple, yet somewhat antiquated menu system.
The menus were quite easily accessible and navigable courtesy of the positioning of the monitor’s large quick-access buttons and menu navigation joystick at the rear of the right hand side of the panel. Its user interface seems somewhat antiquated after playing with more recent models from LG. Options seemed buried and slightly unclear not to mention the failure to even tell you which of the monitor’s game mode colour presets was its default (It’s “Racing” BTW). With that said I much preferred the ASUS’ hardware button size and placement over any other manufacturer I’ve tested thus far.
Beneath the monitor’s menu joystick are four more quick access buttons, the first is simply a “cancel” or “exit” button, the next is dedicated to opening it’s “GamePlus” features, which I’ll talk about in a moment, a power button and a fourth to directly toggle between it’s available refresh rates without having to go into your operating system’s connected hardware settings.
GamePlus is a set of three loosely gaming related features baked directly into the hardware. The most useless of these a timer feature that I assume is for speed-runners or gaming while waiting for an egg to boil? The second, an FPS counter, which was actually quite good to have enabled when testing the monitor’s refresh rate and how my GPU was going but largely there for bragging rights I’d say and then finally a crosshair overlay that can be toggled through a variety of colours and is placed in the centre of the screen to ensure you know exactly what you’re pointing at.
That’s great but is it any good?
The 165Hz 1440p IPS panel on the PG279Q is without a doubt the only reason this continues to remain “the” monitor to buy… if you’re a gamer. Not that I can’t imagine there being too many people out there considering the ROG line if you were otherwise.
No longer the fastest, nor the highest resolution, it remains atop due to a solid combination of all aspects; speed, resolution and colour. Where others have better refresh rates the PG279G has better panel technology and resolution, where others have higher or wider resolutions it offers faster refresh rates, all of this plus the added bonus of G-Sync tech baked in.
It’s not without it’s teeny tiny problems though. Automatic input detection and switching for example, an issue for me but likely not all who might be buying one. The quality and even inclusion of a speaker system is another oddity for my reckoning, only someone truly desperate for an audio source might find a reason to use them.
Lastly, being an ROG product that is “built for gamers” it could do a better job of accommodating input devices and their still prolifically corded connections. Connection of devices is easy enough and the “cable management” does allow the routing of cables but I’d like to see them thought about in an aesthetically and functional way like LG has done of late in providing a loop for the mouse cord to route through or even better a pathway for my keyboard’s USB cord to go directly into the base of the monitor instead of around it.
It’s when you have to go those depths to find something “wrong” with a product you realise just how good and it is at its job though. The PG279Q provides fantastic colour depth at a high resolution and an amazing refresh rate, and for now, deserves to remain King.