New Year, New Gear

As we begin for 2020, we’ve got a number of things which will have completed reviews and associated benchmarks where applicable. Testing on the Ryzen 9 3900X has been very successful yet we’re working on isolating a specific system aspect which has resulted in an unanticipated performance boost. Getting a better bang for the buck is always nice but we need to confirm the validity of the identified variable before documenting it and reporting on it.

Over the holiday, a new gaming-centric monitor was also procured. The AOC CQ27G1 was nicely discounted at Micro Center. Outside of an initial look at the panel in the store, minimal investigation was performed prior to the purchase. Although the MSI Optix MAG27C was our initial item of interest, the reviews related to initial defects (dead pixels, multiple problematic replacements) found on Newegg and Amazon made us leery of said purchase, even if it was only $160 USD after rebate.

While some of the gripes that Linus Sebastian noted during his review of the CQ27G1 are legitimate if you’re comparing the display against an IPS panel or a VA panel with a stronger scale of brightness, there’s nothing at the price point of the CQ27G1 that comes close. Once the monitor is calibrated (more so than what was done in the linked video), white is properly represented and the images are sufficiently color accurate for games. No FreeSync-related anomalies have occurred over a week of intensive testing (black screen, white screen, signal loss). This behavior is superior to prior monitors that have been owned.

The Samsung C34F791 was a steaming pile of garbage with absolutely no vendor support for defects. A popping sound from the integrated speakers that sounded like water hitting a surface was combined with multiple dead pixels, signal loss when FreeSync was enabled and excessive banding when overdrive settings were implemented. Their choice to move the goal posts for a replacement cost them further sales. There will never be a Samsung device within the lab or the home.

The Dell S2716DG was another gaming monitor that is used as a point of reference. The move from IPS or VA to TN is something that requires considerable adjustment related to expectations. The initial monitor provided silky smooth framerates when paired with a 1080Ti yet there was a noticeable “splotch” in the upper middle section of the screen that would be indicative of excessive glue or other substance that was unable to be seen. While Dell’s support was good and addressed the RMA in a timely manner, the replacement monitor didn’t last six months.

Finally, the Acer ET322QU was our primary gaming monitor in 2019. Excluding the standard-issue considerations related to IPS glow, this screen would occasionally go white when FreeSync was enabled. As the panel did not have any dead pixels, the option to relocate it for a workflow where high frame rates are not required was an acceptable compromise.

Excluding the 250 nit peak brightness on the AOC CQ27G1, the only other rub involves adjusting settings in the dark. If you’ve used a monitor with a joystick-style controller, the multi-button layout in the CQ27G1 will take some getting used to from a muscle memory perspective. Getting a better representation of light hues is somewhat counter-intuitive on this display. Once you’ve dialed in the settings which are satisfactory from a brightness, contrast and color perspective, you’ll want to enable Bright Mode and have it extend the full length of the monitor. Without this option, things may be too dim.

The Micro Center in Mayfield Heights has the ASUS VG27AQ monitor sitting right next to the AOC CQ27G1. The overall image from the ASUS was significantly more bright and may be a superior option for brightly lit rooms. Granted, the $170 USD price jump makes the comparison uneven but it was a beautiful display that would better service workflows related to image editing and color correction while simultaneously offering gaming capabilities.

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