ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ review – Here’s what an RM11K monitor feels like!

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About 4 years ago, we had the first ever 4K monitor in our labs by ASUS and our take away back then was that 4K would need more time to mature before it is adopted widely. This was the time when Nvidia’s GTX780 was the dominant card in the market. 2 years later, ASUS introduced this massive dream at CES and fast forward another 2 years, we have the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ right here with us today. A lot changes in the technology landscape in 2 years, but despite that, the PG27UQ still feels like something from far in the future.

Unboxing ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ

Everything that you need is here – and more! The power adapter is twice the size of the earlier G-Sync monitors but that’s no surprise because the PG27UQ requires about 180W of power draw in HDR mode which is the highest among any monitors that I have ever owned before.

A choice of HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 cables are supplied where the DP1.4 cable is an AWM Style 20276 30V VW-1 Revision 80° rated for 8K. An additional USB upstream cable is also provided to integrate the USB 3.0 ports at the back of the monitor.

ASUS has also included VESA mountings in case you want to waste most of the monitor’s beauty and mount it on a swinging arm or the wall. Included also, is the bottom cap that will project the ROG logo to your desk, along with one extra similar ROG filter and three empty ones in case you want to customize your own. A shield is also included to cover the back of the monitor and hide the ports to give the PG27UQ a tidy look. But these are all common, if you ask me. You know what blew my mind when I unboxed the PG27UQ?

This! This right here! This is how far ASUS has gone with the quality control over the PG27UQ. It’s a color calibration testing report specifically for this monitor that is right in front of me. No, this is not a batch calibration. In fact, the report is marked with the monitor’s serial number to tell you that this report only belongs to the owner of this specific monitor. And take a look at what it shows us here. It has been tested with the Minolta Color Analyzer CA310 in SDR mode with Gamma set to 2.2 (default out of the box settings). It delivered 2.3 Gamma in 100% Color Space and 1.68 accuracy on the sRGB Avg Delta E scale. Already looking interesting to you? Well, you spent a bomb on this monitor, you do expect some serious wow factor after all, don’t you?

ASUS also included a warm welcome message now that you have joined their faction.

Appearance

The PG27UQ has a very uniquely exquisite design. Much like the PG278Q era, the first thing you will notice is how thick the bezels are to which, let’s be reminded again on when ASUS actually started engineering this piece of hardware before even the first engineering unit was produced. But ASUS being ASUS, they have put a lot of attention to the details even on the front thick bezel.

The silver ROG logo captures all the attention being the only bright toned element on this façade.

At the bottom left of the panel, you can see your hard earned bragging rights screaming the most important technology behind this monitor, Nvidia G-Sync HDR printed next to the Nvidia moniker. Did I mention attention to detail? This area itself is split to give two different effects, the top being grainy and the bottom gives it a brushed aluminum feel. On the right side of the bezel, you could see the legends of the button; without the buttons. Around the whole bezel, you could see the chiseled edges which is now common to the ROG Swift series. Things get even more intricate when we move to the rear of the PG27UQ.

From the rear view, the bottom left is where the buttons are located at; with respect to the legends that you saw in front. Top of all these is a 5-way joystick that allows you to navigate around the plethora of features in the monitor through its On-Screen Display (OSD). Right below it is the cancel key that allows you to either go back or exit the menu which, you can also use the joystick for anyway.

Underneath it is the Gameplus menu button that allows you to toggle an on-screen crosshair, set a timeout timer, turn on the (very useful) FPS counter or turn on the screen calibration mode in case you have another one of the PG27UQ for god reasons why (and how).

Next in the line is the  GameVisual menu button that let’s you toggle between Scenery, Racing, Cinema, RTS/RPG, FPS and sRGB modes that sets different color temperatures among other settings. This button is then followed by the power button which does exactly what it says.

The next thing you cannot (and do not want to) miss out is the ROG logo at the top of the monitor stand. Your guess is as correct as mine and it does glow in amber lighting, but that’s not the best part. Right below this emblem, you will find the ROG Light Signal that projects the ROG logo to the wall or the ceiling and can be adjusted with a wheel located further below. No, you can’t replace the ROG logo on the projector with the Batman emblem, I know what you’re thinking.

Moving to the bottom of this stand (which is built very solid, by the way), you will find the rather common finishing adapted from the PG348Q generation that blends the Plasma Copper and Armor Titanium colors in a very fine finishing. The triple feet design ensures the monitor stands on uneven surfaces and uses very little footprint with wide opening. Little footprint with wide opening, because underneath this is where another ROG logo is projected to your desk and ASUS actually provides 3 extra acrylic pieces for you to fiddle with and come out with your own branding as I mentioned earlier.

Slightly above the feet, you will be introduced with a pretty wide opening with the “Cable Management” text embossed above it. You can route your keyboard, mouse, headset, speakers or any other peripheral cables through this to keep your desk neat.

Now let’s zoom out and have a look at one of the most beautiful backs of a display ever created.

Fusing the fine diagonal lines on the bottom left with a very detailed ROG’s signature Mayan design on the top right, lurking around is a humongous ROG emblem (again) with a silver finishing. I suppose ASUS really wanted to make a point that you are buying an ROG monitor and nothing else. This ROG logo is the only one that is fitted with RGBae lighting and has support for ASUS Aura Sync.

Across to the bottom of this big ROG logo, you will find the Kensington lock socket in case you are planning to put this masterpiece in a public space for whatever reasons.

Molded between all the plastic are very fine and sophisticated vents and a honeycomb finished plate mounted around the bracket that makes it look like a heat dissipating design. Because it is. There is a fan hidden behind this module that has been given the duty to push out hot air as quickly as possible. And why would this monitor even generate so much heat? We’ll come to this later on.

A hidden gem that is worthy of mention here is placed right at the top of the display. It’s an ambient sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness in light and dark conditions. Then again, Windows already has a night mode that you can use anyway, and I can’t imagine using this monitor for anything other than Microsoft Windows.

In the connectivity area, there is a HDMI 2.0 port right next to the DisplayPort 1.4 followed by a “Service Use Only” cover that hides the firmware upgrading port that should only be handled by official representatives. Next to it is the USB Uplink port followed by the USB 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm jack for audio pleasures.

If you thought all this was already fit for the price that you have paid, then guess what? We just got started! The specifications part is going to be too elaborate, so you can just move on to the next section if you wish.

Specifications

Panel Size Wide Screen 27.0″(68.47cm) 16:9
Color Saturation 97% (DCI-P3), 99% (Adobe RGB)
Panel Backlight / Type IPS
True Resolution 3840×2160
Display Viewing Area(HxV) 596.16 x 335.34 mm
Display Surface Non-glare
Pixel Pitch 0.155 mm
Brightness 600 cd/㎡ (Typical)/1000 cd/㎡ (Peak)
Contrast Ratio 1000 :1 (Typical)/50000 :1 (HDR)
Viewing Angle (CR≧10) 178°(H)/178°(V)
Response Time 4ms (Gray to Gray)
Display Colors 1.07b (10 bit with dithering)
HDR (High Dynamic Range) Support Yes
Dynamically Local Dimming Yes, 384 Zones
Refresh Rate(max) 144Hz(overclocking)
Trace Free Technology Yes
Color Accuracy △E≦ 3
GamePlus(modes) Yes (Crosshair/Timer/FPS Counter/Display Alignment)
Low Blue Light Yes
HDCP support Yes
GameVisual 6 Modes(Scenery/Racing/Cinema/RTS/RPG/FPS/sRGB Modes)
G-SYNC HDR (High Dynamic Range) Support Yes
Signal Input HDMI(v2.0), DisplayPort 1.4
Earphone jack 3.5mm Mini-Jack
USB upstream USB3.0 Type-B x1
USB downstream USB3.0 Type-A x2
Digital Signal Frequency DisplayPort:52 ~268 KHz (H) /24 ~120 Hz(V)
DisplayPort (overclocking):52 ~322 KHz (H) /24 ~144 Hz(V)
HDMI : 30 ~135 KHz (H) /24 ~60 Hz(V)
Power Consumption 180W (HDR On)
Chassis Colors Plasma Copper + Armor Titanium
Tilt +20°~-5°
Swivel +35°~-35°
Pivot 0°~+90°
Height Adjustment 0~120 mm
VESA Wall Mounting 100x100mm
Weight 9.2kg(Net), 12.8kg (gross)
Compliance & Standards BSMI, CB, CCC, CE, CEL level 3, C-Tick, CU, ErP, FCC, J-MOSS, KCC, PSE, RoHS, UkrSEPRO, UL/cUL, VCCI, WEEE, WHQL (Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7), MEPS, TUV Flicker-free , eStandby, TUV Low Blue Light, RCM, VESA DisplayHDR 1000

Performance

The PG27UQ is hands down the most powerful gaming monitor available in the world today. Your average gaming rig build usually starts with the System Unit, putting the monitor at the end of the choice. In fact, most gamers strive for the cheapest option for their monitors using only the balance that is left after spending heftily on the system unit. That’s subjective, I know. However, in the case of the PG27UQ, you actually have to work backwards, actually beginning with the monitor. Let me explain why.

On the surface, the PG27UQ is the world’s first ever 4K Ultra-HD (3840×2160) 16:9 with 144Hz refresh rate, harnesses Nvidia’s G-Sync HDR, uses quantum-dot 178° IPS panel, provides a wide DCI-P3 color gamut, has 50000:1 HDR contrast ratio, VESA Certified 1000 nits brightness and 384-Zones LED backlight control, all in one neat packaging. In other words, this monitor lacks nothing that you can think of in today’s age for gaming needs. In fact, at the time of writing this article, most consumer PCs available in the market would kneel on their knees begging for mercy when forced to push everything this monitor is capable of, in ultra-settings on AAA game titles. Am I sure? Let me prove my point here.

For starters, if you are running ANY Maxwell card, you are already out of luck. My LaFerrari rig was the entry point and this beast was running on Intel Core-i7 6900K with 32GB of DDR4 RAMs with 2 pieces of Titan X Maxwell, configured in SLI. Let me emphasis again, that’s TWO pieces of Titan X; the most powerful card built with the Maxwell architecture, and it actually fell short. Yes, you heard that right. The lack of DisplayPort 1.4 will lock you down to only 98Hz at 4K resolution and all Maxwell cards use DisplayPort 1.2 technology which is going to be insufficient. Feel the pinch already?

So I had to switch the Titan X(es) with a GTX1080 Ti just to have a compatible interface. You see why are we working backwards already?

Now, let’s have a clear understanding of what are we achieving first. We are attempting to push 4K resolution frames of various AAA games in their ultra-settings (nothing less) at 144Hz. IN simpler terms, we are chugging down 144 units of 4K frames down the throat of the GPU every second while trying to get a crystal clear experience on ultra-settings. The only thing that we are not enabling here is the Anti-aliasing because at 4K resolution, you really don’t need it anymore. Pre-rendering even 4x anti-aliasing at this scale is going to massively bottleneck your frame rates without any visual gains. I’ll break the surprise for you, one unit of GTX1080 Ti is NOT going to be sufficient to achieve this. If you already have a 144Hz monitor with FHD or QHD resolutions, just test this out by setting the Nvidia Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) multiplier accordingly and experience yourself what kind of task is this for your PC.

So, what do we get?

Monster Hunter World managed to push between 45 – 60 frames but that’s a fairly new game and not properly optimized yet, so we won’t count this as official results. Apart from the fact that Monster Hunter World doesn’t support SLI technology.

Rainbow Six Siege managed to hit between 95 – 144 frames on ultra-settings without anti-aliasing. Turning on anti-aliasing massively dropped the frame rates to sub-45 region which affects the gameplay badly.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive managed to hit an average of 120 – 144 frames pretty easily on max settings, also without anti-aliasing. In fact, toning down the graphics allowed us to hit 280 – 299 frames quite effortlessly.

Tom Clancy’s Division struggled really hard to maintain anything above 60 fps on ultra settings and often get drop spikes when lootboxes were being identified or the maps pre-rendering was generated. I hovered around 40 – 60 fps otherwise.

To answer the question earlier on why does the PG27UQ need a fan at the back of it? With all of these incredible frames, the PG27UQ still spots a G-Sync HDR module. This module itself is priced at $2000 USD because of the intricacy that it requires at this level of display technology. At its peak, the monitor is pushing so much juice, it creates heat that needs to be dissipated. That’s where the fan comes into the picture.

Yes, its G-Sync HDR and indeed, none of the games tested above are G-Sync HDR capable. There is also very limited game support available as of the time of writing this article and putting them in the same league is not fair. HDR itself brings the colors to live but it does shave off a little headroom in terms of frames per second, but if you ask me, it’s totally worth it! Now, here’s what you need to know on the HDR side.

 

First, this is the first in the world monitor that supports 10-bit HDR at 144Hz. But turning on HDR will disable certain features of the monitor. Dark Boost will be disabled, Auto SDR Brightness will also be disabled and have to be manually toggled from the Windows Display settings, and the sRGB option will no longer be selectable over the wide color gamut. This means that you need to decide if you will be using the HDR a lot over SDR mode.

Second, HDR gives you a much wider contrast which is 10,000:1 compared to 1,000:1 in a typical LCD monitor. This is impossible to achieve on conventional monitors because of the way the backlighting mechanism is designed on a conventional display.

Which is why, the PG27UQ has 384 independent backlight Zones that allows it to control independent sections of the monitor and deliver extremely crisp colors. Combining this with the quantum-dot technology, it gives a very wide color gamut range. So wide, that the sRGB color gamut range feels inferior. Instead, HDR adopts the DCI-P3 color gamut which provides a much larger color range for richer tones. This is where the quantum-dot technology excels.

In a nutshell, quantum-dots uses semiconductor nanocrystals which can produce pure monochromatic red, green and blue lights. These exist in its own layer, combining backlight to emit purest basic colors. Which is why, the 384-zones backlight plays a very important role here. Having zoned backlights, the quantum dots can control the vividness of the colors specifically for a particular region, giving the PG27UQ the ultimate control of colors emitting like never before.

User Experience

Ever since I saw the PG27UQ with my own naked eyes, every other display just felt inferior. I told myself that no matter what happens, I am definitely taking it for a walk in the park. You can only imagine the joy I had when it reached our labs. As I mentioned above, this is the one and only monitor that managed to make my Titan X; TWO of them; feel weak. The once claimed as god of graphics card had to bow down right in front of the god of monitors.

In simpler words, saving up just to buy this monitor is not going to be enough. You need to have top of the line, best of the best, maxed out gaming machine to be able to enjoy the PG27UQ. In my case, I have resorted to two 1080 Ti cards on SLI configuration probably until the 2080Ti cards are made available.

You can choose pretty much any angle that you want this monitor to stand for you. It supports height adjustments up to 120mm difference, pivoting up to 90°, swivel with ±35° from the front and tilt between +20°~-5° that gives you plenty of adjustment flexibility.

This was the hardest picture to capture because even my camera can’t capture the pure blacks!

The one thing that you will immediately realize when using the PG27UQ, is the fact that the blacks are surreal. You know, when you’re watching a wide ratio movie and have black bars at the top and bottom of the movies? On a conventional monitor, those are not as black as you think, but rather grayish due to the way backlight works. On the PG27UQ, these are so black, that watching in pure darkness makes it feel like they’re not even there! In fact, there’s even Dark Boost mode to enhance this one step further, delivering one of the best blacks you have ever seen. But then, this comes with a problem of its own.

The monitor is turned ON. This is how pure the blacks are on the display!

When pure black overlaps pure white, you will get a halo effect around the bright object. As you can see in the video below, the pure white cursor hovering around pure black background triggers a botch behind it. This is because that zone is being lit among the 384 available ones. This is only visible in extreme contrast differences and does not affect gaming. It does affect if you’re a designer and need color accuracy at its best. To which, the PG27UQ has a mode called “Variable Backlight” that can be turned off instead. When you turn off variable backlight, all 384 zones will be lit together, providing you a conventional IPS panel experience, and no more halo effect.

You also have options to turn the variable backlight to “gradual” where, instead of turning on and off, the backlight zones will gradually scale the brightness to reduce the immediate halo effect. Now, this is a limitation of the current technology because to reduce the halo effect, we would need even more backlight zones density that limits us to scale the monitors to larger sizes. Truth be told, this was not really a deal breaker for me considering the fact that it does provide the option to turn it off too.

When game developers create their games, they have a certain expectation that they expect the players to achieve and the toughest is always about rendering the blacks. Therefore, some monitors will have brightness calibration tools in which they will provide two contrasting images and they ask you to alter the brightness until both images are “barely visible”. How do you define barely visible? This is just a method to calibrate the blacks on the monitor. Take CS:GO for example. Since my brother is a cultist when it comes to CS:GO, I asked him to try it on the PG27UQ and tell me his experience. He had a hard time locating the enemies in the darker areas. This is not a disadvantage. It’s exactly what the game developers want you to experience. In reality, when a subject is lurking in the dark, you can’t see him clearly and that is how it’s supposed to be. This is the monitor that is supposed to be used as an eSports standard.

Checkout the FPS counter at the top left. That’s natively available in the monitor.

4K resolution adaptation is getting wider now. With UHD content getting pushed everywhere, in another 5 years or so, it should become the next main standard for display resolutions replacing Full HD. This is a necessity for progress because at the moment, 4K has bits and pieces lying everywhere. Windows scaling being the biggest problem as some native applications that don’t support scaling will look incredibly minute that it becomes an annoyance. In fact, Windows should have a native 4K OS support that will be automatically turned off whenever users attempt to install anything that is not 4K certified. Imagine this, to keep the system 4K capable, users would not want to install non-4K certified applications when Windows prompts it. This change has to come from Windows itself, forcing developers to comply or else it will just remain broken as it is.

The PG27UQ also allows you to quickly switch between Wide Color Gamut and sRGB, the former being the much wider gamut range. I’ve explained this in the performance section above but having a toggle to quickly change the option is nifty to have.

Switching into Wide Color Gamut, turning on HDR, turning off variable backlight and what do you get? The most beautiful graphics experience that you can ever get on a desktop. Games like Tom Clancy’s Division, Monster Hunter World and Rainbow Six Siege become insanely beautiful despite not having HDR support, then you can only imagine how Battlefield 1, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, FarCry 5, Final Fantasy XV and Forza Horizon 4 looks like with HDR support!

If that’s not enough for you, you can even set the PG27UQ to adapt to certain visuals using its GameVisual menu. This provides with the choice of Scenery, Racing, Cinema, RPG, FPS and sRGB modes which significantly alters the temperature and sharpness of the graphics. On top of this, you can also alter the blue light filtering of the display to protect your eyes for prolonged gaming sessions.

Talk about some aesthetics. First ROG Swift ever, the PG278Q had only a red ring around the base and it had choice of static or breathing effects. Subsequently the Freesync edition started having a red ROG logo at its base. Then the PG348Q brought in the bottom projecting ROG logo. Eventually, the PG27VQ became the first ROG Swift to hone RGB with Aura Sync at the back. Now, the PG27UQ combines pretty much everything (except the ring) and another projector at the top that can be adjusted to project on the wall, ceiling or anywhere in between. The massive ROG logo at the back is also AURA Sync compatible and basic effects like Rainbow, breathing, static are already present on the monitor itself.

You can actually project the logo all the way to the top to your ceiling

PG27UQ Pricing in Malaysia

The price on this bad boy is RM10,999 and while we were shocked when we found out, further digging revealed that ASUS is actually being very generous with the pricing. The cost of the G-Sync module at the time of writing itself is $2000 USD (approx RM16,000 at the time of writing), leaving very little headroom for the rest of the hardware. Yet, ASUS did not cheap out on the build quality with sophisticated details, as far as adding RGB and other lighting aesthetics to it.

If you refer to the pricing of this monitor in its country of origin (Taiwan), it is retailing at $69900 NTD (approx RM9,292.51 at the time of writing). In most cases, electronic parts qualify for a 25% custom clearance claim via ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (FTA) for which the said electronic will be issued a Form E, which is a combined declaration and certificate. In the case of non-entitlement, the duties have to be paid by the principal themselves. To qualify for this, a certain percentage of origin criteria needs to be fulfilled where the parts are manufactured/assembled in China. The PG27UQ did not qualify for this, so you can do your maths and see why ASUS is being generous.

You may also want to realize that once SST has been imposed, LED monitors are very likely going to be affected with the 10% tax and hence the price of this monitor is likely to rise again. So if you are thinking of getting your hands on it, you may want to place your order right away!

Because of these scenarios, the PG27UQ is only available as a back-to-back order basis and will be imported in a very limited quantity.

Conclusion

If you’re going to be spending RM11K on a monitor, you would really want to consider and utilize everything that it has. This is a beautiful monitor and there is no doubt in that. It’s so powerful, today’s technology struggles to get the best out of it. ASUS has put so much into this monitor, it’s future ready. The build quality is uncompromised, the blacks are to die for, the crystal crisp resolution delivers remarkable graphics, the G-Sync ensures no tearing and smooth gameplay, the wide color gamut makes everything look surreal. There is nothing more you could really expect if you could satisfy its requirements. Buying something from the future and using it today is definitely going to require plenty of cash and horses, but your bragging rights here? You become one in a million who can earn this privilege.