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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 Review: Exceptional Contrast and Color

The monitor delivers a 165 Hz refresh rate and solid performance for the money.

Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771
(Image: © Monoprice)

The Dark Matter 27 42771’s picture modes are a bit confusing at first. Standard is the default, and it can be calibrated but you won’t have access to the overdrive which is essential for gaming. After running our initial tests in Standard, we switched to Game/Gamer 1 for the remainder of our review.

Grayscale and Gamma Tracking

Our grayscale and gamma tests use Calman calibration software from Portrait Displays. We describe our grayscale and gamma tests in detail here.

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Portrait Displays Calman)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Portrait Displays Calman)

The default grayscale is clearly warm in tone with red errors visible from 20% brightness and higher. This is a bit higher than the norm, but we consider red errors better than blue or green ones. Cooler tones make the image flat and dull but warmer hues retain dimensionality and depth. You’ll want to calibrate the Dark Matter 27 42771 or dial in our recommended settings. The bigger issue is gamma tracking which is too light. That washes out the image slightly though the monitor’s wide color gamut mitigates the problem.

After calibration, grayscale is visually perfect with all errors under 2dE and most below 1dE. That’s top-level performance but gamma is still too light. Some additional presets would be a great addition for a future firmware update. Though detail is well rendered, it doesn’t pop as much as it could. This is a clear example of the monitor’s untapped potential. The picture looks good, but it could be better.

Comparisons

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Dark Matter 27 42771’s default grayscale tracking is too warm as we showed above. That puts it in last place here. It’s not unusual for budget monitors to need some tweaking and fortunately, a high standard can be achieved. Even though the calibrated result is in fifth place, we consider any number under 1dE to be excellent.

We only wish gamma tracking could be as good. The range of values isn’t too wide which helps maintain the visibility of fine detail, but the average is quite a bit off the 2.2 mark. A 15% deviation corresponds to 1.87 actual gamma value and the picture is a bit less vibrant as a result.

Color Gamut Accuracy

Our color gamut and volume testing use Portrait Displays’ Calman software. For details on our color gamut testing and volume calculations, click here.

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Portrait Displays Calman)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Portrait Displays Calman)

The Dark Matter 27 42771 does well in our color gamut test. With wide coverage, it is on or close to all targets. All colors are slightly under-saturated but tracking is linear so there is no loss of detail. Calibration pulls red saturation down a little but ultimately benefits thanks to a more accurate white point. Balance is the key here and the Dark Matter 27 42771 achieves that. The wide coverage partially makes up for the light gamma. That’s why there is the potential for an even better picture here. It looks good but with correct gamma, it would be stellar.

Comparisons

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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Monoprice Dark Matter 27 42771

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Dark Matter 27 42771 is in last place here but this is a very accurate group. 3.73dE is a respectable result for a $230 gaming screen. With a better gamma option, this error could be cut in half. We hope Monoprice will consider adding gamma presets in a future firmware update.

We noted earlier that FHD monitors rarely come with wide color gamuts. You can see here that the only other screen in the Dark Matter 27 42771’s league is the HP. And Monoprice manages to crack the 90% coverage barrier which plenty of extended color screens fail to do. There is no sRGB option, so we calculated that coverage at 133.74%. SDR games will be very colorful which will be to most users’ liking. If you’re a purist that must stick to sRGB for SDR content, this monitor is not for you. But since there is no HDR here, those titles will look good despite a lower dynamic range.

Christian Eberle
Christian Eberle is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He's a veteran reviewer of A/V equipment, specializing in monitors.