Viewing Angles, Uniformity, Response, Lag, And FreeSync
To learn how we measure screen uniformity, please click here.
While TN panels help keep prices low and speeds high, they suffer from poor off-axis performance. 27 inches is about the upper limit for these screens, anything larger will show color shifts and detail loss at the sides even when you sit directly in front of the monitor. When viewed 45 degrees to the side, the MG278Q shows an obvious red/green shift and a loss of brightness. From the top, detail is washed out significantly and light output is well below its on-axis level. IPS will cost you more but at larger screen sizes it has a distinct advantage.
Screen Uniformity: Luminance
Modern TN panels have nearly eliminated the poor uniformity that plagued screens of the past. We're seeing no difference in quality between them and even the best IPS or VA monitors. In this group the MG278Q even beats out its stablemate MG279Q by a small amount. There is no light bleed or hotspotting in evidence on our testing sample.
Here's the white field measurement.
The white field measurement brings the MG278Q to the top of the field. It displays smooth, even tones from edge to edge regardless of color or content.
Screen Uniformity: Color
Color uniformity is among the best we've tested from any display. And once again it's only beaten out by the more-expensive MG279Q. If you're willing to pay for it it's a really good monitor. But in most respects the MG278Q is very close.
Pixel Response And Input Lag
Please click here to read up on our pixel response and input lag testing procedures.
Even though TN is lauded for its speed, we're not seeing a clear advantage over IPS in our tests. 144Hz means a draw time between seven and nine milliseconds regardless of the manufacturer's claim or the panel's technology. And we can't see any difference in gameplay either. Once you're sustaining framerates over 80, there just isn't any motion blur or ghosting to speak of.
Here are the lag results.
The same seems to be true in our input lag test. Neither tech has an advantage when refresh rates are equal. Here and above, the XR341CK is hampered by its 75Hz max rate, but we had no trouble hitting that number with our R9 285 graphics board. In that case, more Hertz wouldn't make motion any smoother. What you will get however is a little snappier response to control inputs; that is if you have the super-quick reflexes to tell the difference.
FreeSync is enabled in the AMD Catalyst Control center and since the MG278Q's FreeSync range covers a broad 40-144Hz range, there's no need to ever turn it off. And if you have a graphics board capable of driving 2560x1440 pixels at 144fps, you will be assured of a perfectly smooth tear-free experience. At speeds below 40fps, you'll need to turn on V-Sync to prevent tearing, though by that point stutter is the bigger problem. It's better to either reduce resolution or turn down the detail level to keep frame rates above 40.
To test this we played a few missions in Far Cry 4, one of our most demanding titles. By running at the monitor's native resolution and setting detail to Very Good we kept the minimum rate just above 40 with occasional bursts that topped 70. This turned out to be a perfectly usable state of affairs and we had no problems fragging to our heart's content. Input lag wasn't a problem either even in the more fast-paced battle scenarios.
Of course, higher framerates mean greater smoothness and we found that in Tomb Raider and Battlefield 4. There we had little trouble maintaining 100fps at QHD resolution with our R9 285-based system. You'll still see just a bit of motion blur if you move the mouse fast enough but there is absolutely no tearing or lag of any kind.
To this point we haven't mentioned the MG278Q's lack of a motion-blur reduction feature. That's because it just doesn't make a difference. With FreeSync and higher refresh rates, it's not needed and we never missed it. With frame-rate-matching becoming more common in gaming monitors it's possible that ULMB will be available on fewer displays in the future.