A bit earlier this fall Asus released a new 27" monitor for gamers. The monitor I'm talking about is Asus VG278HE which is a direct descendant from VG278H with improved panel and electronics. The VG278HE supports 1920*1080 resolution and 144Hz refreshrate and manufacturer claimed 2ms grey-to-grey pixel response time.
I had a need for a change of monitor and I managed to grab myself one of these 144Hz toys via an offer so let's see if the monitor is any good for anything.
The package Asus VG278HE ships in is your normal cardboard box with some styrofoam packaging inside and cover for the screen. You also get a VGA-cable, dual-link DVI-cable and a power cord. On top of this there are also a quickstart guide, some form of warranty card and some other rubbish noone is probably too interested about. The manual comes on a CD so you are not getting one as a paper version.The monitor
The monitor itself is 27" 16:9 widescreen TFT with 1920*1080 resolution. The panel it uses is a TN panel which is kinda obvious at this point, since all the gaming monitors are using this panel type as it is the only one that has fast enough pixel response time for proper 120Hz or 144Hz refreshrate. The monitor has also inbuilt speakers that you can use if you wish to, but considering their location at the backside of the monitor and small size, you have to realize they aren't going to be any better than inbuilt speakers on laptops.
In the back of the monitor there is a place for a power cord, HDMI-in, DVI-in, VGA-in, 3,5mm stereo in and 3,5mm headphone out. If you want to use the monitor at 144Hz you are going to have to use the DVI-in since you can't enable high refreshrates from VGA-in or HDMI-in. As already mentioned the monitor can play sounds from your computer, but an audio cable with one 3,5mm stereo plug is required, which is luckily included in the package.
The VG278HE features adjustments for height (+10cm), swivel (+/- 150°) and tilt (-5° ~ +15°) but offers no adjustment for pivot, which is acceptable considering the usage the monitor is meant for. As usual the stand itself is not that great but it is quite a lot sturdier than most of the cheap monitors have so it should be pretty good and steady, unless you like beating the table the monitor is sitting at.
The screen of the monitor has a matte anti-glare coating that is very mild compared to some coatings. So it doesn't make the screen grainy and it isn't quite glossy either, but something in between. In my opinion the coating is quite fine and does not affect the image quality negatively in any way. Unfortunately the frame of the monitor is glossy and can reflect light sources so in some cases it might be annoying, especially if you have light sources behind you.Asus VG278HE (image stolen from Asus)The technology
As already mentioned the VG278HE is a monitor using a TN-panel that has 2ms grey-to-grey response time and typical response time of 5ms (colors and from black to white). VG278HE also features 60Hz, 100Hz, 110Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz refreshrates in 2D-mode, but supports only 120Hz in 3D-mode. The color reproduction is 6bits per channel + HiFrc resulting in 16,7 million colors, so yes, this is not a true 8bit per channel panel and it affects the image quality and color gradients negatively. The viewing angles are exceptionally good for a TN panel, very close to 170° horizontally and close to 160° vertically. Even so you shouldn't be too close to the monitor or some color shifting will occur due to viewing angles and TN panel type.
VG278HE features an overdrive circuit that is implemented exceptionally well. The user can finetune the overdrive from 0 to 100 in the steps of 20. The default value of 60 is good overall resulting no inverse ghosting or normal trailing. Setting 0 results in some trailing and setting 100 causes slight inverse ghosting that can be seen in situations where a bright object is moving on grayish shade, like white fullbright skinned enemy on dm2 big. However even at maxed out setting 100 the inverse ghosting is rather minimal and isn't probably going to be seen during intense gaming.
The panel uniformity on VG278HE isn't all that great. The screen is a bit brighter on the center and there is also some backlight bleending on the edges. Compared to BenQ XL2410T the backlight bleeding is rather low and should be annoying only in a dark room. Fortunately the problems with uniformity are kind of hard to see unless you really start staring at one colored test screen and trying to find a problem, so I don't think it's going to be a problem in the end.An example of backlight bleeding on the monitor edges using long exposure time on camera. The effect is not as pronounced to a naked eye.Input lag, response time and color settings
Obviously I don't have the tools or means to actually measure input lag and response time accurately, but fortunately prad.de
has made some measurements and I can quote them:
- input lag is measured to be 5,1ms in 144Hz mode
- grey to grey response time is 1,9ms (rise) and 0,7ms (fall)
- color to color response time is 3,1ms (rise) and 1,4ms (fall)
- black to white response time is 4,4ms (rise) and 1,1ms (fall)
- total "latency" or "image delay" is 7,3ms (input lag + average response time)
While we don't get a true 0ms input lag, the total latency or image delay is 7,3ms. As for comparison the most common image delays are:
- Samsung 2233RZ: ~15ms
- BenQ XL2410T: ~10ms
- BenQ XL2420T ~8ms
Interestingly enough 120Hz Asus VG278H has total latency of 4,9ms which is less than that of VG278HE's. Also I should mention that 120Hz LG W2363D has the lowest input lag among gaming monitors, but unfortunately it also has very high pixel response time making it rather blurry one too.
And finally the color settings. All the color settings available on the VG278HE are inaccurate and not good. The different SPLENDID modes make things worse. SPLENDID is an "image enhancement" technique by Asus, but I wouldn't call it "an enhancement" at any situation, quite the opposite. I suggest people use the standard
preset with custom settings for colors and brightness, leaving contrast at default. The settings are as follows:
- Contrast 80 (default)
- Brightness 5 (100cd/m², dark room) or
- brightness 12 (120cd/m², normal lighting) or
- brightness 21 (140cd/m², bright room)
- Colors in user mode: red 98, green 93, blue 84
Anything else can be set to default values. Do not use SPLENDID modes at all, do not use ASCR, do not use SMART VIEW and so on.ezQuake settings
Since this monitor has so fast panel and 144Hz the fps settings in ezQuake are quite different and differences can be noticed more easily than on slower pixel response time monitor. Therefore I recommend the following:
Final thoughts and Verdict
- Use at least 616fps (8 * 77fps) to get good results.
- On the contrary what I have suggested in the past, use multiples of your refreshrate, like 4 * 144Hz = 576fps to get even smoother experience.
- If your computer can handle it, this is worth trying: 15 * 77fps = 1155fps (close to 144Hz * 8 = 1152)
+ big screen size (27 inches)
+ very fast panel (average pixel response time of 2,2ms)
+ exceptionally controlled overdrive (no trailing / inverse ghosting)
+ lowish input lag (5,1ms, totalling 7,3ms with average response time)
+ better than average viewing angles for a TN-panel
+ good contrast ratio for a TN-panel (not mentioned in the review, but around 1100:1)
- back light bleeding on the edges
- not so uniform panel
- colour gradients could be better (especially green)
- some may not like 1920*1080 resolution on 27" screen because of the big pixel size
In overall VG278HE is better than any my previous 120Hz monitors like 2233RZ and XL2410T. Also considering the very good pixel response time and the 144Hz refreshrate, this monitor is the most fluid one TFT I've ever seen and also getting closer to CRT monitors in the terms of fluidity. Unfortunately we are not quite there yet, but it's getting better. The VG278HE is massive in size which means you have increase your viewing distance a bit compared to smaller monitors.